Tuesday, 26 November 2013

How little libraries get people reading

November 24 2013 at 09:00am
By Anne Renaut IOL          

More on my 'Little Libraries' series.  I am fascinated on how widely this grassroots initiative is spreading throughout the world.  I wish my town had one!

little library one
AFP
A Little Library book lending kiosk is viewed in front of a home in Washington, DC.

There's no card catalogue or late fees. The informal lending libraries work under a simple principle: “take a book, return a book.”
You can bring back the same book you read, or put in a new one.
“Last week, 11 new books came in,” said Kevin Sullivan, who launched his “little library” in Bethesda, a northern suburb of the US capital, in May 2011 on Mother's Day.
“It was a present for my wife, who is a big reader,” he explained.
He started putting around 30 books a week in the little wooden house-shaped box perched on a red post at the end of his driveway.
little library two
Kevin Sullivan stands next to a Little Library book lending kiosk in front of his home in Bethesda, Maryland.
AFP
On its roof is a quote from Oscar Wilde - an homage to Sullivan's Irish heritage - that reads, “The suspense is terrible. I hope it will last.”
Half of the books are for children. Since Sullivan and his wife live near a school, they think it's great that parents and students “could stop at the library and get books.”
The concept first started in a small city in the midwestern state of Wisconsin, in 2009, as Todd Bol searched for a way to honour the generosity of his mother, a teacher, who had just died.
He built a small-scale replica of a school-house, which he filled with his parents' books and posted a sign: “free books”.
Soon his neighbours did the same thing at the end of their driveways. Now the little libraries have popped up as far as Ukraine and Pakistan.
In October, Bol sent 20 little libraries to be set up in Ghana. In India, he supports an aid group called “Going to School,” which aims to build little libraries for 3 500 schools.
His “one little library” is turning into “15 000 libraries by the beginning of 2014, in 55 countries, in 50 states, at a rate of 700 to 1 000 new libraries a month,” Bol told AFP.
Although many of the little libraries are built to look like bird houses, variety abounds. One looks like a clock, another like a robot, and another like a theatre, each inspired by the imagination of their owners.
For Phillip Vahab, installing a mini-library in front of his house was less about the books - “my wife reads more than I do,” he said - and more about his desire to build relationships with his neighbours.
“The city is so anonymous. It's like a conversation for the block,” Vahab said.
His neighbours helped him pay for and set up the library in January, one of the first in Washington proper.
Vahab built a bench just next to it, where passersby can sit to read - or chat.
Almost every day, “there is a new book in there,” the 38-year-old orthodontist said enthusiastically.
Many of the books are about politics, because in the US capital, “there are a lot of people in politics here,” he mused, though he noted one neighbour donated a treasure trove of feminist literature.
In Winslow, Arizona, John Ford hung scissors in his library so people could grab cuttings of the herbs he planted just below. Many of the books in his library are about cooking.
Back in Washington, near the National Zoo, Erin Astarr, 19, an Australian au pair, grabbed books for the children she looks after.
“It's a good opportunity for the community to come together and share and get educated,” she said.
The chief librarian in Washington's public library system, Ginnie Cooper, said she couldn't be more pleased to see the book boxes pop up in her city.
“Sharing a great book from your public library or a little library is one of the ways that the District (Washington) continues to be a city of readers,” she said.
Elinor Kotchen, carrying her four-month-old baby, found a book for her older son. “Now I need to bring a book to return the favour,” she said. - Sapa-AFP

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Take a book, leave a book: tiny libraries thrive in US

Another in my series, 'Libraries aren't just Buildings Anymore' and another installment in the popularity of Little Free Libraries.

Thursday, November 14, 2013
Daily Nation



Kevin Sullivan stands next to a "Little Library" book lending kiosk in front of his home in Bethesda, Maryland on November 5, 2013. As shelter for birds, with sometimes a sentence on the roof, and a window through which books can be seen: the "small libraries" have flourished in Washington, DC ,encouraging people to read. PHOTO/AFP
Kevin Sullivan stands next to a "Little Library" book lending kiosk in front of his home in Bethesda, Maryland on November 5, 2013. As shelter for birds, with sometimes a sentence on the roof, and a window through which books can be seen: the "small libraries" have flourished in Washington, DC ,encouraging people to read. PHOTO/AFP 
By AFP
WASHINGTON,
Technology has given readers new ways to curl up with a good book, but the latest trend in Washington is surprisingly old-school: "little libraries," stuffed with paperbacks, cropping up on front lawns.
There's no card catalogue or late fees. The informal lending libraries work under a simple principle: "take a book, return a book."
You can bring back the same book you read, or put in a new one.
"Last week, 11 new books came in," said Kevin Sullivan, who launched his "little library" in Bethesda, a northern suburb of the US capital, in May 2011 on Mother's Day.
"It was a present for my wife, who is a big reader," he explained.
He started putting around 30 books a week in the little wooden house-shaped box perched on a red post at the end of his driveway.
On its roof is a quote from Oscar Wilde -- an homage to Sullivan's Irish heritage -- that reads, "The suspense is terrible. I hope it will last."
Half of the books are for children. Since Sullivan and his wife live near a school, they think it's great that parents and students "could stop at the library and get books."
FREE BOOKS
The concept first started in a small city in the mid western state of Wisconsin, in 2009, as Todd Bol searched for a way to honour the generosity of his mother, a teacher, who had just died.
He built a small-scale replica of a school-house, which he filled with his parents' books and posted a sign: "free books".
Soon his neighbours did the same thing at the end of their driveways. Now the little libraries have popped up as far as Ukraine and Pakistan.
In October, Bol sent 20 little libraries to be set up in Ghana. In India, he supports an aid group called "Going to School," which aims to build little libraries for 3,500 schools.
His "one little library" is turning into "15,000 libraries by the beginning of 2014, in 55 countries, in 50 states, at a rate of 700 to 1,000 new libraries a month," Bol told AFP.
Although many of the little libraries are built to look like bird houses, variety abounds. One looks like a clock, another like a robot, and another like a theatre, each inspired by the imagination of their owners.
For Phillip Vahab, installing a mini-library in front of his house was less about the books -- "my wife reads more than I do," he said -- and more about his desire to build relationships with his neighbours.
"The city is so anonymous. It's like a conversation for the block," Vahab said.
His neighbors helped him pay for and set up the library in January, one of the first in Washington proper.
Vahab built a bench just next to it, where passers by can sit to read -- or chat.
NEW BOOK EVERYDAY
Almost every day, "there is a new book in there," the 38-year-old orthodontist said enthusiastically.
Many of the books are about politics, because in the US capital, "there are a lot of people in politics here," he mused, though he noted one neighbour donated a treasure trove of feminist literature.
In Winslow, Arizona, John Ford hung scissors in his library so people could grab cuttings of the herbs he planted just below. Many of the books in his library are about cooking.
Back in Washington, near the National Zoo, Erin Astarr, 19, an Australian au pair, grabbed books for the children she looks after.
"It's a good opportunity for the community to come together and share and get educated," she said.
The chief librarian in Washington's public library system, Ginnie Cooper, said she couldn't be more pleased to see the book boxes pop up in her city.
"Sharing a great book from your public library or a little library is one of the ways that the District (Washington) continues to be a city of readers," she said.
Elinor Kotchen, carrying her four-month-old baby, found a book for her older son. "Now I need to bring a book to return the favor," she said.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Tracing Downton Abbey's lineage: the novel that inspired a TV hit

Isabel Colegate's The Shooting Party, published in 1980, is an acknowledged influence on Julian Fellowes's ratings monster. But what can we glean from it about where the story will go? With the arrival of news that Downton Abbey is to return for a fifth series, speculation rises over what Julian Fellowes has in store for us. How long can Mary's vision withstand the punishing regime of never-ending eye-rolling over Edith's love life? Will Carson ever recover from Mrs Hughes installing an electric toaster? Has Daisy finally learned to breathe through her nose?

Estate of play … Lily James, Michelle Dockery and Hugh Bonneville in Julian Fellowes's Downton Abbey

 Estate of play … Lily James, Michelle Dockery and Hugh Bonneville in Julian Fellowes's Downton Abbey. Photograph: Nick Briggs

For those starting to wonder if Downton is in danger of going on so long that it catches up with the 21st century, there is one book that reveals Fellowes's motivations, intentions and predilections: The Shooting Party by Isabel Colegate. Set in 1913, the novel comprises one day in the life of a large country house. The men are guffawing and shooting, the ladies are frostily lunching and servants dart hither and thither like beleaguered nymphs as Colegate meditates on Fellowes' favourite themes: frustration, friction between the classes, tradition v progress, and the imminent disintegration of an aristocratic world. The day culminates in a moment of tragedy that tugs at the tightly woven lives of the masters and their servants and forces both groups to realise the extent of their dependence on each other.

