People N Patrons

Its only books n shelves but I like it

It’s only books ’n’ shelves but I like it
SHHH! Keith Richards, the grizzled veteran of rock’n’roll excess, has confessed to a secret longing: to be a librarian. After decades spent partying in a haze of alcohol and drugs, Richards will tell in his forthcoming autobiography that he has been quietly nurturing his inner bookworm.
Thanks to Gary Price and The Resource Shelf!

Patrons Behaving Badly

Last week it was the patron who came in well beyond the point of intoxication. We had to call the cops and later an ambulance to get rid of him and his alcoholic vapor breath.

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Almost half of poor Americans go to the library for Internet

Almost half of poor Americans go to the library for Internet
There's more data coming in on the extent to which low income Americans depend on public institutions for broadband. A new report released by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation says that 44 percent of those living below the poverty level access e-mail and the Web via their local public library. And nearly a third of Americans over 14 used library Internet services in 2009. That's about 77 million people.

Who needs a library?

Why do you need the library?

Why does anyone need the library?

Why do we need anything?

If we, librarians, could define the role of the library, then we, library users, could decide if we really need them. As it is, we are letting technology define the role of the library. Whereas I think that our service to people should define it.

I think it's a matter of ego. And Homo NOVUS, the superior iPhone-clutching human, can be a huge ahole. Whatever he needs, he gets, with a simple tap of his as-yet-to-be-determined-rightful-ownership-through-patent-litigation futuristic touch-screen. He (and She, the ladies can be aholes, too) is multi-tooled, unlike his club-wielding and single-minded predecessors.

It truly is ego. The new library is about who owns the authority. In the old library, the librarian was the authority. But things change.

(there should be a table here, but I don't think we can use tables)

ANTIQUUS (old library) --- NOVUS (new library)
Librarian-centric --- User-centric
Fixed Authority --- Dynamic Authority
Repeated shushing --- Constant bleeping

So clearly there's a power struggle. But it's not between librarians and library patrons, but between librarians and inanimate devices. NOVUS totes the device around, searching for signals, or wireless connectivity, and follows. So who is the master? the human or the device?

Are public libraries glorified babysitting services

"My town officials think all we're running here is a babysitting service" a librarian recently shared in a moment of frustration. She went on to mention studies about the proven impact on cognitive abilities when toddlers are actively engaged in library programs like Lapsit versus passively engaged with toys & videos.

This was news to me; my how the educational product companies and toy manufacturers had shaped my understanding! I also hadn't thought of toddler programs as educational initiatives. When I've seen adults and toddlers together at the library, I've usually thought "oh, aren't those kids adorable" and "I'm glad people are getting together to have fun". Though it now seems obvious, the educational and literacy component of Lapsit was lost on me.

This last point was intriguing, so I did some quick research. I googled "Lapsit" and got plenty of results from library websites around the country. I clicked through to the top 20 (all different libraries, by chance) and searched for the terms literacy and education in the page content, in images or as part of the navigation.

  • 80% made no mention of literacy or education in conjunction with Lapsit
  • 20% contained the term literacy
  • 10% contained the terms literacy and education

Clearly these stats don't tell the whole story, but they tell a good one about the help libraries need presenting information to the public.

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I Spy: Library Edition

Yesterday was incredibly busy. There was a children's program in the morning and it was raining book returns from the sky. The door count just eked over the 1500 threshold.

But it was a good Saturday because certain managers were not working which can just make your day.

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Borrow Books, and a Kindle To Read Them On @ Your library

The Shaler Library is letting Phil Breidenbach, 54, of Glenshaw PA and a handful of other patrons experiment with an Amazon Kindle, a hand-held device for reading online books. Shaler will be the first local library to lend such gadgets to the general public when it introduces them during National Library Week in mid-April.

"If books move to a format that doesn't take up space, that will free up libraries to do other things," said Marilyn Jenkins, executive director of the Allegheny County Library Association, a group of suburban libraries, including Shaler. Story from Pittsburgh Live.

The Subconscious Shelf (Or, What Your Books Say About You)

The New Yorker débuts a new photo feature on it's blog today... you submit a photograph of your bookshelf, and we (The New Yorker) tell you what it says about you.

Less than 50 minutes and no charge, if you're picked.

Separated by Distance, But Reading Together with Readeo

Shelf Awareness children's editor Jennifer M. Brown is working with Readeo's CEO and founder Coby Neuenschwander to launch the new service, which promotes shared reading over the Internet.

Readeo (try it for free) allows two people who are separated geographically (such as a grandparent and grandchild or a military parent and his or her child) to share books together in real time while connected in a BookChat (in which they can see each other via a video connection). On the screen, they see the same digitized picture book and turn the pages together.

Readeo is launching with well-known titles from four publishing partners: Blue Apple Books, Candlewick Press, Chronicle Books, and Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing. In her role as editor on the site, Brown works with Readeo's publishing partners to select the titles she believes best enhance the read-aloud experience.

Social Workers @ Your Library

Important story from the Associated Press about the San Francisco Public Library hiring a social worker to help homeless library patrons.

Every day, when the main library opens, John Banks is waiting to get inside. He finds a spot and stays until closing time. Then his wheelchair takes him back to the bus terminal where he spends his nights.

Like many homeless public library patrons, all Banks wants is a clean, safe place to sit in peace. He does not want to talk to anyone. He does not want anyone to talk to him. The day he decides he wants help, he knows what to do: ask for the library's social worker.

The main branch of the San Francisco Public Library, where hundreds of homeless people spend every day, is the first in the country to keep a full-time social worker on hand, according to the American Library Association.

Cities across the country are trying different approaches to deal with patrons who use bathroom sinks as showers or toilet stalls as drug dens. In Philadelphia and San Francisco, libraries have hired homeless patrons to work as bathroom attendants who guide others to drop-in centers or churches where they can bathe.

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