Thursday, July 28, 2016

Syria's secret library by Mike Thomson, BBC News

28 July 2016

When a place has been besieged for years and hunger stalks the streets, you might have thought people would have little interest in books. But enthusiasts have stocked an underground library in Syria with volumes rescued from bombed buildings - and users dodge shells and bullets to reach it.

Down a flight of steep steps, as far as it's possible to go from the flying shrapnel, shelling and snipers' bullets above, is a large dimly lit room. Buried beneath a bomb-damaged building, it's home to a secret library that provides learning, hope and inspiration to many in the besieged Damascus suburb of Darayya.

"We saw that it was vital to create a new library so that we could continue our education. We put it in the basement to help stop it being destroyed by shells and bombs like so many other buildings here," says Anas Ahmad, a former civil engineering student who was one of the founders. Read more...

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Rikers Island gets unofficial New York Public Library branch by Alison Fox

July 27, 2016

The library at the Rikers Island correction facility has a wide range of books, including "The Hunger Games" series and "To Kill a Mockingbird." (Credit: Craig Ruttle)


The (unofficial) 93rd branch of the New York Public Library is now open for business — and you can’t take the subway to visit it.

That’s because the small-but-well-stocked collection is the first permanent public library on Rikers Island.
And the collection, which is housed in the women’s Rose M. Singer Center and sits below a poster of BeyoncĂ© as Rosie the Riveter, is as varied as the people who will be reading from it: “The Hunger Games” books share space with “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Les MisĂ©rables,” and an extensive James Patterson collection. 

“It’s amazing the city services that are available in the community; many of those we want here on the island,” said Department of Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte. “This is a good step to introduce inmates to the value of education, the value of reading.”

The library holds 1,200 books — spanning everything from comics to sci-fi, from Spanish language works to nonfiction classics — and it will be open every Tuesday for about six hours each day. Read more...


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Library on wheels serve Gazans

Published July 12, 2016
The German-French Cultural Center brought a traveling library vehicle to Gaza from the West Bank on May 16, which aims to instill a love of reading in children by enabling them to read books at colorful chairs and tables. The traveling library which remain in Gaza until August, and made its first stop in the Huzaa town of Khan Yunis province, one of the main targets of Israel's attack on Palestine in July 2014. Children living in Huzaa previously had no access to a library. Thanks to the traveling library, children are able to enter the magical world of books, drawings and enchanting stories, as well as spending time with the staff of the library enjoying entertaining activities.

Mahmud al-Askalani, the coordinator of the traveling library, told Anadolu Agency (AA) how the library works: "The traveling library offers its services in Gaza three months a year. Then we will head to West Bank and open the doors of the magical world of the books to children living there."

Libraries across the country look to Hennepin County Library for response to Black Lives Matter

Monday, July 18, 2016

Chicago Public Library gets millennials interested with beer events and parties

A hum of conversation convened recently at Revolution Brewery around wooden tables clustered with empty beer cups.

Clad in flannel and pendant necklaces, the diverse crowd of young people wasn't present solely for hops — more to learn which hibiscus ale paired best with George Saunders.

The event, on a warm summer evening backdropped by an American flag and beer barrels, was hosted by the Junior Board of the Chicago Public Library Foundation, a group targeted at millennials.
Its members, 50 young professionals in Chicago, are convinced that city libraries are vital — and vibrant. And they think other 20- and 30-somethings should agree.  Read more...

Thursday, July 14, 2016

How to Read When the World Is Terrible by Jessica Woodbury. 07-13-2016

When awful things are happening all over the news and your Facebook feed, sometimes books are exactly what you need. But how do you choose what to read when you’re feeling fragile or angry or depressed or confused? There are lots of ways to use reading to help you conquer or confront your difficult feelings, and there’s no one right way. Here are some suggestions of what to read and how it can help you.


If you want your reading to take you away from it all, consider a few things. Romance is a good genre to turn to in times of turmoil because happily-ever-after endings are required in the genre, so you know that everything will turn out okay. If you need a read to comfort and calm and remind you of what love can do in the world, Romance is a good bet. Suggestions: Our First Times: The Books That Made Us Romance Readers.

