Here's a testimony on the self-educational power of libraries from the now late Ray Bradbury, forwarded to me by the ERIL-L listserv care of Walter Miale, who nicked the link from Andrew Sullivan, and excerpted here:
...I’m completely library educated. I’ve never been to college. I went down to the library when I was in grade school in Waukegan, and in high school in Los Angeles, and spent long days every summer in the library. I used to steal magazines from a store on Genesee Street, in Waukegan, and read them and then steal them back on the racks again. That way I took the print off with my eyeballs and stayed honest. I didn’t want to be a permanent thief, and I was very careful to wash my hands before I read them. But with the library, it’s like catnip, I suppose: you begin to run in circles because there’s so much to look at and read. And it’s far more fun than going to school, simply because you make up your own list and you don’t have to listen to anyone. When I would see some of the books my kids were forced to bring home and read by some of their teachers, and were graded on—well, what if you don’t like those books?
I am a librarian. I discovered me in the library. I went to find me in the library. Before I fell in love with libraries, I was just a six-year-old boy. The library fueled all of my curiosities, from dinosaurs to ancient Egypt. When I graduated from high school in 1938, I began going to the library three nights a week. I did this every week for almost ten years and finally, in 1947, around the time I got married, I figured I was done. So I graduated from the library when I was twenty-seven. I discovered that the library is the real school.
And when you're done with that, drop me a comment to let me know what the best way of tracking a trail of resource breadcrumbs like the above situation might be. We have four online and disparate sources that just happen to be connected through my clicking habits. There has to be an OpenURL gadget that does that, doesn't there? Yes? No? Anyone?
Posting has been a challenge lately. We are 4,000 or so volumes into our grand mission to RFID tag, weed, and inventory a 37,000 volume physical collection all at once, and it's been a struggle. We've managed after three weeks to get the entire staff trained (the younger ones are more relaxed with the equipment than the older staff, which is not that big of a surprise. Not because the older ones are older--read: near retirement--but none of them are very relaxed around PCs.) I'll post more about the details of this project at some point in the future. (Promise!)
Anyway, I clipped this column entitled Ten Things You Need to Know About Knowledge Management from Steve Denning at Forbes.com a few weeks ago in the expectation that I'd be able to poke some vague fun at it at some point. And so I am. But the truth is it's not bad advice as far as general principles go. It's long winded, however, so I'm going to just sum up the bullet points.
The essentials are these:
1. Knowledge is infinite, money is not. (Duh!)
2. Knowledge has no intrinsic value. (Of what use is the knowledge of fishing to a man who wants to build a camp fire?)
3. Money spent on non-utilized knowledge is gone. (That's a bit of a fallacy. The money is gone no matter what the outcome, but you get the idea.)
4. An institutional knowledge base may become a set of blinders. (Remember to look outside the box now and then.)
5. The really interesting stuff is not going to be from your organization. (Diversify!)
6. Effective use of a knowledge base may require exceptional expertise . . .
7. . . . and that expertise may evaporate. (Sometimes very suddenly.)
8. The value of knowledge lies in improved outcomes. (See my campfire example on number 2.)
9. What constitutes an improved outcome depends on the organizations' strategy. (A rod and reel company that intends to develop a client base of fishermen should not try to reach them buy selling fireplaces.)
10. Measure outcomes against the organizational strategy. (Apples to apples.)
Of these tidbits, I'd pay particular attention to the first half of the list. We all want as much as possible to be available for our patrons but can rarely afford more than a few choice subscriptions. But subscriptions from expensive vendors are not useful merely because they're expensive; they're important because our patrons need them for their work. If not, then you're out twenty grand and you won't get to redeploy those funds until a year from now. Do not be afraid to look to non-traditional vendors for useful additions to your collections.
The biggest problem with a full time librarian job: no time to write. Not a huge amount of time to read, either. It’s the greatest existential problem of working with books for a living: you are literally surrounded by tens of thousands of tomes for the taking and instead of picking one (or two, or twenty) up, cracking the cover, and letting the rush of prose engulf you over the course of an afternoon, you’re stuck having to remain at a respectful distance. Time is the enemy.
In my case, I have other writing projects on the table, too, and often the opportunity to finish everything in a concentrated wave of activity just isn’t there. One effect of this situation is no time to write. And, as I said, perilously little time to read. With so little reading time, what do you read? Non-fiction is simpler than fiction in that the subject matter determines the need and then personal interests–a favorite author, a notable organization of the material, a book jacket that catches your eye–take over to help you make that final determination. There are many things to agonize over if you don’t want to take a gamble on wasting your time.
Andrea Cumbo over at Andilit.com picked five elements that rang true with me. Those five are:
1. Characters That Feel Real I don’t care if it’s fiction or nonfiction; if the characters seem too perfect or too one-sided (too “flat” to use the writing teacher term), I get bored or annoyed very quickly. I love characters who are flawed and who make mistakes, and I also love characters who seem to mostly get it wrong but also get it right in just brilliant, profound, sparkly ways.
2. Beautiful Language I adore sentences that move like water, trickling through and around or rushing over and easing off the edges. I also adore sentences that sound authentic, as if the character or narrator really said them (and hopefully, the writer actually did – there’s so much to be gained from reading our work out loud.) I love the opening lines of Lolita for their consonance and lulling sound, but I also love how James Baldwin’s words get all choppy and sharp when he speaks of anger.
3. Complex Relationships In a piece of writing, if two characters show some complexity in their relationship, I’m hooked. I’ve never had a relationship where everything was easy, so when I see that played out on the page, I watch closely, partially to see I”m not alone in this experience and partially to get some tips on how to do better in my own friendships. In nonfiction, if a writer can do this, I find it masterful – see Anne Lamott, who manages to show us the complexities of her relationships without having to give us much beyond her own thinking about them.
4. A Good Sense of Time One of the things that’s most difficult for me in some writing, particularly by newer writers, is that it loses a sense of time. I don’t know how much time has passed between actions, or I’m not sure what time period the story is set in. Maybe it’s just that I”m typically hyper-aware of time, but when I don’t know where in a day or year I am, I get frustrated. Good example – The Lord of the Rings; we always know how long Frodo and the boys have been on the road.
5. Honesty For me, all good writing comes down to this – is the writer willing to be honest? This is one of the reasons I love Denis Johnson and Kathleen Norris. It’s why I adore Thomas Merton and so appreciate Chaim Potok. They are able to be honest on the page, even if their characters are not. In fiction, this honesty is complex because it may mean creating a dishonest character but signalling to the reader that the character isn’t trustworthy (a la The Great Gatsby). In nonfiction, my favorite moments are when the narrator admits something we don’t usually speak to anyone but, perhaps, our closest friends. I find there’s a great strength and freedom in those moments.
It’s not the most complete list of this type I’ve ever seen but it is the most concise and well-defined. You can read the whole thing here, and I’d suggest setting a few minutes of your Friday aside to do so. Enjoy!
You've heard by now that author Ray Bradbury passed on yesterday. There's not much more to say beyond the fact that he will be missed. I choose to think of the fact that he published a short piece in the New Yorker a few days before his death titled "Take me Home" in which he discusses the inspiration for "The Fire Balloons" a beautiful short story that appeared in The Illustrated Man and some editions of The Martian Chronicles as a bit of vaguely supernatural nifty. It explores the intersection of religion and science fiction, as a priest from Earth seeks to evangelize alien entities on Mars, only to discover that he has things to learn from them.
I’m writing a science fiction book. Actually, I’ve written the book already. Actually, I’ve shown the manuscript to an editor, and she likes it. She liked earlier versions of the script, made some suggestions, and now she likes it even more. She wants to see it in print, and so do I. So that’s good news.
The bad news is the sheer tedium of the process of turning a manuscript (idea) into a book (product). There are meetings: with the editor, with the editor’s boss, another with the editor, then with the editor’s other boss. There are conversations: with the editor, then between the editor and the agent, then between the editor, the editor’s other boss, and the other boss’s lawyer, then with the editor, the editor’s boss’s lawyer and the boss’s agent—then with the new agent—then with the new new agent—and you get the idea. It’s a process. A slow, ugly, infuriating process, that reminds one of why we rarely enjoy finding out how the sausages are made. But at the end is a book on a shelf in a book store with my name on it. That’s the plan. More news as it happens, but this is a long-term project.
