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May 12, 2011

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Oh, Anna, what a beautiful testament to the lure and longing libraries conjure up for me,too. I remember the small branch library in northwest Detroit where my sister and I would ride our bikes and spend long afternoons. I went away to college and returned to the same area when I was a newlywed. One day, I learned my branch library was being closed and a Detroit mini-police station was being installed in its place--I felt like a friend had died. I was furious and very sad. Funny how that is. Thanks for a lovely remembrance. On another note, Julie and Wynn are so excited to be seeing you soon!

Such a sweet story anna! I can still conjure the smell of my tiny hometown library (http://www.library.lapeer.org/). I remember reading the Chronicals of Narnia by going to the library and ordering each one by interlibrary loan. They'd only let me get one at a time, so i had to wait an interminable week between each book, but the smells, the personal interaction with the librarians, and the anticipation i appreciated even then. Libraries are amazing!

Diana, thanks for sharing that story -- it seems particularly significant when I hear about all the possible branch closures happening in the city right now. So sad! And, more happily, I'm excited to see Julie and Wynn soon, too. I might go dizzy with the novelty of hanging out with them in Kenya...

Andy, thank you. And I'm impressed that it seems like Lapeer has multiple branches of its library. Amazing! And amazing about the one-at-a-time rule ... That's brutal.

I can still remember what my library smelled like. We used to go every week... The old library is gone and a new really fancy one is in place.

Thankfully though, Arlington, VA has a great complex of libraries and I've loved going there to find books. And the smell -- its the same as home! :)

Anna, as someone who also grew up in a library and is now studying to be a librarian, I have been reading about the potential in the future for inexpensive smartphones to provide access to reading materials in areas without libraries or bookstores. I have read that is very common for people to have cell phones even in areas where annual income is very low, and I wondered if you had any observations on this idea to share? I know it's not the same as the haven of a favorite book in your home library, but it is access to books...

It's true, at least here in Kenya, that there is VERY widespread adoption of cell phones and mobile technology. In fact, when it comes to mobile money, it's further along here than the U.S. I can certainly see how that can be leveraged to increase book access. I think one of the biggest obstacles is that, at least right now, people don't particularly use existing internet access (whether on computers or phones) to read ... people use it for research, email, entertainment, but when it comes to, say, reading the news, people still turn to print. Layer that with the limited cultural idea of reading as something you do for fun, and I think it is a steep climb -- to using mobile phones to access books. A lot would have to come together to make it widespread.

Speaking libraries -- check out this amazing visual celebration: http://therumpus.net/2011/05/meanwhile-the-san-francisco-public-library/

Thank you. It's interesting to hear what you see on the ground.

I love the "The Rumpus" link.

Re: moving the library's books by hand: http://www.hawaii247.com/2010/10/25/chain-of-people-move-library-one-book-at-a-time/

Also, while I agree it's really sad when a library closes, we get people in my library all the time who haven't been in for many years and their emotions range from amazement to confusion to nostalgia to dissatisfaction. The truth is, it's natural for libraries to adapt and change as the technology and the community's needs change. Our library was remodeled about ten years ago and we just did a new work-flow study to change it all up since emerging technology has changed our physical space needs so much, and it will only change more in the future. So, it can be sad when things aren't the way you remembered them, but really, it would be much sadder if they were *exactly* the same.

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