Great to See Major Publishers Embrace Alternative Ebook Models in Public Libraries, But Let’s Give Credit Where Credit is Due

From No Shelf Required:

This month, libraries across North America that work with hoopla digital will be able to provide access to some 15,000 (backlist) titles by HarperCollins, one of the ‘big five’ publishers that have resisted working with non-traditional ebook business models and adhered to the one-copy-one-user approach, resulting in less-than-ideal user experience for public library patrons. The news came the day before the official launch of the American Library Association conference in late June and has already received ample coverage, much of which has revolved around statements that with this move HarperCollins was changing the game, breaking new ground, and giving libraries something exciting to look forward to.

While HarperCollins deserves credit for being the first of the Big Five (others include Penguin Random, Macmillan, Hachette, Simon & Schuster) to go a step beyond the restrictive one copy-one user model (it was also the first to provide ebooks to libraries when others weren’t ready), HarperCollins isn’t the first publisher to embrace alternative models and certainly isn’t the one that is breaking new ground with this move. In fact, as many already know, hoopla has offered the cost-per-circulation model (which pays publishers per ‘loan’ instead of paying fixed fees to acquire titles) for a few years.

. . . .

I’ve had the privilege of working with vendors that cater to all types of libraries and have seen first-hand how difficult it is to crack the public library market in particular. My experience has shown that the vast majority of libraries are simply not ready or are not willing to work with new (unfamiliar) companies providing high-quality services (and models that are actually revolutionizing access to books) if, and particularly if  a) they are not established and don’t have a proven record in the library field; b) they are not based in North America (not always the case but very often) and c) they do not work with the Big Five (because public library patrons want those bestsellers the most, an argument that certainly carries weight).

Link to the rest at No Shelf Required and thanks to Paul for the tip.

Getting started with the Libby app to borrow ebooks and audiobooks from your library

From Overdrive:

Our new Libby app is the easiest way to get started with digital books and audiobooks from your public library. Libby is available for Android, iOS (iPhone/iPad/iPod touch), and Windows 10.

. . . .

Step 1

Install the Libby app from your device’s app store.

Step 2

Open Libby and find your library. You can search by library name, city, or zip code.

Step 3

Browse your library’s collection and borrow a title. When prompted, sign in with a valid library card.

Step 4

Borrowed titles appear on your Shelf and download to the app automatically when you’re connected to Wi-Fi, so you can read them when you’re offline.

From your Shelf, you can:

  • Tap Open book or Open audiobook to start reading or listening to a title.
  • Tap the cover image, then Send to Device to send a book to Kindle.

Link to the rest at Overdrive

PG says this looks a lot simpler than working your way through most library websites.

Draft2Digital Adds Overdrive to the Fold

From Draft2Digital:

One of the most frequent questions we hear from D2D authors is, “How can I get my books into libraries?”

We’re pleased to announce that, starting today, Draft2Digital now distributes to OverDrive, enabling our authors to place their books into one of the most trusted and far-reaching library distribution services on the planet.

. . . .

  • Lower minimum pricing—Set your price as low as 99 cents
  • Better royalties—Earn 46.75% of your list price
  • No contracts or limitations—Distribution with OverDrive is opt-in, and you can choose to include or exclude your books right from your Author Dashboard

The next time you log in to Draft2Digital, you’ll see a pop-up that will let you include all your books at once, making it easy to start distributing right away! If you’d prefer to wait, you can opt in one book at a time, any time.

Link to the rest at Draft2Digital


The Rare-Book Thief Who Looted College Libraries in the ’80s

From the Atlas Obscura:

On the evening of December 7, 1981, Dianne Melnychuk, serials librarian at the Haas Library at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, noticed an unfamiliar gray-haired man of early middle age lingering around the card catalog near her desk. He had attempted to appear inconspicuous by way of nondescript, almost slovenly dress, but at almost six-and-a-half feet tall, with a 225-pound frame, he stood out.

Something about him rang a bell. Melnychuk discreetly followed him up to the sixth level of the stacks, and carefully observed him from the end of a row of shelving. In spite of the glasses he wore that evening, his face clicked in her memory.

A few months earlier, a photo of this man, who went by the name James Richard Shinn, had appeared in an article published in Library Journal. Patricia Sacks, director of the Muhlenberg and Cedar Crest College Libraries, had shared the article with her staff with an accompanying memo: “Take a good look at the face,” she wrote, “and, more importantly, keep your eye on strangers whose behavior may be a tipoff.”

James Richard Shinn was a master book thief. Using expert techniques and fraudulent documents, he would ultimately pillage world-class libraries to the tune of half a million dollars or more. A Philadelphia detective once called him “the most fascinating, best, smartest crook I ever encountered.” And yet, despite the audacity of his approach and the widespread effects of his crimes, Shinn has been relegated to a footnote in book history.

