Public Libraries

How to Make Libraries More Exciting

THE central branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia is an impressive building—its neoclassical facade looming over most of a block. But inside, though chandeliers still hang from the ceilings and the floors are of polished marble, there is a feeling of neglect. A musty taste hangs in the air; many of the books are rather battered. “The building opened in 1927 and we’ve really not touched it since then,” says Siobhan Reardon, the library’s president and director. “And you can tell.”

That, happily, is now changing. On September 11th Philadelphia announced it had secured a $25m grant from the William Penn foundation to update its old libraries. Yet libraries in general are struggling. Americans tell pollsters they love them, but fewer use them. In June the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), a federal agency, published data showing that library visitor numbers have declined in recent years. Polling published on September 10th by the Pew Research Center, a think tank, revealed that more people say they are going to the library less than going more, with a sharp gap among the young.

More from The Economist.

Something is Rotten at the Queens (NYC) Library

From From the New York Times: As federal and city officials continue their investigation into spending at the Queens Public Library, the library’s board of trustees has placed its embattled leader, Thomas W. Galante, on paid administrative leave.

At a special meeting on Thursday, the board, besides voting to place Mr. Galante on leave, also moved to give Scott M. Stringer, the city comptroller, full access to the library’s financial records, including its entire $127 million annual budget.

Mr. Stringer has been pressing to allow his auditors to review not just the 85 percent of the library’s budget that comes from city coffers, but also the balance of the money that is provided by federal grants and private donations.

“There was no excuse for the library’s earlier decision not to cooperate with the audit,” Melinda R. Katz, the Queens borough president who has been pushing for months to overhaul the library’s operations, said in a statement issued on Friday.

Darby Library Possibly Closing

The oldest public library in the United States, Darby Free Library outside Philadelphia, is in danger of closing. The library was founded in southeast Pennsylvania in 1743.

Update on the Ferguson, MO Library

From the Teen Librarian Toolbox, a description of how the Ferguson, MO Public Library is serving the populace of this troubled town.

If you would like to donate to Ferguson Library, their address is:
35 N Florissant Rd,
Ferguson, MO 63135.

Interview with Chattanooga's new Coordinator of Teen Services, Justin Hoenke

From Nooga.com, a chat with chief teen librarian Justin Hoenke about changes made at the library to benefit teens and tweens. Earlier this week, Hoenke announced that he had accepted a promotion as coordinator of teen services at the library.

We spoke to him about the new position, living in Chattanooga and his plans for the future of teen services at the library and beyond.

Coordinator of teen services, eh? Using video game jargon, explain what this means in terms of "leveling up."

If my old title as teen librarian was level one, this would be level two, and I'd have increased abilities! Think of level one as me just being able to use basic magical abilities in a video game, like the ability to jump super-high. Now that I'm at level two, I can do awesome things with my magical abilities in this video game, like use magic to heal myself and maybe even use magic to cast fire and ice spells. You know, librarians are actually magicians.

What changes with the new position in terms of daily responsibility for you?

Now I'm more focused on teen services throughout the entire Chattanooga Public Library system at all of our locations (downtown, Northgate, Eastgate, South Chattanooga). In my old role, I was just working on all things on The 2nd Floor of the downtown library. This new position allows me to stretch out and help the other branches in our library system achieve greater things for teens in the community. Is it more work? Of course! But it's awesome work, and I'm so happy to be the person selected to do it.

Seed sharing is sprouting at the library

Amid growing concerns around the origins of seed stock and genetic modification, “seed libraries” are sprouting up all over the country — allowing neighbors to connect with one another and their local food systems by sharing the seeds from their own garden.
http://mountainx.com/living/farm-garden/seed-libraries-bring/

Even wired tribal libraries are lagging behind on tech

As much as some places in the United States have struggled to get good, affordable, accessible Internet connectivity, one type of spot on the map has struggled even more than most: tribal lands. Broadband deployment in the whole of the U.S. stands at about 65 percent, the Federal Communications Commission found a few years ago, but on tribal lands the official rate is just 10 percent, with "anecdotal evidence suggest[ing] that actual usage rates may be as low as 5 to 8 percent."
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2014/08/13/tribal-libraries-doing-okay-on-...

Why the Public Library Beats Amazon—for Now

As E-Book Subscription Services Grow Their Catalogs, the Age-Old Institution Trumps All
http://online.wsj.com/articles/why-the-public-library-beats-amazonfor-now-1407863714
All of the big five publishers sell their e-book collections for loans, usually on the same day they're available for consumers to purchase. They haven't always been so friendly with libraries, and still charge them a lot for e-books. Some library e-books are only allowed a set number of loans before "expiring."

Publishers have come to see libraries not only as a source of income, but also as a marketing vehicle. Since the Internet has killed off so many bookstores, libraries have become de facto showrooms for discovering books.

The Challenges of Broadband in Rural Libraries

http://www.govtech.com/network/The-Challenges-of-Broadband-in-Rural-Libraries.html
Ninety-eight percent of libraries now provide free public access to Wi-Fi, up from 89 percent in 2012. But digital differences among states still exists -- as does an urban/rural divide, according to the new 2014 Digital Inclusion Survey released by the American Library Association (ALA).
http://www.ala.org/research/digitalinclusion

State Funds Withheld from Missouri Libraries

Joplin Library Director Jacque Gage says county libraries will be the hardest hit. Those are the ones that depend on the state funds to keep their doors open. She encourages everyone to contact the governor's office to get the funds restored.
http://www.ozarksfirst.com/story/d/story/state-funds-withheld-from-missouri-libraries/42757/...

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