Sep 12, 2014

Fireside Readings with Audiobook Narrators

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WHAT: Mill Valley's Public Library (California) has introduced a new weekly program called "Fireside Reading Live." In this hour-long program, professional audiobook narrators are invited to read stories to visitors gathered around the library's set-piece fireplace.

SO WHAT: The librarian in charge of the initiative came up with the idea after observing audiobook demand doubling over the past year: "We wanted to create a series that answered that demand, and built connection among our patrons at the same time."

Sep 6, 2014

Cooking Demos

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WHAT: In 2016 a new public library will open in downtown Austin, Texas. With it comes a neat, foodie-friendly feature - a mobile kitchen. The flexible unit can be set up in the atrium or stored away when not in use. Plans for the unit include live demonstrations by cookbook authors and cooking classes.

SO WHAT: The library's faculties manager says that cookbooks are a "booming part" of a public library's circulation. Besides catering to this trend, the initiative could be helpful in teaching healthy cooking habits.


Sep 4, 2014

Sensory Story Time

Image Source (Sculpture outside of Lakewood Public Library.)

WHAT: Along with other libraries across the country, the Lakewood Public Library in Ohio is rolling out "Sensory Story Time". The program caters to young children with autism or other special needs by limiting the group size, providing a "fidget toy", and incorporating interactive elements.

SO WHAT: With autism on the rise (a fact mentioned in the linked story), a program like this does make a lot of sense. It is also inclusive - open to any kid who struggles to focus during standard story time.


Sep 1, 2014

1,000 Books Before Kindergarten

Image Source (Note: This is an art piece from another town.)

WHAT: The Indian Trails Library District (Illinois) wants parents to read more to their little ones. A new program called the "1K Book Club" aims to have children hear 1,000 stories by the time they reach kindergarten. The program includes things like book lists, log books to track progress, and prizes for reaching certain milestones.

SO WHAT: The 1,000 number comes from Mem Fox's book Reading Magic (2001), in which Fox claims that children should hear that many stories before they learn to read. I'm not sure how one could back up a number like that, but the goal of encouraging lots of reading by parents is undeniably a good thing.


Aug 29, 2014

Wi-Fi at the Pool and Parks

Image Source (Note: This is a photo of the Centre Pompidou, Paris.) 

WHAT: The Grandview Heights Public Library (Ohio) is providing free Wi-Fi at local Parks and Recreation facilities, including the municipal pool. This relatively ambitious initiative was made possible by private funding which is covering all of the costs.

SO WHAT: The library director called the the project "a public service to the community," adding that it will give people more access to the library's online services. In Canada, there was some backlash about plans to add wi-fi hotspots in national parks, but the smaller scale of this project should keep it from being controversial.


Aug 28, 2014

Bookstore Design

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WHAT: In Holland, the Nieuwe Bibliteek (or Almere's New Library) underwent a radical redesign in 2010. The idea was to make the layout of the public library resemble that of a bookstore. Perhaps the biggest change was organizing books by theme, which meant, for example, fiction and non-fiction titles were mixed together.

SO WHAT: The new design was based on research showing that the library's patrons wanted to browse, rather than retrieve a preselected item. Other libraries have adopted the Bookstore Model, though I remember reading about one which had to reverse its decision after push back by patrons. That said, the Nieuwe Bibliteek has been a "stunning success," according to the article linked below.


Aug 25, 2014

Art Exhibit on Violence

Image Source (Note: This image is not part of the exhibit.)

WHAT: An exhibit entitled "Kin Killin' Kin" by artist James Pate is now on display at the Indianapolis Public Library. In his images, Pate confronts the prevalence of youth violence in the African-American community.

SO WHAT: By provocatively comparing violence amongst African Americans to the efforts of the Ku Klux Klan, the exhibit presents a disturbing new perspective on this kind of violence. (From the library's website: "of the 279,384 black murder victims in the U.S. between 1976 and 2011, 262,621 were murdered by other blacks.")


Aug 22, 2014

High School Diploma Program

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WHAT: Several public libraries in New Jersey will offer an innovative program that's the first of its scale. The Online High School Completion Program will allow those who are 19 or older to earn an accredited diploma at no charge, from home or at the library.

SO WHAT: There are other services that let people get their diploma online, but none are free. The librarians involved stress the benefits of a high school diploma with employment prospects. Indeed, the grant funding came from the Department of Labor and Workforce development.


Aug 21, 2014

A Place to Learn Amid Protests

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WHAT: Missouri's Ferguson-Florissant School District has closed its schools due to the well-reported unrest in Ferguson. Some teachers, however, are volunteering at Ferguson Public Library to oversee activities and conduct classes to keep kids learning.

SO WHAT: This story is a testament to the flexibility of a public library. In an unprecedented situation, the Ferguson's library is providing a positive service that might otherwise not be possible.


Aug 20, 2014

Reading to Dogs

Image Source (Note: Photo is from Bonner Springs Library.)

WHAT: In Michigan, the Grosse Pointe Public Libraries are now in their eleventh year of their Reader Dog Program. The program lets children in second through fifth grade practice reading aloud to dogs specially trained to be calm and comforting.

SO WHAT: Often called "Paws to Read," a lot of other public libraries run similar programs. Children can hone their reading skills in front of a judgement-free (and furry) friend. After the program, kids become "more confident...and willing to participate in class."


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