. . . .

Shinn’s motel room contained 26 stolen books and a file full of inventory cards for another 154 volumes. He was well-educated in book history, restoration and binding, and the tools of his trade filled the room: color-stained cloths and Q-tips with jars of shoe polish, used to color-match and conceal library markings on book spines. A folder of facsimile title pages, used as replacements when a book’s true title page was stamped or contained other identifying marks. All were designed to remove libraries’ marks and render the stolen works unidentifiable and thus saleable to unsuspecting book dealers and collectors.

Link to the rest at Atlas Obscura

Best Excuses for not Returning Library Books on Time

From Book Riot:

The best part about being a librarian is being able to help community members with their information needs. Patrons frequent their public libraries to check out new books, make prints, fax papers, apply for jobs or simply to visit their favorite librarian.

. . . .

So, I would be lying if I told you I did not like my job. The truth is, it is the most rewarding career I could imagine. Most patrons are so genuinely thankful for the assistance their librarians provide that they know they can always turn to them for help with the most difficult questions. However, when it comes to turning in books late and racking up fines, some patrons do not mess around. They hate racking up fines and hate it even more when they have to pay those fines.

. . . .

“I couldn’t find the keys to my car that day.” So I guess you could not find them every day after that either? I wonder how you got to work or dropped your kids off at school. Hmmmm.

“I didn’t know they were due that day. I never bring back my books late. I’m always on top of things like that.” ::Checks account, sees a long history of returning books late::

. . . .

“I’m a taxpayer and I shouldn’t have to pay fines.” What would this world come to if you weren’t held accountable for paying your late fees? Yes, you can speak to a commissioner or the mayor if you would like.

But my all-time favorite has to be: “It was just too hot that day to return my books.” Listen, I know it’s Texas and 110 degrees but “too hot outside” is not an excuse I can mark on your account. You have to give me something better than that.

Link to the rest at Book Riot

A Childhood of Reading and Wandering

From The Literary Hub:

There are ecological reasons to question how books are made out of trees but metaphysical reasons to rejoice in the linkage between forests and libraries, here in this public library, in the town I grew up in, with the fiber from tens of thousands of trees rolled out into paper, printed and then bound into books, stacked up in rows on the shelves that fill this place and make narrow corridors for readers to travel through, a labyrinth of words that is also an invitation to wander inside the texts. The same kind of shade and shelter that can be found in an aisle of books and an avenue of trees, and in the longevity of both, and the mere fact that both, if not butchered or burned, may outlive us.

In the most egalitarian of European—and New Mexican—traditions, forests were public commons in which common people could roam, graze flocks, hunt and gather, and this is another way that forests when they are public land and public libraries are alike: as spaces in which everyone is welcome, as places in which we can wander and collect, get lost and find what we’re looking for.

The United States’s public libraries sometimes seem to me the last refuges of a democratic vision of equality, places in which everyone is welcome, which serve the goal of an informed public, offering services far beyond the already heady gift of free books you can take home, everything from voter registration to computer access. I’ve joked for a long time that if you walked up to people in the street and asked them whether we could own our greatest treasures collectively and trust people to walk away with them and bring them back, a lot of people would say that’s impossibly idealistic and some would say it’s socialist, but libraries have been making books free for all for a very long time. They are temples of books, fountains of narrative pleasure, and toolboxes of crucial information. My own writing has depended on public libraries and then university libraries and archives and does to this day. I last used a public library the day before yesterday.

Link to the rest at The Literary Hub

60 Library Systems are on Pace to Hit One Million Digital Checkouts in 2017

From Overdrive Blogs:

Last year, a record 49 different OverDrive digital library collections hit one million checkouts and we’re excited to announce that it looks like, once again, a new benchmark will be set. Records are meant to be broken, after all. In 2015, the number of library systems hitting one million checkouts was 33 and two years later we’re within range of doubling that amount. When we reached the end of June, 60 digital collections had surpassed 500,000+ circulations and another ten are just off that pace. In fact, 15 of them have already passed the one million checkout threshold.

The Million Checkout milestone is both a great achievement and a marketing tool for our library partners. Many libraries boost their marketing efforts during the holidays to promote the service and reach that goal. Neighboring libraries have even created friendly competitions to see who can circulate the most eBooks, audiobooks and other digital content. These events often spark inspiration for other libraries to say, “Next year that will be us!” While we love this gumption to plan for next year, there’s still time to reach new heights in 2017.

