Public Libraries

Why Closing More Public Libraries Might Be The Best Thing (…Right Now)

Photo by bigoteetoe (CC)In Roman times, there was a uncommon military discipline practice called decimation. Meant as a way to punish cowardly or mutinous soldiers, it was a brutal practice in which groups of ten would draw lots; one man would be selected to be killed by the other nine men through clubbing, stoning, or only with their hands and feet. This ‘removal of a tenth’ punishment sent a clear message to the survivors: your actions (or lack of action) put you at risk for a disgraceful death. It was warning to all, a vicious lesson that the cruelty of the battlefield is nothing compared to the cruelty of your fellow countrymen. -- Read More

The World Without Public Libraries

On the whole, I'm not much of a book reader. Most of my reading is done online; I read a handful of books every year, mostly non-fiction, based on various whims. Right now, I'm reading The World Without Us, a captivating exploration about how the world would revert (or not revert) back to a pre-human emergence. Some of these things have been dramatized into a series on the History Channel by a different name, providing the added element of CGI to show how buildings would collapse, infrastructure would fail, nature reclaims the suburbs, and how all that would remain for future archeologists is our stainless steel cookware. For the scientist in me, it's fascinating to see everything humans have made becoming undone by the natural forces of this world.

So, in touching upon the premise of the book, I thought, "What would the world be like without libraries?" How would our demise come? -- Read More


Budget cuts seem the order of the day, this article in the Thursday edition of the Columbia Spectator gives librarians another grim look of what is ahead. Unfortunately, with state budgets still taking losses it looks like we could have to get used to more cutbacks in services, materials and staff.

"To Boldly Go..."

Image by darkmatter/Flickr Last month, there was the widely reported story about a private school in Massachusetts that removed all of its books from its library. (I’ve written about it before here.) Later, it became clear that other departments had the chance to take books from the collection before the rest were removed. There was a lot of discussion in the online library community about the move and brought up the integral question: can a library exist without books? -- Read More

Libraries are a path to future -

In hard times, they have become centers of access to information, communities, and jobs.

By Amy Dougherty

"A recently released report by the Philadelphia Workforce Investment Board, "Help Wanted: Knowledge Workers Needed," included a stunning statistic: Almost 50 percent of the citizens of Philadelphia lack the basic skills needed to perform in a knowledge-based economy. Given that, our state and city leaders have shown a remarkable lack of vision in threatening to reduce library services.

We need to enlarge our workforce by teaching workers the skills that will enable them and the city to make the transition to the new economy. And the infrastructure to do so already exists in our libraries.

Recent data show that Americans are flocking to local libraries, often waiting in long lines for help and computer time. They are searching for employment, job-training information, and, if they are able, rewriting their resumes. Librarians are the new career counselors, sometimes taking the brunt of patrons' frustrations and fears in these turbulent times."

Read the full Commentary from the Philadelphia Inquirer at:

Libraries are a path to future

Library of the future: $24-million Darien Library opens Saturday

Library of the future: $24-million Darien Library opens Saturday

"It’s not just the construction and design that make this a library of the future — the building itself is impressive — but the attitude and new vision led by director Louise Berry. The Dewey Decimal system we grew up with is replaced by books organized by subject. There is no librarian stuck behind a desk to check out your books and media because there are four self-check-out stations allowing librarians to be among the stacks helping and talking to you.

***See a slide show of your new library***

The $24-million library opens to the public on Saturday with a 10 a.m. ribbon cutting followed by tours of the four-level building on the corner of the Post Road and Hecker Avenue. There will be special events for children and door prizes."

Read the full article at:
Library of the future: $24-million Darien Library opens Saturday

Books fly off shelves as library use soars

"People are flocking to Deschutes County libraries, and officials say the slumping economy may be bringing them business. From July through November, patrons checked out about 10 percent more books and other items compared with the same period last year."

Read the full article at:

Books fly off shelves as library use soars

The Future of Public Libraries

Years ago the tech society predicted an end of the public library. Thomas Frey, Senior Futurist (Da Vinci Institute) notes that critics failed to predict the library's ability to reinvent themselves. Thus, libraries thrive well in our information environment. Cities across the continents are investing heavily in public libraries. These libraries contain opulent multistory structures, equipped with cutting edge technology.
Libraries have evolved into interactive research and leisure centers.
Frey further suggests that libraries can reinvent the information experience that could be added to a library.
Frey further prognosticates that library activities will be diverified and varied on a global scale. Frey further suggests that memories of a community should not disappear throughout time.
Further reading can be found at

Philadelphians Resist Free Library Branch Closings

On November 8, 2008, four days after the election of Barack Obama, first year Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia announced the closings of 11 branch libraries as part of an attempt to balance the city budget in face of declining revenues.

Mayor Nutter has been met with determined resistance from the city wide Friends of the Free Library, led by executive director Amy Dougherty, and the Friends of the Free Library groups at each of the 11 branch libraries and at most branch libraries around the city.

While the Friends of the Free Library have made clear their strong preference was for no library cuts at all, they have announced that they would favor reduction of hours at all libraries as against shutting some down.

As a state legislator in whose district two of the eleven libraries shut down are located, I have been an active public spokesperson against the library closings.

One of the libraries to be shut down, the David Cohen Ogontz Library, is named for my late father, the longest serving Philadelphia Councilman at Large in the city's history. It is named for him because of his passionate activism for its creation over a thirty-five year period spanning six mayoral administrations. -- Read More

Traditional libraries live on in an increasingly digital world

Traditional libraries live on in an increasingly digital world

"America's reading rooms have transformed into modern community centers offering shelves of newly released movies and music, digital audio books and free Internet access. Some, like the Oshkosh Public Library, even offer occasional teen Pilates classes and moviemaking workshops in addition to story times and book clubs. Even in the digital age, when some thought computer screens would supplant ink and paper, libraries are far from becoming extinct".

Read the full article at:
Traditional libraries live on in an increasingly digital world

Libraries thriving in 21st century

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