Neil Gaiman speech

“But libraries are about freedom. Freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication. They are about education (which is not a process that finishes the day we leave school or university), about entertainment, about making safe spaces, and about access to information.

I worry that here in the 21st century people misunderstand what libraries are and the purpose of them. If you perceive a library as a shelf of books, it may seem antiquated or outdated in a world in which most, but not all, books in print exist digitally. But that is to miss the point fundamentally.

I think it has to do with nature of information. Information has value, and the right information has enormous value. For all of human history, we have lived in a time of information scarcity, and having the needed information was always important, and always worth something: when to plant crops, where to find things, maps and histories and stories – they were always good for a meal and company. Information was a valuable thing, and those who had it or could obtain it could charge for that service.

In the last few years, we’ve moved from an information-scarce economy to one driven by an information glut. According to Eric Schmidt of Google, every two days now the human race creates as much information as we did from the dawn of civilisation until 2003. That’s about five exobytes of data a day, for those of you keeping score. The challenge becomes, not finding that scarce plant growing in the desert, but finding a specific plant growing in a jungle. We are going to need help navigating that information to find the thing we actually need.”

Neil Gaiman speech to the Reading Agency – Read more at The Guardian


Library of the living dead – a novel way to introduce patrons to the library!

The Miller Library at McPherson College in Kansas has come up with a novel way of introducing future library users to their libraries – a graphic novel that features a zombie fighting librarian! Library of the living dead walks users (ok, runs from zombies) through each section of the library where the helpful librarian uses the collection to highlight the many and varied uses of the resources that the library holds.

Zombie fighting at Miller Library
Zombie fighting at Miller Library

I won’t give away the ending, but if you’re not convinced to read it yet, a comment from one satisfied reader might just get you over the line: Great art, great story, and epic beard action… what’s not to love? What indeed.

Librarians are awesome

Tell us something we don’t know, Wil Wheaton. Or, better yet, add your voice to the growing numbers of people advocating for the future of libraries and tell us exactly why you think librarians are awesome.

If you’re a librarian today, you probably don’t hear this very often, but thank you. Thank you for making a difference in people’s lives.

And thankyou, Wil, for speaking up! Read more here.

Nobel prize games

To celebrate the announcement of the latest crop of Nobel laureates, the Nobel prize website has created a number of online activities.

There is a set of word mazes featuring the names of previous winners in the category of literature.

nobel word puzzle image

I have done the first one for you, there are 3 more to complete. Happy name searching.

For those who want something a bit more challenging than the humanities there are also games on the hard sciences and a great one where you get to be the commandant of a prisoner of war camp. Being a good camp commandant you will of course provide a library for your detainees under Article 38 of the Geneva Convention.

nobel game image

Imagine a world without shelves

empty library shelves

Photo credit Salim Virji

Imagine, it’s not hard to do, a world where knowledge and information is off the shelves and available online at any hour in any community.

Where a stack is never closed to an open mind. Where the only access requirement is an e-reader, computer or smart phone. Where you don’t need an address for a library card, but only the address of a library catalogue, Community Books or Google.

A knowledge rich world, where sharing is more important than ownership.

Let the good incendiaries with charred fingers come! Here they are! Heap up the fire to the shelves of the libraries!

Futurist Manifesto

As librarians, we can realise the possibilities of a connected and open world. We can (metaphorically) burn the shelves and set the books free.

And in doing so achieve Goal 1f of the IFLA Strategic Plan 2010-2015:

encourage the library and information sector to work with partners and users to maximise the potential of digital technology to deliver services that enable seamless and open access by users to cultural and information resources