Link to the rest at Overdrive Blogs

The Book Blind Taste Test – Pick a book… any book…

From All About Romance:

I have always loved libraries, but I admit I had fallen out of the habit of using my local one recently. One of my dear friends is a middle school librarian and she (appropriately) shamed me a bit for it, telling me the best way to make sure libraries stay around and keep their funding is to use them. So, a few months back, I started building weekly trips to my local temple of knowledge into my schedule and added a particular challenge to myself. I would walk directly to the New Releases section and pick up the first book by an author I didn’t recognize.

This has led to some real gems (Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinsborough was one) and some duds (which I will leave out for politeness). I told the AAR Staff about my new project and several of them jumped on board, saying it sounded like a great challenge. So many other staffers joined me, in fact, that we’ve decided to make it a regular blog.

The parameters of the project are fairly simple: you must read one book by a new-to-you author, either one you’ve never heard of or one you’ve been meaning to get to, and give it at least fifty  pages. For AAR, our additional rule is that the book involves women; written by one or has one as a protagonist. How you acquire the book is up to you; library, bookstore, TBR pile that is threatening to overrun your house. Just make sure you haven’t read the author before.

Link to the rest at All About Romance

Waukegan Public Library Employees Confront Sexual Harassment of Librarians

From Illinois Leaks:

During the American Library Association’s (ALA) latest conference (held in Chicago in June 2017), two Waukegan Public Library employees delivered a standing-room-only presentation on sexual harassment experienced regularly by public librarians.

Amanda Civitello (Waukegan’s Marketing and Communications Manager) and Katie McLain (Reference Assistant) opened their remarks to the packed room with the story of what it’s like to be a public librarian and having to tell friends and family about working in a sexually hostile work environment (when no one in America, under the EEOC Act, has to suffer like that).

Civitello talked about being out to dinner with friends and sharing stories about male library patrons sexually harassing her and feeling like she was required to take that abuse as part of her job. Her friends — all people employed at private companies or in other lines of work besides librarianship — were gobsmacked that Civitello felt that she had no recourse and had to just put up with sexual harassment on the job because it was coming from the public. “Haven’t you heard of the EEOC? You don’t have to take that abuse, Amanda,” she reported her friends repeating over and over again. But the two presenters confronted the ugly truth about public libraries: for whatever reason, employees are still being told by management or otherwise pressured to feel that they do have to take that abuse or lose their jobs.

. . . .

The overwhelmingly positive response that Amanda Civitello and Katie McLain received for their presentation was followed by an extended question and comment session that could have run all night but was limited for time. Dozens of library employees from around Illinois and across the nation jockeyed for time at the microphone to tell their horror stories about encountering sexual harassment from library patrons…and often having to later deal with Baby Boomer library management that wanted to downplay the events, hide them from the record, and tell the employees that taking such abuse is just part of their jobs. In addition to library employees being made to feel uncomfortable by male patrons openly viewing pornography on library computers (a problem that plagued Orland Park for many years), the female employees told stories about being stalked by members of the public who would continuously ask them out on dates or comment suggestively on their appearance and make them feel unsafe in the workplace by following them around the stacks or lurking around corners. Some male library employees also reported instances of themselves (or other male coworkers) being stalked and sexually harassed by members of the public as well.

Link to the rest at Illinois Leaks and thanks to Lucy for the tip.

Austerity and the British Library

From The Millions:

The Hornsey Public Library sits off a gravel-paved sidewalk on a residential street in an outer borough of London. There are many beautiful libraries in London, but the Hornsey Public Library was built at a time in the 20th century when London did not require its libraries to be beautiful. The concrete and brick exterior has many right angles and determinedly unadorned surfaces. A marble plaque near the entrance says it was dedicated in 1965 by Princess Alexandra, a cousin of the queen and one of the corps of expendable royals dispatched to things like suburban library dedications.

The one very beautiful thing in the Hornsey Public Library is a large glass etching of an old map of the Parish of Hornsey on the floor-to-ceiling window near the north stairs. It is interesting to look at but feels hidden and out of place, as though added at the last minute when someone realized that the library should have at least one beautiful thing. The library’s interior is tidy and spacious. It has high ceilings lit by fluorescent tubes behind plastic panels. The walls are mint green and the floor is covered in that rough short-nap carpet that comes in squares. It feels dated but in a timeless way, as if there’s been no point in its existence when it wasn’t comfortably out of style.

The neighborhood that shelters the Hornsey Public Library used to be called the Parish of Hornsey. Now it’s called Crouch End. Crouch End is in the middle-outer rings of London, between the northern forks of the Piccadilly and Northern lines. It has a cobbler, a fishmonger, a poulterer, and several fruiterers. It has many strollers that frequently obstruct crosswalks and sidewalks. It supports multiple patisseries and health food stores.

