Archive for the ‘libraries’ Category

Friday, August 18th, 2023

TinyCat’s August Library of the Month: The Monell Chemical Senses Center Library

TinyCat’s Library of the Month is all about the senses of taste and smell: introducing the Monell Chemical Senses Center Library! Associate Member and Chair of the Library Committee Danielle Reed, Ph.D., was kind enough to field my questions about the fascinating work their library assists with:

Who are you, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”? 

Our library supports a non-profit research institution called the Monell Chemical Senses Center. To unpack what our name means, Monell refers to the family that contributed to our institution’s founding and continues to support us through the Monell Foundation. The ‘chemical senses’ part of our name refers to taste and smell, which allow us to sense chemicals in our environment, on our tongue (taste) and noses (smell). We are a Center because we are the only institution in the world devoted solely to studying taste and smell. Our mission is basic research, which you can learn when you open a textbook, and clinical research, which has immediate practical benefits, such as testing a new way to treat smell loss. Our mission is important because while taste and smell do not get the same attention as vision and hearing, the loss of these senses with COVID-19 made many people more aware of their value. Many people regain these senses as they recover, but some people have not. 

What relevant timing for your work. Can you tell us some other interesting things about how your library supports the community?

We are a ‘subject library’ meaning that we only have material relevant to taste and smell, and we have early “hard to find” journals like Chemical Senses and technical reports from industrial groups like the Sugar Foundation. We also have dissertations from people who were among the first scientists to work at Monell, as well as books and conference proceedings. We even have a small cache of children’s books focusing on taste and smell. 

We are an appointment-only library, and while I care about books, I am not a trained librarian – but I know enough to help the scholars who want to come and work in our library and get professional help with cataloging. I am especially proud that I helped Nadia Berenstein (http://nadiaberenstein.com/about-me) find materials for her dissertation about flavor and flavor chemistry.

How very cool! Do you have any particular favorite items in your collection?

My favorite item in our collection is a book called Genetics of Perception and Communication, about why and how individuals differ in their taste and smell perception. Members of a species, from bacteria to humans, use chemicals to communicate, e.g., bacteria secrete chemicals called quorum-sensing molecules to let other bacteria know it is safe to expand and grow (or not), mice communicate their health and sexual status in their urine, and humans use chemicals in many ways to communicate, either consciously or unconsciously. This book has chapters written by scientists who are experts in their area, and it covers species from invertebrates, mice, rats, and humans. I love it because it is a rare book on an underappreciated topic. 

Your library clearly hosts a rich array of resources around taste and smell. Is there a particular challenge that your library experiences?

One challenge for our library is to keep our mission focused on taste and smell and ensure that we have a comprehensive collection but don’t amass books that are not directly in our topic area. We get many book donations, especially from retiring scientists, and while many books are a fit for our subject site, many are tangential. Another challenge is figuring out what to do with these just-miss books and where to donate them so that they do the maximum good for scholars and others interested in them. 

What’s your favorite thing about TinyCat, and what’s something you’d love to see implemented/developed?

Our favorite thing about TinyCat is that it does the job we need at a price point we can afford, and we would love to see it expand to do archive cataloging. We are preserving documents of enduring value, especially those from our creation and early history, and TinyCat does not have archive features, e.g., Omeka.

You can already catalog custom media using LibraryThing’s existing fields—putting the name of an item or artifact in the “Title” field, adding tags or reviews as needed, etc.—and you can organize them under the “Media” field. See our blog post on cataloging custom materials for more information on this process. That said, we can certainly discuss anything further that you’d like to see! I appreciate the feedback.

Want to learn more about the Monell Chemical Senses Center?

Visit their website at https://monell.org/, and explore their full TinyCat collection here.


To read up on TinyCat’s previous Libraries of the Month, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

Want to be considered for TinyCat’s Library of the Month? Send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at kristi@librarything.com.

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat

Wednesday, July 12th, 2023

TinyCat’s July Library of the Month: Les Fruits de Mer’s Soualibra Library

TinyCat’s Library of the Month goes to a wonderful non-profit, Les Fruits de Mer‘s Soualibra Library, which is focused on educating the public about all things St. Martin. (St. Martin is the northern French side of the Caribbean island shared with its southern Dutch counterpart, Sint Maarten.) Being a personal repeat visitor to the island, myself, I was thrilled to interview the association’s co-founder and volunteer Mark for this month’s questions:

Who are you, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”?

Les Fruits de Mer is a non-profit association based on the island of St. Martin. Our mission is to provide education on local nature, heritage and culture. We have a free museum, Amuseum Naturalis. We also publish books about local subjects. One of our goals is to give a book to every student on the island every year they are in school. To do this, we’ve been developing books for all ages on a range of local subjects. Last year we gave away over 7,500 books. All our books are also available as free downloads.

Volunteers at one of Soualibra’s local events.

What an incredible project! Can you tell us some other interesting things about how your library supports the community?

Our library is called Soualibra. It’s named after one of the Amerindian names for St. Martin, Soualiga. In 2017, Hurricane Irma destroyed all the libraries on the island. Because we had a museum, students were coming to us when they needed to do research. We decided to start Soualibra as a research library. Our collection is focused on books about St. Martin. 

What are some of your favorite items in your collection?

We have quite a few books by Lasana M. Sekou and other local poets that are currently out of print. They are a really great window into the cultural life of the island before I lived here. And really enjoyable. Ideally, they would all be back in print, but at least we have copies available to people who are interested. 

What’s a particular challenge your library experiences?

We would love to have every book about St. Martin, but some of the older ones are very hard to find. On the other hand, we have managed to track down many older books, even ones with very small local printings. This is one thing that motivated us to publish books, because they do survive. It’s the best way to ensure information is still accessible in 100 years.

What’s your favorite thing about TinyCat, and what’s something you’d love to see developed?

I love that it is easy to use and for most books I can scan the barcode to add them. I don’t know if I need any new features, since we probably only use a fraction of the current capabilities. We have book clubs and a lot of book lovers on St. Martin and I wish there were more local reviews of local books. I am always looking for someone interested in reading and writing about St. Martin books and it would be great to integrate those local reviews into the catalog.

We could always consider allowing internal reviews for TinyCat libraries, down the line, thanks for your feedback!

Want to learn more about the Soualibra Library and Les Fruits de Mer?

Visit the library’s website at http://soualibra.com/, Les Fruits de Mer’s website at https://www.lesfruitsdemer.com/ (with all of their published books at https://www.lesfruitsdemer.com/resources/books/), and explore their full TinyCat collection here.


To read up on TinyCat’s previous Libraries of the Month, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

Want to be considered for TinyCat’s Library of the Month? Send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at kristi@librarything.com.

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat

Wednesday, June 21st, 2023

TinyCat’s June Library of the Month: The Nancy & Joe McDonald Rainbow Library

TinyCat’s Library of the Month is the Nancy & Joe McDonald Rainbow Library based out of Tulsa, Oklahoma. The library’s namesake, Nancy, is past National President of PFLAG and current President of PFLAG Tulsa. I had the pleasure of learning more about the library from Library Director Michelle Simmons, who was kind enough to answer my questions this month:

Who are you, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”?

The Dennis R. Neill Equality Center in Tulsa, OK

The Nancy & Joe McDonald Rainbow Library was started by Nancy McDonald to provide a place for her daughter to be able to find LGBT resources after she “came out.” Since Nancy began her equal rights work, the library has grown from a place that houses a smattering of books to a collection of almost 4,000 volumes. In the past year, and especially the past few months, the library has gone from being a more passive resource on the second floor of the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center, to an active voice in creating and preserving access to 2SLGBTQIAA+ materials to the greater community.

Can you tell us more about how your library supports the community?

I love getting to bring books to different groups of people that would otherwise not know of the library’s existence. Or, if they did know, didn’t have easy access to it physically. I’ve connected with a local—and one of the few remaining—GSAs (Genders & Sexualities Alliances), and I bring an assortment of books for them to check out every couple of weeks. Another amazing event was the Banned Book service at All Souls Unitarian Church last year. A record number of people attended that service, and the library was set up right outside the entry doors. So every single person who attended that service had the opportunity to learn about the library.

That’s great exposure! Speaking of your library, what are some of your favorite items in your collection?

I love some of the older gems, for example: And God Bless Uncle Harry and His Roommate Jack Who We Are Not Supposed to Talk About and Lesbian Etiquette. As far as books that impacted me personally, Stone Butch Blues ranks at the top. 

What’s a particular challenge your library experiences?

We are needing to remove all the labels on the books and relabel them. There have been a few cataloging systems put into place over the years, and we are wanting to standardize and modernize it, as well as make it look uniform and professional. Peeling labels off of 3,000 books takes a lot of time, and since we are 100% volunteer-run (including myself), it is taking a very long time. However, once we are done, it will be so much easier to label books for different locations as we open them up and keep track of what we have. 

What’s your favorite thing about TinyCat?

100% the online capability for us. Before, people would have to come into the Center and go upstairs to find things in the library. Now they can search from their own devices. What would help us out a lot is the ability to modify genres and add our own. We are relying on tags and collections to sort books by age range, interest, and segment of the community; and honestly, it’s a little overwhelming.

That’s great feedback, thanks. You can already edit your own Genres on LibraryThing itself, and I’m hoping that we can soon bring individual Genres through TinyCat as well. If you want to add brand new Genres, please let us know what you’re looking for on Talk!

Want to learn more about the Nancy & Joe McDonald Rainbow Library?

Visit their website at http://okeq.org/ and explore their full TinyCat collection here.


To read up on TinyCat’s previous Libraries of the Month, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

Want to be considered for TinyCat’s Library of the Month? Send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at kristi@librarything.com.

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat

Thursday, April 13th, 2023

TinyCat’s April Library of the Month: The Traveling Library CCTX

This month I had the pleasure of interviewing a traveling nonprofit library in Texas working to get more books in the hands of readers who need them. And they just celebrated their 2nd birthday! Congratulations to The Traveling Library CCTX (Corpus Christi, TX). Here’s what their Founder and Executive Director Abigail Trevino had to say about the library:

Who are you, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”?

The Traveling Library CCTX is exactly how it sounds! We’re a traveling library! A library on wheels! A bookmobile! These are all things that we have been called and have loved. It doesn’t matter how people describe us because the mission has always been the same. Our mission is to provide access to knowledge, encourage the exercise of rights, provide inclusion in society, and freedom for all. The Traveling Library provides knowledge to those in need by providing literature and other resources that are needed. The mission of The Traveling Library was inspired by my grandfather and uncle, who were both big supporters of education and reading.

What an inspiring story of origin! Can you tell us more about how your library supports the community?

The Traveling Library CCTX supports the community by providing literature to areas that might not have access to it. We accomplish this by bringing the traveling library that is fully stocked with books!

We also partner with other local organizations that can help us distribute other resources that are needed. For example, we partnered with a local organization that provides period hygiene products to people that need them at no cost. We bring these products with us when we are serving vulnerable populations such as the unhoused community. Another community partner is the Corpus Christi Hooks, our local double AA affiliate baseball team. Various staff from the CC Hooks will join us when we do story time at local schools. Sammy the Seagull is a fan favorite among the kids! 

How fun! Speaking of story time, what are some of your favorite items in your collection?

The Traveling Library CCTX is an intellectual freedom library meaning we carry and have all sorts of books. Because of this, I would say that some of my favorite books in our collection are our banned books, specifically Fahrenheit 451. I love the message the book conveys, and of course it doesn’t hurt that I love Ray Bradbury. The entire Judy Moody series is always one of my favorites: I loved those books as a kid! 

What’s a particular challenge your library experiences?

Like any other nonprofit organization we struggle with finding the monetary donations that it takes to run this mobile library. A particular challenge that we are currently facing is not enough space! We currently operate out of a small cargo trailer and have too many books to fit inside. We’re currently trying to raise funds for the purchase of a much larger trailer that can hold a lot more books and serve more areas in our city! 

What’s your favorite thing about TinyCat?

I love that TinyCat is easy to operate and the staff is very personable. Every time I have needed help, a staff member responds quickly and offers as much help as they can!

We’re so glad to help!

Want to learn more about The Traveling Library CCTX? 

Visit their website at https://www.thetravelinglibrarycctx.com/, follow them on Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest, and explore their full TinyCat collection here.


To read up on TinyCat’s previous Libraries of the Month, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

Want to be considered for TinyCat’s Library of the Month? Send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at kristi@librarything.com.

