Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Librarian Who Guarded the Manhattan Project’s Secrets

Science libraries | Research libraries | World War II

 The residents of Los Alamos, New Mexico—a town that wasn’t supposed to exist—lived in a viscous state of secrecy during World War II. To disguise the existence of the nuclear bomb being built there, the group of Manhattan Project scientists, security personnel, and families needed to consider and reconsider their every move. They couldn’t leave “the Hill,” as Los Alamos was known, without required passes. Their mail reached New Mexico through a series of forwarding addresses set up across the United States, arriving in a P.O. box 20 miles away in Santa Fe. Food was purchased from a single commissary; a trip to Santa Fe was “a major event.” Read more...

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

22 Ambassadors Recommend the One Book to Read Before Visiting Their Country

Travel | Literature from other Cultures | Reader's Advisory

Preparing for a visit to a foreign country can often be overwhelming, with no shortage of things to learn before you go. Where should you eat? Where should you stay? What do you tip? More so than this service information, though, is a sense of cultural understanding that's hard to put your finger on. With this in mind, language learning app Babbel asked foreign ambassadors to the U.S. to pick the book they believe first-time visitors to their country should read before they arrive. Their answers may surprise you.

The Tobacconist (translated into English by Charlotte Collins) is set in 1937 just before the German occupation. It follows 17-year-old Franz, who moves to Vienna to become the apprentice in a tobacco shop. Its quiet wisdom and sincerity resonated with me very deeply." —H.E. Wolfgang A. Waldner

Note: "H.E." stands for His or Her Excellency, the official title for ambassadors to the U.S.


Monday, June 26, 2017

Enter an Archive of 6,000 Historical Children’s Books, All Digitized and Free to Read Online

Archives | Books | e-books | Children's literature

August 30, 2016

We can learn much about how a historical period viewed the abilities of its children by studying its children's literature. Occupying a space somewhere between the purely didactic and the nonsensical, most children’s books published in the past few hundred years have attempted to find a line between the two poles, seeking a balance between entertainment and instruction. However, that line seems to move closer to one pole or another depending on the prevailing cultural sentiments of the time. And the very fact that children’s books were hardly published at all before the early 18th century tells us a lot about when and how modern ideas of childhood as a separate category of existence began. Read more...

How Adele sent her love to libraries | #WhyBooksMatter

Library advocacy | Public libraries | Outreach \ Culture

June 12, 2017

Adele may have headlined Glastonbury and filled arenas across the globe in a worldwide tour that climaxes next month with four sold-out dates at Wembley Stadium, but 10 years ago she was playing a gig in a library in Lancaster for an audience of 175. “You can check out the show online,” says Stewart Parsons. “I am so relieved we filmed that!”
 Parsons, a librarian with more than 30 years of experience, started the Get it Loud in Libraries scheme 10 years ago to introduce new people to libraries by turning them into live music venues for special concerts. Over the last decade, 36,108 people have attended 279 shows put on by acts including alt-J, Florence + The Machine, Imelda May, British Sea Power, Plan B and, of course, everyone’s favourite balladeer, Adele, whose fee that evening in Lancaster was £50.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Horse-Riding Librarians Were the Great Depression’s Bookmobiles

Mobile libraries | Public libraries | Great Depression

During the Great Depression, a New Deal program brought books to Kentuckians living in remote areas
A Pack Horse librarian returning over the mountain side for a new supply of books (Part of Goodman-Paxton Photographic Collection, Kentucky Digital Library)

Their horses splashed through iced-over creeks. Librarians rode up into the Kentucky mountains, their saddlebags stuffed with books, doling out reading material to isolated rural people. The Great Depression had plunged the nation into poverty, and Kentucky—a poor state made even poorer by a paralyzed national economy—was among the hardest hit.

