Tag Archives: libraries

Washington, DC

Last weekend I packed a little suitcase and hopped a plane to Washington DC to visit my friend Julia. Julia and I met freshman year of college at UCSD and instantly bonded over a mutual respect and love for old school punk. She was a world literature major in college and decided to go to law school at American University’s Washington College of Law. I was a communication studies major with an informal emphasis in rhetoric and decided to go to library school. Go figure. But here we are!

Before one of our early morning shows on KSDT

I arrived on Thursday evening. After quickly making my way via Metro into the city, I met Julia at a Caribou Coffee and we walked a few blocks to a dive bar located in the basement of an office building to meet her WCL friends. On the way home I developed a bad case of the hiccups. The good thing was that holding my breath in attempts to get rid of them allowed me to block out the smell of crow. Yes, crow. You see, a randomly located undeveloped lot with thousands of tall trees is unheard of in Orange County (protected parks don’t count). These make good sleeping places for crows. Crows smell like rotting flesh and bird poop. Once I was safely esconced in Julia’s apartment, the building of which is located next to the randomly located undeveloped lot with thousands of trees and stinky sleeping crows, I made my little bed out of couch cushions, washed up, and fell into a deep sleep.

Note: this is a picture-heavy post. Click through to see more!

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Why are there so few libraries that allow their patrons to edit library wikis?

I had to answer this question for my Web 2.0 class forum posting this week. This class is starting to make me sad. I’ve never been part of a library community that has embraced many emerging technologies outside of LibGuides, so I have to rely on examples from far-away libraries. It’s just not the same when you can’t say you’ve used innovative technology as a patron to find resources. I’m having trouble empathizing!

One reason why few libraries allow their patrons to add to library wikis might simply be lack of trust. In order to get the most out of user-generated content, libraries must trust their patrons to contribute useful information. But trust is a hard thing to gain. Letting users freely contribute information to a wiki is a process that probably won’t happen overnight for these libraries.

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NPR and the Old Spice guy address libraries

and…

[NPR article]

I don’t know whether public libraries will be the next big pop-culture wave. I know that they’re extremely useful and that every morning I go in to work, the librarian or page who opens the door has to shout “OPENING THE DOOOOOR” so that everybody can prepare themselves for the deluge of patrons who have been lining up at the door, waiting to get in. Unlike some other librarians, I don’t think I’d mind, as long as this wave of popularity gets them more funding and respect.

Check Out: Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (Part I…?)

This edition of Check Out features a library on the opposite end of the modernity spectrum from the Seattle Central Library. Behold: the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (main branch in Oakland).

Try to stay awake during this bit of history: In 1890, Andrew Carnegie offered the city of Pittsburgh $1 million to build a library. Let your brain gnaw on that for a second…a million dollars in 1890. That’s a lot of money. Five years later, he dedicated this branch. But Andrew Carnegie didn’t stop there. He funded the construction of many libraries across the United States. So, when someone says, “that’s a Carnegie library,” they’re talking about a library for which Carnegie provided the money to build. He had nothing to do with the actual operations of the libraries…he just believed that Americans should have access to them. Pretty nice!

Back to the CLP. The first floor has a Crazy Mocha cafe, a kid’s reading room, and new books. You can take an elevator to the upper floors, or walk up the marble stairs that have warped with age. Your food and drinks have to stay on the first floor, sadly. My memory is a little hazy, but I think I only explored the second floor and the mezzanine after the first floor. The portion of the second floor that I saw has a reference area, a career center, some cool old tables, if you’re into that. If you can find your way to the mezzanine, you’ll find even more nonfiction crammed onto shelves, between which you might need to walk sideways.

Like I mentioned before, I spent a lot of time here in March while working on a project for my reference class. Now that I’m writing up this post, I’m realizing that I have a lot more left to explore. Hopefully I’ll go out there again and write up a Part II for this post.

Image credit: Wikipedia

Check Out: Seattle Central Library

I’ve been in Seattle visiting family since Tuesday, and one of the things I wanted to do while I was here was visit the Seattle Central Library. Seattle’s contemporary techie culture certainly seeped its way into the design of the library. I’ll start with the first floor. When you check out books, you scan your card, put the books on a plate that instantly detects their information in the catalog, print your receipt, and be on your way. When you return books, you put them on a conveyor belt that takes them straight up to the second floor to be processed. The second floor is for staff only, so we’ll skip that and move onto the third floor. The third floor boasts a huge reading room, all of the new materials, the fiction collections, and a cafe all under a slanted wall/ceiling of glass. After riding an escalator to the computer room and career help center, you take another escalator to the spiral of nonfiction and reference materials. These materials are so plentiful that they arranged them in a spiral that takes up a few floors and circles the escalators. You don’t even know you’re walking in a spiral; in fact, I almost tripped a few times because the floor was on a slight incline. That, and my boots are too big for my feet, but that’s another story. The top floor (or the highest floor I went to before I had to go down and meet my aunt on the third floor) was another reading room with a marvelous view of the city and waterfront out of the floor-to-ceiling glass windows. I would have loved to camp out there for the day with my laptop (free wifi!), my insulated reusable Starbucks cup, and a few books. Next time.

The next edition of Check Out will be about the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (the old one next to the University of Pittsburgh and CMU). I practically lived there for a few days in March when I flew out to visit Sunny and had a huge project due while I was there (poor guy). Keep your eyes peeled!

Image credit: lgarquitectura.wordpress.com