On the Denver Public Library

The Denver Public Library is more than just a library. It offers public restrooms and has ample space to encourage any and all to enter.

It’s essentially acting as a homeless shelter during the day. No one is allowed to sleep, but anyone can enter And walk amongst the materials. There are computers, Internet access, and just about a million other things.

The library has social workers on staff. This is the kind of institution libraries should be. Bettering the lives of those in its community. I hope other library systems take note.

Libraries are Too Important

Libraries are underfunded no matter where you look, much the same as public education. I don’t think I’d get much argument if I said these are two institutions we need as a society.

As passionate as I am about education, I’ll focus on libraries today. Libraries are some of the most important public institutions we have. Again, I’d imagine little argument here. But in so many places they’re run like a business. They aren’t bookstores, so they shouldn’t be operated as such.

A library in Florida created a fake patron who checked out more than 2000 books over a span of 9 months. They did this because the library system only uses data to determine when books should be taken out of the system to be discarded. In this particular system a book is on the shortlist to be discarded if not checked out within a year and essentially gone if not checked out in 2.

Obviously libraries cannot have every book in stock. But this system doesn’t factor in the knowledge of its own employees. My local system has multiple librarians at its locations. I imagine that’s fairly standard. Which means you have people who know how to run a library running the libraries. You’d think there’d be a policy in place to defer to their judgment. Not so. (In this case)

So these 2000+ books were checked out because they were almost certainly on the way out. Libraries shouldn’t have to resort to these types of actions in order to keep particular books on their shelves. They’re experts and should be treated as such rather than just a department with a budget.

Tell me why libraries are important to you.

Houston Independent School District has Empty Libraries

One of the largest school districts in the nation is making the wrong kind of headlines. A number of its libraries have empty shelves, and it doesn’t look like it’ll be changing soon.

The district is strapped for money just like most public school districts around the country. But recently the district invested in classroom libraries to give students greater access to the books they need to be reading. But classroom libraries should not be taking items from regular libraries in middle and high schools. A classroom library is typically a bookshelf. That’s not a library of anything.

My problem with this is it sounds like the district aimed to do something without much of a plan. And now thousands of students are forced to enter libraries every single day that don’t even have the one resource most of us have come to associate with them: books.

To add insult to injury, the school district has a tax proposition on the ballot this year that would send more than $1 billion to the state from the district over the next few years.

Have you EVER walked into a library with bare, empty shelves? I haven’t. These Houston kids aren’t getting a fair educational experience at the moment. And now voters could potentially make it worse by not being aware of the impact of HISD Proposition 1. The whole thing is on the verge of spiraling out of control.

Using the Dewey Decimal System

I’ve said I don’t utilize my local library system nearly as much as I should. But there once was a time in which I did. During my early teen years I constantly made my mom take me to the library to check out new books. But there was always one constant. I never browsed. I always reserved books beforehand, which leads me to the Dewey Decimal System.

I have no idea how to use it. I remember in school all library books would have a decimal on the spine for classification purposes. I never understood it then and I still don’t understand it now. Granted, I have no experience in library science.

I know some libraries have abandoned the system in recent years, but why not just organize the library in the same manner bookstores are organized? That doesn’t seem unreasonable. And I bet library patrons would better be able to navigate the library.

Am I the only one here?

No More Librarians?

I actually know someone who just began his work toward an MLS (Master of Library Science) degree within the last few weeks, so this news could be troubling.

The advances of technology have changed several industries over the course of time, and we all know about the struggle publishers had to endure to get their heads above water. It looks like there may be more change coming to the book world in the near future. Librarians may become obsolete.

A team in Singapore has created a robot that can find and identify missing and misplaced books and relay that information to library workers. Obviously librarians do more work than getting books into the right place on the shelf, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibility to imagine a time in which this kind of robot is designed to take on more complex tasks. Then the library theoretically wouldn’t need a librarian on staff, but rather library assistants and associates who lack the graduate degree.

I’m not sure of the intentions of the group that created the robot, but ohht they have opened a can of worms without meaning to?

Half Pint Book Drive

How many of you utilize your neighborhood HPB store? Well for the month of April Half Price Books is accepting and matching donations of kids and young adult books to build libraries in the community in schools and other educational centers.

So what are you waiting for!? Go donate some books for the kiddos!

If you Could Build a Library

A little late today because I decided to sleep last night rather than write a post. And then this afternoon I wanted to talk to the girlfriend instead of write this. Eh.

