Thursday, July 28, 2016

The New York Times: Why Libraries Are Everywhere in the Czech Republic

By Hana de Goeij
July 21, 2016

The library at the Strahov monastery in Prague.
Credit Pavel Horejsi for The New York Times

PRAGUE — In the age of Amazon and the internet, the idea of going to a public library to borrow a book may seem ever more quaint and old-fashioned in many parts of the world, but one country, at least, is clinging to it tenaciously: the Czech Republic.

There are libraries everywhere you look in the country — it has the densest library network in the world, according to a survey conducted for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. There are more libraries than grammar schools. In fact, there is one library for every 1,971 Czech citizens, the survey found — four times as many, relative to population, as the average European country, and 10 times as many as the United States, which has one for every 19,583 people.

Why so many Czech libraries? Well, for decades they were mandatory — every community, from a big city down to a tiny village, was required by law to have one.

The law was enacted in 1919, soon after Czechoslovakia emerged as an independent country. The idea was to promote universal literacy and education after the country was free of the German-speaking Austro-Hungarian Empire. And it worked.

“Czechs developed a strong reading habit, and even today, those who visit libraries buy more books — 11 a year, on average — than others,” said Vit Richter, director of the Librarianship Institute of the Czech National Library.

The library law survived the German occupation, the communist era and even the breakup with Slovakia in the early 1990s. What it couldn’t survive, in the end, was budgetary pressure. To save money, the requirement was dropped in 2001, when there were about 6,019 libraries in the country; since then, about 11 percent have merged or closed.

Rather than just linger on as an eccentricity from a bygone age, though, the surviving Czech libraries are doing what they can to stay vibrant and relevant. They serve as polling places for elections and as local meeting venues. They organize reading clubs and art exhibits and offer computer literacy courses, and they welcome droves of schoolchildren and retirees during the day.

But mostly, they do what 92 percent of Czechs still want them to go on doing, according to the Gates Foundation survey: They lend books.

Correction: July 21, 2016 
Because of an editing error, an earlier version of the picture caption with this article misidentified the library. It is the library at the Strahov Monastery, not the Czech National Library.

Source: The New York Times

Thursday, June 30, 2016 True Stories of the Lego Library

Reals stories from public libraries, according to the....

Episode 1: The Potty Problem

Source: YouTube

Episode 2: Dumb Questions

And according to the creator, Tony Miller, each one of these questions has really happened.


The Ithaca Journal: Building a new Tompkins library, with Legos


By Simon Wheeler
May 28, 2016

From left, Michael Perelstein 8, Terry Wang, 9, work with Peter McCracken all of Ithaca, to find a piece to complete one kit of the Lego model of the Tompkins County Public Library. McCracken, a library trustee, is organizing the building of the model library of the future.

Peter McCracken of Ithaca was working hard managing 100,000 Lego bricks on a recent Saturday at the Tompkins County Public Library.

McCracken, who is on the library's board of trustees, and his 12-year-old son, Andrew, are running the library foundation's ongoing Lego build fundraiser.

For a $50 donation anyone can take home a kit of about 200 bricks along with instructions and build a section of what will become a large Lego model of the library. Each assembled kit is then brought back to the library and it is installed in a one-of-a-kind, 6-foot by 6-foot model of the library. The model is a reimagining of what the library will look like after a renovation to be completed in 2017.

As with many complicated projects not everything was running smoothly on this Saturday. Assembled kits were brought back and they didn't always fit perfectly into the larger structure. McCracken and his son dug into a cardboard box of extra bricks, filling the air with the sound of hard plastic Lego bits being stirred.

McCracken got the idea for the Lego library model after his family visited Durham Cathedral in England in summer 2015. Andrew spotted a sign advertising a Lego build where, for a payment of one pound, visitors could buy one brick to add to a Lego model of the cathedral.

That led the father-son to discuss building a Lego mini figure scale-model of the Ithaca Commons.