Sometimes you may just want to forget the world exists all together. In that case, go seriously speculative with Science-Fiction or Fantasy. While some books in these genres can be very similar to real life or confront difficult moral issues, others are all about world building and imagination and that’s where you should go when you need a break from the world you actually live in. Suggestions: 9 Diverse Fantasy Books That Will Challenge Your Idea of Fantasy Fiction, 7 Standalone Novels for Science-Fiction Lovers.

Maybe try a laugh? The comedian memoir/essay genre serves pretty much just one purpose: to make you smile. Also effective: gossipy memoirs by movie stars with juicy tidbits about other movie stars. Suggestions: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?Ladies Who’d Make a Sailor Blush.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Welcome To The Library Hiding In A Garden Hiding In New York City by Katherine Brooks

Ben Hider via Getty Images
The earliest book ever published on American insects (1797, for the record) sits in a massive library in the Bronx, and fewer people than should be are aware of its existence.
And I’m talking about the library, not the book.

Stephen Sinon, head of special collections, research and archives at the New York Botanical Garden, describes the Mertz Library “as the largest of its kind in the world under one roof.” Founded in 1899, the haven for plant-related literature is often described as either the largest or the most comprehensive botanical library in the Americas. With over one million items — including The Natural History of the Rarer Lepidopterous Insects of Georgia by James Edward Smith — it sits rather quietly on the property of the Bronx Garden, hiding, one might put it, in plain sight. Read more...

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Prisons Want to Use Tech to End In-Person Visits — These Librarians Have a Different Plan

Across the country, jails are replacing in-person visits with a glitchy, expensive system called "video visitation" — think of it like Skyping in to see your incarcerated loved one, if Skype was low-resolution, difficult to install and cost as much as $1.50 a minute.

But the librarians of Brooklyn are racing to roll out a more humane solution.
The Brooklyn Public Library is planning to build its own video visitations in 12 of its locations in neighborhoods with high rates of incarceration. Unlike visitation centers at country jails, the libraries will build visitation centers that are comfortable, humane and don't charge families exorbitant fees for connecting with loved ones.

"It's an intentionally human experience," Nick Higgins, Director of Outreach Services at Brooklyn Public Library, said in a phone call. "Anything that we do in jails or marginalized communities, we want to create a sense of belonging and inclusion. How life should be."

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

At this library, story time doesn’t end because a parent is in prison

TeleStory, a two-year-old program run at a branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, increases childhood literacy by using free live video conferencing to connect children to incarcerated parents.
By Liz Dwyer, TakePart June 24, 2016 
Snuggling up next to each other on the couch to read a book aloud is one of the special bonding rituals between parents and children – and one that research shows helps make a kid more successful in school. When a parent gets locked up, it brings an abrupt end to sitting on the sofa and turning the pages of "The Cat in the Hat" together.

But children and incarcerated parents in New York City can still connect and read a book together thanks to TeleStory, a two-year-old program run at a branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. The initiative increases childhood literacy by using free live video conferencing to connect children to incarcerated parents at Rikers Island and borough-based Department of Corrections Jails. Read more...

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

An Amphitheater. A Laptop Bar. It’s a New York Library Like No Other. Building Blocks By DAVID W. DUNLAP JUNE 20, 2016

Ching-Yen Donahue, the cataloging coordinator at the 53rd Street branch of the New York Public Library. Credit Santiago Mejia/The New York Tim   

More a theater for learning than a citadel of research, the new 53rd Street Library offers one surprise after the next as it unfolds below the sidewalks of New York.
Monday was opening day.

The 53rd Street Library is the long-awaited, long-delayed replacement for the Donnell Library Center, a beloved and heavily used branch of the New York Public Library system. Donnell was also that increasingly precious thing: a free civic amenity in one of the poshest areas of Manhattan.

