Detroit Little Free Library

Hey Readers! Cool development in the spreading phenomena of the Little Free Library. Kim Kozlowski has spearheaded an effort to build 313 little libraries in the city of Detroit. Kozlowski has explained that she wants Detroit to have the most little free libraries in one area in the world – an effort to combat Detroit’s battered public image.

“I thought it would be exciting to raise money and put the libraries in various places around Detroit,” said Kozlowski. “We’ve had some pretty bad monikers, like murder capital, and I thought we could flip it and make it the little library capital.”

We’ll keep our eyes peeled to see how the continuing construction of these little guys goes! Props to everyone involved in the project – very inspiring.

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Kitchen Library

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Do you love to bake and cook, but have no cash to buy specialty appliances or room to store them? Look no further than the Kitchen Library in Toronto, a non-profit started by Dayna Boyer, a Canadian food enthusiast. “There’s a whole revolution happening around home cooking and being in charge of what goes into your food,” explains Boyer.

The Kitchen Library is open 4 days a week to anyone over 18. Members must pay an annual fee of $50, and can check out items for 3-5 days (depending upon the appliance). Items range from canners to bread and pasta makers; juicers to chocolate fountains. If items are returned broken, the annual member fees generate enough money to fix or replace them. There are also fees for lateness, which run from $1-5 a day.

The Kitchen Library does have its critics. “I think it’s a bad idea from a design standpoint because everything in the kitchen is designed around the appliances,” said Vince Felicitta, the owner of Brown Felicitta Design. “You can’t design properly if the appliances are constantly changing.”

In any case, the emergence of such non-profits as the Kitchen Library is an interesting and growing trend, one that signifies a change in how we relate to space and to objects. While from a design standpoint I can understand the necessity of permanent fixtures, from a financial and social standpoint I think that projects like the Kitchen Library may be where the future is heading. Thoughts?

For more info, check out Dayna Boyers Kitchen Library website and blog.

The Robots are Taking Over!

… Well, maybe not quite yet.

But Westport Library in Connecticut did make the headlines as the first library to purchase a pair of humanoid robots. These robots, named Vincent and Sandy, can speak in 19 languages, have conversations, do Tai Chi, walk, dance, and pick themselves up if they fall over. But even though they look a bit like Fisher Price toys, standing two feet tall with blue and red accents to their white bodies, they are amazingly complex. Equipped with cameras, microphones, sonar, and motion sensors, they can even “feel” with tactile and pressure sensors. While their obvious bells and whistles are pretty astounding on their own, the bots have a wealth of internal information. They will primarily be used to teach coding and programming skills to animate and modify machines similar to themselves.

Westport Library is known for its willingness to embrace the latest in technological innovation. Vincent and Sandy will become a part of Westport’s “Maker space,” an area in which patrons can explore different technological skills such as computer coding and 3D printing. Library staff are particularly excited about the bots. As Maxine Bleiweis, the executive director of Westport, says in an article from the Wall Street Journal,

“Robotics is the next disruptive technology coming into our lives and we felt it was important to make it accessible to people so they could learn about it…From an economic-development perspective and job- and career-development perspective, it’s so important.”

What is “disruptive technology”? Coined by Harvard professor Clayton M. Christensen, disruptive technology, or “disruptive innovation,” describes an innovation which completely changes existing markets or sectors, “disrupting” the playing field with “simplicity, convenience, accessibility, and affordability where complication and high cost [had previously been] the status quo.” The classic example is the personal computer, which built an entirely new market and completely destroyed the existing industry.

This, Readers, is what the library of the future will look like. People sometimes forget that libraries are information hubs, whose scope is much wider and more varied than simply  serving as storage space for much-loved hardcovers.  It is an exciting time in the world of technology! And as the source of information which many community members rely on,  libraries must work to evolve and grow with the latest innovations. Here’s hoping the next technological leap is a hovercraft (:

 

Future Library – Opening 2114

Readers, an exciting new work by Scottish conceptual artist Katie Paterson is underway. In Norway, 1000 trees were planted to print books which will remain unread until the opening of the “Future Library” in 2114. A highly selective panel will choose one book each year by an author who understands that, at least for those contributing in the next 60 or 70 years, their work will not be read in their lifetime.  The hopeful heart of this project is “to conceive and produce a work in the hopes of finding a receptive reader in an unknown future.”

Excitingly, Margaret Atwood will be the first author to be included in the collection. In her words,

“I am very honoured, and also happy to be part of this endeavor. This project, at least, believes the human race will still be around in a hundred years! Future Library is bound to attract a lot of attention over the decades, as people follow the progress of the trees, note what takes up residence in and around them, and try to guess what the writers have put into their sealed boxes.”

Take a look at this video, from Paterson’s Future Library website, to learn more about the project.

 

BANNED BOOKS WEEK 2014: September 21-27

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Readers, that time has come again!  September 21-27 is Banned Books Week, an annual celebration of the freedom to read put on by the ALA. Censorship continues to be a very real threat to libraries, schools, and anyone trying to access information. Take a look at these stats published by Pat LaMarche in the Huffington Post:

The Office of Intellectual Freedom recorded 307 instances of banned or challenged books in 2013. Jennifer O’Brien, Serials and Government Documents Librarian for Western Connecticut State University, cautions that this might represent a fraction of the censorship cases actually going on in the United States. O’Brien explained, “Teachers or librarians may just be self-censoring. And not because they don’t want to use the material… it’s possible that they didn’t even purchase a book or periodical because they thought it would be challenged.”

So do your part to fight censorship! Get involved by staying up to date on what is being challenged and where, maybe drafting a letter to your local newspaper, school board or library director,  or contacting your local elected officials to urge them to publicize Banned Books Week. For more ways to help out, check out the ALA website.

In the meantime, come to the Mason Library to check out our awesome Banned Books Week display and exercise your freedom to read by taking one home!

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The Floating Library

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Check it out, readers! The library is going nautical this Saturday, September 6-October 3. Artist Beatrice Glow has initiated a project entitled “The Floating Library,” described here on their website:

” The Floating Free Library is a mobile-device free pop-up public space aboard the historic Lilac Museum Steamship berthed at Pier 25 in Tribeca. The space offers a reading lounge for fearless dreaming under open skies, sound art, free public programming of performances, public debates, roundtables, and more!

Take a look at the website for info on the project, specific events, and ways YOU can help out!