Librarians. Are. Awesome.
Let’s talk about cool stuff librarians are doing in their libraries and in the community.

When the library is made to be seen as a business, rather than the heart of a community or a fundamental service made possible through citizen-approved tax dollars, it makes the library expendable. That expendability then moves down the chain: staff salaries get cut, then staff withers, then more programs and projects that benefit the community — books and movies and CDs and magazines and newspapers and wifi and computer access and database subscriptions and programs for all shapes, colors, and sizes of people — disappear, too. It detracts from the unique aspects that make a library what it is: a place for all, rather than a place for some.

Libraries reach out where Netflix reaches in.

from Libraries Are Not a “Netflix” for Books by Kelly Jensen
Magic in Manchester


John Rylands Library 14

Manchester has many hidden gems for book lovers if you know where to look. John Rylands Library is one of those places. Nestled away between shops and bars on Deansgate it is easy to miss if you aren’t looking for it. Stunning from the outside in, it really is spectacular.

The John Rylands Library Interior

The main reading room wouldn’t be out of place at one of the Oxbridge colleges, or even Hogwarts for that matter. The high ceilings and stone carvings give it the feeling of something pulled straight out of the pages of a novel.

The library opened to the public in 1900 and, although it is now part of the University of Manchester Library, it is still open to the general public today. Anyone can become a Reader at the library simply by registering. There is a wonderful collection of old and rare books including the St John Fragment, a papyrus fragment believed to be the earliest fragment of text from the Gospel of John. There are often special exhibitions and talks on these collections, as well as free guided tours of the library. The tours include exclusive access to areas usually only open to the librarians.

For younger library goers there is the ‘Here Be Dragons’ tour that involves finding the strange and mysterious creatures that are hidden on the walls and ceilings of the library. The ‘Enchanting Tales’ sessions are a wonderful story time where a library story teller reads tales of mystery and magic in one of the libraries beautiful rooms.  

John Rylands Library 22

It is a stunning place to visit and a magical place to read.

Happy reading!

Critical Linking: May 19, 2014
Our daily round-up of bookish links. Tastes great with coffee. 

What book made you love to read? When almost 4,000 of our Facebook fans answered that question, they wrote passionately about the books they love (and, in some cases, really, really love). These titles and authors came up over and over.

For anyone who pays attention to this stuff, the titles on this list won’t be too surprising. Still, never hurts to remember that the connection we have with books endures over our lives.


This video, which was recorded at the Public Library Association 2014 conference, features interviews with some truly wonderful people…

A fantastic reminder, if you even needed one, that librarians are pretty great.


Colleges across the country this spring have been wrestling with student requests for what are known as “trigger warnings,” explicit alerts that the material they are about to read or see in a classroom might upset them or, as some students assert, cause symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in victims of rape or in war veterans.

I see no reason not to offer “trigger warnings” on syllabi. The idea of letting students opt out of some readings and assignments, though, is less certain to me. How much control do we want to cede to students? Does it even really matter that much?

Critical Linking: May 18, 2014 

Our daily round-up of bookish links. Tastes great with coffee. 

Devotees of romance fiction, predominantly female, are demanding that their favorite category be ethnically as diverse as the real world. One of the newest branches of the popular genre is interracial romance, which just a few decades ago would have been too hot to handle. 

Interracial love stories are getting hotter in romance.


Over the last decade, book circulation at New York City libraries has jumped by 46 percent, annual visits by 59 percent, and program attendance by 88 percent. These figures are even more startling considering that budget cuts have forced the libraries to reduce both staff and hours.

A must-watch video shows you a day in the life at a NYC library branch.


SYNC is a program that gives away two complete audiobook downloads–a current Young Adult title paired thematically with a Classic or Required Summer Reading title–each week to listeners ages 13+ while SYNC is in session each summer.

SYNC is in session starting now, so if you want to try your hand at some free audiobooks, there’s no better time.


One thing we’ve learned: it’s all-too-easy to let popular narrative guide your views on YA—certainly much easier than ever researching or reading in the field you are talking about. These articles about YA are based entirely on accepted truths from people who live entirely outside the field; they keep getting perpetuated, and everyone nods sagely as someone else proclaims John Green is saving poor teenage girl readers from those silly silly vampire books.

Anne Ursu lays down some thoughts on genre, on “GreenLit,” and on how realistic fiction is a privileged form of narrative. Heavy, sharp stuff here.


1.Wall of books —  Amsterdam

2.Bookstore Mural — Pittsboro

3.Inside a Bookshelf —  Sweden

4.Library Mural — Poland

5.Flying Books — San Francisco

6.Heart, Culture and Pedagogy — Canada

7.La Bibliotèque De La Cité — France

8.Larchmere Mural — Ohio

9.Duluth Public Library - Minnesota

10.Transformer Books —  Russia


Book Mountain - Spijkenisse, The Netherlands

MVRDV designed this unique building near Rotterdam with 9,300 square meters of glass, stairs, and reading material culminating into a wide open reading space at the top, to challenge the intimidating stuffiness of libraries of old.

Featuring a huge glass and timber outer shell, this astounding library is a tiered, five-story structure similar to a pyramid, with books stacked on shelves that wind around brick walls. Quite the spectacle at night, and filled with natural light during the day, the building was meant to symbolize accessibilty to literature and learning. Its beacon-like design and naturally flowing open spaces house over 70,000 books, and the building runs on a graywater system and the racks are made of recycled KLP plastics.

Book Mountain won the Dutch National Wood award in 2012, and is a public library.

Plan a visit to Book Mountain with Atlas Obscura…