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat

Friday, March 24th, 2023

TinyCat’s March Library of the Month: The Lake Rotoiti Classic & Wooden Boat Association

With warmer days on the horizon (at least for us Northern Hemisphere folks), this month’s spotlight features the library for The Lake Rotoiti Classic & Wooden Boat Association in New Zealand. The Association’s volunteer Webmaster and Librarian Peter Mitchell was kind enough to tell me more about what they do:

Who are you, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”?

The Lake Rotoiti Classic & Wooden Boat Association (LRCWBA) are a community group that surround Lake Rotoiti (which means ‘small lake’ in Māori). There are two Rotoitis in New Zealand and ours is the North Island one. The group exists to coordinate fun social events and to gather and preserve vintage boats.

Tell us some interesting things about how your library supports the community.

The group members can pull a book on a particular technical area such as restoring a clinker built hull or a 1950s inboard motor. That material would not be available in many places these days.

What are some of your favorite items in your collection?

LRCWBA’s volunteer Webmaster / Librarian Peter Mitchell and his boat.

The library has starry picture books, heroic high seas tales and technical manuals on motors and restorations.

What’s a particular challenge your library experiences?

We need our members to engage with it a bit more, but this is just a marketing task. Basically me, the librarian, talking to each member about what they can contribute and what they can get from the library.

What’s your favorite thing about TinyCat?

I love the way TinyCat backs into a few different book catalogues and can pull data across to speed up the creation of the catalogue.

Want to learn more about the LRCWBA? 

Visit their website at https://www.woodenboatparade.co.nz/, follow them on Facebook, and explore their full TinyCat collection here.


To read up on TinyCat’s previous Libraries of the Month, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

Want to be considered for TinyCat’s Library of the Month? Send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at kristi@librarything.com.

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat

Friday, January 20th, 2023

TinyCat’s January Library of the Month: The Centre for Family Literacy

We’re kicking off the New Year right with an amazing literacy organization founded in 1980 and based in Alberta, Canada. Congrats to the Centre for Family Literacy! Tutor Program Lead Sharon Smith and Literacy Specialist Genevieve Litwin were kind enough to tell me all about their organization and library for this month’s feature:

Who are you, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”?

The Centre for Family Literacy is a nonprofit organization that works towards a healthy, literate society where all are able to contribute and succeed. Our mission is to empower people, strengthen communities, and transform lives through literacy. In partnerships with community agencies, we support thousands of adults and children each year.

We offer programs that participants can attend with their family, as well as ones they can attend on their own. Our family programs help parents and caregivers support their children’s early language and literacy development, while working on their own literacy skills. Programs just for adults include group classes and tutoring, and are designed to help adults build the basic reading, writing, math, and digital skills needed to function in today’s world.

Tell us some interesting things about how your library supports the community.

The Adult Learners Library is an extension of the Centre for Family Literacy’s Tutor Program, and is committed to providing our volunteer tutors with the resources they need when they need them.

In this program, adults work with other adults in safe and supportive settings to develop literacy skills and strategies that will help them achieve their goals. Our programs offer meaningful and relevant activities to connect learning to real life—work, family, community—in fun and practical ways.

From one of our tutors: 

“Half-way through one of my lessons, my learner stopped me and said, ‘You are the best teacher I’ve ever had. I am so used to being rushed and yelled at when I get answers wrong, or am confused on the topics, but I feel very comfortable with you. I am so glad to have you as my teacher because you’re so nice and I actually feel like I am learning.’ I felt so proud and honoured to be trusted by my learner; it is an amazing feeling knowing they are motivated to learn as well.”

Our library supports this program by providing free physical resources for tutors and learners. Our tutors meet with their learners both in person as well as online for remote learning. Our large nonfiction section primarily features teaching materials and workbooks that focus on topics such as basic reading and writing skills, vocabulary building, math skills, and learning English as an additional language. We also have study resources for the GED exam, language exams (e.g. IELTS), and applying for Canadian Citizenship.

What are some of your favorite items in your collection?

We love The Active Reader workbooks, published by Grass Roots Press. They provide levelled stories based on different themes, and include decoding and comprehension activities that encourage learners to become active readers. We also love high-interest, low-vocabulary fiction such as the Photostories by Grass Roots Press, and the Rapid Reads fiction collection published by Orca Book Publishers. All of these are great Canadian resources!

What’s a particular challenge your library experiences?

