Reinventing the library by Alberto Manguel

The Oberlausitzische Library of Sciences in Gorlitz, Germany. Credit Florian Monheim/Arcaid via Corbis

Plato, in the “Timaeus,” says that when one of the wisest men of Greece, the statesman Solon, visited Egypt, he was told by an old priest that the Greeks were like mere children because they possessed no truly ancient traditions or notions “gray with time.” In Egypt, the priest continued proudly, “there is nothing great or beautiful or remarkable that is done here, or in your country, or in any other land that has not been long since put into writing and preserved in our temples.”

Such colossal ambition coalesced under the Ptolemaic dynasty. In the third century B.C., more than half a century after Plato wrote his dialogues, the kings ordered that every book in the known world be collected and placed in the great library they had founded in Alexandria. Hardly anything is known of it except its fame: neither its site (it was perhaps a section of the House of the Muses) nor how it was used, nor even how it came to its end. Yet, as one of history’s most distinguished ghosts, the Library of Alexandria became the archetype of all libraries.

Libraries come in countless shapes and sizes. They can be like the Library of Congress or as modest as that of the children’s concentration camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau, where the older girls were in charge of eight volumes that had to be hidden every night so that the Nazi guards wouldn’t confiscate them. They can be built from books found in the garbage, like the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Mass., set up in 1980 by the 24-year-old Aaron Lansky from volumes discarded by the younger generations who no longer spoke the tongue of their elders, or they can be catalogued in the mind of their exiled readers, in the hope of resurrection, like the libraries plundered by the Israeli soldiers in the occupied territories of Palestine. It is in the nature of libraries to adapt to changing circumstances and threats, and all libraries exist in constant danger of being destroyed by war, vermin, fire, water or the idiocies of bureaucracy.

Read more: http://nyti.ms/1R0E2G8

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2014 SLA@Pratt Skill Share – Librarians in the 21st Century

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Left Behind by the EdTech Surge | From The Bell Tower by Steven Bell

By on February 19, 2014 Leave a Comment

steven bell newswire Left Behind by the EdTech Surge | From The Bell TowerThere’s loads of activity happening in the world of educational technology. New startups. Dozens of websites for managing learning activities. Apps by the dozens. Academic librarians seem out of the loop.

A few months ago I subscribed to the weekly email newsletter from an organization called EdSurge. It’s subtitled “a weekly newsletter for innovators in education.” Depending on you how you feel about the phrase “innovators in education,” you may be thinking that’s exactly who you are—or maybe you’ve had your fill of innovation talk. While EdSurge does dedicate about half of each issue to the K-12 startup scene, there’s also reporting on the latest educational technology resources and utilities. Some of these are startup websites that may or may not be here for long. What it reveals is a veritable flood of new educational technologies. It leads me to question if academic librarian educators are managing to keep up with all these new resources. Are we taking time to investigate and explore these new tools or are we falling back on our old familiar standbys? Based on some time I spent listening to an instructional technology discussion at ALA Midwinter, I think it might be the latter rather than the former.

Some Old Wine

Admittedly, some of these new instructional technologies are simply variants, or even outright replications, of existing educational technologies. Coggle, for example, is hardly the first web-based mind-mapping tool, but it claims to add new collaborative sharing capabilities.  Some replication is expected, because it’s well known in the startup world that the trick is not always being first to the market but being the product in the marketplace that catches on with users (think MySpace and Facebook). However, that strategy is no surefire path to success. Right now a slew of imitators are trying to move into Snapchat’s space, but so far the original is still number one with the user community. Still, while discovering some truly original utilities takes a bit of work, checking out newcomers to an old space may lead to a great new find with better options or performance (think screencasting utilities).

Read more…

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A Bridge Across the Divide: The Role of Libraries in the Digital Skills Gap

by Bobbi Newman, Speaker / Writer at Librarian by Day on Oct 30, 2013

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Library Careers: Information Organization and Retrieval, Customer Service and More

Library Careers: Information Organization and Retrieval, Customer Service and More.

by Miranda J. McDermott, Grand Concourse February 14, 2013

Like most people, I never thought I would be a librarian while I was growing up. I tossed around a few ideas periodically: horse trainer, accountant, or psychologist, but I ultimately switched to library science while I was in graduate school. Why? I like working with people, but I do not necessarily want to be a clinical psychologist. I love working in a large urban public library system, providing services to those who need it most. I love working with kids, doing story times, and working at a research library on Sunday. I enjoy blogging and the excellent literary programs that NYPL staff and visiting presenters produce. I have been a librarian since 2003, and I have met a few people who are in library school or who have library degrees and were searching for jobs. This is a blog post for them. Read article….

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