And now, an important message about imaginative play

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What does a commercial-free space mean to you? With corporations doing their best to surround children with advertising from birth, providing commercial-free spaces is essential to our continued democracy, which depends on creativity and critical thinking, skills that pervasive marketing can repress. Libraries, with our continual campaign for intellectual freedom, are the perfect places to provide a commercial-free space for children.

10 Reasons To Become A Library Addict

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My name is Laura. I have a chronic library habit.

Sure, I have other, less socially acceptable habits. We can talk about those another day. Right now I’m trying to convince you to become a fellow library fanatic.

I’ve already been successful with my kids. The stacks of books my family brings home may be pushing up the state average. Now that my kids are older they are surprised most of their peers don’t bother with libraries, in person or online. And I’m surprised to see how many of my friends don’t use libraries either. Some haven’t been since high school. For those of you who don’t bliss out over libraries, or worse, dismiss libraries as dim places with a distinctive old book smell, here are the ten best reasons to get hooked on libraries.

Mount Vernon Announces Grand Opening Date for New Library

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MOUNT VERNON, VA – The grand opening date for Mount Vernon’s latest venture, The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington (the Library), has been set for September 27, 2013. A $100 million campaign was created by George Washington’s Mount Vernon to establish this stunning, state-of-the-art facility at the picturesque and historic estate. The multi-faceted facility will aggressively disseminate knowledge about Washington to a wide range of audiences, using cutting-edge technology and various approaches to grow Mount Vernon’s national network of George Washington experts and enthusiasts.

Second Annual Class of National Student Poets to Serve One Year as Literary Ambassadors

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Washington, DC –  During a special ceremony at the National Book Festival, five distinguished teen poets emerged as national literary leaders and were appointed as the second annual class of the National Student Poets Program (NSPP), the nation’s highest honor for youth poets presenting original work.

Sojourner Ahebee, age 17 of Interlochen, MI; Michaela Coplen, age 17 of Carlisle, PA; Nathan Cummings, age 18 of Mercer Island, WA; Aline Dolinh, age 15 of Vienna, VA; and Louis Lafair, age 18 of Austin, TX will serve one year as literary ambassadors, during which time they will share their work and engage audiences of all ages in the art of poetry. By doing so, these poets demonstrate the essential role of writing and the arts in academic and personal success.  The program celebrates teens as makers and doers and is a signature initiative of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and the nonprofit Alliance for Young Artists & Writers.

Donated volumes carry on teaching

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Diane Zahand had a passion for early childhood education.

Now, even after her death, her work is continuing..

After Zahand died on Oct. 10, her husband, Jim Zahand, donated her collection of more than 5,000 books to the Spokane County Library District. With the books came a generous check and a request that SCLD create a memorial fund in her name.

“In her eyes every child was a gifted child,” Zahand said.

YA Authors Decode Dystopia

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At the opening of the panel “Bleak New World: YA Authors Decode Dystopia” authors Lois Lowry (whose iconic The Giver won the Newbery in 1994), Patrick Ness (the Chaos Walking trilogy), Veronica Roth (the Divergent series), and Cory Doctorow (Homeland; Boing Boing coeditor) were asked how they would fare if they suddenly found themselves in one of the dystopian or apocalyptic situations detailed in their work. Some predicted survival. Others were convinced that they would immediately perish. Their answers drew laughs from the capacity crowd for the always-popular Friday-night literature forum sponsored by Booklist, but they also revealed an important component of dystopian fiction that makes it so appealing: the ability to place oneself intimately in the action. The “what if” factor draws readers into dystopian fiction, making them imagine how they would react if faced with calamity.

A Year in the Life of Librotraficante

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Librotraficante has had a rollercoaster year. Led by Houston-based author and activist Tony Diaz, the organization (whose name means “book smuggler” in Spanish) formed last year in response to Arizona House Bill 2281 (PDF file), which outlaws teaching courses in Arizona public schools that promote the overthrow of the United States government, foster racial and class-based resentment, favor one ethnic group over another, or advocate ethnic solidarity.

The bill, signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer in 2010, forced Tucson United School District (TUSD) to dismantle its successful Mexican-American studies program after receiving complaints that the course instilled views that were anti-American, anti-white, and hostile to the US government. The elimination of the program led to the removal of hundreds of books from Tucson United school libraries, including works by Isabel Allende, Junot Díaz, Dagoberto Gilb, Howard Zinn, Henry David Thoreau, and William Shakespeare. Former teachers of the program and students filed lawsuits to challenge the bill’s constitutionality, and the American Library Association passed a resolution at its 2012 Midwinter Meeting opposing the restrictions.

Cultivating a Special Collection

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Serendipity is often the best friend of special collections librarians. Sharing our passion for history and preservation can create happy accidents, connecting us with the caretakers of the remnants of past generations. In fact, libraries come to acquire many cultural treasures, often discovered in the contents of someone’s attic, basement, or storage space, because we nurtured a relationship with a potential collector over time.

Western Kentucky University’s most happy accident happened more than 10 years ago when I [Sue Lynn McDaniel] was sitting in a dentist’s chair. The hygienist was making small talk and asked a standard ice-breaker question: “What do you do for a living?” My reply led to her inquiring: “Would WKU be interested in my Uncle J. T.’s suitcase?” Uncle J. T. turned out to be John T. Scopes, the defendant in what has come to be known as the Scopes Monkey Trial. He was charged with violating the Butler Act (Tenn. HB 185, 1925), which criminalized the teaching of “any theory that denies the Story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals.”

Bringing the Hulk to the Northlake Public Library

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Don’t you want to live in a world where libraries have statues of comic book characters, 3D printers, and professional quality graphic design hardware/software? We do too, which was why we recently launched a crowd sourced fundraiser using the platform Indiegogo to buy a nine foot tall Incredible Hulk Statue, a Replicator 2, an iMac, and a Cintiq pen display. The initial idea came from a community member who thought it would be a good idea to have a giant Hulk statue in the library to help promote and purchase more comics and graphic novels, especially creator-owned and indie titles.