2013 in libraries

Daytum Wrap up of 2013 in libraries

I tracked the libraries that I visited this year, like every year. I have also done this in 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009. Ten years ago I did a short list of library visits where I actually reviwed the places I’d been. Ah to have that much free time!

I went to thirty-eight different libraries in eleven states for fifty-six visits total. Just a little more than last year. I’m sure I have forgotten some. Here’s the short annotated list of what I was doing in libraries last year. Top three libraries are the same as every year: my local public, my local academic and my summer local. All great places.

  • Hartness/Randolph VT – have not been here so much in the latter part of 2012, but this is still one of my favorite academic libraries.
  • Kimball VT – my local, I don’t work here as much but still go here all the time.
  • Westport MA – summer library, good for DVDs and other vacation-style stuff.
  • Plymouth State NH – gave a talk, saw the library. A neat looking place, with a cool clock in the entryway.
  • JoCo – Desoto KS – a tiny town with a great library where I checked my email while there was a rainstorm.
  • Ashtabula Public OH – stopped by on a road trip and saw a lot of people with fishing poles. A quirky big library.
  • St. Johnsbury VT – was here for the Hug the Library event during the unpleasantness.
  • Minneapolis MN – hadn’t been here since the redesign. Enjoyed its shininess.
  • Natick/Morse MA – killing time between friends and dinner, this was a great place to hang out.
  • JoCo – Lackman KS – said hello to Josh Neff here!
  • Beloit Public WI – lovely library, stopped in on a road trip and enjoyed myself. Fancy and shiny and new.
  • St Paul MN – met a really nice librarian who told me some great history of the place.
  • Harwood HS, Duxbury VT – my friend Meghan works here, stopped by the say hello.
  • Manhattan KS – the public library when I was in town to hang out with my friend Donna.
  • Beebe/Wakefield MA – such a neat place with a great bee-themed marketing campaign.
  • Giamatti research center NY – Baseball Hall of Fame! My friend Paul worked as an intern, was fun to look through scrapbooks.
  • KState KS – Donna gave me the grand tour and we got to see the basement.
  • Nebraska Library Commission NE – said hi to the terrific Michael Sauers and gave a talk here.
  • Brookfield VT – first time in a tiny library so close to home.
  • Omaha Public NE – big and beautiful and got to meet the woman who does programming there.
  • Roxbury VT – another favorite one-room library, haven’t been there since they got a bathroom installed.
  • Somerville MA – killing time before the movies, this library is always busy and has a lot going on.
  • KANEKO-UNO Library NE – an arty, somewhat private library, we took a brief look around. Very cool space & collection.
  • Brown/Northfield VT – lovely merging of old and new buildings.
  • Chelmsford MA – saying hi to Brian!
  • Boston Public MA – a nice place to chill on a chilly Boston day.
  • Providence RI – Surprised I hadn’t been here before. Neat old building, oddly underused, it seemed.
  • Lawrence KS – in an old Borders building while they renovated. Quite busy.
  • Windsor VT – checking out the seed library, great photos of local residents.
  • Hartland VT – stopping by because I was in Windsor, before Amy got there, I think.
  • New Bedford Pl MA – amazing building and we got to peek at some of the artwork they were restoring.
  • Topeka/Shawnee KS – a great tour by David Lee King, consummate friend to librarians everywhere.
  • Lincoln Public NE – stopped in before dinner with Michael, busy and overtaxed.
  • Merriam Park – St Paul MN – smaller neat suburban library.
  • Union/Tiverton RI – so cute, so small! Librarian so friendly!
  • Ashland NE – stopped by when I was on a drive. Neat old building, soon to be renovated, amazingly friendly and helpful librarian.
  • Carney/Dartmouth MA – gosh I love this weird place and I want to go back there all the time.
  • Monmouth/Manalapam NJ – doesn’t look like much from the outside but has a lot going on.

I had such a good time visiting all of these places. I can get sort of schmaltzy sometimes but I think the public library system in the US is a truly terrific thing. Here’s to another great year of library visits.

Welcome Seven Days Readers

Librarian on a tear

Greetings Seven Days readers. For folks who are not Seven Days readers, you might enjoy the article that was written about me this week: Jessamyn West Documents Vermont Public Libraries. I’ve had this idea kicking around for a while, to do my own version of the 251 Club where I visit and photograph all the public libraries in Vermont, all 183 of them (stats from Department of Libraries). It’s one of those this is going to take me several years projects which is AOK with me. I’ve gotten some interest from the Vermont Library Association–no surprise there–and just maybe we’ll be able to make a little Vermont Library Passport book with a list and a place you can get a date stamp marking your visit. For now though I’ve just got the big wall map that I made and some highlighter pens and my trusty Gazetteer along with this online map which I can probably improve. Of course holidaytime is not a great time to start any non-holidaytime project so it may be a bit before I get this all consolidated into one place but since the article said to check out this page for more, I thought having a little something here might be a good idea. Thanks for reading.