When The Shooting Party was published in 1980, the popular representation of the aristocracy was as a bunch of bungling toffs: weak chins and weak morals abounded, while servitude was either mocked or ignored. Colegate, however, chose to dispense with these tropes and present everyone as humans instead of saints or villains. The book, written at the height of Thatcherism, is a precursor to Fellowes's forelock-tugging that shows both poor and rich characters in a sympathetic light.

In his introduction to the 2004 edition of The Shooting Party, Fellowes was quick to acknowledge that his screenplay for Gosford Park owed a great deal to the film adaptation of Colegate's novel: "without it the seed of the idea behind my script would never have been allowed to germinate". However, at the time of writing Gosford Park Fellowes had not yet read the book, and in Robert Altman was working with a director notorious for his fractious relationships with screenwriters. As a result of Fellowes's novice status and Altman's heavy hand on the tiller, Gosford Park ended up owing far more to Agatha Christie's whodunnits than to Isabel Colegate.

Once Gosford Park had hoovered up its Oscar nominations and Fellowes had completed the transformation from actor to respected screenwriter, he finally got around to actually reading The Shooting Party. The result is that Colegate's influence runs throughout the four series of Downton: the aristocratic family, the restless young women, the grouchy cook; entire scenes hanging on missing cufflinks. Kemal Pamuk, who vigorously romanced Mary in the first series, has a Colegate counterpart in Count Rakassyi, while Robert's overreliance on tradition echoes that of The Shooting Party's beleaguered host, Sir Randolph.

The similarities between Downton and The Shooting Party are most apparent in the final scene of the novel, when the landowner Lord Hartlip endangers the life of one of the gamekeepers by deviating from "the rules of the game". Fellowes, in turn, has developed all four series around Robert's well-meaning but near-disastrous mismanagement of Downton Abbey. Critics have griped about the amount of time spent discussing entails and dodgy overseas investments, but the series is largely powered by Robert's repeated gambling of the estate on shares and his constant hope that some woman, somewhere in his family, will produce a son.

It is the suggestion of dry rot within their protagonist families that links Fellowes and Colegate as writers and offers an insight into the eventual demise of Downton. Colegate is concerned with characters who are unable to break away from the established traditions, often at the expense of their own happiness. Everyone is trapped in the role assigned to them at the beginning of the book, and the result is a novel powered by nostalgia and pathos.

In his introduction, however, Fellowes takes this doomy outlook as a rallying cry: "If we cannot defend our own values against the trivial, fluctuating fashions in morality, then we are lost." While Lord Fellowes valiantly defends a life that was built upon the subjugation of the many and the profit of the few he is simultaneously steering Downton Abbey towards the same conclusion as The Shooting Party. With Robert reacting to Matthew's death and relinquishment of the estate in the manner of Augustus Gloop confronted with a chocolate river, Downton is once again in danger. The fun remains in deciding if Fellowes will stay true to Colegate's novel or if he will keep Downton afloat long enough for George Osborne to move in.

From The Guardian

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Club Monaco Will Offer Books and Coffee Alongside Fashion

   

Tina Fineberg for The New York Times
Strand and Toby’s Estate Coffee will set up shop in the Club Monaco store, 160 Fifth Avenue.

 By JULIE SATOW New York Times Published: October 15, 2013   

Offer the coziness of a library, a cup of coffee or an Art Deco fireplace in a ladies’ lounge as a gateway to a shopping spree. That’s the new vision for Club Monaco, which is opening a sprawling flagship store on Fifth Avenue in the Flatiron district on Monday.

 
Club Monaco
A rendering of the ladies’ lounge.

It will feature the first Manhattan outpost of Toby’s Estate Coffee, the Williamsburg, Brooklyn, mainstay, and a bookstore operated by the Strand, the eclectic New York literary shop, with more than 700 titles. Club Monaco’s specialty Manhattan store will also include a 1920s haberdashery display within the men’s store, a conservatory with a barrel-vaulted ceiling, and decorative hints reminiscent of the retailing era when the neighborhood was known as Ladies’ Mile.
“We wanted to create a space where you don’t just come to buy a sweater, but are getting an education on art and culture,” said Allison Greenberg, Club Monaco’s director of marketing and communications. “You can have a cup of coffee or sit in the library and read a great book that is relevant to the Flatiron district.”
The 20,000-square-foot store, a renovation and expansion of a previous Club Monaco location, is part of a larger strategy to expand the brand. The clothing retailer has been branching into accessories, including a recent partnership with Jane Mayle, the handbag designer. This summer, it produced its first shoe line.
In addition, Club Monaco recently opened a shop on Bleecker Street, is converting its location on Prince Street in SoHo to a stand-alone men’s store and is opening a second women’s location on Broadway, also in SoHo. It recently opened its first free-standing shop in London, with plans to add more locations next year, and is renovating its stores in Seoul, South Korea, and Hong Kong.
Club Monaco is not the first retailer to try to drum up foot traffic by teaming up with ancillary businesses. This year, Rag & Bone opened in the meatpacking district with a beverage station operated by Jack’s Stir Brew Coffee, and Shinola in TriBeCa shares its space with the Smile cafe.
The design at the Fifth Avenue Club Monaco, which was overseen by an in-house team, drew inspiration from the neighborhood’s past, when department stores like B. Altman and Best & Company were popular shopping destinations. It has a mostly white palette, with Venatino marble flooring and Ionic columns on the ground floor. Floor-to-ceiling drapery, vintage furniture and silk rugs adorn the rooms.
The bookstore and coffee shop are efforts “to bring our blog to life,” said Ms. Greenberg, referring to Culture Club, which was started two years ago and has more than 260,000 followers.
“We wanted to reinforce our status as a true lifestyle destination,” she said.
Club Monaco teamed up with the Strand, which opened in 1927 and is famed for having 18 miles of used and new books, “because it is iconic to New York City,” Ms. Greenberg said. The bookstore, whose other locations are the main store on Broadway near Union Square and a kiosk that abuts Central Park, will have 2,500 books jointly selected by Club Monaco and the Strand. Tucked inside the store’s so-called library, the bookstore will have armchairs for customers to peruse the offerings, and it will hold events like authors’ readings.
As for Toby’s Estate Coffee, “we are big fans of the brand internally and we wanted to offer coffee — who doesn’t want coffee on a Sunday afternoon as they shop?” Ms. Greenberg said.
Toby’s, originally from Australia, had been looking for a Manhattan location for nine months “when we got a call from Club Monaco saying they had this opportunity for us,” said Amber Jacobsen, one of the owners.
“Here at Toby’s, we don’t want to be a chain retail store and we are not looking to replicate what we have in Brooklyn,” she said.
The Brooklyn location includes a roasting plant and a slow bar, where coffee is allowed to brew for several minutes before being poured. The Club Monaco site in Manhattan will offer a slow bar, but will not have a roastery. Its d├ęcor, designed by Club Monaco, is intended to match the store’s palette, with custom-made espresso machines that are powder-coated white with walnut wood paneling.
Retailing experts see these partnerships as a way for the store to set itself apart from competitors by attracting a variety of customers. “Club Monaco is starting to follow trends that are emerging from more specialty brands,” said Lisa Weiss, the owner of a wholesale showroom and a former retailer. “They typically compete against the likes of the Gap and J. Crew, so this is a way for them to differentiate themselves.”
Also, retail rents in the neighborhood have risen rapidly, and sharing a space can offset some of those costs. Asking rents in the Flatiron district now run as much as $500 a square foot, up from just $175 a square foot five years ago, said Joanne Podell, a vice chairwoman at Cushman & Wakefield.
While Club Monaco declined to discuss the specifics of its lease or how the deals with the Strand and Toby’s were structured, typically stores like Club Monaco will be paid some compensation. “Most retailers are trying to be very effective in their use of space right now, especially as rents continue to rise,” Ms. Podell said.
But there are risks inherent in separate companies’ sharing a common retail space, cautioned Robert Cohen, a broker at RKF, a retailing real estate brokerage firm. “Over the life of a lease, say 10 to 15 years,” he said, “a lot of things can happen.”
Still, more retailers are betting that the strategy will pay off. “Right after the recession, everyone was scaling back and going to smaller footprints,” Mr. Cohen said. “Now, we are seeing the opposite, that companies like Club Monaco are willing to take bigger spaces, but they have to do something extra, something interesting to entice consumers to go in.”