Human beings need what books give them

27 December 2016

In hard times, libraries are more important than ever. Human beings need what books give them better than any other medium. Since ancient nights around prehistoric campfires, we have needed myth. And heroes. And moral tales. And information about the world beyond the nearest mountains or oceans.

Today, with books and movies more expensive than ever, and television entertainment in free fall to the lowest level of stupidity, free circulating books are an absolute necessity. They are quite simply another kind of food.

For those without money, the road to the treasure house of the imagination begins at the public library.

Pete Hamill

What Libraries Can Learn from the Media, and Vice Versa

27 December 2016
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From MediaShift:

Australia’s oldest public library, and one of the first free public libraries in the world, celebrated its 160-year anniversary on Feb. 11, 2016, and is now Australia’s busiest library: over 1.7 million people visit each year. The library, per its website, has branded itself “keeper of Victoria’s history” and provides free journals, databases and e-books, major exhibits and collections, and collaborates with the community to tell millions of stories.

. . . .

As Laurie Putnam wrote in an article published on MediaShift in Nov. 2015: “Librarians are masters of sharing, and we need more ways to network our resources and spread our innovations.” Kate Torney is the perfect example of sharing resources.

Kate Torney, former director of news for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC News), left her high-level media job to become CEO of State Library Victoria in late 2015.

I contacted Kate via email to talk about why she made the switch, what libraries can learn from the media and vice versa, and how libraries and the media can both benefit from storytelling as a way to build an audience for information services. As State Library Victoria’s tagline asks: What’s your story?

. . . .

You noted that you wanted to be challenged in your new role as CEO of State Library Victoria, and to continue to be involved in cultural change: How do you see yourself accomplishing that?
Torney: I think this is a rare moment for the library sector. Libraries across the globe have been undergoing a quiet transformation for some time—rethinking the role of the library and identifying the skills needed to meet the existing and future needs of library users.

Your daughter reportedly asked you: “Do they know you’re not a librarian?” How did you respond to that, and to other people who note that this is not your field of immediate expertise?
Torney: I work with some of the best librarians in the world at SLV, and while I’m not a librarian, I have strong leadership experience [in the] information sector in the digital age.

. . . .

Do you see opportunities for more collaboration between libraries and the media? What might that look like to you?
Torney: Absolutely. Both sectors are grappling with disruption and there’s so much we can learn from each other.

And for libraries, I think we need to lift the profile of the sector and celebrate the transformation that’s already taking place. We read and hear about digital disruption of the media and other industries all the time. We should be hearing more about the library journey—there’s a lovely humility in the library sector, but sometimes it’s important to raise your voice and proudly share your story. And the library story is an inspiring one.

What does greater collaboration look like? The opportunities are endless, but a couple of good examples spring to mind: SLV has partnered with the ABC to promote literature for young people through an initiative called Splash. We co-host interactive sessions with authors which are webcast through the ABC and library sites, and those have been incredibly popular. We also recently hosted the national broadcaster’s local radio station at the State Library for an entire week—from breakfast to evening programming. It was a chance for the broadcast teams to be immersed in a community hub, and an opportunity for the library to highlight the depth of services offered and the talent of the library teams. I think there are also great opportunities to collaborate on storytelling—drawing on the wonderful stories within the library’s collections.

We are all in the information business. Journalists and librarians exist to share information and knowledge. Our goals are very similar.

Link to the rest at MediaShift

Library cat outlasts councilman that wanted him gone

20 December 2016

From CBS News:

A city councilman is out — and the beloved library cat he tried to chase off gets to stay,CBS Dallas/Fort Worth reports.

Elzie Clements’ final meeting as a member of the White Settlement City Council was Tuesday night. Clements tried to have Browser, the city’s docile grey tabby library cat, fired this past summer.

Browser got his job at the White Settlement Public Library when he was just a kitten. That was in October of 2010, the library’s website says. He was recruited from a local animal shelter as an inexpensive, effective method of pest control.