In 2020, due to the pandemic, all of our in person programs temporarily moved online. Since then, we have been able to offer hybrid programming where we offer both in person and online programming for families and adults. Many tutors and learners continue to meet primarily online using distance learning tools. This means there has been less demand for our library books. For that reason, we find promoting our library and increasing its use to be challenging!

What’s your favorite thing about TinyCat, and what’s something you’d love to see implemented or developed?

We would love to see the ability to add multiple copies to the same record. Many of our items have multiple copies and tutor-learner pairs often sign out the same book. It would be great to have that all together instead of in multiple records. 

We love the affordability of TinyCat and how user-friendly it is. We especially love the way this has made our library catalog accessible remotely!

Thanks for the feedback on copies management, I can certainly understand the struggle. We’ll be sure to announce any updates regarding such a feature!

Want to learn more about the Centre for Family Literacy? 

Visit their website at https://famlit.ca/, follow them on YouTube and Instagram, and explore their full TinyCat collection here.


To read up on TinyCat’s previous Libraries of the Month, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

Want to be considered for TinyCat’s Library of the Month? Send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at kristi@librarything.com.

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat

Saturday, December 17th, 2022

TinyCat’s December Library of the Month: The Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach

Allow yourself to be virtually transported to the warm climate of Palm Beach, Florida, a beautiful town home to Florida’s first all-native botanical garden, the first schoolhouse in southeast Florida (founded in 1886), and two archival collections housed in a gorgeously architected climate-controlled vault. All of these spaces are fostered by the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach, whose library we feature this month. Archives Assistant Amanda Capote was kind enough to field my questions for this fascinating space:

Who are you, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”?

Founded in 1980, the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach is dedicated to preserving the architectural and cultural heritage and the unique scenic quality of the Town of Palm Beach.  Through advocacy initiatives, educational programs, architectural resources, and cultural events, the Foundation’s goal is to encourage the community to learn about and save the historic sites that make Palm Beach special.

Tell us some interesting things about how your library supports the community.

The library houses a circulating collection of books and periodicals on topics such as architecture, historic preservation, gardening, landscape architecture, urban planning, and local history. The Foundation’s library also hosts periodic museum exhibits which celebrate the lives and works of prominent Palm Beach architects, designers, and residents whose contributions to the beauty of the island are still evident today. The library complements the Foundation’s archival collections and promotes historic preservation advocacy and education initiatives.

What are some of your favorite items in your collection?

Some of my favorite items are found in our Palm Beach section which captures the charm and quirkiness of the island. Caroline Seebohm’s Boca Rococo is a great read and contains valuable research on architect Addison Mizner.

What’s a particular challenge your library experiences?

Our library is a multi-function space as we hold events and lectures, display archive materials, and host specialty exhibits throughout the season. Balancing all these functions can be challenging but it makes the space unique.

What’s your favorite thing about TinyCat, and what’s something you’d love to see implemented or developed?

I’m fairly new to TinyCat but so far I’m very impressed with how user friendly it is. I really enjoy the tagging system which I use to label our books by sections.

Want to learn more about the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach?

Visit their website at https://www.palmbeachpreservation.org/, follow them on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter, and explore their full TinyCat collection here.


To read up on TinyCat’s previous Libraries of the Month, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

Want to be considered for TinyCat’s Library of the Month? Send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at kristi@librarything.com.

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat

Friday, October 21st, 2022

TinyCat’s October Library of the Month: The Women’s Museum of California

This month we’re proud to highlight the Women’s Museum of California (WMC), based out of San Diego and offering a Free Feminist Library to the public every first Saturday of the month. WMC’s Marketing Director Melissa Jones was kind enough to field my questions this month:

Who are you, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”?

The mission of the Women’s Museum of California is to educate and inspire present and future generations about the experiences and contributions of diverse women by collecting, preserving, and interpreting their stories.

Picture of the Women's Museum of California Education Center, a tall building facade with a high archway full of windows and glass doors. Facade is covered with a hanging display of pink flowers and a female gender symbol made of flowers.
WMC’s Educational Center containing their
Free Feminist Library.

Tell us some interesting things about how your library supports the community.

