People N Patrons

People do the craziest things in libraries

Fighting Crime...One Book at a Time

Seattle PI Blog post from new blogger Nancy Mattoon:

As librarians are well aware, even in the book world no good deed goes unpunished. Getting the right book into the right hands seems innocent enough--until it isn't. Headline hungry scribes sometimes seek to link books and crime. (The permanent stain on "The Catcher in the Rye" after being found in the possession of both Mark David Chapman and John Hinkley post-crime is the most notorious example.) And censors still have a field day with the "evil" items made available in the Children's Room. (Top targets on that hit parade: the "Harry Potter" series and Phillip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy) But what of the notion that books can actually help fight crime? Two recent stories point out how the humble book may be a useful tool for the Thin Blue Line.

Columbus's Decidedly Male Book Club

The chianti begins flowing promptly at 7:30 p.m., accompanied by a spread of submarine sandwiches and chocolate-chip cookies.

So, too, does a lively dissection of David Grann's The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon. The nonfiction narrative details the New Yorker scribe's quest to trace the path of British explorer Percy Fawcett, who in 1925 disappeared while surveying the Brazilian jungle.

A 90-minute conversation, peppered with laughs and jabs at the self-admitted urbanite author ("too much of a professional" and "utterly contrived"), stretches well past sunset in the Dublin backyard of Rich King, chief operating officer of a Downtown law firm.

Just as prevalent as the banter -- and a few drink refills -- are plenty of deep thoughts: Why do we explore? What makes us obsess? Does a real pioneer use a GPS?

The group -- which includes professors, doctors, lawyers and businessmen -- is hardly a casual klatch (although some participants arrive sporting dress shirts with cuff links, others opt for T-shirts and flip-flops). They've read 121 more titles, each graded collectively on an academic scale -- from the excellent (Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible earned an "A") to the so-so (Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, a "B"). It's an all-male book club -- the only one in Columbus, OH, members think -- into its 11th year.

Woman, 91, believed to be UK's most prolific library book borrower

A 91-year-old woman from Stranraer in south-west Scotland is believed to be Britain's most prolific library book reader after staff at her local library realised she is on the brink of borrowing her 25,000th book.

Boston Homeless Book Club Draws on Common Interests to Bring People Together

Steve Hartman (<A HREF=http://www.cbsnews.com/>CBS News</A>) reports on the book club that's inspiring people in other states and countries. It all began with an unlikely friendship between two men, one a lawyer and the other homeless. Read the story and watch the video at <A HREF=http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/08/07/assignment_america/main5226067.shtml>"A Tale With a Storybook Ending".</A>

Reading One Book Changed His Whole Life

And now he owns one of the few bookstores, independent or otherwise, in an inner-city Philadelphia neighborhood. Hakim Hopkins, who grew up in West Philadelphia and Atlantic City, was 15 and in juvenile detention when his mother gave him a copy of Native Son. "That book just took me out," Hopkins, 37, remembers. "I didn't know that a book could be that good. I became a book lover, and a thinker." Today, Hopkins runs the Black & Nobel bookstore at Broad and Erie that in the year since it expanded to that spot has become a neighborhood hub.

A Retired Teacher Shares Her Life-Long Love of Libraries

From Public Broadcasting wbfo, Mildred Blaisdell remembers spending afternoons in the late 50's and 60's at the B.F. Jones Memorial Library, particularly in the summertime.

There wasn't much air conditioning in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania in the late 50's and early 60's. But the library was a haven of coolness on hot, humid afternoons.

The B.F. Jones Memorial Library was a classy robber baron equivalent of "My parents went to the beach and all I got was this tee shirt." While my grandfathers were working in the Jones and Laughlin Steel MIll for low wages, the Jones and the Laughlins built lovely granite public libraries for the use of the families of their underpaid workers. The library was the most beautiful edifice in town.

Library fan nears 25,000th book

An avid reader in south west Scotland is on the brink of borrowing her 25,000th book from her local libraries.

Louise Brown, 91, from Stranraer, took her first book on loan from Castle Douglas library in 1946.

Library staff gets the strangest calls

In small libraries, there's no reference librarian. All staff members answer the phone and respond to the questions, many simple requests such as directions, times of local activities, phone numbers, genealogical information.

Evadna Bartlett collected some of the others.

"Do you know the phone number for the post office? I don't think it's in the phone book."

Morning at the Ref Desk

Does this sound familiar?

Librarian: Good morning. Reference. How may I help you?
Caller: Hi. Is this Reference?

Librarian: Yes, sir. You have reached the Reference Desk. How may I help you?
Caller: Gee, I hope you can help me.

Librarian: I will certainly try. Tell me what you are looking for.

Caller: Well, I’m not sure what I’m looking for, but my wife told me to call.
Librarian: Great! What did your wife want?

Caller: She said you’d know what that new book is by that lady mystery writer. You know, the one everybody is reading.

Librarian: Oh, that one. Good. Ah. Would you have any idea the name of the author?

Caller: No. Oh, wait a minute, wait a minute. The lady’s name is…oh, I can’t read her writing. It’s impossible. Um…My wife said the cover of the book is a really neat picture.

More (and who knows, maybe the title of the book?) from Daily News Transcript (Norwood MA).

Walter Cronkite, Great Journalist of the 20th Century, Dead at Age 92

Road Rage At The Elementary School

EVERETT WA — An Everett man is accused of berating fifth-graders on safety patrol and using his vehicle to knock down an (unnamed) elementary school librarian during a dispute over what entrance he was supposed to use when dropping off his child at school.

