The Reading Agency, a British charity with a mission “to inspire more people to read more,” asked author Neil Gaiman to give their second annual lecture on the future of reading and libraries. Mr. Gaiman strongly believes that library closures are “like stopping the vaccination programmes,” and that
“libraries are about freedom. Freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication. They are about education (which is not a process that finishes the day we leave school or university), about entertainment, about making safe spaces, and about access to information.
I worry that here in the 21st century people misunderstand what libraries are and the purpose of them. If you perceive a library as a shelf of books, it may seem antiquated or outdated in a world in which most, but not all, books in print exist digitally. But that is to miss the point fundamentally.”
You can read an edited version of Mr. Gaiman’s impassioned lecture here. Also, you can find many of his books at EPL.
Sociologist Eric Klinenberg, who wrote a book about the summer of 1995 in Chicago where nearly 700 people died from heat, is suggesting that library branches be outfitted to cope with extreme weather. More than that, he’s saying we should actually build more branches for this purpose. He argues that in emergencies people gravitate to places they like and libraries already offer some community resources. See this NYTimes article for a thought-provoking discussion.
The Fred W. Smith National library for the Study of George Washington opened on September 27. The $47 million library in Mount Vernon is dedicated to the study of America’s first president. Ann Bookout, chairman of the board of the Mount Vernon Ladies Association, which has maintained George Washington’s home since 1853, said: “I really believe that George Washington is the indispensable man, without whom this nation would not have been created. He led us to our freedom, gave up power, and came home to his beloved Mount Vernon.” Part of the library’s mission is separating fact from fiction about Washington — he did not cut down a cherry tree, nor did he throw a silver dollar across the Potomac River. The crown jewel of the library collection is Washington’s Acts of Congress, which was purchased at auction last year for $9.8 million, and includes the just-ratified U.S. Constitution. Read more here.
Huffington Post recently asked for people’s attitudes toward their libraries. They assembled a collection of affectionate tweets explaining just what they love about their local library. One comment I especially liked: “…the quiet mystery of absorbed & oblivious readers.” In a world where many are concerned about people becoming oblivious and indifferent to each other, a common theme was the view of a library as a public place to mingle with different types. Would you care to add a tweet of your own?
EarlyWord points out an interesting article in the Washington Post about the difficulties libraries have in obtaining e-books.Some facilities do not have funds to keep up with the need and some publishers are not fully cooperating with the libraries. The article highlights the friction between slashed library budgets and the growing pressure to keep up with digital media. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Shira S.
So asks this Time magazine article, which looks at the growing trend of “bookless” libraries.
~ Olivia M.
Rebecca Miller, features editor of Library Journal magazine, shares her 10 favorite library locations around the country with USA Today.
~ Olivia M.