"A mini figure, without any hat on, is four bricks tall," said Andrew, of the approximately 1/48 scale of the system.

But realizing the Commons would have "a billion really flat bricks," Andrew said they decided to build the public library because it is so big "we could do a lot of stuff building it."

"Kids love Legos and it's an opportunity to give to the library, so it's kind of win-win, it's two things that we wanted to do anyway," said Peter McCracken.

Fundraising campaign

The Lego build is the final stage of the library's $2.75 million fundraising campaign, according to Susan Smith Jablonski, executive director of the TCPL Foundation. The foundation plans to raise $25,000 through the Lego build.

Launched in November 2014, the campaign's two main goals are to create a new teen space and a digital lab — including a maker space, computers in a classroom, and computer work stations for collaborative and individual work. There will also be an emphasis on making English as a second language services available.

The teen space will have flexible and comfortable seating and technology resources for teens to use for homework help, said Library Director Susan Currie. The collection of teen material will be expanded to add new material.

Also, as part of the renovation, an office will be built for the Tompkins County historian, Currie said.

From left, Peter McCracken, Michael Perelstein, 8, Terry Wang, 9, and McCracken's son Andrew, 12, all of Ithaca, work to assemble the Lego mini figure scale model of the Tompkins County Public Library. (Photo: SIMON WHEELER / Staff Photo)
The opportunity to reconfigure the popular library arose when the Finger Lakes Library System moved to its own building in the Town of Dryden. This opened up a previously non-public area at the southeast corner of the Ithaca library building for reuse.

The final layout of the redesigned library is not yet set, as the library staff work with Tompkins County and an architect to create the design. In addition Tompkins County has committed to replacing the heavily worn carpet throughout the public areas of the library, Currie said.

The Lego model represents the current state of thinking about where all the new spaces might fit in.

While the fundraising campaign has already reached its goal, Smith Jablonski said the actual total will determine if any additional improvements can be included in the final redesign plans.

A campaign celebration will be held 4 to 6 p.m. June 18 when the fundraising total will be announced and the completed Lego model will be revealed. Contributions will be taken until June 30, Smith Jablonski said.

Nine-year-old Terry Wang watches as 12-year-old Andrew McCracken puts a wall into place. The doors in the wall are the entrance to the Ezra Cornell Reading Room at the at the far end of the Avenue of Friends from the entrance. (Photo: SIMON WHEELER / Staff Photo)

Currie would like to add two public meeting rooms to the library. These rooms, holding 15 or 20 people respectively, exist behind walls that would need to be reconfigured. With the addition of new furniture and display equipment, the rooms would be available to the public just as the BorgWarner Room is currently reserved.

"We just can't meet the demand for meeting space as it is," said Currie.

Also on the additional items wish list is a local history reading room surrounding the county historian's office.

A first for Bright Bricks

As much as the redesign of the library is a work in progress, the Lego model of the library of the future is, too. The English company Bright Bricks, which specializes in one-off Lego creations including Durham Cathedral, is creating the Lego library. Even McCracken doesn't know what it will look like when it is complete.

McCracken pulled his son out of summer camp when a opportunity arose to meet Bright Bricks co-owner Ed Diment on a visit to Ithaca in August 2015 to discuss the project.

MIchael Perelstein 8, of Ithaca, works to assemble his section of the wall of the Lego model of the Tompkins County Public Library. (Photo: SIMON WHEELER / Staff Photo)

"We're very lucky to have an amazing trustee and honorary trustee" said Currie talking about McCracken and his son.

Approximately 400 component kits are being offered as part of the Lego build. About 150 have not yet arrived in Ithaca. Bright Bricks custom-made the model based on provided plans, photographs taken by McCracken and descriptions of how the staff think the future building might look.

According to Smith Jablonski, Bright Bricks has never done a project like this before where individuals each build section of the finished piece at home.

Eight-year-old Michael Perelstein of Ithaca came on a recent Saturday to collect his kit but, rather than take it home, he built it on a table next to the model with help from fellow Belle Sherman student Terry Wang.