It closed in 2008. Its replacement was supposed to be ready in three years, but the redevelopment of the site, between Fifth Avenue and Avenue of the Americas, was derailed by the national economic crisis. Ultimately the library sold the property for $67.4 million in 2011 to Tribeca Associates and Starwood CapitalRead more...

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Freedom to Read: The history of ALA's vital statement on intellectual freedom

March 15, 2016

US President Dwight D. Eisenhower (left) and Dartmouth President John Sloan Dickey at the Dartmouth College commencement, June 14, 1953. Courtesy of Dartmouth College Library   

“Don’t join the book burners,” President Dwight D. Eisenhower implored Dartmouth College graduates on June 14, 1953. “Don’t be afraid to go to your library and read every book as long as any document does not offend your own ideas of decency.”

Eisenhower’s words shocked many because they constituted his first public challenge to McCarthyism—an ethos enveloping the country at the time and fed by Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-Wis.), who inferred communist conspiracies everywhere in American culture, including books on the shelves of 194 information libraries that the US State Department operated in 61 foreign countries.

Like-minded individuals also saw communist threats in the images on the covers of magazines, paperbacks, and comics that were stacked face-out on newsstand racks across the country. The US House of Representatives even set up a Select Committee on Current Pornographic Materials to investigate the publishers. Outside Washington, the National Organization for Decent Literature (NODL) sponsored by the Roman Catholic Church issued monthly lists of condemned titles that local parishioners used to police newsstands (and, on occasion, local public library shelves). Owners who passed muster received NODL seals of approval to display in their windows; sales at newsstands that did not display a seal invariably suffered. Read more...

Library Field Responds to Orlando Tragedy

Vigil at Orlando’s Dr. Phillips Center, June 13
Photo credit: Erin Sullivan

By on June 15, 2016

In the wake of the shooting in Orlando’s Pulse nightclub on the night of June 12, which killed 49 people and injured 53 others, library administration and staff, organizations and vendors have stepped up with statements of solidarity, offers of help, and opportunities to join forces with the LGBTQ and Latino communities—the shooting occurred during Pulse’s Latin night—to mourn those killed and wounded.

Mary Anne Hodel, director and CEO of Orlando’s Orange County Library System (OCLS), posted a message on the library’s homepage, decrying the “despicable act of violence, and pointing users to a resource guide assembled by OCLS for those coping with the loss and looking for ways to support others. She  added, “Moving forward, we will be exploring other ways that OCLS can be part of the healing process. Thank you, Orlando, for being so strong and so brave. We are proud to be part of this community.”

The Orlando Public Library (OPL) branch of OCLS broadcast news on the big screens in its lobby and Library Central area, which has a stage and seating area. “We have also given staff info on how to access our Employee Assistance Program, to make sure that anybody who needs a grief counselor has access to one,” OCLS public relations administrator Erin Sullivan told LJ. Library managers are also accommodating staff members who wish to donate blood, as there is currently a five to seven hour wait at local blood banks.

OCLS has set up monetary donation opportunities through its staff association, and has donation boxes throughout library branches for nonperishable food items for the families of victims. And the library is giving in more ephemeral ways as well. OCLS will be providing the LGBTQ community with information about its EPOCH (Electronically Preserving Obituaries as Cultural Heritage) database, a community-sourced obituary website created through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, so that victims’ families and friends will be able to post and access obituaries.

In addition, reported Hiawassee branch manager Ken Gibert, the OPL Reference Central department has been collecting photographs of flowers, gifts, and displays at the candlelight vigil held on the night of June 13 at Orlando’s Dr. Phillips Center, to post on the Orlando Memory heritage site.

While the library has been concentrating on ways to help, it has also been on the receiving end of others’ generosity. Digital distributor OverDrive donated 50 ebooks on grief, coping with tragedy, and healing to OCLS, Gibert told LJ. ILS provider SirsiDynix has made a monetary donation.

All branches have installed banners in their windows proclaiming #OrlandoStrong, one of several hashtags for social media users to show solidarity and get updates. Read more...