Our library fills the gaps in our education when it comes to learning about the contributions and accomplishments of women. The library houses books by women authors, with particular attention to frequently banned or challenged books, for the public to borrow. We encourage everyone, young and old, to pursue their dreams. The Women’s Museum of California gives people the opportunity to learn about women in history who paved the way for women’s lives today and tomorrow. By sharing the hidden histories of women’s experiences we combat the limits society places on women and recognize that despite the inequalities that women face across centuries they have become inventors, politicians, activists, artists, and military heroes.

That is simply wonderful! Speaking to the works you have in your library, what are some of your favorite items in your collection?

We love that we have a wide range of perspectives in our collection – not every woman has the same experience. From classic feminist books like Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique to more modern books like Michelle Obama’s Becoming we hope every woman can see themselves in the books on our shelves.

What’s a particular challenge your library experiences?

We are only open one day a month and we’d like to grow so more people can read the books in our collection.

What’s your favorite thing about TinyCat, and what’s something you’d love to see implemented or developed?

TinyCat is affordable and easy to use. It was so easy to get our volunteers trained on how to use it. We would love a way for patrons to add themselves to the system so we can have a self-checkout system.

Great feedback, thanks! There are some workarounds libraries use so patrons can be added to the system remotely (discussed here), but we’ll be sure to announce any official changes on that front.

Want to learn more about the Women’s Museum of California?

Visit their website at https://www.womensmuseumca.org/, follow them on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter, and explore their full TinyCat collection here.


To read up on TinyCat’s previous Libraries of the Month, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

Want to be considered for TinyCat’s Library of the Month? Send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at kristi@librarything.com.

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat

Friday, August 12th, 2022

TinyCat’s August Library of the Month: Green Bay Botanical Garden

This month we tip our gardening hats to the Green Bay Botanical Garden (GBBG)—yes, home of the Packers—as TinyCat’s Library of the Month. Linda Gustke, Director of Education & Guest Experience at GBBG, was kind enough to field my questions this month:

Who are you, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”?

Green Bay Botanical Garden’s mission statement is this: We connect people with plants by providing year-round educational and recreational experiences for everyone in an environment that engages, inspires and refreshes.

Tell us some interesting things about how your library supports the community.

We love to be a resource for our gardening community! Our library has a wide variety of gardening books, as well as some DVD’s, for adults—from starting a garden, to garden design, landscaping, native plants, vegetable gardens, grasses, plant lore, even backyard chickens! We also have a Children’s Library that brings nature to life through stories about all that happens in the Garden—plants, animals, lifecycles, plant stories and more. We host a story time each Tuesday morning with stories from the Children’s Library, and the library is especially utilized by families visiting the Garden during the summertime.

What are some of your favorite items in your collection?

In our adult section, I love the books by Amy Stewart: Wicked Bugs, Wicked Plants, The Drunken Botanist. In our kids section, it’s hard to pick a favorite, they’re all so great!

What’s a particular challenge your library experiences?

We continue to run out of space in our building for our staff, and that means the library gets relocated and underutilized. It has such great resources that we would love to make it more widely available, but it’s been difficult to devote the staff time to it to really make it more usable for the community.

Hopefully having an online catalog makes your library’s visibility just a little bit easier! Speaking of TinyCat, what’s your favorite thing about TinyCat, and what’s something you’d love to see implemented or developed?

We love that it has brought our collection online and it makes it easy for guests and members to check out books! I haven’t worked with it as closely yet (our staff member that got it up and running recently left) so I don’t have suggestions for things I’d like to see implemented or developed at this time.

Want to learn more about GBBG?

Visit their website at https://gbbg.org/, follow them on Facebook / Instagram / Twitter, and explore their full TinyCat collection here.


To read up on TinyCat’s previous Libraries of the Month, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

Want to be considered for TinyCat’s Library of the Month? Send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at kristi@librarything.com.

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat

Tuesday, July 19th, 2022

TinyCat’s July Library of the Month: The Maurice Ritz Resource Center

TinyCat’s Library of the Month is a rather timely one: Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin’s Community Library, the Maurice Ritz Resource Center. I interviewed the Center’s Resource and Training Specialist Anne Brosowsky-Roth who was kind enough to field my questions this month:

Who are you, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”?

