Why these libraries welcome the bat colonies that live among the books

In Portugal, there are two 18th century libraries where colonies of bats are invited to roam free. Why? They eat the insects that would otherwise munch on the pages of the books shelved there. From Smithsonian:

In Coimbra, a colony of Common pipistrelle bats makes their home behind the bookshelves of the university’s Joanina Library, emerging at nightfall to consume flies and gnats and other pests before swooping out the library windows and across the hilltop college town in search of water....

Whether the flittermice took up residence here 300 years ago, when the library was built, or more recently is unknown. Librarians do know they’ve been here since at least the 19th century; they still use fabric made from animal skin, imported from Imperial Russia, to cover the original 18th-century tables, protecting them from scat left by the library’s flying residents. And every morning, just as their forebears did, the librarians remove the skins and clean the library floors.

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Delaware! Tonight, a public vote will determine the fate of one of the state's most important libraries

Walter Stabosz writes, "Delaware was the first state to ratify the US constitution, giving it the moniker 'The First State.' It is also the second smallest state, and has only three counties. Tonight in Delaware's most populous county, New Castle County, there will be a vote that may decide the fate of a library built in one of New Castle's most underserved and at-risk communities. Read the rest

Romance writers sought for library residency at my former Toronto workplace

I was a teenaged page at the North York Central Library in suburban Toronto, working in the Business and Urban Affairs section, shelving books, taping together newspapers while we waited for their microfilm versions to arrive, and fiddling around with the newly installed (and poorly documented) computerised catalogue/lending system -- I worked there with many other would-be writers, like Nalo Hopkinson, who was a public service clerk a few floors down. Read the rest

BBC sound effect archive posted online

The BBC posted an online archive of many of its sound effects. The nature scenes and peculiar things of historical interests are wonderful, though the broad focus seems to be components for radio plays and the like: footsteps, actions, incidental moments.

The BBC license isn't free and has odd stipulations, but the point of the project and its accompanying rules is remarkable: "RemArc, or Reminiscence Archive, is designed to help trigger memories in people with dementia using BBC Archive material as stimulation. " Read the rest

Deciphering "wee old lady" library book code

Georgia Grainger, a Scottish librarian, began a fascinating Twitter thread earlier this week:

Turns out from the ensuing comments that this is a rather common practice. Read the rest

Study finds that for-pay scholarly journals contribute virtually nothing to the papers they publish

In the open access debate, advocates for traditional, for-profit scholarly journals often claim that these journals add value to the papers they publish in the form of editorial services that improve their readability and clarity. Read the rest

Watch a virtual 360-degree tour of BookBot library retrieval system

BookBot is a nifty book retrieval system at North Carolina State University's James B. Hunt Jr. Library. Here's a panoramic book's-eye view of the retrieval process. Read the rest

As a boy, Ronald Clark literally lived in a New York Public Library

In the 1940s, Ronald Clark's father was a custodian at the New York Public Library's Washington Heights Branch. That meant he and his family lived in an apartment in the library. Here's an animated StoryCorps video about Clark's childhood in "The Temple of Knowledge" and "creeping down to the stacks in the middle of the night when curiosity gripped him."

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Garbage collectors open library of abandoned books

Garbage collectors in Ankara, Turkey, have opened a library with all the books that people throw out.

"We started to discuss the idea of creating a library from these books. And when everyone supported it, this project happened," said Çankaya Mayor Alper Tasdelen, whose local government oversaw the opening of the library. Today, the library has over 6,000 books ranging from literature to nonfiction. There is also a popular kid's section with comic books and an entire section for scientific research. Books in English and French are also available for bilingual visitors. The library is housed in a previously vacant brick factory at the sanitation department headquarters.

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Public library's card catalog and books linked by scent

In 1974, Upper Arlington, Ohio public library launched a program to link their card catalog and shelved books by odor. The project was called: "Stick Your Nose in the Card Catalog." From Weird Universe:

The idea was that the card in the catalog would have a scent, and then the book on the shelf would have a matching scent. So you could find your books by smell. There were about 60 scents in total, including apple, chocolate, garlic, lemon, roses, root beer, leather, pizza, orange, strawberry, candles, pine, cheddar cheese, clover, and smoke.

The library says that they "aren't sure what exactly happened to the scented catalog, but we guess that the cards eventually lost their scent over time, but remained part of the catalog until it was decommissioned" for a digital system in 1989. Read the rest

A deep dive into the race to preserve our digital heritage

Science Friday's beautiful "File Not Found" series looks at the thorny questions of digital preservation: finding surviving copies of data, preserving the media it is recorded upon, finding working equipment to read that media, finding working software to decode the information once it's read, clearing the rights to archive it, and maintaining safe, long term archives -- all while being mindful of privacy and other equities. Read the rest

How killing Net Neutrality irreparably harms public libraries and the communities they serve

New York Public Library president Tony Marx presides over the largest public library system in America, in a city where 2,000,000 people lack broadband internet access, so he understands as well as anyone the way that libraries bridge the digital divide, a divide that gets deeper and more daunting every day, as key services and opportunities move online. Read the rest

Do not let the cat into the library

Max is the internet's new hero, and, mercifully, not a duck. That's not to say, though, that Max is not a problem for his humans.

This warning was spotted posted to a library window by by childrens' book illustrator Erin McGuire

"This is basically halfway to being a children's book," wrote McGuire, who is working on a graphic novel about young Harper Lee titled "Alabama Spitfire."

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UK authors and librarians' open letter to Education Secretary: stop closing school libraries!

I remember the day I realised that my daughter's London school had no library, the shock I felt, the sense that the cuts had gone beyond the bone, and that kids were being deprived of something critical -- and then the discovery that then-Education Minister Michael Gove was planning to spend a fortune distributing Bibles to schoolchildren with his name embossed in metal foil on the cover. Read the rest

The stairs in a viral sensation public library in China run with blood, and its "books" are just sheets of aluminum screened with pictures of spines

Starchitect-designed Tianjin Binhai Library is a viral sensation; the Dutch firm MVRDV incorporated a soaring, six-storey spherical atrium with undulating floor-to-ceiling shelves served by striking, irregular white stairs. Read the rest

A viral "angriest librarian" explains why America needs libraries now more than ever

When New Yorker columnist/blowhard Andre Walker "Nobody goes to libraries anymore. Close the public ones and put the books in schools", librarians all over the net gave him what for, and one of the best responses came from self-described "Angriest Librarian" Alex Halpern, a student librarian in Portland, OR, whose tweetstorm went viral. Read the rest

Challenge Racist Narratives with Watermelons, Nooses, and Straight Razors, a New Book and Teaching Tool

Pre-order Watermelons, Nooses, and Straight Razors through Kickstarter to help cover the expensive printing costs of this 272-page, full-color, story-based book and increase accessibility by charging an affordable list price. Donations are tax deductible. Books will ship before the holidays. Check out the Kickstarter HERE.

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