My Beautiful Library!

Kirk Hall at KCPL Central
Kirk Hall at the Kansas City Public Library’s Central Library

I have to take a moment to brag – Rebecca Joines Schinsky, associate editor and community manager at one of my all-time favorite bibliophile blogs Book Riot, has named the Kansas City Public Library’s Central Library the most beautiful public library in America! w00t!

America’s Most Beautiful Public Library (posted February 25, 2013)

How much do I love that I get to come to work here everyday?

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Author Terry Deary On Libraries

I imagine that by now everyone in Library Land – and in Book-Lover Land more generally – has seen this news story:

Horrible Histories Author Terry Deary On Libraries: ‘No Longer Relevant’ (posted on the Huffington Post on February 14, 2013)

Such attitudes toward libraries make me sad and angry. Of course, I’m highly biased on this subject, but it’s more than that. It’s the way his whole argument perpetuates misinformation, encourages overwhelmingly selfish principles, and his understanding of how communities and social systems actually work is frighteningly simplistic.

Not only does he completely ignore the massive pile of evidence that libraries are an incredibly effective venue for reader discovery and a leading driver of book sales, I’m personally disgusted by his unmitigated self-interest.

And he’s absolutely, 100% wrong about the “concept behind libraries”.

Never forget – the intent of public libraries is to provide all citizens with access to information in service of maintaining an informed democracy. The purpose of libraries is to enable self-improvement and drive social progress. This is true throughout modern Western culture.

He considers his paycheck more important than civic duty and the communal good, and I think that’s pathetic.

Actually, now that I think of it – people holding their paychecks as more important than civic duty and the communal good is the source of most of our current social ills…

The Virtues of Anthropomorphization

Chimpanzee from Disneynature
Chimpanzee from Disneynature

Recently, I was perusing Cracked, just randomly clicking through the linked articles at the bottom of the page, wasting time as is my wont, and I came across this:

5 Mind-Blowing Ways Animals Display Human Emotions

This reminded me of a movie review that one of my coworkers wrote last year for the Disneynature documentary Chimpanzee.

Both of these articles illustrate a near-universal attitude toward the subject of animal and human behavior and emotions: Namely, the assumption that human and animal behaviors are essentially different.

Both of these articles make me want to ask:

Just where do you think human behavior and emotions come from?
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Library Marketing

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about library marketing. Here at the Kansas City Public Library, we have 10 branches that serve highly diverse communities in neighborhoods throughout the city. One of the challenges for our Digital Branch is to figure out the most effective ways to market our online services.

So it’s timely that Library Journal posted this: The Results Are In and They Aren’t Good | Library Marketing by Nancy Dowd (posted on February 5, 2013)

Last week, I ran across this website: Librarian Design Share

What I particularly appreciate about the Librarian Design Share site is the opportunity to see how different libraries establish and express their own unique personalities. To my way of thinking, library marketing and the library’s personality are inextricably intertwined.
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Public Libraries Matter: And We’re Already Trying to Do More

Last week, David Vinjamuri posted Part II of his two-part series on public libraries. I had some serious criticisms of Part I, so I’m happy to see that he goes some way to redeeming himself this time around.

Why Public Libraries Matter: And How They Can Do More by David Vinjamuri

His essay hits several nails squarely on the head, most especially his vision of libraries as community spaces and central forces in the ecosystem of reading. And he’s correct that libraries must establish larger cooperative communities between disparate systems.

This is not to say, though, that he gets everything right in Part II.
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Data Handling in Electronic Systems – Inspiration for a Paradigm Reassessment

At my library, we’re currently working on a project in conjunction with several other regional knowledge institutions to put online our full collection of historical documents regarding the Civil War in Missouri and Kansas. One piece of functionality we’re creating is a way to visually represent the relationships between people, places, and things within this pool of data. These visualizations are based on a relationship database that we constructed, using a basic semantic structure: “Object A [relationship] Object B” and we can verify this relationship with “Document X”. Thus, for example:

Iskabibble Jones is married to Bridgette Jones and we know this because of information contained in Bridgette’s letter dated …

Only, instead of statements, we represent this all graphically with links to images and documents. It’s a pretty nifty function!

The way we’re building the database for this relationship visualization tool is representative of how online data gets handled in general. It illustrates the fundamental paradigm that has governed computer development from the beginning – and, indeed, the development of mechanized data handling even before the advent of computers.
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On Robotic Libraries and Serendipity

The James B. Hunt Jr. Library
The James B. Hunt Jr. Library at NC State University

I just saw this article online today:

Let’s Hope Snøhetta’s New Robotic Library At NC State Isn’t Run By An Evil Super Computer

I think this library is absolutely gorgeous! I really like how peaceful and bright and comfortable it looks inside.

I find this type of robotic technology fascinating. We know that it works – the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library at the University of Chicago is testament enough to that. Space and storage have been perpetual challenges for libraries for a long, long time. This represents an elegant and cost-effective solution. As one who has long been interested in archival work, I’m excited by the potential this technology has for that field, as well.
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