Libraries

Comics, the King of Libraries

14 May 2017

From Publishers Weekly:

Graphic novel collections have become a staple of libraries across North America. But with greater popularity comes greater scrutiny and new issues. As demand for graphic novels and comics grows—especially among younger patrons—attempts to censor and remove certain titles from library shelves are also increasing.

In addition, self-published graphic novels (which are often crowdfunded) and digitally published comics are becoming more popular. But libraries, bound by acquisitions guidelines that require validation of books’ quality (generally a review in a reputable trade or consumer publication) that is not often available for self-published works, are struggling to include them. And comics in digital formats—such as e-books, streamed comics, and webcomics—are also difficult for librarians to justify purchasing: despite the growing demand for these works, there are only a few library vendors—OverDrive and Hoopla Digital among them—that offer them to libraries.

. . . .

Book challenges—the term for a formal effort to remove a title—filed by parents who find certain works objectionable are a constant in libraries. The visual nature of graphic novels and their prevalence in library collections makes them a big target. “You might be willing to read something, but adding the pictures is still really scary for a lot of folks,” says Carol Tilley, associate professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Thus it should come as no surprise that two graphic novels topped the American Library Association’s annual list of the most challenged books: This One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki and Drama by Raina Telgemeier. Both are acclaimed works by respected authors; however, that acclaim may have helped cause the problems. This One Summer, published by First Second, is marketed as a YA book for older teens. It deals with two girls on the cusp of adolescence who are learning about life and sexuality in an honest and nonexplicit manner. However, when it was named a Caldecott Honor book in 2015, some librarians and parents may have assumed it was for younger readers, despite the fact that it also won the Printz Prize for best YA novel.

“Most librarians buy all the Caldecott winners and they may not have been aware of the content,” says Robin Brenner, teen librarian at the Brookline (Mass.) Public Library. The confusion reflects the belief, still widely held in the U.S., that all comics are for children. “Everyone needs to be reminded that the Caldecott doesn’t always go to picture books for younger children,” she says.

James Larue, director of the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom, confirms the rise in challenges to graphic novels. He notes that both This One Summer and Drama—which includes a subplot about two gay middle schoolers—deal with LGBTQ themes, and “that continues to be a concern for many who challenge books.”

Even acquiring and shelving conventionally published graphic novels for adults can pose problems. Big Hard Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky collects a popular crime comedy series about a couple who can stop time when they have sex and use their powers to rob banks. The book is rated mature for explicit content. According to Larue, in the library where it was challenged, it was appropriately shelved in the adult section and clearly labeled as such. Larue suspects that, once again, parents assumed that “a book in the comics format is aimed at kids, even when it clearly isn’t.”

. . . .

Making it easier for libraries to offer digital comics is Hoopla, a digital streaming service providing a wide variety of content to public libraries. Hoopla Digital is the digital lending service of Midwest Tape; the service offered e-books, music, and movies when it launched in 2014 and added comics in 2015. Hoopla is currently available in 1,400 library systems and 5,600 branches across the U.S. and Canada.

When its comics service began, Hoopla offered only a small selection of DC comics and titles from independent comics publishers. Since then, “it’s grown by leaps and bounds,” according to Michael Manon, public relations and communications manager at Hoopla Digital. The service works with more than 70 publishers (including every major comics publishers except Marvel) and offers nearly 10,000 titles, including single-issue periodical comics, which are often a problem for libraries to carry because they are essentially magazines and not durable enough for circulation. Patrons of library systems using Hoopla can access the comics for free using their library cards.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

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College libraries ditch books so students can collaborate

25 April 2017

From the Times-Picayune:

The remodeled undergraduate library at the University of California, Berkeley, is modern and sleek. Its top two floors have low-slung couches, a nap pod, and meeting spaces with glass walls made to be written on and colorful furniture meant to be moved.

The library has even dropped its rules against food and drinks on those floors. That’s because they no longer contain any books, which could be damaged or stained.

California’s oldest university has removed 135,000 books from Moffitt Library to create more space for students to study, recharge and collaborate on group projects.

Libraries are 4,000 years old, but the digital revolution is changing their use on college campuses. From coast to coast, college libraries are removing rows of steel shelving, stashing the books they held in other campus locations and discarding duplicates to make way for open study spaces. Their budgets are shifting away from print to digital materials.

. . . .

“I’ve never actually needed to use a physical book,” Xiao said. “I’ve never checked one out. I can’t honestly say I even know how.”

Link to the rest at the Times-Picayune and thanks to Dave for the tip.

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The Boston Public Library is giving away free wedding ceremonies

11 April 2017

From Boston.com:

If you’ve always dreamed of saying ‘I do’ at Boston’s historic library, you’re in luck. The Boston Public Library is giving six couples the chance to exchange their vows inside its outdoor courtyard for free on June 11.

. . . .

For the big day, couples will be provided a light breakfast and beverages, bouquets and boutonnieres, as well as music and photography for the ceremony. The ceremonies will be officiated by Thomas Welch, a justice of the peace, and each wedding party is allowed a maximum of eight guests.

Link to the rest at Boston.com and thanks to Lucy for the tip. Here’s more information about private events at the library.

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Lords urged to make ‘positive intervention’ in decline of libraries

30 March 2017
Comments Off on Lords urged to make ‘positive intervention’ in decline of libraries

From The Bookseller:

Libraries body CILIP has urged peers to intervene in the declining library service ahead of a debate in the House of Lords today (30th March) on libraries and other arts services.

The library and information association has highlighted the “profoundly damaging” effect the “severe neglect” of the public library service has had on society ahead of the debate, which takes place in the House of Lords at 1pm today.

The debate will see Nicholas Le Poer Trench, the Earl of Clancarty, ask the government what steps it intends to take to protect and improve local arts and cultural services, including museums, libraries and archaeological services.

In a briefing provided ahead of the debate, CILIP said that despite the positive impact of libraries and librarians, the UK’s national library network has suffered from “severe neglect” as a result of successive programs of government policy. Recent CIPFA figures have revealed that 478 libraries have closed across England, Scotland and Wales since 2010 and budgets have been slashed by £25m.

. . . .

Ian Anstice, librarian and editor of Public Libraries News, told the Bookseller that he believes the debate is necessary as the government has “shown it needs to be told, apparently repeatedly, that it is not doing enough for libraries”.

“I’m delighted that the Lords will be debating this important national public service”, Anstice said. “If libraries are not talked about then there’s a danger that people think the issue is settled, which would be disastrous seeing the potential cuts that they are facing, and have already endured. While I am pleased with the setting up of a Taskforce and know the people within it genuinely want the best for the sector, it is tied to the government line of austerity and localism. The first means there is less and less money and the second means that local councils can happily atomise their services with no central direction. Each separately makes little enough sense for a national service but both together spells a disaster for the sector.”

Children’s author and library campaigner Alan Gibbons said that while he “always welcome politicians paying attention to libraries”, the “deliberations of the Libraries Taskforce have been long and labyrinthine”, and meanwhile “hundreds of libraries have closed, a quarter of librarians have lost their jobs, opening hours have been slashed, book stocks have shrunk and inevitably some of the public have drifted away, discouraged by this failure”.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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