There have been all kinds of neat alt-libraries, places where you can check out things other than books. There are ones for tools, American Girl dolls, and musical instruments (and undoubtedly lots more).
Here in Alameda, at the entrance of a charming estuary on the west end of town called Crab Cove, there's a Beach Toy Library. You can "check out" a sand-friendly toy to play with out of the wooden box, or leave one that you found. I love the spirit of this but given the condition of the toys in the box, I suggest people leave some new toys they "find" at the store.
photos by Rusty Blazenhoff
In Ankara, Turkey, one person's trash is literally another's treasure. Garbage collectors started saving books once destined for the landfill and opened a public library.
For months, the garbage men gathered forsaken books. As word of the collection spread, residents also began donating books directly.
Initially, the books were only for employees and their families to borrow. But as the collection grew and interest spread throughout the community, the library was eventually opened to the public in September of last year...
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...
The collection grew so large the library now loans the salvaged books to schools, educational programs, and even prisons.
The rise of the Information Age has put librarians in more demand than ever, according to this recent article in the Wall Street Journal.
It simply makes sense that a librarian action figure would pop into the market, tiny red cape and all. This one is particularly special because it's fashioned after a real hero, librarian Nancy Pearl of Seattle, Washington.
The Mechanics' Institute is one of my favorite places in San Francisco.
The full service library is wonderful, as is having a comfortable place downtown to just sit, use the internet, and not be bombarded with life advice from baristas. The MI also puts on wonderful speakers series, writers workshops, and is home to the best chess room ever.
Membership is a mere $120 a year. I have an innate resistance to joining things, but this is one heck of a library.
Read the rest
The not-for-profit organization was established in 2003, “dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of magic and its allied arts.” It was started by William Kalush, who developed a love of magic from the card tricks shown to him by his father, a Marine wounded in World War II. This love of card magic turned to a love of collecting magic books, which now form a wondrous collection of over 15,000 books—some dating to over 600 years old—housed in this hidden location.
“I like early books that no one else has ever seen”, Kalush says, sitting in a high-backed, ornately carved wooden chair that wouldn’t look out of place with a wizard sitting on it. “Books of performances pieces, card secrets, many that are unique.”
Browsing through the shelves stacked with all things conjuring, you will find obscure books on sleight-of-hand techniques, mentalism, deceptive gambling, the history of magic, and the mysterious secrets of card tricks. One book is the seminal The Expert At the Card Table, which appeared in 1902, written by an S. W. Erdnase. It’s one of the most detailed collections of sleight-of-hand techniques and card sharping, a book so iconic and well-studied within magic circles it is known as “the Bible.” Appropriately enough, S. W. Erdnase was a pseudonym. The real identity of the writer has remained a century-old mystery.
Inspired by the Library Freedom Project's uncompromising bravery in the face of a DHS threat against a town library in Kilton, NH, that was running a Tor exit node to facilitate private, anonymous communication, the New Hampshire legislature is now considering a bill that would explicitly permit public libraries to "allow the installation and use of cryptographic privacy platforms on public library computers for library patrons use." Read the rest
At the Alaska Resources Library and Information Services, anyone can check out skulls, taxidermy mounts, pelts, and other bits and pieces of dead animals for free. Librarian Celia Rozen says that the most popular items are bear and wolf furs used in Boy Scout rituals and also snowy owl mounts requested by Harry Potter party planners. As you might expect, educators appreciate the opportunity to make their lessons more, er, tangible.
“It gets them excited about being in biology class,” South Anchorage High School science teacher Chris Backstrum told the Alaska Dispatch News. “It starts the year off on a good foot."
"Something Preserved" (Great Big Story)
(photos by Marc Lester/ADN) Read the rest
On Sunday, the hallowed nonprofit Henry Miller Memorial Library in magical Big Sur, California will auction off large slabs of old-growth redwood sliced from a 200-foot, 500-year-old tree that fell on the site a couple years ago.
Here's library staff member Mike Scutari recounting the tree's topple:
This post is sponsored by the Ford Transit Connect.
As regular Boing Boing readers know, we are all big library geeks. Nothing beats browsing rows and rows of books where you can take anything that tickles your fancy home with you to read... free! That's why we loved the story of the Batram Trail Regional Library bookmobile, a transformed Ford Transit Connect that replaces the library's 30-year-old vehicle. When the bookmobile and its dedicated librarians visit children's schools, the little ones climb inside while the bigger kids browse their own shelf exposed by opening the Transit Connect's sliding door. If the Batram Trail Regional Library bookmobile isn't parked at pre-K facilities, daycares, and special needs schools, it's likely on its way to a nursing home or making housecalls to homebound readers. Georgia's history of bookmobiles goes back to the Great Depression when custom pick-up trucks piled with books were driven from county to county. Times have changed, but the mission to bring books to everyone remains the same.Woodworker mods Ford Transit into camper van Read the rest
What a way to spend the spring:
The (New York Public Library) Manuscripts and Archives Division is offering an (unpaid) internship to aid the Digital and Project Archivists for the Timothy Leary Papers for the Spring 2013 term to students from a Master’s program in librarianship, archival studies, or preservation with an interest in the born digital materials in the papers.
The Papers document the life of Timothy Francis Leary (b. 1920, d. 1996), American psychologist and Harvard professor, who, through his studies regarding the use of psilocybin and LSD, went on to become an advocate for mind-altering drugs, eastern philosophy, sexual liberation, cyberspace and the cyberpunk genre. He was a prolific writer, lecturer, and counterculture icon (1960s - 1990s). The Papers contain material from notable figures, such as Richard Alpert (aka Ram Dass), William S. Burroughs, David Bryne, Larry Flynt, Allen Ginsberg, Keith Haring, Gerald Heard, Abbie and Anita Hoffman, Albert Hofmann, Aldous and Laura Huxley, Jack Kerouac, Art Kleps, and G. Gorden Liddy. The Papers include over a hundred floppy disks created or collected by Leary in a variety of formats.
I happened upon this mini-library in my neighborhood and am so impressed with the movement that Little Free Library has started that I am getting one together for our street. The concept is simple: put a charming box full of books in a public place, encourage people to share them and to contribute their own.
From their FAQ:
If this were just about providing free books on a shelf, the whole idea might disappear after a few months. There is something about the Little Library itself that people seem to know carries a lot more meaning. Maybe they know that this isn't just a matter of advertising or distributing products. The unique, personal touch seems to matter, as does the understanding that real people are sharing their favorite books. Leaving notes or bookmarks, having one-of-a-kind artwork on the Library or constantly re-stocking it with different and interesting books can make all the difference.
Little Free Library sells pre-made mini-libraries or will show you how to build your own.
Check out a couple of my favorites from around the country: