Library


Today is the last day of National Library Week 2010. In honor of libraries (and librarians!) everywhere, please enjoy some library porn I’ve been saving for you.

You can find those photos and many, many more at “Librophiliac Love Letter: A Compendium of Beautiful Libraries“, on the Curious Expeditions blog.

The Huffington Post (I know, I know) has a photo album of The Most Amazing Libraries In The World, where you can rate each photo.

For a historical viewpoint, check out this article on The 7 Most Impressive Libraries From Throughout History.

Just in case you’ve forgotten what it takes to run a library, here are 85 reasons to be thankful for librarians.

And finally, if you feel like a tear-jerker, I listened to this story on NPR on the drive to work one morning last year, and tears were running down my face by the time I got to my library. Of course, I’m a bit of a sap, so your mileage may vary.

If you find yourself with more time or money than you know what to do with, I hope you’ll consider donating some to your favorite library. If you’re an independently wealthy person of leisure, you could even pursue a career in libraries!

Coinciding with National Library Week*, the Library of Congress announced their plan to archive Twitter. Yes, all of it.

Have you ever sent out a “tweet” on the popular Twitter social media service? Congratulations: Your 140 characters or less will now be housed in the Library of Congress.

That’s right. Every public tweet, ever, since Twitter’s inception in March 2006, will be archived digitally at the Library of Congress. That’s a LOT of tweets, by the way: Twitter processes more than 50 million tweets every day, with the total numbering in the billions.

The announcement came via LoC’s blog, and Twitter itself later blogged about the preservation efforts.

This is unequivocally a big deal. Regardless of how inane you may think Twitter is (I think I’m in the minority with that opinion, but whatever), the impact it’s had on our cultural landscape has been enormous. After watching the Mumbai bombing unfold on via Twitter in 2008, one of my first thoughts was, “Who is archiving this?” As LoC steps up to the plate, I’m looking forward to see what they take on next in the realm of digital preservation.

*Neil Gaiman is this year’s National Library Week Honorary Chair. If you haven’t seen his library yet, you’re in for a treat.

The San Diego Central public library remained closed last Saturday, March 20 — the first closure of its kind in the last 18 years. According to their FAQ [PDF], the Library’s budget was recently cut by $3.8 million, as part of city-wide budget cuts due to a drop in tax revenues.

Despite this, the city seems to be still moving forward on the “schoobrary” plan to construct a much-needed new Central library. NBC has a “San Diego explained” video that spells out the math behind the budget for this project. Essentially, a mix of state grants, school district bond funds, donations, and downtown redevelopment taxes (that are earmarked only for new construction in the downtown area) will be used to build a new library building with a charter high school on top of it.

The closing statement of the San Diego examiner article, (“When the San Diego budget is hurting for money so bad that it can’t keep the libraries we have open for business, it is not unreasonable to ask why the city wants to spend so much money on a brand new one”) really rubs me the wrong way. Any library supporter can clearly see that the old 1950s building currently housing the library is wholly insufficient for a growing San Diego downtown community. It’s an eyesore in an area that’s been slated for huge redevelopment since the ballpark opened. It’s always been embarrassing for me that my hometown is a place that can support building a new ballpark and is discussing building a new football stadium, while our library has been neglected for decades, languishing in an asbestos-ridden building with rotting infrastructure. The library building has been outdated nearly as long as Qualcomm stadium has even existed.

Contact San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders to weigh in.
[via]

2009 was a very busy year for me. As the Assistant Librarian for the zoo, I kept the library running smoothly (no easy task), by handling all of the collection maintenance, supervising volunteers, obtaining inter-library loans and answering any questions people threw at me. But that’s not really enough, is it?

  • I cataloged 342 items for the library, sending out monthly emails to alert our staff when new items came in.
  • I added 205 articles published in 2009 by our staff to our publications list, reformatted that list, and added password protection to the directory of PDFs to be in compliance with copyright law.
  • I created an online archival database for the Zoological Society archives, based on Archon open-source software (the records are still being propagated with data, however).
  • I created a sitemap for our library website and set-up a Google custom search engine, so our staff can more easily find whatever they’re looking for on the site.
  • In honor of Darwin’s 200th anniversary, all three of our library staff members teamed up to create a video for the zoo’s Darwin Day celebration. It’s not available online, but it was pretty neat and worth mentioning.
  • I updated the library’s Technical Processing manual, last updated in 2003, to reflect the myriad technological developments and revised processes we’ve had since then.
  • I bottle-fed and hosed down a baby rhino.

…But, as an hourly employee, my workweek is only 40 hours long. What on earth have I been doing with the other 100+ hours I have each week?

And, most importantly, I spent a lot of time with my two favorite guys in the world. Like I said, a very busy year indeed.

sunset photos

*Cue sigh of relief*

The Special Library Association name change has been all over the librarian blogosphere. Over the past few months, my email inbox has been inundated with listserv messages about the name change (mostly expressing disgust over the suggested name, “Association for Strategic Knowledge Professionals”, or “ASKPro”). The final vote happened this week, and I’m relieved to report that the proposed name change was roundly voted down.

Direct consequences of this are that I will most likely renew my membership this year. I’m also volunteering with the programming committee of the San Diego SLA chapter, so I can proceed with that process without feeling the huge identity disconnect that belong to ASKPro would have registered with me. Some of the program possibilities include workshops about open source in libraries, which I’m very excited about, and probably something about new developments in mobile access. If you have any other suggestions for me to bring to the committee, please feel free to comment!

I made a post on MetaFilter yesterday, which is a rare occurrence for me. Since it’s library-related, I’ll cross-post it here.

Bobbie E. Burnett is suing her employers, the Free Library of Philadelphia, for discrimination. She’s been employed there for nearly 20 years, but transitioned to a female gender identity in 2001, at which point she says discrimination set in.

"Slurs hurled at Burnett by some staffers include ‘freak,’ ‘man in woman’s clothing’ and ‘nigger,’ according to the suit. On one occasion, when Burnett expressed wishes for a nice weekend to a coworker, the employee responded with, ‘Burn in hell,’ according to the lawsuit."

Last year, the Library of Congress lost a lawsuit against a trans person over a job offer. LoC "claimed at trial that transgender people are not covered under federal anti-discrimination laws". The American Library Association has an active GLBT Round Table, but it can still be difficult to find trans information in libraries. Many universities have special resource pages instructing library patrons in searching for GLBT info, because "transgender" isn’t a LoC Subject heading. Users need to search for "transsexuals" or "hermaphroditism" instead of "intersex".

What I didn’t put into the post is how deeply sad and disappointed the article made me. Normally, any time I come across a library or librarian-related news article, I either end up being depressed because I’m reading about massive budget cuts, lay-offs, or library closures, or I end up being proud and happy because I’m reading yet another in a long, long list of “librarians are awesome because _______” articles. Librarians are pretty well-known for protecting intellectual freedoms, lobbying for public access to information, and promoting diversity. To read about a library worker suffering so severely at the hands of her library colleagues was devastating to me.

After reading the article, I turned to the internet to mine for other links to include in the post. I was hoping to find a lot of fantastic trans-librarian stuff. Maybe some uplifting article about the long history of LGBT friendly library administration? A trans-librarian blog, with chronicles of supportive co-workers and naive patrons? Well, not exactly. As you can see, I ended the post with an article about another discrimination lawsuit against the Library of Congress, of all places, and the discovery (which was news to me), that “transgender” isn’t even an LoC subject heading.

If you have any recent “librarians are awesome and promote diversity” stories, please post them in the comments. I could use a bit of a pick-me-up.

Via LibraryStuff, a really cute Cops parody from the Seattle Public Library:

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