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Today's NY Times describes an evening of speed dating at the San Francisco Library.
“The library wants to be a gathering place that is relevant to younger people,” said Donya Drummond, the reference librarian who promoted the San Francisco event, mostly through Facebook. “We had more people than we knew what to do with.”
Literary speed dating seems to have its roots in Europe. Danny Theuwis, a librarian from Leuven, Belgium, believes he and his colleagues introduced the concept in 2005 with the goal to enliven somber libraries, and make them “more alive, more direct, more emotional,” he said in an e-mail. He trained hundreds of librarians across Europe to host literary speed dating, or “bibdating” in Flemish.
Among the first of similar events in the United States took place at the Omaha Public Library Benson Branch, where Amy Mather, a librarian, and her colleague at the time, Manya Shorr, organized a “Hardbound to Heartbound” night in 2009, on Valentine’s Day. Some 65 people showed up.
Story from NPR about the reopening of the Library of Alexandria. It was closed for the last few weeks during the demonstrations, both to protect it from vandalism, and to protest the army's curfew.
And the library's director, Ismail Serageldin says that in all the protests, not a stone was thrown at the library, and not a pane of glass was broken.
"What happened was pure magic," he says. "People from within the demonstrations broke out of the demonstrations and simply linked hands, and they said 'This is our library. Don't touch it.'"
The ancient library has been destroyed several times by vandals and conquerors — most notably by a fire, several centuries ago.
From the website of Jamie Ford, author of The Hotel On the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.
"Where were you on Superbowl Sunday? I was at...the Seattle Central Library. Yes, months ago I agreed to an event on February 6th, not realizing I was going to end up head-to-head with that abstract pseudo-holiday dedicated to taped-knuckles and million-dollar commercials, with its 5-hour pregame show, and the copious consumption of hot-wings and guacamole.
At first I feared it'd be one of those sparsely attended affairs—just me, the janitor, and a few of our closest friends. But to my surprise (and rapt delight) nearly 150 people showed up, not counting the hundreds of others just gettin' their library on, on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
All I can say is, God bless a literate America."
In Spokane, WA a group of civic and literary minded folks are planning a fundraiser to pay off the fines and fees on children's library cards so they can use them again. The local libraries block cards from use if they carry a balance of $10 or more. By paying off these fines, the group raises money for the library and opens up blocked cards so kids can once again borrow books.
Letter from a library patron on the North Shore of Long Island (NY):
LIBRARY NOISE: While I appreciate the input from the librarian regarding this topic, I must voice my opinion on it. I really see no need for the high level of noise in the library. Yes there will be interactions between people in the library, but what I've heard bordered on obnoxious...certainly unnecessary. It seems like every time someone uses the excuse of 'times have changed', it seems like it's always for the worse.
I hate to say it, but the noises that were the loudest were from the library workers themselves, and it had NOTHING to do with library business. C'mon ladies and germs, tone it down please. Maybe times have changed, but there are more than a few old timers that still welcome the peace, solitude and quiet of a library. Don't take this last remaining refuge from us.
And elsewhere, another library in Newport Beach, CA is in the midst of deciding how much noise is too much. From the Daily Pilot.
So what do you think...how much noise is acceptable?
I currently work at a small liberal arts college in the Midwestern USA where librarians are "embedded" in introductory courses and oversee the information literacy curriculum. Last week one of my colleagues informed me about a response from one of her students that I just have to pass along. The student's comment was that she couldn't find anything at the library about the Industrial Revolution , her other topic was .... wait for it .... Martin Luther and the Reformation. As Joe Friday is often quoted as uttering "Just the facts, ma'am"....
Catalog keyword search hits
Ok, I know that out-of-the-box library catalogs aren't as "innovative", user friendly (or forgiving) as Amazon, Google, and the like, but the difference between what the student claimed and what the "facts" illustrate is too wide a chasm to cross.
Comments like this make me think that we should have a library lock-in, perhaps overnight, and not let the student out until they find something. Heck, it might even become a succesful reality show. It wouldn't be as goofy as Silent Library but it might still be a goodie. Afterall, there could be worse fates.
Residents used to walk into the Piscataway Public Library and ask Kate Baker where they could find a particular book.
Now, they’re more likely to ask the 49-year-old librarian how to format a résumé and fill out a job application.
"Almost half my day is devoted to job seekers," said Baker, who has worked at the library for eight years. "We keep getting more and more computers, and they’re always filled."
As the jobless rate has climbed since the onset of the financial crisis three years ago, the role of the public library has changed dramatically. In New Jersey, where nearly one in every 10 people is unemployed, officials say the local library has become Job Search Central for many residents. The upshot for librarians like Baker: Instead of spending her workdays organizing and purchasing books, she has watched her job morph into one that is equal parts job counselor, computer trainer and life coach.
Toronto Star reports: It was the busiest time of day on the busiest day of the week — as toddlers learned new words, students surfed the web, librarians checked-out books — when a crossbow fired a bolt through Si Cheng’s back.
The 52-year-old died, right there, the Main St. public library on Thursday, just after 4 p.m. His 24-year-old son, Zhou Fang is charged with pulling the trigger.
“This is a very unusual incident,” said Anne Marie Aikins, communications manager for Toronto Public Library. “So we’re trying to make sure anyone affected by it gets their needs met.”
Several after-school programs were underway when Cheng was murdered, including Ready for Reading — a program for kids 5 and under. Teenagers were arriving post class. Librarians were switching shifts.
“It was a bustling place at the time,” said Aikins.
In their panic, many people left knapsacks and books behind. Many are still logged into computers. And the library has a record of members signed up for the several programs going on at the time. -- Read More
A letter to the editor of the Port Orchard (WA) Independent :
Are libraries really needed anymore?
If so, why aren’t people who use them willing to pay for that service?
Libraries aren’t a vital service and therefore library cardholders and the “Friends of the Library” should be more than willing to donate money and pay user fees for the luxury of having a library.
I guess I don’t quite understand why the public needs so many libraries.
We have libraries in most public schools, colleges and universities.
How many libraries do the public and the students really need?
Most every American has a desktop or laptop computer that can access websites to find the information needed in today’s complex world.
You can also read most books online at college and university websites.
Providing computers at public libraries is a huge cost to taxpayers.
I even know poor people who have computers. In this day and age, anyone who needs to use the library to access a computer is simply too cheap to buy their own.