Monday, August 31, 2015

The Syrians defying napalm bombs and sniper fire to build a library by Mairead Dixon

Risking death to build a library
30 August 2015

A Syrian reading in the library rescued from burning houses

The Syrians defying napalm bombs and sniper fire to build a library

Syrians in the rebel-held town of Darayya have lived under siege from Assad's forces for three years. But some students are trying to create a place of peace among the rubble


Syrians in the rebel-held town of Darayya have faced sniper fire, napalm bombing and indiscriminate killing at the hands of the Assad regime.

But among the destruction, one group of young men managed to create a place of sanctuary - a library.

After residents of the besieged town fled, the students rescued books from their abandoned private libraries. In some cases, the buildings were still burning. So far they’ve collected more than 11,000 books. 

One of the volunteers, Abu Al-Ezz, 23, told Humans of Syria: “One day we came up with the idea to collect all the books scattered throughout the city under the rubble of demolished homes.

“It’s been a daunting and dangerous task.

“We’ve spent long days cataloguing the books, so if the owners return after the war they can have them back.” [ ... ]

The volunteers take turns to work as librarians and have created a check out system to keep track of borrowed books. They also wrote the original owner’s name inside each book, in the hope of restoring them to them after the war.

The library contains 11,000 books including Arabic and foreign novels, religious and academic books.

Abu Malek Alshamy said: “We created an atmosphere inside the library of silence and light, with tables for the readers.

“In such a place, the most beautiful thing is getting away from the war and battles.” [ ... ]

*Read more at:

Neil Gaiman: 'my parents didn’t have any kind of rules about what I couldn’t read'

Do you remember reading any books as a child that were in some way disapproved of or forbidden? If yes, did they traumatise you for life, or did the subversive element make them more enjoyable?

I was really lucky in that my parents definitely didn’t seem to have any kind of rules about what I couldn’t read. And that was wonderful, because it meant that whatever was on the shelves, if it was interesting, I could pick it up and I was allowed to read it.

Read more:

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Librarians on Bikes Are Delivering Books and WiFi to Kids in “Book Deserts” by Susan Johnston

“Food deserts" refer to low-income areas where convenience stores are often the only viable food source and fresh produce is a rarity. But nutritious foods aren't the only thing kids need to thrive and grow. 
Image via Seattle Public Library.

Many of these undernourished kids also live in so-called "book deserts"—areas without easy access to libraries and reading material to nurture their imaginations and development (just think of the 12-year-old boy in Utah who asked his mailman for junk mail to read because he couldn't get to a library).

To combat these problems, creative-thinking librarians and literacy supporters are using inventive solutions to expand access to books and promote a love of reading. Read more...

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

10 Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Choose Your Next Book by Allison Bowsher

Choosing a new book can be a big investment. You’re going to put in time getting to know characters, learning their names, their personalities, their stories. You’re going to likely shell out money, whether it’s buying a novel at your local bookstore, or taking the bus to the library. You’re going to offer up your emotions, hopefully because you've picked a book that engulfs your senses and transports you somewhere new within its pages.

It’s a lot to ask of something that usually measures 8 by 5 inches. Whereas a bad movie or TV show may take at most two hours of your life, a book can last weeks or even months (I'm looking at you, George R.R. Martin). So it better be good. (Plus, imagine being stuck on, like, a seven-hour plane ride with one book that you can't get into. THE HORROR.)

So, if you have to make sure you choose the right one, how, exactly, do you do it? It's not as easy as just picking one off the shelf; whether or not you enjoy a book can be actually affected by a long list of surrounding factors. Here are 10 things to consider when choosing your next read.

What Time Of Year Is It?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Libraries in Times of Crisis By George Eberhart | August 20, 2015

Julia Brungs, IFLA policy and projects officer.  

The IFLA Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression (FAIFE) held a panel discussion Tuesday, August 18, at the World Library and Information Congress in Cape Town on “The Role of Library and Information Workers in a Time of Crisis.”

Simon Edwards, director of professional services for CILIP, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in the UK, said the scope of potential crises that librarians face worldwide is vast, ranging from personal crises to community, national, and global crises that threaten the entire species. “Government agencies also classify crises as sudden (with an immediate impact) and smoldering (a long-term crisis of attrition),” he said. “Libraries play subtly different roles in supporting communities in each.”

Read more:

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Malawi windmill boy with big fans

William Kamkwamba up one of his windmills
William Kamkwamba educated himself in his local library

By Jude Sheerin
BBC News

The extraordinary true story of a Malawian teenager who transformed his village by building electric windmills out of junk is the subject of a new book, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.

Self-taught William Kamkwamba has been feted by climate change campaigners like Al Gore and business leaders the world over.

His against-all-odds achievements are all the more remarkable considering he was forced to quit school aged 14 because his family could no longer afford the $80-a-year (£50) fees.

When he returned to his parents' small plot of farmland in the central Malawian village of Masitala, his future seemed limited.