. . . .

Crouch End has council housing, which is what the English call public housing, and it also has houses that are quite posh, which is what the English call things that cost a lot of money. English towns are rarely like American towns, where an address or intersection stage-whispers its inhabitants’ socioeconomic status. In neighborhoods like Crouch End the housing stock is jumbled together, with million-pound homes sharing a block or even a wall with crumbling rental conversions. Even with this democracy of address, class anxieties rumble.

. . . .

The inside of the Hornsey Public Library feels different from the neighborhood outside. In Crouch End there are many people who like the idea of community, but who also have the money to pay for nicer things than those available in communal facilities. They prefer to buy their books at an independent bookshop, but often, guiltily, on Amazon. Inside the library there are people who do not have the money to pay for nicer things and so need to use communal facilities. Not all of the people in this second category like the idea of community. The percentage of people who can be seen muttering softly to themselves is also greater inside the library than outside of it.

. . . .

The Hornsey Public Library does not possess a staggering number of books. On the ground floor, past the checkout desk, is a long wall of fiction. History hides under the stairs; gardening and cookery hug the back wall; and economics, sociology, and assorted non-fiction line a few shelves upstairs. It is an eclectic mix of bestselling and obscure authors, new titles and old. If there is a special book you have in mind—a lesser-known short story collection by a famous novelist, for example, or a book on Burma that you saw in an airport bookshop—chances are the library does not have that book. If you are not committed to a particular title and have the time and inclination to browse the shelves looking for something interesting to read, then certainly you will find at least one book that fits your personal criteria of readability.

Books are only a small part of the library’s mandate. When the council elected to spare its libraries from cuts, it announced that they would be redeveloped as “community hubs.” Among the groups using the library’s facilities for regular open meetings are stroke survivors, cancer survivors, seniors, dads, knitters, aspiring songwriters, Pilates enthusiasts, and philosophy buffs. There is an art gallery and a café with tea, coffee, and a refrigerated case with a small selection of juice and boxed sandwiches. No one ever eats the sandwiches.

Link to the rest at The Millions

Concerns over Forest Hill Library plans to rent desk space

From The Bookseller:

Forest Hill Library in Lewisham has started renting out desk space at the cost of £200 a month.

The library has 12 desks to rent and said the “dedicated co-working space” will be for the exclusive use of creatives, freelancers, entrepreneurs, social enterprises and charities. The space comes equipped with lockable storage and wifi.

. . . .

Dawn Finch, library campaigner and former president of CILIP, told The Bookseller that she had “great concerns” over who will be profiting from the enterprise. “Whilst I fully understand that in times of austerity, a public library may well need to explore creative methods of income generation, I have great concerns over the type of companies that are circling community libraries in search of a profit. I feel that as some library groups are desperately in need of an urgent solution to funding problems, they will be forced to make decisions that are, in themselves, unethical.

“The provision of a library service is a legal and statutory requirement for every local authority. As they wash their hands of the problem by handing libraries over to small groups, they force community groups to desperately try to hang on alone. This will inevitably lead to some groups making decisions that are not inclusive, and do not serve all in the wider community.”

Author Catherine Johnson said: “I couldn’t believe this. It makes me incredibly sad and angry. What a crass attempt at squeezing cash for locals. The whole ethos of libraries as free to their communities is broken by this initiative. Libraries were set up to be the universities of the working class: a place to study, to do job applications. These opportunities are now denied to all but those to pay. A sign that volunteer run spaces do not work.”

. . . .

However, the library has defended the move, stressing that the space was previously unused and that all revenue will be reinvested into the running of the library.

Tara Cranswick, founder and director of V22, said: “The desk space we’re renting out was previously unused and all funds received will go back into the library. It’s a large space that used to house the teen section and film clubs and events, but now the teen section has been moved into the main library and the clubs and events in the community space next door. All the desks in the main library are still there to use free of charge.”

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

The Librarian Who Guarded the Manhattan Project’s Secrets

From the Atlas Obscura:

The residents of Los Alamos, New Mexico—a town that wasn’t supposed to exist—lived in a viscous state of secrecy during World War II. To disguise the existence of the nuclear bomb being built there, the group of Manhattan Project scientists, security personnel, and families needed to consider and reconsider their every move. They couldn’t leave “the Hill,” as Los Alamos was known, without required passes. Their mail reached New Mexico through a series of forwarding addresses set up across the United States, arriving in a P.O. box 20 miles away in Santa Fe. Food was purchased from a single commissary; a trip to Santa Fe was “a major event.”

When they first arrived at Los Alamos, they were told to buy train tickets to New Mexico from a variety of locations. One Princeton physicist recounted how he and his colleagues had to avoid the local train station, because it was so small, and too many people purchasing tickets to Albuquerque from there might raise suspicions.

