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of libraries as places for quiet reading, research, and borrowing books—and of librarians as schoolmarmish shush-ers—is outdated, as they have metamorphosed into bustling civic centers.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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