World’s Tiniest Library Pops Up In New York City
The adorable object, which sits outside St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral School at 32 Prince Street, looks like a big doughnut on stilts or, if you imagine it with a few flourishes, a peevish robot.
The curious reading hovel is the work of Stereotank, a design collaboration between Venezuelan architects Marcelo Ertorteguy and Sara Valente, who were responsible for last summer’s bicycle-powered musical whirligig on Astor Place. The couple built the library at the invitation of the Architectural League of New York and the organizers of the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature. It is one of 10 mini-libraries now scattered in the ‘hoods below 8th Street, which will serve printed words to the public until they disappear in September.
So how wee are we talking? Well, if somebody tried to stock it with the complete Encyclopedia Britannica, it would likely pop at the seams. Avoid eating a garlicky gyro or lox-and-onion bagel before entering, because your face will be inches away from any other occupant as you leaf through the literature.
StoryCorps Comes To Chicago, And To The Chicago Public Library!
Founded in 2003 and new to Chicago, StoryCorps offers space, equipment, and assistance to people with something to say. It’s “a very simple idea,” as founder Dave Isay once put it. “You bring a loved one with you, a parent, a friend, someone you met on the bus whose story you want to get to know. And the door shuts, and for 40 minutes you just talk.” What you talk about is up to you.
The conversation takes place in a small, soundproof digital recording booth. Chicago’s eight feet by eight feet fit two participants plus a StoryCorps facilitator intimately (there’s room for a third participant to sit in on but not be part of the conversation). At the beginning of the one-hour appointment, the facilitator goes through guidelines, suggests questions, and checks microphone levels, then for the most part lets the participants navigate the conversation. At the end of the session, two CDs are burned. One goes home with the participants, and the other is archived in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Each Friday, the national StoryCorps organization contributes an edited story for broadcast on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Recently, the Chicago Public Library was selected to take part in the national pilot program StoryCorps @ Your Library. In conjunction with this year’s One Book, One Chicago pick, Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns, the program will record stories from people involved in the Great Migration.
The Underground Library
Here is an idea that we wish were more than just an idea: underground access to book samples while on the subway. Miami Ad School students Max Pilwat, Keri Tan and Ferdi Rodriguez, created this concept for a subway ad campaign to solve the problem of empty libraries and encourage reading.
Taking advantage of the fact that most people have smartphones, but they become relatively useless underground without any phone or internet signal, the concept uses near field communication (NFC) to make print ads for New York Public Libraries more interactive. The ads would link to popular books, of which the user can download a 10 page sample. Once done with the free sample, a pop-up message connects to the nearest public library to see if the book is available to check out.
It encourages people to read, gets them hooked on a really good book and provokes curiosity to want to get to the library to read the rest.
Libraries See Opening As Bookstores Close
At the bustling public library in Arlington Heights, Ill., requests by three patrons to place any title on hold prompt a savvy computer tracking system to order an additional copy of the coveted item. That policy was intended to eliminate the frustration of long waits to check out best sellers and other popular books. But it has had some unintended consequences, too: the library’s shelves are now stocked with 36 copies of “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
Of course, librarians acknowledge that when patrons’ passion for the sexy series lacking in literary merit cools in a year or two, the majority of volumes in the “Fifty Shades” trilogy will probably be plucked from the shelves and sold at the Friends of the Library’s used-book sales, alongside other poorly circulated, donated and out-of-date materials.
“A library has limited shelf space, so you almost have to think of it as a store, and stock it with the things that people want,” said Jason Kuhl, the executive director of the Arlington Heights Memorial Library. Renovations will turn part of the library’s first floor into an area resembling a bookshop that officials are calling the Marketplace, with cozy seating, vending machines and, above all, an abundance of best sellers.
As librarians across the nation struggle with the task of redefining their roles and responsibilities in a digital age, many public libraries are seeing an opportunity to fill the void created by the loss of traditional bookstores. They are increasingly adapting their collections and services based on the demands of library patrons, whom they now call customers.
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