Events

Friday, April 18, 2014

National Library Week 2014: Why You Should Go To the Library

"Why should I pay for a library when I don't even us it?" Unfortunately librarians hear this or something close to it, more often than they care to admit. It's usually is heard at stores, parties or other public venues. When the conversation leads to what one does for a living. "I'm a librarian" The response is "That's nice but I don't go to libraries or need one." It's a bit frustrating, to say the least. It's time to play offense and give reasons to go to the library. Begin with a statement like, "Well that's silly. You're supporting the library with tax dollars you should be using it." That's just the warm up.

You should go to the library because it offers more than just books, internet, music, and movies. You should go to the library because it's a perfect place to find quiet and leisure time to explore what interest you most. Get lost in the library, it's a lot more entertaining then getting lost in the web!

You should go to the library because if you want to know what books everyone is reading, including children and teens, this is the place to be. Just find out how long the hold list is for a particular book. Wouldn't it make you wonder why is everyone reading this book?

You should go to the library because you can get reacquainted with an authors work that you once loved. It sparks the memories and it may lead to finding more works to love from that author. Perhaps even get a suggestion or two from the librarian who can suggest authors whose works are similar.

You should go to the library because it is a great place to people watch. People of all cultural, social and economic backgrounds come to libraries. It's a true blending of society in one place. Everyone has the same access to the materials and everyone is welcomed. An extra special tip: The children's area is a great place to people watch. Watching chidden get excited over books and hanging out with older folks is just a joy to see.

Last but not least, you should go to the library because you're still alive. Libraries remind us that learning is a life long activity. It doesn't and shouldn't stop after you leave school. If you are not reading, not exploring new ideas or subjects you might as well be considered close to dying. Get some life back into you and start learning again. It's invigorating!

It's a common belief among librarians that every community should have access to a library. Most recent polls prove that this is a truthful statement. While there is nothing concrete as to why this is true, anecdotal stories tell us that libraries are the backbone to a community's growth. It brings nothing but draw positive attributes to the area. For those who don't take advantage of all the library has to offer, they are missing out on a goldmine. As librarians and library advocates that should be repeated often. Libraries are goldmines to be discovered.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

National Library Week 2014: Lives Change @ Your Library

As we get closer to the end of National Library Week, there needs to be a moment to take stock in the tag line for this year. Lives Change @ Your Library is a powerful statement but is it true? For those who don't rely on libraries for information, early reading programs, recreational reading or computer usage the library may not offer anything for them. It's a Google world and libraries can become tangled in the World Wide Web's lies. The American Library Association came up with the idea to invite patrons to share how their lives have been changed by the library. It makes one wonder what the responses have been. Taking this powerfully charged tag line and combining it with the responses might be an opportunity to open the eyes of the library naysayers. It could make them see what they have been missing.
It has been a rule of thumb that when marketing a product you must first excite your loyal customers first in order to entice others to like what is being offered. After all, its easier to preach to the choir then it is to preach to the nonbelievers. The choir will at least sing your song and sing it louder then you. The nonbelievers would be just as happy to through tomatoes at you. Let's be honest, library advocates prefer sing-a-longs. Who doesn't right? The idea behind the tagline is a good one and should not be tossed away after the celebration of NLW is over. Could libraries expand upon it? Of course but how? With a little creativity and ingenuity. Of course, a few funding dollars would hurt either but that's a topic for another time. (That blog entry would probably be called "how to beg for money".)
Some people need to see things in order to believe it. For this reason alone, it isn't a bad idea to invite residents to a library open house at least twice a year. it is an inexpensive way to promote the library while giving non-library users an excuse to come in. Free food always brings people in the doors and before library directors start to worry about the residents complaining about tax dollars wasted on freebies, there are plenty of avenues to pursue to get local pizza joints to donate the food for free publicity. When the fallen away library users come to the library, listen to what they say about your library. Are they surprised at what they see? Sometimes reintroducing residents to the library is all it takes to gain one more patron and eventually one more advocate.
The library needs to be on the go. Each community has their own celebrations, festivals, and parades. Join the parade, so to speak. Invite library volunteers to help man a booth at a fair or walk alongside library staff in a parade. The advertisement of the library alone is worth it. Not to mention its another way to make a personal contact with those you meet at the event.
Ask the choir who know how your library has changed their lives to promote it everywhere they go. For example, if a loyal patron, who know that without a story time program, their three year old is better prepared to enter preschool because the program helps with concentration, language and social skills, spread the word about the library, that is priceless. Any business that deals with customers daily will agree that word of mouth is powerful. Now take it a little further, wouldn't it be great if these word of mouth testimonies could be caught on tape to post on YouTube, FB and other social media portals? It's not an expensive thing to do, except for staff time.
Libraries do change at the library. Not only for the patrons, but for the librarians too! If there could only be a place for librarians to share their stories about how the patrons who show up at the libraries have touched their lives in ways that can't even be imagined, that would be awesome. That would be most interesting to read, perhaps that can be explored at another time. Lives Change @ the library is powerful. Let's invite the library choir to sing it loudly and proudly for us. It'll be the sweetest tune that has ever be sung.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

National Library Week 2014: Librarians Adapting to Challenging Opportunities

Here's a question for all geeks, nerds and wanna be comical librarians: How many librarians does it take to screw in a light bulb? The answer will be revealed at the end of this post. No peeking...
Today we celebrate the nobel profession of librarianship. Granted this blog is partial to libraries and librarians. After all, Librarian at Large should promote the profession. To not do so would be a bit like a real life Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde phenomenon. Now is the best time to be a librarian, the world is changing and every profession known to man is adapting to the alarming rapid pace of technological advances. Even Taxi drivers have to keep up with customers demand for new services and competition. Who would have thought there could be an app (Urber is one of the more popular ones out there) that takes the hassle out of getting a taxi in a large metropolitan city like New York? It is pure genius! Yet Taxi companies who have not thought of creating an app for their service are scrabbling to compete. It's a competitive world out there and everyone is looking for the "niche" to survive. Today's librarian has to find their "niche" to survive as well. Computers and gadgets are not foreign to the library landscape. It's hard to imagine a library with out computers to a librarian who is stuck in the 1980s. It's the 21st Century and going mobile is where it's at. Today s librarian should be looking for ways to adapt to serve the patron on the go. First too come to mind is quite obvious, a library app. If you are fortunate enough to work in a library that is keeping up with the trends, your library may already have an app or at least have one in the works. Consider what an app could do for your patrons. Alert them through push notification that a book they have been waiting for has come in. It can also download an e-newsletter to keep patrons informed of new programs, or when the library closed due to weather. Could librarians take it a step further? How about story time through an app? Could it be possible to offer Homework help at the touch of a screen and FaceTime with a librarian for more detailed questions? It wouldn't be too hard to have a patron's library card available on the library's app. Gone will be the days when the patron's will say "I forgot my library card at home!" In today's techie world all things seem to be possible. This is the perfect time to explore the possibilities. To return to the idea of a library without computers, it's a wonderful idea, isn't it? Libraries could be open places where patrons come in with their own tablets, sign in on the wi-fi connection and find a comfy spot to begin their task at hand. Printer/scanner combinations could replace the copiers, printers and faxes. For a fee, patrons can do all three of these actives with a library card that has a balance to cover the service costs. Could we take it a bit further to envision larger spaces for meeting rooms and programs. Would books still be in the picture? Some say no, while others say yes. This is where techie and old world have got to find a happy medium. There should be room for access to both. There are just some joys that should never be forgotten, like holding a real book and turning real pages. As with any transition, librarians are the ones who smooth the way with grace, patients and teaching patrons to adapt to the technology to keep up with the information gateways. Teens have grown up in this techie world and none of the new gadgets intimidates or frightens them. To them it is second nature to pic up a gadget and learn it's use within a couple of minutes. There may be a day when society comes full circle and rejects anything new, flashy, and modern. A young patron mused that it would be funny if everyone began to live and think like the Amish. Getting back to our roots, so to speak. For librarians getting back to our roots would be the card catalogs (in some librarians' home it is a monumental tribute to past) and due date cards check out system. Very ancient, but the ida of going old school for a day or weekend is not a bad idea. It could illuminate to patrons and staff alike, how far librarians have gone to keep up with technology. Which in many cases no small accomplishment due to budget cuts. it can also inspire new ideas on how to creatively use technology for the patron's advantage. If anyone would know how to do this, it would be a librarian. After all this is the only profession where it's okay to admit that we don't have all the answers but we know where to begin looking for them. The answer to the riddle: 645.5. Don't try to hold back the giggles. It's really okay to laugh out loud in the library.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

National Library Week 2014: Top Ten Reasons to Read to A Child

The first questions that parents ask a librarian when they are expecting a baby is when is the best time to begin reading to them? Easy question: When they are born. It's never too early or too late to read to a child. Children love to be read to, and it doesn't necessarily have to be at bedtime. To celebrate National Library Week here is a top ten list of reasons to read to your child (oh what the heck, you can read to the neighbor's child too)

10. Adults get to reconnect with their favorite childhood book. What's better than picking up Where the Wild Things Are after twenty years. The memories will come flooding back and will bring a smile to your face. As a an added bonus, you share a book and smile with a child.

9. Picture books have great artwork. This is a wonderful opportunity to share an appreciation of art with youngsters.

8. Children books are quick to read. However, they can be addicting if they are wonderful stories, a child will want to have it read to them over and over again. Which does wonder to stretching memory skills ability.

