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#1 Apr 19, 2018 9:17 pm


Ex Libris

My experience with Facebook has been to enjoy photos from family and friends. I did not find any Cambridge Analytica ties. My privacy settings have been tight. I cannot see how any major advertiser would be interested in my movie, music or book preferences. I suspect a bookish person is of little interest to advertisers.

The other night I viewed “Ex Libris: The New York Public Library”, a 3-hour documentary by Frederick Wiseman. To see this film was right up my alley and Netflix DVD had a copy. I was once employed by NYPL from 1964-1966. At the height of my career. I was Head Children’s Librarian at the George Bruce Branch Library and at the Children’s Library, Countee Cullen Branch Library in Upper Manhattan.

The film showed many library branches including the George Bruce Branch – full of kids after school and it seemed every one of them working on a computer. The film featured the nearby Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and its archives, plus the film showed NYPL employees digitizing papers for the library’s online services.

The Netflix reviewers – maybe about all 20 – gave the film one star and called it boring. People did not want to see the Board of Directors grappling with funding – primarily public/private and private/public partnerships. I thought this was fascinating and wished New Historian could see it. One board member made the point that politicians like simple messages – as in "we need such and such a budget to keep libraries open 7 days a week."

Besides funding and budgets, the Board touched on the issue of social policy of the homeless. Libraries are usually public places and the line/policy on behavior [even sleeping] has always been a contentious one. They did not venture on keeping kids afterschool.

The film so tempted me to want to return to NYC to go to library events – Patti Smith, Elvis Costello, Ta-Nehisi Coates, new information about Phyllis Wheatley, classical string groups, poetry raps and to visit the great Schomburg Collection. I had forgotten the picture collection and the print collection and now the collections of DVDs, and even a little gadget called Library “Hot Spot” lending – a new initiative to bring free Internet access into the homes of more New York City families. Interspersed with scenes of Manhattan, day and night, were beeping horns, sirens and rushing fire engines.

NYPL branches are community centers. They have employment programs, new immigrant integration programs, public school/local library alliances, afterschool programs including a innovative program designing robots, telephone reference services, book clubs, book talks, genealogy programs, and they all seemed to have computers.

Did you know eBook Best Sellers have a higher circulation total than hardcover Best Sellers? And what about the publishers and their licensing variables of eBooks? Does the NYPL spend all their funds on Best Sellers to prove use or does the NYPL allocate funds for many programs, including those that keep up the tradition of having materials no one else has.

Visit your local library – a marvelous resource for living.


#2 Apr 20, 2018 5:15 pm

New Historian

Re: Ex Libris

My father used to have these "Ex Libris ________" stickers he'd sign and put on the inside cover of all his books, we thought it was terribly posh!

Great post Pirata, yes libraries are precious resources and should be nurtured. In England you can borrow e-books, CDs, movies all sorts of stuff from libraries. Many library users are the elderly and unemployed. I tried the Kindle thing and just couldn't, gave it away before I'd finished the first book and went out and bought a proper one. Not only do I like books, I like to keep books, look at books, browze books, lend books, give books away. You can't do that with megabytes.



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