One of Our New York Heritage Collections Prove Its Reason For Being

December 18th, 2014

We have described New York Heritage as a research portal for the 170 digital collections from across New York and an amazing site it is.  It’s interesting, surprising and a viewer can get lost in so many of the interest points in this vast, distinct and varied resource but what gratifies us is its use as a serious tool.  This is what we have envisioned New York Heritage’s main purpose and that certainly is realized every day as well as being a source of interest and awe.

To illustrate our resolve, the Niagara Falls Public Library tells us that an archaeologist, hired by New York State to dig at  Niagara Falls State Park to locate what is beneath the bridges and islands, has used the maps in their digitized collection on New York Heritage to coordinate the dig sites and that is exactly what we hoped and are grateful to be notified by satisfied users.

If you hear similar stories regarding the efficacy of New York Heritage, we’re eager to know.

Edmonton Public Library–Way More Than Just Books

December 8th, 2014

Some very strange happenings have occurred on the rocky road of financial shuffling and re-invention.  The library is in flux and that’s a given but there is probably no library, especially those urban and in the central core of an sizable city that has not dealt with being a “warming center” for those with nowhere else to go.  This has gone on since the dawn of central heating.  It would also be disingenuous to say that the presence of this particular societal sector has been ushered in with hospitality.  Often, elaborate seating, or lack thereof, has been designed to eliminate the possibility of long-term “guests” or those without specific library business at hand.  Security has sometimes been an issue and complaints have generally piled up against the homeless using the facilities as a daytime refuge.  However, a new day dawns and the library world is faced with reality and that fact is that not only do they have to become more visible to their patrons but all the patrons have varying degrees of need.  That librarians find themselves faced with, additionally, the role of social workers, is not new but what is, is they are embracing that role.  The fact is the library is the most comforting place for the homeless and offers facilities, books, movies and, simply, a place to be amid an environment that would prefer they not exist. Recognizing, finally, that a non-adversarial approach is the only way to everyone’s survival, many libraries have taken to working with social workers in the library to address the needs of this population.  A stellar example of this is the Edmonton Public Library’s outreach program to the homeless and the Alberta provincial government’s attention to their homeless population in general. Initially, the government provided over half a million dollars in funding for these programs.  That is what we call addressing a problem head-on.  Edmonton Public certainly is not the only library realizing what a social work hub they represent but it is a wonderful example of success.  Oh, and by the way, Edmonton Public Library is the Gale/LJ Library of the Year–not so coincidentally.  Read.

NPR’s Book Concierge

December 5th, 2014

There may be several reasons to recommend this website–NPR’s Book Conciergenot the least of which is the wonderful, easy and colorful way it’s designed.  Perhaps as librarians you do not feel you should be taking someone else’s recommendations for books but it certainly makes it easier to see, in one place, what’s new, what other people have already read and what you might recommend to a patron or friend.  Frankly, it’s a huge timesaver and libraries might note the beauty in its simplicity.  To listen to the program surrounding it:

An Education on Makerspaces by Jaclyn McKewan

December 4th, 2014

On December 1st, WNYLRC hosted a workshop, “Making the Making: Developing Makerspaces in Public Libraries.” Leah Kraus and Michael Cimino, both from the Fayetteville Free Library, in Fayetteville, NY, presented. Their library was the first to offer a Makerspace, which allows patrons to work on creative projects, both digital and physical.

It all started in 2011, when a student intern came up with the idea of offering 3D printing in the library. They frequently have interns from Syracuse University’s iSchool, and the library is very open to interns developing their own projects. Leah stated, “We leave the internships very open and let the students craft them,” which is a very forward-thinking stance. Later in the workshop, an attendee asked if there was anything different about Fayetteville that made them more innovative/progressive than others, and the presenters commented on the importance of having a director who’s supportive of new ideas. So it goes to show that having a culture that encourages innovation can pay off.

The library’s various Makerspace offerings (for on-site use) now include:
-a green screen wall for photography effects
-cameras and video cameras
-crafting tools
-digital media software
-sewing machines
-and lots more

In addition, there are clubs for younger library users, and classes for anyone to learn how to use the equipment. Any library offering a Makerspace needs to include education for patrons, as well as consider staffing issues for keeping the facilities supervised.

You can find out more about Fayetteville’s Makerspace  .


Simon & Schuster Re-Thinks Policy

December 2nd, 2014

We have posted frequently about the sometimes contentious meeting of the minds between publishers and librarians but, at the same time, we have noted that librarians are working earnestly to break down some of the barriers and to allow publishers to “see the light” through the library’s eyes. Apparently, some small success has been realized this last weeks as Simon & Schuster has backed off it’s mandatory “Buy It Now” button policy with libraries and S&S’s ebooks.  Prior to this “softening”, libraries were required to have a buy-it-now option for those ebooks.  This was fine with some institutions, and still is, primarily because they do receive a cut of the sale but for many libraries this goes against policy and is an affront to the free lending nature that forms the foundation of libraries.

Simon & Schuster’s re-thinking on the policy is being hailed as a step forward in the climb to a mutually agreeable business plan between publishers and librarians.  Read.