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Posts Tagged ‘libraries’

It’s taken a couple of weeks, but finally I’ve got my feet back on the ground after returning from an awesome vacation!

While I admit to not having time to open the covers of a book even once while away, literature kept finding me – sometimes in the most unexpected of places!

For those of you who’ve had the pleasure of cruising, you’ll know that a library on a ship is as anticipated as the numerous eateries that are to be found on board.  Without a doubt, the libraries I’ve seen on the high seas each have a beauty and character all of their own.  They are inviting and peaceful, gently coaxing you to ‘come visit’.

 

Celebrity Silhouette Library (left) Royal Princess Library (right)

Celebrity Silhouette Library (left) Royal Princess Library (right)

Working in a secondary library as I have for some years now, I tend to lose track of those adorable characters that I used to love sharing with my young readers.  So when I discovered that Dick Bruna’s Miffy turned 60 this year, I was over the moon to see a beautiful collection of stuffed toys hidden in a gift shop in Zaanse Schans in the Netherlands

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and then equally enamoured when I spotted a magical display of Miffy collectables on show in the beautiful Royal Delft Shop located in Delft in the Netherlands, to honour her 60th!

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Soon after another adorable character popped up in a shop window in Helsinki.  Moomin and his family of white, roundish, fairy tale characters which have been immortalized by Swedish speaking Finnish illustrator and writer Tove Jansson in books and comics, are today brought to life in an incredible array of soft, cuddly toys and ‘must have’ paraphernalia.

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Then, I literally walked into another very distinguished find!

Look down this bustling canal fronted street in Copenhagen to the cream coloured building next to a brown building  – exactly nine buildings from the left:

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to see none other than a building with a most notable name!

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Even if it is just a cafe nowadays

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I really got a kick out of standing outside of a building that was once the home (or in the vicinity of the home) of none other than Hans Christian Anderson!

A similar shiver went through me as I viewed this hotel in Lucerne, Switzerland

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It was here, we were told, that Mark Twain used to stay for extended visits where he contemplated or perhaps wrote some of his classics while enjoying the beauty of Lake Lucerne which lies right opposite the hotel.

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Not far from here, is the valley where the legend of William Tell originated.  Today, just a short distance away, a lively restaurant cashes in on this belief!

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Literature continued to engulf us as we traversed the streets of Zurich.  While tempted by this poster to sign up to Zurich’s Literature Festival while we were in town

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I knew that my mastery of neither French nor German would let me enjoy much!  So instead, I had to make do enjoying the beautiful window displays in the very large English branch of the beautiful Orell Fussli Bookshop which we just happened upon while strolling along Zurich’s elegant Bahnhofstrasse.

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The prominent value of literature even followed us on our way home!  As we wandered along Orchard Street in Singapore, this gigantic statue of busy shoppers managed to include someone reading a newspaper!

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And so it was, that our journey has now concluded.

Back in Melbourne, I’ve returned to the shelves of books that surround me in our school library and where I will aim to continue to inspire students to read, read, and read some more!

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Libraries of the 21st Century – both public libraries and school libraries – face constant challenges:

Be appealing. 
Provide resources.
Incorporate technology.
Service library patrons.

For those of us working in libraries, it’s no secret that the challenges are great.   Not only do we need to ensure that the library spaces we manage meet the above criteria, but we, ourselves, need to continually upskill and ‘move with the times’.  Without a doubt, the key word here is continually!    While our knowledge of literature and our ability to manage information resources are a constant, our ability to ‘move with the times’ and to stay informed of current and future technologies are equally essential.  Being computer savvy, knowing how to sift through the voluminous information that today can be sourced both physically and digitally alongside having an understanding of how our library patrons can use this information are skills that need continual refinement.

I came across and interesting article recently: In the Digital Age, What Becomes of the Library? which is on the MindShift blog.  Many of the ideas mentioned in this comprehensive article are neither new nor original.   They are the sort of ideas that as professionals working in libraries, we know and recognize.   But, as I read, I found myself thinking, expanding on ideas and thoughts presented.  Here’s an annotated summary of my thoughts about the words I processed as I read.  Others may like to expand on these thoughts even further.

  1. Reading is the ‘core business’ of libraries.  Without doubt, reading is an essential life skill, a skill that libraries are in a perfect position to support.   Developing a love of reading by providing a warm nurturing environment which houses a rich and varied storehouse of reading material freely available and easily accessible to its patrons, is a major focus of libraries.  Catering to a wide range of patrons, the challenge to provide current, relevant and inspiring resources can be a constant challenge.
  2. Technology has impacted significantly on libraries.  Rethinking the kind of resources housed in our libraries as well as how these resources will be accessed are issues at the forefront of our changing libraries.  Digital delivery of both literature and information see the need for libraries to purchase and loan eBooks, introduce online databases and enable phone apps to locate reference material.  In turn, the introduction of this technology into our libraries impacts on the physical nature of our libraries.   Reference sections of libraries for example are being replaced with digital access points.   Online databases are replacing reference collections.  Purchasing and loaning banks of eReaders to enable onsite access to digital resources are becoming the norm.
  3. Libraries are being transformed.  As libraries take on a central role in their schools or their communities, it is natural that they become transformed to multi-purpose spaces where a range of events and activities can be held:  club meetings, learning labs, community gatherings, lectures, talks and game venues to name but a few.   The notion of libraries transforming from being ‘houses of knowledge’ to ‘houses of access’ is becoming apparent to those of us working in libraries.  Libraries are increasingly becoming “the hub of learning, collaboration, of community, of diversity, of innovation.”
  4. Changed roles of library staff.  Automated functions, such as RFID which allows patrons to check out materials themselves, are altering the traditional roles of library staff.  Demands on library staff to trouble shoot and solve technical problems have increased dramatically.   The need to incorporate IT and AV skilled staff to assist both library staff and library patrons is evident.
  5. Developing lifelong learners.  One of the most important functions of library staff is to not just find answers for library patrons, but to teach them how to find answers for themselves.  Teaching is an essential component of the role of those of us working in libraries.
  6. Inevitably there are always constraints.  “How and when libraries move into the future is largely determined by budget and local politics, and make figuring out what’s next for libraries complex and murky………”  The latest technology, cool tech gadgets, longer opening hours, and more staff who have specialized skills that can maintain computers, trouble shoot technical issues, build library websites and drive innovative practice are sorely needed in all libraries.   Sadly, it’s rare for the funding to be there to support grand plans.
  7. Libraries are a melting pot.  Libraries provide a wealth of free activities and classes and house an enormous cache of resources for patrons to use, borrow and enjoy.  The range and variety of library patrons is no surprise.  Our public libraries attract rich people and homeless people, the young and the elderly and everyone in between.   There is no discrimination, no exclusion.  All are welcome to share and indulge.  A “unique interaction … takes place between the users, the librarians and the materials in the physical space of the library building …”  It is no wonder libraries continue to flourish.

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When you read stories such as this one about 15 year old Joey Alisch, a sophomore student at Bishop Hendricken High School in Rhode Island, USA, that warm fuzzy feeling of inspiration is lit!

Having just completed his most recent trip – his seventh – to the Philippines, Joey has now collected and donated more than 10,000 books to schools across the Philippines.

It was some years ago when Joey noticed an ad on the Disney Channel encouraging youngsters to get involved in acts of charity.   After a visit to his cousin’s school in Mindoro in the Philippines, Joey was shocked to see an empty room in the school which was the library.  It was at this point that he decided that he should be collecting and donating books to schools in the Philippines.  And so he has, ever since!

Joey’s character shines through a short video published on YouTube.  He sums up his intent well by saying:

MY VISION:  To help the Filipino Children
MY MISSION: To continue helping build libraries in the Philippines.  I hope they will enjoy reading & exploring the wonderful world of BOOKS

The story is inspiring. So too is the video:

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