Making Friends in a New City Via Our Little Free Library

26 March 2017

From BookRiot:

Even though books have been subversive and political at many critical points in history, people still tend to think of them as an uncomplicated good in modern cities and towns. I know this because when my husband and I built a Little Free Library and stuck it in our front yard, we became known as “the Little Free Library couple” among the circle of community-engaged citizens that we were getting to know.

As in many towns and cities, our town has two dozen or so people that you see at every meeting, in every neighborhood event, at every charity fundraiser. These people didn’t have a way to place us: not that many people move to this city, and we are new to town. We’re nice enough, but even I understand when someone doesn’t really remember those nice but kind of quiet people who show up for a lot of meetings. When we had the Little Free Library to talk about, things changed.

A local elementary school principal looped us in on a new childhood literacy program just because we’d put a box in our front yard full of our old books; people grinned with recognition whenever we were describing where we lived and resorted to using the LFL as a landmark. I was stunned: there is a group of people out there that see the idea of promoting books to kids as great!

Link to the rest at BookRiot

PG has posted about Little Free Libraries before, but not recently. Following are a couple of photos of little free libraries.


Here’s a link to the Little Free Library website

Outrage as Library Service of the Year shortlistee slated for closure

22 March 2017

From The Bookseller:

Walsall Council is to reduce its library service – which has been shortlisted for Library of the Year at the British Book Awards – by more than half, in what has been described as a “highly ironic” and “criminal” decision.

The nine libraries threatened with closure (out of a total 16) are Beechdale, Blakenall, New Invention, Pelsall, Pleck, Pheasey, Rushall, South Walsall and Walsall Wood. They are due to close this June, despite the service being nominated for Library of the Year at the British Book Awards last week.

According to the judges, Walsall Libraries were shortlisted for the award because they were a “fine example of how libraries can go on changing lives despite constant uncertainty over funding”.

. . . .

Councillor Julie Fitzpatrick, portfolio holder for community, leisure and culture, told The Bookseller she was “delighted” that the library service had been shortlisted for Library of the Year, adding that although there will be fewer libraries in the borough, the libraries would be “fit for the future”.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

Local libraries struggle to balance cost of digital services against demand

14 March 2017

From the Sandusky Register:

When the CLEVNET library consortium stopped offering Hoopla Digital, the most popular digital library service, almost all public libraries in the Sandusky area faced a choice.

Do they spend additional money to continue offering Hoopla to their patrons, or do they drop the service?

In every case the Register could learn about, local libraries came up with extra money and kept offering Hoopla.

But the experience of using Hoopla has given libraries a lesson on the transition from paper books and other physical objects such as DVDs and audio CDs to the presumed library of the future, which likely will rely on digital materials.

. . . .

Hoopla is sometimes considered the best digital library service. Notably, users can check out any item they want, without having to go on a waiting list for popular items. Each patron of a library in the CLEVNET system was allowed 10 checkouts a month.

CLEVNET officials didn’t return a phone call from Register asking about why it dropped Hoopla, but James Tolbert, director of the Milan-Berlin Library District, said Hoopla refused to give CLEVNET a consortium discount. CLEVNET hadn’t raised membership fees to cover the Hoopla cost and found it couldn’t afford Hoopla, Tolbert said.

“The first year, it was somewhere around double what they budgeted for,” Tolbert said.

. . . .

Tolbert, who said each Hoopla checkout by a patron costs his library an average of $1.77, decided to budget $1,500 [per month] to try keeping the service for a year. Each patron is allowed 10 checkouts a month, the same as before, Tolbert said.

. . . .

Sandusky Library has 25,376 cardholders. The library has 781 patrons who have signed up for Hoopla, Carver said.

Link to the rest at Sandusky Register

The Life and Death of The Library of Alexandria

14 March 2017

From Lithub:

In 1960, four novels by the well-known English writer Lawrence Durrell were brought together in one volume and published as The Alexandria Quartet. Described by its author as “an investigation of modern love,” it was set in the Egyptian city of Alexandria before and during the Second World War, and was largely based on Durrell’s own experiences during his time there as a press attaché. The Quartet traced the personal lives of a number of key characters—seemingly based on real individuals, including Durrell’s second wife—from different, competing perspectives. He later claimed, however, that, out of all of the people portrayed and incidents featured, “only the city is real.”

