The Oldest Public Library: The Bibliotheque de Paris (Library of Paris), combined with the National Library of France, is the oldest continually running public library. It dates back to 1368 (which makes this year its 650th anniversary!) when it was housed at the Louvre. It has moved multiple times over the past several hundred year, into ever newer and larger accommodations.
The Largest Library: The Library of Congress in Washington D.C., with more than 158 million items on approximately 838 miles of bookshelves, is the largest library in the world. The library’s collection includes more than 36 million books and other print materials, 3.5 million recordings, 13.7 million photographs, 5.5 million maps, 6.7 million pieces of sheet music and 69 million manuscripts.
The Highest Library: According to Guinness World Records, the highest library in the world is on the 60th floor (757′ 6″ above street level) of the JW Marriott Hotel at Tomorrow Square in Shanghai, China. Membership is available to the public and the 103 shelves in the library contain an ever-expanding collection of Chinese and English books. To walk to the library from the hotel lobby would mean climbing around 1,435 steps.
The First Librarian: The first librarian, or at least the first one we know about for sure (please forgive the uncertainty, he lived 2,300 years ago), was Zenodotus of Ephesus. He was a Greek grammarian, pupil of Philitas of Cos, literary critic, and Homeric scholar. All of that must have impressed someone because he was made the first official librarian of the Library of Alexandria towards the end of King Ptolemy I’s reign, somewhere around 280 BC.
We’re Everywhere: Think of something ubiquitous, a store or restaurant that you can pretty much count on encountering everywhere you go but the most remote and out of the way places. What’d you come up with? Walgreens? Starbucks? McDonalds? No matter what you thought of, there are probably more public libraries in the U.S. There are a total of 17,566 public library locations, including branches, across the country. And you are welcome at all of them.
Investigators from the Allegheny County, PA, District Attorney’s Office continue to remain silent on the theft of 314 rare books, folios, maps, and other items from the rare materials room at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh(CLP), although one official there confirmed that “suspect(s) have been identified.”
The thefts, discovered during an insurance appraisal last spring, were first made public in March. CLP released a full list of the missing items. No arrests have been reported, although law enforcement officials have said very little so far about the case. There is no word as to whether any of the materials have been recovered.
Detectives asked the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA) to circulate the list of missing treasures among its members so they could alert authorities in Pittsburgh if any items are spotted in shops, Susan Benne, the organization’s executive director, said. The rare books in particular, she told LJ, would carry CLP markings on the spine or other labels, making them fairly easy to spot if a seller tried to interest a rare bookstore or dealer in buying these items.
On the list of stolen items are ten volumes published before the year 1500 and many more from the 17th century. There is a first edition of Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica by Isaac Newton, published in 1687, as well as a 1776 first edition of Adam Smith’s An Inquiry into the Nature Causes of the Wealth of Nations.
Other notable items include a volume of Homer from 1561, an 1898 memoir from suffragette Elizabeth Cady Stanton called Eighty Years or More (1815–1897), a 1908 letter signed by William Jennings Bryan, and a lesson book from 1864 Richmond, VA, called The Confederate Reader: Containing Selections in Prose and Poetry as Reading Exercises for Children in the Schools and Families of the Confederate States.
“This is a great loss to the Pittsburgh community,” Suzanne Thinnes, CLP’s manager for communications, said in a widely released statement that has been the library’s lone public comment on the matter. “Trust is a very important component of what we do on a daily basis and we take very seriously the security of all collections.”
Thinnes added, “As of now, suspect(s) have been identified and additional details will be shared by the District Attorney’s office at a later date.”
Asked about the police investigation, Mike Manko, the chief spokesman for the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office, said only, “I wouldn’t have any comment on that.”
There remained no word as to when law enforcement officials would go public with more information on the CLP theft. Thinnes’s statement said, “We look forward to sharing our story once legal proceedings are complete.”
Every day, libraries of all types prove that they are powerful agents of community change. No longer just places for books, libraries now offer a smorgasbord of free digitally-based programs and services, including 3-D printing, ebooks, digital recording studios and technology training.
First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support. All types of libraries – school, public, academic and special – participate.
The National Library Week 2018 celebration will mark the 60th anniversary of the first event, sponsored in 1958.
