Tag Archives: library

knowledge is power.

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a great day spent in detroit

exploring the main library

built by andrew carnegie

in the last year of the civil war

to bring knowledge to the people

1 of 21 remaining in detroit

not forgetting the children

where stories were told in front of the fire

and careful attention

was paid to every detail

a beautiful oasis created and restored

beating in the heart of the city.

“a city isn’t so unlike a person.

they both have the marks to show

they have many stories to tell.

they see many faces.

they tear things down and make new again.”

― rasmenia massoud

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“i’m a reflection of the community.” tupac shakur

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amidst the more than a million people without power days

our local library

has been opening at 6am

and closing late

acting without anyone asking

as an ad hoc community center

in order to offer

a safe and welcoming haven to all

full of

electricity and books and computers and games and story times

a friend to all ages

stay as long as you like

take as much as you need

on a morning visit

during my current nomadic existence

i sat with 2 high schoolers

an old couple

college roommates

a gaggle of 3 year olds

and a family

all here for the same reasons

a bit of respite

a cup of coffee

a bite to eat

a wealth of good company

a comfortable chair

and

an awful lot of warmth.

—–

“a library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people.

it is a never failing spring in the desert.”
― andrew carnegie

where brains met brawn.

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librarians have an olympics, too
brains met brawn in a bookish competition for the ages

think the athletic action is all in rio this year? you’d be wrong—dead wrong. though you might not think so, librarians perform feats of near-olympian prowess every day as they lug books back and forth, tame tortuous piles of information and sustain long hours and complicated reference requests. and as librarian katy kelly writes, they proved it in the university of dayton’s first-ever library olympics last week.

the “olympic” event showcased the prowess of librarians by turning the mental into the physical. it’s an olympics year tradition in many libraries that aims to get people more engaged with their local library. some libraries invite the public into the library to compete in fun, bookish games, but in this case librarians themselves faced off in what may be the ultimate game of reference skill and cataloging competence.

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librarians competed in a vigorous game of “journal jenga” (stacking bound periodicals as high as possible and jumping out of the way when they collapsed. then they faced off in a circuit of different events, including balancing bound journals on their heads, running a book cart through a twisty course, and tossing journals toward a target. (all of those thrown journals were slated for recycling in a process librarians call “weeding.”)

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brains had a place next to all that brawn, too, as librarians participated in a tricky speed sorting event in which they had to put books in order by their library of congress call number. to top it all off, they ran around campus finding objects that corresponded to different lo  call numbers. the winning team made off with the medal by a single point.
all of these antics sound silly, but librarian m. schlangen, who participated in the event, found deeper meaning in the exercise. “as I raced to put a cart full of books in order by the library of congress call numbers on their spine labels,” she wrote, “the very genius of this system occurred to me: without orderly cataloging of the world’s knowledge, even in this age of search engines and high-speed networks, information could easily be rendered obscure in an ocean of data, accessed by mere chance rather than intention.”

 

there’s another purpose for the games: as the university of dayton’s m. scheffler and a. black note, these olympics-like competitions don’t just test librarians’ knowledge, but highlight areas in which they might need more training. and the best librarians know that, like the most competitive athletes in the world, it never hurts to brush up on the basics.

credits: smithsonianmag.com, erin blakemore, katy kelly