Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Public library

Public Libraries in the U.S.A. Are Under Threat


I know I have an international audience for this blog; but, some stories that concern the U.S.A. seem like stories that could also happen in other countries… 

Did you know that public libraries are going private?

They’ll still admit the public to check out books but they’re owned by private corporations

BloombergBusiness has the article, As U.S. Libraries Are Outsourced, Readers See Public Trust Erode, and I’ll excerpt certain key parts of it:

“A Maryland company [LSSI] that runs public libraries has more than doubled in size in the past decade as governments seek savings. Bibliophile residents complain that an investment in knowledge and culture is being milked for profit.”

A quote from a library professional:

“‘This is meant to increase business profits and drive down quality’, said Esdras Quintana, a 14-year library information-technology employee and member of the Service Employees International Union. ‘We need to invest more in our libraries. Turning over our libraries to LSSI would not be an investment. It would be an abandonment of a precious public asset.’”

Quote from a private citizen:

“’If our libraries are privatized, the companies have a right to do whatever they want and they don’t have to listen to the community’, said Yesenia Contreras, 26, an Arvin resident and community organizer. ‘We live in a rural community. Our kids do not have access to books and computers.’”

Here’s a quote that makes one wonder what the word “government” actually means now:

“Governments have made safeguarding culture a priority since antiquity.”

And, in spite of one person’s positive statement ending the article, this appears very near the end:

“Of the 82 company-run libraries, 47 are in California. Riko Mendez, political director for the SEIU local representing workers from San Jose to Kern County, said LSSI’s model is to cut salaries and benefits, rely on volunteers, and make money by selling library-branded pens and other products.”

As always, I encourage anyone interested in what I’ve excerpted to go read the full article; however, let me end with a quote that absolutely chills me to the bone (please remember that LSSI runs private libraries and that public libraries are what “governments” protected when they were “safeguarding culture”…)

“Today, LSSI is the fourth-largest library operator in the U.S., after public systems in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles County.”

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Will Public Libraries Ever Just Disappear?


Many blogs have a Top Tags Cloud—a widget that gathers the keywords the blogger’s given to posts and displays them—larger words for more posts, smaller for fewer—often, hovering your cursor over them shows the number… 

Libraries

Image Courtesy of Holger Dieterich ~ http://www.freeimages.com/profile/holger

This blog has a Top Tags widget, further down on the left side-bar—condensing over 1,100 posts into clickable topics; and, “Library” has 36 posts (including this one)

I’m sure there are folks who have never been to a public library; and, some who remember when all there was were libraries and bookstores

I’ve been collecting links to articles about these places defined as, “A large organized collection of books for reading or reference, for use by the public or by a specific group…”

I have a small library, right next to my laptop desk, about 100 books, “haphazardly organized”

I have a tablet with over 200 books (organized however I choose…).

I suppose you could think of Amazon as a “library” since you can avail yourself of their Lending Program.

But, what about those places you can actually walk into, spaces dedicated to print books, thousands of them, meticulously organized on shelves—books you can take home for awhile

Think they’ll disappear?

I found an article in the Daily Chronicle called Why We Still Need Public Libraries.

It describes a movement back to public libraries and it’s worth reading in its entirety; but, this bit stood out for me:

“…we still need what urbanologists call ‘third places’ – that is, public spaces other than work and home. Public libraries are third places, along with cafes and old-fashioned bookstores.”

Also, The Boston Globe has the article, Life without Libraries Would Be Unimaginably Poorer—another worthy read—with these ideas:

“The ability to browse goes to the essence of the library experience, along with the egalitarian access that puts books in plain sight of all comers.”

“Clicking links on an electronic device is efficient, but it can’t replace the tactile engagement of wandering the stacks, pulling a book from the shelf, reading the dust jacket, flipping through its pages.”

And, if you’re one of the people who doesn’t mind thousands of e-books tucked into the spaces housing thousands of print books, you’ll be glad to know about the article in Publishing PerspectivesW.W. Norton Offers Entire Ebook Catalog to Lending Libraries.

Also, if you like the words, Magical and Majestic, you should follow these two links:

19 Totally Magical Libraries To Visit Before You Die

25+ Of The Most Majestic Libraries In The World

Do you love public libraries?

Do you still visit them?

Do you wish there was one close to you?

Are you a librarian?

Do you know a librarian?

Do you think more public funds should be invested in libraries?

Do you have warm memories of your local public library?

Feel like answering some of those questions in the Comments…?
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Younger People and Public Libraries


Library

Image Courtesy of David Lat ~ http://www.freeimages.com/profile/davidlat

I have 32 posts tagged “Library”

I just wrote one the other day called, Do Physical Libraries Still Matter?

