The public library was never just about books

On July 21, Forbes published a piece by economist Panos Mourdoukoutas arguing that Amazon stores should replace public libraries. The backlash was rapid and unforgiving; library-lovers from around the world responded with angry tweets, and Forbes removed the piece two days later. Yet the article highlights a concerning fact: Too many Americans misunderstand the role of the public library.

The library is not a warehouse of books like Amazon, a tech developer like Apple or a cafe like Starbucks. It is a public institution of learning predicated on the principle that all Americans should be able to access information, education and culture free of cost. In practice, the unique mission of the public library leads to a distinct set of services, ranging from book-lending to computer- and English- language classes. The growing diversity of library activities is not a means of compensating for the rise of the Internet or a decline in the number of library users. Libraries have been re-inventing their programs for over a century in an effort to advance the same old mission: information for all.

Continue @ Baltimore Sun

Check Out Art program lets art lovers in Cedar City bring masterpieces home

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Art lovers will have the chance to enjoy classic works in their homes thanks to a new program at the Cedar City Library in the Park.

Check Out Art offers framed prints of acknowledged masterpieces available to display and enjoy in your home or office. The circulation period will be four weeks. Each piece has an attached description of the art. The new collection has 14 works available.

Continue @ St. George Daily Spectrum

How we discovered three poisonous books in our university library

medical issues from green arsenic

Some may remember the deadly book of Aristotle that plays a vital part in the plot of Umberto Eco’s 1980 novel The Name of the Rose. Poisoned by a mad Benedictine monk, the book wreaks havoc in a 14th-century Italian monastery, killing all readers who happen to lick their fingers when turning the toxic pages. Could something like this happen in reality? Poisoning by books?

Our recent research indicates so. We found that three rare books on various historical topics in the University of Southern Denmark’s library collection contain large concentrations of arsenic on their covers. The books come from the 16th and 17th centuries.

The poisonous qualities of these books were detected by conducting a series of X-ray fluorescence analyses (micro-XRF). This technology displays the chemical spectrum of a material by analysing the characteristic “secondary” radiation that is emitted from the material during a high-energy X-ray bombardment. Micro-XRF technology is widely used within the fields of archaeology and art, when investigating the chemical elements of pottery and paintings, for example.

Read @ Popular Science

Food for fines is helping local agencies fill gap in declining summer food donations

I SERIOUSLY love this idea.  More communities should give it a try.

The Yuma County Library District’s “Food for Fines” program is back and it’s helping out in a major way.

Three years ago, the Yuma County Library District realized that several children were not able to participate in their summer reading program due to pending fines on their accounts. Their solution was to add a summer addition to the Food for Fines program.

Read @ KYMA

Books boom back – Kids rule in libraries

From the library service — with more than 330 branch libraries and 31 of the mobile variety — comes news that should be celebrated in homes and schools across the country. Its report on borrowings for last year show that most of the top 20 borrowed books were titles for children. Only one novel for adults is in the top 10 list.

Read @ Irish Examiner