As local authority budgets are reduced by the government’s cuts in Britain, up to 500 libraries around the country will have to close. With the axe about to fall, Bella Bathurst reveals just what is about to be lost. Books not antidepressants, the erotic charge of bookmobiles, and a resident book-eater are discussed.
The libraries’ most powerful asset is the conversation they provide – between books and readers, between children and parents, between individuals and the collective world. Take them away and those voices turn inwards or vanish. Turns out that libraries have nothing at all to do with silence.
“The Night Bookmobile?” I said.
“At your service.” Mr. Openshaw made a sort-of-pretend bow and turned off the music. I stepped up into the Winnebago and past him, and peered into the back of the camper.
“This collection consists of all the books you’ve ever read. We also have all the periodicals, which are in the next aisle, and ephemera—cereal boxes and such—which are in Section C, to your right.” Mr. Openshaw took off his glasses and polished them with his handkerchief. “It’s a very complete collection.”
The Night Bookmobile appeared throughout 2008 in serial form in the Guardian and is now being published as a book! Audrey Niffenegger is the New York Times bestselling author of The Time Traveler’s Wife as well as Her Fearful Symmetry.
Meet my new hero. Raúl Lemesoff is an activist artist. His work, El Arma de Instrucción Masiva (ADIM), or Weapon of Mass Instruction, is a former military tank turned motorized sculpture made with books. The ADIM is used by Lemesoff to distribute books as well as accept donations in order to supply schools and other venues where books might be lacking or rarely found in Buenos Aires. In the video interview shown above, Raul explains the purpose of his project :
“The Weapon of Mass Instruction is meant to get people to recognize various aspects of life: sharing, education, and also to have a good time. It’s a contribution to peace through literature.”
Lemesoff has transformed what was once a symbol of suppression and violence into a peaceful campaign of communication and learning through recycled books. I’m not sure if the ADIM is still traveling, but according to the interview, he plans on building more “booktanks” that will travel to other parts of the world.
Libros para Cuba (Books for Cuba) is a California non-profit organization working to advocate for the right to free exchange of professional information, interaction, and collaboration with colleagues in Cuban libraries. Over a year ago, Libros para Cuba sent a bookmobile (holding 5,000 volumes) to the outlying provincial library of Granma, Cuba, to help provide library outreach services to rural areas. According to their blog, the project is still going strong!!
As part of its committment to literacy and principles underlying the freedom to read, the Progressive Librarians Guild (PLG) has supported the bookmobile project of Libros para Cuba . Click here to see additional information on Cuba and libraries hosted by PLG.
When: Aug. 12th, 10am-8pm in Prospect Park, Opposite the Memorial Arch
What: The Overdrive Digital Bookmobile
On Tuesday, August 12th in Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Public Library will be partnering with Overdrive, a digital content distributor, to promote downloading services available in libraries. Overdrive has constructed an 18 wheel high tech tractor trailer educational experience called the Digital Bookmobile, which will be touring public libraries throughout the country.
The Digital Bookmobile will connect and instruct patrons about the Brooklyn Public Library’s online catalog and Digital Media Catalog (eAudiobooks, eBooks, eMusic, and eVideo). On board the Digital Bookmobile, library users can take part in hands-on training using web connected PCs, interactive displays, portable MP3 players, and exhibits. Brooklyn Public Library staff members will be around to help with library card registration, online public catalog searching, and general questions about the Brooklyn Public Library.