Since reading about the Little Free Library movement, I have paid more attention to micro libraries as I have come across them in my daily life. Have you noticed any?
They are quite common in holiday accommodation, and are appearing in upmarket apartment buildings. I saw one set up in the staff room of my children’s school, where staff put books on a shelf that were available for others, mainly fiction, but also some books about education, available with the expectation of a swap or return. I spotted this same sort of arrangement in operation at Roseville Bowlo, and at Roseville Golf Club, where members have some shelf space to leave books and take books for the enjoyment of all members. (In my experience, these two types of club are also excellent sources of health care information, especially if seeking information and recommendations for health specialists in the area, with the possible exception of obstetrics, and new medication or medication combinations for chronic or ongoing medical conditions. Your doctor will be amazed!)
Remote communities have always experienced challenges in the provision of library services and have found ways and means to overcome these. In recent years a friend of mine has worked summers in Antarctica, and tells me each station has some kind of library. At South Pole it is an honour system with a few historic books you can check out from the store. At McMurdo it is more of a traditional library that is run by volunteers with check outs. Most of the books were probably brought down and left or sent as donations. The advent of ebooks and ereaders has positives and negatives in that environment. The station library has a bunch of e readers that can be checked out, however, I am told the wireless gets turned off in summer months, so they don’t always work well. My friend also was able to purchase ebooks for her reader and transfer them across using USB, but had some challenges borrowing ebooks from her local library (in Alaska), and had to phone Amazon from Antarctica to give them the device number so it could be linked to her account. After this, it worked well. Another friend was living and working in Myanmar and we sourced some book donations for a children’s library set up by a local community worker. Printing, especially colour printing, had been prohibitively expensive, and after a local freight forwarder came to the party with some free shipping, we shipped perhaps 10 boxes of books to seed this library.
Now consider communities in space. Some time back a Freedom of Information request produced a list of material in the multi media library of the International Space Station, supplied by NASA. I am keenly awaiting the new movie “The Martian” . In one part the main character, Mark Watney, investigates the music library left by one of his colleagues and laments the heavy weighting towards disco. This won’t be a problem in the planned future of Mars colonies if Elon Musk’s vision comes to pass.
This year’s Hallowed Ground offering is titled Unexpected Libraries and promises to be another success in this annual series presented by City of Sydney Libraries as part of the Art and About festival, in conjunction with ALIA. It’s been fully booked the last two years, so if you are thinking of going, book now. It has been a great social and networking catch up for the Sydney library community, with interesting considerations of the future, and lots of choices for post event catch up venues. Hope to see you there, 7th October, 6.30pm - 7.30pm.