Nearly 50 children’s chairs at the Benicia Public Library (CA) were given new life thanks to furniture repairmen with some time on their hands.For some, lots of time.  “After 25 years, they were looking a little beat up and not very appealing,” said David Dodd, Benicia’s Director of Library and Culture Services.  While “exploring a number of options,” replacing the chairs or having them professionally renovated wasn’t one.  “All very expensive,” Dodd said.Thanks to a friend of a friend of a friend — OK, it was interior designer Kristine Passalacqua who knew someone formerly associated with San Quentin — who mentioned that the high security prison had a facility where government and school furniture is reupholstered and refinished for free. READ MORE
Chess is increasingly popular at Carmichaels Area High School (OH), partially thanks to an outdoor, oversized board in the school’s new commons.During the high school renovation, finished in late 2015, there was an area just outside the high school library used to house temporary classrooms. After those buildings were removed, they left a muddy, unusable mess.Librarian Cassie Menhart said that she talked with the administration to construct some sort of outdoor area. The issue, though, was finding funding for such a project.  “I had to have a patio,” she said with a smile at the dedication of the new Paci Madich Commons Nov. 9.That’s where Gary Madich, the 2017 commencement speaker, and his wife, Cindy Paci Madich, stepped in, giving an undisclosed donation to help.  Both 1973 graduates of Carmichaels Area High School, they were looking for a lasting way to give back. The couple now lives in Westerville, a suburb of Columbus, Ohio.  “This is home for us,” Cindy Paci Madich said. “To think that two rural farm kids with not much guidance were able to be successful.” READ MORE
Located in the nation’s movie capital, the Musicians Institute Library serves about 1,000 undergraduate students and 250 faculty members at the Musicians Institute College of Contemporary Music City in Los Angeles. Its college-level performance programs cover such areas as film composition, the music business and audio engineering.Students and faculty alike depend on the library. In the words of Beth Marlis, “MI faculty and students rely on the library as the central hub for resources and materials related to their classes and career.Julie Bill is the conductor and arranger of this symphony of information.  Marlis, who nominated Bills for a 2017 I Love My Librarian Award, said the students and faculty use the library in a variety of ways. They use it to view clinic and live performance workshop videos, answer questions about copyright and clearance in relation to teaching in the classroom and look at live performance workshop charts. READ MORE
Last week, we highlighted a disturbing policy change that we had been anticipating for a while: Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Pai’s plan to roll back the net neutrality rules that require internet service providers to treat all internet traffic and services equally.Between Thanksgiving preparations and leftovers, we have had some time to review this big turkey (220 pages worth). Below are some first impressions.Before we dive in, now is the time to raise the volume on outcry as members of Congress return from the holiday. We have set up an email tool so you can make your voice heard in advance of the FCC’s December 14 vote. Visit our action center and contact your elected officials now. READ MORE
 Nearly a month since its opening, we finally got to see Harry Potter: A History of Magic at the British Library in London. I’ve seen some of the items on the internet before (e.g., J.K. Rowling’s original sketches on Pottermore) and heard the quotes from past interviews with the author, but it was of course extraordinary to see the objects from her collection in person.This is the first major exhibition that explores the rich and diverse qualities of her stories, in relation to traditions of folklore and magic. There was a video of Rowling shown in which she said that that she invented 90-95% of the magic in the Potter books; the exhibit gives us an idea of the kind of research she would have done in creating Harry’s world.A room with books that looked as though they were suspended in the air was a fitting entrance to the exhibition that was divided into the following sections: The Journey, Potions, Alchemy, Herbology, Charms, Astronomy, Divination, Defence Against the Dark Arts, Care of Magical Creatures, and Past, Present, Future. The Harry Potter Studio Tour in London explores the films, but this BL exhibit is for the fans of the books and is definitely geared towards older fans. My seven-year-old kept herself busy jotting down answers in the Family Trail booklet (why she’s interested in “how to make potions to gain admirers” is beyond me), but I couldn’t make her marvel at Rowling’s original sketches or the “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” manuscript annotated by the author and her editor. READ MORE
Lapel Middle School (IN) eighth-graders Brennan Stow, 14, and Lily Humerickhouse, 13, went about their work in the media center at Lapel Elementary School, moving around the banana tree that stretched to the ceiling as if it weren’t there.But the students are acutely aware of the unusual learning tool, which had been used as part of their lessons.  “I thought it was really cool. I never saw a banana tree in a library,” Brennan said.The 12-foot tree with bananas dropping down from the ceiling was brought into the media center earlier this school year to provide real-life math and climate science lessons. Hands-on learning is crucial to developing understanding in students, said school librarian Pamela S. Shuck.  “It’s very important to developing their thinking and problem-solving skills,” she said. READ MORE
Tennessee Williams, author of A Streetcar Named Desire (1940), bought his only New Orleans property in 1962. Williams lived sporadically in its second-floor Apt. B for 21 years, until his death in 1983.The Literary Landmark program is administered by United for Libraries. More than 150 Literary Landmarks across the United States have been dedicated since the program began in 1986. Any library or group may apply for a Literary Landmark through United for Libraries. More information is available on the United for Libraries website READ MORE
The school librarian is at the hub of all learning activities in the school, connecting leaners and teachers to prepare students for success in the classroom and beyond.To guide them along this path, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) has released a new set of National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians and School Libraries.  The standards were unveiled Nov. 9 at AASL’s National Conference & Exhibition, held in Phoenix, Arizona.AASL, a division of the American Library Association, engaged with more than 1,300 school librarians and stakeholders in a process that began more than three years ago, said Sylvia Knight Norton, AASL executive director.Two groups, an editorial board to write the standards and a task force to implement them, worked through a process that involved focus groups, late nights and a lot of lost sleep. READ MORE
Every year, hundreds of books go missing and have to be replaced at the Kansas City Public Library and its branches.  But the titles and types of books that go missing may surprise you.“It’s a real diverse group,” said Deborah Stoppello, director of library collections, who oversees all physical and digital inventory for Kansas City Public Library (MO).  But all of the books have one thing in common:“They’re very popular and have longevity, year over year,” she said.Books can go missing for various reasons. The books could have been re-shelved in the wrong place, by staff or patrons, books could slip behind shelves not to be seen again for 20 years, or they could “walk out the door,” Stoppello said.  “We have about 800,000 items, and if something is in the wrong place, finding it can be difficult,” she said.The top missing books are often the same as the most popularly checked out books. READ MORE
Steps taken to improve the urban environment— otherwise known as tactical urbanism—have been around for a while. Going by the name guerrilla urbanism, city repair, DIY urbanism, hands-on urbanism, participatory urbanism, and pop-up urbanism, these phrases loosely describe the same idea: any action designed to improve a city or neighborhood with minimal oversight, budget, and delay. It’s local, hands-on, and immediate, and it can usually be accomplished without a lot of training or resources.Concepts such as “cheap,” “grassroots,” and “local” are relative and open to interpretation. It costs almost nothing to scatter wildflower seeds into abandoned lots while walking or biking around your neighborhood. But it might cost upward of $5,000 to install a “parkmobile” consisting of a custom dumpster filled with tree ferns and yucca plants. You can knit a cozy jacket around a bike rack in your neighborhood all by yourself, but you might need a planning committee and some lead time to pry up the concrete in a vacant lot and plant a community food garden. And although your neighborhood community group might creatively lobby for a new crosswalk by painting a temporary one where it’s needed, it takes a lot more political clout to install 400 miles of bike lanes in New York City. And yet all these projects participate in the spirit of tactical urbanism to different degrees and in different ways.Tactical urbanist projects tend to demonstrate some of the following characteristics: a reliance on ingenuity, a preference for rapid deployment, a willingness to experiment and revise in process, a tolerance for error and perceived failure, an ability to value intangible benefits such as new and improved relationships and proof of concept, and a willingness to start (and sometimes stay) small. READ MORE