Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Preserving Gay and Lesbian History, at the Library

Posted April 30th, 2008 by birdie

Tens of thousands of New Yorkers celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising in 1994 discovered to their happy surprise that there was an enormous archive of gay and lesbian social history in an elegant building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street.

It was called the New York Public Library (and will soon be known as the Stephen A. Schwartzman Library as well).

The library’s exhibition on lesbian and gay life, “Becoming Visible: The Legacy of Stonewall” drew a record-breaking 17,258 visitors in its first week at the beginning of this month. One man, who cried as he walked through the Gottesman Exhibition Hall, said that such a show in such a setting made him feel he had “a place, a legitimate place, in the fabric of this country.” NYT Blogs.

PCs For Seniors

by Great Western Dragon

The BBC reports that Microsoft UK is developing a computer aimed at seniors.

The device will have a simple interface and come bundled with software which they feel might be of use to senior citizens. Software ideas include prescription management and photo organization software. Another interesting point: The computer will also include software that helps train the user in standard tasks like getting online and using the internet safely, an idea which could well serve public library computers.

Microsoft US, in conjunction with HP, already makes a computer targeted toward seniors.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A Librarian-Approved Graphic Novel for Teenagers (And Maybe You)


Looking for graphic novels for a teenager? Take a look at Boston Bibliophile, a blog by a librarian named Marie who reviews graphic novels every Monday. First in her weekly series was Breaking Up: A Fashion High Graphic Novel (Scholastic, 192 pp., $9.99, paperback) by Aimee Friedman with art by Christine Norrie. I haven’t read the book, but Marie calls it a “charming story” about friendship that may appeal not just to teenage girls but to some adults. (It has sexual content that probably makes it “inappropriate for younger kids”). “To say this book is light reading is an understatement, but I found it really enjoyable nonetheless,” she adds. “Friedman does a great job of showing what high school can be like — passing notes, hanging out with friends, crushes, parties.” Click her to read the review

(c) 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

Possibly related posts:

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Economic downturn could be uplifting for libraries

by Blake

Alice Says the economic downturn could be uplifting for libraries....
The economic downturn could be just the thing for libraries to use as a springboard to make their case to the American public:

1. We are a vital city service--as important as electricity or clean water.

2. Use us in good times and in bad.

3. We welcome ALL the people of the community here for technology access.

4. Hope lives here, at the library. Hope for improvement.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Special Week, a Special Host, and a Golden Anniversary

by birdie

Guess what's fifty years old...but not yet over the hill? National Library Week, that's next week, April 13-19. It was first celebrated in 1958.

This year’s National Library Week honorary chair is the beloved entertainer and author Julie Andrews, known for her roles in such classic movies as “The Sound of Music” and “Mary Poppins.” In her role as chair, Andrews has produced a series of television and radio Public Service Announcements for National Library Week, which are available at this website.

More on plans and festivities from: The Times and Democrat (SC), Hill Country Times (TX), Herald Times Reporter (WI), Tampa (FL) Tribune, Portsmouth (NH) Herald News, Greeley (CO) Tribune, and, for additional information, go to ALA's Library Week page.

Artist carves images from books

by Blake

Instead of the traditional canvas or paintbrush, however, Brian Dettmer has a more contemporary way of expressing himself artistically. Dettmer carves into books, revealing three-dimensional sculptures of the images found within the book’s pages.

Here's the website where you can view his work. Pretty freaky stuff!

The Future of Literary Culture

Posted by kmccook

by Harold Augenbraum

So will kids who have been brought up on Facebook, Google, Amazon, Narrative, and Fandango stop reading? I hope not. What will be interesting is to see how literature itself changes as that generation comes of age and begins to write its literary work, where it will get its book recommendations, and, perhaps most important, how will be participate in literary culture.

--more at Librarian.

Announcing The Public Software Foundation

by Blake

The Public Software Foundation has been created with the goal of making quality publicly licensed software available at Public lending institutions, including School and Public Libraries, and non-profit organizations.

This site is separated into 4 distinctive sections to allow you to completely immerse yourself in topic specific information. Check it out at

  1. The Welcome Tab contains the business end of the website.
  2. Resources is our learning guide
  3. Libraries includes information designed to help patrons and staff decide if offering software is right the right choice.
  4. Community is for our many volunteers to meet, get news, and get inspired to do great things.

Automated Library Debuts In China

by Great Western Dragon

The Shenzhen Public Library in Southern China co-developed and patented a new automated library machine that not only lends books, but issues cards as well. The machine is meant to be a twenty-four hour access to the library's collection and holds around 400 books on a multilayer conveyor belt. The books, stored behind glass, allow patrons to browse, make their selection, receive their book, and then return it to the machine when they're done.

Patrons also have the ability to reserve items through the library's OPAC or the machine itself. Once the item is ready, the patron gets a text message on their phone and the book is sent to the machine closest to the patron.

The scariest thing about this is the price, or rather the lack of price. The machine only costs a little over US$57,000.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

A Library Plight, by Ralph Nader

There used to be a time when baseball parks were built by private investors—usually a wealthy local family—and the stands were full of what used to be called the “masses.”

There used to be a time when libraries were maintained and stocked as an integral part of the neighborhood and community. Not a single library closed in America due to the great economic depression of the nineteen thirties.

As illustrated so elaborately in Washington D.C. last week, the “gleaming new baseball stadium” temporarily named “Nationals Park” for the local major league baseball team, opened with $ 611 million dollars—mostly taxpayers money—going into its constructions. A Washington Post editorial crowed that the stadium was built “on time and within budget.” Why not? The cost came in at twice the estimate five years ago and its frantic construction pace reflected the priorities of the nation’s capital.

Consider one aspect of this “tale of two cities”—the depleted and disrepaired condition of the main Martin Luther King Library and its twenty six neighborhood branches. The annual budget last year was only $33 million. Four of the branches were shut down for remodeling or rebuilding three and a half years ago. The money has been appropriated. But with the sites being eyed by avaricious developers for “multi-use” complexes, among other reasons, the residents still do not have operating libraries. “On time and within budget” is not even on the radar.

Now I ask you—what is the most appropriate, profound, and respectful use of tax dollars? A ballpark built for mega-millionaire owners who could have raised their own capital? Or “gleaming new libraries” which edify a metropolis and play a critical role in educational, civic and urban renewal?

The question would answer itself were the decision made by local referendum. Polls continually showed that the disenfranchised people of the District of Columbia opposed a taxpayer-funded professional ballpark. The new mayor Adrian Fenty made this opposition a major issue in his improbable run for that office in 2006.

There is little doubt that the people would have preferred to use that $611 million (and other estimates are higher) for library renovations and acquisitions as well as neighborhood recreational facilities for participatory sports by all ages. Studies have shown that after school programs at libraries help children learn better and participatory sports—indoor and outdoor—keep physically exercised youngsters from getting into street trouble.

Nationals Park opened to great fanfare this past weekend, hailed by page after page of coverage in excruciating detail by the Washington Post. Would that this major newspaper devote such attention to the details of 27 library buildings, many of them crumbling and dysfunctional, in its home town.

When Post opinion writer Marc Fisher did devote two columns to the library’s plight in 2002, it helped spark our D.C. Library Renaissance Project, headed by Robin Diener. With library-minded citizens, this Project has brought more public attention, an increased budget and some improvement in the D.C. Library system, long considered to be in the bottom tier of library systems in major American cities.

When power is concentrated in the hands of the few, it’s small wonder that priorities are inverted to the level of the grotesque. Our national capital has been undergoing one of the biggest commercial building booms in its history. Cranes are busy everywhere, except for building the schools, libraries, clinics and neighborhood parks. Real estate developers and their customary allies—banks, mortgage firms, corporate law firms and trade associations—dominate. Not the people, who cannot even have the right to vote for two Senators and a Representative having full voting power in the Congress.

In its March 28, 2008 special, ten page section on Nationals Park, the Washington Post printed a full page “Letter to Nats Fans” by the team’s owners, the Lerner family. They profusely thanked the Mayor, the DC City Council, the corporate-welfare promoter called the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission, along with the construction firms, consultants, and workers.

Remarkably absent from their list of gratitude were the D.C. taxpayers who paid for the building that will make the Lerners and their partners even more wealthy. (These owners are in arbitration over their demand that the taxpayers even pay for the uniforms of the multi-millionaire ball players!)

The Lerners, in all decency, should name the stadium “Taxpayers Stadium.” Instead, they are shopping around the corporate groves for a company to pay to put its name on the building instead of its present “Nationals Park” designation.

Once again the boosteristic Washington Post headlined “Millions Ride on Nats’ Naming Rights.” It is the Lerners who get the millions, but Mark Lerner shared a worry, during an interview with the Post reporter while looking around the Park.

“It’s going to be a huge and expensive task between the signs on the roadways, and all the signs in here—all these neon signs. It’s going to cost a fortune—when the time comes,” he declared.

D.C. taxpayers are left to wonder who will pay for replacing these Nationals Park signs? They better check the fine print.

Ralph Nader is the author of The Seventeen Traditions. Read other articles by Ralph.