7. Children's author's have a knack of putting things in a their "right" light. After all perception is everything. Sometimes after a good children's book like Snowy Day, it gives the reader a new view on how a snowy day can be wonderful.

6. Audience participation is sometimes required and makes reading all the more fun. Try reading Don't Let the Pigeon Ride the Bus and keep children from responding with glee, "No don't let the Pigeon ride the bus!" It can't be done.

5. Dr. Seuss was the master of rhyme. Silly ones to boot at times. Children authors reminds readers to be silly sometimes. After all, we all should have a little Green Eggs and Ham for breakfast. At least once a month.

4. Children's Books answer the all important questions of the day: How Do Dinosaurs say Good Night? Obviously inquiring minds need to know. Which gives adults the perfect resource to answer the questions for the little ones in their lives.

3. Even the worse children's books have something special to offer. Children are very open about how they feel about books, art and even toys. If a book doesn't hold their fascination they will show and they will let you know it.

2. Special characters like Curious George or Madeline are the best "pretend" friends any child can have. They can be invited to come into the child's life at anytime or in any place.

And the number one reason to read to children:

1. It is a wonderful way to develop that special bond with a child that make for wonderful memories and lead to a lifetime of sharing books together.

Monday, April 14, 2014

National Library Week 2014: Libraries Are Important

Libraries are important. Three simple words but to many these words are meaningless. They convey a belief or opinion that libraries have value. That libraries, of all sizes and types, should be held in high esteem. This high esteem does come with a price tag. After all anything of value should and always have had a number placed next to it to give it it's stature if you will. However, when a country like the United States (and even a few European countries) begin to doubt the strengths that a library in the community provides, it's disturbing to say the least. This is not the first time this topic has been discussed among library professionals or on this blog. It is an ongoing discussion that seeks to find the answer to "marketing" the library in a way that is enticing to patrons of all ages. Yet the words "Libraries are Important" begs one to ask why, how or when. The Pew Research Center conducted survey in 2013 to find out how the typical American felt about the public library. The answers and the numbers are illuminating and sheds some light on the why, how and when are libraries important. One of the most interesting number to pop out of this research is that 67% of respondents to the survey stated that a library closure would be a "major" impact on their family's life. That's an interesting figure seeing how just in New York City in May 2013 they were projecting that 60 of the cities' libraries would have to close. This was due to lack of funding and the route of privatization was being being pursued. Where is the disconnect here? In one major city 6o libraries will close yet in the research group 67% said that a community without a library would affect their families in a major way. In the boroughs of New York there are neighborhoods that not only need their libraries but will be disconnected to resource in a major way due to economic conditions. The case can always be made that libraries are a huge influence on the community. If there is a good library in the neighborhood, children have a safe place to go for programs or do homework. Adults have a place to gather information for home or work life. The lament continues: economic hardships brings more patrons through the door while at the same time, financial support for libraries drops. For the sake of the 67% who value the library, something has to be done to stop the maddening cycle of funding, then no funding. In many counties and cities across the United States, people are already seeing the demise of the local bookstore. Borders is gone. B. Dalton's is gone. Barnes & Nobles is on the way out. The only "bookstore" that is thriving is Amazon, which as everyone knows, it's online. Are libraries soon to follow suit? No and here's why. Bookstores are in the business to sell books. All kinds of books. If the economy is not healthy, the consumers don't have extra spending money. Not a good thing for a store but wonderful for a library. Bookstores also don't like people sitting around reading, unless the book has been purchased. Libraries on the other hand encourage reading in their buildings. As a matter of fact, the more readers the better. (Barnes & Nobles does have a coffee shop in the store, which may entice readers to sit, sip coffee and read. However, trust this one fact, managers are giving the stink eye to those who are reading a book. They can't help but wonder if the book has been bought or if the reader will buy it.) Bookstores have tried to model themselves after libraries in the hopes that it will draw readers into the stores. It turns out that people only go to the bookstore when they want to purchase a book. With libraries, there are a host of reasons to come in without feeling obligated to pull out their wallets. Libraries are what can be termed the "safe zone" to browsing, lingering and reading in the isles. Lastly, to be perfectly blunt, if a bookstore closes it does not impact a families' lifestyle. If they want a book to purchase, they will go somewhere else. For library services on the other hand, there is no where to go but to a library. Is there a good answer to why a library closing would impact a family? The best answer is that the library is a support for parents helping children with homework. It's a support for older patrons who need social interactions and book discussion groups fill that need. It's a support for job seekers looking for work or high school students preparing for SATs. In short it supports just about every type of household in the community. When is a library closing a major impact? When children in an urban city like New York or Detroit have to go across town to use a library. Let's be honest. If it is too hard for child to get to the library, they won't go. How can a parent, or mentor encourage reading when the opportunities are not readily available. Mayors de Blaio and Duggan should consider that children with low reading skills tend to drop out of school and their economic opportunities for jobs dwindle. (That's a rant for another day.) If the future of those children are not bright, then the city's future is just as dim. This week we celebrate National Library Week. why? For the reason that began this discussion. Libraries are important. They truly are. If just for a moment the country could just close their eyes and imagine a world without libraries, what would they envision? Hopefully, once they've open their eyes they will realize how horrible it would be not to have a library. For many, like the 67%, the idea is unthinkable. Let's try to convince the other 33% that it's unthinkable for them as well.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Libraries Are the Only Places I know...