His mother Anindita Banerjee said she thought the project was important as even small children could feel like stakeholders through the act of putting bricks together.

"I just really like Legos" said Michael, who said he has a lot of Legos at home.

Get involved

There are several ways you can get your hands on some of the bricks and help build.

  • Buy a kit: Modules are $50 each and are limited. To reserve a kit, click on the TCPL LEGO Build icon at
  • Buy a few bricks: For $1 at the Ithaca Festival, you can add a few bricks to one of several modules to be built at the library foundation's festival booth.
  • Limited edition kits: If you want something to keep as a permanent memento, the library foundation will soon be selling two limited edition kits. One is a miniature version of the library building ($60)and the other is a set of bookshelves and a book cart ($30).

For more information, contact Tompkins County Public Library Foundation Executive Director Suzanne Smith Jablonski at 607-272-4557 ext. 231 or

The Tompkins County Public Library Foundation is selling limited edition Lego kits of the library for $60. (Photo: Tompkins County Public Library Foundation)

Source: The Ithaca Journal

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

American Libraries: Engaging Babies in the Library

Engaging Babies in the Library

This is an excerpt from Engaging Babies in the Library: Putting Theory Into Practice by Debra J. Knoll (ALA Editions, 2016).

Babies, toddlers, and care providers are only one set of many populations served by children’s librarians. Nevertheless, baby brain research has galvanized the profession to try to do more, and it has.

Librarians are now beginning to realize the impact they have on a baby’s development can influence his or her developing brain for a lifetime, and they are doing whatever it takes to make these early years happy and positive. The stakes here are high. After all, these are human lives growing and developing very quickly.

Dream big

It makes sense for librarians to contribute to a baby’s brain development. Combining babies’ vigorous growth with widespread public library facilities has the potential not only to promote healthy development all over the country but also to exert a positive cultural influence on the youngest patrons. Why wouldn’t we want to be a part of something that meaningful?

So what would it look like for every community to have a librarian dedicated to serving just infants and toddlers, another librarian for the preschool population, a third for the early grades, and even a fourth for the upper grades, similar to how public schools are structured? Such a library would certainly look more adequately staffed. But it is unrealistic to think that smaller or cash-strapped libraries can replicate this model, or that one or two librarians can do it all. However, if the profession does not take these issues seriously, it runs the risk of becoming irrelevant and ineffective. Serving all children in this way would be optimal, but given the knowledge of infants’ rapid brain growth, libraries should consider providing focused service most intensively to babies and toddlers.

If children’s librarianship had it all—ample personnel, funding, time, and the strong support of the administration and the community—what could the children’s librarian bring to bear on the positive developmental trajectory of every child? More specifically, what if the vocation of librarianship allowed for a full-time position with fair compensation to exclusively serve babies, toddlers, and care providers?

What to do?
Librarians can easily or inexpensively adopt or implement baby steps to begin serving their youngest patrons, or big steps with further investment, support, funding, and collaborative efforts.