The importance of silence at Los Alamos was doubly true for scientific breakthroughs. One woman, Adrienne Lowry, only learned that her husband Joseph Kennedy had discovered plutonium when she was cataloguing books and kept seeing the acronym “PU.” When she asked her husband about it, he confessed that “PU” stood for plutonium—an element he’d helped to identify a few years earlier.

. . . .

One of the most significant features of this elaborate security apparatus was the scientific library, a virtually unknown space that, during the 1940s, housed the secrets of the nuclear bomb.

. . . .

Nestled alongside the massive Los Alamos lab—which Lisa Bier in Atomic Wives and the Secret Library at Los Alamos described as emanating an “aura of utilitarian haste” with its unpaved streets and barbed wire gates manned by guards—the library appeared quite bleak. The photos that exist today show a small space crammed with books, shelves, file cabinets, and a Ditto machine (an early copier). Because the library was expected to be demolished after the war, everything was built from cheap wood.

The library had two sections: the main area, pictured at the top, and the document room—a locked vault containing reports and designs from Los Alamos and the other Manhattan Project sites. The library’s all-female staff—a mix of wives and Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps officers—needed to catalog, secure, and distribute thousands of books and manuscripts in a matter of months.

The rapid pace made the work so intense that, when one WAAC officer was offered a job at the library, she “took a look at the huge stack of technical reports from chemical companies, piled up ‘like a teepee,’ the classification of which would be her primary task.” According to Atomic Wives and the Secret Library at Los Alamos, “she avoided this sentence, which she termed ‘solitary confinement,’ by opting instead to drive trucks.”

. . . .

Here is a puzzle. You have no library experience, and you are tasked with a) heading a top secret facility, b) devising security protocols to ensure the U.S. military’s greatest secrets stay hidden, and c) importing thousands of documents to a site in the middle of nowhere—all in a vanishingly small window of time as World War II unfolds. How do you do it?

Link to the rest at Atlas Obscura

Download More than 2,500 Images of Vibrant Japanese Woodblock Prints and Drawings From the Library of Congress

From Colossal:

Thanks to the Library of Congress, you can browse and download high-resolution copies of more than 2,500 Japanese woodblock prints and drawings from the library’s online collection. The prints, most of which are dated before the 20th-century, were amassed from a large group of collectors, including notable donors such as President William Howard Taft and Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Despite the diversity of genres and traditions represented by the library’s large collection, the most prolific works are ones created in the tradition of the Japanese art form of Ukiyo-e or Yokohama-e. Ukiyo-e was developed in the city of Edo (now Tokyo) between 1600 and 1868 during a relatively peaceful period. The subject and inspiration for many of the prints includes that of entertainment and leisure, such as scenes from kabuki theater and fashionable restaurants.

Link to the rest at Colossal and thanks to Nate for the tip. Here’s a link to the Library of Congress Collection.

Horse-Riding Librarians Were the Great Depression’s Bookmobiles

From The Smithsonian:

Their horses splashed through iced-over creeks. Librarians rode up into the Kentucky mountains, their saddlebags stuffed with books, doling out reading material to isolated rural people. The Great Depression had plunged the nation into poverty, and Kentucky—a poor state made even poorer by a paralyzed national economy—was among the hardest hit.

The Pack Horse Library initiative, which sent librarians deep into Appalachia, was one of the New Deal’s most unique plans. The project, as implemented by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), distributed reading material to the people who lived in the craggy, 10,000-square-mile portion of eastern Kentucky. The state already trailed its neighbors in electricity and highways. And during the Depression, food, education and economic opportunity were even scarcer for Appalachians.

They also lacked books: In 1930, up to 31 percent of people in eastern Kentucky couldn’t read. Residents wanted to learn, notes historian Donald C. Boyd. Coal and railroads, poised to industrialize eastern Kentucky, loomed large in the minds of many Appalachians who were ready to take part in the hoped prosperity that would bring. “Workers viewed the sudden economic changes as a threat to their survival and literacy as a means of escape from a vicious economic trap,” writes Boyd.

This presented a challenge: In 1935, Kentucky only circulated one book per capita compared to the American Library Association standard of five to ten, writes historian Jeanne Cannella Schmitzer,. It was “a distressing picture of library conditions and needs in Kentucky,” wrote Lena Nofcier, who chaired library services for the Kentucky Congress of Parents and Teachers at the time.

. . . .

Unlike many New Deal projects, the packhorse plan required help from locals. “Libraries” were housed any in facility that would step up, from churches to post offices. Librarians manned these outposts, giving books to carriers who then climbed aboard their mules or horses, panniers loaded with books, and headed into the hills. They took their job as seriously as mail carriers and crossed streams in wintry conditions, feet frozen in the stirrups.

