leave libraries alone, say huffington

Libraries Are America’s Lifelines. Leave Them Alone
— by Kenneth C. Davis, at Huffington.com


In case you haven’t heard, New York City’s public library systems — three separate library systems in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens — are once again under siege, on the chopping block, threatened with draconian cuts in the face of New York City’s Great Recession. (The cuts were outlined in an article in Library Journal.)

Library cuts in down times remind me of the classic line from Casablanca: “Round up the usual suspects.” The public library is always suspect Number One when it comes to municipal budget cuts. And as librarians everywhere know, this is not a fact in New York City alone.

Underlying this reality are two simple facts. First, libraries do not have a vocal, powerful constituency. Unlike the police, teachers and firemen, they don’t have a potent union or benevolent association. There is no “Library Lobby” doling out campaign contributions. But far worse, libraries tend to be viewed by all too many people in power as a luxury.

In many of these minds, the public library is stuck with an antiquated image of stern ladies shushing noisy kids, retirees borrowing the latest bestsellers and — more recently — homeless folk camping out in a heated corner. They are all clichés. And dumb ones at that.


The public library is not just about borrowed books. It is about information — the great currency of our time. And the library has, by default, become the bridge in the digital divide because it offers free access to computers. Can you imagine in this digital day looking for a job, submitting a résumé or a college application, or searching for housing without your computer? For millions of people, the library is their laptop.


Then there is education. The library is the crucial backstop to the educational system, far beyond the fundamental notion of being a “homework helper” for a school kid with a science project. From learning to read, or speak English, to having a decent place to do schoolwork or doing graduate research, the library is still a cornerstone of an educated, enlightened America.


Mexico Through the Eyes of its Children

If you have time, you should check out this great exhibit at the Houston Public Library’s Central Library:

Mexican Photo Exhibit

mexican photo exhibit

Mexico Through the Eyes of its Children | México visto por sus niños

The City of Houston, Houston Public Library, and the Houston Library Foundation in collaboration with the Consulate General of Mexico in Houston cordially invite you to the opening reception of the photography art exhibition Mexico Through the Eyes of its Children.

Featuring 40 photographs taken by children between the ages of 8 and 15, from the states of Chiapas, Hidalgo, Puebla, Oaxaca, Michoacán, and Mexico City who participate in the community centers of the Fund for the Children of Mexico.

Exhibit on view
May 5 – June 11, 2009
M – Th 9 am – 9 pm | F – Sat 9 am – 6 pm | Sun 1 – 5 pm


Salvation Army at the library

From this week’s Downtown Happenings email:

Helping hands
Celebrate the Salvation Army’s 120th year in Houston with an exhibition of rare artifacts and memorabilia of their history on display at the Houston Public Library’s Julia Ideson Building, 500 McKinney. The exhibition will be there all month and a special viewing is scheduled for Thursday, May 14 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. This free event will include live entertainment, guided tours of the Texas Room and refreshments.


Twitter for Libraries

Want to learn how libraries are using Twitter? InfoToday has a great article posted in Computers in Libaries that covers the topic well.

By the way, other great articles on Twitter you might want to check out:

Baybrook Mall filed Chapter 11

I just picked this up, a little late, off the Houston Chronicle’s Inside the Bay Area blog:

Are you wondering what the recent Chapter 11 filing by General Growth Properties Inc., –which owns Baybrook Mall,means to you?

Well, I shop there myself and have a daughter employed at one of their stores, so I care, too.

So, it was good to know there’s no reason to panic.

Lesley Cheers, corporate communications director for the company, issued this statement in an e-mail to me:

Our core business operations remain sound, stable, and profitable. Our operational model is not flawed and our properties are desirable and performing well — these are not the reasons we commenced these chapter 11 cases. Rather, it was the unprecedented disruption in the real estate finance markets and the need to refinance or extend maturing debt.

Good news, sort of.