Tag Archives: Public Libraries

Deb Fallows on The Local Library

“As we traveled around the U.S. reporting on the revival of towns and cities, we always made the local library an early stop. We’d hit the newspaper offices, the chamber of commerce, city hall, and Main Street for an introduction to the economics, politics, and stresses of a town. The visit to the public library revealed its heart and soul.The traditional impression of libraries as places for quiet reading, research, and borrowing books—and of librarians as schoolmarmish shush-ers—is outdated, as they have metamorphosed into bustling civic centers. For instance, Deschutes Public Library in Bend, Oregon, now cooperates with dozens of organizations, from AARP (which helps people with their taxes) to Goodwill (which teaches résumé writing). A social worker trains staff to guide conversations about one of the most frequent questions people trustingly bring into the library: Can you help me figure out how to meet my housing costs?” (via The Atlantic)

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A handy sign that a local government is shirking its public duty: privatizing the library

“The list of responsibilities that a local government must shoulder isn’t an especially long one. Typically it includes keeping the streets paved and the streetlights lit, maintaining adequate police and fire services, inspecting buildings, sometimes providing water. One hallmark of almost every local jurisdiction is the free public library. So the proposal before the Kern County supervisors to turn over the county library system to a private company operating out of suburban Maryland marks a major step. If you’re looking for a sign that local political leaders are intent on giving up all pretense of working for the public interest, look no further. (via LA Times)

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Libraries for the 21st Century: It’s A Family Thing

“With generous funding from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Harvard Family Research Project is delighted to partner with the Public Library Association (PLA) on a new project to explore family engagement in children’s learning through libraries. For families, family engagement is about the knowledge, attitudes, values, and behaviors that enable children to be motivated, enthusiastic, and successful learners. For schools and libraries, family engagement means respectful partnerships that offer the information, guidance, and opportunities for families to be active in their children’s learning and development.” (via Harvard Family Research Project)

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Patrons split on how fast libraries should move into the digital age

“The word “library” conjures up a very specific image for most people: rows upon rows of books. But as libraries evolve into a place for more digital research, and teach a different kind of literacy, how long should the bookshelves stay? That’s one of the questions the Pew Research Center has asked in a new survey focused on library use — and it got some very divided answers.” (via Washington Post)

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Remarkable Lessons In Innovation From A Public Library

“There are two ways to run a public library in a small town: the traditional way, or the Maxine Bleiweis way. For the past 17 years, Maxine has been the director of The Westport Library in our suburban town of 27,000 people. In her hands, the library hasn’t just been a place to get books. It’s been a vibrant tool for bringing out the best in others. The Library offers over 1,600 programs annually. To my eyes, Maxine has no conception of the word “can’t.” Some think that public libraries can’t be noisy, boisterous, provocative, outrageous or entertaining. They can’t buy – and program – robots, or attract thousands of inventors, scientists and hobbyists for a single event.” (via Forbes)

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America’s Star Libraries, 2014: Top-Rated Libraries

“We are very pleased to announce the results of the seventh edition of the Library Journal Index of Public Library Service, sponsored by Baker & Taylor’s Bibliostat. The LJ Index is a measurement tool that compares U.S. public libraries with their spending peers based on four types of output measures of their per capita use. For this year’s Star Libraries, please click on “The Star Libraries” above; for more on what’s next for the index, see pa”What’s Next for the LJ Index”. When the LJ Index and its Star Library ratings were introduced in 2008, our hope was that whether libraries were awarded stars or not, they would examine these statistics more closely—both for their own library and for their peers—and make fuller use of these and other types of data for local planning and evaluation purposes.” (via Library Journal)

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Mesa libraries pilot innovative technologies, programs

“Picture a library. If the first thing that comes to mind is a card catalog, “you’re long overdue for a visit,” according to Public Library Association President Larry Neal. For years, libraries have been on the leading edge when it comes to piloting new technologies, Neal said. They were some of the first places to offer access to desktop computers, the Internet and e-readers. But as libraries’ offerings have evolved, their marketing and branding efforts haven’t necessarily kept pace. And while surveys show the majority of Americans still believe in the importance of libraries, the discrepancy has left more tech-savvy generations wondering why they would ever need to visit one.” (via AZ Central)

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U.S. libraries become front line in fight against homelessness

“George Brown, a homeless man in Washington, has a simple answer when asked how often he uses a public library. “Always. I have nowhere else to go,” Brown, 65, said outside the U.S. capital’s modernist central library after a morning reading sociology books. “When it’s hot, you come here to stay out of the heat. When it’s cold, you come here to stay out of the cold.” Brown is among the hundreds of thousands of homeless people who have put the almost 9,000 U.S. public libraries, the most of any country in the world, in the forefront of the battle against homelessness.” (via Reuters)

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How a public library set me free

“My parents and two older brothers arrived in Queens from Cuba in 1967, squeezing into a one-bedroom apartment that got even more cramped when I showed up two years later. Suspicious of everyone and unable to communicate in English, my parents weren’t about to let their kids roam unsupervised in the streets of their graffiti-strewn city. And since they both worked, we boys spent a lot of time at home making the best of our crowded quarters. School provided a welcome change of scenery, but that, too, was a somewhat constricting environment in which I was relegated to an uncomfortable chair in an overcrowded room for hours at a time. The main public library on Merrick Boulevard was the first place I was allowed to visit on my own. I started going when I was 8. Everything I needed was located on what seemed to me an endless single floor. Wandering around that building aimlessly on a Saturday afternoon offered a sense of freedom I’d never experienced before.” (via The Washington Post)

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The Future For Public Libraries: Specialized Features Not Starbucks

“My head is still spinning from Panos Mourdoukoutas’ post at Forbes last week suggesting that there should be a Starbucks in every local library. Granted it appeared in Forbes and they slant corporate but it might just be the most near-sighted, wackiest story I have read in some time. Of course he starts out proclaiming his love for his local library but before it’s over he says “Simply put, Starbucks and local libraries supplement each other nicely—they are both “third places” with different rules of conduct, catering to different community segments. That’s a good reason to have a Starbucks store in every library. ”Why not put a jail in every library for it also has “different rules of conduct, catering to different community segments.”  They would compliment each other nicely by providing literacy services and job training to inmates while scaring the pants off the kids so they won’t go astray of the law.” (via Book Patrol)

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