Category Archives: libraries

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Inspiration for Young Readers

I’ve mentioned a few times before that unlike most people in the publishing business, I did not fall in love with books at the tender age of 8 months.  I wish I had, and sometimes I find myself looking out for great books I might have missed out on at the time. There were no specific reasons for my not being interested in reading, I had all the resources at my fingertips but I just wasn’t bothered.

The same can’t be said for the many children living in the slums of India. I read this short article about an inspiring young girl named Muskaan, who at the age of nine runs her own library outside her house in the slums of Bhopal.

As she returns from school, Muskaan would find eager young readers awaiting her at the spot where she lays out a mat and arranges her total of 119 books (donated by officials from the State Education Board), then they would gather around and listen intently as she reads out loud to them. After these allegedly fun reading sessions, the kids would then borrow whatever books they can and settled on the mats to read, or take them as they leave.

Having read this article I am reminded how much we take for granted. While majority of the world struggle to have decent and well stocked libraries, we feel the need to cut the budget on libraries, perhaps ensuring children in the future won’t have the same library experiences most of us had growing up. At the same time, Muskaan’s courage also shows me how blessed we are as a human race because no matter what the situation may be, there is always something, despite how small it is that gives us hope.

 

 

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Keeping Libraries Open

Libraries have always been my sacred ground. I can still remember the tiny public library of my childhood, which I proceeded to read from end to end between the ages of four and twelve and the grander, newly renovated Frederick Public Library with a sweeping spiral staircase, bright patterned carpeting in the children’s section, and new checkout machines that you scanned your library card and then your books at. 

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So it’s saddened me to read article after article about libraries closing over the years. And although many articles concerning the closing of public libraries advocate to keep their doors open for the benefit of the community, it still doesn’t seem to be helping. Funding is being yanked from them right and left, forcing closures all across the country. Libraries are often viewed as the heart of a community, providing reading and research space, countless resources, and can often help foster literacy and computer training. I wonder what the average taxpayer (and sometimes library-goer) can do to help support public facilities like this, which add value to a community.

How do you feel about libraries closing? How many of you regularly use a library? Has your library done anything creative lately to foster more relationships with the community?

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Books on the move

If you’re reading an agency blog, you probably have a reasonably good idea how a book goes from your brain to the bookshelf, but have you ever wondered about the process a book takes as it travels through the library system?  I can’t say I really did until I saw this fun piece from the New York Times, but I enjoyed getting to know the journey.  I remember when news broke of the NYPL’s Super Sorter (that’s probably not what they call it), and I’ve always been intrigued.  A friend of mine works for NYPL in Long Island City—albeit as an archivist, not a book sorter.  I wonder if she can get me into the sorting room.

If you’re not excited yet, try picturing the book version of this classic Sesame Street segment at the Crayola Factory.

 

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New York, New York

When you picture NYC, what comes to mind? Skyscrapers reflecting on the river on a crisp winter night? Tourists snapping photos of costumed characters in Times Square? Writers scribbling away in an overpriced apartment in Brooklyn? Agents reading away in an overpriced apartment in Astoria? (Guess which one of those is drawn from life…).

Me in the fall of 2009 – full of excitement and bangs

New York City is even more diverse and colorful than the version of it you get on Friends or Wolf of Wall Street. It’s a city full of many different neighborhoods, and even each neighborhood can have several vibrant communities sharing the streets. Turn off the TV and turn to a book shelf to get a much broader experience of NYC’s sights, sounds and smells – the New York Public Library makes it easy for you with this fun list of NYC novels by neighborhood.

A couple of my all-time favorite books made the list, but that doesn’t mean I can’t suggest a few additions! These are all books that are tied in my memory to very specific seasons of my life in NYC. A BIGAMIST’S DAUGHTER by Alice McDermott, gives a sample of the Upper East Side neighborhood where I lived when I first moved here, and the Murray Hill location of my first job in publishing.  I couldn’t tell you what part of Brooklyn is the setting for L.J. Davis’ A MEANINGFUL LIFE , because I bought the book at an author signing at Greenlight Bookstore my first week in New York, when I had no idea where anything was. Even seeing the cover will always evoke for me that autumn of fresh excitement, anxiety, and seemingly infinite potential.

More recently I’ve been seeking out books that celebrate the diversity of NYC and call my attention to corners I haven’t explored yet. Books like Adam Silvera’s MORE HAPPY THAN NOT which takes an honest look at both the joy and the danger of growing up in the Bronx – especially when your story is different from that of those around you. And Tanwi Nandini Islam’s BRIGHT LINES took me into Brooklyn’s Bangladeshi community as young girls come of age and learn to navigate among the identities that surround them. Because I think that’s maybe what nearly every novel is really about, in same way: finding out who we are, and learning to love it.

What are your favorite NYC novels? Any neighborhoods this list overlooks?

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My small town wins big!

I live in a small town in New Jersey called Haworth (pronounced Haaworth). Like just over 3,000 people small. 1,100 households small. Most people have never heard of it, even people who grew up in NJ. I love my little town. Even more so because they recently raised almost $300,000 for a major library expansion that was facing a large funding deficit. Of course, I did my share. I donated money to buy a brick that will decorate a patio outside the entrance. And I offered to give a literary consultation to an aspiring author for a library fundraiser. But I was blown away when I saw this article about the fundraising efforts in a local paper, northjersey.com.