By Steve ZaluskyWhile waiting to check out books at your local library, this is a good time to consider thanking your librarian for protecting your freedom to read. From Sept. 25 – Oct. 1, our nation will be celebrating Banned Books Week, an annual celebration of our First Amendment freedom to read.Every day, librarians from all types of libraries are standing on the front lines, standing up to challenges that threaten to restrict the free flow of ideas.Those challenges can happen anytime, anywhere. READ MORE
Libraries – shhhhh! – have secrets.Including, probably, yours. Just ask your librarian about the books that don’t circulate.  Books you don’t know about. Books not in any catalog or database.Books too rare, too wonderful, too terrible, too ridiculous or too scandalous to lend out.“This door is always locked,” says Sarah Kiefer, local history librarian, as she directs visitors into the sanctum sanctorum: the locked room behind the locked room at the Ridgewood (NJ) Public Library.Here, kept at a regulated temperature of between 63 and 65 degrees, are the treasures of the Local History Room of the library’s Bolger Heritage Center.The prize of the collection is an 8½-inch -by-14-inch volume, bound in embossed leather with brass clasps – dating, best estimate, from 1602. Open it – carefully, carefully – and you will see, written in antique typeface, words that are familiar to any English major: “Whan that Aprill with his shoures sote...”“The Canterbury Tales” is just part of “THE WORKES OF GEFFREY CHAVCER, newly Printed, with diuers additions,” a volume that has been in the Ridgewood collection, apparently, since the 1940s. “It’s not viewable outside the archives,” Kiefer says.How did it get there? No one seems quite sure. A bill of sale from March 4, 1944, indicates that the volume was sold from a “D.M. Beach, 52 High Street, Salisbury” for 7 pounds, 10 shillings, but how it ended up in Bergen County remains a mystery. “I would imagine this was an item that came to us as a gift,” says Ridgewood Library Director Nancy Greene. “We would never have gone out trying to buy that.”There’s more. Old bound volumes, dating from 1844 and 1845, of Graham’s Magazine, featuring first-time-in-print contributions by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Elizabeth Barrett (Browning), and one “Edgar A. Poe.” Also, from 1850, Household Words, a magazine edited by another author you may possibly have heard of: Charles Dickens. “It’s amazing the little treasures you can find in your local library,” Kiefer says. READ MORE
Most graduates get flowers or a nice dinner to mark the occasion. But Craig Del Mundo had something even more romantic in mind.Del Mundo, an FIU (Florida International University) grad who received his bachelor’s in Information Technology in 2013, wanted to surprise his girlfriend of five years, Danahlyn Tamola – who was set to receive her master’s of Business Administration from FIU (she had previously earned a bachelor’s in Psychology in 2011)– with an engagement ring.His choice of proposal location? The Green Library at Modesto A. Maidique Campus. The pair had met on the second floor years earlier, after mutual friends invited Del Mundo, then a recent transfer student, to their hangout spot in order to welcome him to FIU.Del Mundo enlisted the help of family and friends, who lured Tamola to the library after the commencement ceremony had finished. He then got down on one knee and asked his best friend if she would spend the rest of her life with him. READ MORE
“Miss Diane” is the reason why patrons love the Stetson Branch of the New Haven Free Public Library.  That was the consensus of a focus group when asked the question, according to Dawn La Valle, who nominated Diane Brown for her I Love My Librarian award.Brown, the branch manager, “is the heart of the Stetson Branch Library and the heart of an urban community burdened with a high poverty and high crime rate who overcame many obstacles in her own life to transform the Stetson Branch Library into a community hub beloved by all,” she wrote in her nomination.A librarian who is also a community activist, Brown has made an impact within the Dixwell community, a predominantly African American community challenged by low literacy, high poverty and high crime.La Valle wrote, “While so many libraries are struggling to build lasting partnerships with local schools, Diane took the challenge and turned it into an opportunity.”Brown worked closely with CONNCAT (CT Center for Arts and Technology) to assist with the design and implementation of an after-school tutoring program at the Lincoln Bassett School (K-8). READ MORE
You might be seeing a lot of Snoopy in September.For the second year in a year, the iconic cartoon beagle from Peanuts is helping in the annual push for people to obtain a library card, as the Honorary Chair of Library Card Sign-Up month.As summer fades into fall, which means the kids will be flocking back to school, now is the most important time to make sure everyone in your family has a library card.  The American Library Association and libraries across the nation recognize that, which is why each September they celebrate Library Card Sign-Up Month.Held each year since 1987 to mark the beginning of the school year, the celebration reminds parents, caregivers and students that signing up for a library card is the first step towards academic achievement and lifelong learning. The importance of making the public library part of a child’s routine was emphasized by Anita Carroll, director of the Granville (Ohio) Public Library, who said there are several families who come to the library on specific days and make it a point to have a required number of books in their house. The results, she said, show up in their children’s performance in school. READ MORE
MURPHYSBORO, IL - The woman moves among the rows and rows of books lining four tables and some covered chairs in the room, sometimes taking an armful to a table near the door where she's placing her stash of soft- and hardcovers.Her hand delves into a pile, and she pulls out a peach, hard-covered book — "Strip Tease" by Carl Hiaasen — expressing her delight that she's found another version of the book, as the one in her own library is falling apart. She quickly adds that the 1993 New York Times bestseller is not about strip-teasing; the book is a crime novel about a single mother who takes up exotic dancing to make enough money to gain custody of her daughter."I left it on the shelf, 'cause it was a popular request," she said of the tattered book back on her library shelf.  As soon as she picks that one up, she picks up another book with the word "Lipstick" in the title.  "Sounds like something they may be interested in — (or) they may not," she said. "It's trial and error."The woman, who asked that her name not be used, has served as a librarian for three years at one of the state's prisons in Southern Illinois, and this day is shopping at Murphysboro's Sallie Logan Library for mostly used, occasionally new, books for the library that she oversees. She expects to take about eight boxes full of books back to her prison library. The Thursday morning outing is so ideal for her because she said she runs a library with no budget for purchasing new books or materials for her patrons, prisoners ages "18 to 80," who read a high school and higher level. READ MORE
To some, a library visit may conjure up mental images of dusty shelves and a boring assignment.  However, Carmel (CA) High School Librarian Terri Ramos and artist Carolyn Martens worked to make visiting the CHS library colorful and inviting.Ramos and Martens came up with ideas to represent the 10 areas of the Dewey Decimal System through art. Martens sketched out each idea and then painted 12 panels to be hung across available space in the library.“We have this great, big space that’s kind of blank, and we wanted something that would pull students in and help them understand Dewey and the different areas they can explore in nonfiction,” Ramos said. “I approached Carolyn, who had done some work for the elementary and middle schools, and I thought she would be perfect to bring to life what I had in my head.” READ MORE
Dona Helmer is a school librarian who realizes that what happens at her library influences the world beyond it.Tamara Ramsey, a teacher at College Gate Elementary school in Anchorage, Alaska, who nominated Helmer, school librarian, for the 2015 I Love My Librarian Award, said, “Dona feels that libraries and learning are for life. She works hard to help all our students understand that everything can be enhanced by going to the library for help. The library is larger than just a room.”Helmer has worked with second-grade teachers on a Farm to School program. The second graders learn how to find recipes and nutritional information on the Internet. They also take field trips to the Alaska Botanical Garden and receive instruction from guests about plants and soil, as well as learn about Alaskan home grown vegetables.The program also sharpens their cooking skills, with the second-grade chefs receiving a crock pot so they can practice at home with their families.  Ramsey said, “The program is awesome and Dona does the bulk of the work—she finds the grants, organizes the bus, finds the speakers and gets the crockpots and vegetables.”Ramsey said Helmer is an integral part of the educational team at Golden Gate, saying that one sixth-grade teacher said Helmer is more than the school librarian – “she is a curriculum innovator.” READ MORE
by Erika Aguilar, courtesy of KPCCThe homeless use public libraries like many patrons do — to access information, use the Internet and learn, but they come with everyday needs that the average library user does not have.Homeless people visit the libraries to escape harsh weather, get fresh drinking water, and use the bathroom and electricity, which push libraries to provide services that are not part of their intended mission. READ MORE
by Steve ZaluskyAs parents and caregivers strive to give their children the best education, they are finding valuable support from their library. This is especially true for children living in poverty or from low-income homes.But libraries are also involving the entire family in the journey of lifelong learning. READ MORE