But this was not another tale of African potential thwarted by poverty.
Many, including my mother, thought I was going crazy - people thought I was smoking marijuana
William Kamkwamba

Thursday, August 6, 2015

What Went Right: A Case Study of a Successful Hiring (Part 1) by Ellen Mehling, Career Development Consultant, METRO

When the right person is hired, there is a story...
Well, actually, two stories: the employer’s story of the search for the best applicant, and the new employee’s story of his or her job search.
These stories begin apart and can cover weeks or even months with multiple steps and behind-the-scenes activities before converging in the new hire’s first day, when a new story begins.
This month we’re interviewing Krissa Corbett Cavouras, a recent hire at the Brooklyn Public Library, about her experience applying for the position of Engagement Manager in Marketing & Communications.

Ellen Mehling: Where did you go to school? What degrees and/or certificates do you hold?
Krissa Corbett Cavouras: I attended Sarah Lawrence for my undergraduate degree and earned my masters from Pratt School of Information and Library Science (SILS) in 2011.

EM: Were you employed elsewhere when you applied for this job? For how long had you been job hunting?
KCC: I was working for a small e-commerce company, as a knowledge manager on their marketing team, for two years prior to starting at Brooklyn Public Library. I had probably been actively looking for about three months when I had my first interview here.

EM: How did you learn about the position? Did you have any connections via your network to that workplace?
KCC: I heard about the position on a couple of fronts -- first, because I’ve had Brooklyn Public Library’s job page bookmarked for years, ever since I graduated from library school! Second, my manager Robin and I have several mutual friends from our early days as bloggers, so I saw the job shared around that mutual circle on Facebook. (I do think that’s how I knew it was in serious recruitment, because sometimes you don’t know from a website job posting if it’s a really open position.) I also have several library school colleagues who now work in the system, although I don’t think I saw this specific posting on my library school listserv.  read more...

Monday, August 3, 2015

How Changing Your Reading Habits Can Transform Your Health By Michael Grothaus

And I know what you're thinking: "Oh, another writer wanting people to think he’s all intellectual and highbrow."

But it really is my favorite book, only not because it has 1,500 pages of unforgettable characters or a generational plot that is more compelling than that of any other book I’ve read. It’s because right before I started reading it, my life was in a rut. I had recently been passed over for a promotion at Apple and I had just been rejected by a graduate school I applied to. This double whammy left me doubting myself, my abilities, and my future. So when I came across the massive tome that is War and Peace, I thought, "Why not? I’m not doing anything else."

Two months later, I finished the book and immediately knew I had a new "favorite." But it wasn’t my new favorite book just because it was so compelling. It was my new favorite because it changed something in me. It’s almost impossible to explain why, but after reading it I felt more confident in myself, less uncertain about my future. I became more assertive with my bosses. I got back on the horse, so to speak, and applied to three more graduate schools. I attended three interviews and got accepted to all three schools (without mentioning War and Peace at all). As weird as it sounds, reading War and Peace put me back in control of my life—and that’s why it’s my favorite book.
Photo: Flickr user
But according to Dr Josie Billington, deputy director of the Centre for Research into Reading at the University of Liverpool, my experience wasn’t so odd. It’s actually the norm for people who read a lot—and one of the main benefits of reading that most people don’t know about.
"Reading can offer richer, broader, and more complex models of experience, which enable people to view their own lives from a refreshed perspective and with renewed understanding," says Billington. This renewed understanding gives readers a greater ability to cope with difficult situations by expanding their "repertoires and sense of possible avenues of action or attitude."
And those possible avenues of action don’t have to mimic those in the book. After all, I had no interest in learning the best ways to fend off a French invasion, even though that was a major part of the story in War and Peace. Rather it was in reading about the challenges the dozens of characters in War and Peace faced that I learned to look at my life’s challenges from a renewed perspective.
"People who read find it easier to make decisions, plan, and prioritize, and this may be because they are more able to recognize that difficulty and setback are unavoidable aspects of human life," says Billington—and astonishingly these aren’t the only hidden benefits of reading regularly that researchers are now discovering.

The Physical and Societal Benefits of Reading

If the standard benefits of reading, which include knowledge absorption and entertainment, were only complemented by the additional benefits of the ability to refocus, regroup, and make better decisions, it would be enough to argue that everyone should read for their own good. But according to Billington and Sue Wilkinson, the CEO of The Reading Agency, a UK charity that develops and delivers programs to encourage people to read more, experts are now discovering reading has numerous additional benefits to physical and psychological health.

"Reading for pleasure in general can also help prevent conditions such as stress, depression, and dementia," says Wilkinson. "Research has shown that people who read for pleasure regularly report fewer feelings of stress and depression than non-readers. Large scale studies in the U.S. show that being more engaged with reading, along with other hobbies, is associated with a lower subsequent risk of incidents of dementia."

Wilkinson also notes that people who read books regularly "are on average more satisfied with life, happier, and more likely to feel that the things they do in life are worthwhile." A recent survey of 1,500 adult readers found that 76% of them said that reading improves their life and helps to make them feel good.
Photo: Flickr user Libert Schmidt

[Photo: Flickr user N i c o l a]

read more: