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Posts Tagged ‘Public Libraries’

fidel

 

I hope no one minds another library cat story. This one comes from Kent, UK via the  BBC. The cat in question, Fidel, apparently doesn’t like being left alone because he shows up when his owners are at work and leaves when they come home. As always, the cat is immensely popular with the library’s patrons.

 

 

As if one cat weren’t enough, the Ocean Shores Public Library in Washington has two: Olivia and Waldo, the latest in a number of cats they have given homes to.  Someone at the Seattle Times must like cats because not only is the story accompanied by a picture but there is a nice little video of the cats in the library and a photo gallery, as well. Here is a picture of  of Olivia working at the circulation desk:

ocean-shores

 Apparently, black cats are particularly attracted to library work.

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Interested in library history? I want to mention two sites that I enjoy very much. I have linked to Judy Aulik’s historical library postcard site before but I want to mention it again. I am a collector of vintage postcards myself, although I collect in different subject areas. Old postcards are an amazing visual record of popular culture, as well as, social and political history. Judy has a particular interest in Carnegie libraries and her collection, from almost every state that was given grant money, is simply wonderful. Although I have lamented in the past that there don’t seem to be many Alabama cards to be found anywhere, she managed to find two Alabama Carnegie Libraries: the Montgomery Public Library and the Decautur Public Library, pictured here (by permission!)

The Decatur Public Library was built in 1905

The Decatur Public Library was built in 1905 (used by permission)

Judy is working on a section of university libraries. I imagine she would be very interested, if any of us could send her a scan of early views of any of our libraries. They must surely exist, even though I have never seen a single one.

 Postcards are one obvious sort of postal memorabilia. But there is quite a bit more to “going postal” and Larry T. Nix is your man, if you are interested. He has a more general library history blog: Library History Buff Blog , so named to differentiate it from his website, Library History Buff . There are many links on the blog (and on the web site) to other library history sites. I must say that the website is worth visiting just for the Tribute to Bookmobiles and Travelling Libraries alone. If you are interested in postal memorabilia, his website is the place to find information and photos of library-related stamps, covers, post cards and much more.

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Our current economic situation is taking its toll on cities and business everywhere. The Philadelphia News reports that the city is closing 11 branch libraries, even though the citizens are protesting the move. One older man interviewed for the story broke down in tears talking about the closure of the library he grew up with (Holmesberg Library).

The Holmesberg Library is one of eleven being closed by the city of Philadelphia

The Holmesberg Library is one of eleven being closed by the city of Philadelphia

There is film of his interview but I couldn’t bring myself to watch it. I fear we will see much more of this in the coming months as cities struggle to cope with economic reality.

A story in the Philadelphia Inquirer is very sympathetic to the protesters and notes that these neighborhood libraries are not just repositories for books but “community hubs” that serve children and the poor. The author reviews the role Andrew Carnegie played in giving Philadelphia 25 libraries and notes that 4 of the original 25 are among those being closed.

Libraries are important. I think we sometimes don’t realize that the community knows how valuable they are. The citizens of Philadelphia certainly know it and are making their views known.

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I ran across a very interesting “slide show essay” in Slate called Borrowed Time. It briefly discusses the architecture of 8 large urban libraries located in Washington, D.C., Chicago, San Francisco, Nashville, Denver, Seattle, Salt Lake City, and New York. The author reflects on the attitudes towards the library that the architecture reveals and cautiously supposes that the library will survive; though it will change greatly in the digital age. This is a view not shared by all:

Ross Dawson, a business consultant who tracks different customs, devices, and institutions on what he calls an Extinction Timeline, predicts that libraries will disappear in 2019. He’s probably right as far as the function of the library as a civic monument, or as a public repository for books, is concerned. 

The photographs are gorgeous. I must say that the library that struck me most forcefully, and not in an entirely good way, was Salt Lake City’s. While beautiful, it is, quite plainly, a mall and appears to have been built with only the young and affluent in mind. It contains a deli, florist, cafe, NPR station, and much more. This library so intrigued me that I did some googling and learned that my eyes were not deceiving me; the building is enormous– 240,000 sq. ft!

Salt Lake City Public Library

Salt Lake City Public Library

I found some pictures of the exterior on the Web. No matter what else one can say about the library, it is certainly a beautiful building.

Salt Lake City Public Library by day

Salt Lake City Public Library

This building is impressive by day but it is even more impressive by night.

The library at night

The library at night

If you would like to learn more about the library, the building, its landscaping, the library’s services and collections (500,000 volumes at present), there is a great deal of information and more pictures on its “About Us” page.

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