The W.E.B. DuBois Library: 28 stories and 50 years

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Fifty years ago this upcoming September, the University of Massachusetts saw the groundbreaking of a new student library. In addition to the library’s groundbreaking, this year is the 45th anniversary of the dedication of the tower and the 25th anniversary of the renaming of the building.

The following information was sourced from “The Campus Guide: University of Massachusetts” by Marla Miller and Max Page, an online university wiki page, and archived issues of The Massachusetts Daily Collegian.

The history of the University Library

Now a centerpiece in the UMass skyline, the library is the antithesis of counsel given to the University founders in 1866 by the father of American landscape architecture, Frederick Law Olmsted. As written in “The Campus Guide: University of Massachusetts” by UMass professors Marla Miller and Max Page, Olmsted urged Massachusetts Agricultural College to only build low, small buildings.

Twins work to ‘change lives one library at a time’

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In the summer of 2012, Seema and Suraj Korumilli, then 12-year-old twins from Plainsboro, New Jersey, visited Kapileswarapuram, India, their ancestral homeland. “Walking through the village,” Seema recalls, “was a coming-of-age moment.”

The siblings—now first-year students at Northeastern—were shocked by the lack of books, computers, and other educational resources available to the villagers and vowed to effect positive change. As Seema explains, “We felt like it would have been a crime if we didn’t give back to the community that had fostered our entire family and become an integral part of our identity.”

They chose to focus on education. “We decided we would become the solution to eradicating illiteracy,” Suraj says, “and the first step to doing that was creating libraries.”

Libraries make health literacy accessible for all

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More than 90 million U.S. adults have low health literacy. Health literacy, which measures someone’s ability to access necessary health services and understand health information, is crucial for maintaining a high quality of life.


Public, school, academic and special libraries can play a key role in making health literacy attainable for all—which is why the American Library Association (ALA) and the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) are collaborating to raise awareness for Health Literacy Month this October.


Library advocates can join the ALA and NNLM in highlighting how libraries promote health literacy by signing up for their free health literacy toolkit, which provides graphics, messaging ideas and striking data about health literacy and libraries. The toolkit is part of ALA’s Libraries Transform public awareness campaign, a nationwide movement spreading the word about how libraries and library professionals transform lives.


Individuals with low health literacy skills often have higher health care costs and an increased risk of developing preventable disease. For those struggling to make sense of health information, the library is a key resource, providing free access to quality health information and databases that can improve one's quality of life.


“NNLM recognizes that people trust their libraries and want to equip library staff with the knowledge to help their users navigate locating reliable health information,” said Lydia Collins, Consumer Health Coordinator at NNLM. “This is critical so that health consumers can make educated decisions, in collaboration with their health care providers, for themselves and their loved ones.”


While library professionals can’t answer specific questions about medical conditions or treatment options, they can guide their community members to trusted health information to help them make educated decisions. Librarians can help locate quality information and resources around a variety of health topics, including nutrition, aging and rare diseases. And when health information can be difficult to understand, library staff can help people make sense of confusing information—from evaluating the accuracy of health news to providing multilingual health information for immigrant and refugee populations. Beyond that, many libraries partner with community health agencies and offer health-focused events and programs for the whole family, including exercise and cooking classes.

While Health Literacy Month is observed in October, health literacy saves lives and improves health outcome year-round: you can always head to your local library for assistance getting health information for you and your loved ones.

Bridging Cultures: New Immigrants Add to the Fabric of Their Community

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The Township of Plainsboro, New Jersey, is known for the global pharmaceutical corporations and advanced technology laboratories that call it home. Located between the Philadelphia and New York metropolitan areas, the community attracts a diverse population from all corners of the globe. More than 46% of its residents speak a language other than English at home—and the number is growing.

Landmark Study Examines Role of Tribal Libraries

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By: Kristi Eaton

Merida Kipp remembers the elder who came into her library looking to learn more about computers.

Kipp, the library administrator at the Yakama Nation Library in Toppenish, Washington, said the man was apprehensive at first, but over time, he learned to use the machines and its various programs. He eventually purchased his own laptop to do research and continue learning new skills and programs.

“He was intimated at first, but he just took off with it,” Kipp said.

American Dream Starts @ your library grant allows CA library to expand ESL classes

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A California library system is providing opportunities for patrons who wish to expand their horizons by learning English. Through an American Dream Starts @ your library grant awarded by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation to the American Library Association, the Riverside County (Calif.) Library System has been able to expand ESL classes for adult learners.

‘Agri-Terrorism’? Town’s Seed Library Shut Down

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A public library in small Pennsylvania town offered a new public resource for its patrons: a seed library. That is, until the state Department of Agriculture pulled the rug out from under the plan.

Launched on April 26, the seed library at Mechanicsburg’s Joseph T. Simpson Public Library would have held. Its first seed trove, with help from the Cumberland County Commission for Women, came from Seed Savers Exchange, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving heirloom seeds.

Around the World: 14 Beautiful Libraries [Photos]

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Some book collectors do not care very much about where they store their books. The English King Henry VIII, had a fine collection of books, but when visitors came to view them they were horrified by the conditions they were stored in, commenting on how they were stacked randomly on the floor and in untidy heaps covering every available surface. Thankfully, since Roman times, if not before, others have cherished books and wished to show them off to their best advantage.

Incredibly, until now, there has been no single volume tracing the history of library buildings through the ages. For the last three years, I have been traveling the world together with Will Pryce the architectural photographer, visiting and photographing 85 of the world’s greatest libraries in 21 countries. The result is The Library: A World History (Chicago University Press), the most complete account of library buildings to date.

Lemony Snicket Helps ‘Little Free Library’ Advocate Spencer Collins

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A Kansas boy battling through a series of unfortunate events over his front-yard library is getting some support from author Daniel Handler.

Last month, 9-year-old Spencer Collins erected a “take a book, leave a book” structure as a Mother’s Day gift and as an attempt to engage with his Leawood, Kan., community. But then the Leawood City Council ordered him to remove the small library from his front yard and even threatened the young librarian with fines.

Bound in human skin

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Houghton Library contains countless curiosities. Perhaps the most disturbing example is Arsène Houssaye’s Des destinées de l’ame (FC8.H8177.879dc), bound in human skin.

In the mid-1880s, Houssaye (1815-1896) presented his recent book, a meditation on the soul and life after death, to his friend Dr. Ludovic Bouland (1839-1932), a noted medical doctor and prominent bibliophile. Bouland bound the book with skin from the unclaimed body of a female mental patient who had died of a stroke.