Baby steps:
  • Establish partnerships with hospital birthing units, introducing yourself as the baby’s first professional education provider and offering a small gift and the library’s contact information.
  • Be available for spontaneous interactions that include infant play, book engagement, and conversations with care providers.
  • Advocate for the publication of books that will expand babies’ and toddlers’ growing vocabulary base.
  • Create or provide programs specifically targeting this entire group with topics of interest to parents and caregivers, such as breast-feeding or nutrition as well as storytimes.
  • Collaborate with public service providers for this population, attending professional meetings to stay aware of current issues and concerns.
  • Join other community agencies, such as local service groups, faith-based efforts, and state and local job and family services departments, to reach out to this population through in-home visits.
  • Mentor a librarian joining the ranks. Explain various publications that will keep him or her informed of best practices, including those outside the field of children’s librarianship.
  • Read more about the history of children’s librarianship—its heartfelt mission to children, how it has grown and changed over the years, and how it has succeeded so far—for fresh inspiration.
  • Stay informed of ongoing child development research. Zero to Three is a wonderful gateway.
  • Host a local services and health fair with professionals, intervention specialists, support groups, vendors, and other community entities interested in the welfare of families.
  • Become involved in, or at least make yourself more familiar with, local and state children’s services agencies, faith-based services, or both.
  • Visit an unfamiliar library. If possible, take a baby and a toddler. Experience the visit from the patrons’ point of view. Discuss your experience with staff members. Brainstorm how service could be improved.
  • Send out invitations to young families not currently using the library. (Local faith-based groups, service agencies, and regularly attending library users can all be sources of referral.) Meet the families at the door and experience the library from the newcomers’ perspective.
Big steps:
  • Adapt the courses of library and information study, perhaps even at the graduate level, to require library students to delve into such topics as infant and child development, family dynamics and diversity, emerging literacy, and basic social services.
  • Take advantage of opportunities to remain updated through professional development not only within the profession, but also through extended education in such topics as autism, communicable diseases, developmental delays, and other issues.
  • Advocate for the power that children’s librarianship possesses for this population, and for all children, at the state and national levels.
  • Hire a full-time librarian with child development credentials to provide quality service specific to babies and toddlers and in which outreach, programming, on-the-fly interactions, and connections are made possible.
A call for advocacy from administrators

Children’s librarianship can thrive within an institution only through the defense, support, and dedication of a solid administration and board of trustees. Administrators, embracing such tenets as the ALA Library Bill of Rights and Code of Ethics, set the tone, level of professionalism, and quality standards and expectations for their individual libraries. Children’s librarians, and libraries in general, must broaden their thinking and consider methods for implementing real change.

As advocates and supporters of these important library goals, dedicated administrators can raise the bar and lead the way for other institutions to follow in fully acknowledging this population, not only as future contributors to society but also as deserving human beings. The continuing claim of inadequate dollars is tiring. Money has been available for upgrading software, installing high-surveillance security cameras, purchasing pricey databases, and so on. Some of these expensive investments have come and gone and are now for sale at the Friends’ bargain table. Yes, it is important to keep up with the technological advances and all other wants and needs of a continually adjusting society. But those dollars are not always allocated fairly, and sometimes babies and toddlers are on the losing side of the funding equation.

Administrators who truly respect and honor librarianship to babies, toddlers, children, and the families within their communities need to broadcast that message through better pay for children’s librarians. In the book Fundamentals of Children’s Services, Michael Sullivan reports that “children’s librarians make less than other librarians because they are children’s librarians.” Why? Is it because they work with children? Are the children themselves somehow less worthy of fairly compensated, quality service? At the very least, children’s librarians should be equitably compensated. The profession itself most certainly expects and maintains lofty standards for quality, well-educated professionals, and rightfully so. This should be even more the case when considering the complexities involved in serving babies, toddlers, and families.

What can administrators do?

To truly invoke lasting, powerful, and meaningful change for babies and toddlers, and for all children, administrators should consider the following:

Baby steps:
  • Support strict policies that mandate hiring well-prepared candidates.
  • Help create the cultural perception of children’s librarians as first education facilitators for babies and toddlers, just as pediatricians are first health providers.
  • Equitably compensate children’s librarians.
  • Include children’s librarians in administrative meetings because they provide a voice for this population.
  • Invite the children’s librarian and security and maintenance personnel to walk through the library, noting how the building itself is aiding or hindering service to families with babies and toddlers.
  • Become more informed about children’s librarianship in general and service to babies in particular.
  • Advocate for the profession outside the library, speaking highly of the value and importance of what children’s librarians do in general and what they are trying to accomplish for babies and families in particular.
  • Interview staff members and evaluate their fitness for public services and behind-the-scenes jobs, perhaps realigning job placement to everyone’s mutual satisfaction.
Big steps:
  • Use political clout to call attention to problems faced by families of young children and lobby for changes across the political landscape.
  • Advance the work and the workplace of children’s librarians in the larger political arena, lobbying for change.
  • Allocate commensurate funding to children’s services.
  • Offer continuing education incentives to staff members who are willing to invest in additional coursework on the subject of human development.
The Four Respects

