From Our Guest Bloggers AbeBooks, Brooklyn Public Library, Free Library of Philadelphia, InsideHigherEd, Melville House, Philadelphia, weird book room
- If you haven’t yet checked out the Weird Book Room over at AbeBooks.com, it’s about damn time you do so. According to the fine folks at AbeBooks, this new sectionÂ isÂ ”a celebration of everything that’s bizarre, odd and downright weird in books,” and those of us working in libraries know that a frighteningly (or delightfully, depending on your mood) large number ofÂ the books floating around out there fit into this category. Their Weird Book of the Week is so ridiculously awesome that it deserves to be highlighted:Le Petomane, which translated into English becomes The Fart Maniac(!) or The Fartiste(!!!). This heartwarming book “tells the story of Joseph Pujol, who from 1887 to roughly 1914, delighted French audiences with the multi-faceted musical and impersonator skills of…well, his anus.”Â Yet more proof that French people, while often charming and delightful, are total weirdos. OK, I would probably go to see this guy too if he were still around.
- Melville House’s The Art of the Novella series is currently blowing my mind. IncludingÂ short, often forgottenÂ works by some of the heavy hitters of the Western canon: Twain, Proust, Balzac, Fitzgerald, Melville, and others. Not only have they chosen great titles, but these little books are very attractively designed. Exhibit A is The Girl With the Golden Eyes by Balzac, a tale of “incest, homosexuality, sexual slavery, and violence.” Wow!Make Levar Burton proud and pick some of these up at your local library.
- Recently, I was poking around in the catalog at work and realized that Brooklyn Public Library has a pretty killer collection of Criterion Collection films. If you don’t know, the Criterion Collection is an ongoing project that collects and releases many of the world’s greatest films with lots of extras and fancy packaging. If you want to browse our holdings, open the online catalog and do a title search for “Criterion Collection.” You’ll get 27 pages of results! Who needs Netflix? Watch a few of these and show how cultured you are at your next cocktail party.
- Is it just me, or are there way too many librarians out there who seem to be intent on undermining the raison d’etre of librarianship?Â A recent article at InsideHigherEd.com called “Libraries of the Future,” reports on a talk at Columbia University by a University of California administrator and librarian Daniel Greenstein in which he proposed outsourcing numerous functions traditionally carried out by academic librarians and cutting library staffs. I understand that budgets are extremely tight these days, but these proposals strike me as rather worrisome on their face. As I’m not an academic librarian, perhaps readers who are academic librarians could offer some insightÂ regarding Greenstein’s vision of the brave new library.
- Yo Philly!Â Congrats for organizing so effectively to make sure that this year’s Pennsylvania state budget has enough funding to keep the doors of the Free Library of Philadelphia open. Stay organized because I’m sure this scenario is going to play out again a year from now, if not sooner.
From Our Guest Bloggers Free Library of Philadelphia, Philadelphia
If the Pennsylvania state legislature does not craft an adequate state budget by Friday, the entire Free Library of Philadelphia system will be forced to close indefinitely. Yes, you read that right. There will be no public library services in the nation’s sixth largest city unless a small group of politicians can get their acts together in time to protect the public services that Philadelphians rely on. Obviously, the consequences would be dire:
- No access to free books, movies, music, magazines and newspapers, or the Internet.
- No access to free adult education, English as Second Language, or GED classes.
- One less safe, socially constructive place for kids to go after school.
- Since many Philadelphia public schools do not have a school library, many school children will have not have access to any library.
- Layoffs for hundreds of librarians, clerks, custodians, security guards, etc.
Pennsylvania has been severely hit by the economic downturn, which has deprived the state of millions of dollars in necessary tax revenues. It is one of two states (Michigan is the other) without a state budget for fiscal year 2010. Because states are constitutionally required to have balanced budgets, Pennsylvania has to scramble to raise the revenue needed to fund basic public services in Philadelphia like police, firefighting, and trash collection, all of which will also be severely cut if no deal is reached soon.
The political situation remains in flux. Last week, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives approved a budget proposal that would allow Philadelphia to temporarily raise its sales tax and delay payments into the city’s pension fund. The state senate might vote on the measure this week. However, many senators seem unhappy with it, and Governor Ed Rendell has threatened to veto it because he feels the proposed budget relies on overly optimistic state revenue projections and cuts too much from state education funding. If the legislature and the governor cannot reach a deal on the budget by Friday, Philadelphia will send out layoff notices to 3,000 city workers and be forced to shut down the libraries effective October 2.
But even if this doomsday scenario can be avoided, the proposed budget deal still contains major cuts to public library funding. According to the Friends of the Free Library:
1. The Public Library Subsidy would be funded at $50 million, a 34% cut from the 2008-09 budget level of $75.7 million.
2. The now-combined Library Access funding (which includes POWER Library, Ask Here PA, the statewide library card, interlibrary delivery, and the Access Pennsylvania database) would total only $3 million, a cut of 73% from 2008-09′s combined total of $11.1 million.
Under this proposed deal, two other library line items remain unchanged from earlier proposals: The State Library’s cut of 50% remains, and Library Services for the Visually Impaired and Disabled will face a 1.7% cut. When you add it all together, here are the two key facts:
1. Direct funding for local libraries gets cut by one-third; and,
2. Overall library funding – all programs – will be cut by 38% under this deal.
Unfortunately, there really is not much those of us living outside of Philadelphia can do to save the libraries other than spreading the word and perhaps donating to the Friends of the Free Library. If you do live in Philadelphia, now would be the time to start a riot!
This potentially tragic situation provides yet more evidence that the political and economic systems in this country are fundamentally flawed and in need of a drastic overhaul. When the residents of a major city cannot be provided with reliable basic public services like libraries, police, or trash collection, something is deeply wrong.
Dispatches from the Editors closing, Libraries, Philadelphia, Philaelphia Free Library
Okay, so maybe our Google News Search is busted, or maybe we’re dreaming. Or maybe the Philadelphia Free Library is threatening to close its doors – every single door of every branch – and barely any national news sources are reporting it.
The Library’s website announces:
We deeply regret to inform you that without the necessary budgetary legislation by the State Legislature in Harrisburg, the City of Philadelphia will not have the funds to operate our neighborhood branch libraries, regional libraries, or the Parkway Central Library after October 2, 2009.
The L.A. Times and Library Journal have reported the story, as have the Philadelphia Citypaper and several blogs. Plenty of people and papers have been writing about the Pennsylvania budget problems, and the subsequent threat to Philly’s city services, but where’s the New York Times article on the prospect of an ENTIRE PUBLIC LIBRARY SYSTEM SHUTTING DOWN?
And, Philadelphia: WTF? Is this a threat meant to spur your state Senate into action? To ruffle the feathers of your library users and public at large? Our impression is that those feathers have been ruffled for some time, and that fights have been waged, and some battles even won. Announcing that the library will close – CLOSE! – seems desperate. But as they say, desperate times…
Our September guest blogger, Chris Maisano, attended Drexel and lived in Philadelphia for quite a while. We look forward to hearing his take on things. In the mean time, please, please, please, somebody shed some light on this.
Uncategorized Librarians, Philadelphia
We interrupt our picture posting to bring you this from the National Broadcasting Company:
Sufficiently moved by that weeping man in Philadelphia? Want to help? Then get yourselves to this upcoming party and benefit!
We helped host a party at National Mechanics last year during the ALA midwinter meeting. Co-hosted by a fantastic crew of Librarians from Drexel, it was a deeply good time. The upcoming Bibliodiscotheque will no doubt rock Philly all night long (or until 2am, which is when bars close there!) Get on down there; the Chinatown bus is practically free.