In the mean time, I decided to take on a few other tasks. First, I'm planning on moving this blog from its current Typepad account to a self-hosted Wordpress.org one. I had a few reasons for that: first, I needed a reason to improve my coding skills. Having my own sandbox forces me to improve my HTML, CSS, and PHP. If all goes according to schedule, I'll have the new site up and running by the end of June. I'll keep you informed as new things happen.
If you want to take a look at what's already there, be my guest. Just be aware that it's a work in progress, and there's a lot more work to do. I haven't transferred the link lists over yet, or set up menu bars. I need a better looking banner. The end result will look different but have the same essential functionality. (Comments and suggestions are welcome.)
Beyond that, I'm supposed to send an article about stress management to a different editor within two weeks, so that's taking my time. Oh, and Lara and I have decided to try our hand at e-publishing. That will be a blast, especially considering that her brother's small press, Ig Publishing, just celebrated its tenth anniversary.
And in the immediate future, I'm going to do my best to keep to this new posting schedule: new posts on Tuesdays and Thursdays at a minimum. It keeps me focused. I need that.
I'm just going to let the obituaries speak for themselves here:
I remember the first time I saw a Maurice Sendak book. It was In The Night Kitchen. I was eleven or twelve, and had been given a small allowance by my parents to buy my littlest sister, who did not read, books, if I would read them to her. I loved books and reading aloud. In The Night Kitchen was liberating, transgressive, and a dream come to life: I understood the nakedness, could not understand why all the chefs were Oliver Hardy but loved that all the chefs were Oliver Hardy. Years later I discovered Little Nemo in Slumberland, and In The Night Kitchen came into focus.
Maurice Sendak looks like one of his own creations: beady eyes, pointy eyebrows, the odd monsterish tuft of hair and a reputation for fierceness that makes you tip-toe up the path of his beautiful house in Connecticut like a child in a fairytale. Sendak has lived here for 40 years – until recently with his partner Eugene, who died in 2007; and now alone with his dog, Herman (after Melville), a large alsatian who barges to the door to greet us. "He's German," says Sendak, getting up from the table where he is doing a jigsaw puzzle of a monster from his most famous book, Where the Wild Things Are. Sotto voce, he adds: "He doesn't know I'm Jewish."
I didn't set out to make children happy. Or make life better for them. Or easier for them.... I like them as few and for between as I do adults. Maybe a bit more because I really don't like adults.
In 1993, the great Art Spiegelman visited Maurice Sendak and drew the experience for the New Yorker. With the passing of Mr. Sendak, the magazine has unlocked the two page comic – as suggested Neil Gaiman on Twitter. Thank you to the New Yorker for making this available to all.
Sendak appeared on Fresh Air with Terry Gross several times over the years. In 1989, he told Terry Gross that he didn't ever write with children in mind — but that somehow what he wrote turned out to be for children nonetheless.
Good night, Sir, you will be missed.
Spring 2012 Evening Program
E-Books: New Links in the Chain
Denise Hibay, Assistant Chief Librarian for Collection Development, New York Public Library
Susan Marcin, Licensed Electronic Resources Librarian in the Continuing and Electronic Resources Management Department at Columbia University
Barbara Rockenbach, Director of the Humanities and History Libraries at Columbia University
Thursday, May 10, 2012
Meeting & Program: 6:30-8:00 PM
The New York Public Library
Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
South Court Auditorium
476 Fifth Avenue (at 42nd Street)
New York, NY 10018
REGISTRATION DEADLINE: Friday, May 4, 2012.
My wife brought home the book Fifty Shades of Gray on her Kindle app and has been working her way through it over the past few days. It's making her crazy. But not in a good way. It's making her angry. The she gets bored. Then she gets angry again.
She's 150 pages into a 500 page book which is ostensibly a BDSM novel and there hasn't been a single beating yet, with only one vanilla sex scene. Had this thing been a physical volume she'd have thrown it against the wall by now. I'm just glad she thinks more highly of her iPad.
Usually, in a reader's advisory post I take the trouble to read the book, but sometimes you just have to let the links do it for you. To wit:
I decided to read Fifty Shades of Grey on my Nook while using public transportation, in an attempt to experience that furtive feeling that has been described in so many major news articles.
If by some chance you can picture yourself in love again, by all means, express that in a story about a domineering, rich bastard who abuses young virgins.
If you've ever read the book, like I unfortunately have, you were probably as shocked as I was at how boring the whole (loooooong) thing is.
"All that? But...how is that possible? It all sounds crazy! And yet...when I look into your charcoal eyes under that irrepressible lock of ebony hair, as I run my searching, trembling fingers across the steel buttons on your sable silk shirt, all I can think of is...Jesus Christ, I am so horny I can die. I think. But I don't really know, because of the virgin thing!"
Friends don't let friends write boring porn.
To learn more about the Pew Internet Project’s research on e-reading and public libraries, which is entirely free and available to the public, visit http://libraries.pewinternet.org .
On April 4th--that is, this Wednesday--I'll be at METRO talking about my chapter on library security for How to Thrive as a Solo Librarian, including a report on Todd the Library Vandal, who appears (briefly) in the chapter. There's still plenty of room so if this sounds interesting to you, RSVP to Tom Neilsen.
Hope to see you there!
Just a quick reminder that this Friday the 23rd of March will be the New York Technical Services (NYTSL) Spring Reception. The event will be at the Butler Library at Columbia University, Room 523 from 3pm to 5pm.
This is an opportunity for librarians, archivists, and information professionals from the metropolitan area to meet informally. It is also a chance for library school students to learn about the various professional organizations in the metropolitan area and to meet future colleagues and employers. Nobody ever lost a job by networking.
It's free and wine and cheese will be served. The only catch is that you must register beforehand. We have a few spots left, so if you'd like to register for the event, just drop me a line.
I hope to see you there.
A couple of days ago an online friend updated his FB status to say "Athens is burning." It took me a few minutes to figure out that this was not hyperbole, that parts of that great city were actually on fire. I tried to think of some pithy (or just funny) comment to make--maybe something with Spartans--and it didn't work. Some things are too important for jokes. A cabal of ethically challenged bankers loading Greece's government with more debt than it could ever possibly repay, then insisting that they pay it or else, falls into that category.
The following essay on the subject of Greece, its recent past, and its probable future appeared on Charles Hugh Smith's daily Of Two Minds blog, and it's worth reading in its entirety:
Greece is the epicenter of a drama that threatens to unwind with all the intrigue and subterfuge of ancient Greek myths and tragedies. As with the legend of Icarus, big, and now bigger, transnational banks provoked the gods with their wax-and-feather financial fabrications to create the appearance of soaring wealth. Now that they have flown too close to the sun and their wings have melted, these banks are being brought to earth by the obligations and consequences imposed by their fabrications. Rather than take responsibility, these banks seek to appease the gods by sacrificing taxpayers. In fact, if one looks closely, these banks aspire to be gods themselves. They clothe themselves in their indispensability and shield themselves from accountability with tales about how many innocent citizens will be hurt if they don’t get their next bailout. It is as if they say, “We are above the law… We are the law.” Mathematics, legal enforcement, restraint, humility all must fall under the sword of their hubris. In the end, just as with a Greek tragedy or a Yeats poem, this center cannot hold and things fall apart. When one abuses the laws and principles of mathematics and capitalism, claiming to be a faithful servant, consequence and accountability eventually catch up. The breaking point inexorably nears. Citizens are beginning to think, voice, and act: “We can do without the false idols that call themselves banks. In fact, we need them to be dissolved for us to survive and thrive.” Reality is the revenge of the gods.
Greece is the epicenter of a drama that threatens to unwind with all the intrigue and subterfuge of ancient Greek myths and tragedies. As with the legend of Icarus, big, and now bigger, transnational banks provoked the gods with their wax-and-feather financial fabrications to create the appearance of soaring wealth. Now that they have flown too close to the sun and their wings have melted, these banks are being brought to earth by the obligations and consequences imposed by their fabrications.
Rather than take responsibility, these banks seek to appease the gods by sacrificing taxpayers. In fact, if one looks closely, these banks aspire to be gods themselves. They clothe themselves in their indispensability and shield themselves from accountability with tales about how many innocent citizens will be hurt if they don’t get their next bailout. It is as if they say, “We are above the law… We are the law.” Mathematics, legal enforcement, restraint, humility all must fall under the sword of their hubris.
In the end, just as with a Greek tragedy or a Yeats poem, this center cannot hold and things fall apart. When one abuses the laws and principles of mathematics and capitalism, claiming to be a faithful servant, consequence and accountability eventually catch up. The breaking point inexorably nears. Citizens are beginning to think, voice, and act: “We can do without the false idols that call themselves banks. In fact, we need them to be dissolved for us to survive and thrive.”
Reality is the revenge of the gods.
SOPA/PIPA: What You Need to Know, from Political Hotsheet.
That is all.
Gene Marks, a contributor to Forbes Magazine, (herein known by the phrase Rich White Guy, or RWG) offered some advice to an archtypical Poor Black Kid (PBK) last week regarding how to educate himself out of the ghetto by means of modern technology. I'm not going to discuss his qualifications for giving advice of this type (none), nor the possibility that he has no idea what he's talking about (significant), nor the barely concealed privilege and racism of his remarks. That's been done very well elsewhere.
I want to talk about his advice to "get technical."
If I was a poor black kid I would get technical. I would learn software. I would learn how to write code. I would seek out courses in my high school that teaches these skills or figure out where to learn more online. I would study on my own. I would make sure my writing and communication skills stay polished.
So, Poor Black Kid (PBK) will need textbooks and a lot of time to sit down in a quiet place where he won't be interrupted to study. That such places in urban settings can be few and far between doesn't seem to have occurred to RWG. The same goes for PBK's polishing his written communication skills. Want to learn to write well? Read several hundred books, several thousand articles, and write a thousand words or more a day for a year. That's how it's done. Time, space, and solitude are what's needed. Public libraries would be good spaces to do this in if they weren't being de-funded left and right.
Part the second:
And I would use the technology available to me as a student. I know a few school teachers and they tell me that many inner city parents usually have or can afford cheap computers and internet service nowadays. That because (and sadly) it’s oftentimes a necessary thing to keep their kids safe at home than on the streets. And libraries and schools have computers available too. Computers can be purchased cheaply at outlets like TigerDirect and Dell’s Outlet. Professional organizations like accountants and architects often offer used computers from their members, sometimes at no cost at all.
At first glance this is not bad advice, but again, it misses the point. Three things stand out to me as a guy who sold computers and the components that went into them for years. First, schools and libraries (not to mention school libraries) in neighborhoods where Poor Black Kids go to school are likely to be poorly funded, staffed and maintained. The value of the equipment they have is directly proportional to the amount of money spent, which, as I said, is not likely to be high. So the equipment this kid is meant to educate himself on is likely to be old and semi-functional, or non-functional at least part of the time.
Second, what he calls "cheap" computers generally don't last more than a couple of years. That's why they are cheap. If you spent several thousand dollars at Dell to get the good stuff, then pay for a top-tier service contract on top of that, you get real customer service. If you didn't, you get sent to Dell Hell where you get to spend a fortune in phone charges listening to some guy with an ESL accent insist that you should turn your PC off and then on again. Third, yes, professional organizations often offer perks to their members but Poor Black Kid is obviously not a member of these fraternities yet, so this tidbit falls a bit flat.
If I was a poor black kid I’d use the free technology available to help me study. I’d become expert at Google Scholar. I’d visit study sites like SparkNotes and CliffsNotes to help me understand books. I’d watch relevant teachings on Academic Earth, TED and the Khan Academy. (I say relevant because some of these lectures may not be related to my work or too advanced for my age. But there are plenty of videos on these sites that are suitable to my studies and would help me stand out.) I would also, when possible, get my books for free at Project Gutenberg and learn how to do research at the CIA World Factbook and Wikipedia to help me with my studies.
