Tiny library raises money with tiny uke and awesome video

Blackbeltlibrarian sez, "The Shutesbury Public Library in Shutesbury, Massachusetts is seeking funding in order to build a new building to replace their charming but woefully inadequate current one (which features no running water!). In order to get the word out staff and patrons created this cute little video in order to show the shortcomings of their current location, as well as what they could do with a new building."

Where would you be without your library?


    1.  What a suck ass idea. Just guessing here that you don’t go to a library. There is nothing more awesome than to wander around in a room full of (hopefully organized) books.  You should see just one floor of the Perry Castanada library here in Austin at UT. It is a bit like looking at infinity. And this is merely the main branch. I defy you to try and wander around with your crappy e-reader and get the same result.

      1. Can you provide transportation to everyone who can’t get to the library on their own?

        I also take issue with your insult of e-readers. I love my e-reader. I also love reading normal books. I do both depending on the situation.

        Do you also not watch TV? Back in your day did you go up hill both ways? Seriously, this “crappy e-reader” comment of yours smacks of “GET OFF MY LAWN!”

        All that said, nothing beats an actual, physical library. But, that’s not always feasible for everyone.

      2.  I fear you confuse “community center” with library.  Dead trees cost too much, better to accept inevitable change intelligently and maximize resources.

        Further,  I require you to adjust your tone if you wish to speak to me.

        1. Actually, a lot of libraries these days do double as community centres. And I do get most of my e-books from my library.

        2.  Guess what?  Trees grow back.  More trees are destroyed in forest fires than are used for books.  If crews were allowed to harvest the trees, create fire lanes, plant new trees…you’d have smaller, more contained forest fires.  But try telling that to some misguided “environmentalist” who thinks trees are like people.

          Libraries are more than places where people go to get free books.  They are symbols.  Symbols of what we as a civilized society believe is important.  Knowledge,  free speech,  learning and actual physical books.  Those books are the building blocks,  the foundation of our culture and our country.   The day that a library becomes a big room full of servers and computer screens, is a day I hope I never see.

        3. How many dead trees does it take to power any electrical device to charge? or undo the damage the chemicals make whiled making or recycling said device? high numbers. I enjoy both e-Books, and dead tree books, and from a personal perspective I’d say both have merits, but a dead tree works when the land has had no power for a lifetime and there are no servers left to authenticate you DRM riddled device, and you don’t need to burn a tree to make another tree work. 

          An e-Book is a solitary device, but a book made from paper is a very public thing. You go to a library to borrow a book, you buy books from every shop in the high street, or just about anywhere in the world where people gather or wait, for example train stations and airports. You don’t see any of them selling e-Books – heck if you go to an airport your more likely to have the e-book taken off you by security. My point being, you meet people if you buy a paper book, but you sit on your own, in front of a PC screen to buy an e-Book.

          Both formats have merits, but you don’t see teaching a child to read, or be ‘book’ sociable in a library environment in a room full of computers renting electrons.

        4. In rural Western MA, the library is the community center.  It is the cultural center of the community.  Many people rely on the library to get access to public services, job searches, local cultural activities.  If there is no space in the library, then these things simply do not happen in a rural community.  As I wrote before, Western MA does not yet posses the infrastructure to make use of the sorts of technology that is available elsewhere.  It is not “inevitable” that those changes will occur here. 

    2. Ever try downloading a book with dial up internet?  Shutesbury is in a rural area with heavy forest cover.  Very few people have access to high speed internet.  Those that are able to get (and afford) satellite reception would eat up their band width rapidly if they downloaded more than a few books or periodicals a month.  Nice idea but not really practical here.  

  1. Nine hundred square feet for a population of about 1,800?   Seems pretty good, actually.

    1. Does spending $1500 per resident for a big new building make sense, in a community with a per capita income of $26K?  With the $180K they’ve raised themselves, they should be able to build a 2000-3000 square-foot house (if they have room on existing city land), complete with heat and running water.  For library use they’d be better off with a one-story building, but unlike a house they don’t need kitchens.

      If they’re spending ten times that much money, will the new building also be serving the rest of the county, or just the town?

      1. It does actually.  The state library system is interconnected.  I can borrow a book from one library and have it delivered in my library and no charge to me and without the hassle of filling out a form for inter-library loan.  I’m a library trustee from the town next to Shutesbury.  Our circulation in 2011 was such that we loaned as many books to other libraries as we loaned to patrons in our library.  We not only served our town but much of the state of MA.  

        Also, in MA building is not cheap.  Even in a rural area, even with local rough cut lumber for structural lumber and reclaimed building materials elsewhere, building costs alone are over $100/square foot.  A build-able lot here runs $20K and acre on the low end and more around $35k on average.  If you can find a lot that is build-able in Shutesbury due to the terrain (it is hilly and rocky here) and the amount of land in conservation restrictions. That said this isn’t a residence, it is a public building.  In MA, the state mandates a number of requirements that municipal governments must follow that jack the cost up to ridiculous levels.  There is no city water system so you have to dig a well.  There is no city sewer system so you have to put in a MA approved septic which is very expensive.  Those two items will probably total more than $100k by themselves here.  Add in handicap accessibility,  MA state fire codes, minimum energy efficiency requirements on doors and windows… it adds up fast.

  2. It’s great when libraries can do new things like this particularly when they need people’s support just to survive. And they’re more important than ever in an information-rich society.

    Next Tuesday, hundreds of people in London are going to lobby Parliament in support of the UK’s threatened public libraries. Check out the Speak Up For Libraries website http://www.speakupforlibraries.org/ for more information.

  3. This library is heavily used and too small for the needs to this community.  There’s also NO running water which is more than a minor convenience.  Not only does a library in a small community provide books, it also serves as a meeting space, hosts a number of children’s programs and generally improves the lives of the people who live there.  It’d be great if everyone contributed even just a small amount to help them achieve their goal of $1.4 million to allow them to receive the state money to make the necessary improvements on the building.

    1. Why, after 100 years of serving our community, is this library suddenly too small? Whole classrooms of children used this library before we built a new school which has a wonderful library.

  4.  Subsidized e-readers don’t teach you how to use them, are usually laden with DRM and bandwidth restrictions and still, in 2012, have a very teeny subset of the content available in or through a public library in the US. Libraries in the US and elsewhere offer [as the video shows] significantly more public services than just books to read, they have human staff to help you, programming to bring the community together, a truly PUBLIC space that is for everyone and an enduring community tradition. Their value goes way beyond just having books, but part of that value is as a true public community space.

      1. Canada has national and state funding for the public library system (unlike the US) and I don’t really see them getting rid of their books or buildings, just supplementing them which is what the libraries in the US are generally doing also.

          1.  Well, I work with mostly tiny rural libraries in the US so I’d like to see them continue to be the public spaces they’ve been for 200 years. Spaces that belong to everyone where there are people whose [well-paying] job it is to connect people with the information they want, regardless of format, to entertain themselves or solve problems. I think having a space is going to be important for the next several decades as long as we’ve still got double-digit numbers of people [19% at last count] who don’t have any internet at home at all. I live in a region where there are some towns where less than 40% of the people have internet at home, even dial-up.  And this is because it’t not available, not because they just don’t want it.

            Many of them don’t have computers and they don’t even really know people with computers, much less smart phones or e-readers. So we have a combination of not just needing bandwidth but needing the technology itself AND people who can help them use it. At the same time, this should be a space for people who have and love their e-readers to be able to download audio and print and video content that is shareable in the exact same ways that print content is (you asked for ideal, I’m not that thrilled that ebooks are not books legally speaking but a girl can dream) so that people can continue to learn and enjoy whatever cultural content they want to interact with in a space where they get to interact with their neighbors, maybe take a class, see an art exhibit, listen to an author reading or just have playtime for their two year old and a chance to talk with other parents. A real Third Space, outside of work and home, that belongs to everyone.

            At town meeting today there were people who were flabbergasted that the library in town here [which runs on a just-barely-six-figure budget] employs three people and gives them health insurance. To my mind this is public money that is returning public good. I only with the state of Vermont felt that it was worthwhile to actually fund more than the summer reading program and the interlibrary loan catalog at a state level. There’s so much more we could be doing if we shared resources with other government agencies to bring more services to people who are used to the government being non-interactive and non-responsive.

            So I feel that until all Americans are in a place where they have readily available access to the internet and the wherewithall to learn to use it, this is going to be part of the role that the public library services. We’re seeing adoption of broadband slowing down. We’re still seeing many adults without enough technological skill to fill out an online job application. This is a challenge and the public libraries are the ones that are stepping up to it.

      2. Shutesbury doesn’t have the internet access that Vancouver has.  This makes using e-readers a non-starter in a rural community without high speed internet.  You may also note the many problems with the e-readers mentioned in the article.  Those things will have to be worked out before a small library with a budget of something around $50k a year will be able or willing to spend the kind of money involved to make a large investment in e-readers.

  5. sounds like a job for the carnegie foundation. or maybe a kickstarter.com project ?
    regardless, i will send a few bucks to help and maybe a half million others will do the same. thanks for reaching out in such a creative fashion. good luck. i love a good library. one with running water and an adequate loo even better.

  6. Libraries don’t just provide books.  The library provides access to the internet for people who don’t have computers or the scratch to pay for a provider.  The library provides access to music.  The library provides access to movies.  My local library uses the space to bring in tax professionals to provide free tax services and uses its space to set appointments for WIC recipients.  Libraries provide literacy programs and story times.  Libraries can serve as community centers for communities that don’t have them.  Libraries provide reference professionals who can help you search, who can provide considered recommendations, who can provide with quality answers (not just a bunch).  e-Readers can’t do all that.  They can only provide a marginal fraction of what the library can.

        1. We have a full basement in the Town Hall with a kitchen, bathrooms and a large room where we vote.  alsohandicappassessible

  7. I sent them a few dollars. I’ve been a position where going to the library was all I could afford to do to get out of the house. It was truly a highlight in my week. I’m still pretty broke (grad student), but I will give them something because I support what they do.

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