Tag Archives: public libraries

Crokinole – Not just for Mennonites anymore!


Awhile back I was listening to a podcast about gaming in libraries. Commentator Scott Nicholson was talking about dexterity games. To my surprise he started talking about how Crokinole was worth considering because the boards, which are usually rather ornate and pricey, are finally being produced at a reasonable cost. (To jump to a price list for Crokinole boards click here)
Continue reading

Jacob and Gwendolyn Lawrence

Click banner image to go to the Virtual Resource Center

In preparation for an impending consulting job, I’ve been tasked with finding some pictures of “lively,” “vibrant,” and “happening” libraries. Like a good librarian I found the necessary images (liscnesed to be in the public domain, of course). Like a great librarian I also stumbled across some sweet, almost ontopic (ie. however unusable) images of paintings of libraries that did a lot to inspire me personally (advancing me professionally be damned… at least in this context).

Jacob and his wife Gwendolyn are two African Americans who have made a huge, positive contribution to Black culture in North America. While they are both talnted artists, as can be seen in Gwendolyn’s portarit of an actor it is Jacobs library paintings that I’m focusing on.

Jacob Lawrence is a slightly surrealist, cubist, painter (Similarities to Picasso are present in many of his works). I love the way the lines in his paintings both flow to show the current of life, but can also appear rigid and angled giving recognition of the structures exist to herd us and hinder our existence. Here are two examples, the first a flowing scene of children in the library and the second a busy, scene of action and angles in the adult stacks.

See how the energy in this painting flows from the book shelf, through the librarian, and towards the children! (click to enlarge)

The shelves might seem bare in this busy, chaotic, boxed in world, but it is open to interpretation whether this absence of material is due to a obvious demand for circulation or due to a lack of resources that is afforded some coloured communities across North America.(click to enlarge)

I am particularly interested in the heavy use of primary colours (Red, Blue, Yellow) which seem to reinforce the basic necessity of a library’s presence. I often find that the people who are traditionally/systematically discriminated against are the ones who place the most importance on education. I believe this is a source of inspiration for Jacob and a motivating factor in his decision to paint library scenes…. for some reason I am also reminded of Dr. Benedict Mady Copeland from The Heart is a Lonely Hunter… although Jacob Lawrence looks like he’d be less of a crank (just MHO, it’s not like I know the guy!).

Cheap Holiday Thrills

First of all, I know this isn’t a “YA topic” but at least it’s a library topic, so ease up on the judgements, Scroogmeister! Moving on…

Figure 1. (click to enlarge)

The faculty of architecture and engineering are having their annual Christmas party in the campus lounge this weekend. On my way to work I saw them setting up the usual gaudy X-mas trinketry, in mid-scoff I was silenced by the presence of Santa’s Chimnery Maze (See figure 1). I’m an adult (legally and in apperance) but I definately wanted to give it it a go… I’m a skinny Man so I could have fit, unfortunately I didn’t have the 20$ one of the decorators claimed was the price for adults. I briefly toyed witht he idea of pushing him down and escaping into the maze, but remembered certain legal expectations of being an adult and decided just to take some pics and be on my way.

Continue reading

A sign of the times…

Hey folks,

I was biking around Halifax today and noticed this sign outside the King’s View Academy which is a private school beside a major throughfare road into the downtown and is about two blocks from a Public School, Oxford School. The two schools may not be in heated competition for students as there is only a two year overlap in their respective services. The Oxford public school serves children from preschool to grade 9 while the Kingsview academy serves grades 7 through 12.

Anyway the sign was striking for two main reasons. Firstly, public schools, especially high schools (the particular setting King’s View is trying to pinch students from) are often portrayed in the media as being scary places. I tried to find reliable data measuring the extent of “safety in public schools” but did not have any luck. I did however find this graph that may help to explain why some feel public schools are hotbeds of bedlam: The highest crime rate for accused people occurs between the ages of 16-19. I stress that this is a chart of people ACCUSED of crime. Statistics on convictions where not categorized with the list of the accused.

This could be a result of agist accusers, or a final rush to the dark side before the protection of being a minor is forever lost. Who knows. One thing that is CLEAR is that the crime rate in general and for youths is dropping, continuosly.

Police reported that nearly 153,000 youth aged 12 to 17 were accused of a crime in 2010, almost 15,000 fewer than the previous year. The youth crime rate, which measures the overall volume of crime committed by youth, declined by 7%.
(Statistics Canada, 2010)

The second reason this sign got my attention is because I had a macabre sort of “A-HA!” moment. If the private school is using the perceived threat of the public school environment to attract new members then libraries could potentially do the same.

Of course public libraries should NOT use this tactic… rather the opposite that libraries and public schools should form respectful relationships. This is not to say that public libraries can’t use the perception of high schools as dangerous and libraries as safe spots to their advantage. If we can convince the bullied, the strugglers, the bored, etc. to hang out in libraries we can create a positive feedback loop and help schools address issues they may not be aware of or help them deal with issues they are already working with. The presence of homework centers for teens in public libraries is an example of how this is already happening. Check out this article to get ideas on how to start or improve a homework center in your library:

Brannon, S., & Hildreth, W. (January 01, 2011). Teen Homework Centers – Minimum Resources for Most Budgets. Texas Library Journal, 87, 1, 19-25.

What the King’s View sign impressed upon me was the reality that librarians and public school officials need to work together to a) decrease the perceived threat of public school attendance and b) share the social responsibility of teaching, guiding, and entertaining students. One way this can be done is something I’ve been reading a lot about lately; the Co-hosting of events between schools and libraries. If a school production (play, musical, art exhibit, spoken word, science fair, etc) where to be hosted at a local public library the burden of organizing and staffing the event can be shared between librarians and public school officials. As well, it allows patrons who have no previous connection to public schools and their populations to see tweens and teenagers participating positively in their lives and communities.

I know it’s one thing to come up with an idea, but an entirely different matter bringing that idea to fruition in reality. However, in a world where schools are adopting the attack ad mentality I think it’s important to at least think about solutions.