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Bees abuzzing: Redwood City Library home to two hives

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Redwood City’s (CA) downtown library is buzzing with activity.

Its roof has been home to two honeybee hives since summer, and a hands-on educational display about bees in the children’s section will be unveiled at the “Bee Jubilee."   The event features bee-themed live music by local band “Corner Laughters” and honey-flavored snacks will be offered.

The “Bee Wall Interpretive Center” will educate children about the various types of bees, their life cycles and how they collect pollen. The center also includes a cabinet full of books on bees, beekeeping tools, samples of dead bees and a screen will live stream footage from the inside of the rooftop hives.

“Bees are important to our society because one of every three bites of food we eat is produced by honeybees,” said beekeeper Kendal Sager, who manages the library’s bee colonies. Humans also rely on honey and beeswax for various household products, including lotions, lip balm, soaps and furniture polish, Sager said.

Bees typically don’t generate much honey within the first year, said beekeeper Kendal Sager, but she did manage to harvest a modest 40 pounds of honey in September — one hive can produce up to 150 pounds in an especially productive year, she said. The honey from the rooftop hives will be for sale starting Feb. 5 in the library’s store — 6 ounces are priced at $10.

The yellow sub-basement in Houghton Library

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The Edison and Newman Room, Houghton Library’s main exhibition space, usually resembles a 17th-century sitting room — the walls are robin-egg blue, gold chandeliers hang from the high ceilings, and a framed portrait of a regal-looking man sits above a fireplace. But for Rachel Howarth’s goodbye party in December 2015, the room was adorned with donkey piñatas and holiday decorations. And among the festivities were six librarians who, in their white button-down shirts and black bowties, could be easily confused for waiters. But that night, they were neither waiters nor librarians — they were The Beatles.

Emilie Hardman, a Houghton librarian, had gathered a band of colleagues to give Howarth a surprise musical send-off. Michael Austin played the guitar, Micah Hoggatt the banjo, and Emily Walhout the viola da gamba. Heather G. Cole was on drums, but because they couldn’t bring a full drum set into the library, that meant “a snare placed on a stool,” as Cole recalls in an email. James M. Capobianco ’99, a classically-trained tenor, was lead vocalist, singing a parody of “Penny Lane” with new lyrics about their departing friend. Hardman, who had written the lyrics, rocked a tambourine. Together, they formed the Yellow Sub-Basement.

Advocacy and the power of narrative

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In 1990, when it was ranked one of the worst libraries in Colorado—open only four days per week, the lowest number of books per capita, minimal reference, and no children’s services—Douglas County Libraries (DCL) won 66% of the votes in an election to create a better-funded, independent library district.

By 2007 (and after I had served as DCL director for 16 years), 84% of households in the county had an active library card. Its annual circulation per capita was 27, and gate counts exceeded those of any local business by a wide margin. In June 2009, right after DCL decided to go back to the voters for a tax measure to keep up with community growth, the library earned the number-one spot in Hennen’s American Public Library Rankings for libraries with populations of 250,000–499,000 (based on 2006 government data).

Confident of a win, DCL campaigned to little resistance and many compliments. But the library lost the election by only 1% of the vote.

Shortly thereafter, OCLC unveiled its first From Awareness to Funding study in 2008, exploring the relationship between the public’s perception of a library’s role within the community and success with levies, referenda, and bond measures. It was a revelation, and it underscored the DCL experience: Use does not equal support. Douglas County, like most libraries, had been marketing its services, not its value.

Dungeons and Dragons rule fantasy corner at library

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Every Tuesday evening, a small corner of the Blount County Public Library (TN) turns into a land of fantasy, dragons, enemies and magic for a group of more than a dozen young Dungeons and Dragons enthusiasts and adult gamers.

First published in 1974, Dungeons and Dragons was developed as a fantasy tabletop role-playing game where each player is assigned a specific character to play. The characters embark upon imaginary adventures within a fantasy setting refereed by a dungeon master.

Characters join together to solve problems, engage in battles and gather knowledge and treasure. As the characters achieve goals, they become increasingly more powerful and able to tackle bigger challenges and adventures.

Teen library intern does more than shelve books

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The Cabell County Public Library (WV) was chosen by the American Library Association for a connected internship earlier this year, and the intern sponsored by the program is wrapping up her final hours before she goes back to school.

Rebekah Nix, a 16-year-old rising junior at Huntington High, spent her summer working in the youth department at the library, where she got the opportunity to interact one-on-one with the library's youngest patrons.

The CCPL was one of 50 libraries from 35 states for the Inclusive Internship Initiative, which is funded by the Public Library Association, a division of the ALA. The III aimed to provide funding for a mentored internship for high school juniors and seniors from diverse backgrounds in which they would engage with multiple areas of librarianship, such as administration, programming and user services.  The program included a trip to Washington, D.C., for a kickoff event and will conclude with a wrap-up event in Chicago this fall.

