Saturday, December 31, 2011

Libraries as a Bridge Between the Arts and the People

Libraries are so much more than buildings that house books (or computers for free Internet access). They are also a link between the general public and the artistic community. This link provides entertainment and education to the public, often for free, while giving wider exposure to the creative output of writers, painters, poets, dancers, musicians, and more - all while garnering greater attention for libraries.

Award-winning author Toni Morrison at the New York Public Library in 2010.
photo source:

Underscoring the vital connection between the arts, the people, and libraries is a new project called Library as Incubator. A trio of library school students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison started the project in 2011 in reaction to budget cuts to both the arts and to libraries. They realized that a partnership between libraries and the arts would buoy both and benefit the public. Erinn Batykefer, one of the students who founded Library as Incubator, discussed the project in a Huffington Post article that I've reposted below.

Huffington Post * December 29, 2011

Art Incubators: How Libraries Offer More Than Books

By Erinn Batykefer

What is a library? A good place to go if you like stern, bun-headed women shushing you mercilessly? A place to store soon-to-be-obsolete books? A cultural institution past its prime in a digital age?

If you really spend time in a library - from the the New York Public Library's main branch to Monona Public Library in Monona, WI - you might say that a library is a community center, a place to access the Internet on free public computers or to grab a cup of coffee, even a place to attend an art show, a poetry reading, or a public lecture.

On the Library as Incubator Project website, we want to showcase how libraries do more for their communities than provide free access to books; we're interested in how they foster lifelong learning and creativity, and how they can (and do!) incubate the arts. Libraries provide tangible services to their communities every year; in Wisconsin, for example, they return $4.06 worth of materials and services for every tax dollar that's invested, raising property values and literacy at the same time.

Libraries can be an office, a gallery, a performance space, even a studio. Take, for example, the ArtWalk gallery space in the Hartford Public Library in Hartford, CT, which will be featured on the site soon. It's a gorgeous, spacious exhibition area attached to the library. The library integrates programming, book displays, and special events to complement ArtWalk exhibitions. This provides not only professional development for the featured artists, but also arts education and literacy development for all ages. Or consider the State Library of Queensland in Brisbane, which hosted British artist Stephen Wiltshire while he drew a panorama of the city earlier this month. Hundreds of library-goers were on hand to observe him, ask questions, and simply be in the presence of artistic work in the making.

Not every library can build an exhibition area, and not every library has the space to act as a drawing studio, but every library can provide resources for local artists and writers, and work to connect their communities to the arts. Libraries can offer programs like scary story Halloween writing contests for children and young adults. They can connect with local writers or artists (many of whom who teach at schools and colleges) to host poetry or drawing workshops. They can link to image-rich resources on their websites and promote art and design books to their patrons with book displays and reading lists. No matter the scale, libraries have the capacity to connect their communities to the arts in meaningful ways.

It was no accident that The Library as Incubator Project was born during the massive Wisconsin budget protests of 2011. The state budget was undergoing a significant restructuring, which included substantial cuts to libraries and prominent publicly funded arts organizations. At that point, we started to realize that our grand idea - the idea of promoting the library-as-incubator - might be more than just a pet project for a trio of library school students. We realized that libraries functioning as arts incubators could provide the spaces and materials necessary to sustain the artistic and creative work of writers, illustrators, painters, photographers, poets, playwrights, and performing artists of all kinds when local and state governments took an axe to the arts budget.

With vital programs like poetry fellowships and arts residencies on the chopping block, a library can fill those gaps for artists in the community by proving space to work, collections of inspiring and practical materials, and collaborative support. We saw real potential for libraries to come to the fore as arts incubators in the same way that they have become job-search hubs by providing Internet access, resume workshops, and job search materials for many, many job seekers during this recession.

Librarians and artists of all stripes know that these kinds of partnerships are forming naturally all over the place. At The Library as Incubator Project, we simply hope to offer a "hub" for conversation and communication, and in so doing, promote new and deeper partnerships that will change the answer to our initial question:

What is a library? It's place to connect and create.

Read more at, connect with us on Facebook (Library as Incubator Project), or follow us on Twitter: IArtLibraries.