Carriers rode out at least twice a month, with each route covering 100 to 120 miles a week. Nan Milan, who carried books in an eight-mile radius from the Pine Mountain Settlement School, a boarding school for mountain children, joked that the horses she rode had shorter legs on one side than the other so that they wouldn’t slide off of the steep mountain paths. Riders used their own horses or mules-—the Pine Mountain group had a horse named Sunny Jim—or leased them from neighbors. They earned $28 a month—around $495 in modern dollars.

Link to the rest at The Smithsonian and thanks to Gary for the tip.

Millennials are the most likely generation of Americans to use public libraries

From the Pew Research Center:

Millennials in America are more likely to have visited a public library in the past year than any other adult generation.

A new analysis of Pew Research Center survey data from fall 2016 finds that 53% of Millennials (those ages 18 to 35 at the time) say they used a library or bookmobile in the previous 12 months. That compares with 45% of Gen Xers, 43% of Baby Boomers and 36% of those in the Silent Generation. (It is worth noting that the question wording specifically focused on use of public libraries, not on-campus academic libraries.)

All told, 46% of adults ages 18 and older say they used a public library or bookmobile in the previous 12 months – a share that is broadly consistent with Pew Research Center findings in recent years.

Members of the youngest adult generation are also more likely than their elders to have used library websites. About four-in-ten Millennials (41%) used a library website in the past 12 months, compared with 24% of Boomers. In all, 31% of adults used a library website in the past 12 months, which is similar to the percentage that reported using library websites in late 2015.

. . . .

Beyond demonstrating generational differences in library use, the survey showed other demographic differences in library use. For instance:

  • Women are more likely than men to say they visited a public library or bookmobile in the past 12 months (54% vs. 39%). And women are similarly more likely to use library websites (37% vs. 24%).
  • College graduates are more likely than those whose education ended with a high school diploma to use libraries or bookmobiles in the past 12 months (56% vs. 40%). And a similar gap applies to use of library websites.
  • Parents of minor children are more likely than non-parents to have used a library in the past 12 months (54% vs. 43%).

Link to the rest at the Pew Research Center

Librarians in the 21st Century: We Need to Talk About Library Security

From The Literary Hub:

If I am writing about security in libraries, something is very wrong. I would much rather write about the importance of funding for teen services, why funding based on program attendance decreases the quality of programs offered, and the various ways public libraries, well, make America great. But instead I’m going to write about security.

The public library is both fragile and resilient—it’s funding is perpetually on the chopping block and yet it persists, making every penny stretch as far as possible. That thriftiness, combined with steady or increasing library use, has allowed libraries to thrive in trying times. If, however, we do not take proactive steps to make libraries safe in increasingly trying times, the future of the public library is less clear.

Public librarians are not naturally concerned with security issues. Our philosophy centers more around granting access to resources and information than preventing it. We take seriously the phrase “free and equal access to information.” All librarians are like this to some degree—providing access to needed information is more or less why we exist—but few institutions provide more access than the public library. It’s what makes the public library such an essential, dynamic, institution: knowledge and resources available to all.

Any person can walk into the public library and spend as much time as they’d like there. Most public libraries have guest logins for computer use and while folks without a card can’t check out materials, anyone is free to browse and use materials in the library. The things that look like metal detectors near the entrances and exits really just monitor whether a book had been checked out or not. There are often multiple entrances and exits and, consistent with  librarians’ dedication to privacy, surveillance is usually minimal to nonexistent. I wouldn’t want it any other way. Public libraries should be welcoming, they shouldn’t feel strict or intimidating—the space is a reflection of the public library philosophy of access. But it is impossible to deny the security risks associated with this space.

. . . .

Public librarians encounter everything. We must interact with patrons who are using public computers to view pornography, mediate domestic disputes and feuds between patrons, all while remaining neutral and professional. We are responsible for Toddler Storytime and Computer Basics for Seniors existing harmoniously in the same public space. The fact that libraries are chronically underfunded and understaffed makes these challenges increasingly difficult to navigate.

Paranoia is something I frequently encountered when I worked in the public library—the combination of publicly used technology (like public computers) and a space bustling with strangers can trigger a variety of reactions in people who have trouble in these situations. These issues are usually resolved by taking the time to explain how the public computers wipe personal data or relocating the patron to a less busy area. But resolving these situations takes time and diplomacy and that’s challenging on a busy Saturday, when you’re the only reference librarian. Furthermore, librarians aren’t trained to deal with complex mental health issues. One of the best solutions for this I’ve encountered is the inclusion of social workers at the San Francisco Public Library. But very few libraries have the resources to do so and we’re pressured to play de-facto social workers while we juggle reference questions.

