Sunday, 18 September 2011

Libraries Aren't Just Buildings Anymore

The name of the this blog is Libraries Aren't Just Books Anymore.  However, for this entry anyway, I am going to change the name to Libraries Aren't Just Buildings Anymore.  The Little Free Library is a grassroots movement that brings books to where people are to create a sense of community.  Isn't that what it is all about.

The little library that could. . .

Published On Sat Sep 17 2011 Toronto Star

Leslie Scrivener Feature Writer
On Felton Place, a residential street in Madison, Wis., there is a very small library holding about 20 books. Not much bigger than a bird house, the little library is of rustic construction. A door adds to the charm and to the notion that the books are to be valued and protected. It belongs to retired professor Marshall Cook and his wife Ellen. Within three kilometres of their house, there are a dozen more little libraries, each with an ever-changing assortment of books. Look at the titles. There’s something for everyone. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, I’m a Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson, Pippi in the South Seas by Astrid Lindgren and even Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul IV. It’s based on the pay it forward principle. Take a book, leave a book. The Cook’s library is part of the Little Free Library project to spread tiny libraries and the love of reading around the United States and beyond. The project started in 2009, the idea of Wisconsin men Rick Brooks and Todd Bol, two recession-era Andrew Carnegies. “A book shelf where you share books is a great idea,” says Brooks, 55, “but these little houses for books appeal to people’s emotional needs for friends and neighbours, a sense of community and feeling that we are all in this together.” He adds: “Go to a bookstore, there are so many books it’s overwhelming.” Still, the turnover in a little library can be impressive. At a Little Free Library outside the Indie Coffee shop in Madison, more than 1,000 books have changed hands since November. Most little libraries are in public areas, though some are also in front yards. Little libraries are not a dustbin for a reader’s discards. “Don’t think of this as a way to get rid of your books,” says Brooks, “but to share your favourite books or those that may have changed your life.” Bol, a 63-year old who travels around Wisconsin with a trailer full of little libraries, says people are often reluctant to sell their books. “But when they share books they are sharing something of themselves.” The little libraries cost about $350. They can be ordered or built do-it-yourself from architectural plans. The men have built about 100, most in the Madison area, but they have had 42,000 inquiries, including some from Canada. Here in Toronto, where threats of closures and reduced services threaten one of the most successful library systems in the world, little libraries may be just the thing. We could see them strung like little hobbit houses along the bike paths or in parks or outside the houses of public-spirited citizens and officials. The mayor might even want a no-frills little library stocked with belt-tightening titles for everyone’s edification: Profit Building: Cutting Costs Without Cutting People; The Budget Kit: The Common Cents Money Management Workbook; Rethink: A Business Manifesto for Cutting Costs and Boosting Innovation and, of course, Small is Beautiful. For more information, visit

Monday, 12 September 2011

The Bankruptcy of Blockbuster and the Future of Viewers' Advisory

I recently found this article on the CBC website.

The decline of video chains like Blockbuster has led to discussion about how independent neighbourhood video stores are faring.

CBC commenter
solus909 has started renting movies from a local store again because of dissatisfaction with the online experience.

"I got tired of paying fines to Rogers for exceeding my monthly GB [gigabyte] allowance," the commenter wrote.

"I find downloading HD movies time-consuming and sort of a pain...and, as a movie buff, I was missing all the extras that are on DVDs."
Some film aficionados, like CBC Community member Matt Bingley, prefer renting from independent video stores because of the wider movie selection and knowledgeable employees (my emphasis)."They point you in the right direction and very often lead you to the section you never thought about," he wrote.

"Also, in respect to the stores that aren't part of chains like Queen Video in Toronto, they have the best selection of off-beat movies that a big corporate franchise would never think about renting."

This discussion confirms what I have been thinking about with regards to my library's DVD collection.  Although we do have a local independent video store in town, our DVD circulation is not declining.  With my library's niche collection of British television comedies and dramas, my patrons are finding a different selection than the video store.  Although I am still training some of my staff to be more knowledgeable about movies, patrons have the confidence in my library staff's knowledge that they come to them with requests for suggestions as well as requests to purchase.  Viewers' Advisory continues to be a vital service in public libraries and a great opportunity to enhance usage and visibility.  With the high cost of Internet downloads in Canada, it won't go away any time soon.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Great Movie - One Week

A week or so ago, CBC television aired the Canadian movie, One Week.  I had heard good things about it, so I wanted to see it.  I also mentioned it to a number of friends who also had a opportunity to see it.

What a fantastic movie!.  The main character in the movie, Ben Tyler, is diagnosed with a terminal illness and decides to go on a road trip from Toronto to British Columbia to think things through.  Although this sounds depressing, the trip is a homage to the beauty and quirkiness of the Canadian landscape as well as a look into the human spirit.  Also, the sound track has some great songs. (Sunparlour Players are from Essex County, my home area).

Here are some reviews:

"One Week is unabashedly, unapologetically and proudly Canadian from Leafs references to Sudbury's giant nickel but for once, that's a great thing! "
Barrett Hooper, NOW MAGAZINE

"***** "If you see only one movie this year ... make it One Week.""
-Kathleen Bell, SEE MAGAZINE

"It's a very Canadian adventure, showcasing this country¿ beautiful landscape and stopping at every bizarre world's biggest monument along the way. Like any good road trip, the soundtrack is amazing, filled with atmospheric indie rock provided by Stars, Great Lake Swimmers, Sunparlour Players and the like! "

"A unique and memorable Canadian feature film. Rarely does a film like this come along that moves me to tears, inspires me to use the time that I have left and has left me in utter awe of a filmmaker that is bound to have a long and lasting future creating films. Rare even more is the fact that One Week is the best example of Canadian cinema, one that transcends the usual cliche associated with films from up North! "

One thing I did wonder about about how the locations for some of the scenes were chosen.

Joshua Jackson won Best Actor at the 2010 Genie Awards for his portrayal of Ben Tyler. Liane Balaban who plays his fiancee was nominated for Best Supporting Actress.

The 2011 edition of the Gemini Awards for excellence in Canadian television airs tonight on CBC television.  If you haven't already added to your television series collections shows such as Being Erica and the Murdoch Mysteries, they are a must!