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Way, way back in the 20th century, American teenagers turned to the local public library as a great good place to hang out. It was a hotspot for meeting up, and sharing thoughts with, other like-minded people – in books and in the flesh. It was a wormhole in the universe that gave us tunnels into the past and into the future. It was a quiet spot in an ever-noisier world.
The library was a gentle mentor. It accepted us as we were and let us grow at our own pace – as teens are wont to do. It taught us about sports and sex. About fashion and finance. About life and death.
It showed us how to search for information. How to bring intelligent, like-minded people together. Even how to build and program computers.
From The Juneau Empire: Amid a slew of ordinance approvals and introductions, the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly got to have a little fun, accepting a big — in every sense of the word — check from the Friends of the Juneau Public Libraries.
“This is so much fun, to give away a million dollars,” Friends of the Library board President Paul Beran said before presenting the oversized check. “Can you imagine how many books at a nickel, a dime, a quarter and a dollar it takes?”
He said the group made the donation possible by staffing its Amazing Bookstore (pictured above) with 70 volunteers per week, some of which have been working in the store for 30 years.
This is not to say that Americans who love libraries—nearly all of us apparently—shouldn’t be alert to the threats to those libraries. The recession catalyzed several consecutive years of budget reductions, which in turn were aggravated by the automated federal cuts that came in last year’s sequestration, a particularly big hit to libraries, especially those in schools. With its library threatened by closure in 2012, one city in Michigan was left to host a “Book Burning Party”—a clever hoax that is credited with saving a vital community resource. Eight states don’t give a single penny to public libraries.
This is a tragedy.
From The Miami Herald: Squeezed by tax cuts, Florida’s largest library system can’t buy nearly the number of children’s books it used to.
Countywide, Miami-Dade libraries budgeted about $90,000 for children’s books this year, a fraction of the $1.3 million the system spent in 2005 and about 60 percent below the $210,000 budget in place just three years ago.
The virtual destruction of the New York Public Library rests on faulty premises. In a world of cheap personal computers, ubiquitous internet access and vanished book stores, libraries will always be special. For in addition to preserving manuscripts that may never be digitized, providing services to communities, and lending e-books to remote users, library collections entice citizens to meet in public spaces – and not just for the experience of reading on paper. Readers come for the ageless experience of browsing the shelves and commenting on one another’s dust jackets. Should the plan here in New York go through, the 42nd Street Library may soon find that its terminals are as empty as the ethernet ports carved into the tables of the Main Reading Room.
In a significant ruling regarding backlist e-book rights, a New York court this week held that e-book publisher Open Road infringed HarperCollins’ copyright with its e-book edition of Jean Craighead George’s 1973 bestselling children’s book Julie of the Wolves.
“Having accordingly relied on the words of the contract, this Court holds that, by its language, the contract grants to HarperCollins the exclusive right to license electronic publications, a right which was infringed by Open Road in its unlicensed e-book publication of Julie of the Wolves,” held judge Naomi Reice Buchwald.
"Following on from my lecture in the Netherlands, here is a list of things that I feel you should be able to do in a local library. With acknowledgement to Thomas Frey from the Da Vinci Institute in the USA, who also spoke at the conference."
Listen to music
The rage is to compare everything in creation to a business. But be careful when doing so with America's public libraries. They are civic and service institutions, not profit-making corporations. A major caveat!
Just the same, in a library context, I was intrigued when President Obama once again singled out Costco for its success. It's delighted shareholders in recent years while paying hourly workers around $21 per hour on the average. Granted, Costco isn't your typical retail chain. It focuses on upscale markets (and bulk purchases). By contrast, public libraries need to serve everyone, especially the poor. That's yet another caveat.
Still, in Costco, I see a few lessons for public libraries in the digital era:
In its latest study, Pew set out to determine what types of people use and value public libraries. It compared highly engaged, "library lovers" and "information omnivores" to those who have never used a library, people dubbed "distant admirers" and "off the grid." According to Pew, 30 percent of Americans are in those first two categories. Another 39 percent are considered to have "medium engagement" with libraries, even though only half of those have used a library in the past year.
Library administrators are discarding older books in bulk, prompting a backlash from longtime staff members.
Library administrators have ordered staff to discard books in bulk. With increased funding for materials this fiscal year, managers are making room for newer books and as a result have been trashing older ones in mass quantities, staff members said. The practice, they said, has been rushed and haphazard — and not in line with the standard guidelines for "weeding," the term librarians use to describe the process of moving books out of collections. In Albany, thousands of good books that could be donated or given away are instead ending up in the trash, the employees said. They noted that while this policy is especially widespread at their branch, it appears that this careless discarding is happening across the Alameda County Library system.
"Everyone is amazed by the amount of stuff going to the garbage bins," said Dan Hess, a children's librarian in Albany. He has worked at that branch for four years and has been an employee of Alameda County Library for fourteen years. "It's like forty years and forty different brains thinking what should be in the library [are being] swept away in two months," he said. "We're having this infusion of new money and materials that are coming very fast into the library. It's pushing us to change the criteria for what we are discarding." Hess said that managers have directed staffers to effectively remove most books bought before 2001, with little regard to the content, condition, or other factors librarians would typically take into consideration. "All you have left is the new. To me, that is not a library."
