Thursday, September 27, 2012

Journalistic Adventures

How Not To Write About Libraries: Cues For Journalists
The public sphere is shrinking in the US and elsewhere. Libraries are around and open… Their funding cycle is cyclical… The public library system belongs to everyone. There is a lot to talk about; a lot of things happen there. Many people have strong opinions about how public spaces are used and public money is spent and about the library in specific..
1. Your library joke is tired, even if it’s new to you
2. Quit it with the wardrobe policing
3. We’re not all women, not even close
In 2008 the gender split among new grads was 80% female, 20% male. Last year it was more like 78% to 22% and the female/male gap is shrinking. We come from many ethnic backgrounds and we speak many languages. Diversity of all kinds is important in any sort of public service position when you work for the entire public;…
4. Many different people work in a library building
5. There are some amazing things hidden in special collections
6. No one with any credibility thinks “It’s all on the internet” and there are reasons why it isn’t
This is an untrue straw man argument, so you don’t have to keep bringing it up. There is a strong case to be made that the push for increasing digitization will be a net good for a society that is increasingly looking to satisfy their information needs online. However we are far from that point now, the digital divide is real and formidable. The vendor-based silos of information which are inaccessible without a payment or a password vex us as much as, if not more than, they vex you. We are trying to help people access the information they want and need. We’re sorry that the shift to digital content is causing trouble for some businesses’ bottom line, but we’ve always been publishers’ best customers and that will change only if they force it to. We would prefer that digital rights management were less onerous too. We would be happy to talk with you at length about why it’s easier to buy something from for personal use than it is to borrow it from the library on your Kindle. Blame copyright and capitalism, not the library.
7. The money thing is complicated, take some time to understand it
Libraries are funded differently from state to state and sometimes from county to county. Public libraries have regular meetings of the library board that are open to the public and worth attending if this sort of thing piques your interest.
8. Not all libraries are public libraries
The public library system in the US is a sort of amazing decentralized mutual aid sort of creation, but it’s not the only library system in the US. School libraries and academic (college and university) libraries and law libraries and medical/hospital libraries and other special libraries all have their own systems and procedures and governing bylaws and mission statements and professional associations.
9. The entire public is welcome in the public library
10. Libraries are full of joyful noise

Avast, mateys! If you’re a literature lover and a seafaring type, you might be surprised to find that you can satisfy both your passions at a public library. With libraries and librarians across the country finding ways to be more embedded in their communities (Radical Reference, Street Books, and Little Free Libraries!), Kitsap Regional Library is taking to the water.
Our county relies on Washington State Ferries for easy access to most of the area’s population centers, especially Seattle. (Yes, you may now be jealous that our daily commute often involves a leisurely sail across Puget Sound.) Because a large number of our residents are gathered on these boats each morning and evening – often passing the time with a good book - we realized this would be the perfect place to build some community around reading.
Our flagship program is a book group called Ferry Tales. Once a month, I ride the ferry between Seattle and Bainbridge Island. In the direction of the commute, a group of regulars discusses one title each month; in the other, I host a drop-in, ask-a-librarian session. I love helping our community of commuters get to know each other, expand our reading horizons, and just share an incredibly enjoyable ride!
Once news got out about Ferry Tales, ideas started pouring in for ferry-based programs and we worked with the ferry system to try some out. This month, author Nancy Rawles hosted an onboard read-along with chapters of her forthcoming book, Miz Sparks is on Fire and this ain’t No Drill. We partnered with the fabulous folks at (you remember them) to promote the DRM-free ebook release of her first novel, Love like Gumbo. Although campaigns have been temporarily suspended, you can still sign up to help unglue her book!
You probably don’t live in a community with a major ferry system. (Or have your own boat and a soul full of pirate-y awesomeness like the folks over at The Story Sailboat.) But you could start up a similar group on a bus or train, or in many other settings. So set sail (literally or otherwise) with a good book!
— Audrey Barbakoff, Kitsap Regional Library, Bainbridge Island Branch