A little poetic expression about libraries to change things up from the normal postings on this blog. Just in time for National Library Week. This was written by Mrs. Nowc Librarian At Large. Enjoy!

Libraries are the only places I know where.
Technology and old school go hand in hand,

Any subject or topic is not too silly or not too grand

Reading is encouraged and Exploration is expected.
Reading helps one to learn and understand
About our world … about ourselves.


Libraries are the only places I know where.
Fiction and non-fiction come together

Whatever the interest aliens, gnomes or birds of a feather
Each one waits patiently to be discovered and never

be forgotten, buried in the reader’s mind forever.


Libraries are the only places I know where.
A place is super amazing yet simplistic in mission

Young, old, rich or poor, none need permission
to scour the shelves or download a classic edition

of Shakespeare, Dickens or Twain without inhibition



Libraries are the only places I know where
Every school, college and neighborhood,
has one or at least they should
Madam Librarian wishes everyone understood
her love of sharing books and stories that are good
Her love of all libraries built out of brick or wood.

Libraries are the only places I know where.
there’s a little bit of paradise and perfection
when words and souls make a connection
through the pages of thought and reflection.

It may be a bit corny but it is how the library is seen through these eyes. Enjoy the week long celebration of libraries!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

You Love Poets And You Don't Even Know It!

Poetry is only for serious, deep thinkers who are intellectuals pondering the meaning of life. Raise your hand if you believe that this statement is true. Ah, what a misleading idea which tends to lead to missed opportunities for fun exploration of words, reading and sometimes, humor. One of the best "remedy" for slow or reluctant readers is helping them discover the joy of poetry. Poetry is often thought of as serious artistic writing meant to be enjoyed by romantics, philosophers and English majors who delve into the meanings behind the words. Sure stuffy English professors and even graduates will sometimes snuff out the joy of poetry. It doesn't have to be that way, especially for children. Sid Silverstein, Jack Prelusky, Maurice Sendak and other wonderful writers/poets proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that poetry is perfect for children. Their quirky, delightful stanzas drew readers into a world that children would have never dared to enter before. What was once thought of as stuffy now became cool and even humorous. What is even more astonishing is watching a child who has struggled with reading suddenly getting the "knack" of the flow and rhythm of sentences. It's as if a key had been given to them to unlock the secret to becoming a successful reader. Why would poetry would be such a powerful too to reading improvement? Consider this, rhyming, songs and music are some of the first encounters children have with language. Lullabies, nursery rhymes, and even jump rope games are familiar to every child in their development years. They instinctively draw to them without realizing that what they are enjoying is good poetry. As librarians and educators this is a golden opportunity to lure reluctant readers into books. The short bursts of words that tell a story, a joke or describe a feeling is just enough to encourage reading one more stanza, one more page and even finish a book. Poetry can also be an effective tool to teach important concepts, such as imagery, historical facts or memorization tools. Sendak's Chicken Soup and Rice is a perfect example of teaching a basic skill, recognizing the months of the year, by using poetry. Sendak's rhyme are delightful and if you are lucky enough you may find a version of the book that is put to music that makes his poetic classic even better. (If that were even possible.) As children get older, poems can become a useful tool in learning about historical events that are worth remembering. "In 1492, Columbus sailed the Ocean blue" Another classic, which is definitely for the older readers, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere. In this poem the reader is reminded of the dramatic historic ride that was a pivotal point in American's young history. With the use of poetry, readers who once may have had no interest in learning dates or the significance behind them have now found a "helpful" hint in remembering important facts. It's no secret that librarians will find any clever (and sneaky) way to lure readers into the world of books. After all, it is our world that we are inviting them to visit. A world without books is a dreadful place that librarians don't even want to imagine. Without books there would be no libraries. Without authors who are talented in telling stories, whether in prose or poetry, life would indeed be bleak. Children need the stories to grow and develop into great readers and critical thinkers. Share a poem today, in honor of poetry month, which is April in case you hadn't guessed by now. Seriously, its a great way to share a smile, even if it's just for a short while.