Friday, April 06, 2007

Two sides to every library

Two articles caught my eye this week regarding libraries -- I subscribe to a daily RSS feed called "Library Link of the Day" which often yields interesting reads. (Gotta love the URL: Librarians are such dorks.)

I practically grew up in libraries and bookstores, and there's always a nut or ten wandering around, stinking to high heaven and rambling about who knows what. You get used to it after a while but I must admit it would be nice to sit and read without being bothered by space cadets.
In bad weather -- hot, cold, or wet -- most of the homeless have nowhere to go but public places. The local shelters push them out onto the streets at six in the morning and, even when the weather is good, they are already lining up by nine, when the library opens, because they want to sit down and recover from the chilly dawn or use the restrooms. Fast-food restaurants, hotel lobbies, office foyers, shopping malls, and other privately owned businesses and properties do not tolerate their presence for long. Public libraries, on the other hand, are open and accessible, tolerant, even inviting and entertaining places for them to seek refuge from a world that will not abide their often disheveled and odorous presentation, their odd and sometimes obnoxious behaviors, and the awkward challenges they present to those who encounter them.

Although the public may not have caught on, ask any urban library administrator in the nation where the chronically homeless go during the day and he or she will tell you about the struggles of America's public librarians to cope with their unwanted and unappreciated role as the daytime guardians of the down and out. In our public libraries, the outcasts are inside.
Mike Wilson's article for the Associated Press talks about how a fondly-remembered library cat named -- wait for it -- Dewey Readmore Books will be immortalized by librarian Vicki Myron in a book for Warner -- er, Grand Central Publishing:
Myron found Dewey in the library's book drop on a cold January morning in 1988. After that, Dewey became famous worldwide, she said. TV crews came to the small northwest Iowa town from as far away as Japan to do stories on Dewey, and Myron said she has found more than 200 "hits" for Dewey on the Internet search engine Google.

Never could she have imagined the attention Dewey would get when she found him that cold winter morning.

"It just floored me," Myron said. "This is the way Dewey's whole life went. He drew people in his whole life from around the world. We had nothing to do with it. It's serendipitous.

"It's pretty amazing, but that's how Dewey's life went," she said.
Cats + books = happiness.

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