Boing Boing 

New Yorkers: help defend local libraries at June 8-9's Read In

Libraries in New York City are facing a potential $106 million cut to their budgets. Should these cuts go through, more than 60 neighborhood libraries will close. More than a thousand librarians and library staff will be laid off.

Once again, for a fourth year, New Yorkers will be standing up for libraries at the 24 Hour Read In, which takes place from June 8th & 9th at the gorgeous Brooklyn Public Library Central Library. Poud library supporters will read around the clock: a literal full day of reading in support of libraries throughout the five boroughs.

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Giant Origami Fractal

A three-dimensional, modular origami fractal has taken form for the first time in the history of the world—and perhaps the universe—at the USC Libraries in Los Angeles.

Led by the libraries’ Discovery Fellow Margaret Wertheim, USC students, faculty, staff, students from nearby middle schools, and other volunteers built the level-three Mosely Snowflake Fractal out of 49,000 folded business cards. The fractal takes its name from engineer and mathematical origami artist Jeannine Mosely, who designed the construction process. The snowflake is a relative of the famous Menger Sponge, which Mosely also built from business cards in 2006.

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Library in a Disaster Zone

Hurricane Sandy devastated some sections of New York City and did massive damage to numerous libraries in Queens. Undaunted, the amazing Queens Library sent a mobile book bus with a rapid response team of librarians, led by Matthew Allison, into the area as soon as roads were opened again.

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A Little Storm-Shelter Library

On Monday, Oct. 29, Sandy headed for the East Coast, looking to make landfall in my home state of New Jersey. Days before, my local CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) group staffed a Red Cross shelter at Chairville Elementary School in suburban Medford, NJ. Having volunteered to staff a shelter there last year during Hurricane Irene, I knew there would be residents with worried minds and lots of time on their hands, in need of distractions.

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Time-Traveling Librarians from Outer Spa... from Texas

When I first heard of the Billy Pilgrim Traveling Library, a new Houston-based bookmobile venture, I felt myself get a bit unstuck in time. For one thing, I usually see “traveling library” used to describe the library boxes that were shipped as part of early extension efforts that were especially popular in the 1890s. And the photos used to promote it so far, like this one of the first bookmobile in Texas, are decidedly and delightfully old school.

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Idea Box draws community to public library

The Idea Box at Oak Park Public Library is a new experiment in community participation and library programming that invites visitors to “explore, learn, and play.” The 9 x 13 glass-enclosed space opened in March and has already played host to several popular exhibitions.

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Words on the Water

Avast, mateys! If you’re a literature lover and a seafaring type, you might be surprised to find that you can satisfy both your passions at a public library. With libraries and librarians across the country finding ways to be more embedded in their communities (hello, Radical Reference, Street Books, and Little Free Libraries!), Kitsap Regional Library is taking to the water.

Our county relies on Washington State Ferries for easy access to most of the area’s population centers, especially Seattle. (Yes, you may now be jealous that our daily commute often involves a leisurely sail across Puget Sound.) Because a large number of our residents are gathered on these boats each morning and evening – often passing the time with a good book - we realized this would be the perfect place to build some community around reading.

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SparkTruck: Taking Making on the Road

Meet SparkTruck, an “educational build-mobile” for the twenty-first century.

Dreamed up by a group of Stanford d.school students and funded through Kickstarter, SparkTruck is a mobile maker space currently traveling across the United States. At schools and summer camps and libraries around the country, the SparkTruck team offers workshops to help kids “find their inner maker” as they design and build projects like stamps, stop-motion animation clips, and “vibrobots.”

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Iowa City Public Library’s Local Music Project

“If you have a library card and password, and live in Iowa City …you can download this music. You own it forever. Put it on your phone. Play it at parties. Turn it up”

That’s the message on the Iowa City Public Library’s (ICPL) page for the newly-launched Local Music Project, a digital collection that could prove to be a game-changer for libraries.

According to Senior Librarian John Hiett, this exciting new service model started with a common problem: the library needed a new way to deliver music to patrons. “CDs have high loss rates,” he says, “and many borrowers simply take them home and rip the music.” In order to keep things legal and reduce the amount of theft that plagues AV collections, the library began looking into digital options. The Local Music Project began to take shape when library director Susan Craig gave the project a budget and the Systems Department set up authentication software to ensure that Local Music Project albums can only be downloaded by cardholders.

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Maker Station in Library Parking Lot = All Kinds of Awesome

A collaboration between the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and a local nonprofit called TekVenture has created a hub of awesome for local makers called the TekVenture Maker Station.

Although it looks plainer than even the most generic bookmobile (or school mobile classroom), this 50-foot trailer is packed with the kinds of tools that makers can’t wait to get their hands on: a CNC Milling Machine, Metal Lathe, a Thing-O-Matic 3D Printer, an Egg-Bot, a CNC Router, tools for welding, an injection molder, and laptops to program everything a maker could imagine.

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Take a trip through the Grateful Dead Archive Online

UC Santa Cruz launched the Grateful Dead Archive Online last Friday with tens of thousands of items. But it wouldn't be a Grateful Dead archive if all you could do was look at stuff, so you can also:

Add your own photos and stories - you can even tell us a story over voicemail.
Use the map to search for things related to a particular Dead show and venue - like photos, backstage passes, and envelopes that fans sent in to request tickets, and tapes from performances hosted at archive.org.
• Read Dick Latvala's original notebook from 1978 describing and commenting on fan tapes
• See Jerry and Bob with a tiger - and send us a comment if you can identify the two other folks in the photo! Our team has done a lot of work to get as many names on these things as possible, but did I mention the "tens of thousands of items" thing? It's a big job, and we appreciate your patience as we work to get comments posted and metadata updated.

We've logged visits from 97 countries so far (Hello there in Moldova, Montenegro, and Malaysia!), and as of yesterday the average visit lasted four minutes and twenty seconds, which we can't help but interpret as a good omen. The messages we're getting from the community have been full of warmth and love - of course! - and we're pleased as punch to be able to open up this collection to such a great (grateful?) bunch of fans, scholars, and researchers. We look forward to growing it with them and creating a fun and useful tool for understanding the Grateful Dead phenomenon and all the broader waves of American culture in the past 50 years it has impacted.

Posted by Katie Fortney of University of California Santa Cruz Library.

Release a deadly monster: a DRM-free ebook crowdfunding startup

Back in May, Cory posted about the then-brand-new website unglue.it's campaign to unlock the classic scholarly book Oral Literature in Africa through crowdfunding. That campaign was successfully wrapped up last week, and soon anyone with an internet connection will be able to download a Creative-Commons licensed (CC-BY) version for free.

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The Librarian and the Hot Rod Shop

What do you get when you cross a librarian with a hot-rod shop? Sounds like the beginning of a joke, but it isn’t. A provincial Libraries and Literacy grant and a directive to ‘create a mobile initiative to promote adult literacy’ was the beginning of Fraser Valley Regional Library’s (BC, Canada) Library Live and On Tour, the first project of its kind in the library world and a literacy advocacy tool like no other.

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Seed Libraries Crop Up

Just as one seed can produce many seeds, one idea can change many lives. Free public libraries were revolutionary in their time because they provided access to books and knowledge that had not previously been available to a large segment of the population. A free seed lending library can also provide people with a chance to transform their lives and communities by providing access to fresh, healthy food that may not otherwise be available.

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Library staircase delightfully transformed into live interactive game board

Four flights of seventy-two stairs were transformed into a giant game board using 1,200 feet of wire and 48 Internet-connected tin cans decorated with green and gold helium balloons at DIY: Physical Computing at Play. These were our targets.

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Listening to the past: NPS releases historic audio recordings

The National Park Service has released a dozen historic sound recordings originally made on wax cylinders in 1889-1890. The recording engineer, Theo Wangemann, was an assistant of Thomas Edison who experimented on ways to improve musical recordings. The recordings include the first Chancellor of the German Empire Otto von Bismarck reciting poetry and songs in four languages.

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Expert medical help and a listening ear‐at the library

In her first week working at the Pima County Public Library, Registered Nurse Emily Pogue helped a newly-homeless woman find safe shelter and access to the medications she needed. She listened to the stories of military veterans, helped them organize a buddy system, and she helped library staff deal sensitively with a child's case of head lice. In just a month, library staff noticed a drop in calls to 911 and experienced far fewer behavioral incidents.

Where people gather in large numbers, public health is always a consideration. But a trained health responder has been missing from the library—until recently.

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Bookless at Madison Public Library


Ever since fire consumed the Library of Alexandria, bibliophiles have been captivated by stories of epic endings to libraries. Madison, Wisconsin recently contributed a memorable ending, answering the question: “What would happen if we cleared all the books out of the Central Library, handed the debris-strewn three-story building over to a bunch of artists, live bands, and DJs, and invited the community to a giant one-day-only party?”

The answer was Bookless, which drew more than 5,000 people to the send-off event for Madison’s now-former downtown library. The Onion’s A.V. Club posted a Bookless video by jazz/rock band Lovely Socialite that does a nice job of capturing the feel of the event and some of the art (yes, the butterflies at 4:45 are made of microfiche), including the somewhat terrifying dragon skeleton leering over the "Bibliotheque Discotheque" in the basement and the pneumatic-tube powered “Ask the Oracle” booth.

For more on Bookless, see Madison Public Library's Bookless a Hit and the MPL Foundation’s Bookless in the News.

—Marc Gartler, Madison Public Library

LibraryLab posts come courtesy of the American Library Association member interest group Library Boing Boing.

Be a Book Giver on World Book Night

This is the first post from the fine folks of the American Library Association, which recently launched a member interest group called Library Boing Boing. They will be posting now and again as LibraryLab.

On April 23, 2012, tens of thousands of people in the U.S., U.K., Ireland, and Germany will go out into their communities to spread the joy and love of reading by giving away free books. All you have to do to participate is register by midnight EST tonight.

The goal is to have 50,000 people give a book to a stranger or to people you might know but believe aren’t frequent readers. Go to a coffee shop, a hospital, a park, a church, a community center, an after-work party, a local school, or even just give them away on your daily train ride. WBN will give you 20 specially-produced, not-for-resale World Book Night editions to randomly give away. There are 30 titles to choose from for all types of readers. Basically, if you love any of the books included in the program, you can get free copies to share with others.

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Announcing Library Boing Boing at the American Library Association

Folks from the American Library Association are launching a member interest group called Library Boing Boing, and we're delighted to give our blessing. From Jenny Levine's announcement, at the ALA's Marginalia site:

On the one hand, Library Boing Boing is a collaboration between ALA and the fabulously amazing Boing Boing folks to highlight all of the great new things libraries are doing. The most visible result will be regular posts about those great new things on the Boing Boing site itself.

On the other hand, Library Boing Boing: The Group has its own goals to help happy mutants in local communities connect with their happy mutant librarians to do good, work together on our shared interests, and make the world more better.

Once they're up and running, we'll be publishing regular updates on the group's activities and plans, as well as any events and programs that you can attend or support. For ALA members. the first step would be to sign the ALA member petition to formally establish the Library Boing Boing Member Interest Group; everyone else, watch this space.

ALA Happy Mutants rejoice – Library Boing Boing is coming! [ALA Marginalia]