Apparently they do still matter to Millennials (those 16-29) in the United States.

I can’t help but think Global Millennials in affluent countries find libraries useful too…

The Pew Research Internet Project recently released a new study, Younger Americans and Public Libraries.

Here’s an interesting note from the explanation of the survey:

“There are actually three different ‘generations’ of younger Americans with distinct book reading habits, library usage patterns, and attitudes about libraries. One “generation” is comprised of high schoolers (ages 16-17); another is college-aged (18-24), though many do not attend college; and a third generation is 25-29.”

Other key points derived from the survey:

Millennials’ lives are full of technology, but they are more likely than their elders to say that important information is not available on the internet.

Millennials are quite similar to their elders when it comes to the amount of book reading they do, but young adults are more likely to have read a book in the past 12 months.

The community and general media-use activities of younger adults are different from older adults.

As a group, Millennials are as likely as older adults to have used a library in the past 12 months, and more likely to have used a library website.

As with the general population, most younger Americans know where their local library is, but many say they are unfamiliar with all the services it may offer.

And, a final general finding from the survey:

“Younger Americans are significantly more likely than older adults to have used a library in the past year, including using a library website.”

What I’m wondering is if these same results about library usage would have been obtained 10, 20, or even 50 years ago…
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Do Physical Libraries Still Matter?


Are libraries—the ones you have to leave home to visit—still important?

Libraries

Image Courtesy of Holger Dieterich ~ http://www.freeimages.com/profile/holger

Can they survive in this digital age?

Will they become digital themselves?

Are physical books and their collections going away?

I have a few handfuls of posts I’ve done on libraries and I should share four of them:

So, What Are Libraries Good For, Now That So Many People Use the Internet?

The E-Book Wars & Your Public Library . . .

Publisher Helps Local Libraries Become Community Publishers !

A Place Called LibraryThing ~ A Space To Have A Love Affair With Books

I have a friend who’s a prison librarian and he recently sent me a link to an interesting article on SlateWhat Will Become of the Library?

I know one thing my friend probably liked about that article was the mention of Andrew Carnegie—the man who endowed 2,500 public libraries in the United States.

As a young boy, Carnegie benefited form a lending library operated by someone from Pittsburgh, the hometown of my friend the prison librarian…

I encourage you to read the full article over on Slate but I need to share one particular quote:

“A library in the middle of a community is a cross between an emergency exit, a life raft and a festival. They are cathedrals of the mind; hospitals of the soul; theme parks of the imagination. On a cold, rainy island, they are the only sheltered public spaces where you are not a consumer, but a citizen, instead. … A mall—the shops—are places where your money makes the wealthy wealthier. But a library is where the wealthy’s taxes pay for you to become a little more extraordinary, instead.”

Then, there’s another article about libraries I discovered on my daily scans of the news—written by the Director of the Harvard Law School Library—Why Libraries [Still] Matter.

He brings up the facility of seeking information on the Web and says:

“I co-authored a study investigating link rot in legal scholarship and judicial opinions, and was shocked to find that, circa late 2013, nearly three out of four links found within all Harvard Law Review articles were dead. Half of the links in U.S. Supreme Court opinions were dead.”

I can only imagine how many links to non-law-related information are dying every second…

He ends the article with this statement:

“In a world suffused with so much transient information as to inspire epistemic paralysis, we acutely need libraries’ power, independence, and ethos: institutions conceived to fight on behalf of their patrons, which is to say for the public and for the preservation and intelligibility of the public record.”

Do you still visit physical libraries?

What do you think they can do to stay alive when military spending, among other financial escapades, is inducing public austerity and stripping libraries of the funds they need?
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A Library Without Books?


Well, not quite—all the books will be E-books :-)

It will be in San Antonio, Texas.

The ABC News Site has this to say:

“It sounds like an oxymoron, but come the fall of 2013, San Antonio’s Bexar County is going to be home to the BiblioTech, the country’s first book-less public library.”

“Library goers will be able to take out books on any of the devices in the library, take out one of the 50 e-readers for a period of time or bring their own e-readers to the library and load books onto their own devices. The library will also be partnering with e-book providers or distributors to provide access to over 10,000 titles.”

“There will also be a children’s area with interactive tables and interactive walls. Wolff also said the library is exploring adding other media to the library, like movies and music.”

Salon.com says:

“Saying goodbye to the printed page may be tough for some to swallow, but remote access to digital files is key to bringing books to the low-income and unincorporated areas of Bexar County currently without library access, says ‘BiblioTech’ project coordinator Laura Cole.”

And, here’s a video about it :-)

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