In the mid-1950s, research showed that Americans were spending less on books and more on radios, televisions and musical instruments. Concerned that Americans were reading less, the ALA and the American Book Publishers formed a nonprofit citizens organization called the National Book Committee in 1954. The committee’s goals were ambitious. They ranged from “encouraging people to read in their increasing leisure time” to “improving incomes and health” and “developing strong and happy family life.”
In 1957, the committee developed a plan for National Library Week based on the idea that once people were motivated to read, they would support and use libraries. With the cooperation of ALA and with help from the Advertising Council, the first National Library Week was observed in 1958 with the theme “Wake Up and Read!”
Celebrations during National Library Week include: National Library Workers Day, celebrated the Tuesday of National Library Week (April 10, 2018), a day for library staff, users, administrators and Friends groups to recognize the valuable contributions made by all library workers; National Bookmobile Day, celebrated the Wednesday of National Library Week (April 11, 2018), a day to recognize the contributions of our nation’s bookmobiles and the dedicated professionals who make quality bookmobile outreach possible in their communities, and Take Action for Libraries Day, a national library advocacy effort observed for the first time in 2017 in response to proposed cuts to federal funds for libraries.
On Monday, April 9, the 2018 State of America’s Libraries Report will be released. The report includes the much anticipated list of Top Ten Most Challenged Books of the previous year, compiled by the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.
Misty Copeland serves as 2018 National Library Week Honorary Chair.
In August 2015, Copeland was promoted to principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre, making her the first African American woman to ever be promoted to the position in the company’s 75-year history.
Copeland is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir “Life in Motion,” and her 2014 picture book “Firebird” won the Coretta Scott King Book Illustrator Award in 2015. Her new book, “Ballerina Body,” an instant New York Times Bestseller, published in March 2017.
She has worked with many charitable organizations and is dedicated to giving of her time to work with and mentor young girls and boys. She was named National Youth of the Year Ambassador for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America in June 2013. In 2014, President Obama appointed Copeland to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition. And in 2015, she traveled to Rwanda with MindLeaps to help launch its girls program and to establish The Misty Copeland Scholarship.
There are several ways to celebrate National Library Week:
1. Visit your library.
Head to your public, school or academic library during National Library Week to see what’s new and take part in the celebration. Libraries across the country are participating.
2. Show your support for libraries on social media.
Post National Library Week graphics to your social media channels.
National Library Week is the perfect opportunity to tell the world why you value libraries. This year, in keeping with the Libraries Lead theme, we’re asking you tell us how the library led you to something of value in your life.
Library lovers can post to Twitter, Instagram, or on the I Love Libraries Facebook page during National Library Week for a chance to win. Entries can be a picture or text. Creativity is encouraged. Just be sure to they include the hashtags #LibrariesLead and #NationalLibraryWeek for a chance to win.
One randomly selected winner will receive a $100 gift card and a copy of “Firebird,” the Coretta Scott King Award-winning book by Misty Copeland, our National Library Week Honorary Chair.
Join in the fun. The promotion begins Sunday, April 8 at noon CT and ends Saturday, April 14 at noon CT. Check out the National Library Week page for details and more ways to celebrate.
In the past several years, virtual reality (VR) technology has finally begun to fulfill what had long been promised. Traditional VR, which creates environments that allow people to be “present” in an alternative environment, has been advanced by offerings from Oculus, Sony, Google, and Samsung. At the same time, products like Google’s Cardboard have led the growth of 360-degree video that captures an entire scene in which the viewer can look up, down, and around. Instead of just games and entertainment, VR content is exploding with news, information, and educational content.
Throughout this period of growth and expansion, libraries and librarians have once again demonstrated their adaptability to new information formats and user needs with moves that reflect the various directions VR has moved. Whether it is classroom use of Google Expeditions, new educational spaces and lending programs on academic campuses, or a demonstrated commitment to equitable access to this new technology in public libraries, librarians have taken on VR as a new way to engage their users.
In the months and years ahead, library professionals will likely need to consider how VR and 360-degree video fit into their commitments to acquire and organize information, make the informational content of this technology available for reference and citation, and empower users to be both media consumers and creators. For now, … libraries and librarians are showing how they can innovate with this latest trend in media and information.
