The North West London Blues is a beautiful essay by author Zadie Smith in defense of, although more like an ode to, libraries and library preservation. It’s quite disheartening that libraries are on the endangered species list of educational and cultural outlets and are being disregarded and tossed aside due to budget cuts. It’s sad that libraries are forced to prove their relevance in the form of numbers and stats. Libraries are about free and open education and information resources, about books, stories, imagination and creativity. When did all that disappear and turn into number crunching? Why did it happen?
I include an excerpt from the essay regarding libraries, but please make sure to read the entire essay which you can find on the New York Review of Books here.
What kind of a problem is a library? It’s clear that for many people it is not a problem at all, only a kind of obsolescence. At the extreme pole of this view is the technocrat’s total faith: with every book in the world online, what need could there be for the physical reality? This kind of argument thinks of the library as a function rather than a plurality of individual spaces. But each library is a different kind of problem and “the Internet” is no more a solution for all of them than it is their universal death knell. Each morning I struggle to find a seat in the packed university library in which I write this, despite the fact every single student in here could be at home in front of their macbook browsing Google Books. And Kilburn Library—also run by Brent Council but situated, despite its name, in affluent Queen’s Park—is not only thriving but closed for refurbishment. Kensal Rise is being closed not because it is unpopular but because it is unprofitable, this despite the fact that the friends of Kensal Rise library are willing to run their library themselves (if All Souls College, Oxford, which owns the library, will let them.) Meanwhile it is hard not to conclude that Willesden Green is being mutilated not least because the members of the council see the opportunity for a sweet real estate deal.
All libraries have a different character and setting. Some are primarily for children or primarily for students, or the general public, primarily full of books or microfilms or digitized material or with a café in the basement or a market out front. Libraries are not failing “because they are libraries.” Neglected libraries get neglected, and this cycle, in time, provides the excuse to close them. Well-run libraries are filled with people because what a good library offers cannot be easily found elsewhere: an indoor public space in which you do not have to buy anything in order to stay.
A library is one of those social goods that matter to people of many different political attitudes. All that the friends of Kensal Rise and Willesden Library and similar services throughout the country are saying is: these places are important to us. We get that money is tight, we understand that there is a hierarchy of needs, and that the French Market or a Mark Twain plaque are not hospital beds and classroom size. But they are still a significant part of our social reality, the only thing left on the high street that doesn’t want either your soul or your wallet.
Love your library, thank your librarian, be appreciative of the free resources at your fingertips.
Key things to remember this week as you drive by, walk by, or even enter a library this week. Libraries are there for the people as city-run entities designated to provide all the resources you could possibly want and need to further your education, literacy, computer literacy and more. With the recession and state budgets, libraries have been hard hit in recent years. Many were forced to close their doors, others have to reallocate their hours, shorten hours, deplete staff, and in effect deplete the resources much needed for the public. Share your love of the library with your friends and family. Encourage people to sign-up for their library card and use their library. Go to library events, write to your local councilmember, and tell them you want more funds allocated to the library. Its a place to nurture growth and knowledge for children, teens, adults and everybody inbetween.
Articles and Newbits of note
Favorite library/reading quotes (IFLA.org)
- Throughout my formal education I spent many, many hours in public and school libraries. Libraries became courts of last resort, as it were. The current definitive answer to almost any question can be found within the four walls of most libraries. — Arthur ASHE (1943-1993)
- A house without books is like a room without windows. No man has a right to bring up children without surrounding them with books…. Children learn to read being in the presence of books. — Horace MANN (1796-1859)
- It does not matter how many books you may have, but whether they are good or not. — Epistolae Morale
Lucius Annaeus SENECA (3 B.C.-65 A.D.)
- I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library —Jorge Luis BORGES (1899-1986)
- A democratic society depends upon an informed and educated citizenry. — Thomas JEFFERSON (1743-1826)
I promise I will have reviews posted before the end of the month. To prove it, here is a list of the three books I have recently finished reading.
- Swamplandia by Karen Russell
- The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
- We’ll Always Have Paris: Stories by Ray Bradbury
- Love Rosie, Cecila Ahern
Today’s Literacy Love goes to celebrity libraries:
- Keith Richards (said he’d be a librarian if he wasn’t a rock star)
- Neil Gaiman (this man wins at everything he does)
- Diane Keaton (I love the flooring better than the shelving…)
- Mark Twain (can you just imagine getting lost in a good book in this room?)
Reading with the Stars: A Celebration of Books and Libraries by Leonard Kniffel
Age: Kids +
Genre: Nonfiction/Reading & Libraries
Source: SkyHorse Publishing
Leonard Kniffel, former editor in chief of American Libraries, the national publication of the American Library Association, brings us a collection of interviews, essays, and speech transcripts from celebrated figures of American pop culture, politics, sports and media. Each chapter is devoted a different celebrity: Cokie Roberts, Garrison Keilor, Ken Burns, Laura Bush, Ralph Nader, Ron Reagan, Jamie Lee Curtis, David Mamet, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Julie Andrews, Bill Gates, Al Gore, Oprah Winfrey, and Barack Obama.