In July, a city worker apparently demanded Browser’s removal after the worker was not allowed to bring a puppy to work at City Hall. Two-legged library workers were outraged, and many people who use the library often said that they were unhappy with Bowser’s dismissal.

. . . .

Councilman Clements eventually ran out of his nine lives after he was defeated in a landslide in November’s election.

Mayor Ron White says as far as he’s concerned, Browser’s job title is now “Library Cat for Life.”

Link to the rest at CBS News and thanks to Matthew for the tip.

57 Years Later, Even the Library Had Stopped Counting the Fines

20 December 2016

From The New York Times:

In her 20th-floor apartment on the East Side of Manhattan, on a recent Saturday afternoon, Barbara Roston was busy explaining that she was definitely not a thief.

“It was a youthful indiscretion,” she said, “I didn’t mean to steal it.”

And yet, there it was, sitting on her desk: A faded green copy of “Gone With the Wind,” by Margaret Mitchell, that belonged to the Brooklyn Public Library.

It was 57 years overdue.

In her retirement, Ms. Roston, 72, decided to reread the book, which she had kept on her bookshelf for years, when she noticed the library’s markings.

On the last page, stuck to the paper pocket, was a sticker explaining the library’s policy: “Give your NEIGHBOR a chance to borrow this book. Return it on or before DUE DATE SHOWN ABOVE. The fee is 5¢ per calendar day for each book kept overdue.”

This volume was due back on Nov. 18, 1959. After 20,842 days since, Ms. Roston would owe the library $1,042.10.

. . . .

Ms. Roston, a Brooklyn native, checked out the book when she was 15. At the time she was a sales audit clerk at Macy’s, making $1 an hour.

. . . .

The Crown Heights branch of the Brooklyn Public Library is a squat building topped with a large clock on New York Avenue.

When Ms. Roston entered, she grabbed the nearest librarian and began whispering. She slowly pulled the book out of a tote bag. What followed was a lot of hushed giggling.

“Oh, wow, this looks like, from a really long time ago,” said Stefanie Sinn, a children’s librarian. “This is, like, a relic.”

“Well, I’m kind of a relic, too,” Ms. Roston said.

Link to the rest at The New York Times

New York Public Library launches imprint to publish books inspired by its collections

19 December 2016

From The Guardian:

A treasure trove of rare books, manuscripts, maps, photographs and more are set to fire the imaginations of authors in a new venture to celebrate libraries. New York Public Library and Macmillan in the US have announced a publishing partnership that will draw on the institution’s extensive collection.

Rated as one of the world’s best libraries, the NYPL and the publisher will use collections housed in research and branch libraries in 92 locations across Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island as source material for five to eight books a year. NYPL president Tony Manx said the venture would “celebrate the role of libraries with the public”.

Though the adult books have yet to be given titles, first off the blocks next year will be a book by Maira Kalman. The Principles of Uncertainty author and illustrator will “rejoice in the role of libraries”, a press statement said.

Link to the rest at The Guardian

You Can Now Check Out Library eBooks at Seattle’s Airport

14 December 2016

From The Digital Reader:

Over the past few years the King County Library System has operated pop-up free book kiosks at Seattle’s Sea-Tac Airport, but when the librarians were setting up a permanent presence, they decided to go digital.

KCLS announced on Facebook earlier this month that they had installed two OverDrive media kiosks in Sea-Tac Airport:

Are you travelling this holiday season? Be sure to check out the new KCLS eBook kiosks at SeaTac near the A or D concourse. No library card needed!

There’s bright orange signs throughout the airport to let travelers know about the wealth of online materials (books, movies, music) available through We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you find.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader

Libraries Become Unexpected Sites of Hate Crimes

9 December 2016

From The New York Times:

A librarian at the public library in Evanston, Ill., was recently preparing for a program titled “The Quran: Is It a ‘Good Book’?”

She gathered books to display for attendees and discovered that inside the cover of one, “The Koran for Dummies,” someone had written “lies cover to cover,” drawn a swastika and made a disparaging remark about the Prophet Muhammad.