Anne Carroll Moore, a pioneer of children’s librarianship who served New York Public Library from 1906 to 1941, developed the Four Respects that are still embraced by children’s librarians today. They are:
  • Respect for children.
  • Respect for children’s books.
  • Respect for fellow workers.
  • Respect for the professional standing of children’s librarians.
Administrators are encouraged to review them and examine their library’s overt or covert prejudices. Recognizing the potential, the patrons, and the profession for all of their worth, and then truly investing in them, ultimately depends on the deeply held convictions and assertive actions of administrators. Babies, toddlers, families, and children’s librarians are counting on, maybe even crying out for, this deep level of support and commitment. The exhortation cannot be more heartfelt: Be the champions for these patrons and the librarians who serve them, on purpose.

Looking forward

There are so many sociocultural issues affecting babies that providing library service for them needs to be taken seriously. Serving infants, toddlers, and their caregivers is a complex and serious yet delightful process but ultimately simple in its delivery. The problem is that quality service takes time, even if only in bits and pieces. And time is a precious resource for many librarians.

It isn’t enough to devote time just to programming, although programs for babies and toddlers are very valuable. If it is to be truly successful, quality service requires the understanding and support of administration not only in hiring wisely but also in advocating for and maintaining a level of respect toward children’s librarians and the patrons they serve.

Source: American Libraries

Tuesday, June 28, 2016 The Importance of Libraries to the Economy: ALA Releases New Publication on Advancing Entrepreneurship

by Clare Scott
June 21, 2016

I’ve made no secret of my love for libraries, and one of my favorite stories to follow here at is the ever-growing involvement of the American Library Association in creating public access to technology, particularly 3D printing. Over the last year, the ALA has released several publications intended to help librarians and library officials to learn about 3D printing and how to implement it in their own facilities. Topics covered have included advice on how to set up makerspaces, potential legal issues, and more. Now, in a newly released white paper, the ALA is focusing on the broader topic of entrepreneurship and how libraries can serve as resources for getting startups off the ground.

Just a few days ago, Shapeways and the New York Public Library announced that they would be partnering up to develop curriculum, free to the public, on 3D printing and entrepreneurship. Now, in a new publication entitled “The People’s Incubator: Libraries Propel Entrepreneurship,” Charlie Wapner, senior information policy analyst at ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP), discusses the myriad resources that libraries can provide to individuals and groups trying to start their own businesses.

The Launch Pad Makerspace at the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library

"Libaries have always played a powerful role in connecting people with the resources and learning they need to be successful in all aspects of their lives,” said ALA President Sari Feldman. “In the digital age, libraries are transforming to maximize our collections, community connections and expertise alongside new technologies to promote entrepreneurship and business development. Because libraries are open to all, they bring economic opportunity for all.”

The report provides several examples of services libraries can offer to would-be entrepreneurs, including:
  • Classes, networking opportunities and mentoring services
  • Makerspaces and tools such as 3D printers
  • Collaborations with organizations such as the US Small Business Association (SBA) and SCORE
  • Access to specialized business databases
  • Business plan competitions
  • Advice and education on intellectual property
  • STEM programs for young people

The report dedicates a few pages to 3D printing and how the presence of 3D printers in libraries have helped entrepreneurs to begin getting their ideas off the ground. According to the publication, more than 420 public libraries now offer 3D printing services (a year ago, the number was only at 250), and the paper gives a couple of examples of successful businesses that were started thanks to local libraries and their 3D printers.

“Recent uses of 3D printing services at the Westport Library (CT) illustrate the utility of the library as a space for product prototyping,” the white paper states. “A woman with no background in business or entrepreneurship used a 3D printer at Westport to prototype a square-shaped headband that imitates the look of wearing sunglasses atop your head. She has now received financial backing and has begun marketing her headband in a variety of colors.”

