Tag Archives: community

English Language Learners and the Library

Check out this great article put out by the School Library Journal* about resources for English Language Learners in school and public libraries. In as diverse a country as the U.S., libraries must respond to the varied cultural and linguistic backgrounds of their patron bases.

Something I found particularly interesting about this article was how it addressed the complications inherent in the acquisition of items in other languages. For example, the Minneapolis-St.Paul area has the largest Hmong population in the United States – but actually acquiring material in Hmong is complicated by the fact that the Hmong language has only had a written form since the 1950’s. Even though we can be lulled by our “Google it” culture, some things are really tricky, (bordering on almost impossible!) to find. That makes the role of librarians even more important – we love the search!

*Many thanks to Geek the Library for posting wonderful articles on their Facebook page, including this one (:

Looking for a Sauna…At the Library?

The city of Helsinki has approved plans to build a library unlike any other. More like a library complex, this 98 million euro building will include a movie theater, restaurant, cafes, workshop and activity spaces, and yes, a sauna! The building will be located in the center of the city, and construction will begin in 2016, with the doors set to open in 2018.

This library project is yet another example of the trend in which modern libraries are becoming community centers, areas in which many services are provided under the umbrella of a library space.

What do you all think? Is this what libraries must do to remain relevant?

Photo courtesy of Good News from Finland.

Free Wi-Fi! At your local branch of the New York Public Library.

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New York City is working to address the digital divide with a new NYPL initiative that will provide free, portable, wireless Wi-Fi hubs for check-out.

“At every branch you walk into, every computer is being used all the time,” [NYPL President Anthony] Marx said. “As more and more of what the library offers moves online, it became obvious that there was a problem.”

This initiative seeks to reach out to the 2.5 million NYC residents without their own access to the internet, and will focus on patrons in adult-learning and/or ESL programs,  and  patrons without home broadband.

This is an exciting time to see how the digital divide is being addressed by public institutions, businesses and governing bodies!

Wondering if Libraries are still Relevant? The Ferguson Public Library is Your Answer.

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Readers, as we all know, Ferguson, Missouri has been in a continual state of tension and unrest since the August 9th shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson. Protests swelled on the 24th of November after Wilson was not indicted for any of the charges brought againts him, charges, according to Prosecutor Robert P. McCulloch , which ranged from “first-degree murder to involuntary manslaughter.”

Although many public services, including public schools, closed their doors to Ferguson residents after the verdict, the Ferguson Public Library remained open, scheduling impromptu classes for students out of school and providing a space for businesses to meet if their establishments had been hit by looters or arsonists.

More than just providing necessary services, the Ferguson Library, with Director Scott Bonner at the helm, has created a refuge for patrons. Donations have been pouring in, and Bonner hopes that these donations could help support a full-time children’s services staff member. In the meantime, he has been putting together “healing kits” for local children, each containing books about dealing with traumatic events as well as a stuffed animal for the child to keep. As Bonner says,

When there’s a need, we try to find a way to meet it. I have a very broad definition of librarianship.

In times of trial, it is heartening to hear about the very real good that libraries champion, day in and day out.

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 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!

U.S. libraries become front line in fight against homelessness

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As outlined in this recent article from Reuters, libraries are becoming true community resources when faced with the homelessness that plagues over 600,000 Americans. When one patron suffering from homelessness was asked how often he frequents the library, he replied “”Always. I have nowhere else to go. When it’s hot, you come here to stay out of the heat. When it’s cold, you come here to stay out of the cold.”

What other public institution offers classes to young mothers and their babies, a selection of local history, tech support groups, book clubs, exercise classes, your favorite crime bestsellers, and programs to help people get back on their feet after hard times? These are obviously just a smattering of what is available in a public library; the list of everything  offered there is actually far larger, and changes and adapts based on individual community needs.

I passed by the the public library in Amsterdam, New York today . Above the door the words “Free to all” are carved in stone. When people ask me if I think libraries are still relevant, I always say of course – libraries are public spaces that foster independent thinking and support community members whatever stage or station they occupy . An America in which these spaces are no longer relevant is one that I hope I never see.

You Can Get What at the Library??

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Hey there readers!

Sometimes when I say that I work at a library, people are surpised when we get talking about all the things the library has available. “You have more than books?” is a fairly common question. And happily the answer is of course!

At our libraries, we offer passes to local museums, computer classes (for free, of course), bi-monthly movies, meeting rooms available to be booked in advance, two book clubs, and more. Come see for yourself!

For the full list of interesting not-just-book things available at libraries around the U.S., check out this great compilation from USNews.