All public librarians have encountered complicated patron issues, but in a profession where librarians often identify as women, it’s impossible to discuss public library security without acknowledging the sexism and sexual harassment that often saturates patron encounters. These experiences can simply be uncomfortable: a patron once told me I looked like an actress he found attractive and then needed my help to print out several color pictures of the actress so he could take them home. They can also be outright dangerous: a male patron began calling the Reference Desk repeatedly and asking for my schedule. When he was denied it, he tried waiting in the library until my shift was over and then physically chased me into a staff-only area. There, a fellow librarian blocked him from following me any further.

. . . .

Jane, a public librarian friend of mine recounted an incident that highlights the many roles librarians need to play when dealing with complicated patron scenarios as well as the benefits and limitations of having a security guard. She was at the Reference Desk when a patron approached her. “You need to call an ambulance,” he said. Jane picked up the phone. “What should I tell them?” she asked, because the patron did not appear injured in any way). “Tell them I’ve been off my meds for five days and I need help.”

The ambulance arrived and transported the patron to the hospital without incident. A short time later, the hospital called to inform Jane that the man claimed he had left a loaded gun in the men’s bathroom. The library was still open, and there was a steady stream of patrons in and out of the restroom where the patron claimed he’d left the gun.

The security guard at Jane’s library cleared the bathroom and began looking for the gun. As he was searching under paper towels in the trash can for the gun, Jane said to him, “I don’t know if you should be doing that.” The security guard wasn’t sure either. Neither of them knew what to do about the possibility of a loaded gun in the library. The bathroom-search the security guard conducted didn’t yield any results, so he and Jane improvised. The guard stood in front of the door of the bathroom and prevented people from entering until the library closed. When Jane asked her boss about what to do if a similar situation occurred again? According to Jane, her supervisor didn’t know either. “Call the police, I guess.”

Link to the rest at The Literary Hub

The Pig Who Tours the U.S. Reading to Children

From Atlas Obscura:

Children’s Literature is full of pigs. There’s Wilbur, the relatable runt who makes interspecies friends in Charlotte’s Web. There’s Babe, who learns to herd sheep with kindness. And don’t forget Olivia, who has had a whole series of picture book adventures in her signature red dress.

For the most recent generation of children, there is also Daisy (and even more recently, Daisy II): potbellied pigs who, like characters loosed from the page, spend much of their lives traveling from library to library, helping to teach children that reading is fun.

It all started, like most fairytales, long ago and far away—in this case, around 1995, in Bristol, Connecticut. Paul and Victoria Minor had just watched their youngest child, Jessica, leave home, and they were starting to feel a bit lonely. One day, Victoria, who’d always wanted a potbellied pig, drove by a sign that advertised piglets for sale. She picked out the runt of the litter, named her Daisy, and brought her home to Paul.

The pig took to her new family immediately, clambering into bed with the Minors on her very first evening home. “We had to get a king-sized bed,” says Paul Minor. Her love of humans made her a natural fit for the Boys & Girls Club’s annual Kiss-A-Pig fundraiser—in which people pay money in order to get community notables to kiss a pig—and from there, her star kept rising. The Hartford Library children’s librarian asked Minor if he’d consider bringing his famous pig in for a story hour, so he did.

. . . .

“I’ve been doing this for sixteen and a half years, but who’s counting?” says Minor over the phone from his Baton Rouge motel room. He and Daisy II are currently miles away from home, but they’ve made themselves comfortable—Daisy is flopped down on the bed snoozing, says Minor. The two are now on the road about nine months out of the year, occasionally accompanied by members of their entourage: Victoria, or their two pugs, Lily Pug and Dixie Cup.

Link to the rest at Atlas Obscura

PG doesn’t usually include two posts from that same source on a single day, but Daisy and Farmer Minor required an exception. There is much more information and many more potbellied pig photos at Atlas Obscura.

There is No Better Place to Write than the Library

From The Literary Hub:

Hemingway wrote in cafes, nursing a marc, and later at a stand-up desk surrounded by polydactyl cats. Melville used an upstairs study in Pittsfield with a view of Mt. Greylock, which in winter looks very much like a white whale. Virginia Woolf had a room of her own and Edith Wharton was said to write in bed. Few things are as treasured by writers as privacy, that place where you can tune out the world and live in the alternate one on your page. I found it in one of the most public places imaginable, crowded with tour groups and class visits, a must stop in the guide books. For over twenty years I have been writing in the New York Public Library—eight novels and a ninth underway—and I can’t imagine working anywhere else.

The main Reading Room—rightly, a tourist destination—with its ambient noise of chairs scraping and laptops clicking and book delivery bins clattering at the call desk is about as far as one could get from the silent, hermetically sealed workroom writers are supposed to crave. The trick is to make your own privacy—a pen, a yellow legal pad, and your own cone of personal space and you’re there. And since everyone else at the long open tables wants privacy too, invisible boundary lines are drawn, a kabuki-like civility reigns, eyes averted. It’s true that occasionally you find yourself sitting opposite someone in a heavy overcoat (at the height of summer) writing in a notebook in block capitals about Jesus, but since he’s already somewhere private, he’s usually as polite as the others. And then of course the sheer grandeur of the place invites respect—the vast room (said to be the largest in America) with its painted ceiling, shafts of light pouring through the high windows, the polished wood and rows of lamps. It may not be the quiet room that Woolf demanded, but I think it’s the most beautiful office in New York. After years of writing there, I was lucky enough to get a seat in one of the research rooms (set aside for scholars and writers) where crowds are not an issue and the private work space a rare privilege, but from time to time I still wander up to the Reading Room just to have a look.

After which, thanks to the transformation of Bryant Park, just behind, I can eat lunch under the linden trees and watch half of midtown walk by, one of the few places in New York where you can have this kind of European experience. Writers love to complain about their work—the isolation, the elusive right word, etc.—but it’s hard to feel desperate on a nice day in Bryant Park.

Link to the rest at The Literary Hub

The Brautigan Library

From Atlas Obscura:

There are many places voracious readers can go to find books the publishing industry has deemed worthy of sale. Less common are places to find those it has not. One such place is the Brautigan Library.

The library’s inspiration, and name, came from the 1971 novel The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966 by Richard Brautigan, in which the protagonist works at a library of unpublished manuscripts. In the novel, no one is allowed to visit the library and read the unpublished works. But in the library it inspired, that’s the whole point.

More than 300 physical manuscripts, all unpublished, are currently housed in the Brautigan Library at the Clark County Historical Museum in Vancouver, Washington. The library originally opened in Burlington, Vermont, in 1990, with founder Todd Lockwood taking submissions from whoever wanted to be part of it. In 2010, it was moved to Vancouver, about two hours from Tacoma, where Brautigan was born.

Link to the rest at Atlas Obscura

Inside the Magic Library at the Conjuring Arts Research Center

From Atlas Obscura:

There is an anonymous-looking office building located in Midtown Manhattan that hides a secret library for magicians.

It sounds fantastical enough to have been created by Terry Pratchett or J.K. Rowling, but the Conjuring Arts Research Center is very much real, and one of the world’s greatest collections of books dedicated to the deceptive arts.

. . . .

Conjuring Arts may be hard to find, but it is located in the heart of New York’s magic community. A few blocks northeast is Tannen’s, the oldest operating magic shop in the city, and a few blocks to the west is Fantasma, a magic store home to the largest Houdini museum in the world. One of the people on the Center’s Board of Directors is Brooklyn-born magician David Blaine.

The not-for-profit organization was established in 2003, “dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of magic and its allied arts.” It was started by William Kalush, who developed a love of magic from the card tricks shown to him by his father, a Marine wounded in World War II. This love of card magic turned to a love of collecting magic books, which now form a wondrous collection of over 15,000 books—some dating to over 600 years old—housed in this hidden location.

. . . .

Browsing through the shelves stacked with all things conjuring, you will find obscure books on sleight-of-hand techniques, mentalism, deceptive gambling, the history of magic, and the mysterious secrets of card tricks. One book is the seminal The Expert At the Card Table, which appeared in 1902, written by an S. W. Erdnase. It’s one of the most detailed collections of sleight-of-hand techniques and card sharping, a book so iconic and well-studied within magic circles it is known as “the Bible.” Appropriately enough, S. W. Erdnase was a pseudonym. The real identity of the writer has remained a century-old mystery.

. . . .

It is in the center of the library, in a windowless room under lock and key, that lies the true treasure of this remarkable place; the rare-book room. Within are shelves full of ancient European texts bound in vellum, with mysterious-sounding names such as Onomatalog Cvriosa et Magica. These incredibly rare books contain the early written history of magic. “Many are unique and can’t be found anywhere else in the world,” says Kalush, holding a book written in Florence in 1491 that promised to show how to read people’s minds.

Link to the rest at Atlas Obscura

Comics, the King of Libraries

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

College libraries ditch books so students can collaborate

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.

The Boston Public Library is giving away free wedding ceremonies


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

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

Making Friends in a New City Via Our Little Free Library

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

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

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

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

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

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?

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

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

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

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