Wednesday, February 21, 2018 Struggling Toronto Tool Library launches crowdfunding campaign to keep its doors open Lack of provincial government grants and high rent posing a financial challenge, library says

Co-founders of the Toronto Tool Library, Ryan Dyment, left, and Lawrence Alvarez, are working to keep the service open by launching a crowdfunding campaign. (Supplied photo)

By Rima Hamadi
Feb 10, 2018

The Toronto Tool Library has launched a crowdfunding campaign in order to help keep its doors open.

Power tools join paperbacks at Downsview library
The 'Keep the Tool Library Alive!' campaign is aimed at raising $35,000 to help the organization pay rent, employees salaries, and other expenses, said Ryan Dyment, the library's co-founder.

The library is a non-profit service that allows its members to borrow tools and equipment for construction and craft projects. It also offers workshops to help people learn how to use the tools and fix things around the house.

The service works similarly to an actual library but with a paid membership, which costs between $50 and $100 per year.

"We could raise membership prices, but we still want to make it an affordable option for all walks of life in the city," Dyment said.

Volunteers with the Toronto Tool Library at its Hillcrest location. (Supplied photo)

The library has been open for five years and has loaned over 65,000 items at its three locations across Toronto.

The organization says it has tried to apply for grant money from the provincial government to help with expenses but it hasn't been successful. And Toronto's rising rents are also posing a challenge.

The service pays close to $100,000 in rent each year, and if the campaign doesn't reach its financial goal, the library will have to lay off staff and eventually close its doors, Dyment said.

Bobbi Hunter, 70, has been a member of the Toronto Tool Library for five years. and also volunteers with the organization. She says it would be devastating to the community if the library were forced to close.

"It's about not wasting the resources of the planet," Hunter said. "It feels good to share tools and to teach people how to fix things."

Bobbi Hunter has had a membership with the tool library since its inception five years ago in Toronto. (Ryan Dyment)
Hunter has donated to the campaign because she believes it is helping a lot of people.

"I see people coming in, young people, that are using the tool library to start up their own handy-man businesses," Hunter said.

Hunter adds that many people go into the library and walk out with expensive tools, tools they wouldn't have been able to afford.

"Without this service, some people wouldn't be able to make it," Hunter said. "It's a really big help for them."


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Seattle Times: A library without books? Universities purging dusty volumes

Books marked with red stickers, meaning they might be removed from the shelves, at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania library in Indiana, Pennsylvania. The university plans to remove tens of thousands of books that have little or no readership. Not surprisingly, the proposal has encountered resistance. (Michael Rubinkam/AP)

As students abandon printed sources in favor of online reference materials, university libraries are reducing the number of books available on their shelves.

By Michael Rubinkam
February 9, 2018

A library without books? Not quite, but as students abandon the stacks in favor of online reference material, university libraries are unloading millions of unread volumes in a nationwide purge that has some print-loving scholars unsettled.

Libraries are putting books in storage, contracting with resellers or simply recycling them. An increasing number of books exist in the cloud, and libraries are banding together to ensure print copies are retained by someone, somewhere. Still, that doesn’t always sit well with academics who practically live in the library and argue that large, readily available print collections are vital to research.

“It’s not entirely comfortable for anyone,” said Rick Lugg, executive director of OCLC Sustainable Collection Services, which helps libraries analyze their holdings. “But absent endless resources to handle this stuff, it’s a situation that has to be faced.”

At Indiana University of Pennsylvania, the library shelves overflow with books that get little attention. A dusty monograph on “Economic Development in Victorian Scotland.” International Television Almanacs from 1978, 1985 and 1986. A book whose title, “Personal Finance,” sounds relevant until you see the publication date: 1961.

With nearly half of IUP’s collection going uncirculated for 20 years or more, university administrators decided a major housecleaning was in order. Using software from Lugg’s group, they came up with an initial list of 170,000 books to be considered for removal.

Faculty members who make their living in the stacks voiced outrage. “Unbelievably wrongheaded” and a “knife through the heart,” Charles Cashdollar, an emeritus history professor, wrote to the president and provost. “For humanists, throwing out these books is as devastating as locking the laboratory or studio or clinic doors would be for others.”