Simply because she loved to read, Lotte Fields bequeathed $6 million to the New York Public Library after her death, the library announced on Wednesday.
Mrs. Fields, a New Yorker who died last summer at 89, inherited her wealth from her husband’s family, who were wool merchants.
“One of her great joys was spending the weekend reading with her husband,” said Irwin Cantor, Ms. Fields’s executor, in a statement. “Her donation shows just how much Lotte loved books and how important she felt it was to support her fellow book lovers.” Because Ms. Fields had been a modest – though regular – donor to the library in the past, Tony Marx, the library’s president, said the library was “astounded” by her bequest.
“But we are deeply honored to pick up her mantle and promote the joy of reading,” he added. At Ms. Fields’ request, the library will evenly divide the funds between its branch libraries and the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on 42nd Street.
Let's hope they don't apply the donation to destroying the classic Bryant Park Main Library.
Listen to host Manoush Zomorodi* of NPR determine people's opinions about Google Glass (affordability, issues of privacy). Have you tried it out? What do you think? I saw a few folks wearing Glass at ALA-MW.
(*Finally figured out how Ms. Zomorodi's name is spelled).
There is an announcement in the March 11, Federal Register for - Notice of public hearing; request
The U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services is holding a public hearing, ‘‘Libraries and Broadband: Urgency and Impact,’’ to examine the need for high speed broadband in America’s libraries. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is charged with advising the President and Congress about the library, museum and
information service needs of the American public.
DATES: Public Hearing: April 17, 2014,
9:00 a.m.—12:00 p.m. Requests to
Participate: Submit requests to
participate at the meeting by March 24,
2014. Written Comments: Written
comments received by May 1, 2014 will
be part of the record.
See full notice here.
Colleges Need Free Speech More Than Trademarks
Registrations and rights-claiming of this sort are unwarranted in higher education. Trademarks are meant to be vehicles for reducing consumer confusion, not rewards for brand-building. Because trademark registrations signify rights to commercial uses of words, rights holders and the public often mistakenly think they confer ownership of words themselves. This misperception tends to promote risk aversion and stifle otherwise fair expression. Determining when a mark is confusingly similar to another, or distinguishing impermissible commercial uses of a term from fair uses of it, is complicated.
New York State Librarian, Bernard A. Margolis, announced today the soft launch of DaybyDayNY (http://daybydayny.org/), an early literacy website designed to engage families and very young children in reading, learning and public libraries.
DaybyDayNY is an important component of Ready to Read at New York Libraries, a new statewide program from the New York State Library designed to help library staff further enhance and expand their early literacy services and programs.
DaybyDayNY is a virtual calendar with content that changes every day. This unique setup gives families with young children numerous daily activities and a story to read together. The story, provided each day by One More Story (http://www.onemorestory.com/), is in the form of an eBook that includes original music and sound effects, produced by former Sesame Street Music Director, Robby Merkin. In addition, the website includes monthly activities, storytelling and nursery rhyme videos, rhymes for young children, craft activities for children and their caregivers, a link to “Find Your Public Library,” a New York State map of museums with activities for young families, health information, and reading lists. The website is designed to help parents and caregivers increase their young child’s cognitive skills and have fun together at the same time.
We hope libraries and systems will promote the use of this website to all young families and caregivers. Information about linking from your library or system website to DaybyDayNY and promoting the website with community members and partners is available at (http://daybydayny.org/) and scroll to the bottom of the page to click on “Share This Site.” -- Read More
Students, faculty decry Penn plan to cut math and science libraries
A plan by the University of Pennsylvania to cut back on two of its branch libraries - one for engineering and the other for math, physics, and astronomy - has yielded an outcry from students and professors who say the books are critical to their studies and research.
Read more at:
"Calling library closings the "absolute worst decision" in his 20 years in elected office, Mayor Nutter took time in his budget address Thursday to apologize for the cuts he made in 2008.
City Council "was right on this issue . . . and I've been determined to correct my mistake ever since," Nutter said after proposing a $2.5 million increase for the Free Library.
The new funding would let the library system hire 43 people and keep all neighborhood libraries open six days a week. Since the 2008 budget cuts, most of the branch libraries have been open only five days."
The Women's Library, the oldest and most extensive collection on women's history in Europe, is about to open its doors again in what campaigners hope will be a permanent home, after almost a century of repeatedly having to pack up and move a unique archive of books, letters, diaries, magazines, protest banners, pamphlets and photographs.
Although the London School of Economics, whose founders shared many of the radical ideals of the women who started the library, has pledged to care for the collection and keep it open to members of the public as well as academics, the move was bitterly contentious to some.
"You have come across them in your city, town or village — cramped, dusty and poorly lit buildings with racks of tattered, hard-bound books no one seems interested in. Short of staff and new publications, these public libraries can count themselves lucky if they can attract a handful of readers looking for the day’s newspapers. The Union culture ministry now plans to upgrade at least the top 10 per cent among the country’s 54,000-odd public libraries, most of which seem to be on their deathbed. First, it wants to start a nationwide survey of about 5,000 of these libraries — the bigger and better ones."