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Public libraries across the U.S. are getting into the online book-selling business, providing convenience for patrons but also raising concerns that the sales threaten to commercialize taxpayer-supported institutions founded to provide information free-of-charge.
The practice is poised for a boost, as three of the largest library systems in the U.S.—all serving New York City—prepare to start selling print books through their online catalogs by July.
At least 75 of the 8,951 public-library systems in the U.S. are offering online patrons the option to buy new print copies of titles in their catalogs, and an additional three dozen are preparing to do so, according to book distributors, library officials and library-software developers.
Those selling print books online include libraries in Orlando, Fla.; Jacksonville, Fla., Burley, Idaho; Mount Laurel, N.J.; and Douglas County, Colo. The Boston Public Library is among those considering adding the service.
Since a devastating cyclone hit in 2009, farmers in a region of India have struggled with salty soil. With climate change, that problem is likely to worsen. Special correspondent Sam Eaton reports for the NewsHour's ongoing series "Food for 9 Billion," about how some farmers have returned to ancient seeds for better results.
“There’s always that joke that there’s a Starbucks on every corner," says Justin Grimes, a statistician with the Institute of Museum and Library Services in Washington. "But when you really think about it, there’s a public library wherever you go, whether it’s in New York City or some place in rural Montana. Very few communities are not touched by a public library.”
In fact, libraries serve 96.4 percent of the U.S. population, a reach any fast-food franchise can only dream of. On a map, that vast geography looks like this:
The “Alternet” is one of three side-by-side installations that make up “Artists in the Archives: A Collection of Card Catalogs,” an exhibition that revitalizes library tools rendered obsolete by digital technology in the mid-1990s. Each installation includes a card catalog filled with art: the “Alternet” consists of works by 75 artists, “Book Marks” is the creation of a single artist, and “The Call to Everyone” contains contributions by several hundred members of the public.
Offutt AFB, headquarters of the U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), is consolidating the Thomas S. Power Library and the Offutt Air Force Base Education Center this summer due to sequestration.
In a blog post, Economics professor and NY Times columnist Paul Krugman rediscovers the Public Library.
"Well, there are coffee shops...But you can only drink so much coffee. And the answer is, libraries!"
" The New York Public Library’s newest branch is going to sparkle like fine crystal. "
The W. 53rd St. center will be an airy, vibrant structure with multiple public spaces, modern computer labs, an audio-video collection, and walls of books, library officials said Monday as they unveiled new renderings of the three-story facility designed by Enrique Norten’s TEN Arquitectos.
The new library will also feature a sizable auditorium.
Meanwhile, the city is sucking dry its existing libraries. The Daily News also reports:
"Not only the Queens Library, but the city’s three library systems — Queens, Brooklyn and New York (which serves the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island) — that have had a tough time over the last five years, as Bloomberg has made it an annual ritual to propose major cuts to their budgets. It’s true that much of the cuts are restored by the City Council, but never in full.
One would think that Bloomberg, who supposedly values efficiency and cost-effectiveness, would go out of his way not to put the libraries through budget hell every year.
After all, they have really been able to do more with less: Despite their shrinking resources, over the last 10 years New York’s public libraries have seen a 40% increase in program attendance, and 59% in circulation, according to a Center for an Urban Future study. -- Read More
At 11:00AM EDT today, On Point, WBUR's outstanding NPR show, spends an hour asking, How Can Libraries Survive The Digital Age?
The guests are Anthony Marx, president and CEO of the New York Public Library and Eli Neiburger, associate director of information technology and production at Ann Arbor District Library.
The show is also available later in the day as a podcast.