The Maurice Ritz Resource Center is the Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin Community Library. It was founded in 1972 with seed money donated by a board member. It is Wisconsin’s only library dedicated to human sexuality and sex education. Housed in the Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin Milwaukee headquarters, it provides materials and resources for parents, educators, health care providers, social workers, case managers, youth workers, and others working to improve their capacity when addressing sexuality with their own children, students, patients, clients, and participants. 

The collection includes over 3,000 books, curricula, and audiovisuals. The resource center also houses a non-circulating research collection of historical materials relating to human sexuality dating from the 19th century onward.

Tell us some interesting things about how your library supports the community.

We are the only library in Wisconsin that specializes in human sexuality. We have a variety of unique holdings, including a section dedicated to sex education for people with disabilities. Our library offers resources and support for families who need to have conversations they might never have expected to need to have for their children with unique needs, like supporting kids with sensory differences coping with puberty, or people with cognitive disabilities navigating relationships.

What are some of your favorite items in your collection?

My personal favorite items are historical sex guides and manuals that live in our archival collection. They really open a window to the ways sex, sexuality, and gender have evolved in the United States over the last 100 years or so. One of my favorites was a book written for newlywed young husbands in the late 1800s, which includes “everything” he needs to know about marriage—except for intercourse. (Though it does contain “scientific” evidence about the importance of having separate beds lest couples become too overcome with passion.)

Another is a script for a radio program from the 1950s, which role-modeled ways parents could incorporate instruction about sex using everyday teachable moments. A mother tells her daughter about menstruation as they bake together. A father explains the facts of life when a neighbor’s dog has puppies. And there is this conversational lead in to a conversation about wet dreams…

FATHER: (THE CAREFUL LEAD-IN) You know, Bob, you’re getting to be a pretty big fellow! Yes sir – maybe this is a good idea. Chance for us to have a little talk.

BOB: Why sure, Dad. What’s cookin’?

FATHER: Mind if I smoke in your room?

BOB: (PLEASED AT BEING ASKED) Why, no, Dad. Go ahead!

FATHER: Thanks. Your mother will probably have a fit. She just had the curtains washed. (PUFFS AS HE LIGHTS PIPE…BOB CHUCKLES THROUGH PUFFS) Remember the last time we talked about this old body of ours, Bob?…

Sex, stereotypes, and smoking, all in one tiny piece of dialogue. It doesn’t get much better than that.

What’s a particular challenge your library experiences?

As a library within a larger organization, we have bounced around through different departments over the years. When we began, we were housed within community education, as we supported our staff educators who would provide programming to the public. When our organization experienced budget cuts that eliminated educational programming, we were moved into patient services, to support a program that supported nurse practitioners (NPs) working on their certification. When our state required NPs to get a degree through an accredited university, we were moved into development. It’s been a constant struggle to explain the reasons for continuing to support and value the maintenance of a library.

That seems to be a constant struggle for too many small libraries! 

Switching gears a bit: as a supporter of small libraries, ourselves, can you tell us your favorite thing about TinyCat, and also something you’d love to see implemented/developed?

TinyCat was revolutionary for us. We are very small, in terms of the size of our collection and our budget. One staff person oversees the library, and that is not their primary role. Until a few years ago, everything was done on paper—acquisitions records, materials processing, I even hand-typed cards and book labels. This made access difficult for all but a few dedicated users. Since the library serves staff at 23 different sites, and most of the public that uses our library doesn’t live in our region, there was no way for them to browse or access the collection. 

While we knew an OPAC was always the gold standard, there was no way we could afford access with our tiny budget. TinyCat was a game changer. The low cost combined with an easy-to-use interface for the first time meant that people could access our materials in the same way they might look things up at their local library. Even for people unfamiliar with doing searches, I can just send them a link to search results. It has made acquisitions easier as well. We have a very niche collection—it’s easy to see what other similar collections contain and add that might be of interest to our users.

I would love to see a robust circulation option built in—that could be used to solicit and track patrons.

Great suggestion. While we don’t (yet) have a way for you to message patrons within TinyCat en masse, you can add/import/track your patrons and their circulation data, and we will continue to make improvements to the system as we grow. Thanks for your feedback!

Want to learn more about the Maurice Ritz Resource Center? Explore their full TinyCat collection here.


To read up on TinyCat’s previous Libraries of the Month, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

Want to be considered for TinyCat’s Library of the Month? Send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at kristi@librarything.com.

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat