People N Patrons

Helping Find New Jerseyans Jobs

Residents used to walk into the Piscataway Public Library and ask Kate Baker where they could find a particular book.

Now, they’re more likely to ask the 49-year-old librarian how to format a résumé and fill out a job application.

"Almost half my day is devoted to job seekers," said Baker, who has worked at the library for eight years. "We keep getting more and more computers, and they’re always filled."

As the jobless rate has climbed since the onset of the financial crisis three years ago, the role of the public library has changed dramatically. In New Jersey, where nearly one in every 10 people is unemployed, officials say the local library has become Job Search Central for many residents. The upshot for librarians like Baker: Instead of spending her workdays organizing and purchasing books, she has watched her job morph into one that is equal parts job counselor, computer trainer and life coach.

Getting Over the Horror of the Crossbow Slaying

Following up on our earlier story about the crossbow murder at Toronto's Main Street Branch Library, library staff and patrons are spending the weekend in counselling and the library remains closed.

Toronto Star reports: It was the busiest time of day on the busiest day of the week — as toddlers learned new words, students surfed the web, librarians checked-out books — when a crossbow fired a bolt through Si Cheng’s back.

The 52-year-old died, right there, the Main St. public library on Thursday, just after 4 p.m. His 24-year-old son, Zhou Fang is charged with pulling the trigger.

“This is a very unusual incident,” said Anne Marie Aikins, communications manager for Toronto Public Library. “So we’re trying to make sure anyone affected by it gets their needs met.”

Several after-school programs were underway when Cheng was murdered, including Ready for Reading — a program for kids 5 and under. Teenagers were arriving post class. Librarians were switching shifts.

“It was a bustling place at the time,” said Aikins.

In their panic, many people left knapsacks and books behind. Many are still logged into computers. And the library has a record of members signed up for the several programs going on at the time. -- Read More

A Lesser View of Public Libraries

A letter to the editor of the Port Orchard (WA) Independent :

Are libraries really needed anymore?

If so, why aren’t people who use them willing to pay for that service?

Libraries aren’t a vital service and therefore library cardholders and the “Friends of the Library” should be more than willing to donate money and pay user fees for the luxury of having a library.

I guess I don’t quite understand why the public needs so many libraries.

We have libraries in most public schools, colleges and universities.

How many libraries do the public and the students really need?

Most every American has a desktop or laptop computer that can access websites to find the information needed in today’s complex world.

You can also read most books online at college and university websites.

Providing computers at public libraries is a huge cost to taxpayers.

I even know poor people who have computers. In this day and age, anyone who needs to use the library to access a computer is simply too cheap to buy their own.

Please Raise Taxes To Support LA County Libraries

The Los Angeles Library Commission and County Librarian Margaret Donnellan Todd on Tuesday submitted a report asking the Board of Supervisors to call for a 2011 ballot measure that would raise taxes and drastically increase the number of property owners who pay the tax.

The Board of Supervisors declined to take action on the request and instead chose to file the report for consideration.

Library officials said they did not know how much the tax would be, but said the proposed change would generate between $12 million and $23 million each year over the next decade. Any tax increase would need a two-thirds vote to become law.

The commission wants to extend to the tax to every parcel in neighborhoods served by the library system.

In Duarte, the parcel tax keeps the library open six days a week while libraries outside the assessment area are open only four days per week, according to Pamela Broussard, Los Angeles County Library spokeswoman. Duarte Public Library manager Reed Strege said extra days are important for those who don't have Internet access at home.

"We're kind of like the Internet provider for the city if they don't have it," said library manager Reed Strege. "Our computers for the public are in use all day, every day."

Read more: Los Angeles County Library Commission proposes special tax to close budget deficit - Whittier Daily News http://www.whittierdailynews.com/news/ci_16745189#ixzz16yDFrwv0

One Reader's Experience With 'The Big Read' (One City One Book)

The book arrived from the publisher without any fanfare, wrapped in plain cardboard and sent through the U.S. mail. Record-Bee reports.

With no more effort than it took to tear open the perforated strip that sealed the package closed, the small church library that I oversaw was now part of a "common read." What an exciting moment!

My first experience with a common read was just a few years earlier, during an effort to encourage all of California to read John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath." My husband and I read aloud to each other from my copy that had been given to me by the Calistoga Junior/Senior High School librarian.

It was intriguing, as we read to each other, to know that across the state of California, other people were reading the same book and that, moreover, public events were promoting "The Grapes of Wrath." One of those events was organized locally through the efforts of Harold Riley.

My experience taking part in a common read had been very enjoyable so when the organization that oversees our local church selected a common read, I knew that I wanted to make the book available to the members of my church: to give them a chance to have that much more in common with people in other communities, in congregations around the world. Read more.

Sacramento Library Under Fire for Black Ops Tourney

The Sacramento Public Library is the target of recent criticism due to its upcoming Call of Duty: Black Ops tournament. Escapist Magazine reports.

Libraries have been scrambling to gain the attention of the world's new technology-focused population, and one effective method they've found is to embrace the videogame. Videogames and videogame tournaments are not uncommon to see in public libraries these days, but not everybody is happy that kids are playing games in such close proximity to books.

According to the Sacramento Bee, The Sacramento Public Library is planning to host a Call of Duty: Black Ops tournament as part of its humorously named "Nerd Fest." Even though the library will only allow those 17 and older to play, the tournament is still attracting the ire of activists that likely have nothing better to do than rail on videogame violence... again. -- Read More

Why I Don't Use Libraries for Reference Anymore

From LJ: A library user (the radical patron), describes her frustrations in using the reference services of her public library system.

Washington Cty (OH) Librarian Thanks Voters

They did the right thing.

The Washington County Public Library thanks all who voted for the library system's 1-mill, five-year levy on the Nov. 2 ballot. By voting yes, voters affirmed the importance of their libraries' services to themselves and to their communities.

As a lifelong resident of Washington County, I had faith in the citizens of our county; but I certainly did not take anything for granted during this election since library services were at stake. We recruited some of the county's outstanding citizens to lead our levy effort: Rick Peoples, Dave Combs, and Emerson Shimp. I would like to send special thanks as well to all our supporters, volunteers, library trustees, Friends of the Library groups, staff, and loyal patrons who together assured our levy's success. The library levy was vital to help maintain library operations. Everyone benefits.

Justin J. Mayo, librarian
Washington County Public Library

Troy MI Library Levy Defeated

The future of the Troy Public Library is "as clear as mud," the city's lawyer said Wednesday, after voters defeated four millage proposals designed to create and fund an independent library board.

And in Bloomfield Hills, voters sent a resounding "no" on Tuesday to a six-year, 0.617-mill library levy, with 61% of voters shooting down the measure, 1,342-842. Supporters sought to resume a lending contract with Bloomfield Township's library or strike up a new deal with the library in Birmingham.

The Troy measure is likely to become a topic of Monday's City Council meeting, where Mayor Louise Schilling is expected to bring up the possible censure of Councilman Martin Howrylak over his letter advocating the measures' defeat.

Troy's Proposal 1, the 10-year, 0.9885-millage, failed by 689 votes, 15,590-14,901, with 51% voting against it. The three other millage proposals failed by more than 80% of the vote each.

The library is scheduled to close July 1, after the City Council slashed funding and library hours this year and all funding by June 30.

Read more: Detroit Free Press.

More Election Day Library News From LJ

Election Day brought good news to library supporters around the country as local tax levies to support libraries won strong support in key Ohio communities, and radical propositions in Colorado that would have crippled library services were categorically rejected.

Story here.

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