Alexandria was the true hero of the book: an exotic, darkly seductive and sensuous city, fragrant of “offal and drying mud, of carnations and jasmine, of animal sweat and clover.” Durrell painted a picture of a cosmopolitan, Greco-Arab outpost, where East met West in a delicious collision of hotels, hashish cafés, colonial villas and squalid slums, all set between the blankness of the desert and the blue of the Mediterranean. Yet Durrell’s Alexandria was far from a product of the 20th century alone. Instead he called it a “capital of memory,” a place that still held on to the “echoes of an extraordinary history.” It was a remnant and a shadow of a much greater city, one born out of a dream two-and-a-half thousand years old.

In 331 BC, according to the Greek historian Plutarch, after successfully conquering Egypt, Alexander the Great received a vision in his sleep. A “grey-haired man of venerable appearance,” told him of “an island in the much-dashing sea in front of Egypt: Pharos is what men call it.” Alexander believed that this visitation was the Greek poet Homer, communicating from beyond the grave. When he travelled to view Pharos, he declared it to be the perfect spot for a city: a city that would bear his name, and that would become a new capital of the ancient world.

With his architect Dinocrates, the young emperor paced out the plan of “Alexandria,” scattering barley meal in the sand to mark the locations of palaces, streets and buildings. The city was rectangular in shape and ordered in a grid system, with its length exactly double its width—a design said to be modeled on the chlamys, the woollen military cloak worn by Macedonian warriors. A causeway was built between the mainland and the island of Pharos, spanning the sea from the vast royal palace complex that had emerged along the shoreline to create two huge, man-made harbors.

. . . .

Although it was built on Egyptian soil, Alexandria was at first a determinedly Greek city, established as the main trading hub of an Empire stretching from the Mediterranean to eastern India. Over time, however, its atmosphere and its architecture became a blend of classical and oriental influences, a mishmash of styles reflecting both its diverse population and the individual tastes of a succession of increasingly self-indulgent—and corpulent—kings. Yet what made the city truly unique was its role as a center for learning and scholarship. Alexandria was built around a simple yet staggeringly ambitious idea: that of holding in one place all of the knowledge ever accumulated by man. A Great Library was established there to become the memory bank of the ancient world, filled with papyrus and parchment scrolls containing everything from poetry, drama and literature, to advanced treatises on mathematics, anatomy, geography, physics and astronomy.

The library became one of the original and most spectacular hostages to fortune in all of world history. The tenet “knowledge is power” was its founding creed; yet if knowledge is power, it can also be threat, temptation, corruption and heresy. It was a sequence of natural disasters that saw the original city swallowed by the sea, but Alexandria’s library had vanished long before. It was claimed neither by cataclysm nor by catastrophe, but by man.

Link to the rest at Lithub

Ottawa Public Library introduces ‘express’ ebooks for speed readers

22 February 2017

From The Ottawa Citizen:

The Ottawa Public Library is encouraging speed reading with a new “express” ebooks system, the first of its kind at a Canadian public library.

Starting Wednesday, customers can borrow new and bestselling English-language ebooks for a loan period of seven days. The express system, previously only available for print books, now includes fiction and non-fiction ebooks.

“With a shorter loan period and a no-holds policy, express items help OPL optimize its collection, catering to fast readers,” a press release states.

The OPL’s website notes: “Ottawa Public Library eBooks get returned automatically once the loan period is finished so there will never be any late fees.”

Link to the rest at The Ottawa Citizen and thanks to Tudor for the tip.

Library Hand, the Fastidiously Neat Penmanship Style Made for Card Catalogs

18 February 2017

From Atlas Obscura:

In September 1885, a bunch of librarians spent four days holed up in scenic Lake George, just over 200 miles north of New York City. In the presence of such library-world luminaries as Melvil Dewey—the well-organized chap whose Dewey Decimal System keeps shelves orderly to this day—they discussed a range of issues, from the significance of the term “bookworm” to the question of whether libraries ought to have a separate reference-room for ladies.

They then turned their attention to another crucial issue: handwriting. As libraries acquired more books, card catalogs needed to expand fast in order to keep track of them. Though the newly invented typewriter was beginning to take hold, it took time and effort to teach the art of “machine writing.” Librarians still had to handwrite their catalog cards. And this was causing problems.

“The trouble in handwriting,” said Mr. James Whitney, of the Boston Public Library, “is that there is apt to be too much flourishing.”
Professor Louis Pollens of Dartmouth College agreed: “We want a handwriting that approaches as near to type as possible, that will do away with individual characteristics.”