Though “weeding” has always taken place at libraries, experts say the pace is picking up. Finances are one factor. Between staffing, utility costs and other expenses, it costs an estimated $4 to keep a book on the shelf for a year, according to one 2009 study. Space is another; libraries are simply running out of room.

And, of course, the digitization of books and other printed materials has dramatically affected the way students do research. Circulation has been going down for years.

Libraries say they needed to evolve and make better use of precious campus real estate. Students still flock to the library; they’re just using it in different ways. Bookshelves are making way for group study rooms and tutoring centers, “makerspaces” and coffee shops, as libraries seek to reinvent themselves for the digital age.

“We’re kind of like the living room of the campus,” said Oregon State University librarian Cheryl Middleton, president of the Association of College and Research Libraries. “We’re not just a warehouse.”

It’s a radical shift. Until recently, a library’s value was measured by the size and scope of its holdings. Some academics still see it that way.

At Syracuse University in New York, hundreds of faculty and students objected to a plan to ship books to a warehouse four hours away. The school wound up building its own storage facility for 1.2 million books near campus.

At IUP, a state university 60 miles from Pittsburgh, faculty reacted with alarm after school officials announced a plan to discard up to one-third of the books.

Cashdollar argued that circulation is a poor indicator of a book’s value, since books are often consulted but not checked out. Substantially thinning a library’s print collection also ignores the role of serendipity in research — looking for one book in the stacks and stumbling upon another, leading to some new insight or approach, Cashdollar and other critics say.

“We’re going to throw away as many of them as the library can get away with, which is not a strategy,” said IUP history professor Alan Baumler.

“They say they want more study areas for students, but I find it hard to believe there is no place else for students to study.”

The library project is more about responsible stewardship of the state’s resources than it is an effort to free up space, Provost Timothy Moerland said. But he understands his colleagues’ passion.

“There are some who will never be comfortable with the idea of any book ever leaving this mortal coil,” he said.

Libraries say the goal is to make their own collections more relevant to students while also making sure weeded materials aren’t lost to history. A large digital repository called HathiTrust has commitments from 50 member libraries to retain more than 16 million printed volumes. An additional 6 million have been preserved by the Eastern Academic Scholars’ Trust, a consortium of 60 libraries from Maine to Florida.

An IUP faculty committee is reviewing what Moerland dryly calls the “hit list” to make sure important works stay on the shelves.

The final number of books to be removed has yet to be determined, but the potential scale is readily apparent. Librarians have affixed large red stickers to the spines of hit-listed volumes.

Some students say they worry about missing deadlines if they have to wait for a book the library no longer has. Others, like freshman Dierra Rowland, 19, say they’re on board.

“If nobody’s reading them,” she said, “what’s the point of having them?”

Source: Seattle Times

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The New York Times: Welcome to the Post-Text Future

by Farhad Manjoo

I’ll make this short: The thing you’re doing now, reading prose on a screen, is going out of fashion.

We’re taking stock of the internet right now, with writers who cover the digital world cataloging some of the most consequential currents shaping it. If you probe those currents and look ahead to the coming year online, one truth becomes clear. The defining narrative of our online moment concerns the decline of text, and the exploding reach and power of audio and video.

This multimedia internet has been gaining on the text-based internet for years. But last year, the story accelerated sharply, and now audio and video are unstoppable. The most influential communicators online once worked on web pages and blogs. They’re now making podcasts, Netflix shows, propaganda memes, Instagram and YouTube channels, and apps like HQ Trivia.

Consider the most compelling digital innovations now emerging: the talking assistants that were the hit of the holidays, Apple’s face-reading phone, artificial intelligence to search photos or translate spoken language, and augmented reality — which inserts any digital image into a live view of your surroundings.

These advances are all about cameras, microphones, your voice, your ears and your eyes.

Together, they’re all sending us the same message: Welcome to the post-text future.

It’s not that text is going away altogether. Nothing online ever really dies, and text still has its hits — from Susan Fowler’s whistle-blowing blog post last year about harassment at Uber to #MeToo, text was at the center of the most significant recent American social movement.

Still, we have only just begun to glimpse the deeper, more kinetic possibilities of an online culture in which text recedes to the background, and sounds and images become the universal language.