But I was thinking about where I might build ┬álibrary if I had the chance to do so. Not a Little Free Library, a free standing private library. What I’ve decided is pretty simple and straightforward. I’d look at the city of Houston and identify as many as 10 areas that lack a library altogether or have one in need of financial support. Then I’d research for a year to determine the specific location. I’d cater the events and inventory to the people in the surrounding community.

The library would have ultra high speed internet and typewriters for use. And the entire staff (as much as possible) would live within five miles of the branch. Why? Because they’d have a vested interest in helping as many people as possible. It wouldn’t just be an “easy” job for them.

Lastly, friends of the library sales wouldn’t be operated the same as other libraries. Paperbacks would be the standard $0.25 each and hardcovers would be $0.50, but only once a customer has already gotten 10 books free of charge. Because if the money is there to finance the day-to-day operations of the library, then there is no reason to charge everyone for books that have been read dozens of times.

I’d also name the library after someone who has a history of promoting literacy and reading. I wouldn’t name it after the city or after myself. The name would be one synonymous with books.

Where would you build your library if you could?

If I Won the Powerball…

Leading up to Wednesday’s drawing #IfIWonthePowerball was trending on Twitter. People from all over the country were describing what they’d do with their pile of cash. Because you know, everyone just knew they’d be the winner.

For my international readers, the Powerball is one of several different lotteries we have in the US. There hadn’t been a winner in 20 drawings and the prize exploded to nearly $1.6 billion. Yes, billion. Three winners will split the prize after Wednesday’s drawing.

Moving on. The lump sum option of the jackpot came out to around $187 million after taxes. So here’s what I’d do with that money.

I’d hire a team of financial advisors and accountants.

I’d donate no less than $10 million to my local animal shelter because those animals and volunteers need resources a lot more than I need that money.

I’d donate $1 million to my local library system.

I’d donate $1 million in books to my local school district and pay to have all textbooks updated to current editions.

I’d start a non-profit organization to promote literacy at the elementary level.

I’d build a 4,500 square foot home in which bookshelves line every wall.

I’d visit every historic library in the world.

I’d launch a scholarship program for any students who have a great interest in books.

I’d launch a separate scholarship program for students interested in pursuing any kind of writing degree.

I’d donate no less than $5 million to the Lone Survivor Foundation.

I’d give every member of my immediate family a $10,000 gift card to Half Price Books.

Lastly, I’d buy first row season tickets to the Astros, Texans, and Rockets for the rest of my life.

After all of that I’d be left with more money than I could ever spend. But I don’t need $187 million to be happy or to do good things. I’ll do just fine without it.

What would you do if you’d won the Powerball?

On Criticizing Libraries

I don’t use any of my local libraries. Not one. But I think they’re an important part of society. Recently I’ve seen more and more libraries adapting. What I mean is we’re not just talking books and computers with internet access. Libraries are offering movies, music, and books in many different formats besides the traditional borrowing many have grown used to.

I know some systems are offering on demand services for most things now. Movies on demand. Music on demand. Electronic books. But now I’m seeing people criticizing them for evolving with the changing times. Huh? Why? Because the libraries of today don’t look and operate like the libraries of the past? I don’t get it. They’re providing all the same items and services of the old version at an even greater convenience. They aren’t throwing out all the books. They aren’t charging cardholders a monthly fee to use the library. Heck, they’re doing everything they’ve done in the past, but now they’re doing more.

I think it’s great to see libraries adapting. And I have a hard time listening to anyone who thinks otherwise. What do you think?

PS: Sorry for the ridiculously late post. The “distraction” I spoke of recently is becoming greater by the day. And no, there’s nothing wrong. It’s actually quite nice to have. Just means I don’t get my posts written on time.

President Obama Announces eBook Program for Low-Income Children

I read about this a few days ago and knew I’d have to write about it here. Ya’ll know how the Big Five publishing companies hardly ever seem to be on the same page about anything? Well they’re all on board for this.

Here’s what’s happening. Publishers (Big Five included) are giving away $250 million worth of free eBooks through an app developed by the New York Public Library to young, low-income readers. Of course, it’s a little unfortunate that it’s eBooks and not printed books because we all know that these low-income households may not have internet access or an appropriate device to read these eBooks on.

Which is why the White House is also running a program through dozens of cities and counties across the country to get every student a library card. One of the goals of all of this, besides getting these children reading, is to get them into their neighborhood libraries. Because if they don’t have internet access or an eReader, then libraries can become that reading haven for them.

What do you think about the White House and major publishers working together on a program that can put a lot of eBooks into the hands of many children who otherwise wouldn’t have access to them?


On this day in 2014 I published Saturday Selects: The Beauty of Country Music.