The long road to Manhattan Beach’s landmark library

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Manhattan Beach (CA) was a thriving beach town when it officially incorporated on Dec. 2, 1912, but it didn’t have all that many permanent residents.

A small group of strong-willed women, led by Jessie Bell Smith, were determined that their then-small town have all the necessities: a good school system, fire and police departments and its own library.  Smith had founded the Neptunian Woman’s Club in May 1909, and it became a driving force in the community, advocating for such services.

As historian Jan Dennis told the Beach Reporter in 2012, the Neptunians started Manhattan Beach’s first library in the summer of 1912 at the club’s original location at 1200 The Strand. It members had been operating a book discussion group when the decision was made to make books available to the community for 10 cents a loan.

It was a popular option. By the time the library became affiliated with the Los Angeles County library system in January 1915, had 380 books and 143 card-carrying members. The city’s population was less than 600 at the time.  The library would move to 1209 Manhattan Avenue in 1935 and remain there for the next two decades.

Public library gives young people a sense of community

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Whether we admit it or not, we're all a little dorky in our own ways. Perhaps you've spent countless hours reading the Harry Potter series. Maybe you can recite half of the lines from Jaws. It's possible you've gotten your buds together for a good ol' game of Dungeons & Dragons. Regardless of how your nerdiness reveals itself, there's a place for you at Coeur d'Con, Coeur d'Alene's home-grown comic convention.

The event is a geek-tastic celebration of comics, movies, games, manga (Japanese comic art), books and more put on by the Coeur d'Alene Public Library. It features events that are associated with classic conventions, including lectures, contests and workshops.

Instead of usual library-goers perusing books, the building will be filled with Coeur d'Con participants, many disguised as characters from their favorite movies or comics, immaculately dressed for the cosplay (costume play) contest. Special guests like Tom Cook, one of the animators behind He-Man and Scooby Doo, will be in attendance to give a talk on his life as a cartoonist.

Forbes opinion piece stirs outrage among library advocates

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An op-ed piece by economist Panos Mourdoukoutas on the Forbes magazine website Ignited a firestorm among library advocates, who eagerly offered overwhelming evidence countering his contention that, as the headline put it, “Amazon Should Replace Local Libraries to Save Taxpayers Money.”

American Library Association President Loida Garcia-Febo vigorously denounced the Forbes piece, commenting that Mourdoukoutas could have benefited from the assistance of a librarian who might have pointed him to various economic impact studies demonstrating that our nation’s libraries are a sound investment.

But Garcia-Febo, in an article in Publishers Weekly, elaborated on the economic benefit libraries provide taxpayers.  She wrote, “Dozens of economic impact studies from across the country show libraries are a viable asset for the communities they serve. Libraries fuel job creation, opportunities for business development and resources that empower users to seek and sustain employment. Taxpayers are investing in education and lifelong learning, and every dollar builds equity within their community and state and yields a tremendous return on Investment (ROI).”

Literary Landmark: San Carlos Institute, Key West - Jose Marti

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The San Carlos Institute in Key West, Florida was designated a Literary Landmark on January 14th, 1994 in honor of Cuban poet and patriot José Martí. The Institute was founded in 1871 as a shrine to Cuban heritage aimed at preserving Cuban culture. It was one of the first bilingual schools in the United States. Martí loved the school so much he often referred to it as “La Casa Cuba” or the “Cuban House”.

At the San Carlos Institute, Martí united the exile community and formed The Cuban Revolutionary Party in his campaign for Cuban Independence. His actions eventually led to the establishment of a free Cuba in 1902. Martí died in 1895 fighting in the war for Cuban independence.

Libraries' directors describe them as community hubs, and beyond

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It doesn't take an Einstein to realize the value of libraries, although Albert Einstein himself famously observed, "The only thing that you absolutely have to know is the location of the library."

That is advice that people in communities far and wide, including Ridgewood, Wayne and Montclair (NJ), have taken to heart for decades.  However, libraries in those municipalities, and across North Jersey, are not merely repositories for books, but also hubs for learning and gathering.

It is tax assistance at the Ridgewood Public Library, yoga sessions in front of the Montclair Public Library and reading with therapy dogs in the Wayne Public Library's Preakness Branch.  And the importance of libraries can't be overstated, particularly in New Jersey, when considering recent developments. 

The interlibrary loan process among the Bergen County Cooperative Library System, which typically handles more than 4,300 interlibrary loans per day among 76 North Jersey libraries, got back to normal only in recent months. This was after the vendor retained to manage interlibrary loans in the state did such a bad job that it led to a backlog of more than 100,000 volumes statewide this year.

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