People Interact

Blog about people-centered design by Lisa Chow and Sandra Sajonas.

Tag Archives: wandering-librarian

Wandering Librarian: Bishop Branch Library

This spring, my wanderings brought me to the great outdoors of the Sierra Mountains and the city of Bishop, California. Between hikes I popped into the Bishop Library, a branch of the Inyo County Public Free Library system.

My first impression was books! books! books! This was no modern, slick library with its ‘info commons’ and 3D printers taking the place of books. The shelves were packed, even cramped with books. My initial excitement waned when closer inspection showed the books to be old. While it was disconcerting to see outdated reference books, seeing old children’s books from my childhood was actually fun. Some of these children’s books I’m almost certain are out of print so it was fun to read these treasures to my kids.

Despite the lack of newer, jazzier technology, the Bishop branch does provide 7 public PC’s, a new printer and a copy machine.

While obviously not as impressive as some of the large, urban or foreign libraries I’ve wandered to, the Bishop Library provides the minimum yet important requirements for the public; access to information in whatever form and a place to sit and relax.

Wandering Librarian: The Newberry

Now settled into my new home, I’ve taken to wandering the libraries of the Second City. You can’t come here without visiting the Newberry Library; Chicago’s independent research library. Open since 1887, the Newberry’s impressive collection is open and free to the public. Unfortunately, I wandered in on a day the stacks were close. I did, however, get the chance to talk with one of the curators. I learned that Mr. Newberry’s original collection was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire, including an original draft of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

Even with the loss of the original collection, the Newberry’s holdings of 1.6 million books, 600,000 maps, 1 million postcards and 5 million pages of manuscripts still boggle the mind. All of this is searchable with their online catalog.

The library also has a gallery where they exhibit a rotation of items from their stacks. In fact, I enjoyed their Melville: Finding America at Sea exhibit displaying their impressive collection of Melville’s works in honor of the 200th anniversary of Melville’s birth.

If you ever find yourself in the Second City, please fit it time for the Newberry Library.

Wandering Librarian: Biblioteca Armando Olivares y Archivo Histórico UG

Wandering through Guanajuato City, I of course had to visit a library. Located in Central Mexico, Guanajuato is an incredibly beautiful and incredibly old silver mining town that was designated a World Heritage Site in 1988. It’s no surprise that I was blown away by the majesty of the University of Guanajuato’s library and archive. Tucked in the back of a little plaza, the Biblioteca Armando Olivares and Archivo Historico’s unassuming facade belies the breathtaking library inside. I had the opportunity to have a chat with the head librarian.

This is what I garnered from his broken English and my broken Spanish:

  • the library houses about 16,000 books and materials
  • they have an OPAC making their collection searchable online
  • they collection materials related to Guanajuato City, the Univerisity & some of its famous residents
  • they are open to the public and no special credential is needed to enter
  • the oldest item in the collection is a manuscript from 1495!

I could have stayed there all day exploring. Unfortunately, my impatient 4-year old wanted out and back into the Mexican sun.

Wandering Librarian: Woodstock Library

A few months ago, I took a trip upstate NY and was walking around the town of Woodstock and stumbled across Woodstock Library; a friendly and small town library packed with reading glasses, a seed lending library, a red-eyed dragon named Fireball, and more. I enjoyed my visit. Check out the photo slideshow below.

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Wandering Librarian: 1st post of the new year

Continuing our popular series about our wandering, this is a delayed post from this summer’s wandering in Europe. This time I was in Leiden, Netherlands. No, I did not visit Bibliotheca Thysiana, the only surviving 17th-century public library in the Netherlands or the Leiden University Library which manages the largest collections worldwide on Indonesia and the Caribbean.

Embarrassingly, my family was seeking shelter from a sudden rainstorm and ducked into the closes library; BplusC Bibliotheek Nieuwstraat (Library and Centre for Art and Culture). While my family went to the children’s area, I toured the library and noticed many similarities with American public libraries; SISO classification system which is very similar to Dewey’s system, a wide array of public programs, event spaces, self-check out system, coffee shop, etc. However, there were many firsts for me also; a fully equipped music studio complete with guitars, grand piano and drums, a printer system that accepts credit card payments, and a Plextalk devices – digital talking book players that have been especially designed for the print disabled.

Disconcertingly, in a conversation with a staff member I also learned that they share the same woes as American public libraries; mainly less & less public funding. In fact, BplusC is a paid membership for adults.

All in all a nice library experience even if it was by happenstance.