Libraries

Morocco: one of the world’s oldest libraries is renovated

The settling dust from renovations and the banging of tools aren’t ideal sights and sounds for a library — but this is no ordinary library. Founded 12 centuries ago by a pioneering woman and nestled in the old medina of Fez, Morocco’s University of al-Qarawiyyin library is one of the world’s oldest libraries, home to unique Islamic manuscripts treasured by historians. Yet it’s been largely hidden from the public. The architect leading its restoration, Fez native Aziza Chaouni, didn’t even know it existed until she was asked to work on it.
From Morocco: one of the world’s oldest libraries is renovated | The Seattle Times
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Fewer Americans Using Libraries

From the Atlantic, reports of a Pew study that show that library use is slowing. It seems that as investment in libraries is declining due to budget cuts, that also diminishes their use.
  • "We found that as investments, such as revenue, staffing, and programs, increased, so did critical use measures, such as visitation and circulation. In the same way, as investments were reduced, mostly in reaction to post-recessionary budgetary reductions, we saw decreases in library use. Another important finding is that even though investments might have declined, any decreases in use did not drop by the same magnitude. People continue to use their local public libraries—for access to books and information and for gathering as a community."
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    Alice Crawford: The Meaning of The Library

    I’ve asked elsewhere previously, if everything is downloadable and deliverable then what use is a library? The Meaning of The Library suggests that is the wrong question. To see libraries purely as a vehicle for content is to mistake the purpose of the library, which is to be whatever its society needs it to be. Freedom of thought, freedom of expression and intellectual curiosity, these are not downloadable or deliverable. Alice Crawford’s book reminds us of this and for that alone it is quite a beautiful piece of work.
    From Alice Crawford: The Meaning of The Library | Quadrapheme
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    Cornerstone laying ceremony of new Israel National Library

    A copy of the National Library of Israel Charter, a declaration signed by leaders and public officials which marked the launch of the National Library renewal project in 2011, was buried under the cement stone at the ceremony. The library is located between the Israel Museum to the South and the Knesset to the East, and will serve as a link between the cultural and civic buildings around it. “The concept of the renewal of the library will allow us to place the National Library in the proper perspective in the country’s cultural fabric,” said David Blumberg, chairman of the National Library. “The National Library will be the most important cultural institution in Israel and the Jewish world.”
    From Cornerstone laying ceremony of new Israel National Library | ISRAEL21c
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    Library Times Are A-Changin’

    Our second annual assessment of library hours in New York shows that 40 percent more branch libraries in NYC are open at least six days a week than this time last year. But while city libraries are open an average of 4 hours more per week than a year ago, they still lag behind many of the largest library systems in the state and nation in hours of operation.
    From Library Times Are A-Changin’ | Center for an Urban Future
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    Seven Recipients Selected for the 2016 AIA/ALA Library Building Awards

    Washington, D.C. – April 12, 2016 – The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the American Library Association (ALA) selected seven recipients to receive the 2016 AIA/ALA Library Building Awards. The AIA and the ALA developed this award program to encourage and recognize excellence in the architectural design of libraries. As the traditional role of libraries evolves, the designs of these community spaces have changed to reflect the needs of the surrounding residence, as represented by the recipients of the AIA/ALA Library Building Awards:
    From Seven Recipients Selected for the 2016 AIA/ALA Library Building Awards - The American Institute of Architects
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    21st Century Librarians; Losing The Bun And Cardigan

    Changes in communication technologies could mean the end of libraries as we know them. Or does it? Hampshire College opened in 1970 — heralding academic innovation. Library director Jennifer Gunter King says school founders wanted everything re-invented, including the library. Today, bolstered by a one-point-two million dollar grant from the Mellon Foundation, Hampshire’s re-tooling the library, again. and it’s not alone. many libraries are getting 21st century makeovers. Caro Pinto’s a librarian at Mount Holyoke College. NEPR’s Susan Kaplan met her there, in the library, where they kept their voices down. That’s still the rule, even in this age of declining book circulation, Google Scholar and, well, Google Books.  Something else that hasn’t changed: most people’s perception of the slightly old fashioned L word — librarian. Pinto says that includes her childhood librarian.
    From 21st Century Librarians; Losing The Bun And Cardigan
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    How much is a library worth?

    It is doubtful, however, that that is why those behind Americans for Prosperity want to close our libraries. More likely possibilities include the privatization of our library system, resulting in even more public funding finding its way into the pockets of the already wealthy. Or perhaps they just want to slash one more public benefit to increase the taxpayer-funded corporate welfare programs without running into budget deficits. Regardless of the reasoning, the people most hurt by libraries closing will, as usual, be those who can least afford it. Almost half of all surveyed by Pew indicated that libraries help people find jobs. But when you look at those in households with incomes of less than $30,000, that percentage increases to 53 percent.  Among African Americans it’s 55 percent, and among Latinos it is 58 percent. 
    From How much is a library worth?
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    Inside the most incredible libraries in Britain

    Worth writing home about: Inside the most incredible libraries in Britain, from Oxford's historic reading rooms to a futuristic wonder in Liverpool The existence of many libraries is under threat and nearly 350 libraries closed in Britain over the past six years Thankfully there are still plenty of breathtaking libraries to explore from historic rooms to modern glass buildings Oxford's Codrington Library has spectacular white marble statues that contrast with its rows of dark bookcases
    From Inside the most incredible libraries in Britain | Daily Mail Online
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    Library Offers Homeless People Mental Health Services, And It's Working

    Libraries have long served as havens for homeless people. But it’s only recently that these institutions have started taking advantage of their unique position. Those who live in shelters typically have to vacate during daytime hours and use their free time to find jobs. And libraries are an optimal place to go since admittance is free and it’s often the only spot in town that has gratis Internet and computers. In fact, nearly two-thirds of libraries provide the only free computer and Internet access in their communities, the Associated Press reported last year. 
    From Library Offers Homeless People Mental Health Services, And It's Working
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