This book arrives at an opportune time as libraries are facing some of the worst and severe budget cuts across the nation. This collection, heralding the value of literacy, books and libraries as an integral part of everyday life. Each chapter offers a list of books read by the celebrity, a list of books written by that celebrity, and a quote highlighting the theme of that chapter. This book is a great for libraries, and will be a great inspiration for kids who look up to these celebrities and want to emulate them. It is a quick read, great for bibliophiles. Although each chapter has a different story for how literacy helped change a life, the book is probably better read in portions since the I Love Books/Libraries theme can get repetitive after a few chapters.
Book 31 of 2011
Find this book at your local library
Spread the word
My list has an Australian slant, and leans toward:
- equity of access to information and library resources
- the impact on libraries of shared data on the internet
- how library users find research information
- format changes – the rise of online video, ebooks, transliteracy and DRM
- how librarians and libraries are preparing for the future
- Talk about recycling. A former jail has been renovated and is now a public library. (via Morgan County Citizen)
General Library Blog: Librarian in Black
Public Library Blog: Swiss Army Librarian
Academic Library Blog: Information Tyrannosaur
School Library Blog: The Unquiet Librarian
Local Library Blog: Cecil County Public Library
Quirky Library Blog: A Librarian’s Guide to Etiquette
Newcomer Library Blog: Hack Library School
Commercial Library Blog: Neverending Search
Use Salem Press for all your librarian blogging needs and wants! Salem Press maintains one of the best blog directories for librarian blogs on a variety of topics; general, academic, public, school library, quirky, local library and commercial library blogs. They recently awarded one blog from each category with the coveted Salem Press 2011 Blog Award. Check out the winners and make sure to devote at least an hour to exploring all the blogs listed on the website. (via Salem Press)
Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Alessandra that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.I’ve seen many of my fellow bloggers already positng library stash finds (Jessica at BlueStocking Society, and Jen at Devourer of Books) I figure I’ll jump on the bandwagon as well. I work in a library on a virtual daily basis and it is impossible to leave work everyday without at least a couple books in my hands. My library loot will be a weekly Friday posting, recapping all my great finds at the library for that week.
Adam’s Rib (Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy)
Vertigo (James Stewart)
Its Always Funny in Philadelphia (if you haven’t watched it, you must! It is mostly college humor that goes way over the line, but I love it!)
Drood (Dan Simmons)
Shakespeare and Modern Culture (Marjorie Garber)
Belong to Me (Marisa De Los Santos)
Fables, (Graphic Novels books 3,4 & 5)
I fell in love today. With who you ask? The Burlingame Public Library. Located in the shady streets of the posh Bay Area city of Burlingame, this library has a lot of offer, and I don’t mean just with books. The architecture of the building is amazing, and inspiring; a unique Mission style, combining elements of Tuscan and Spanish architecture. There are high ceilings, deeply rich, dark wood panels. The children’s room has some beautiful art murals of Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk.
My first encounter was with the Burlingame community room for a library book sale. Today, we met again, and this time I wasn’t being badgered away from stacks of books by my boyfriend. The building is from 1931, although the library was first founded in 1909.
On yours marks!
The Dewey Decimal Challenge (DDC) is on its way!
Melvil Dewey is quite possible on of my favorite people in history. He was quirky, unique and much ahead of his time. I found a great (and short) biography on him, which is posted below the cut, from OCLC.org.
Since I never had a chanee to actually finish the book that prompted this challenege, I think it will be my first book.
Library : an unquiet history by Matthew Battles
Dewey Number: 027.009 Battles
000 – Generalities
020 Library & information sciences
030 General encyclopedic works
050 General serials & their indexes
060 General organizations & museology
070 News media, journalism, publishing
080 General collections
090 Manuscripts & rare books
I’m at the annual California Library Association conference in San Jose today. There have been a lot of interesting workshops and exhibit booths to visit, and I feel quite over-whelmed. I’m still trying to figure out how to apply what I learn here to the library I actually work in. The library profession is leaning so much towards web 2.0 features like wiki’s, but the demographic of my service area has very limited resources to the Internet outside of their 2 hour time-span at the library. There has to be some way to bring resources to this fall-between the cracks group. I’m determined to find it. Paper is not so obsolete.
I’ve attended one session about Subject Guides for the library, a really creative and simple tool to bring all the library resources (book and online) to the library patrons through the website. Next I’m going to a session about the future of libraries and how to prepare, this workshop is being given by the deputy state librarian Stacy Aldrich. That sounds useful for a newbie librarian.