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Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming

 

Neil Gaiman lecture for the Reading Agency, delivered on Monday October 14 at the Barbican in London.

“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 If you perceive a library as a shelf of books, it may seem antiquated or outdated in a world in which most, but not all, books in print exist digitally.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.”

“Fiction has two uses. Firstly, it’s a gateway drug to reading. The drive to know what happens next, to want to turn the page, the need to keep going, even if it’s hard, because someone’s in trouble and you have to know how it’s all going to end … that’s a very real drive. And it forces you to learn new words, to think new thoughts, to keep going. To discover that reading per se is pleasurable. Once you learn that, you’re on the road to reading everything. And reading is key. There were noises made briefly, a few years ago, about the idea that we were living in a post-literate world, in which the ability to make sense out of written words was somehow redundant, but those days are gone: words are more important than they ever were: we navigate the world with words, and as the world slips onto the web, we need to follow, to communicate and to comprehend what we are reading. People who cannot understand each other cannot exchange ideas, cannot communicate, and translation programs only go so far.

The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. And that means, at its simplest, finding books that they enjoy, giving them access to those books, and letting them read them.”

The Guardian’s complete article.

Librarians Unite

 

Hurray for Jasper Fforde. In his latest Thursday Next novel, The Woman Who Died a Lot, Thursday has to give a pep talk

“to the many frustrated citizens who weren’t selected last year to train as librarians and will have to console themselves with mundane careers as doctors, lawyers, and lion tamers.”

The More Things Change…

 

MLA Logo

The Journal of the Medical Library Association has a special supplement issue this month to celebrate their centennial. It contains articles from past issues. I want to quote the article written in 1918 by Sir William Osler, M.D. regarding librarians:

“…No man in the community requires a more comprehensive and thorough education. All knowledge is his province. A common tap for the waters of wisdom, he should not perhaps know everything, but he should know where everything may be found…He is the badly salaried intellect of the community and, if fortunate enough to be able to suffer fools gladly, he leads a life of surprising usefulness. And let us not forget other important qualifications – an ability to manage a business as complicated as a department shop, and a knowledge of men and a gift of manners that will enable him to drive is Committee or Council without strain on bit or rein…”

(italics mine)

So things just don’t change, do they?

Original citation:

Osler, W. (1918). The science of librarianship. Bulletin of the Medical Library Association, 7(4), 70-4.

Current reprint citation:

Osler, W. (1918). The science of librarianship. Journal of the Medical Library Association, 100 (4 Suppl), A.

Library Video

 

This video came to my attention today. It’s cute and fun. Like everyone in these days of budget cuts, libraries learn to adjust as well.

There’s a longer version of the video that has a “typical day in today’s library” scene before the song. You can find it at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AhSxoVmZQs&feature=related

Librarians Do GaGa

 

My coworker found this at BoingBoing. Enjoy and laugh.

What Happens In The Library…

 

My daughter, the almost-librarian (3 weeks??) sent me this link in a retired librarian’s blog:

1992 Librarians and the Sex Survey

Now please notice and remember that this was a joke in the early 1990’s. Although he had and published the responses, this was not a scientific survey. This was just fun for the time. Will Manley was active in the librarian field and still remains informed.

It’s National Library Week

 

Neil GaimanNeil Gaiman is this year’s reader for National Library Week.

Actually the timing is good for me. I had reserved a copy of the new book This Book is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All. It came in last week and I started reading it yesterday. Reading about all these librarians active on the Internet, in their own cities, within the librarian community, in Second Life, blogging, etc, is enough to give me an inferiority complex.

Then I remember that I do well for my own little corner of the world. My library may have a small number of readers, but they certainly appreciate us. We know their work is easier and better because of the work we do for them.

I know there is a lot of negative perceptions about librarians – but watch the people highlighted in this book and the librarians of the new and coming generation (including my daughter in a few months). They can be involved and take the profession past anything I would have dreamed of when I was a kid.

Happy National Library Week

Libraries In Fiscal Danger

 

This isn’t a great solution, but it’s cute…

Swiss Army Librarian Blog

Quote for Librarians

 

The Corpse in Oozak's Pond by Charlotte MacLeod“Information is a librarian’s business, dear.” (Helen Shandy)

The Corpse in Oozak’s Pond
by Charlotte MacLeod

That is certainly true!

Visiting the Gold Library

 

On Friday I attended a technology symposium sponsored by the Medical Library Group of Southern California and Arizona (MLGSCA). It was held in the Cerritos Public Library southwest of Los Angeles. The building opened up 7 years ago. It’s phenomenal.

I’m not kidding about the “gold” building. The upper portion of the outside is painted a gold color that shines in the son like a worn gold surface. The inside is 3 stories of wonder. We had a guided tour by one of the librarians.

The children’s room includes a sky scape in the middle of the room, a star scape in the rest, a banyon tree complete with jungle bird sounds, a light house, books, an art and crafts room where they also hold birthday parties, and other benches, nooks, sculptures, etc. The entrance looks like a group of books tumbled on each other.

Different aspects of the library have different decor. It was styled with different architectural designs throughout the centuries from heavy wooden “old European” feel to a early American “prairie” feel to art deco to futuristic depending on where you wander. There are books galore, of course, but much more.

There are over 150 public computers available, most hooked to the internet but some hooked into the library databases for research. The third floor has meeting rooms and a tech room for classes and sessions for computer training. They have RFID self checkout and staff for the personal touch at checkout. They have a graphic designer to help with signage, posters, advertising, etc. The art work includes very old to very modern, including a wonderful “21st Century” sign done with lights.

The Cerritos Library is a dream. I don’t want to be a public librarian, thank you. But a job there could make me reconsider that option…

Thriller for Christmas

 

Michael Jackson’s Thriller is not normally associated with Christmas. But check out what the staff of the National Library of Australia did at their Christmas party this year: