Books-B-Q Three: This Sunday

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The Books BBQ is this Sunday at Pete’s Candy Store from 4:00-8:00PM rain or shine. Not only is this a great Desk Set event and a chance to hang out with delightfully charming & bookish people you have not met yet but you also get karma for it. Yep it is a FUNdraiser for Urban Librarians Unite and the Save NYC Libraries campaign they shout about all the time. Those event permit fees add up and they need all the support they can get (just like libraries in NYC, natch). Ten bucks gets you a plate of food and a chance to get in on the huge raffle of great items from the oldey timey quirky goodness of The Vermont Country Store.

Here’s a teaser:

Your very own garden gnome for your garden or home. We think he looks kind and supportive.

For the child within, or without

Pickles for while your getting pickled. These are in Ball jars so if you take the little label off you can pass them off as homemade.

Think of all the presents you can make out a weekend party’s leavings

Relationship therapy

All this and much much more, come out for your chance to win!

Where do the Books Go?

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It seems that a lot of people – some who are in charge of public funds, and plenty of those who aren’t – have no real idea of what a library does today, what kinds of people visit the library, or why we might want our branches open evenings and weekends. Photojournalist Joey O’Loughlin, who beautifully captured the students of A.P. Tureaud School for the Desk Set last year, has given the world some photographic evidence of the way patrons all over the borough of Brooklyn use their local branches.

The results of Joey’s work are on display at the BPL Central Branch through the end of August in an exhibition titled “One World, Many Stories: Where do the books go?”

Pictured are a teenage poet, an elderly shut in, a lyricist, many families, students and more. What makes the portraits so intriguing is that Joey goes home with the subjects, capturing the ways branches in Gravesend, Crown Heights, and Brighton Beach among others serve patrons in their daily lives.

Check out this film on BPLs website featuring some of the photographs with accompanying interviews, and don’t miss the exhibition. But let’s be honest – if you’re reading this blog, you probably have some idea of why and how and when you and your neighbors use the library. So talk to your elected officials and your iPadded friends who keep asking what the point of a library is in this brave new world, and tell them to go.

Also, please enjoy the smiles on the faces of these readers who generally use the library to see and read about other worlds, but this time came to see themselves. All photos by Joey O’Loughlin.

Over-Caffeinated Librarians Read to Save Jobs, Libraries, Communities….the World?

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Last year, fearless librarians and the people who love them gathered together at Brooklyn Public Library’s Grand Army Plaza location to do something totally radical: We read. Yes. For 24 hours straight. There were no introductions, no pontificating, no “I’m Councilman Blenderferg! Vote for me!”, no “Here’s my new YA novel about bisexual changeling vampires living in a post-apocalyptic Steampunk America, coming out this Fall. Buy 20 copies!”. None of that. Just a bunch of concerned book-loving citizens reading in 15 minute or so blocks of time. Budget cuts were out to devastate a great institution and the 24 Hour Read-In was our way of saying that we weren’t going to stand for it.

We read Gossip Girl and kid’s books and socialist manifestos and anything else that struck our fancy. This was our big old statement to let Mayor Bloomberg know that, yes, New Yorkers still read and that they desperately need their local libraries.

It was our first 24 Hour Read-In, so we had no idea what to expect. Here are some things we spotted in front of the library:

1. Pink Slip Buttons. Lots of them. Many of the people participating in the Read-In were NY librarians who had been given notice that they would soon be losing their jobs. Many of those pink slips were rescinded, though over 40 librarians lost their jobs last year. This year? It seems we’re in the same boat.

2. Dogs. Lots of them. Who knew canines were so passionate about literacy and freedom of information? If you like dressing up your dog in socially relevant outfits, the Read-In is right for you!

3. Surly looking librarians. Lots of them. Take away their funding, and no smiles for you. Do you really want these ruffians to be unemployed and roaming the streets?

4. Cots and tents. Because it’s 24 hours and even librarians need a nap.

5. Press! Lots of it! Some of it was published in languages we don’t even know how to read. We hope they said nice things.

