Archive for the ‘libraries’ Category

Friday, July 31st, 2020

TinyCat’s July Library of the Month: The Center for Black Diaspora at DePaul University

To read more about TinyCat’s Library of the Month feature, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

TinyCat is honored to feature a library this month that offers an amazing selection of resources centering on the Black Diaspora. The Center for Black Diaspora at DePaul University’s Assistant Director Juelle Daley was kind enough to field my questions this month:

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

The Center for Black Diaspora’s reading room is a non-circulating special collection of books, films and audio-visual materials at DePaul University focused on every topic as it relates to the Black experience in the United States and the rest of the world. Our center’s mission since 1993 is to promote the culture and history of the Black Diaspora through our programming and events but more importantly, to provide a space for scholarly work. Our reading room is an integral component to this goal.

Though the university has its main library system, our reading room is a gem because of the sheer diversity of materials acquired about the Black Diaspora not found in the main library. As such, researchers, faculty and students have first-hand access to our resources.

Tell us some interesting things about how you support your community.

The library primarily serves the DePaul University community which includes all students, faculty and staff. It is also open to Chicagoland individuals who need access to the Center’s private collection.

What are some of your favorite items in your collection?

My favorite part of our collection would be the film collection which has expanded over the last five years. We have scoured the globe and international film festivals looking for stories about the complexity of the Black experience and the multiplicity of its expressions. The diversity of these acquisitions and books are what makes us unique. Items that reflect this diversity include the following:

What is a particular challenge your library experiences?

One major challenge is making our vast resources more visible to the larger public.

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

We are delighted to finally have an online catalogue that individuals can consult remotely. TinyCat is a priceless additional step in promoting our special collection’s visibility.


Want to learn more about The Center for Black Diaspora at DePaul University? Visit their website here, follow them on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), and check out their collection on TinyCat. If you’d like to support the library, please contact DePaul University’s Office of Development.

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

Calling all TinyCat libraries: become TinyCat’s next Library of the Month—just send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at kristi@librarything.com.

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat

Wednesday, July 1st, 2020

TinyCat’s June Library of the Month: The LGBT Library at Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center

To read more about TinyCat’s Library of the Month feature, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

In honor of Pride Month, we’re thrilled to feature The LGBT Library at Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center. Executive Director Adrian Shanker was kind enough to field my questions this month:

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

The LGBT Library at Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center celebrates LGBT literature, history, and culture with our collection of more than 2,300 LGBT library materials, frequent book talks, and community reading groups focused on memoir and poetry.

Tell us some interesting things about how you support your community.

All of our programs are free for the community, from borrowing books—which often are not available from mainstream libraries—to attending book talks or reading groups, where we even provide free copies of books to interested community members. We try to remove participation barriers and provide leading-edge programs on topics that need to be discussed. We do hope that soon more public libraries will expand their LGBT collections. For now, we are often the only place in our region where people can access the library materials we provide.

What are some of your favorite items in your collection?

As a small library, our collection is unique in that it is reserved only to materials that celebrate LGBT literature, history, and culture. We have been intentional about ensuring that our library collection includes materials celebrating multiple- or further-marginalized populations, such as BIPOC LGBT people, queer people of faith, asexual community members, and trans people.

What is a particular challenge your library experiences?

It’s always a challenge for a small library like ours to acquire newly-released library materials. Much of our collection has been acquired by donations of used books, but we strive to keep our collection relevant to current community needs and interests.

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

We love that the community can access our catalog from our website with the Tinycat search widget! It would be great if there could be an integration with GoodReads so community members can see reviews when searching our catalog.

I’m happy to say that LibraryThing actually offers some of the best reviews around, with over 2.5 million members! You can include your own review, published media reviews (such as from the NY Times, etc.), and LibraryThing member reviews from your Detail page sections settings.


Want to learn more about The LGBT Library at Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center? Visit them at bradburysullivancenter.org/library, follow them on social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram), and check out their collection on TinyCat. If you’d like to support the library, monetary donations are always welcome at www.bradburysullivancenter.org/donate and donations of new books can be mailed to the library at 522 W. Maple St., Allentown, PA 18101. (Used book donations cannot be accepted at this time.)

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

Calling all TinyCat libraries: become TinyCat’s next Library of the Month—just send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at kristi@librarything.com.

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat

Tuesday, May 26th, 2020

TinyCat’s May Library of the Month: Canton Woods Senior Center

To read more about TinyCat’s Library of the Month feature, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

This month we highlight a center doing great things for their local senior citizens, the Canton Woods Senior Center! Here’s what Librarian Lorraine Melita—aka “Lorraine the Librarian”—had to say about their library:

First, what is your library, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”?

Canton Woods helps seniors remain active members of their community. The official mission of Canton Woods Senior Center reads as follows: Senior citizens are a valuable community resource. Canton Woods Multipurpose Senior Center meets the challenges facing older Americans by offering stimulating social activities, education and recreation programs, nutrition, health, and other activities.

Tell us some interesting things about how you support your community.

The small area that houses our collection is used as a senior writing center, a wonderful book club led by a retired English teacher, a health center for blood pressure checks, and a reading area for quiet times. The center offers seniors various exercise classes including a falls and prevention class, Tai Chi, cooking demonstrations, free band concerts, a craft club, art classes, pool, card games, Wii bowling, and many other activities.