A Rare Peek at Stanford Libraries' Apple Inc. Archives

The world's largest collection of Apple Inc. artifacts can be found at the libraries of Stanford University.

In 1997, Apple donated "documents, hardware, software, videotapes, memorabilia and artifacts [that] encompass the business and technological history of the company" to Stanford, according to a press release issued by the university in November of that year. These materials were originally intended for an Apple museum, plans for which were axed upon Steve Jobs's return to the company in 1997.

As impressive as the Apple Archives are, they are not available for viewing by the general public. Thankfully, the Associated Press videotaped its recent tour of the collection. You can watch below.

Associated Press * December 30, 2011

Inside the Apple Archives at Stanford Libraries

By David Peskovitz

In 1997, Apple gifted the Stanford University Libraries its historical collections of paperwork, hardware, software, artifacts, and other materials documenting the organization since Woz and Jobs founded it in 1976. The Associated Press toured the collection. No, it's not available for public viewing.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

NYPL, Other Libraries Find Success with foursquare

The New York Public Library recently reminded its fans on Facebook that they can check in at NYPL locations on foursquare. I didn't even know it had a presence on the location-based social networking site.

The NYPL's Foursquare "Centennial" badge.
image source:

After doing a bit of research, I learned the New York Public Library partnered with foursquare in March as a way to both publicize and celebrate the 100th anniversary of its Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on 42nd Street. Users of foursquare who checked in at NYPL locations in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island could unlock a special "Find the Future Centennial" badge from the library. The badge was "the first ever awarded to a public library," stated the NYPL in a press release dated March 30, 2011.

Two patrons, Emily Vargas and Tracy Musacchio, unlocked the badge by checking in at the Schwarzman Building more than 10 times. They talk about their love of the NYPL and foursquare in this video:

Increasingly, other library systems across the country and around the world are teaming up with foursquare to stay connected with patrons for whom social networking is second nature. In the wake of the New York Public Library's success with foursquare, NYPL's e-communications manager Johannes Neuer granted an interview to the Routledge Library Newsletter, in which he discussed foursquare and how it could work for your library. A slide presentation of this interview is below.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Library of Congress to Archive, Analyze All Tweets

The Library of Congress, in a deal made with Twitter, will archive every public tweet ever sent. Why? "To find and analyse interesting trends" through the public's use of this social medium, according to the Daily Mail article below.

Tweets will be put under a magnifying glass.
image source:

"There have been studies involved with what are the moods of the public at various times of day in reaction to certain kinds of news events," said Bill Lefurgy, of the Library of Congress. "There's all these interesting kinds of mixing and matching that can be done using tweets as a big set of data."

If everyone knew that their tweets would ultimately be housed underneath the same roof as the Declaration of Independence, perhaps a few would have communicated something more erudite than, "I spent the last hour molding a little man out of Starbursts and now I have to explain to him about death."*

* An actual tweet, from

Daily Mail (UK) * December 8, 2011

Library of Congress to Archive Every Tweet Ever Made

By Daily Mail Reporter

If you were thinking that tweet you just sent would soon disappear into the ether, you couldn't be more wrong.

It will soon be stored alongside Thomas Jefferson's draft of the American Declaration of Independence and a Gutenberg Bible.

That's because every public tweet sent since Twitter was launched five-and-a-half years ago is to be archived by America's national library.

Billions of tweets will be archived,
including the very first - sent by
Twitter co-founder, Jack Dorsey.

The Library of Congress announced the deal with Twitter last year, but yesterday its digital initiatives manager shone more light on the project.

'We have an agreement with Twitter where they have a bunch of servers with their historic archive of tweets, everything that was sent out and declared to be public,' said Bill Lefurgy when he appeared on Federal News Radio's Federal Drive show yesterday.

The archive will be available to Mr. Lefurgy's team of researchers, to find and analyse interesting trends.

'There have been studies involved with what are the moods of the public at various times of the day in reaction to certain kinds of news events.

'There’s all these interesting kinds of mixing and matching that can be done using the tweets as a big set of data.'

And with more than 140 million tweets processed by Twitter every single day, the social networking site has its work cut out with the Library project.

'They've had to do some pretty nifty experimentation and invention to develop the tools and a process to be able to move all of that data over to us,' Mr. Lefurgy said.