Now we get serious. It's time for Tech Talk.
"Free" is a relative term. Air and water are free until you need someone (say, the government) to guarantee it's safe to breathe and drink, or unless you want to take it with you in a big tank. That takes money. Technology in all its myriad forms, applications, and performances, takes real money to make happen. What RWG doesn't seem to get is this: what he calls free technology is only available because thousands of people who produce it worked long hours with no pay then made a conscious choice to give it away it for free. Textbooks--the mainstay of higher education in the industrialized world--are never free, and they are what the education industry thrives on: text book sales. (Forbes, being a publisher of some note, surely understands this.)
So. Does PBK have to pay for the software? No. But will he have to scrape up $80 for a 6-inch Kindle or more for a Netbook or laptop to make use of this online material? You bet your booty.
Anyway, here's an experiment for you: send your application to harvard with the words "Self educated by means of free technology" scrawled on it instead of a high school transcript, and then call them a week later and see how you did. If you're accepted, I'll eat a bug.
I don't have a problem with Google Scholar per se (I'm unsure if it will ever live up to the hype but that's another post), but in my experience both as a teacher and student, services like Spark Notes and Cliff Notes do more to wreck kids' ability to read a book than anything else. You won't understand the book any better, you just get exposed to a slim cross-section of it. That's not reading. That's cramming for an exam. Not a habit PBK should be cultivating this early in his academic career. Sources like TED and KhanAcademy are worthwhile, or one could be really ambitious and take a look at MIT's Open Courseware website.
I love Project Gutenberg. How can you not like a source of 36,000 free ebooks for download to a PC or portable device? The books are high-quality items all produced by bona fide publishers, and are made available through the effort of thousands of volunteers. The trouble is that these books are not generally textbooks. Classics, yes, and lots of them (here's the top 100 titles by download), but Business, Science, and Math classes don't use the classics. They use textbooks. Those are expensive and not generally available on line except in the most expensive universities.
The CIA World Fact Book, also isn't a bad resource. It's not the most easily accessible almanac in the world but, yes, it is complete, as long as you remember that its data are limited to descriptions of countries. Wikipedia, on the other hand is not a primary resource. For anything. Ever. Why? It's written and edited by absolutely everyone regardless of background, education, or research. Some articles are clearly better (or worse) than others, but using Wikipedia as a primary source is a sure ticket to an F from any competent teacher.
That said, one thing Wikipedia can be extremely useful for is to show you where else to look for source material. Scan the article, then go to the reference links. Those will lead you to better sources.
I would use homework tools like Backpack, and Diigo to help me store and share my work with other classmates. I would use Skype to study with other students who also want to do well in my school. I would take advantage of study websites like Evernote, Study Rails, Flashcard Machine, Quizlet, and free online calculators.
I won't argue with any of this on a point-for-point basis, as they are good suggestions for people who make continual and substantive use of online files. But--and you knew there'd be a but--Diigo, Backpack, Evernote and all those other good suggestions require all participants to have a PC of his or her own. In poor families, you're more likely to see one device shared among several people, or none at all. Again, Poor Black Kid is more likely to be relying on crappy equipment and spotty online access than not. These well-meant ideas don't work so well under those conditions.
I don't know what exactly our Rich White Guy thought he was thinking when he wrote this. None of it this is bad advice as far as it goes. But it seems inappropriate to me. It assumes that Poor Black Kids go to schools that are equally well funded and equipped as Rich White Kids' schools. That is not the case. It hasn't been the case for decades. Up to date textbooks, equipment, competent and well-paid teachers, and the time and opportunity to study are what make mediocre students into good ones and good students into great ones.
So . . . yes. Medicore White Guy is technically correct even as he misses (or obfuscates) the larger point: Poor Black Kid can use technology to help educate himself out of the inner city. Possibly even into a job in Big White Sky Building. But the tech he probably has access to will break often, take a lot longer to work, and the experience will suck.
But hey, at least it's possible, right?
I'll merely point out that this is why you need an archivist on your staff:
A curious library caretaker in the Bavarian city of Passau has discovered a treasure trove of ancient silver coins and medals that went overlooked for more than two centuries. The surprise find is reportedly worth as much as six figures.
Janitor Tanja Höls had often passed by an unassuming wooden box stowed away in an archive in Passau's historic state library, but it wasn't until about two weeks ago that curiosity got the best of her and she was decided take a look inside.
What she found were dozens of coins, most of them made of silver. "I had no idea that I'd found a treasure," the 43-year-old told the German news agency DAPD on Wednesday. But when she told the head of the library in the Bavarian city what she had seen, he soon realized their value.
"This find is a real bonanza," Markus Wennerhold said, adding that it happened to coincide with preparations for the library's 400th anniversary.
The library believes that the collection of 172 well-preserved coins likely belonged to Passau's prince-bishops. Wennerhold suspects that they were hidden there around 1803 during Germany's secularization, when such church assets were transferred to the state. They may have wanted to keep them out of the hands of tax officials.
Read the whole article here.
For Immediate Release
November 17, 2011
Contact: Macey Morales
CHICAGO -The People’s Library, a library constructed by the New York Occupy Wall Street movement, was seized in the early morning hours of Nov. 15, by the New York Police Department during a planned raid to evict Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park. The library held a collection of more than 5,000 items and provided free access to books, magazines, newspapers and other materials. According to ALA members who visited the site, the library reflected many of ALA’s core intellectual freedom values and best practices—a balanced, cataloged collection, representing diverse points of view, that included children’s books and reference service often provided by professional librarians.
City officials assured library staff that library materials would be safely transported to a sanitation depot, but the majority of the collection is still missing and returned items were damaged, including laptops and other equipment. The likelihood of recovering all library materials is bleak, as witnesses reported that library materials were thrown into dumpsters by police and city sanitation workers.
Longstanding ALA policy states:
“The American Library Association deplores the destruction of libraries, library collections and property, and the disruption of the educational purpose by that act, whether it be done by individuals or groups of individuals and whether it be in the name of honest dissent, the desire to control or limit thought or ideas, or for any other purpose.”
American Library Association (ALA) President Molly Raphael released the following statement regarding the destruction of the People’s Library:
“The dissolution of a library is unacceptable. Libraries serve as the cornerstone of our democracy and must be safeguarded. An informed public constitutes the very foundation of a democracy, and libraries ensure that everyone has free access to information.
“The very existence of the People’s Library demonstrates that libraries are an organic part of all communities. Libraries serve the needs of community members and preserve the record of community history. In the case of the People’s Library, this included irreplaceable records and material related to the occupation movement and the temporary community that it represented.
“We support the librarians and volunteers of the Library Working Group as they re-establish the People’s Library.”
The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with more than 60,000 members. Its mission is to promote the highest quality library and information services and public access to information.
To comment, share, or see related resources and images, go here.
From the enterprising souls at BoingBoing:
I came across this article by Kathleen Peine at the CounterPunch.org website, and I'm posting this excerpt as a follow-up to my post from yesterday regarding the destruction of the #OWS People's Library by the NYPD:
Here’s a little trick brought to you by a lover of simplicity: did you know that you can look at any political group or entity in power…then look at how they treat books. Do they value or destroy them? This will allow you to figure out who the good guys are! Pretty simple, huh? Decent entities do not fear sunlight or the free exchange of ideas. It’s a certain truth. Folks who burn books or tear down libraries are never who you want in charge. But they always seem to find their way there, don’t they? It’s obvious when a nation has reached a dangerous time -when books are targeted as dangerous trash to remove. Hey, that’s sort of how they treated the OWS protesters themselves. They are full of ideas and open horizons – the Bloomberg billionaires don’t want that sort of thing to dwell in the minds of the staff (or would be staff). And the first OWS encampment was a hotbed for the sharing of these ideals. And let me get this straight….in order to improve on the hygiene of the park; they took items in trash trucks to redistribute later? Sure. None of it makes sense because once again, they destroy to save, beat to bring order, and create filth to bring cleanliness.