2012 in libraries

I tracked the libraries that I visited this year. I have also done this in 2011, 2010 and 2009.

I went to thirty-five different libraries in eleven states for fifty-four visits total. I’m sure I have forgotten some. Here’s the short annotated list of what I was doing in libraries last year. Foursquare really helped me keep this list up to date. Top three libraries are the same as last year.

  • Kimball Library, Randolph VT – this is the library where I work as an on-call part timer since I live up the street, and also where I check out books
  • Hartness Library, VTC, Randolph VT – this is the good college library nearby me where anyone in the state can get a library card. I’ve got renewed interest in it since I started watching TV series on my ipad when at the gym.
  • Westport, MA – the library in the town where my father lived and where I still spend a good amount of time. Great booksale.
  • Lawrenceburg, IN – was here for a conference, stopped at the library twice, lovely place
  • Kilton Library, Lebanon NH – saying hi to Virgil again
  • Cranston, RI – hung out with Ed Garcia and got to see his cool library
  • Keene State, Keene NH – got a tour from the library director after a talk there
  • Carthage, MO – stopped by on my way cross-country
  • Nashville TN – stopped in en route to the TN Library association conference, really nice place, amazing renovations
  • Knoxville Public, TN – a library in need of some serious renovations, stark contrast to Nashville
  • NYPL/SIBL, NY – always a favorite, sorry it’s going away
  • Worcester PL, MA – checked the place out after a conference, a really well designed place
  • Ellis (Mizzou), Columbia MO – one of those wacky places with an old and a new part that don’t quite line up. Enjoyed my tour.
  • S. Boone County, Columbia MO – a nice newish library
  • Cranston, Hall Branch, RI – a fancier cousin to the main Cranston library, neat basement
  • AVA South Studio Library, NH – attached to an art gallery, a nice selection of books
  • East Providence, RI – waited here before meeting someone at a nearby comedy club when it was raining, nice staff
  • Hudson, MA – an old funky building, terrific hang out spot
  • Midstate, Berlin VT – we had an unconference here which was a great time
  • Watertown, MA – a neat new and old library with huge collection and a lot of neat places to hang out
  • Chelmsford, MA – saying hi to Brian
  • Mendik/NYLS, NY – chilling out after a busy conference, a neat basement library
  • Cambridge, MA – hanging out waiting for Jim to get out from his colonoscopy, thumbs up!
  • Pasadena, CA – an odd old building only sort of repurposed for modern uses
  • Hartland VT – my friend Mary doesn’t work here anymore!
  • Keene Public, NH – scooted by here on my way out of town
  • Fall River, MA – lovely old building
  • Chelsea, VT – saying hi to my friend Virgil
  • Howe/Hanover NH – stopping by en route to meeting some friends in from out of town, playable piano out front
  • St Louis – Machacek – this library did not have wifi, I was stunned
  • Berlin MA – such a cute small and awesome library
  • Blount County/Maryville TN – a neat middle-of noplace branch, super well designed and hoppin’
  • Rochester, VT – doing a lot with not very much
  • CUNY, NY – in an old department store building, fun tour
  • Charlotte, NC – an amazing bustling city library with some weird old empty parts to it

2011 in libraries

As with last year and the year before, I tracked the libraries that I visited this year. I usually take pictures if I can. I use Daytum to track visits. The graph it produces is weird because the one big chunk is the library I work in but the other big chunk is called “twenty-four more items” which is sort of a weird way to display data. If anyone has a better lifetracker app they enjoy, please do let me know.

I went to forty-four different libraries for eighty-three visits total, I’m sure I have forgotten some. It’s a big increase over last year. Here’s the short annotated list of what I was doing in libraries last year. I have a few library photos in this Flickr photoset.