The internet was born in text because text was once the only format computers understood. Then we started giving machines eyes and ears — that is, smartphones were invented — and now we’ve provided them brains to decipher and manipulate multimedia.

Suddenly the script flipped: Now it’s often easier to communicate with machines through images and sounds than through text.

It’s more than just talking to digital assistants. Artificial intelligence might soon let us search and index much of the world’s repository of audio and video, giving sounds and pictures a power that has kept text dominant online for so long. On HBO’s “Silicon Valley” last season, there was a joke about an app that helped you identify any cuisine, SeeFood. Weeks later, Pinterest introduced just such an app; along with Google, the social network is developing software to identify any visual object.

Tech didn’t just make multimedia easier to produce. It also democratized non-text formats, which for so long had been accessible only to studios. Podcasting became something like the new blogging, a way for committed amateurs and obsessives to plumb the underexplored eddies and mysteries of life. There’s a podcast by a guy who spends more than a dozen episodes explicating the genius of Kanye West’s fifth studio album. He does so using a trove of documentary material he found — where else? — on YouTube.

Meanwhile, social media showered every multimedia creator with a potential audience, and it allowed the audience to connect and discuss the work, deepening fans’ relationship to levels of obsession.

It’s a kind of passion that ultimately makes for a fundamentally new, deeper kind of art. Look at all the room the internet opened up for crazy mash-ups of ideas. Netflix’s best recent show, “American Vandal,” is a parody of “Serial,” the true-crime podcast, and “Making a Murderer,” another Netflix show.

The transition to multimedia won’t be smooth. Business models are hardly proven. For several news sites, the pivot to video ended in a bust that will now give Facebook and Google even greater market power. Many podcast advertisers — I’m looking at you, Blue Apron — are themselves not on the most solid financial ground; they could blow up tomorrow, taking the whole boom with them.

Yet the financial questions may be the least of our worries. An online culture ruled by pictures and sounds rather than text is going to alter much about how we understand the world around us.

The haze of misinformation hanging over online life will only darken under multimedia — think of your phone as a Hollywood-grade visual-effects studio that could be used to make anyone appear to say or do anything. The ability to search audio and video as easily as we search text means, effectively, the end of any private space.

Then there’s the more basic question of how pictures and sounds alter how we think. An information system dominated by pictures and sounds prizes emotion over rationality. It’s a world where slogans and memes have more sticking power than arguments. (Remind you of anyone?) And will someone please think of the children: Do you know how much power YouTube has over your kids? Are you afraid to find out?

But what are we going to do? There seems no going back now. For text, the writing is on the wall.

Source: The New York Times 

Friday, February 9, 2018

The Toronto Star: Trudeau to Facebook: Fix your fake news problem or face stricter regulations

The prime minister warned that Ottawa would intervene with stricter federal regulations if the social media giant doesn’t address integrity issues.

February 8, 2018
by: Alex Boutilier

OTTAWA—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has warned social networking giant Facebook it needs to fix its “fake news” problems or face stronger regulation from Ottawa.

Trudeau told Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg in November he was concerned the company wasn’t doing enough to stop the spread of misleading information on their platform, a source with direct knowledge of the conversation told the Star.

Facebook has been under intense international scrutiny for allowing so-called “fake news” — false and often outlandish information presented as legitimate journalism — to propagate on its network.

But as seen during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the tactic can also mislead or manipulate citizens to further political ends – whether by partisan actors domestically, or hostile nations internationally. Facebook has also faced criticism about a lack of transparency around who is buying ads on its platform.

As Canadian political parties prepare for the 2019 federal election, the source said Trudeau suggested Ottawa could intervene if Facebook doesn’t adequately address the issues.

The source described the conversation as “constructive.”

Trudeau’s comments came during a meeting with Sandberg at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum in Vietnam last November. According to the source, Trudeau was particularly concerned about Facebook identifying the origin of partisan “news” posts or advertisements.

Neither the Prime Minister’s Office nor Facebook would discuss the specifics of that meeting.

“We stand with the lawmakers around the world, including in Canada, in their efforts to protect the democractic process,” Kevin Chan, Facebook’s policy chief in Canada, wrote in a statement to the Star.

“We will continue to work with lawmakers on the right solution, but we aren’t waiting for legislation to start getting solutions in place now.”

The Trudeau government has a complicated relationship status with social media giants like Facebook and Twitter.

On the one hand, Trudeau and his ministers are the most plugged-in cabinet in Canadian history. Constant Twitter posts, statements pushed out through Instagram, and announcements streamed on Facebook are hallmarks about how this government operates.

On the other hand, there are growing concerns across Ottawa about the reach and power of these platforms — and the possibility of interference in the 2019 election on multiple online fronts.

The Communications Security Establishment, Canada’s high-tech espionage and cybersecurity agency, has warned it is “very likely” outside groups will attempt to influence the election.

The Star has learned that CSIS held a workshop for researchers to talk about possible responses to “information warfare” and disinformation campaigns last fall. Elections Canada has already taken steps address cybersecurity issues, and Global Affairs has also taken an interest in the “fake news” phenomenon.

In a statement, Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould said social media platforms still have a lot of work to do to address “cybersecurity, hate speech, and the dissemination of misinformation.”
“Social media platforms play a direct role in how Canadians consume information, and have significant influence when it comes to shaping the public discourse,” Gould’s statement read.

“We encourage all social media platforms to think critically about their current practices and how they can create spaces for informed public dialogue.”

In a statement, Facebook Canada said the company has 10,000 people working on “safety and security globally” and has plans to double that number to 20,000.

Facebook has also launched a “Canadian Election Integrity” initiative late last year, providing a guide for MPs, candidates and parties to guard against mischief online and providing a direct link between political actors and the company’s security team. The company is also taking steps to provide some transparency around who is buying advertisements and who they’re targeting.

MediaSmarts, a non-profit advocacy group, will also create public service announcements to try and educate Canadians on how to identify questionable information sources online.

But after tampering in the U.S. presidential election in 2016 and attempts to influence several elections in Europe, lawmakers have shown little faith in the willingness of tech and social media companies to address the issue themselves.

On Thursday, U.K. MPs travelled to Washington to drag Facebook, Google and Twitter before a committee to press the companies to combat misinformation online.

The committee chair, Damian Collins, had previously demanded Facebook and Twitter investigate whether Russia used their platforms to influence the U.K.’s Brexit vote, according to the Guardian. French President Emmanuel Macron, whose presidential campaign was also targeted by hackers, has called for a European-wide data strategy.

A senior official with the Bank of Canada, in a speech in Ottawa Thursday, said the rise of tech giants presents economic policy issues as well. Senior deputy governor Carolyn Wilkins said the growth of these companies, coupled with their relentless appetite for users’ data, presents questions about data privacy, security and intellectual property.

“If user data are an important source of monopoly rents in the digital age, how should we regulate who owns the data and how they're shared?” Wilkins said.

“We're going to need to judge wisely when it’s best to use public policy tools to manage the risks and when it's best to let private enterprise work its magic.”

Trudeau was in San Francisco, Facebook’s backyard, on Friday, trying to promote Canada as a destination for high tech companies and entrepreneurs. The prime minister is not scheduled to meet with the social networking company, however.

Source: The Toronto Star

Saturday, January 27, 2018

TechSoup for Libraries: Immigrant Asset Mapping at Halifax Public Libraries

26 January 2018
By Jim Lynch

Immigrants are such a hot-button issue these days that we decided to search for a library that does excellent work to serve these specialized patrons. The U.S. immigrant population is roughly one in six people. Canada is having an immigration spike as well, and the Halifax Public Libraries in Nova Scotia are doing good work to serve them.

Starting in the 1990s, Canada experienced a permanent jump in immigration. Pretty early on, the Halifax Public Libraries got going on what they called "asset mapping" to help their immigrant communities integrate into their new homes. This work had been going on for some years under grants by the Canadian federal government before librarian Ken Williment co-published a paper in 2012 on their asset mapping process. This paper is as relevant now as it was six years ago.

A Community Entry Tool

Ken calls his mapping process a "community entry tool." The intent is to get librarians out of the library and talking to community members, including immigrants themselves, to discover their needs. The process also involves interviewing government, church, and charity social service providers who provide settlement services.

Ken told me, "Asset mapping reveals what challenges organizations and individuals face. The idea is to build trust and relationships with community members on their needs and aspirations." Ken says that his asset mapping technique works well to address the special needs of any type of patron. It is especially useful for what he calls "excluded community members" — homeless people, immigrants, indigenous people, public housing residents, and so on.

How Asset Mapping Is Used Now at the Library

Immigration to Canada has increased dramatically recently. The country has taken in increased numbers of refugees from the Middle East and Africa and most recently Haitians coming over the U.S. border. Halifax Public Libraries has developed an immigrant services plan and a Newcomer Services Department headed up by librarian Heather MacKenzie, manager of diversity services.

Last year Halifax had an influx of 1,300 Syrian refugees who ended up in three neighborhoods. Heather told me that, fortunately, the library got a grant from the Canadian government in 2013 to develop newcomer services. They used asset mapping techniques to create a community advisory team composed of service providers and immigrants. By the time the Syrian refugees arrived, the library was ready, especially in the branches where the new immigrants live. As much as possible, the library gears classes and trainings to cultural events that appeal to the immigrant communities.

What Is Working and What Isn't

  • The centerpiece of the work is not surprisingly English language learning (ELL) classes. Here are some other things Heather reported that the library has found useful.
  • Working with settlement agencies, the library knew specifically who the new refugees were. 
  • They knew early on, for instance, that many refugees had little English and that many were not literate in Arabic, so they could develop programming accordingly.
  • The library held outreach events for refugees in their neighborhoods, where they distributed basic information on library services in six languages.
  • They made sure that they got all refugees possible into language classes. The refugees found conversation groups particularly helpful.
  • The refugees also like their citizenship prep classes.
  • The library holds special events showcasing the food, crafts, and culture of its immigrant communities.
  • The library also provided one-on-one language tutoring by volunteers.
  • They added Arabic and Arabic/English language books to the circulation collection.
  • To provide community resources information, the library found that double-sided bulletin boards on wheels worked best. Immigrants preferred having hard-copy resource lists and posters.
  • The library made iPads available for language classes with language learning apps, but many adult immigrants were afraid of them or preferred personal contact. The children love the games on them, though.
  • They partnered with service agencies like the YMCA homework programs for young refugees.
  • The library found it useful to have an iPad with Google Translate at the front desk before they hired Arabic-speaking staff. It got them through early interactions.

 Heather says that Halifax is now gearing up for refugees coming from Bangladesh, among other places. The library will be ready. They are in the process of developing a municipal online interactive immigrant resources asset map.

TechSoup Resources

Ushahidi Surveyor is an online mapping tool that collects multiple data types from many sources, including mobile devices. It allows people from the community to provide their information and makes information collection much more manageable. It is designed to display data online with interactive maps, lists, charts, and timelines. It is a very useful tool for asset mapping. Find out more about the unique social enterprise Ushahidi.

Additional Resources

For a look at Halifax Public Libraries' asset mapping questions, see appendix A in Asset Mapping at Halifax Public Libraries: A Tool for Beginning to Discover the Library's Role with the Immigrant Community in Halifax.   

Ken Williment also co-wrote the book Developing Community-Led Public Libraries.

The Canadian Library Association Community-Led Library Service Network has a listing of several additional community-led projects from other Canadian libraries.

The Working Together Toolkit (PDF) from Vancouver Public Library is a free downloadable e-book that describes methods for libraries to work with low-income communities through a community development approach.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Mcleans: How public libraries are reinventing themselves for the 21st century

January 25, 2018
By Brian Bethune

Coding workshops. 3D printers. And books. Far from extinct, today’s public library is about access to technology as much as to knowledge

Halifax Central Library. (Adam Mørk/Halifax Public Libraries)

On any given day, in one of the world’s busiest urban library systems, 50,000 people come through the doors of the Toronto Public Library’s 100 branches, while 85,000 make an online visit. The walk-ins bring their coffee and their lunches; they talk and watch TV while charging their phones; they do their homework, often via thousands of computer sessions; they make videos or create objects with 3D printers; take classes in computer coding or yoga; attend author talks or listen to experts offer advice for those looking after elderly relatives; access video tutorials on everything from website design to small business management from (an American online education giant that offers 3,600 courses taught by industry experts). Together with their online fellows, they borrow musical instruments, passes to the city’s art galleries and museums, WiFi hotspots, lamps that battle seasonal affective disorder, Raspberry Pis (small, single-board computers primarily used for coding training), DVDs, more than 12,000 ebooks and—of course—plain old print-and-ink books, a good 90,000 of them every day. All at no cost.

Increasingly—and deliberately—patrons do all this while gazing out through glass walls, both interior and exterior, at supportive local communities that look right back at them. The old clichés simply don’t work with the contemporary library. No, it’s not your grandfather’s library—for Baby Boomers, it’s not even the library of their childhood, let alone the library most predictions imagined 20 years ago. If there was one major player in the past century’s information ecosystem that observers thought would likely be driven into extinction by the new millennium’s digital revolution, it was the public library. Instead, Canada’s librarians have, with remarkable adroitness, turned their institutions into a key bridge over what they call the “digital divide” and an essential community hub in modern urban settings.

In Halifax, says Asa Kachan, chief librarian and CEO of Halifax Public Libraries, the new flagship Central Library, with its striking, cantilevered fifth floor, is a point of civic pride. Local entrepreneurs bring potential investors there for a coffee, and realtors tell her it’s a major draw for downtown condo sales. It’s a visible sign, she says happily, of a contemporary city, “of a vibrant intellectual community.” And Nova Scotia’s capital isn’t alone in thinking investing in libraries is a wise use of public funds. After a decade of discussions that led seemingly nowhere, Saskatoon is opening public hearings for its new central branch. In Edmonton, Pilar Martinez, CEO of the Edmonton Public Library, citing “tremendous support” from the city, is watching over the $69-million renovation of its downtown library, slated to be finished in 2020. Calgary’s new $245-million central branch opens this year, while Ottawa’s planned $168-million library is an integral part of the city’s redevelopment plan.

Library systems are tightly tied to their hometowns, both financially—80 to 90 per cent of their funding is municipal—and culturally, meaning they are instinctively as well as practically aligned with urban ideals. “We are a huge part of Toronto’s delivery system,” says city librarian Vickery Bowles, who has been in charge of the Toronto Public Library since 2014. “We are part of its poverty-reduction strategy—putting more resources in branches in particularly at-risk neighbourhoods—and part of its newcomer strategy. Libraries are among the first places immigrants and refugees come to, and some of our branches have federally supported settlement workers.” Martinez’s Edmonton system has settlement workers too, and social workers at three branches: “A lot of clients prefer coming here—there is absolutely no stigma in going to the library.”

In library branches across the country, there is increasing emphasis on community health, from seniors’ isolation to nutrition. Edmonton’s downtown branch has a culinary centre that offers a place to prepare food. In Halifax, says Kachan, “the city has a produce bus, taking good food to places it’s not so easy to come by, and we follow it. We do pop-up libraries where the bus stops, with food-themed books. We have cooking classes.” Hence the welcome extended to those bearing their sustenance with them: anyone who can recall being asked to leave a library when caught nibbling in a corner—here’s looking at you, Barrie Public Library circa 1967—can still be startled by the feel-at-home aura of contemporary branches.

“We’ve rid ourselves of a lot of encumbrances,” says Kachan. “The no-food, no-talking rules, all the barriers that are mysterious for newcomers. If we get this right—and Canadian libraries have been getting it right—we become more valuable to our communities.” So libraries have opened for more hours and more days—and kept the WiFi on when they are closed, so students can access it outdoors in good weather—loaned more out and let more in. “I care more about citizens feeling welcome in the library than about them spilling coffee on a paperback,” says Kachan. “We can always get another copy.”

That’s why library walls today are “porous,” says Martinez, speaking metaphorically about her system’s outreach, and literally made of glass, according to Kachan. “The program rooms have blinds if they are needed, but when they’re not, those blinds stay up and the gathering becomes part of this big, not-closed-off, light-right-through-it public space.”

