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Archive for the ‘Libraries’ Category

So let’s be honest!!

Have you ever had a squirmy feeling when you’ve seen a student in your library sneeze or cough while holding a book?  What about when you’ve noted that a particular student appears to be super unwell ….. almost probably running a temperature …. while browsing through books in the library?

Have you ever wondered, as the sneeze hits the book or the coughed on hands flip through the pages of the book, whether it’s possible for other students, or heaven forbid, for you yourself to ‘catch’ the germs deposited on the book if you should be the next one to touch the book?

No reason to laugh here, because this was exactly the thinking during the ‘Great Book Scare’ when it was thought that an infection could be caught just by borrowing a book from the library!

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, fear sprouted in both the US and England that contaminated books, particularly those lent out from public libraries, could spread deadly diseases.  At a time when epidemics of tuberculosis, smallpox and scarlet fever were rampant, this frantic panic instilled a fear of public libraries.

Joseph Hayes, writing for the Smithsonian.com, has written a fascinating and comprehensive article outlining the history of the Great Book Scare:  When the public feared that library books could spread deadly diseases (August 23, 2019).

Well worth a read!

 

 

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Even though I’d been working in libraries for a while, it had never happened.

I’d never had to deal with a wet book!!

But ….. it happened!

Just a few weeks into my new job (now some years ago!) it was with the flick of my hand that my cup of tea went flying and literally drowned the precious novel I was in the middle of reading.

Fortunately, an experienced colleague was on hand to smother my embarrassment and calm my nerves by showing me just how easy it was to save a wet book!

A recent post on Open Culture brought memories flooding back!!

And yes – we went through a very hefty bundle of paper towels that day, but the book was saved!!

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With our summer holidays just finished in Australia, many of us are taking a little while to ‘get back into it!’

Settling back into work-a-day routines isn’t made any easier when coming across locations such as this one which has to be the ultimate hotel for any one of us working in libraries!

The Library Hotel in New York where each floor celebrates one of the 10 categories of the Dewey Decimal System and has a reading room that is open 24 hours looks and feels amazing – and that’s just from watching this video!!

 

So when are the next holidays?!  🙂

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It’s the start of the new year here in Australia.

For many libraries, particularly school libraries, a shortage of qualified and capable library staff is a real issue.  So for many of us, Pepper may just be the perfect ‘extra hand’ needed to jazz up the library!

Pepper is appealing, informative and knowledgeable – as long as you teach it everything it’s likely to be asked!

And that’s exactly what’s happening at Dudley Denny City Library in Mackay, North Queensland, Australia.  Library staff there have introduced this new staff member to their library patrons and have taught it to dance, play games and share historical stories with library patrons.

Currently, Pepper is only one of two humanoid robots in Australia.

At just 1.2 metres tall, Pepper has arms and hands similar to that of a human being. It moves around on wheels, and uses eye colour to indicate whether it understands a message.

Read more about Pepper at Dudley Denny City Library or check out this video below where Pepper shows of its talents at a meet the staff of the Financial Times briefing earlier last year.

 

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Early last year, I blogged about an amazing find: a beach library in Coogee, Sydney

Well …… I’ve just found another one, this time in Albena on the Bulgarian Black Sea.

beach-library-albena

With over 2,500 books in 10 languages, the 140 library shelves extend for more than 12 linear meters.  Like many open space libraries being established around the world, readers are encouraged to borrow a book and leave their own.

I’ll have to keep this one on my ‘discover Albena list’ when I head that way one day!  Meantime, read more about The Beach Library on the Albena website.

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Not very far from The New York Public Library lies Bryant Park – a beautiful, peaceful spot to wander and indulge the beauty of nature.

But ….. did you know that underneath Bryant Park, there is space for 2.5 million books?!

While it’s kind of eerie to think that a huge stash of books lays under the beautiful surrounds of this park, a seroius relocation of books from the New York Public Library has been operating for quite some time.

A recent article by Sarah Laskow: The New York Public Library is moving 1.5 million books to an underground lair outlines the comprehensive plans that have been put in place to create a safe, secure and highly organized location for books that can no longer be stored in the library.

Twenty-five years ago, when the library first moved books under the park, construction crews carved out two underground floors, but only the top one was finished. The second level, deeper down, was an unlit hollow, until, starting in April 2015, renovations transformed it into an archive-quality storage facility.

It is a beautifully cool 65 degrees down here, with 40 percent relative humidity, and there’s a new electric trolley system, in which books can be sent off to reading rooms upstairs in bright red carts. Most importantly, there is space for 2.5 million books.

The process of relocating the books, organizing, storing and thinking through how books requested can be easily retrieved is quite fascinating, so take the time to have a look at the article.

UPDATE:  Further to details outlined above, I’ve just read an article on Quartz which describes the unusual method of storing the 4 million – yes: 4 million! – books stored in the underground collection in Bryant Park.  Out with Dewey and in with ….. size!

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It’s hard to reconcile from the warmth and safety of my home that wars across the world are ravaging life as we know it, reducing once great cities to nothing more than rubble.

Reading about this secret library in Syria brought me to tears.

Omar at the front line

                                 Omar at the front line

If you haven’t read this BBC article about “Syria’s secret library” read it.  If you don’t have time for that, scroll through the article to view the video in which Amjad gives a tour of the library.

Words really can be very powerful!

Postscript: I read that Darayya, the city in which Syria’s secret library, has now been evacuated.  Many of the books have been removed, but evidence of what was there remains.  In a short news segment in which Amjad, the young ‘librarian’ who lovingly tended the shelves of this library is interviewed, it was very moving to hear him say that he now dreams to study and become a librarian.

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