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Library Basics

Sep 25 2013

National Computer Learning Month

by Glenda

computerDid you know that October is National Computer Learning Month? Did you know that there is a place in your community that offers computer classes every month? Did you know that these classes are free? The DeKalb County Public Library has twenty-two library locations and just about all of the locations offer free computer classes, all you have to do is call a location that is having a class and register. The library offers classes such as e-mail basics and classes on how to use Microsoft Office programs. In addition to these classes, some locations even offer Book-A-Librarian opportunities. Book-A-Librarian gives you the opportunity to ask a librarian any computer or research question and receive one-on-one assistance and advice from a librarian. You can’t beat that, and it’s FREE. So the next time you are in a library branch location pick up a monthly calendar (or check out the online calendar) and start taking some of these free computer classes. Come on, you know you want to learn all the cool stuff the kids are doing!

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Aug 19 2013

Books on Bikes

by Jesse M

Books on BikesWe’ve discussed bookmobiles on the blog a couple of times in the past (once in 2010 and again in 2011), but today’s post is about a bookmobile with a slight twist; in addition to having books available for checkout, Seattle Public Library system’s new Books on Bikes program also offers another high-demand library service: internet access.

Conceived by librarian Jared Mills, the Books on Bikes program will feature 11 librarians on bikes hauling custom-made trailers that carry 500lb (227kg) of books, a large sign and a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot. The library-cycles will show up at festivals, parades, and parks, utilizing social media like facebook and twitter to keep the community informed of their upcoming appearances. By breaking down the physical boundaries of the library, Books on Bikes hopes to reach out to a new demographic, the Millennials, whose support of libraries will mean the difference between public libraries growing or becoming obsolete. The pilot project will run through the summer months and officials will decide in October whether to continue the program.

For more information, check out these articles from the Economist and NPR.

Are programs like this the future of library outreach? Would a similar program be successful in your community? Let us know in the comments.

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Aug 9 2013

Andrew Carnegie…our hero?

by Dea Anne M

Carnegie_Library_of_Moultrie“The man who dies rich dies disgraced.” This famous statement comes from Andrew Carnegie, the industrialist and steel baron who amassed a huge fortune and then spent the latter part of his life giving the majority of it away. Perhaps the best known of his philanthropies is Carnegie Hall, Manhattan’s famous concert venue which Carnegie paid to have built. Others include the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Carnegie Mellon University and numerous museums. The most important of his projects, at least to those of us who love libraries, would be the Carnegie libraries. The image at right shows the Old Carnegie Library in Moultrie, GA.  Built in 1906, it is no longer in use as a library but is on the National Register of Historic Places. 1690 of these libraries were built in the United States alone and many more in other parts of the world. A huge proponent of self-improvement, Carnegie didn’t provide endowments for these libraries. Rather, he insisted that any community interested in building a library aided by Carnegie funds be willing to abide by certain requirements:

  • demonstrate the need for a public library;
  • provide the building site;
  • annually provide ten percent of the cost of the library’s construction to support its operation; and,
  • provide free service to all.

This last point created its contradictions. In the strictly segregated American South, for example, Carnegie funded separate libraries for African Americans in many communities. In any case, Carnegie rarely denied a request and many of these buildings, beautifully designed and executed, often became known as the most distinguished structures in their communities (check out some images here). The unique design of these buildings also featured an element brand new to libraries—self service stacks which encouraged patrons to browse and discover books, either on their on or with the guidance of library staff. Prior to this, patrons asked librarians to retrieve specific items from closed stacks.

carnegieAndrew Carnegie was a proponent of political egalitarianism and professed his support for labor unions. At the same time, he held his own workers to long hours at low pay and his reputation would be forever tarred by his actions during the Homestead Steel Strike.  In spite of these contradictions, I believe that Carnegie has to be recognized as a major figure in shaping the mission of the modern public library. NPR recently ran a very interesting piece on Carnegie’s legacy that is well worth checking out. It includes a very lively comments section as well. If you’d like to learn more about Andrew Carnegie’s life, DCPL carries (among other resources) two well-regarded biographies Carnegie by Peter Krass and Andrew Carnegie by David Nasaw.

Did you use your hometown’s library (or libraries) when you were growing up? Did your town ever have a Carnegie library? Speaking of hometown libraries don’t miss Joseph’s fun post from earlier this week!

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Aug 7 2013

Library Memories

by Joseph M

gus-loved-his-happy-homeGrowing up, I always liked visiting libraries. My first library memory is sitting with my mom in our local public library as she read to me. I was probably 4 or 5 years old. If I recall correctly, we were enjoying one of the Gus the Ghost books by Jane Thayer. I liked the illustrations so much that I begged my mom to photocopy some of the pages, which she did. The seating in the children’s area was unusual, sort of like large blocks covered in a plush material and stacked in arrangements that were good for climbing. I remember feeling like the library was a fun and exciting place to be.

I felt the same way about my elementary school library when I got a little older. My class would visit the library about once a week or so, and the school librarian would read to us from what seemed at the time to be a vast collection of children’s books. The librarian selected a lot of stories by Bill Peet, which was always an entertaining choice in my opinion. It was around this time that I was first introduced to the concept of nonfiction and shown how to work the card catalogs, which I found daunting yet intriguing.

A little later in my childhood, my mom was taking classes at a local university and so had access to the library there. I had been assigned a school project about American Indians and I needed to do some research, so my mother graciously took me with her to the campus library. This was by far the largest library I had ever seen, spanning multiple floors filled with row after row of bookshelves. I was highly impressed by the wealth of knowledge arrayed before my eyes, and I quickly found several books relevant to my project.

I credit the above experiences with inspiring my life-long fascination with libraries and helping to guide me into my current career. Do you have fond memories of your early library experiences? Please share them with us.

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Jul 17 2013

Library infographics from the 1930s

by Jesse M

Circle of Classified KnowledgeThese days, infographics are all the rage (for instance, take a look at this one I posted about last year regarding the value of libraries and why it is so important to support them), but libraries have been making use of them to illustrate how the library works for decades.

Check out this gallery of a series of library education posters created under the supervision of librarian Ruby Ethel Cundith for Peabody Visuals Aids in the 1930s and 1940s. The posters were salvaged by Char Booth from a throw-away pile at her library school in 2003.

From card catalog to the book on the shelf
My favorites include the “Circle of Classified Knowledge”, which illustrates the myriad categories and sub-categories of the dewey decimal system, and the two posters detailing the information present on a card from a library catalog and how it can be used to find a book.

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Jun 10 2013

Survey Says…

by Jimmy L

Take the SurveyA few weeks ago, we had a survey to better determine who our readers (you!) were and what direction you’d like to see the blog take. Well, the survey results are in. Thank you all for responding (and if you haven’t yet, there is still time. Just follow this link):

We have many loyal repeat visitors. Over half the respondents check DCPLive several times a week! Most of you like what you see on here so far, (I guess that’s why you come back) including the variety of different voices and different opinions on books, movies, and music. You like our light-heartedness and our attention to the far corners of the web as well as the far corners of the county, bringing you news of book related events and happenings.

Some of you have not commented, either because you’re too shy or because nothing has moved you to comment yet. But many have also commented either for a point in Summer Reading for Adults or because a post has been enticing enough. Keep commenting. Don’t be shy! We love to hear from all of our readers.

As for what you’d like to see more of, there seems to be more divergence of opinions. Some want shorter posts, some want longer posts, some want to see more conversations and discussions, others had a very specific list of topics we could cover better. We thank you for all these suggestions and will definitely try to keep them in mind when writing our posts in the future.

Thanks again for reading and participating!

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Sep 24 2012

Curiosity

by Jnai W

I thought of naming this blog post, in homage to the recent spate of feline-inspired writings on DCPLive, “Okay, Enough With The Cat Posts, Already”. But I decided against such a tongue-in-cheek title for two reasons: 1) these cat posts are terrific (big ups to Veronica and Amanda) 2) I’m a cat person myself (big ups to my cat baby, Smudge) and 3) the idea of librarians having a deep-seated affinity for cats is the kernel at the center of this post.

(Okay, that was three reasons…)

There’s an immediate association with cats and curiosity that, as anyone who has even casually observed a cat in action knows, is more than just a stereotype. I beg to suggest that just as it is among a cat’s defining traits, curiosity is also a characteristic that proves indispensable for any self-respecting capital-L Librarian. I’ve come to this conclusion with the help of an incredible book that I’ve been listening to called This Book Is Overdue: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson. I was immediately struck by a passage early on in this book in which Johnson describes the nature of the library field and of its operatives. Any good librarian, according to Johnson, “possess[es] all of the skills and characteristics required for that work: curiosity, wide-ranging knowledge, good memories, organizational and analytical skills and discretion”. While all of these traits serve a librarian extremely well, curiosity, in my opinion, is arguably most crucial to anyone in this field. (And in touching on the cat-librarian dynamic for the second-to-last time here: name me one cat who doesn’t fit the aforementioned description of a librarian…and I’ll name you a very cleverly disguised dog—okay, just kidding, dog people). Johnson’s book is an incredibly insightful, well-written and informative read for anyone who might be curious about why, in the age of Google and Wikipedia, a good librarian is a terrible thing to waste.

My earliest memories of librarians—public, school and church librarians alike—were of people who seemed genuinely interested in answering any question posed to them. A great librarian need not know all of the answers but he should at the very least be as thirsty as his patron is for the answer.  Since the moment I stumble tush-over-tea-kettle into library work myself I’ve tried to treat every patron query as an opportunity to expand my own horizons in some way. Every question is an adventure. Every answer is a treasure. And many times the quest for knowledge is just as thrilling as the attainment of it.

And in touching on the cat-librarian dynamic for the last time: I’m not sure exactly what a cat does when she attains knowledge for a patron. Does she wind The Knowledge around her paws like so much baby yarn? Does she smack The Knowledge back and forth like some poor defenseless chipmunk caught in her clutches?  Or does she leave The Knowledge laying in the floor for me to trip over while she gives herself a bath? I’m curious…

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Sep 12 2012

Why Support Your Local Library?

by Jesse M

Take a look at this useful infographic detailing why it’s so important to support your local library. While it may seem counter-intuitive, library budgets need to be expanded during tough economic times rather than reduced, because demand for our services increases. Click the “read more” link to see the graphic.

[read the rest of this post…]

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Apr 27 2012

Oh BookMyne, How Do I Love Thee!

by Amanda L

I was fortunate enough to be one of the folks to test out this new mobile app (Android and Apple) for the Library. I have been using it for the last three months and have found it very valuable to me.  One of the biggest features I love about this app is that you are always logged into your account.  I can immediately see when I have an overdue item or when a request is available for pick-up by just tapping the app. Finally, I enjoy this app because I am constantly updating my reading lists on Goodreads. No longer do I need to log into my library account to request a book or open another browser application. I can easily go between my Goodreads app and my BookMyne app to find something new to read.

For New Users here are the steps to get started:

1.  You will need an Android or Apple device and select the app from their mobile store.

2. Once you download the application (from here if you have an Android and from here for Apple devices), you will need to open the BookMyne app on your device.

3. Either use the GPS or location service on your device or search for the Library to find the right location. For us, you need to look for DCPL-branch. For me, the GPS function did not work well so I used the search function. Make sure you search for DCPL-Stonecrest or whichever branch you prefer to be your “home” branch. (TIP- I just typed in DCPL and then the local branches came up. I then scrolled until I found the branch I wanted as my home library. It did take me a few tries to get the DCPL branches to show in the app.)

4. Tap the house to begin searching or to access your account for the first time. You will need to log into your account with your library card and pin number.

[read the rest of this post…]

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Apr 10 2012

National Library Workers’ Day

by David T

In conjunction with National Library Week, Tuesday, April 10 has been designated National Library Workers’ Day (NLWD) to honor the contributions of librarians, support staff, volunteers and others who make library services possible.

Library workers are responsible for a wide variety of services that patrons have come to expect from their libraries. They are in charge of more than just checking books in and out. Library workers catalog and shelve materials; retrieve requested items and send them to other libraries; answer phone calls and emails; organize programs and events; administer computer networks; update the library’s website; select and obtain books, CDs, DVDs, and databases; and much more.

Event organizers have invited library users to mark the occasion by “submitting a star” — telling everyone what makes a library employee special by submitting a favorite worker’s name and why he or she is wonderful. You’re encouraged to submit a star to the NLWD website, but feel free to make a comment here as well. We know there are many “stars” here in our own DCPL constellation—who’s yours?

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