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

libraries responding to conflict – Penn State

We are Penn State.

Someone pointed out on MetaFilter (warning: long thread) that Penn State has created a page about the Sandusky Scandal in their research guides section. This is a great way for an institution to have a somewhat official response that is outside of the usual damage control stuff we usually see when things like this happen. I also noticed the nice bar across the top of the page (as of this writing) with an alert saying the digitized collections will be down for maintenance.

The more libraries can be responsive to what is going on within their communities and can respond with resources and facts, the more we’ll be seen as integral to our communities. Even after 5+ years of Library 2.0 discussions, this sort of thing is still so often not managed as something the library should have a central role in.

Reimagining the public library – a makerspace option

I missed the original article when it came out on Make: Is It Time to Rebuild & Retool Public Libraries and Make “TechShops” but have to say, this idea has me complately jazzed. I’ve often wondered how we could take our spaces and go from a place where people get access to information to getting access to tools so that they can become makers, people who can build things from scratch and not just have to take vendors and dealers’ words for what is possible. And of course this concept comes up against the same old issue “Freedom of the press is for those who own one” These tools, the tools to build tools, are often expensive, especially for one person to own. Maybe there’s a way we could share our tools and spaces…?

Fayetteville Free Library [NY] is taking steps to make that sort of thing happen in their space, an old building that used to be an old furniture factory. They have space, and some grant money, and a few people who really want to make it happen. I’m excited to see where this goes. I’ve always thought that the digital divide wasn’t just where everyone had access to broadband, or a computer, but where everyone had a social community space that was for learning about and using technology. The library is sort of that–it’s totally that in some places–but now the technology is changing. Free printers? How about a 3D printer?

Open Library – Making inroads and headway in all 50 states

I regularly trot out Open Library as an example of both a project that is nice and library like while also being attractive and usable and, at the same time, pushing the envelope of “how to be a library” in ways that are dignifying to both patrons and librarians alike. I was delighted to read this article about the results of a recent meeting where ALL state librarians voted unanimously to form an alliance with the Internt Archive’s Open Library project.

[Oregon state librarian] Scheppke said this allows libraries the chance to envision digitizing everything in their collection, from books about local history to works by local authors.

“If that doesn’t happen who knows when those books will become ebooks, maybe never,” Scheppke said. “That’s what really appeals to the state libarians; it’s a solution we haven’t had up until now to have a much more complete ebook collection,” he said.

The People’s Library is the collective, public, open library of the Occupy Wall Street leaderless resistance movement.

There’s a lot going on in the news lately. It’s a busy time of year. Several people have sent me this image over facebook and elsewhere. What people may not know is that there is a library at Occupy Wall Street and one at Occupy San Francisco. And possibly more. Like many other temporary autonomous libraries, details are distributed and not always accurate. I suggest, for interested folks, keep an eye on the People’s Library blog (specifically this call for librarians if you want to get involved and these library ground practices) and get in touch with the folks from Radical Reference tonight if you’re in NYC. If anyone knows of either Occupy Ann Arbor or Occupy Milwaukee have libraries, please drop me a note. I’ll be on the road for a little bit.