Who knows what we’re gonna see this year? Anything can happen when librarians are sleep deprived and fighting to keep libraries open. All we know is, you’ve GOTTA be there. If you haven’t seen Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Branch, now is the time.

We’ll be starting tomorrow, Saturday, June 11th at 4 PM and we won’t stop until 4 PM the next day.
We’d love for you to read with us, and there’s still time to sign up. If reading aloud in front of strangers isn’t your bag, you also have to option to volunteer for us in other ways. Yes, we need people to hand out petitions and postcards and maybe get us some more coffee. Or, just show up and watch a truly unique and weird event. Don’t you need a little advocacy in your weekend?


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Come out and shake it to support the Feminist Press! Tonight!

Bibliobeat May 14 / 2011

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Love Among the Stacks

Right now, at this very moment, as I write this, the steps at Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Library are full of librarians, patrons, library supporters, book shoppers, and activists.

It’s Love Your Library Day!

10AM – 3PM

BPL Central Library

Suggested Donation $5

The Repurposed Library,

a Book-Art Workshop with Lisa Occhipinti

The Repurposed Library by designer and mixed media artist Lisa Occhipinti, is a collection of DIY projects that utilize every imaginable part of a book—from hardback cover to individual pages—to create new art objects and practical items for the home. Bibliophiles, DIY enthusiasts, design aficionados, and creative dabblers will find inspiration in the book’s unique art-meets-craft aesthetic. Often using no more than a craft knife, glue, and a little ingenuity, Occhipinti demonstrates how “orphaned” books can become home décor accessories, such as wreaths and vases, as well as functional items, such as shelves, storage boxes, and clocks. This event is free, but $20 buys you a copy of Lisa’s new book, an old book to make art from, instructions and use of craft supplies. Guests of all ages are welcome. Only a love of books is required!

05/16 at 7:00 pm at Housing Works

Stories: Not Just IN Libraries, Also ABOUT Libraries

The Moth, in conjunction with LIVE at the NYPL, presents:

Reading Between the Lions: Stories of the New York Public Library
Join The Moth for a special show celebrating the Centennial of New York’s finest fueling station for the mind and soul, The New York Public Library.
at The New York Public Library
Saturday, May 21
$25 general public; $15 Library donors, seniors, and students with valid ID.
Purchase tickets online or call 1.888.71.TICKETS (1.888.718.4253).

Graphic Nonfiction

Josh Neufeld, whose A.D. New Orleans After the Deluge is a Desk Set favorite, has collaborated with Brooke Gladstone of NPR’s “ON the Media” on this new account of the world’s news media, The Influencing Machine. The book will be released on Monday, May 23rd, and you can get your copy and hear from the author and illustrator.

Monday, May 23

7:00 PM

McNally Jackson

52 Prince Street, New York, NY

Return of the Mini Zine Fest

Join Marguerite Dabaie and tons of rad zinesters at Pete’s Candy Store for the upcoming Mini Zine Fest!

Saturday, May 28th

3PM – 7PM

More info

Libraries Cannot Live On Love Alone (But a Little Love Helps)


New York City Public Librarians are having a hard time turning our frowns upside down. We’ve been running on fumes for a while now. This economy is in shambles. Hard times mean more unemployment, more people looking for jobs, and, sadly, more homelessness. The library acts like a beacon, drawing in those who need us. Let me be a jerk and speak for all librarians: We’re happy to help. This is our job. Most of us are committed to community service and manage to do our jobs despite budget cuts and short-staffing.

Lately, though, it’s unclear how many of us will be around to deal with the needs of our increasingly demanding patrons. Mayor Bloomberg’s recent budget announcement will devastate many New York institutions, including the public libraries. You may have noticed that your local library isn’t open nearly as much as it used to. Long standing hiring freezes mean less staff, making lines longer. There’s a huge queue for that new book you’re desperate to read because we’re just not ordering as many copies. But the proposed budget cuts would make things so much worse. Hundreds of employees across New York, Queens, and Brooklyn Public Libraries would be laid off. Library hours would be further cut. Even fewer new materials would be coming into the branches. Some branches may close entirely. It would take libraries years to bounce back from what this budget has in store for us.

Luckily, in addition to being brilliant, innovative, and devastatingly attractive, library workers are a scrappy bunch. We’re going to fight until the bitter end. It’s just that we’re not going to get very far without your help.

Enter Brooklyn Public Library’s Love Your Library Day. It marks the beginning of a seriously intense advocacy season. Here’s the good news: Though the road ahead is kind of rough, Love Your Library Day is a fun and cheerful event. First of all, it’s held in front of BPL’s Central Library. If you haven’t seen how pretty this building is, now is the time. It’s all golden and shiny and welcoming and lovely. There’s a large patio area where you can peruse a giant book sale while listening to an all-librarian band, Lost in the Stacks. You can buy this amazing Brooklyn Industries I Love BPL T-shirt. All donations and proceeds will go towards the purchase of new library materials. Then, listen to elected officials, librarians, and dedicated patrons sing the praises of public libraries. You’ll also be able to contact your elected officials, sign petitions, and write postcards. It’s time to get riled up for the fight ahead. Please join us.

We’d love to see you on Saturday, May 14, from 10 AM – 3 PM at Brooklyn Public Library’s Central location at Grand Army Plaza, BUT, if you can’t make it, there’s so many other ways to help right now. Brooklyn, New York and Queens libraries have online petitions that are quick and easy to sign. In addition, you can write Mayor Bloomberg a postcard, letting him know that laying off library workers and closing libraries is not an option for New York. Postcards can be sent to our good friend and fierce library advocate City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, 47-01 Queens Boulevard, Suite 205, Sunnyside, New York, 11104.

The libraries of New York City don’t stand a chance unless we make it absolutely clear that they’re essential. If you’re a librarian, an MLS student, a library patron, a lover of literacy, or just someone who cares for your community, we’re asking you to help us. Please, love your library. And then get ready to fight for it.

Start Advocating!

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It is time to get started. Library advocacy season is upon us again and it is time to tool up. It is going to be a tough year. The budget looks worse than ever. The numbers are still in flux but right now we are looking at massive cuts across the board at all three public libraries in New York City. There will be hundreds of layoffs EACH at Brooklyn, New York, and Queens Public Libraries if the projected budget goes through. There may be over a thousand jobs on the chopping block in the city libraries this year.

What would it mean if they went through? Let’s examine it as a library science problem. Libraries in the city have been in a hiring freeze for years now. They have however been losing staff during that time due to retirement and attrition. There are potentially hundreds of jobs on the books at libraries. All you library school students who read that and salivate, don’t. They are not being filled in order to retain the staff that are there already and avoid layoffs. There will almost assuredly be further job losses this year.

Currently staff on the ground at libraries are stretched thin. There are a lot of long desk shifts going on in the city. Staff illness impacts people more than it should since one person missing a shift dominoes into a huge issue. Management at the libraries has been doing a lot of scrambling to keep the lights on, the doors open, and the books going in and out.

On the doors open thing, we’ve been losing hours. They’ve been clawing to keep them but the losses are happening. Yes the three library systems are open seven days a week but honestly even six day coverage is thin on the ground these days. The less libraries are open the less people use them. The less they use them the less they value them. The less they value them the less they will fight for them. The less they will fight for them the less money the libraries get in the budget. The less money they get in the budget the less they will be open. It is a cycle and it is vicious.

Which brings us back to the current situation. Right now all those tired staff and stressed management are still keeping the doors open. Lose that staff, can that management, and the doors close, the lights go off, the books sit on the shelves or are carted out. Three years of budget cuts have carved the libraries down to the bone. The libraries are on track to possibly lose as much as a third of their staffs. That bears repetition, a potential third of their staff. This will break us for a decade at least, maybe longer, if it goes through. That is not hyperbole, it is fact.