Innovative: The first-ever tweet was sent on March 21, 2006.

The archives won't contain tweets that users have protected, but every other message will be stored there - including the very first, sent by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.

His tweet, sent on March 21, 2006, simply said: 'Just setting up my twttr.'

The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with millions of books, recordings, photographs, maps and manuscripts in its collections.

It was built in 1800 and is housed in three buildings in the capital, Washington, D.C.

As well as a rough draft of the American Declaration of Independence and a Gutenberg Bible, the Library holds Thomas Jefferson's entire personal book collection.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Study Finds Library Is Sole Source of Internet for Many

At least 20 percent of people without broadband service at home depend on their local branch of the public library for access to the Internet, reported the Economic and Statistics Administration (ESA) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in a study released last month. This is hardly surprising to anyone who has visited a public library recently.

The New York Public Library's Rose Main Reading Room provides free Internet access.
photo source:

At almost every branch of the New York Public Library that I've been to in the last ten years, the busiest area was the room with the computers. It was obvious that for many, the library was the only place they could go to use a computer (and thus, access the Internet). A noticeable number seemed to be using the computers to search for jobs and brush up resumes.

So, the fact that for many people, "the public library is the sole source for free access to computers and the Internet" is not really news. The real story is what this means for libraries. In an age where there is still very much a digital divide, the public library is as important as ever to keeping communities connected and thus should be safeguarded as the institution it truly is.

Libraries Connect Communities * November 17, 2011

New Study on Internet Use at Home Ties to the Impact of Libraries

photo source:

By Judy

In casual conversation with family and friends, questions regarding the need for and future of libraries continue to come up. While presenting stats on increased circulation and visits are somewhat of a surprise, what really gets jaws to drop is the fact that almost one-third of Americans do not have high speed internet access at home. Those in the conversation quickly grasp the challenges faced by the “have-nots.” This is always a great tie-in when highlighting the importance of libraries in providing essential services and bridging the digital divide.

Earlier this month the Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released: Exploring the Digital Nation: Computer and Internet Use at Home. No surprise that the digital divide still exists between different racial and ethnic groups and between urban and rural areas in the U.S. But the report notes that socio-economic differences, such as income and education, explain much-but not all – of this divide.

The study has so much rich information, with many illuminating graphs, that I’ll forgo listing out highlights and just recommend that you download the study. The study does report that at least 20 percent of individuals without broadband service at home rely on public libraries for access.

Following is the study’s snapshot of home Internet access:

So when libraries come up in the discussion around the holiday table, remember to share the big numbers, including the fact that in 65% of communities, the public library is the sole source for free access to computers and the Internet (73% in rural communities). Trust me, you’ll see those jaws dropping.

No Shushing in Libraries' High-Tech Areas for Teens

For teenagers, it's not cool to say that you're going to hang out at the library. Many public libraries are working hard to change their "unhip" status by adding high-tech areas to attract young patrons. The addition of these areas counteracts that long-held notion that the library is strictly a place for silent study.

More public libraries are toning
down the shushing and turning
up the volume to attract youths.
photo source:

The Chicago Public Library implemented a YOUMedia lab stocked with video games and recording equipment that attracts nearly a hundred teenagers every day. Other libraries, both in the United States and the United Kingdom, are following suit. See the Huffington Post article below for more on how today's public libraries are toning down the shushing and turning up the volume to attract young patrons.

Huffington Post * November 29, 2011

Public Libraries Turn Up the Volume (Literally)

By Lucas Kavner

As public libraries continue their quest to stay relevant in the wake of cuts to their funding and decreased popularity, some are greatly altering their set-ups and making moves to appeal to a younger crowd.

A makeover at the Chicago Public Library has turned one room into a teen-heaven, stacking the "YOUMedia" lab on the ground floor with video game systems, recording equipment, snacks and beanbag chairs. According to an article in Connecticut's "The Day," this lab, which has been open since 2009, draws up to a hundred teenagers daily. They come to record podcasts, shoot videos and hang around after school.

Though all libraries still contain cordoned-off quiet areas for study and reading, many city public libraries are dialing back on the whole "Silence Is Golden" conceit they've long been known for. Twelve other libraries across the country have plans to open similar "high-tech" areas for teens in 2012, according to the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and others already feature coffee bars, CD listening stations, screening rooms, and other kinds of play centers.

In the UK, they've been cranking up the volume even more. The award-winning Get It Loud In Libraries
program has been active since 2005, aiming to showcase up-and-coming bands in libraries across Lancashire. Their mission: to allow "kids from 5 to 65 to check out bands at close quarters in a book clad feelgood venue before they hit the proverbial big time."

Some of these changes have drawn criticisms from library purists. Writing for the City Room blog in the New York Times in April of last year, Sung J. Woo lamented the days of studying and reading in silence. The communal desks have now been "transformed," Woo wrote, "into an open forum for children and adults to chat away as if they were hanging out at Starbucks."

Susan Hildreth, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, helped fund the YOUMedia room in Chicago and believes that changes like these help kids engage with their environments. She says that library users can likely expect more personal and digital interaction in the years to come.

"Kids are very productive in these rooms," she said.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The (Mis)Education of Future Digital Librarians?

"The problem" with technology classes taught in library schools today "is that there is often a one size fits all approach to the classes," says JLY in the article "What Is Needed to Educate Future Digital Libraries." As someone currently enrolled in library school, I have to ask: Is this approach to library science education really problematic? Is it, in fact, resulting in the miseducation of soon-to-be digital librarians?, as the author of this article seems to be saying.

A library science class at Connors State College in Muskogee, Oklahoma, in 1964.
photo source:

Before I address these questions, I have to commend JLY for asking us to consider the quality of the current state of library science education. Any action that prods educators to update their programs in order to better prepare students for an increasingly high-tech workforce is a positive, in my opinion.

But I don't agree with JLY's critique. I think that at the core-class level of library science education, a general approach to teaching technology skills is not a detriment - it's a necessity. At that level, the purpose of a one-size-fits-all approach is to give students of various backgrounds and abilities an overview of a subject that they can delve deeper into as they progress in their education. And at my library school, there "are different levels of technology classes that students can build upon" after completing a general course on technology as it applies to librarianship. Maybe that's not the case at the library school that JLY went to/is attending. If so, perhaps his/her article on the matter will nudge that school into the 21st century. * November 28, 2011

What Is Needed to Educate Future Digital Librarians


In Young Choi and Edie Rasmussen's What Is Needed to Educate Future Digital Librarians; A Study of Current Practice and Staffing Patterns in Academic and Research Libraries, they studied and surveyed 48 librarians from 39 insitutions. Here are their results:

  • While there are emerging units and positions within digital libraries, the working environment of digital libraries is collaborative in areas that range from computing systems to traditional library functions.
  • Professionals working in those areas tend to be young and are relatively recent graduates. Because many libraries will eventually be transformed into digital libraries, and require professionals educated in this area, digital library jobs will be very attractive to the next generation of the library profession.
  • Major tasks in which digital librarians are involved include management, leadership, and website-related tasks. Managerial tasks emphasized planning and oversight of digital library projects, while providing leadership and expertise in digital library areas contained elements of collaboration with other members of the library staff and with users. Trend analysis, such as monitoring the practice and standards of current digital libraries, is critical in these jobs.

I definitely think that library schools need to promote technology in their programs as most libraries are digital. The problem is that there is often a one size fits all approach to the classes. There are students young and old who have different skill sets and backgrounds that may or may not have prepared for the technology classes. Everyone knows which professors are the most challenging. What student is going to want to take a particularly challenging class when they don’t have the background for it? What library schools need are different levels of technology classes that students can build upon.

What are your thoughts? What do you think is needed to educate future digital librarians?

Random House Reviewing Library E-Book Policy

Just like the rise of the MP3 rattled the record companies, the popularity of the e-book is discombobulating the book publishers. What has industry execs running scared? The specter of lost sales.

The publishers that make up the "Big Six" are Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Penguin, Macmillan, and Hachette. Of these, only Random House sells e-book versions of frontlist titles to libraries. The rest do not, for fear that digital library sales will infringe upon retail sales.

image source:

At a conference earlier this year, Random House's Ruth Liebmann made clear her company's stance on libraries: "A library book does not compete with a sale. A library book is a sale.” According to Publishers Weekly, Liebmann "added that Random House's goal was to have books available in libraries at the same time and in the same format they are available in retail."

But with Penguin's recent removal of its frontlist e-book titles from libraries, many now suspect that Random House may change its mind on the matter. Fueling this suspicion is Random House's recent statement that it is "actively reviewing" its library e-book policy.

See the Publishers Weekly article below for more information on this development. * November 22, 2011

No Change, But Random House Says It Is "Actively Reviewing" Library E-Book Policy

By Andrew Alabanese

And then there was one. After Penguin announced this week that it was pulling its frontlist e-book titles from libraries and disabling all Kindle library lends, Random House remains the only “Big Six” publisher to embrace library sales of e-book editions. But with the e-book market changing, and discord over Amazon’s recent moves in the marketplace simmering, is the company reconsidering its position?

In a brief statement, Random House officials said that for now the company was "maintaining its current policy regarding digital library sales," but added it is “actively reviewing” that position. Asked if that meant changes were under discussion, Random House spokesman Stuart Applebaum told PW it would be “inappropriate and premature” to infer that the company’s review of its policy meant a change was coming. “We regularly review our sales practices and policies for all channels,” Applebaum noted, adding that the company was engaged “in internal and also external discussion with our partners."

At a library panel at Digital Book World earlier this year, and reiterated at a Tools of Change panel a month later, Random House v-p, director of account marketing Ruth Liebmann described Random House's position on libraries: “A library book does not compete with a sale,” Liebmann said. “A library book is a sale.” Liebmann acknowledged that libraries' economic power is in “the same ballpark as indie bookstores.” And, they “never send books back." She added that Random House's goal was to have books available in libraries at the same time and in the same format they are available in retail.

The library e-book landscape is evolving rapidly, however, spurred by the September launch of OverDrive’s library lending program for the Kindle. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the already growing popularity of library e-books has surged dramatically since the Overdrive/Kindle library lending program launched weeks ago, stoking fears among some publishers that the program could cut into sales.

Librarians, however, counter that library e-books fuel sales, not only as a direct sales channel but in promoting authors and reading, a position that appears to be bolstered by a recent study published by Library Journal. "Our data shows that over 50% of all library users reported purchasing books by an author they were introduced to in the library,” Library Journal executive editor Rebecca Miller told PW, and noting that libraries are "an active partner with the publishing industry in building the book market, not to mention the burgeoning e-book market."

Of the "Big Six" publishers, Macmillan and Simon & Schuster do not sell e-books to libraries. Hachette no longer sells frontlist e-book editions to libraries. And HarperCollins drew the ire of librarians in March when it capped the number of library e-book lends at 26 before the title must be re-purchased. HarperCollins has since mended its image somewhat by at least engaging the library community on its policy.

Meanwhile, Penguin's abrupt decision to suspend library sales of frontlist titles in e-book format, as well as the way it communicated that change, citing unexplained "new security concerns," while assuring librarians they could still buy print books, is yet another sign that despite considerable talk of librarians and publishers coming together to work out solutions, the tension over digital content is in fact escalating. In 2011 alone, two major publishers have scaled back their policies on library e-books; the Author Guild is suing university libraries over its plan to digitize out-of-print and orphan works for use in an educational setting; and three publishers, backed by the AAP, went to trial in Atlanta over Georgia State University's use of e-reserves.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Twitter 101 for Librarians

I have never sent a "tweet" in my life. I'm sure there is a surprising number of librarians who've had little-to-no experience with Twitter as well.

image source:

Luckily for them (and for me), there are highly informative videos on YouTube that explain, in simple terms, how to use Twitter, specifically as a means of library outreach. The following is one such video.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ways to Save Your Library (Among Them, Social Media)

More libraries today are facing severe budget cutbacks and the prospect of closure, thanks to struggling local and federal economies. In response, communities across the country are mobilizing to save these institutions, often with the help of social media such as Facebook.