For two centuries, libraries have been vital public institutions and crucial factors in socio-economic advancement—“bastions of democracy,” in Kachan’s words. But if the 19th- and 20th-century library was about access to knowledge, Bowles says, the 21st-century library is about access to technology, not just acquiring knowledge but creating it. Local responsiveness, like the radon-testing kits Halifax loans out (“a huge issue in Nova Scotia,” says Kachan), is a core value, even on a micro level. Fiona O’Connor, head of Toronto’s glass-walled Fort York branch, tracks what her patrons check out: “I see a huge interest in cookbooks and health and wellness books, and I start looking for programming that matches that.”

But digital inclusion, the impetus behind the coding classes and the 3D printers and the WiFi hotspot loans, matters most, says Bowles, echoed by librarians across the country. She wants her branches to provide the same access to technology that “all the rest of us have” to those who can’t afford it. Libraries have successfully managed two revolutions since the 19th century, Kachan adds. The first was when cheaper mass printing “allowed people to actually put their hands on the collections,” browsing the shelves to see what piqued their interest and taking books home. The second is happening now: “If all this belongs to the public, we need to turn it into a trusted resource for a lifetime. So much you could once do in person—getting a fishing licence, say—you now do online. If you don’t have those skills or resources, you’re in trouble. That’s the second revolution: libraries now lend out the means as much as the ends, and we support the learning.

Source: Mcleans

Thursday, January 25, 2018

ilovelibraries: Man Behind Boise Library's exclamation point tells story; Mayor eats crow

January 11, 2018

by Katy Moeller, courtesy of Idaho Statesman
The exclamation point on the Boise Public Library (ID) sign jumps out at you.
It’s energetic!
It’s exuberant!
It’s enigmatic!
It’s now a city icon but when it was first unveiled in 1995, Dave Bieter was not a fan.
“I thought, ‘What self-respecting library needs punctuation? … If you’re a great library, you don’t need punctuation,” Bieter told a crowd gathered recently for the monthly storytelling spectacular “Story Story Night.” The theme for the night was “!” — and the library sign was the inspiration for a whole season of punctuation-themed shows, said Story Story artistic director/host Jodi Eichelberger.
Bieter was elected mayor in 2003 — and the library sign was on his agenda.
“I thought, ‘I’m going to go after that exclamation point, and I’m going to get rid of that sucker,’ ” he recalled. “I learned in about an hour and a half of being the mayor that the exclamation point is beloved in the city of Boise.”
Boise Mayor David Bieter was among those opposed to the addition of the exclamation point to the Boise Public Library sign, he said during the debut of the 2017-18 season of "Story Story Night." But once elected mayor, he quickly discovered how "beloved" it is to many city residents.
So whose idea was it? An avid library user named Howard Olivier, who at the time owned Flying Pie Pizzaria.
Olivier told the audience at Story Story Night that he was walking into the library one day in 1994 and was struck that the new sign on the side of the building did not really capture its essence. It said, simply, “Library.”  “It’s a better library than that,” Olivier recalled thinking.
He spoke to the library’s marketing director about adding an exclamation point, and she liked the idea. He said he would pay for the addition to the sign, if she got permission for the punctuation.
Within a few weeks, she called him back.  “The gift would be welcome. Please make it happen,” he recalled. It was installed in January 1995, with a lot of fanfare and local media coverage.
Most people loved it.
“Families tell stories that when they drive by the library, their kids in the back yell ‘library’ when they see the sign,” Olivier said. “People write their checks to the library with an exclamation point. One lady came and told me … she brings all of her out-of-area guests down to look at it and she points up at it and says, ‘That is Boise.’ 
But about one in five people hated it, and Olivier recounted their concerns, some of which came via comment cards at Flying Pie.
“It was inappropriate.”
“It was unprofessional.”
“It was self-congratulatory.”
“It was puffery.”
Olivier recalled that one of the negative comment cards he received at Flying Pie was lengthy, like an essay. That was from Bieter, who admitted that he later ate crow.  “Love it or don’t love it, the exclamation point survives,” Bieter told the Story Story Night crowd.
The city has embraced the icon in myriad ways, including trademarking “Library!” and putting it on all four branch library signs. One of the branch libraries has shelves configured like exclamation points, but Bieter declined to say which one so that listeners could go discover it themselves.
“We’re going to build a new main library, and we’re going to be worthy of the exclamation point,” Bieter said.