Fun SitesLibrary Thing an online service to help people catalog their books easily. You can access your catalog from anywhere—even on your mobile phone. Because everyone catalogs together, LibraryThing also connects people with the same books, comes up with suggestions for what to read next, and so forth... LibraryThing is also an amazing social space, often described as "Facebook for books." You can check out other peoples' libraries, see who has the most similar library to yours, swap reading suggestions and so forth. LibraryThing also makes book recommendations based on the collective intelligence of the other libraries. I'm a lifetime member.
The library is the last, best socialized institution in America today and you're about to lose it As an American librarian I am glad to be living in the European Union where library funding isn't under attack to the extent that it is back home in the United States, because readership, literacy and an open based knowledge system that is publicly funded is still valued. In America, library budgets have become low hanging fruit for conservative local and state politicians.Louisiana is the worse case in point where Gov. Bobby Jindal has eliminated state library funding all together. Not only does it beg the question will your state be next but it asks the question what will you do when they come for your library and your kid's summer reading program?
Please let's remember the voluminous studies that have been done year after year, decade after decade that show us that prison inmates for the most part are functionally illiterate and that teen pregnancy is directly linked to literacy rates.
According to UNICEF: "Nearly a billion people will enter the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names and two thirds of them are women."
People who don't grow up as lifelong readers grow up in an America living under a form of de facto censorship and what it means is that the censor, by withholding library funding, limits access to reading materials to children from a young age. So they don't get to see the other side of the coin and wind up developing a one-sided point of view which has been historically associated with sexism, homophobia, racial bigotry and other forms of intolerance and hate. If we don't support libraries, we support going backwards in a type of devolution of the past which is exactly what the Tea Party types mean when they say they want their country back.
My question to you Mr or Mrs Progressive America, just how far back in time will you let the haters take us?... it's not the progressive America that we've come to love and aspire to, because that America is supported by your neighborhood library as an open knowledge learning center, where everyone is treated the same. It doesn't matter if it's the mayor or a homeless person, you can expect to receive the same level of service. You can expect to have access to a collective repository of everyone whose ever thought and everyone whose ever written, that's why I became a librarian and a reader and a listener and someone who you can count on to resist censorship in all of its guises. That includes false arguments related to library funding.
"A famous person once said, 'You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time.' But as I once said, "If you don't teach them to read, you can fool them whenever you like." – Max Headroom
The Library at Celsus
Librarian Patriots"Patriotism, Tom Paine observed, is not best measured in times of national comfort and quiet. It is in times of crisis, when the summer soldiers and sunshine patriots have retreated to the safety of official talking points and unquestioning loyalty, that those who truly understand the meaning and merit of the American experiment come to its defense. On the 230th anniversary of the launch of that experiment, let us reflect on those who have met the test, noting in particular that some of the boldest expressions of patriotism have come from groups not necessarily associated with dissent.
"Consider America's librarians. Since the enactment of the Patriot Act in 2001, the American Library Association (ALA) has been at the forfront of the fight to defend freedom of inquiry and thought from provisions of the act that allow the Justice Department to subpoena the records of libraries and bookstores. The librarians succeeded in getting the House to adopt language protecting library records in 2005--only to have it stripped from the bill to which it was attached by the Administration-friendly House-Senate conference committee.
"But the librarians have not just been lobbying to change the Patriot Act, they've been on the front lines of exposing its abuses. When four Connecticut librarians challenged an attempt by the FBI to use a National Se3curity Letter to obtain records of who was reading what in the state, the Justice Department slapped a gag order on them. But the 64,000-member ALA and its Freedom to Read Foundation stood up for the librarians, working with the American Civil Liberties Union, the Association of American Publishers and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression to make a federal case of the issue. In May, after the FBI dropped its defense of the gag order--and shortly before it withdrew its demand for the records--a federal appeals court declared that order moot, and the librarians were at last free to speak out. Peter Chase, director of the Plainville, Connecticut, public library, explained that he and his fellow librarians decided to fight because of their frustration at receiving the National Security Letter even as "the government was telling Congress that it didn't use the Patriot Act against libraries and that no one's rights had been violated. I felt that I just could not be part of this fraud being foisted on our nation"" ("American Patriots." The Nation, July 17, 2006: 3).
"At the behest of the chemical boys, oil giants, and other polluters, George W.'s corporate-serving monkey-wrenchers have gone after the Environmental Protection Agency's network of regional research libraries. Good grief--librarians? Why would the polluter powers bother with these simple keepers of knowledge?
"Precisely because knowledge is power... the EPA libraries are treasure troves of organized, detailed information about specific polluters--what they are doing, where they're doing it, and to whom. Corporations don't like it when We the People have knowledge that can be used to halt their polluting...
"Already, they've closed libraries in Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, and Washington, as well as the EPA's principal library for evaluating new chemicals. In the agency's five remaining libraries, hours have been severely shortened, and public access has been curtailed" (Hightower, Jim. "Ignorance is Power." Texas Observer, Dec. 15, 2006: 15).
"The FBI and other US law enforcement agencies involved in fighting counter-terrorism have made more than 200 requests for information about borrowers from libraries since September 11, including those who asked for a book about Osama bin Laden" (Roundup. Guardian Weekly, June 24, 2005: 2).
The IELTS [International English Literacy Testing System] organization recommends that no student with less than IELTS 7.0 will be able to undertake "linguistically demanding academic course" such as "medicine, law, linguistics, journalism or library studies." For courses such as "agriculture, pure mathematics, technology, computer-based work and telecommunications" it recommends that a level of 6.5 is "probably acceptable"" (Rob Burgess. "Ill-used test raises campus concern." Guardian Weekly, June 24, 2005: 19).
The Future of Libraries Has Little to Do with Books the rise of library as community hub
Ursula K. Le Guin on the Sacredness of Public Libraries “Knowledge sets us free, art sets us free. A great library is freedom.”
“If librarians were honest,” Joseph Mills wrote in his delightful poem celebrating libraries, “they would say, No one spends time here without being changed…” For Thoreau, books themselves were also changed and fertilized by their cohabitation, “as if they were making a humus for new literatures to spring in.” “When people don’t have free access to books,” Anne Lamott asserted in contemplating the revolutionary notion of free public libraries, “then communities are like radios without batteries.”
"A library is a focal point, a sacred place to a community; and its sacredness is its accessibility, its publicness. It’s everybody’s place."
"Plunging into the ocean of words, roaming in the broad fields of the mind, climbing the mountains of the imagination. Just like the kid in the Carnegie or the student in Widener, that was my freedom, that was my joy. And it still is.
"That joy must not be sold. It must not be “privatised,” made into another privilege for the privileged. A public library is a public trust.
"And that freedom must not be compromised. It must be available to all who need it, and that’s everyone, when they need it, and that’s always."
Colby Glass, MLIS, Ph.D.c., Professor Emeritus