Fab Labs at the Library
Makerspace: A makerspace is a location where people with common interests — often in computers, technology, science, digital or electronic art (but also in many other realms) — can meet, socialize and collaborate. Makerspaces incorporate elements of machine shops, workshops or studios where hackers can come together to share resources and knowledge to build and make things.
Maker Meetups: A maker meetup is where groups of people with similar interests meet to work together, collaborate, create and share resources.
Contact Summit: The Contact Summit bills itself as a “working festival of innovation where the Net’s leading minds and entrepreneurs can connect with the people who are building the social technologies of tomorrow.” Held in different cities, the event focuses on peer-to-peer solutions in technology, business, arts, education and government.
Fab lab: The term “fab lab” traditionally refers to fabrication labs, which began as an outreach project from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Bits and Atoms. These fab labs share core capabilities, so that people and projects can be shared across them. In New York, the Fayetteville Free Library’s fab lab doesn’t emulate these fab labs exactly, preferring to call its lab a fabulous lab and leaving specific capabilities up to the needs of the community it serves.
There’s something unusual sitting in the parking lot of the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Ind. Pay a visit to the 50-foot trailer and you might be surprised with what you find. Inside are various tools for cutting and shaping wooden objects, an electronics work bench, an injection molding machine and one of the most advanced gadgets for inventors, a 3-D printer.
Allen County is one of just a handful of public libraries that have set up multipurpose workshops for patrons who want to share and collaborate in order to create and build things. The terms used to describe these spaces include “makerspaces,” “fab labs” or “hackerspaces.”
So why does the Allen County Public Library have a high-tech lab for would-be designers, engineers and inventors? “The library is in the learning business, not just the book business,” said Director Jeff Krull. “Anytime libraries come across an opportunity for people to learn and grow, they should do it.”
 [ Sponsored Paper: The New Information Democracy ]
There are nearly 10,000 public libraries in the U.S., and patrons increasingly rely on them for access to technology. More than 90 percent of public libraries offer formal or informal technology training, according to a recent survey conducted by the American Library Association. Much of that training relates to instruction for computer skills, general software applications and Internet use.
Makerspaces and fab labs cater to a particular type of library patron: inventors, artists, entrepreneurs, crafters and youth groups. The technology used in these workshops can revolutionize the manufacturing process, allowing designs and creations that can be modified to suit individuals in ways not possible with mass production.
Allen County collaborated with TekVenture, an educational nonprofit specializing in makerspace technology, to create the lab. Working off a simple one-page agreement, TekVenture agreed to provide the trailer, along with the equipment and some free programming, and Allen County offered free parking.
The Fayetteville Free Library near Syracuse, N.Y., also has set up a special lab using similar technology services for its patrons; it is referred to as a “fab lab.” Instead of housing it in a trailer, it’s the first public library to build and house the lab inside the library and is run by staff, along with volunteers. The equipment includes a 3-D printer, which was donated by a local computer business.
The Fayetteville lab and its open approach to learning grew out of a relationship the library has with the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University, according to the library’s executive director, Sue Considine. She compared the pool of students at the School of Information Studies to a big incubator. “The students help us to develop ideas and are forward thinking,” Considine said. “This gives us a successful model — a team that knows public libraries must evolve and develop new services.”
Unlike Allen County’s approach where there were no upfront costs, Fayetteville sought grant money to fund its lab. Starting with a $10,000 innovation grant it received in 2011 at the Contact Summit, a social technology event in New York City, the library also raised additional money through Indiegogo, a crowd funding website. “Donors are coming from all over the world and not necessarily library folk,” said Considine. “Individual pledges have been as high as $5,000.” The library also received a $20,000 New York state construction grant, which will be used to create a permanent space for the fab lab.
The two approaches involve different levels of staff support. Allen County’s setup required little to no library staff involvement. Volunteers from TekVenture conduct training programs and maintain the makerspace equipment. The open hours during which people can wander in have been very popular. Other offerings include Maker Meetups, which are geared toward the technologically savvy. Like-minded people who share in this collective approach, including communities of makers, inventors and do-it-yourselfers, all come together to support this unique makerspace.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of makerspaces, because they share their expertise and skills with novices. While Fayetteville utilizes some staff, it also has many volunteers, including a professor from Syracuse University who gave his time to put the MakerBot 3-D printer together. The library has engaged many volunteers to develop and run lab programs. “There is no pressure on staff to become experts in this technology; we have a core group of experts to help out,” Considine said, adding that the library relies on peer-to-peer training to assist lab patrons.
Staff members, who are comfortable with the technology, participate in the Borrow-a-Bot program, where a librarian works with a patron for one hour to create an object. Fayetteville has open houses that attract up to 75 people. Community members can learn and do hands-on maker activities; the library provides lots of staff and outside help for these programs.
“Money is not an essential ingredient for a successful makerspace. People are far more important in this venture,” Considine said. “People who identify with a space or project — not money — will help to sustain these spaces and projects.” She recommends working closely with staff members, explaining that they do not have to become experts in order to sustain the lab. “Staff attitude matters more than staff expertise,” she said.
Krull believes that the lab at the Allen County library has worked out well, but for libraries looking to bring members of the community into their physical space, the county’s approach may not be the best option. “While the trailer is located right across the street from the library building, it is not drawing patrons inside,” Krull said. He thinks it would be advantageous to move the space into one of the library buildings. Currently, with the relatively small size of the trailer, makerspace programs must be limited to 12 users at a time.
Looking ahead, Considine would like to offer the Fayetteville fab lab to youth camps with a nominal fee for materials. On previous trips to the library, elementary-schoolchildren have shown interest in the possibility of making missing game and Lego pieces. She also plans to showcase the wide variety of patron creations.
Krull’s plans include extensive programming over the summer — some free, some with a modest charge. He is also looking at bringing the space into a larger, permanent location.
Allen County and Fayetteville have created quite a buzz among librarians interested in offering nontraditional services that use cutting-edge technology.
Both Krull and Considine feel that creating access to emerging technologies is completely in line with the needs a public library serves.
Many libraries view these projects as test beds for other communities to embrace the future, according to Marcia Warner, past president of the Public Library Association, a division of the American Library Association. “Libraries have always been about books, information and an educated citizenry,” she said. “It seems like a natural progression to move into an area of facilitating information and material creation.”
The librarians offering access to the first makerspace and fab labs agree about their impact. “By providing access and opportunity to experiences, libraries provide a pathway for transformation,” Considine said. “Technology is not the death of the public library today. It will, however, change libraries as they rethink their space and role.”
Libraries, historically, retool continually, and the pace of evolution of the library promises only to move more quickly.
--Pat Newcombe ; Nicole Belbin

The Library and the Librarian as a Theme in Literature

In literature, the character of the librarian has two main variants: it can be a person who feels the duality of the passion for reading and the need to communicate it. The librarian would be both the guardian of books and the guardian of souls, curator of history and of the community. The librarian is often described as a visionary in contact with written history and experience (Chaintreau and Lemaître 21). Sometimes librarians become irascible, sour, misanthropic, unbearable heroes. The second typeof librarians are similar and follow the same pattern.
Abstract: In her article "The Library and the Librarian as a Theme in Literature," Teresa Vilariño Picos explores in several languages and genres (literature, cinema, television), the image of the library and the librarian. Vilariño Picos argues that the image of the library and the librarian often refer the reader or viewer to a perception where the space of books represents universal humanity and knowledge despite the often negative view depicted. In Vilariño Picos's discussion particular attention is paid to the works of Elias Canetti, Jorge Luis Borges, Umberto Eco, and David Lodge in literature and Alain Resnais film and Manolo Valdés in art. As well, she explores the theme in videogames and television series.

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