  • Kimball Library, Randolph VT – this is the library where I work as an on-call part timer since I live up the street, and also where I check out books
  • Hartness Library, VTC, Randolph VT – this is the good college library nearby me where anyone in the state can get a library card
  • Westport, MA – the library in the town where my father lived and where I still spend a good amount of time. Great booksale.
  • Fletcher Library, Ludlow VT – I was part of the e4VT program here and taught a basic skills computer class with ARRA grant money, a lovely old school library
  • Ann Arbor PL, MI – gave a few talks over a few days and got to hang out here, love this place
  • Milwaukee Public, WI – a library I hadn’t been to in a long time, an impressive building that maybe used to be a zoo?
  • Howland Green, New Bedford MA – one of New Bedford’s “not the main library” libraries.
  • Terraza PL, Austin TX – a cool little branch near where I was staying.
  • UNT – Willis – got a tour, enjoyed the open spaces
  • Hudson PL, MA – a small funky branch right by a river
  • Chapel Hill NC – in the mall for the time being, but pretty neat for a temporary library
  • Lubec, ME – lovely and small with great furniture and mosaics outside
  • Central Branch, Portland OR – long been one of my favorites
  • Marquette, Milwaukee WI – got a tour from a friend and saw the abandoned old entrance
  • SIBL/NYPL – the best place to check email downtown
  • Southworth PL, Dartmouth MA – another small branch in Southern MA
  • Emily Fowler Library, Denton TX – got some local history and learned about local architecture here
  • Central Branch, Austin TX – another perennial favorite – got some books for the plane
  • Ryerson Library, Grand Rapids MI – an impressive library with a lot going on inside
  • Pierson, Shelburne VT – underneath the town hall with a good board game collection
  • Kalamazoo Public – neat and fancy, got a tour of the basement
  • UNT – Eagle, Denton TX – checked out the new learning commons getting set up
  • Denton North Branch, Denton TX – a weird side-of-the-highway large branch
  • Kent District, Kentwood MI – neat suburban library with some cool public art and terrific views
  • Bar Harbor, ME – got a tour while they were setting up for the booksale
  • Lawler PL, New Bedford MA – another small New Bedford Library, sort of sad looking
  • Roanoke PL, Roanoke TX – a small library doing a lot with what they had
  • Twin Oaks PL, Austin TX – a fancy new little branch
  • Bailey-Howe, UVM, Burlington VT – one of my faves, especially the special collections in the basement
  • TWU, Denton TX – got a tour from my friend Greg and enjoyed the history and the air conditioning
  • Maine State Library, Augusta ME – a great hideout after a long day conferencing
  • Ransom PL, Plainwell MI – one of the little libraries we saw driving from Kalamazoo to Grand Rapids
  • Kilton PL, Lebanon NH – tour from my friend Virgil! Neat new branch.
  • Olin College, Needham MA – tour from the head librarian, neat materials science collections
  • Alling PL, Williston VT – a small library good for checking email when on the road
  • Hartland VT – my friend Mary works here!
  • Allegan District Library, MI – a pretty straightforward library
  • Parchment PL, MI – a diaorama of the parchment factory is hidden in the basement here
  • Peabody Institute, Danvers MA – a beautiful building with a lovely landscaped grounds, nice for hanging out
  • Putney PL, Putney VT – warm and small with a lot going on for a teeny place
  • New Bedford PL, New Bedford MA – beautiful old building sort of clunkily repurposed, always great for a visit
  • Ferguson Library Stamford CT – went to a CLA event here and bought expensive books from their booksale
  • Holland MI PL – fancy and with turtles
  • Brooks PL Brattleboro VT – some neat open source stuff going on there, got a tour after giving a talk

Public libraries: the most ubiquitous of all American institutions

Still getting back to my routine after having a great time at both MLA and CLA. Will post lsides and comments later, but for a morning pick-me-up, read this article in praise of public libraries. You will enjoy it.

In 1872, the right to know led the Worcester Massachusetts Public Library to open its doors on Sunday. Many viewed that as sacrilege. Head librarian Samuel Green calmly responded that a library intended to serve the public could do so only if it were accessible when the public could use it. Six day, 60-hour workweeks meant that if libraries were to serve the majority of the community they must be open on Sundays. Referring to those who might not spend their Sundays at worship Green impishly added, “If they are not going to save their souls in the church they should improve their minds in the library.”

The Digital Public Library of America and you, and me

Those of you who follow my antics know I was at an all-day meeting for the Digital Public Library of America project on Tuesday. While I have vague ideas what I was doing there, I have to say that I was still surprised at how few other representatives of rural and/or digitally divided folks were there. You can see the invite list here. I felt lucky that many of my viewpoints were ably represented by Josie Parker from Ann Arbor Public Library, Tony Marx from New York Public Library and Molly Raphael incoming president of ALA. Also in attendance were some of my favorite free culture folks: Brewster Kahle from the Internet Archive, Chris Freeland from the Biodiversity Heritage Library and my friend Richard Nash who runs Cursor Books. I also got to sit right next to Steve Potash from OverDrive right when everyone wanted a piece of him. That said, you can read the list and I’m sure you only vaguely care who I had dinner with. The meeting took place using Chatham House Rules meaning that in the interests of people being able to speak freely, nothing people said would be directly attributed to them.

So, let’s talk about what actually got me out of bed early on a Tuesday morning and has had me all hoppitamoppita since then. I’m going to use the “more inside” thingdoo on WordPress for possibly the first time ever. (more…)

Kos: Ten Years Of Library Internet In A Small Town

This is not anything you don’t know, but it’s a nice eloquent “why you should support your public libraries” essay in a place you wouldn’t maybe otherwise see it.

The local library near where I now live made five computers with an Internet connection available to the public around a decade ago, as well as wireless for those patrons who brought their own laptops.

I’m a recent resident of the area, but a deep family history means that there hasn’t been a season since the system went in when I haven’t spent a sizable chunk of time sitting and listening in the building, within 100 feet of those five computers. Except for a period when the wireless access was removed for a security overhaul, there hasn’t been season I haven’t used the wireless connection there.

This diary is a testimony to what I’ve witnessed in a single small own library.

2010 in libraries

Because I am a detail-oriented nerd, I track the libraries that I visit. I usually take pictures if I can. Here is my post about the 2009 visits. I’m still using Daytum to track visits and I learned they just came out with an iphone app last month. I went to twenty-six different libraries for fifty-five visits total, I’m sure I have forgotten some. Here’s the short annotated list of what I was doing in libraries last year. I have a few library photos in this Flickr photoset.

  • Kimball Public library (18) – my hometown library where I often worked this year.
  • Hartness/Randolph (10) – the local academic library, open late, great DVD collection.
  • Howe/Hanover (2) – my favorite bigger town library, so comfy, so lovely.
  • Boxboro MA (2) – my Mom’s library, great for unwinding.
  • Loussac/Anchorage Pl AK(2) – went here twice when I was at AKLA, neat architecture, busy place.
  • Chelmsford MA(1) – came to see Brian, stayed to do work.
  • Surprise AZ (1) – on a tour with my boyfriend’s parents. Neat libraries, so unlike New England libraries.
  • Stowe Free VT(1) – former workplace of my great library pal Stephanie.
  • New Bedford Pl MA(1) – I was on a weird research quest and they helped me out.
  • Montpelier VT(1) – popping in to check email, lovely old wood in here.
  • Burnahm Library, Colchester VT (1) – on a 251 club drive, nifty busy library.
  • Goddard VT(1) – for a WordPress training, home library of my friend Helen.
  • Beatley/Simmons MA (1) – before I gave a public speaking workshop.
  • Cambridge (1) – walking distance from my boyfriend’s place, amazing renovation.
  • Peoria AZ (1) – modern and fancy but sort of empty.
  • Alling/Williston, VT (1) – fun history room and a snazzy bookmobile.
  • Fort Lauderdale Reading Center, FL (1) – a weird non-library in some ways, well-loved clearly.
  • Jericho/Deborah Rawson VT(1) – Fireplace and wifi, a great place.
  • Palm Beach State College, FL (1) – busy place, old-fashioned building but modern collection.
  • N Regional/Broward County Library, FL (1) – big and bustling, a little hectic.
  • Niceville Pl, FL (1) – fun design, nice people, memorable fish tank
  • Waterville NY (1) – doing great things, big lovely windows and light for a small place.
  • Lantana Public Library, FL(1) – old fashioned and full, great location.
  • Warren Branch, Indy (1) – super busy old style library/
  • Nat’l Archives – Waltham MA (1) – friendly staff helped make awkward renovations managable.
  • Maynard MA (1) – last library of the year, bright and busy w/ a great book sale.

L!brary design book


The L!brary Book takes readers behind the scenes of fifty groundbreaking library projects to show how widely varied fields and communities – corporate underwriters, children’s book publishers, architects, graphic designers, product manufacturers, library associations, teachers, and students – can join forces to make a difference in the lives of children.” [thanks matt!]

more economic crunching at MA libraries statewide

According to j’s scratchpad, Massachusetts libraries are seeing their consortial system go from six regional consortia to one statewide system. If this were a move being planned for reasons other than “we don’t have any money” I’d be cautiously optimistic that maybe this would get the state some economies of scale and improvement of some services. As it is they’re going from 45 FTEs to 22 and I can only imagine how much ILL in the state of Massachusetts is going to suck [as opposed to some other programs that will just be halted altogether. Good luck Massachusetts!