The libraries will have to go onto split shifts. This will have one staff working two libraries. They will each be open for half the week. That means that on any given day of the week there is a good chance that your library will not be open. It might be open Mon., Wed., Fri. or Tues., Thurs., Sat.. If you are a kid with a test tomorrow there is a 50/50 chance your library will be shut. If you use the library for internet access you are now on half time and checking your email every other day at best. If you swing by the library to pick up a book or a movie you might well find yourself out of luck. If you use the library to keep warm/cool you’re fucked but are probably used to it by now.

This has happened before, in the 70s. People who worked it hated it. It took about twenty years for the libraries to get back to the same levels of staffing and service hours. This time around it might be even more sticky. Nowadays, in the age of Google and e-readers, plenty of people doubt the need for libraries at all. What if a generation, the kids who are say 8-14 now, grows up with the library only open now and then but with a smart phone on their hip every second? If we shut the doors will they ever wander the stacks, take home a big pile of books, or have a great conversation with a librarian whose every atom is focused on getting their answer? Will this generation drift away from us? When the libraries start to drift and fade away altogether will they even care?

You know what to do people. Cynicism, burnout, and apathy are not options for us. Grab a stack of postcards, go ahead, do it now. Then take those postcards and work the room, any room. Put a mess of them together in an envelope and send them to our pal on the City Council Jimmy Van Bramer. He’ll make sure that people see them and that each tiny little card of paper you get in adds weight power to our message.

Let’s bury them. Let’s give them a postcard roar. Start now. Immediately. Go!

Jimmy Van Bramer
47-01 Queens Boulevard
Suite 205
Sunnyside, New York 11104

Voices from Outside: Saturday 3/19

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Saturday, March 19th, 7 PM
JustSeeds & Books Through Bars present…

An Art Exhibit & Benefit Auction to send books to prisoners

Voices From Outside: Artists Against the Prison Industrial Complex

created by the JustSeeds Collective for the 10th anniversary of Critical Resistance.

At the Not An Alternative/Change You Want To See Gallery
84 Havemeyer Street, Williamsburg Brooklyn
L to Bedford, J to Marcy, or G to Metropolitan


Artworks by:

Bill Mazza

Chris Cardinale

Vikki Law

Vandana Jain

Audrey Dantzlerward

Mac McGill

Elizabeth Hamby

Antonio Serna

Mónica Félix

William Wulff

Eric Doeringer

Luis Martin

Priska Wenger

Sevonna Brown

Laura Whitehorn

Carey Lamprecht

Megan Books

christina armas

Kelly Savage

Kevin Hong


Guest speaker from the JustSeeds Printmaking Collective

Music by Avani Mehta & DJ Duncan

Refreshments available

Doors at 7PM, bidding ends at 9pm, party till 10pm.

View the portfolio.

All funds raised will be spent on postage to send books to prisoners.

RSVP on Facebook here.

Que(e)ry Profile: Transgender Archives & Library

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Image from the TFA Archive

Que(e)ry III is coming up this Friday, March 18, at Blackout Bar in Greenpoint. We’re back with more exciting raffle prizes, great DJs, fancy queer-lit themed drinks, and nerdy gogo dancers. This time we’re raising money for the Library and Archive of the Transgender Foundation of America, and we thought you’d like to know a little more about it.

The TFA is a non-profit community-run organization founded in 2001. The TFA seeks to improve the quality of life for transgender people, through local and nationwide education, advocacy, and outreach efforts. Since 2008, the TFA has operated the Transgender Center in Houston, which provides community groups, social services, legal counseling, gender transition counseling, HIV testing and counseling, homeless assistance, and mental health services to the Houston trans community. The Center also facilitates social groups, studies, community action events, and serves as a watchdog against discrimination.

In addition, the Center houses the Archive of Transgender History and Transgender Research Library. The Archive, the only one of its kind in the world, collects a range of materials such as personal papers, ephemera, newspapers, magazines, rare books, photos, artifacts, and statuaryrelating to transgender people, including: trans activism and community life; medical, psychological, and legal developments; and depictions of trans people in film, art, literature, mythology, and popular culture. Items of interest in the collection are memorabilia related to Christine Jorgensen, the first widely known person to have undergone sex reassignment surgery and hormone therapy in 1952. Image from Wikipedia Items range from diverse cultures and include books from as early as the 1600s, photos from the Civil War era, and artifacts dating as far back as the Roman Empire. The research library includes biographies, studies, journals and periodicals, both current and historical. Together, the archive and library seek to give a sense of history to the transgender community, and to counteract the misinformation and discrimination transgender people face on a daily basis. Both the library and archive are open to the public daily. You can learn more about their resources at their website.

Or check out their blog for updates on new acquisitions to the archive, and find them on Facebook and Twitter.

Your support, awareness, and time are greatly appreciated by the TFA and by all of us at Que(e)ry and the Desk Set. We look forward to seeing you on Friday! RSVP on Facebook

Can’t make it? You can still Make a Donation to the Trans Archive and Research Library.

Bibliobeat March 13 / 2011

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More than Just Green Beer

The Irish and Irish American contribution to our culture is particularly felt in the literary world. As it turns out, there are better ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s expulsion of the snakes than dressing up in green and getting your drink on at an Upper East Side douchebagary. Reading books, for example. Or better yet: passing out free (!!) books to passersby.

The Irish Arts Center celebrates Irish Book Day 2011 by distributing literature by Irish and Irish-American writers, and they need your help. Here’s what they tell us:

Irish Arts Center is in need of a few good volunteers for our first annual Book Day event on March 17th.  We’ll be sending teams of volunteers to each of the five boroughs to greet the public and distribute 10,000 free books by Irish and Irish American authors.  That’s a lot of books so we’re going to need a lot of help.

Volunteers are still needed at select locations in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx.

Essentially you’ll be an ambassador for a day, handing out books, chatting with the public and Book Day and the Irish Arts Center, as well as promoting Irish arts, culture, and literacy on the whole helping us reach New Yorkers of all ages and ethnicities.

Interested in helping out? Please call the Irish Arts Center at 212-757-3318 x 202, or e-mail Jen Browne at

Beware the Ides of March

March 15th approaches, and it has me thinking of old Julius Caesar, which makes me think of Shakespeare, and that reminds me that the Royal Shakespeare Company is coming to NYC this summer. Which is cool under any circumstances, but the fact that they’re performing at the Park Avenue Armory makes it infinitely cooler. No, of course the tickets aren’t remotely affordable. But if you’re looking to splurge on live theatre, it sure beats Spiderman.

Check it: RSC at the Armory

Follow the Debate, Be a Part of the Solution

No matter your personal opinions on digital media, if you’re buying eBooks for a library collection, you need to understand the implications for your users. The recent decision by HarperCollins to limit eBook checkouts to 26 got me following Alycia Sellie’s take on it all, which lead me to learn more about her work on The Readers Bill of Rights for Digital Books. Alycia says:

We will be presenting the Readers Bill of Rights for Digital Books on April 1st at ACRL annual in Philadelphia. We’ll be discussing all of these issues and more. Right now we’re considering actions that could be taken then, and ways that we as librarians can collectively battle oppressive restrictions upon our right to read. I hope many librarians will be able to attend!

If you’ll be in Philly for ACRL, check out the April first presentation and report back. In the meantime, share your comments.

Image released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.

Next Week: Just Seeds and Books Through Bars Present:

An Art Exhibit & Benefit Auction to send books to prisoners
Saturday, March 19 7PM
At the Not An Alternative/Change You Want To See Gallery
84 Havemeyer Street, Williamsburg Brooklyn
The Desk Set loves Books Through Bars, and we hope you will support their work next Saturday.
For more information:

Stacks and Shelves and Rooms of Our Own

I like reading about libraries in journals and magazines meant for practitioners of other arts, particularly when they draw from our namesake movie for inspiration. For example James Murdock’s recent article from Architectural Record celebrating the past and future of library design.

In the past, a central aisle offered the only way to navigate through these buildings. In the future, users must be allowed to make their own paths. But rest assured, books will always be there in both paper and digital form. In a world where everything is digitized, there is knowledge to be gained from the simple, tactile act of holding a printed work.

Oh, and don’t miss the slide show.

Austrian National Library

Got something to include in the next Bibliobeat?


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