Pop.: 1 Plus 5,000 Volumes

The Nebraska town of Monowi has just Elsie Eiler left. She runs everything, including the library that was her late husband's bequest. The sign outside is painted on a section of a refrigerator door. The floor is bare plywood. There's no heat. But there are thousands upon thousands of books, every one of them, lined up across two shelves. Elsie's late husband, Rudy, read them endlessly. He farmed and tended bar, he ran a grain elevator, he delivered gas to filling stations, and when the town was down to just him and Elsie, he served as mayor, too. But he always found time to read — science fiction, history, the classics, anything but a Harlequin romance.

When he got sick with cancer two years ago, Rudy confided a dream to Elsie: He wanted to turn his collection into a public library. Rudy's Library is less than 350 square feet. The books are worn, disorganized and eclectic beyond description and runs on the honor system: Take what you want, return it when you can.
LA Times Has the entire article.
Thanks to Michael McGrorty for the story.

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"Personal" Libraries

It will be interesting to me to see how this plays out. Some who oppose the small libraries in Cuba would balk at calling this a library as well? Don't get me wrong. I don't think the "Free Libraries" in Cuba necessarily deserve support either. For two reasons. First, they have not been established with the express purpose of being a library, with everything that entails, but rather have been established as a form of political protest (which in itself is fine). I think the intent,however, is what makes a Library a Library. Secondly, and related to the first reason, these "Free Libraries" have been supported by the U.S. Government... again, not for the usual reasons that Libraries are established, but in order to combat Castro's regime.

Having said that, I do not like Castro's government, and the repression that occurs daily in Cuba. I hope that the Cuban people can find for themselves a more free and just society.

The part that has always amused me, however, is that one of the arguments used against the independent libraries is that they are too small, and really just personal collections of books. That the "librarians" in charge of those independent libraries, are not really Librarians. So, if that is the case, does that mean this little Nebraska library, is not really a library? I believe it is. Because of the intent... not the size, or who is running it.

Hmm you know...

If 5000 books is a library, then I have a library at home. Last time I counted was during a move in 2003 when I hit 7654, and the only reason I remember the specific number is the nice sequence made it easy.

But of course how many libraries run 5k books per patron, so in all it is a decent library in terms of per capita holdings.

Re:Hmm you know...

Define: Library.I'm sure I don't have a library at only a hundred or so books, but I'm sure you do. Somewhere in the middle would be a magic number that would define a library. Maybe 2,309 or so?Would make a good LISNews poll.

Re:Hmm you know...

I used to collect books until it hit me one day: A) I haven't read most of them, and B) I can get almost anything I want from ILL. It was like a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. Not that I carried them all that way, mind you.

Re:Hmm you know...

When you go to your wife and say, "Can we start saving to have custom shelves built?" you might have library :-)But seriously, without being eccentric about it, a third of my books are boxed, and the rest are dual shelved ( in front of, and or on top of ). Of course I must admit that roughly 50%, 10-15% trade, and remainders hard cover. I guess I should not count the computer reference stuff really, it is outdated about 10 hours BEFORE printing.

"Personal" Libraries

Well that was one of best library articles I've read in a while. What a dream Rudy had. It's wonderful that his friends and family saw it through. I don't buy books as often as I used to, I get mine mostly at work through ILL and MORE. I always thought I'd donate the ones I own to a library some day but to tell the truth donations often end up in the book sales because they're so old or the library already has copies of them. Maybe I'll hold onto this article and donate mine to Rudy's library. Well, I'll hold onto the article anyway and drop in at the Monowi public library on my next trip out west!

Re:Hmm you know...

It was like a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders.


And from the foundations of your house, I'm sure.


Then there's the friend of mine who admits that he keeps his many books as much for the effective increase in insulation R-value in his home as anything else.

Re:"Personal" Libraries

At my spouse's library, the patron donations end up in the FOL booksale less because of age or duplication, and more because of the potential overhead of managing their addition to the catalog. No automated MARC records, ya know.


Now, the patron that wants to contribute an endowment with their donated collection...

Re:"Personal" Libraries

Oh yes! I'm a cataloger and I know how that situation feels. But I still hate to see the books go to the book sales. We add as many as we can to our collection but another problem that our library, and many others I think, have, is physical room to shelf the items. We're down to weeding one book for every book added to the collection other than reference. We just don't have the room to keep them!

Re:Hmm you know...

I wonder if the R value changes with the type of paper used. Does a National Geographic have less or more R value than a regular hardback? I smell a grant somewhere in here.

Blue River

In Blue River, Oregon there is a library without rules. Read the story here. It is somewhat like the small library in Nebraska. I think every town should have a reading room like the one in Blue River.

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