Who needs libraries?

Anonymous Patron writes "Who needs libraries?As more and more information is available on-line, as Amazon rolls out new software that allows anyone to find any passage in any book, an important question becomes: Who needs libraries anymore? Why does anyone need four walls filled with paper between covers? Surprisingly, they still do and in this program Producer Richard Paul explores why; looking at how university libraries, school libraries and public libraries have adapted to the new information world. This program airs as part of our ongoing series on education and technology, and is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education."


Needed: An Independent Gates Library Foundation

David Rothman writes "Suppose Andrew Carnegie had promised to give away steel, not libraries. Metaphorically that's the position that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is in.

Microsoft earns its money off knowledge-related products ranging from software to books and photographs--in many cases, the very stuff that public libraries ought to make available for free. Given libraries' inevitable clashes with Microsoft's corporate goals, isn't it time for Bill Gates to spin off an independent foundation created especially with libraries and schools in mind? Mightn't he continue his present library efforts but experiment with allowing some self-created competition? Just consider the library-related possibilities in areas such as a universal e-book format and open source, which could lead to thriftier, more effective libraries and maybe even technology beneficial to Microsoft in the long run.

Such questions come to mind in the wake of a pie chart in the Nov. 11 edition of the Chronicles of Philanthropy. It shows that the Gates library initiative has received just 3.3 percent of some $7.2 billion that Bill and Melinda Gates have given away since 1994. Why are libraries such a low priority in the Gates cosmos despite all the comparisons of the software mogul with Carnegie? Just why are libraries getting just a few crumbs, relatively, from the Gates Foundation's $27 billion endowment? More at TeleRead."


Ex-Carnegie Library Now a Comfortable Home

The outside of Sally and Ron Miller's red brick home says "Free To All" at its front it did when it was the Carnegie Public Library Fifth Street Branch in Superior, Minnesota.

Bought at auction at the very affordable price of $17,000, the Millers (a retired barber and nurse) moved from an apartment to the former library building about a dozen years ago and began to fix it up, sparing the library the fate of being divided up into apartments. The library's large, five-sided oak and marble lending desk is still there. It's no longer in the center of the 27-by-54-foot space but at one end. It's staffed by a mannequin librarian, just one example of the couple's whimsical touches.

Details of their renovation and the library-ish layout and decor in this story from Duluth News Tribune .


Cutting library and fire services was your idea first

An Anonymous Patron sent along This One From Tacoma, WA that looks at some interesting survey results, and reactions to a previous story:
"Jeffrey T. Davis wrote an e-mail saying his family visits its local library more than once a week and noted abysmal morale among librarians shuttled between different branch libraries operating on limited funding.

The solution, Davis wrote, lies in giving libraries more money to keep branches open. “People cannot use libraries and their services unless they have physical access to those libraries,� he said.

“While I think our (library) system facilities could probably be cut if it had to be,� reader M.A. Coty wrote, “I wonder if three ‘big box’ libraries is enough for our population.�


Embassy of Finland highlights The Iron Range Research Center

The Embassy of Finland's website recently highlighted the Iron Range Research Center. Located in Chisholm, Minn., about 80 miles north of Duluth, the library and archives specializes in the history of the Iron Range and of the people who settled in the area from all over. The Embassy's article focuses on the genealogical services provided by the library both to Americans seaching for their Finnish roots and to Finns who want to know what became of relatives who came here.


The Problem With New Library Buildings Is...

It seems as if getting from here (planning for a new library) to there (moving in and celebrating the opening) is getting to be a bit more of a distance these days.

For the Mount Olive (NJ)Township Library, and for other libraries around the country, library boards and staffs are having to deal with contractors that either do not deliver what they've promised, do not deliver it on time, or fail to anticipate problems along the way.

In this story from the NJ Recorder , the contractor Blackstone Construction LLC of Newark, low bidder on the 4 million dollar project, was at fault in several areas: cracking of an exterior wall, problems with foundation footings and poor installation of sprinkler systems. Library Director Rita Hilbert said they had no choice but to hire the firm, as they were the lowest bidder and they were not on the state's disqualified list.

The building was originally due to open last June (photos of groundbreaking), but now because of reconstruction, will be opening after the first of the year.


British Library may inherit Peel's music

An Anonymous Patron writes "Times Online - Britain Reports JOHN PEEL, the influential broadcaster who died last week, held talks with the British Library about leaving his extraordinary record collection to the nation, it emerged yesterday."


Patron Recounts Spooky Encounter in Library

Here's another haunted library story. While I think we may have posted about this particular library in Clark County, Kentucky, built atop a burial ground, here's a story told by an anonymous patron about his unsettling encounter.


GA Library Closed Until Safer, Full-Time Librarian Hired

A librarian who came out of retirement to replace a sick librarian in Lumpkin, GA, said that she can no longer continue in the position after being threatened by young men with brass knuckles and knives. As a result, the library, a member of the Chattahoochee Valley Regional Library System, has decided to keep its doors closed until a permanent, full-time replacement can be hired.

"I understand the action that she says she had to take," (police chief Jay) Stripling said, "but that library is as safe as anywhere else in town. So I really wish they didn't close it. There are a lot of kids in this town that want to do right, but it's the other 2 percent who are causing all the problems."
More here from this AP story.

Another Look at the New Seattle Library

From the Guardian Observer UK arts columnist Deyan Sudjic critiques the new Seattle Library. He likes it alot .

Sudjic says, "Inside is a series of genuinely beautiful spaces that despite (Dutch architect Rem)Koolhaas's reputation for cynical iconoclasm rely on surprisingly traditional devices. Tall, sunlit reading rooms are exhilarating because they make the simple act of finding a book and sitting at a desk feel good. Koolhaas allows you to look out of the window at the spectacular views of the city. He takes you up a vivid green escalator that propels you through a crevasse in a raw concrete slab to deliver you into the soaring reading room with the ambience of a Victorian railway station."

Other architecture critics have not been as kind...for example, it is listed on this Dutch website as one of the ten most hated architecture projects. One contributor writes "This building lacks any kind of beauty. It's just another one of those Dutch box-style buildings. I hope that during the next big earthquake Koolhaas' monster plummets into oblivion."



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