In 2018, most items you check at can be renewed up to three times. Renewals can be done via your online account, by visiting the Circulation Desk, or by calling 1-888-542-7259.
Some items will not be eligible for renewal, such as items with waiting lists, equipment, passes to local attractions, and new materials. Entertainment DVDs and Video Games may only be renewed in person with the $1 rental fee. For more information about renewals, ask at the Circulation Desk or call 309-524-2450.
So go ahead, check out War and Peace or the 28 disc audiobook version of Outlander. You’ve got time!
Sixteen years ago, American Libraries published Mark Y. Herring’s essay “Ten Reasons Why the Internet Is No Substitute for a Library” (April 2001). Technology has improved exponentially since then—social media didn’t even exist yet. But even the smartest phone’s intelligence is limited by paywalls, Twitter trolls, fake news, and other hazards of online life. Here are 10 reasons why libraries are still better than the internet.
Libraries are safer spaces. The internet brings people together, often in enjoyable and productive ways, such as over shared interests (pop culture blogs, fanfic sites) or common challenges (online support groups). But cyberbullying and trolling can leave people reluctant to engage with folks they disagree with or to share their ideas in the first place. Libraries are places where people can gather constructively and all are welcome.
Libraries respect history. Web pages are ephemeral, and link rot is a real problem. The content of library collections is much more stable. Printed materials are generally published on acid-free paper, which will not disintegrate. And librarians are leading the way to bring similar stability to the web through services like the Internet Archive and perma.cc.
Librarians digitize influential primary sources. While looking at historical artifacts is valuable, repeated physical handling can damage them. Making digital versions of important works available online—as in the National Library of Medicine’s Turning the Pages project—is one solution. Library digitization projects also provide information to people who do not have the resources to travel to a particular library. Librarians are using the emerging technology of the internet to further the timeless mission of providing better access to information. The internet is the platform that enables this progress, but librarians are doing the work.
Librarians are leaders in increasing online access to scholarly information. The open accessmovement makes scholarly articles available to all readers online, and librarians have been strong advocates of the movement for more than a decade. This access is especially critical when reporting the results of medical research, which is often funded by taxpayer dollars.
Librarians are publishers. Scholarly publishers still provide the journals and books that researchers develop. But librarians have joined these efforts by becoming publishers themselves. New librarian-led publishing initiatives take full advantage of the web and generally make new work available on an open access basis. One example of library publishing, which is common in academic libraries, is the institutional repository. These repositories collect and preserve the broad range of a college or university’s intellectual output, such as datasets gathered in research studies, computer code used in software development, and conference proceedings.
Librarians can help you sort the real news from the fake. While a plethora of useful, accurate, and engaging content is available online, the web is filled with inaccurate and misleading information. “Click bait” headlines get you to click on the content even if the underlying information is superficial or inaccurate. Misinformation is the spread of deliberate falsehoods or inflammatory content online, such as the Russian-backed ads placed on social media during the 2016 US presidential election. Librarianship has always been about providing objective, accurate, and engaging information that meets the needs of a particular person. This has not changed, and it is why librarians are experts in information literacy.
Librarians guide you to exactly what you need. Google is an impressive search engine, but its results can be overwhelming, and many people do not know to filter them by content type (such as .pdf) or website source (such as .gov). Google offers many search tips, which are useful but generic. A conversation with a librarian can clarify exactly what you are looking for and figure out the best way to use Google—or many other resources—to find it.
Librarians do not track your reading or search history to sell you things. Amazon’s book purchase recommendation feature is useful for learning about new books. But this usefulness comes at the expense of your privacy because your reading data is valuable business intelligence for Amazon. The same is true for your web searching history, which is why you often see ads for a product for weeks after searching for it just once. Librarians value and protect your privacy.
Librarians do not censor. One core value of librarianship, as exemplified by the work of ALA’s Freedom to Read Foundation, is thwarting censorship and allowing the free and full exchange of ideas. The internet is a powerful tool for information sharing, but it takes human advocates to stand for information freedom.
Libraries continue to provide benefits that are both tangible—such as community spaces and human interaction—and harder to quantify—access, privacy, intellectual freedom. The internet is an indispensable and irreplaceable tool for modern living. But it is not a library and will not replace the work of librarians.