Serendipitously browsed: gems of american scenery

I went to the Windsor Library in Windsor Vermont this weekend to take a look at their seed library. It was really neat. The whole building was terrific with large photographs of people from the community. Jim and I poked around in their historical books room and found this gem. It’s a collection of stereoscopic “Albertypes” in a book by Charles and Edward Bierstadt, brother to the more famous Albert (name of photographic process just a coincidence). The book comes with a little viewer built in to the book cover so that the images can be seen in 3D. I took a few photos of the book and more of the stereoscopic images can be seen online. And now I’ve been spending all morning reading about the Bierstadt brothers and the overlap between Albert’s painting career and the other brothers’ photography careers. Fascinating stuff.

book cover, gems of american scenery, white mountains
book cover

image of the viewer built in to the book cover
viewer built into the book cover

instructions on how to use the book
instructions on how to use the book cover

Jimviewing the images
Jim makes it work

toread: Book-ish Territory: A Manual of Alternative Library Tactics

Every so often it’s really useful for me to remember that while I’m here in the rural US helping people use email and scan photographs, there are some people not far away who are really finding the cool edges of the profession. I like to know what these people are up to, even as the paths we may take towards information liberation may be different. This text: Book-ish Territory: A Manual of Alternative Library Tactics by architect NIkki O’Loughlin is an exciting and interesting way of conceptualizing the idea of libraries as a public space not just for the public but by the public. I’ve had my nose in it all afternoon. Also there is a librarian petting a gila monster. One section is all about “station libraries” small libraries in private homes or businesses that existed and functioned as extensions of the public library system in Syracuse. Did you know that before 1950 many trains included a library car, with books? So much more, plus a bibliography. Go. Read. [via, via]

“And it’s free,” San Francisco Public Library in its own words, and pictures


Terrific long illustration of a day in the life of SFPL, by Wendy McNaughton.

Digital Public Library of America – dream big

One of the sad side effects of the interesting evolution of the Google Books/Google Editions product is how many people have been saying “Libraries should have done this. This should be our territory.” While there are some great library-like digital content sites such as Open Library they’re often more concerned with curation than content creation. And we have a lot of content that needs to go digital. But who has time and who has resources?

This week the Berkman Center announced a Digital Public Library Planning Initiative, bringing together a diverse group of librarians and free culture advocates to make a plan for a Digital Public Library of America. Exciting ideas brought to the table by people I trust, about things I care about. It’s a grat time to be a librarian.

love letters to your library

anytime I need a book
photo from Contra Costa Library, thanks!

I got an email that ALA’s @yourlibrary site had redesigned and I went over there but found it’s the same old clutter of information. It is possible I’m getting curmudgeonly. I also got an email from former co-Councilor Heidi Dolamore who is working on an advocacy project that I like much more: the Pinole Library valentine campaign. The Pinole Library’s website is here. You can see that the library is open 24 hours a week over four days. They’re starting a campaign to show how much people support the library by having people write notes on these valentines.

Surathani public library

Hi — I hope you had a nice holidaytime. I’m back in Vermont. I went to two public libraries when I was home for the holidays, one in Boxboro where I grew up and one in Cambridge which is newly renovated. I made a list in 2009 of all my library visits and I’m sure I’ll bore you with it shortly. For now I’m catching up at home. There is a push on MetaFilter [in case you're someone I know from both places] to help the daughter of a MeFite fund some libraries in China. I just donated in memory of Evan Farber and Judith Krug, two librarians who we lost in 2009 who I miss frequently. I also got a link from my friend Casey to this set of photos on Core77 of a small public library in Surathani, in the south of Thailand. Pretty stories, lovely photos. You can also contact them if you’d like to donate books.

public library photos and reminiscences

New Canaan Public Library from LoC
Shorpy is a great source for old photographs. They often get them from sources like the Library of Congress which is where this photo of the New Cannan public library in 1953 came from. You can also see the original set of photos over at the Library of Congress [did not see this one over at their Flickr photostream]. The big add that Shorpy’s has, however, is the community. It’s not just a photo of a library, it’s also people commenting about their memories of the library including where else they’ve seen that certain floor tile [fun fact: it's also the tile that's in my bathroom as near as I can tell] [thanks mike]

what is the rule when taking photos in a public library?

Things with the Des Moines Public Library worked themselves out more or less amicably. I was also pleased to see Carolyn Wright who does the Photo Attorney blog, mention what the legal issues are surrounding photography in public libraries generally. Thanks Carolyn!

leaving des moines

Des Moines Public Library

note: new update from Des Moines PL and the architect’s office below the fold. Short form: “it would be appropriate to change the policy”

I had a great time at the Iowa Library Association conference. I gave two talks and actually scheduled my time such that I could actually attend a few presentations as well as give some. My notes for two talks — Tiny Tech and On-the-Fly Tech Support — are online here. I saw a presentation by the new ALA OIF director about privacy in the age of social software as well as a gadgets talk where I learned more about ebooks.

I also had some time to go to the local public library. I’m often surprised that the local libraries don’t do much to acknowledge that there is a huge library conference in town. Most of the time when I go to the local public library when I’m visiting a new city, there isn’t even a “welcome librarians!” sign out. Karen Schneider [who gave a great keynote in the morning and a talk about open source later in the day] and I actually had a sort of weird experience there. We went in to the library, snapping photos as we do, and were met as we walked in by a library worker who basically asked “Are you taking pictures?” When we said that we were, she said that we weren’t allowed to take photos in the library and if we wanted to get permission to take photos we’d have to go talk to the marketing people up on the third floor.

We were just on a fly-by so we (mostly) put our cameras away. However, I was curious about the policy. I had an email exchange with the marketing director that I am reprinting here with permission. I’m not sure what to think about the whole situation. You’ll note I took a photograph or two anyhow, and I appreciated the very nice email, but it was in stark contrast to both a weird-seeming policy and a weird-seeming policy enforcement mechanism. (more…)

library joke

Some signage amusement from the Howe library in Hanover New Hampshire.

Library joke