Prosecutors on Monday charged Trevor Wipf, 33, with second-degree attempted assault, a felony. He is accused of intentionally driving his sport utility vehicle into the librarian at Jefferson Elementary School during this past school year.

Wipf told police he didn’t hit the librarian. He said the librarian slipped when he tried to kick Wipf’s vehicle, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Janice Albert wrote.

No Spitting @ Your Library

The unfortunate incident reported by Leigh Reporter (Southern Lancashire UK).

Privacy: A Bigger Challenge Than Ever

Even for a place where personal information is under siege, the case of Brandy Combs is unusual.

University of Florida police allege Combs stole a university librarian’s personal information to fraudulently obtain more than $31,000 in student loans and took a student’s information to get a false student identification. He was arrested on May 20 on charges of fraud and passing false checks.

While the details of the case were unusual, having a breach of private information at UF was not. The university experienced more than 130 confirmed privacy breaches in 2008, compromising the information of about 358,000 individuals, according to the UF Privacy Office.

UF officials said they’re taking steps to improve security as new regulations increase reporting requirements and fines for breaches. But they say the nature of a university means keeping large amounts of information that is sought by hackers and others.

“Every university, because it’s a university, is a prime target,” said Chuck Frazier, UF’s interim chief information officer. “You can be attacked from anyplace and every place.” The Gainesville Sun.

Michael Jackson, the Bookworm

From the LA Times: Owners of Los Angeles area bookstores (some no longer in business) recall encountering the late pop star perusing their shelves.

A few years ago, Doug Dutton, proprietor of the former Dutton's Books in Brentwood, was at a dinner with people from Book Soup, Skylight and other area bookstores. "Someone mentioned that Michael Jackson had been in their store," Dutton said by phone Thursday, "And everybody said he'd shopped in their store too."

"I've always wondered if there was a library in Neverland," Doug Dutton mused. Indeed there was -- Bob Sanger, Jackson's lawyer, told LA Weekly that Jackson's collection totaled 10,000 books.

Fines for ESL Materials, Interlibrary Loans and Childrens Books

It's clamp down time at the Seattle Public Library. The Board of Trustees voted unanimously Wednesday to impose overdue fines on previously exempt childrens books and English-as-a-second-language materials, charge a $5 fee for interlibrary loans and limit the number of materials a user can check out and place holds on.

Fines on previously exempt materials, which will remain exempt until changes start Oct. 15, are expected to bring an added $36,000 in annual revenue. City Librarian Susan Hildreth said the decision was not done to raise revenue, but to help staffers maintain their workload and keep materials in circulation.

The Seattle PI article goes on to quote some library users who are very unhappy about the proposed changes.

Honoring a Great Librarian in Montana

The front of the Great Falls (MT) Public Library has a brand new look, and it's all to honor an important member of the city's history. Alma Jacobs (1916-1997) was the library's Director from 1954-973.

She was the first African American in the state to hold that position and her contributions to the library and to the community were endless.
Born in Lewistown in 1916, Jacobs received a master's degree at Columbia. From there, she returned to Montana, beginning a long career at the Great Falls Public Library.

Today, a ceremony was held to re-open and rededicate the library's front plaza in her honor.

The Internet: Good, Bad, Both

Like any conduit of information, the Internet can be used for good or for ill.

This CBS news article The Hatemongers' New Tool: The Internetby Christopher Wolf, Chair of the Anti-Defamation League’s Internet Task Force and Immediate Past Chair of the International Network Against Cyber-Hate, talks about how James Von Brunn, convicted killer of Holocaust Museum guard Stephen Johns, used it to promote his agenda of hate.

Encouraging Positive Behaviours

Stephen Abram wonders... Now think about libraries. We have alll followed the Flickr group on bad library signs. There's much to learn. If we had a good discussion about behaviours we wanted to encourage what would our signs look like?

If you accepted the research based communication results above, how would you:

1. Communicate about fines or returning books (on time)?
2. Communicate about not reshelving books?
3. Encourage parents and caregivers to attend story hours?

Amid the Hustle and Bustle, A Quiet Place

Silence no longer reigns in today's libraries, but every so often, patrons need a place for peace and yes, quiet.

Around the country, more and more public libraries provide designated quiet rooms to take the edge off their transformation into chaotic hubs, which was done in part to draw more visitors and keep pace with the demands of frenetic, technology-driven lives.

While adding toddler playtime and teen dances, library officials discovered that many patrons still longed for a traditional, less hectic atmosphere.

Says Rhoda Goldberg, director of the Harris County (TX) public library system, ""People wanted a place for quiet study. It takes them out of the hustle and bustle in buildings that are very busy. We're going to be putting in quiet rooms as much as possible."

Inside the Clear Lake quiet room, the loudest noises are whispers and the faint rustling of turning pages. Even the overstuffed upholstered armchairs encourage patrons to sink into stillness. Story from the AP.

Ruth Padel, First Woman Chosen As Oxford Professor of Poetry

First a filly wins the Preakness, and now, a 301-year male only streak is broken with the appointment of Ruth Padel as the new Oxford professor of poetry, the first woman to hold the post since it was established in 1708. Ms. Padel, the great-great-granddaughter of Charles Darwin, was chosen on Saturday following a controversial contest for the position.

The controversy surrounding the contest was the withdrawal of another candidate, Derek Walcott, after news surfaced about sexual harassment claims made against him by a Harvard student in 1982. A dossier containing the details had been sent anonymously to 200 Oxford academics. Mr. Walcott’s withdrawal left Ms. Padel and the Indian poet and critic Arvind Mehrotra in consideration.

Story from The New York Times.

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