The Pack Horse Library initiative, which sent librarians deep into Appalachia, was one of the New Deal’s most unique plans. The project, as implemented by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), distributed reading material to the people who lived in the craggy, 10,000-square-mile portion of eastern Kentucky. The state already trailed its neighbors in electricity and highways. And during the Depression, food, education and economic opportunity were even scarcer for Appalachians.

They also lacked books: In 1930, up to 31 percent of people in eastern Kentucky couldn’t read. Residents wanted to learn, notes historian Donald C. Boyd. Coal and railroads, poised to industrialize eastern Kentucky, loomed large in the minds of many Appalachians who were ready to take part in the hoped prosperity that would bring. "Workers viewed the sudden economic changes as a threat to their survival and literacy as a means of escape from a vicious economic trap," writes Boyd. 

Read more:

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Saving Lives in the Stacks: How libraries are handling the opioid crisis

Public libraries | Safety | Health

June 21, 2017

On June 1, the Philadelphia Inquirer broke the news that the Free Library of Philadelphia’s McPherson Square Branch had a serious problem with opioid use among patrons. By June 3, everybody from the Washington Post to National Public Radio (NPR) had picked up the story.

“As this nation’s opioid crisis has exploded, the staff at the public library … have become first responders,” NPR’s Scott Simon told listeners. “And I gather the librarians there have been obliged to become involved in a way that—well, become involved in a way librarians aren’t usually asked to become involved.”

What Simon didn’t say—but what librarians far and wide know—is that the McPherson Square branch is just one of many American libraries struggling with opioid-related issues such as discarded, contaminated needles; drug use in the library itself; and even on-site overdoses and fatalities. Libraries from California to Colorado, Pennsylvania to Missouri, are finding themselves on the front lines of a battle they never anticipated fighting.

Of course, opiate use isn’t limited to libraries. Neither is anyone claiming that the problem is more severe in libraries than it is anywhere else. Still, the fact that libraries are open to all, offer relative anonymity, and generally allow patrons to stay as long as they like make them uniquely vulnerable to those seeking a place to use drugs.

“It’s just like: What is going on? How can we stem this tide?” says Kim Fender, director of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County (PLCH).

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Brooklyn Academy of Music Puts 70,000 Archive Materials Online

Arts | Archives | Digital Humanities

The musician and performance artist Laurie Anderson in another archival image, from the production “Empty Places” during the Next Wave Festival in 1989. Credit Linda Alaniz/Martha Swope Associates
Merce Cunningham onstage, with the composer John Cage to the right, in “How to Pass, Kick, Fall and Run” in 1970. The image is part of the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s new digital archives. Credit James Klosty 
More than 70,000 playbills, posters and ephemera from the history of the Brooklyn Academy of Music — from as far back as the Civil War era — are now available through the Leon Levy BAM Digital Archive, which opened to the public on Tuesday.

The archive has been in development for several years, paid for by a $1 million grant from the Leon Levy Foundation, the same organization that funded the New York Philharmonic’s digital collection.
Read more... 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Hidden Treasures in Italian Libraries

Libraries | Italy | Librariana

In Florence, Rome and beyond, these buildings are a feast not only for book lovers, but for art and architecture enthusiasts as well.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Ways to Shelve Your Books on Goodreads

Books | Cataloguing | Social media 

The beauty of Goodreads is the shelves, am I right or am I right? They’re lists of books, but called shelves, because books. Their existence is the main reason I’ve stayed with the site for a decade (whoa).

But the thought of them can be daunting. So many options! So many options within those options!

Never fear. I’ve spent far too many hours spying on Goodreads accounts and taking notes. And let me tell you, people take their shelves *very* seriously.

Starter ideas for shelves:
  • Year read. I did this for a while, but with the option to mark the dates you read a book in the review section, I’ve only kept a shelf for the current year. (You can view your yearly stats by going to My Books > Tools > Stats. Here’s what mine looks like.)
  • Format/status/location. Audiobook, ebook, print? Library book? Borrowed from a pal? Owned? On deck?
  • Genre. Fiction vs. nonfiction, essays vs. short stories vs. comics vs. poetry. The options here are a little easier to define by going to a book’s page and checking what common shelves are.
  • Author and book identifier. Author of color? Queer? From another country? Book translated from its original language?



The Power of the Russian State vs. a Librarian |

Advocacy | Human rights | Libraries

Natalia Sharina at a hearing in Moscow in May. Credit Kirill Kudryavtsev/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images 
There is something particularly Orwellian about accusing a librarian of hate crimes because books under her care don’t jibe with government propaganda. That, in essence, is what a Russian court did in giving to Natalia Sharina a four-year suspended sentence because the Moscow Library of Ukrainian Literature, which she formerly headed, purportedly carried literature that didn’t match Russia’s official version of what’s happening in Ukraine.
No matter that most of the books seized in the raid on the library in 2015 and cited by the prosecution were in special storage and not available to the public, or that, according to the library staff, the book deemed most offensive by the state was planted there by the police. The case was not about inciting “interethnic enmity and hatred,” nor was it about the spurious charges of embezzlement that were leveled against Mrs. Sharina. Read more...

365 Books by Women Authors to Celebrate International Women’s Day All Year

Women authors | Book lists | International Women's Day

by Gwen Glazer. Librarian, Readers Services
March 8, 2017


For over a century, International Women's Day has been observed on March 8 — and this year, we've compiled 365 books by women authors from across the globe to keep the celebration going all year long.

This list includes a vast range of women authors, and we hope you find some old favorites and some new discoveries. And we hope that readers can draw strength and inspiration from these 365 books — and the women who wrote them — in the year ahead.

And if you've ever heard someone say they “just couldn't find” a great woman author to read, now you have not one, but 365 suggestions.

1. Leila Aboulela, The Kindness of Enemies
2. Susan Abulhawa, The Blue Between Sky and Water
3. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun
4. Etel Adnan, Sea and Fog
5. Marjorie Agosín, A Cross and a Star


Monday, June 12, 2017

8 Reasons to Catalog Your Books (and How to Do It) | LibraryThing

Books | Cataloguing | Inventory | Book collecting

How to Raise a Reader | The New York Times | Books

Children's literature | Reading | Parenting


From the moment you’re expecting your first child, you are bombarded with messages about the importance of reading. For good reason: The benefits of reading at every stage of a child’s development are well documented. Happily, raising a reader is fun, rewarding and relatively easy.
When you purchase a recommended book through our site, we earn an affiliate commission.

Start Them Early

First, Reacquaint Yourself With Reading

If you’ve let reading slide to the margins of your life, now is the time to bring it back. Make the space, and time, for books you read for yourself, and books you read with your child. If you want to raise a reader, be a reader.

Baby Books Are a Necessity


You may think you’re off the hook with books until your baby is at least vertical, but not so. Even newborns benefit from the experience of hearing stories (and they can’t complain about your taste in books). So take advantage. Here’s how:


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Announcing #SubwayLibrary: Free E-Books for Your Commute | NYPL Blog

E-Books | NYPL |MTA

by Gwen Glazer. Librarian, Readers Services
June 8, 2017

We're excited to announce the launch of Subway Library, a new initiative between The New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library, and Queens Library, the MTA, and Transit Wireless that provides subway riders in New York City with free access to hundreds of e-books, excerpts, and short stories—all ready to read on the train.

As part of the Subway Library celebration, don't miss the specially wrapped "Library Train," with the interior designed to look like NYPL's Rose Main Reading Room! The train will alternate running on the E and F lines, running through Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens.

How to Access the Subway Library

To access the Subway Library, MTA customers in underground subway stations can connect to the free TransitWirelessWiFi through their network settings and click on the prompt to start reading from a large selection of titles for all ages. The site was developed with the same technology we used to create our free SimplyE e-reader app. Read more...

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

San Diego librarians receive Mental Health First Aid training | incl. VIDEO

Mental Health | Homelessness | Public Libraries

BY: Amanda Brandeis