“When the writer Deborah Fallows toured smaller and midsize communities in the United States in 2016, she made sure to make the same stop in every city and town: the local public library. Libraries were never just plain old book-lenders, she learned, and they certainly aren’t now. Most provide residents with internet access, educational opportunities, and even refuge during times of meteorological or civic crisis. They use their archives to hold onto local history, and their programming and decor to reflect a vision of the future.
A town or city’s Main Street or Chamber of Commerce reveals its body politic, writes Fallows, but “the visit to the public library reveal[s] its heart and soul.” These days, many of these hearts and souls are full of unexpected stuff—including stuff that, if you want, you can take home with you for a few weeks. In the spirit of civic introspection, here are some of America’s most surprising current circulating collections, from art to umbrellas.”
“We can learn much about how a historical period viewed the abilities of its children by studying its children’s literature. Occupying a space somewhere between the purely didactic and the nonsensical, most children’s books published in the past few hundred years have attempted to find a line between the two poles, seeking a balance between entertainment and instruction. However, that line seems to move closer to one pole or another depending on the prevailing cultural sentiments of the time. And the very fact that children’s books were hardly published at all before the early 18th century tells us a lot about when and how modern ideas of childhood as a separate category of existence began….
Where the boundaries for kids’ literature had once been narrowly fixed by Latin grammar books and Pilgrim’s Progress, by the end of the 19th century, the influence of science fiction like Jules Verne’s, and of popular supernatural tales and poems, prepared the ground for comic books, YA dystopias, magician fiction, and dozens of other children’s literature genres we now take for granted, or—in increasingly large numbers—we buy to read for ourselves. Enter the Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature here, where you can browse several categories, search for subjects, authors, titles, etc, see full-screen, zoomable images of book covers, download XML versions, and read all of the over 6,000 books in the collection with comfortable reader views. Find more classics in our collection, 800 Free eBooks for iPad, Kindle & Other Devices.”
We love to see stories about libraries in the news, especially when it highlights the important work librarians are doing! This article from the Pioneer Press is about the process at the St. Paul Public Library regarding ordering new materials for their library.
They interviewed librarian Katy Schulz and described her challenging work: “It’s her job to make sure the books are there, before people even know they want them.”