Here’s a little trick brought to you by a lover of simplicity: did you know that you can look at any political group or entity in power…then look at how they treat books. Do they value or destroy them? This will allow you to figure out who the good guys are! Pretty simple, huh? Decent entities do not fear sunlight or the free exchange of ideas. It’s a certain truth. Folks who burn books or tear down libraries are never who you want in charge. But they always seem to find their way there, don’t they?
It’s obvious when a nation has reached a dangerous time -when books are targeted as dangerous trash to remove. Hey, that’s sort of how they treated the OWS protesters themselves. They are full of ideas and open horizons – the Bloomberg billionaires don’t want that sort of thing to dwell in the minds of the staff (or would be staff). And the first OWS encampment was a hotbed for the sharing of these ideals.
And let me get this straight….in order to improve on the hygiene of the park; they took items in trash trucks to redistribute later? Sure.
None of it makes sense because once again, they destroy to save, beat to bring order, and create filth to bring cleanliness.
Read the whole thing here.
No, I'm not being facetious or hyperbolic. In their effort to "clean up" (Newspeak for "evict and intimidate") the Zuccotti Park OWS crowd last night, the police tossed over 5,000 books into dump trucks. Those books were private donations by people who happened to give a shit about educating their fellow men and women in the ways of the world. Thanks to what amounts to police state politics they are gone, and they are not coming back. If I had to assume a cost of the lost items I'd make it somewhere in the twenty-five to thirty thousand dollar range. I don't know about you, but for us that several semesters worth of book budgeting.
From Media Bistro:
The Occupy Wall Street librarians have been tweeting the eviction all night: “NYPD destroying american cultural history, they’re destroying the documents, the books, the artwork of an event in our nation’s history … Right now, the NYPD are throwing over 5,000 books from our library into a dumpster. Will they burn them? … Call 311 or 212-639-9675 now and ask why Mayor Bloomberg is throwing the 5,554 books from our library into a dumpster.”
From the NY Times:
The operation in and around Zuccotti Park was intended to empty the birthplace of a protest movement that has inspired hundreds of tent cities from coast to coast. On Monday in Oakland, Calif., hundreds of police officers raided the main encampment there, arresting 33 people. Protesters returned later in the day. But the Oakland police said no one would be allowed to sleep there anymore, and promised to clear a second camp nearby.
And, since a picture is worth a thousand words, from Animal New York:
The one bright spot in all this mishegos is the fact that the courts are fimly on the side of the occupiers, at least when it comes to illegal random seizures of their belongings and space. Bloomberg is trying to nullify that, too.
So bite me, Mike Bloomberg. Bite me hard.
By which I mean of course that today is November11l, 2011, abbreviated in many parts of the world as 11/11/11 and I have arranged for this to post at 11:11:11 am EST. That won't happen again for twelve whole hours, unless you keep military time in which case it will never happen again.
Some quick and dirty properties of Eleven: obviously, it is a prime number, the 5th smallest prime number. It is the smallest two-digit prime number in the decimal base; as well as, of course, in undecimal (where it is the smallest two-digit number). It is also the smallest three-digit prime in ternary, and the smallest four-digit prime in binary, (who knew?) but a single-digit prime in bases larger than eleven, such as duodecimal, hexadecimal, vigesimal and sexagesimal. 11 is the fourth Sophie Germain prime, the third safe prime, the fourth Lucas prime, the first repunit prime, and the second good prime. Although it is necessary for n to be prime for 2n − 1 to be a Mersenne prime, the converse is not true: 211 − 1 = 2047 which is 23 × 89. The next prime is 13, with which it comprises a twin prime. 11 is an Eisenstein prime with no imaginary part and real part of the form 3n − 1. Displayed on a calculator, 11 is a strobogrammatic prime and a dihedral prime because it reads the same whether the calculator is turned upside down or reflected on a mirror, or both.
Or, that's what Wikipedia tells me. For the moment, I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt.
George Takei on his FB status update said that it's "the one day when dyslexia has no power." One may also think of it as a pair of conjoined yet independent trilogies of prime numbers. I see the same prime number over and over again.
Happy 11:11:11 on 11/11/11! (See you in twelve hours. Or not.)