Library usage has increased across the country for a variety of reasons, librarians say, including the recession, the availability of new technology and because libraries have been reimagining themselves — a necessity for staying relevant as municipal budgets are slashed and e-books are on the rise. Among the more innovative is the Chicago Public Library, which offers a free Maker Lab, with access to 3-D printers, laser cutters and milling machines. The Lopez Island Library in Washington State offers musical instruments for checkout. In upstate New York, the Library Farm in Cicero, part of the Northern Onondaga Public Library, lends out plots of land on which patrons can learn organic growing practices.
Along with their new offerings, libraries are presenting a dramatically more open face to the outside world, using lots of glass, providing comfortable seating, as much for collaborative work as solitary pursuits, and allowing food and drink.
Heck yeah. It’s all happening at the
Though I vote we carefully conserve those silence-&-solitude spaces too, because sometimes people need to just read, or just think, or just be.
Libraries = good for your head, heart, & hands, not to mention your pocketbook.*
*Um, and your immune system, but you didn’t hear that from me. I mean, don’t be any more afraid of us than you are of, say, a playground, but maybe don’t lick your hands directly afterwards either?
Libraries aren’t in the real world, after all. They’re places apart, sanctuaries of pure thought.
I wonder if Paul Auster has been to one recently, though.
Libraries have actually become, in the US at least, de facto homeless shelters and centers for the mentally ill, as well as a resource for those needing childcare as well as the unemployed seeking work. There’s now signs on some of them in New York barring people from bringing ‘large packages’ which basically means ‘homeless people cannot bring their life’s belongings in here’—but they allowed it for almost a decade as homelessness in New York reached epic proportions. There’s actually very few places in American life so of this world, more than a library. Most public libraries are where you can see what is really going on for most Americans in a way you won’t ever see on the news or in a television show, or even in most fiction or nonfiction. And it is to the credit of most librarians that they continue to operate, despite budget cuts, the outlandish depravity of austerians and privitization mongrels. So, let’s not treat libraries like delicate flowers or temples withdrawn from the concerns of the world. They’ve shown themselves to be much tougher than that. Let’s instead make them what they should be, a better thing than what they’ve had to become—and look to what has been laid at their feet as a map to what our country really needs from its government services.
I’m guessing he was talking about academic libraries, not public libraries like the one where I work. There is a huuuuuge difference.
"Places apart"? *snerk* Sanctuaries? Well, yes, but "of pure thought"? Uh, yeah, NO. And I actually like it that way, thank you very much.
(Well, except when patrons pay unwanted attention or make unwelcomed physical contact with us female employees and then get mad when we call security instead of being flattered, or someone has a seizure but refuses medical attention because the paramedics are wearing uniforms & they won’t have anything to do with uniforms, or we find people having sex in the staff stairwell, or disciplining their teenage children by chasing them around with improvised whips made of nylon cord, or berating us for not selling rubidium at our café which they apparently need so they can freeze it with blue lasers to create wormholes??? None of these things are made up.
So, on second thought, maybe he got the “not in the real world” part right after all.)
What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. … Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.
Browsing is the opposite of “search.” Search is precise, browsing is imprecise. When you search, you find what you were looking for; when you browse, you find what you were not looking for. Search corrects your knowledge, browsing corrects your ignorance. Search narrows, browsing enlarges. It does so by means of accidents, of unexpected adjacencies and improbable associations. On Amazon, by contrast, there are no accidents. Its adjacencies are expected and its associations are probable, because it is programmed for precedents. It takes you to where you have already been—to what you have already bought or thought of buying, and to similar things. It sells similarities. After all, serendipity is a poor business model. But serendipity is how the spirit is renewed; and a record store, like a bookstore, is nothing less than an institution of spiritual renewal.