A library serving the Rancho Del Rey community in Chula Vista, California, was originally scheduled to be completed in 2005. Development fees were supposed to fund construction, but the city diverted fees to other projects such as police, new fire stations, and recreation facilities. Now, San Diego’s second-largest city only has three libraries for more than 265,000 people and spends less than 25 cents per resident on library materials. By contrast, the state average on library material spending is $2.49 per capita.
San Diego (Calif.) Union-Tribune, May 24
Starting May 23, the Brooklyn Public Library became the first public musical instrument lending library in New York City, enabling adult library patrons to rent (for free) a violin, acoustic guitar, ukulele, electronic keyboard, drum pad, or music stand for a period of two months from the Central Library. The musical instrument lending library is available to any adult patron with a current BPL card and less than $15 in fines. They’ll be able to check out one instrument at a time, as well as a music stand.
Metro (New York), May 23
Jim Neal and Steven Yates write: “The scene described in the opening of Robert Nott’s March 4 article (‘Librarians Fear Schools Are Turning the Page on Them’) seems to beautifully capture a moment of New Mexico enchantment: The young students of Gonzalez Community School earnestly engaged in both group learning and self-directed inquiry. A closer look, however, reveals that it is not enchantment after all, but the skillful and deliberate coordination of the school’s librarian.”
Santa Fe New Mexican, May 20
Alison Hudson writes: “It’s a major peeve of many medieval historians—the popular belief that people who lived before Christopher Columbus thought that the world was flat. It is actually rare to find groups in the classical and medieval eras who believed in the flat earth. On the contrary, numerous ancient thinkers, navigators, and artists observed that the Earth was round. This belief was also reflected in many medieval maps. Round diagrams of the Earth were included in the works of Isidore of Seville.”
British Library: Medieval Manuscripts Blog, May 24
Actor Ethan Hawke writes: “Just last night, my 16-year-old son asked me, ‘Do people really still use libraries?’ I was happy to be able to tell him yes. It’s a fact: More people than ever are visiting their neighborhood branches and using the myriad free resources the library provides. They’re downloading music, checking out books, and viewing the Criterion Collection’s films—for free. They’re also enrolling in ESOL classes, improving their digital literacy, and taking their toddlers to storytime—also for free. The public library is a more vital community center than ever before.”
New York Public Library Blogs, May 24
Su Epstein writes: “In today’s world, civility is imperative. I have also expressed a belief that librarians have a responsibility to lead tolerance. In response to these expressed beliefs, some have challenged that civility is a silencing tool of oppression and that tolerance is an unacceptable dodge of acceptance. I believe these responses indicate experiences in which civility or tolerance have not been practiced. Civility is about presentation, not about content or disagreement.”
Public Libraries Online, May 22
David Nield writes: “You’re probably used to bookmarking your favorite sites for easy access, but the web goes much deeper than the top domains you’re familiar with—from your social networks to your email box, having the right URL at hand can enable you to jump right into the page, feature, setting, or search you need. Here are 10 of the most useful ones.”
Gizmodo: Field Guide, Apr. 9
Imagine if you could gather thousands of writers in a circle to discuss one question. What would optimist Thomas L. Friedman say about intervening in Syria? Would chaos theorist Santo Banerjee concur? Legendary futurist Ray Kurzweil introduced “Talk to Books” as a new way to find answers on the internet that should bring pleasure to researchers and bookworms. Type a question into the search box and an AI-powered tool will scan every sentence in 100,000 volumes in Google Books and generate a list of likely responses with the pertinent passage bolded.
Quartz, Apr. 14
The No-Nonsense Guide to Born-Digital Content, published by Facet Publishing and available through the ALA Store, aims to help ease inexperienced students and practitioners into digital content management. Written by Heather Ryan and Walker Sampson, and featuring a foreword by Trevor Owens, head of digital content management at the Library of Congress, it explains step by step processes for developing and implementing born-digital content workflows in library and archive settings of all sizes.
ALA Publishing, May 23
Scott Koenig writes: “Provocative behavior on social media draws a seemingly disproportionate social punishment. The architecture of social media exploits our sense of right and wrong, reaping profit from the pleasure we feel in expressing righteous outrage. The algorithms that undergird the flow of information are, like the sensationalist print media and incendiary talk radio that came before them, designed to maximize ad revenue by engaging consumers’ attention to the fullest extent possible.”
Nautilus blog, May 15
The Library Copyright Alliance—consisting of ALA, ACRL, and the Association of Research Libraries—applauds the introduction on May 23 of the Accessibility for Curators, Creators, Educators, Scholars, and Society Recordings Act (“ACCESS to Recordings Act”) by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oreg.). The bill would provide full federal copyright protection to sound recordings fixed prior to 1972, which currently receive protection only under state copyright law.
District Dispatch, May 23
John Boyd and Beth Cramer (a former ALA International Relations Round Table chair) are librarians at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, who like to ride bicycles. They are on their way from Washington, D.C., to Astoria, Oregon, from May through August, visiting libraries, taking photos, and making notes of services for bicycle tourists and other non-resident patrons. On May 23 they made it to the Morgan County Public Library in Martinsville, Indiana. The trip is “part library advocacy, part adventure, all fun.”
Librarians on Bikes