She discovered six more books about Islam and the Quran that had been similarly defaced with racist language and imagery, officials said. The vandalism was a first for the library, Karen Danczak Lyons, its director, said in an interview.

The authorities say there has been a spate of hate crimes targeting libraries, their books or patrons — offenses officials said they had rarely seen before. These crimes coincide with a recent report by the F.B.I. that attacks against American Muslims surged last year.

Ms. Danczak Lyons called the episode “troubling,” noting that libraries, which promote education, research and discussions, had unexpectedly become sites for acts of divisiveness.

The library filed a police report, but there have been no arrests. Some of the books had not been checked out in a couple of years, and others had been taken out over the summer. Any damage would have been noted on their return, meaning the vandalism was probably recent, Ms. Danczak Lyons said. The library has cameras, but not in every aisle, and surveillance footage offered no clues about the vandalism.

. . . .

“In the last year, we have had startling increases in the number of hate crimes,” Julie Todaro, president of the American Library Association, said in an interview last week.

“I am stunned that I have seven or eight examples, because we have never had these kinds of crimes before in libraries,” she said. “We are in an increasingly difficult situation, because the communities are as divided as they have ever been.”

Link to the rest at The New York Times

Libraries’ Ambition report offers £4m fund but ‘ignores the real issues’

2 December 2016
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From The Bookseller:

The long-awaited Ambition report for Public Libraries has been published, urging local authorities to use libraries to deliver other public services such as health, with the help of a £4m dedicated fund.

Eight months after the draft Ambition document was released, the official document advising on a strategy to create a sustainable sector has been published by the department of culture, media and sport (DCMS), calling on local authorities to use libraries to provide public services such as employment, health and learning opportunities.

Such a use for libraries will help to keep the sector sustainable, the report says, following the closure of hundreds of services across the country since austerity measures came in in 2010 as pressurised local councils seek to make savings.

The document also called on local authorities to make the best use of library buildings, staff and services, urging them to “think innovatively” to help increase reading, literacy and digital access in communities.

. . . .

The Libraries Taskforce is also piloting new ways for libraries to generate income from government initiatives, such as delivering the National Citizen Service programme from libraries for young people from next year.

However, it offers no robust statistics on library closures and redundancies of librarians in the UK, which campaigners had called for. Libraries campaigners have also criticised it for “lacking ambition” and “avoiding” tackling more difficult structural issues the sector is facing.

. . . .

“If we are going to build a country that works for everyone then we need to recognise that libraries are among our most valuable community assets and they remain hugely popular,” he said. “More people went to a library in England last year than visited the cinema, Premier League football games and the top 10 UK tourist attractions combined.”

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

First Public Library Brings Excitement to Small Town

20 November 2016

From Central Illinois Proud:

There’s new excitement in the town of Flanagan.

“I think it’s one of the most positive things that has happened in this town for a long time and it’s just wonderful,” said Jane Roeschley while she checked out the new library.

“People have been asking, when is this going to happen, when is this going to open, you know, a lot of people think you can just put up shelves,” said founder, Kim Wargo.

. . . .

For years, people living in the town had to at least 20 miles just to check out a book, which inspired Kim Wargo to make a change.

“I think it gives people a lot of opportunities to come and use the computer, the internet, and to just experience how it’s nice to have a book,” she said.

It’s that message that convinced the bank owners to donate their old building.

In 2014 a property tax referendum brought in the money to help get the project going, and change the face of the town.

“We have been just noticing in the community in the past couple of years of how there needs to be new life in the community and this library is part of that,” said Dan Mays.

. . . .

It’s bringing the town of just over 1,000 people even closer together.

Link to the rest at Central Illinois Proud

A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy

12 November 2016

A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy, for there, in a book, you may find encouragement and comfort. A library is a good place to go when you feel bewildered or undecided, for there, in a book, you may have your question answered. Books are good company, in sad times and happy times, for books are people – people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book.

E.B. White

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