Little Free Libraries – urban decoration for affluent areas?

Here’s an interesting looking study published by the Journal of Radical Librarianship. I tend to have no time for librarians who, in relation to LFLs, whine “They’re not really libraries. They’re just book swaps!”. That, to me, is semantics.

Books is books.

However, this article makes the point that these small book collections don’t appear in neighbourhoods where they could be of most value. In Toronto at least, they tend to be confined to more affluent areas. This is understandable in a way since the structures sold by the company Little Free Libraries are not cheap. People in poorer areas are likely less able to afford them and those who can may be unwilling to set them up too far away from their own homes.

c47d00fa20e2947527a90061eb42398bI don’t really have much knowledge on this topic but during my recent trip to the US (Florida and New Orleans) I saw several little neighbourhood book swaps and they appeared to be situated in all kinds of areas. What’s true of Toronto may not be universally constant.

However, I’ve only glanced at this piece so far and may have more to say once I’ve read it in detail. I’m just posting it for interest right now. Please share your own thoughts in the comments below.

Little Free Libraries®: Interrogating the impact of the branded book exchange
Schmidt and Hale
Journal of Radical Librarianship, Vol. 3 (2017) pp.14–41. Published 19 April 2017
ABSTRACT: In this article, we critique the phenomenon of Little Free Libraries® (LFL®), the non-profit organization dedicated to sharing books with one’s neighbours. Through our engagement with the discourses, narratives and geographies of the LFL® movement, we argue that the organization represents the corporatization of literary philanthropy, and is an active participant in the civic crowdfunding activities of the non-profit industrial complex. The visible positioning of these book exchanges, particularly on private property in gentrified urban landscapes, offers a materialization of these neoliberal politics at street level. Drawing primarily upon one of the author’s experiences as an LFL® steward, as well as critical discourse and GIS analysis, we offer constructive critiques of the organization and their mission, and suggest that the principles of community-led library practice can be more effectively employed to harness the enthusiasm of these self-described “literacy warriors”.
Keywords: Little Free Libraries, critical geography, landscape theory, non-profit industrial complex, philanthropy, civic crowdfunding, public libraries


Better World Books Literacy Grants for Non-profits 2016



When you purchase books from Better World Books, a portion of the funds from the sale benefit various literacy programs including Better World Books Literacy Grants. Each year Better World Books invites libraries and nonprofit organizations to apply for funds to support their efforts to further literacy in their communities. The Better World Books Literacy Council reviews the submitted projects and selects library winners and nonprofit finalists. Nonprofit finalists are then put to a public vote. Three nonprofit grant winners will be selected by vote and two will be selected by the Better World Books Literacy Council. As a Founding B Corporation, Better World Books has raised over £18 million to date for literacy causes worldwide.

The vote is open to the public at from now through Sept. 16, 2016 at 5 p.m. BST. Voters may vote once every 24 hours.

Opinion of the Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union on e-lending

From the EBLIDA Newsletter  July/August 2016 (the emphases are my own):

On 16 June, CJEU issued a Press Release of the Advocate General’s Opinion in Case C-174/15 Vereniging Openbare Bibliotheken v Stichting Leenrecht on the question about whether the lending of e-book could apply under the lending directive of 2006.   The press release highlights that “(…) Advocate General Maciej Szpunar takes the view that the making available to the public, for a limited period of time, of electronic books by public libraries may indeed come within the scope of the directive on rental and lending rights.” Read more

How do you make a library into a place where people are in control of their learning?

Here’s an interesting post I found on Where is the Library Going?

How do you make a library into a place where people are in control of their learning?

There are people who may love to luxuriate in the library enjoying conventional library amenities, such as, computers, librarians, book cases, and quiet spaces (link).

However, on July 1, 1731, Benjamin Franklin and a number of his fellow members among the Junto met to found a library. This library became the Library Company of Philadelphia.  The Junto was a club for mutual improvement through debate on questions of moral, politics, and natural philosophy. “[R]ooms on the second floor of the newly finished west wing of the State House (now Independence Hall)… [housed the Library and its collections].  It was there that  Franklin and his associates performed their first experiments in electricity” during the 1740s (link).

Although Franklin and his associates did not refer to this as a makerspace, it appears that the Library had areas reserved for such a makerspace function.  Franklin created the first public library (link).

“Maker spaces in libraries are the latest step in the evolving debate over what public libraries’ core mission is or should be” (link).  Although, maker spaces are not required elements of a library, they are becoming, in some places, important elements of  libraries.   “Maker spaces have evolved from hackerspaces” (link).

“A hackerspace refers to a place or facility where individuals with similar interests gather together to work on projects”  (link).   Makerspaces have been defined by Make Magazine as a publicly-accessible place individuals with similar interests gather for creative activities  (link).   A library with 3-D printers and virtual reality equipment where people might meet to write books and/or create prototype of objects can be defined as a makerspace.

In my last post, I designed a virtual makerspace for my students.In some colleges and universities, for developmental track courses, there are lab technicians who oversee makerspaces that are located away from the library called learning labs (link).    Again, the librarian may also be called to oversee some of the makerspace activities programmed in the learning labs that were either programmed by the learning lab technicians and/or the librarian.  The librarian might develop a program where students would gain access to digital assets that would help the students in their learning of the material. This is where a librarian could also wear the hat of digital asset manager of software, animation, etc, where access and distribution would be their job.

In the business world, skunk works or business incubators, operate in a matter similar to makerspaces.  Each operate to enable engineers and /or entrepreneurs to be creative in an autonomous environment. A good example of a makerspace system in the library environment is shown by Pam Sandlian Smith at Tedx Mile High.  One definitive example is about a homeless boy.

Smith encountered a young boy, who at the time she did not know was homeless.  He asked her, “I have an idea.  I’d like to check out a room today.  I’d like to check out a room for the week as a matter of fact. I’ve been scoping the space out and you have a storyhour room you are not using and a puppet, a stage that doesn’t seem to be used; then I’d like to put together a puppet program for the kids and their families on Friday afternoon. What do you think?”  It seemed harmless enough and she agreed.

The boy gave a wonderful puppet show to a crowd of 30 (that included parents and their children).  He was “a star” that day.  After that show, he did not come back to the library until after several weeks later.  His father brought him to the library for his birthday.  He told the librarian that she would not see him anymore because he and his family were moving out of a homeless shelter into an apartment due to the fact that his father had gotten a job and they were moving away.

From the example of Benjamin Franklin’s library and the little boy, who had given a puppet show, there appears to be a place for maker spaces especially in the library.

I thank the libraries and librarians for evolving with the needs of the library user.    As a librarian, I can actually help library users find paper books or publish a paper book or hold a workshop on taxes. It is this type of evolution in the library that made me so proud to have received training as a librarian.

Prattsburg Free Library – ‘Readers Just Like Me’ program

Here’s a nice idea! Why not send a review of your favourite children’s book to Prattsburg Free Library in America?

Our Readers Just Like Me program will reach out to readers just like you and me from around the world, both near and far, to have them share reviews of some of their favorite children’s books and young adult titles in the hope that you might discover you like their favorite books too. We’ll learn about more than the books though. We’ll learn a little about our reading friends from around the world and a little something about where they live too.

Send your review by email to Prattsburg Free Library book review… or why not follow Maria‘s suggestion?

As a variation to the book review idea we wondered if we could get some postcards from around the world to do an exhibition with.  It can be of your home town, or where you’re on holiday.  What would be really great would be if you could write a quick book review on the back, although I think anything (polite!) you’d like to write about books would be much appreciated.

I’m a big fan of postcards for any purpose so I like that idea.

If you’d like to send a scenic postcard/book review, the address is:

Prattsburg Free Library
PO Box 426
26 Main Street
Prattsburg, NY 14873

As you may surmise from the illustration, one of my favourites is Winnie the Pooh… but there are so many great books. I’ll have to consider for a while. I hope you’ll join in too. Like I said, it’s a really nice idea   🙂

Victorian travels in the Middle East

This is a beautiful gallery of photos from the Edinburgh city collections. They really appeal to the geek in me (and the image of Istanbul’s Blue Mosque brings back some happy memories). Thanks to Tales of one city for the link

Tales of One City

Fancy a trip back in time to the Middle East of the late 1800s? Our latest exhibition on Capital Collections is a stunning collection of early travel photographs capturing these exotic lands which were far beyond the imagination of the British public of the time.

Mosque of Sultan Ahmed Mosque of Sultan Ahmed, Istanbul

By the 1860s, British tour operators such as Cook’s Tours were offering package tours to the Middle East encompassing destinations such as Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, and Egypt. Wealthy gentlemen (including King Edward VII) embarked on these tours to learn about the ancient cultures, history, and religions of these mysterious faraway lands.

Parthenon, Athens Parthenon, Athens

As the tourist trade grew, photographers from all over Europe flocked here, keen to document this different world. Some set up studios to produce prints specifically for the tourist trade, much like a modern travel postcard, many of which can be seen in this collection.

View of the bridge in Istanbul View…

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Books On Wheels

Re-blogged from Tales of One City.

This reminds me of the happy weeks I spent working with the mobile library service in Falkirk. It was tremendous fun going round the houses with the driver/library assistant – who was pretty much the most impressive driver I’ve ever met. He could turn that gigantic bus on a penny – in and out of the narrowest streets without any trouble at all.

It was also a huge laugh talking to the auld Falkirk ladies who came in for new supplies of Mills & Boon to see them through the week. I caused much hilarity by commenting on the raciness of the cover art  🙂

Tales of One City

4293291804_b4c2a7f632_oEdinburgh is well served by libraries with 28 branches across the city. However, it’s not always possible for some folks to reach these branches so we have a number of other services operating which allow access to books and reading. These include the mobile library, the home delivery service an library link.

Mobile Library Service
The mobile library service first took to the road in 1949 becoming the first service of its kind in Scotland.  The first van cost £1,836 and carried around 2,000 books across 10 sites.

Mobile Library out in the community Mobile library in 1954

These days the mobile library makes 79 different stops across the city covering areas from Balerno and Ratho to Leith and Restalrig.  It also visits sheltered housing and retirement flats where residents can come on to the bus to choose book and books can be delivered straight to the rooms of those living in care homes. 

We caught…

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