A Librarian Responds to Blinkist, Speed Reading, and Other Reading Shortcuts

I suspect that it’s a normal human trait to want to make hard things easier. That’s probably why there are so many Medium articles on making obscene piles of cash in no time at all, or gaining a million followers yesterday. Pick a hyperbole and someone is trying to find a way to hack it. Reading is no different; seekers of knowledge want to play with mind-bending ideas, but can’t commit to doing it the age-old way. This isn’t new, of course, people have been attempting shortcuts to reading books through speed reading courses, book summary booklets and, I don’t know, playing tapes in their sleep for time immemorial. In this context, apps like Blinkist which provides non-fiction book summaries via a series of short multi-paragraph “Blinks” or the myriad Rapid Serial Visualization Presentation (RSVP) apps which quickly flash words and phrases at you, are no surprise. So what does this librarian think? Well, my mind moves on two parallel tracks here. The first says that searching for shortcuts is neither a mindful nor a healthy way to live an intellectual life. I’m a fan of the slow information movement which is the antithesis of cometing non-stop through books and articles. Take the time, it says, to read carefully and think deeply. The second is my big eyes at libraries and bookstores and my voracious mind bouncing between multiple books, blogs, podcasts, websites on a daily basis, trying to make sense of the world. There’s so much out there and I’m curious about a lot of it. Why not feed that fascination as often and as quickly as I could?

Libraries Stepping Up During COVID

The El Dorado County Library system in California has a history of working for better public health. The library system has worked with the local Health and Human Services for several years, and routinely has a public health nurse and health advocate coming to the library. Funds from tobacco lawsuit settlements enabled the library to have an early childhood specialist. Through these partnerships, they regularly offer programs on health services and parenting classes, in addition to their more traditional programming (children and teen events, arts and crafts, writers’ groups, etc.).

How to Make the 24/7 the Library Work

Public libraries in American continue to serve their communities in fundamental ways, expanding beyond their stereotypical scope as “book repositories” to offer so much more. From offering education and test prep for children and adults alike to hosting outreach programs that feed the hungry and provide support for people facing domestic violence and substance abuse, libraries meet the public in a variety of contexts and configurations throughout each week. The presence of a global pandemic in the form of COVID-19 has increased the complexity of delivering these services as library staff follows pandemic best practices to reduce the spread of the virus and visitor count is lowered. What avenues, then, do libraries have to turn to continue to meet the public in a time when meeting someone in public is potentially dangerous without sacrificing the services they offer? One such solution, or rather a suite of solutions, is those offered by Bibliotheca. Bibliotheca has been offering library solutions to connect with their users, engage with their communities, and evolve their services using modern approaches and technological integration. The myriad of services they offer range from library user self-service solutions, item return and sorting support, security and protection for library materials, cloud-based collection services, their open+ access designed specifically for libraries wishing to offer more flexible, more impactful operation hours, and staff tools such as central administration, staff workplace, and inventory solutions. Alone or in combination with each other, these tools give libraries the ability to operate in new, technologically-reinforced ways that free up staff and budgets to allow for more and more responsive programming and services.

The Slow Burning Fire in the Libraries of America

One of the great tragedies of ancient history, memorialized in myths and Hollywood film, is the burning of the great library at Alexandria. But the reality of the Library’s end was actually a lot less pyrotechnic than that. A major cause of the Library’s ruin was government budget cuts. — GIZMODO And now we’re poised to repeat history in the United States. That’s because libraries in America have been allowed to slowly crumble. This is a result of being overlooked by city, state, and national governments for decades, facing budget cuts from all directions, and losing out on crucial funding needed to maintain their infrastructures. Libraries are an important community resource that serve diverse groups of people with varied needs. They are impactful in endless ways and can benefit the lives of millions who cross their doors. But, this critical public space could collapse, like the Library of Alexandria if it continues to be neglected and Americans will miss out on the incredible opportunities from libraries.

Results of FOIA Search in Lafayette

Campaigners on the ground in Lafayette have continued to make Freedom Of Information Act Requests of the Lafayette Parish Council. What follows below is a brief synopsis of the latest findings.

Libraries Helped Keep People Connected During the Pandemic

Libraries have been learning and adapting this past year throughout the pandemic just as the general public and other institutions have had to. There’s plenty to learn in the quarantine era from how to social distance and sanitize to virtual event planning to find ways to continue supporting their local communities. Since March of last year, libraries have really buckled down to ensure that the widened gaps in the community are filled. There are many wonderful libraries and library staff who are still working just as hard as ever to find innovative ways to serve the community and keep every connected.

Small Business Ideas for Teens from the Library

It is never too early to start looking into ways of building financial security. When teenagers look into building their own business, they are not only investing in their financial future but also opening up educational and learning opportunities. Jumpstarting a new business can be complex at any age. There are lots of factors and components that go into it. As a teenager there are also added obstacles because they are still minors and often do not have resources independent of their parents. Before getting started, a teenage entrepreneur needs to do a lot of research and find guidance on starting a business. The local public library is a great resource for many reasons. Libraries were created for everyone to be able to gain knowledge. Alongside the endless amounts of materials to browse on the topic, libraries also offer plenty of useful resources that teens can use to learn how to build and grow their businesses.

Small Business Idea for Teens from Their Public Library

Libraries are there to help teens discover and develop important skills that can help them become successful entrepreneurs in the future.

Libraries Help You Sell on Etsy, eBay, Amazon, Craigslist

Those looking to step into the world of the gig economy can be reassured in knowing that there are helpful resources to walk them through this type of business. Libraries hold a wealth of information within their buildings. This knowledge comes in the form of print materials, internet and database resources, and well-trained librarians and the library’s connections to the communities. Libraries are here to serve the local public which means that these institutions are always looking for different materials to buy and classes to incorporate that may be of interest to patrons. Many are stepping into the roles of becoming their own businesses either through opening up a small business or through selling items on the internet. Platforms like Etsy, eBay, Amazon, and Craigslist are just a few of the many places where people head to begin their selling journey. The library is the perfect place for beginners to visit and in many cases will teach patrons how to sell on these platforms through step by step instruction. Here’s what you can look into at your local public library to start building your business acumen.

How Do Librarians Choose the Books?

Walking into a library, surrounding yourself with books, is a great comfort for many people. Ever stop to wonder how they get there? That task falls to the collection development librarian and/or department. They have the daunting task of deciding on what items will and will not mesh with their community, often areas with diverse populations and needs. Let us take a look behind the curtain at the process that fills those shelves.