Children, Mobile Libraries, and Research

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The astonishing rate of library closures in the UK was recently brought to light through a BBC investigation. One of the strategies employed by the educators, librarians, and activists fighting to save public libraries in the UK, involves working to prove that libraries are both needful and effective. Actually, this is something that most librarians will be tasked with at some point in their career. At any rate, recently three scholars, Marianne Bamkin, Sally Maynard, and Anne Goulding discovered one of the best ways to evaluate the effectiveness of children’s mobile libraries.

 

Photo credit to quisnovus

Kids, eBooks and Opportunity

Open eBooks is an app containing thousands of popular and award-winning titles that are free for children from in-need households. These eBooks can be read without checkouts or holds. Children from in-need families can access these eBooks, which include some of the most popular works of the present and past, using the Open eBooks app and read as many as they like without incurring any costs. The goal of Open eBooks is to encourage a love of reading and serve as a gateway to children reading even more often, whether in school, at libraries, or through other eBook reading apps. Learn more here.

Libraries, Communities and Design

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Image of Paseo Cayala, Guatemala

New Urbanism, or “living urbanism“, is a planning philosophy that strives to incorporate land use to create communities that foster the most desirable characteristics of human habitation (e.g. neighborliness, environmental sustainability, historic preservation, civic participation, etc.). Much urban design that styles itself as “newly urban” is crudely done, but when done correctly the design fosters a place and setting that is distinctly comfortable and human. Public (and academic) libraries in towns and urban communities that are interested in being a part of change, should consider new urbanist principles when designing or re-modeling physical spaces. For more information about new urbanism, the lecture by Andrés Duany at the Chicago Humanities Festival is a great start (see below).

Image credit to flickr.com/photos/christineghfranck/14490337445

Francine Houben and NY Public Library

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Image credit to flickr.com/photos/endymion120/5431739711/

Houben’s most quoted line on libraries is that they are the “cathedrals of the 21st century.” I ask her what she means by that and she says, “I think that they’re the most important public building nowadays, for everybody.” In fact, she has arrived in New York from the Netherlands just in time to be a pivotal figure in a culture war, an unwinnable argument about what these crucial institutions are, who they’re for, and how they should best deploy their resources. Read the rest.

Libraries and Social Memory

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Image credit to flickr.com/photos/bootbearwdc/

Carter G. Woodson is rightly known as the father of African-American history, but the debt owed to Woodson by both American society, and historians of American culture, goes well beyond his scholarly contributions. Now, one of the few libraries named after Woodson and a facility that houses one of the largest collections of Afro-American history and literature is in serious danger. Libraries serve as not only sources of community, connection and learning, but also as social repositories of memory. Without a memory both people and societies are lost – they have no identity. A threat to our collective memory, is a threat to our individual dignity.