Scott Rownin of SafeRide

Also highlighted is Scott Rownin, another patron of the Westport Library, who used the library’s 3D printer to prototype a device that would attach to cell phones and prevent drivers from texting while driving. The device was eventually turned into an app called SafeRide.

While libraries play an important role for everyone, they’re especially vital for certain groups such as immigrants; the Los Angeles Public Library and the Austin Public Library, for example, both provide comprehensive resources to help immigrants through the process of attaining citizenship and subsequently beginning new business ventures. (According to a recent report by the Kauffman Foundation, 28.5 new businesses started in 2014 were begun by immigrants.) Libraries, the paper argues, are more crucial to the economy than ever before, and policy makers should take note of the services they provide.

Panel discussion at the National Policy Convening.
[Image: American Libraries Magazine]

Panel discussion at the National Policy Convening. [Image: American Libraries Magazine]
“Economic opportunity is clearly a major concern for voters this year,” said Alan S. Inouye, director of the ALA OITP. “We urge the presidential campaigns and the national policy community to incorporate libraries into their strategies and plans for jumpstarting business development and job creation.”

A few months ago, the ALA held its first-ever National Policy Convening to discuss ways in which libraries and their services can remain on the national and political radar. The conference focused on the role of libraries in economic opportunity, entrepreneurship and workforce development, and, as the ALA’s new white paper illustrates, that role is much more significant than many people may realize. You can read the entire paper here. Discuss further in the Libraries Promoting Economics and 3D Printing forum over at


Mississauga News: Bedbugs not a problem at Mississauga libraries, says director

Protocol has kept pests out

By Chris Clay
Jun 17, 2016
Toronto Star file photo

Mississauga library officials say their facilities have never experienced a bedbug infestation. And they plan on keeping it that way.

Rose Vespa, the City of Mississauga’s director of library services, says they have never had to close any of their 18 libraries due to bedbugs or any other sort of pest infestation. Earlier this week, the Essex County library decided to close some of its libraries after finding bedbugs at one location.

Mississauga libraries are well used with over five million visitors and more than seven million items circulated annually. The municipality had adopted a proactive approach by having a bedbug prevention process in place, which is based on advice from Peel Public Health and also looking at protocols used by other public libraries.

The libraries have a licensed pet control company inspect each of their facilities yearly. They use a specially trained dog to sniff out bedbugs or their eggs.

If the dog picks up on any of the pests, the items are treated. Smaller items, such as books, are taken from the buildings to be cleansed.

The inspections started in April and will continue through to November.

“With the amount of visitors and items circulated, we know that exposure to bedbugs at the library is possible but we also know our bedbug prevention process will further reduce the risk,” said Vespa in an email to The News.

Source: Mississauga News

(Note: there have been several reports on bedbug infestations at several southwest Ontario libraries, a discovery that has led to considerable discussion on how to prevent these outbreaks.--Transcriber)

Monday, June 27, 2016 Watch local librarians promote summer reading with viral video

Livonia Public Library is gearing up for its summer reading program and the way employees are promoting it has gone viral! (Video by WXYZ)


LIVONIA (WXYZ) - Livonia Public Library is gearing up for its summer reading program and the way employees are promoting it has gone viral!

The video uses stunt doubles to show librarians jumping, flipping and running around looking for good books to recommend for readers. The stunt doubles are from Phoenix Freerunning Academy and the video was edited by Livonia Television.

“The reaction is phenomenal, it is so cool. We never expected it to be worldwide," says Carl Katafiasz, head of adult services at the library.

The viral video has already been viewed nearly 25,000 times on Facebook from people all over the world.

The librarians are happy because it helps them push their message:

"Reading is crucial, reading is fundamental. We want each and every person out there to just start reading," says Katafiasz.

"Summer comes and kids are out of school and we don’t want them to lose any of that good stuff they learned all school year," adds Toni LaPorte, library director.