A Mr. C. Alex Nelson, of the Astor Library in New York, then mentioned that “T.A. Edison, the inventor” had lately been experimenting with penmanship styles in order to find the most speedy and legible type of handwriting for telegraph operators. Edison, Nelson recalled, had ultimately selected “a slight back-hand, with regular round letters apart from each other, and not shaded.” With this style, Edison was able to write at a respectable 45 words per minute.

. . . .

This was the beginning of “library hand,” a penmanship style developed over the ensuing year or so for the purpose of keeping catalogs standardized and legible.

A handwriting sample for library school students, from the 1901 book A Library Primer by John Cotton Dana . PUBLIC DOMAIN

Dewey and his crew of “a dozen catalogers and librarians” spent, in his estimation, “an hour daily for nearly an entire week” hashing out the rules of library hand. They started by examining hundreds of card catalogs, looking for penmanship problems and coming up with ways to solve them. They concluded that the “simpler and fewer the lines the better,” and decided that, while a slant was best avoided, a slight backward slant was acceptable. Then they got to the more nitty-gritty stuff, such as whether to opt for a “square-topped 3” or a “rounded-top 3.” (The rounded-top 3 won out, as it is less likely to be mistaken for a 5 during hasty reading.)

Link to the rest at Atlas Obscura and thanks to Celia and others for the tip.

Academic libraries are shrinking, while content is growing. How did we get here?

15 February 2017

From No Shelf Required:

Academic library staff has been shrinking for 2 decades, while the quantity of scholarly content has grown exponentially.  In the 1960s Richard Abel & Company began the Approval Plan service as a systematic approach to help libraries manage the volume of new books published.  Libraries rely on vendor services (i.e., companies catering to libraries) to discover and acquire much of scholarly content.  Since the 90s, libraries have also depended on vendors to provide shelf-ready services for print books, customized cataloging, to manage financial transactions electronically, and to maintain online interfaces to support collection development and acquisitions processes.  Ebooks brought another layer of labor and complexity to library workflows.

. . . .

Within a decade of their birth, ebook aggregators entered mainstream library collecting.  Initially, the ebook appeared as just another format or manifestation of the print book; the library choice expanded beyond paper or cloth to include ‘e’ versions (in many cases PDFs).  Technology changed this: ebook models have upset the balance in traditional library collecting and continue to challenge traditional understandings not just of collection development, but of the role of the academic library.

. . . .

Treating print and digital content as alternate universes was until recently common across all parts of the ecosystem: publishers, libraries and vendors.  Two factors made this approach unsustainable:

  • academic libraries do not duplicate title purchases – as a rule just one copy of a title will be acquired, so comprehensive vision of titles acquired, regardless of format, is essential
  • digital acquisition and access models escape print book constraints in many significant ways

Link to the rest at No Shelf Required

Toronto Public Library Discusses Audiobook and e-Book Curation

11 February 2017

From GoodEReader:

The Toronto Public Library had 3.7 million audiobook and e-book checkouts via OverDrive in 2016 and their total digital circulation was over 5 million if you factor in Hoopla, OneClickDigital and Zinio. These type of loan figures are the byproduct of a unified strategy to put the emphasis on e-book discovery via their website and promote the library system in the city of Toronto.

The city of Toronto is the e-book capital of Canada and many of the most popular digital companies are located there. Wattpad is the current undisputed market leader in fan-fiction, short stories and serialized fiction. Readers spend 15 billion minutes on Wattpad every month and more than 500 writers have published completed works that have been read more than a million times. There are over 350 million stories, in 50 languages, on the site. Kobo is also located in Toronto and they are known all over the world as being the number 2 e-reading company, next to Amazon. They have a digital catalog of over 5.1 million titles and millions of readers consume digital content each month. Booknet Canada specializes in analytics and data on the entire Canadian digital publishing and traditional publishing industry.

The Toronto Public Library loans out the most digital titles consistently for the past three years. Maria Cipriano is in charge of adult eBook purchasing and curating and gave her thoughts on how she approaches audiobook and e-book curation to serve the needs of the community.

“Our ultimate goal is to promote the enjoyment of reading and to facilitate this by uniting readers with the books they are seeking in the most user friendly way possible. The curation of eBook collections is an integral part of our service and providing easy access to great content significantly enhances the user experience for our customers, here are some key points.”

. . . .

Libraries have finite budgets and are unable to purchase enough copies to provide immediate access to his week’s best sellers (unlike bookstores) and the hottest titles will, inevitably,  be checked out with lengthy holds lists.  This is where curation plays a key role in providing a readers advisory service – we can create collections of great reads with available copies that allow customers to find something to read immediately.  Customers can read something else while they wait for the latest blockbuster title they placed on hold on.   We guide customers to last year’s bestsellers  (books that they never got around to reading and forgot about),  award-winning titles,  best books lists, slightly older books that had media attention,  books library staff personally enjoyed, etc.   We actually have to work at this a lot harder than online bookstores who have unlimited copies of new books and don’t have to promote mid and backlist titles that much.

. . . .

In Canada, our customers like to read books by Canadian authors and we can easily gather these together for them.   Libraries play a role in promoting indie titles as well.  For example, I curated a list of 295 titles of books set in Toronto – it is fun to read books set in your own backyard.   I am sure this is the case for readers in  San Francisco, Auckland, etc.

Link to the rest at GoodEReader

Librarians in the 21st Century: The Power of Our Choices

9 February 2017
Comments Off on Librarians in the 21st Century: The Power of Our Choices

From The Literary Hub:

 After spending a lifetime in libraries, as a user and then as an employee (and still a user!), I’ve been thinking about the cultural discoveries I’ve made through libraries. The first books that had me considering what it meant to understand someone different than yourself through fiction were Faye Kellerman’s Rina Lazarus/Peter Decker series. I can’t remember where I jumped in, somewhere around Day of Atonement or False Prophet. But by the time we got to Justice, in 1995, Kellerman was permanent on my auto-buy list. I had just graduated from college, but I’d still had limited interactions with people who practiced Judaism. The books are mysteries, first and foremost, but the culture and traditions of Judaism are central to the characters in a way I’d never experienced before. But it wasn’t until I started buying library books for others that I began to think of my job as being a bridge to someone else’s cultural discovery.

As a black nerd in the 1980s who read just about anything she could get her hands on, reading about people different than myself, or reading about people like me written through the eyes of people different than myself, was a common occurrence. But the idea that reading about people different than myself, living their ordinary lives between adventures, could give me an understanding of different cultures: that was a new idea for me. If Kellerman’s books hadn’t been in the mystery section of the library, maybe I would have discovered them, but probably not. If my tiny library hadn’t ordered them, I definitely wouldn’t have discovered them.

So, now that I’m selecting materials for the community, doing collection development, I think a lot about not only what materials we add to the collection, but also where they’ll live in buildings, and how to get the most eyes on those materials. Collection development is what librarians call the process by which we add materials to library collections, and it’s one of those library terms that sounds like it means a lot, but actually tells you very little. In the broadest sense, collection development librarians are charged with seeking out and acquiring materials in accordance with the mission of any given library. If you’re an academic library, the primary focus of the collection is usually to support the curriculum of the institution. When I did collection development in an academic library, as a paraprofessional, it was for a tiny popular collection project. It was 1996, and the most notable book I selected for that collection: some fantasy book called A Game of Thrones. What I learned from that experience was that I needed to be in a public library. If you’re a public library, the focus of the collection can be as wide and varying as the community you serve. “Community” can be, and usually is, defined in a variety of ways by a variety of library stakeholders, including librarians.

Link to the rest at The Literary Hub

Fresh fears for libraries as councils face £5.8bn funding gap

31 January 2017

From The Bookseller:

Fresh fears for the future of libraries have emerged with the revelation that local councils are facing a £5.8bn spending gap by 2020.

The concerns have surfaced on the eve of the relaunch of the all party parliamentary group tonight (31st January), which campaigners hope will work to put pressure on government to affect real change in the public library service.

According to the Local Government Association (LGA), the long-term funding crisis means local government will continue to face an overall funding gap of £5.8bn by 2020 and that more than two thirds of the 375 councils in England and Wales will be forced to find millions in savings to plug the funding gaps in 2017/18.

Lord Porter, LGA chairman, said: “No new money from central government is being provided to councils in 2017/18. In fact, more than two thirds of councils will actually be worse off next year than they were expecting. [Even] if councils stopped filling in potholes, maintaining parks and open spaces, closed all children’s centres, libraries, museums, leisure centres, turned off every street light and shut all discretionary bus routes they would not have saved enough money to plug this gap by the end of the decade.”

. . . .

“We obviously think public libraries are amongst the most loved and widely used public services in the country and councils have a legal duty to ensure provision,” he said. “If these figures are even close to true then it’s very hard to see how [councils will be able to] fulfil the legal requirement [to deliver a comprehensive and efficient library service as defined by the 1964 Public Libraries Act].

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

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