A photo from the Facebook page of Cortelyou Library Friends, an advocacy group supporting the Cortelyou Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library.
source link:

In her article, "12 Ways to Save Your Library," Jennifer Derrick says that Facebook (and YouTube and Twitter) can help you "get the word out and to organize protests and meetings." A Google search of "Facebook" and "library campaign" turned up countless links to library fund-raising pages, friends of libraries pages, and "save our library" pages, all on Facebook. "Social media is your friend" in your fight to save your library, states Derrick. Read about this and other ways to keep your local library alive in Derrick's article, which I've posted below. * November 1, 2011

12 Ways to Save Your Library

By Jennifer Derrick

A few weeks ago I wrote a piece about how to find cheap books if you need to feed your reading habit but your library is dying or dead. In the comment trail for that piece, several readers expressed disappointment that the piece wasn’t about how to keep such a frugal resource alive in the first place. I heard you, and now I want to address that issue.

A couple of years ago I had to join the fight to keep our library alive at all. It was slated for closing due to budget cuts. Since it was in a rural part of the county, it was deemed “disposable,” or at least more disposable than the branches in the more affluent part of the county.

I’ve always been a huge supporter of our library, giving money, time, and materials (for those who thought I didn’t support the library you should know they’re even in my will), but it’s not enough when just a few people are giving. When the community got together to fight the closure, I learned a few additional ways to help fight cutbacks and closures, as well as ensure the subject never comes up in the first place. Here are some ideas. Note that the more of these you can do simultaneously, the better your chances of keeping your library alive and thriving.

Donate materials: When you have a book, DVD, or CD you no longer want, give it to the library. They can either add it to the collection or sell it to raise funds. If you want to buy books to give to the library, you can find cheap books at thrift stores, used book stores, clearance racks at regular bookstores, school book fairs, and yard sales. You can take a tax deduction for the fair value of the materials you donate. The library should be able to give you a receipt. You can also donate magazine subscriptions. (Lots of local businesses do this in our library because the plastic jacket that protects the magazine sports a label that says, “Subscription Donated by Business X. The business gets a tax deduction and some advertising.)

Donate money: Most libraries accept monetary donations outright, and some may sell memberships in “Friends of the Library” programs. You can also name a library as a beneficiary of your will. If you’re very wealthy, you can donate a large sum of money and dictate how it is to be spent (i.e., on a new library, a new wing of an existing library, or to create a specific type of collection). Giving money to a public library is usually a tax deduction, too.

Write your politicians: While you definitely want to write to the local politicians who are pushing for the cutbacks, you also want to write to the federal representatives of your district. They may not even know that the local politicians are considering cutbacks. This was the case with our library. Our federal representatives had no idea and once they found out, they leaned heavily on the local politicians to give up the idea.

Actually use the library: Too many people never use their library yet, when it gets closed or threatened with service cutbacks, they scream about it. When politicians start looking at which branches to close, they look at circulation figures to determine which branches are being used and which are not. If you want to keep your library alive you need to actually use it. Make sure you actually check out books and materials, too. If you’re going there every day but only using the computers to check email, you’re not helping the circulation figures.

Patronize book sales and other money-raising events: Many libraries have book sales where they sell off old materials or excess donations. Books are usually cheap and the money goes to buy new materials or to help with other expenses. Libraries or their supporting organizations will also host other fundraising events such as auctions, holiday parties, or “dinner with an author”-type events. If you can afford to attend, do so. The money you pay for admission or to bid on items will benefit the library.

Volunteer: If you can’t give money or materials, give your time. Volunteering to shelve or check out books can help if staff is cut. If you feel that there isn’t enough programming, it may be because the library doesn’t have the staff to deal with it. Volunteer to put together and host a special program or two. If you’re tech savvy, teach a class on how to use an e-reader with the library system, or teach computer job search techniques. If you’re a writer or know one, offer to scheduale a reading. Ask what needs to be done and where the staff is spread too thin and volunteer to help out.

Protest (and let the media know you’re doing so) If your library is facing closure or severe cutbacks, hit the streets to protest. A well organized protest or sit-in can go a long way toward generating awareness. Call the media beforehand to let them know so they can cover it. (Just make sure you get any necessary permits and that things remain safe and reasonable. Don’t get arrested.)

Demonstrate the value and the need: It’s all well and good to protest and write letters to the head honchos, but you need to do more than complain. You have to demonstrate the need for, and the value of, the library. Point out that this is where low income people can use computers to hunt for jobs and support that with statistics from your area. Note how many kids come in for tutoring every day. Note how many clubs or groups rely on the library for meeting space. Show how many home schools in the area need a library nearby. Tell the officials how many more necessary resources the public library offers above and beyond what the local school libraries offer. It requires research on your part, but the more statistics, numbers, and real life scenarios you can show the decision makers, the better chance you have of winning the fight.

Get everyone involved: It helps if a diverse community of users fights together. If the only ones complaining are affluent soccer moms, it’s easy for officials to dismiss the complaints because they know those people can find books elsewhere. Rally the senior citizens, kids, minorities, teachers, PTA groups, book clubs, and anyone else who uses the library regularly so that the politicians see exactly how many groups will be hurt by a closure or cutback.

Vote: If library funding comes up on the ballot in your local elections, get to the polls. Even if you hate all the candidates running for other offices, at least get in the there and check the box that gives your support to the library.

Get the big names on your side: Celebrities and high-level politicians can often sway decision makers more than a group of well-organized protesters (sad, but true). Find well-known writers to back your cause. If your area doesn’t have any, enlist a well-known columnist, radio, or TV personality. If you can get a federal politician to weigh in against the local politicians, that’s great, too.

Go viral: Social media is your friend. Use Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to get the word out and to organize protests and meetings. People who never read the newspaper or watch the news might be on social media, enabling you to alert more members of your community to the problem.

Look for private backing: It may be possible to get a corporation or a group of local businesses to chip in money to help the library. In some states the laws don’t permit this, but do some research to find out if private backing is allowed. If it is, knock on some doors. If you own a business, consider donating.

Provide constructive ideas and alternatives: Sometimes the politicians vote for cutbacks or closures without thinking things through (shocking, I know, but true). In our case, they skipped right over looking at things like reducing hours, charging nominal fees for library cards, reducing electricity usage (and the associated bills), cutting down on waste, and other simple cost-cutting measures. While not ideal, it was successfully argued that the community would much prefer reduced hours and small fees over complete closure. Give the decision makers reasonable alternatives and ideas to consider.

None of these actions will cost you a great deal of money (unless you donate enough money for a new library wing) but they can all make a big difference in the health and longevity of your library. You may have to put in some time and research to help save your library, but it will be worth it to ensure that such a valuable community resource remains available.

Photo courtesy of thejester100

Monday, November 21, 2011

Barnard Zine Library Is Searchable Online

Since it began in the summer of 2003, the Barnard Zine Library has amassed more than 4,000 individual issues of zines, do-it-yourself publications traditionally produced cut-and-paste style on paper and then photocopied for distribution. The zine library is housed within Barnard Library, located at 3009 Broadway on the campus of Barnard College in New York City. But you don't have to actually show up at this address in order to search the zine library's impressive collection.

The Barnard Zine Library bookshelf.
photo source:

In 2004, the Barnard Zine Library's collection became one of the first zine collections in the United States to be catalogued in the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC), making it accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. You can also look for items within the zine library by searching through Barnard Library's online catalog. On its website (, in a section titled "Collection Access and Circulation," the Barnard Zine Library clearly illustrates how you can do just that.

Barnard Zine Library * 2011

Collection Access and Circulation

How can I search for zines through Barnard Library's online catalog?

2. Enter the name of a specific zine, omitting the initial article (a, an, the, el, la, etc...) or conduct a general search by using other keywords.

3. Click on the Title to see the zine's record.

I am looking for a particular zine. Will it be in the catalog?

Many of the zines available are currently in CLIO, but some others have yet to be processed. When in doubt, you can always ask the Zine Librarian.

Keyword search tips:
You can also do a keyword search, combining one of these terms:

"art zine"

"catalog zine"
"compilation zine"
"DIY zine"
"literary zines"
"personal zines"
"political zines"
"school zines"
"split zines"

or just (the question mark is for truncation--it will yield results with the word "zine" or "zines" in the citation or abstract)

For example, and your topic, e.g. "body image," "privilege," "race," "recipes," "riot grrrl" will yield results that are zines of those topics.

Many zines are not yet cataloged, so if you are looking for a particular title or topic that is not in CLIO, please ask for help, or look through our FAQ here.