Because the center is a municipally funded center, the library, in particular, is always looking for unique funding methods. For the past two years in the fall, several volunteers at the center have peeled apples and made many apple crisps to sell by the piece as a fundraiser for our small library. It was a great deal of work but was very successful and enjoyed by everyone who participated, especially the seniors! I also do a list of new books in our monthly newsletter and feature these books on our “new books” shelf in the library.

What are some of your favorite items in your collection?

Our seniors are voracious readers and often love mystery novels with James Patterson, David Baldacci and Stuart Woods being some of their favorite authors.

What’s a particular challenge you experience as a small library?

I find the biggest challenge to this library is technology. Three years ago, the collection was put online with the help of Syracuse University, several area grants from various donors, and LibraryThing. The technology itself works very well but the majority of our seniors are not used to looking at an online catalog for their books. Some of our readers would easily be able to use the internet to navigate our system whereas most of them like to peruse the shelves and see what’s been added to the new book shelf. I put the collection online to have the technology available and in use when more tech-savvy patrons begin using this facility. When that happens, we may begin using the lending features TinyCat offers.

Regarding the current COVID-19 pandemic, how has your library and your organization been affected? Is there anything TinyCat could be doing to meet your needs during this time?

The center has been closed to the public and our seniors since the pandemic began; however, our Director has met our loyal patrons on the front porch with a basket of books by the author they request. She takes a photo of the books, the patron’s name and number, and prints the photo for our records, all while practicing social distancing and wearing a mask. She is dedicated to our mission and our seniors!

Without our library open at this time, there isn’t much TinyCat can do to help our operations.

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

I am thrilled with the recent improvement for getting statistics. That is extremely useful to me as I need to show circulation to have any increase to my meager budget.


Want to learn more about the Canton Woods Senior Center? Check out their collection on TinyCat.

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

Calling all TinyCat libraries: become TinyCat’s next Library of the Month—just send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at kristi@librarything.com.

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat

Friday, March 27th, 2020

TinyCat’s March Library of the Month: The Sitting Room Library

To read more about TinyCat’s Library of the Month feature, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re featuring the library of the Sitting Room!

Karen Peterson, Librarian and co-founder of the Sitting Room with J.J. Wilson, fielded my questions this month:

First, what is your library, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”?

The Sitting Room provides the local community with a library and reading room for researching women’s literature, art and related issues. To that end, we present cultural events such as poetry readings, lectures, exhibits, and performances, and we provide a place for writers’ workshops and other educational activities. The building and cataloguing of an extensive collection of reading and research material and the development of a supportive, friendly, non-intimidating environment for study are thus primary.

Tell us some interesting things about how you support your community.

The Sitting Room is within walking distance of Sonoma State University and we are fortunate to have regular student interns work with us. We have also served as a residency for students in the online Masters of Library Science program at San José State University. Northern California is home to an abundance of writers and artists and our public events provide a space for them to share their work. All special events are free and open to all, no membership needed or gender excluded. The free monthly book groups and writing workshops are open to all and provide a unique emphasis on women’s voices and visions.

What are some of your favorite items in your collection?

We have a fabulous 1,000-volume collection of poetry filling an entire wall. Many of these are chapbooks by local as well as nationally renowned women poets. The chapbook collection of over 400 has the droll name “Spineless Wonders.”

One of the founders of The Sitting Room, J.J. Wilson, is a Virginia Woolf scholar. Over the course of her research and teaching, she amassed an amazing collection of Woolf’s writing and critical works, and creative works and history of the Bloomsbury Group.

Our International Fiction collection provides excellent opportunities to experience how women writers view and experience their native countries. Historical and contemporary perspectives from a wide range of countries are represented. With over 600 volumes, and some hard to find translations, it is a great browsing collection, either in person or online through TinyCat.

What’s a particular challenge you experience as a small library?

The Sitting Room is located in a lovely home surrounded by redwood trees. We have a kitchen! And all are welcome to brew a cup of tea or join us for lunch. The domestic setting suits the collection and while visitors are at first a bit bemused to find us in a residential neighborhood, they quickly make themselves at home.

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

First of all, TinyCat is quite simply visually appealing. We love the parade of book jackets that adorn the simple search page, announcing recently cataloged items. The design draws people in: it is inviting, not intimidating.

Some items are on our implementation wish list:

  • We would love to be able to curate the animated cover display on the home page.
  • We don’t use the circulation module of TinyCat, but would love to generate some usage statistics.

Great suggestions. Customizing the cover display is on our list of requests, and you can add your own Google Analytics to your TinyCat via the custom JavaScript setting on your Content Settings page. Hope this helps!


Want to learn more about the Sitting Room? Follow them on Facebook, visit their website here, and check out their collection on TinyCat.

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

Calling all TinyCat libraries: become TinyCat’s next Library of the Month—just send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at kristi@librarything.com.

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat

Friday, February 28th, 2020

TinyCat’s February Library of the Month: the Asia Art Archive in America

To read more about TinyCat’s Library of the Month feature, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

TinyCat’s February Library of the Month, the Asia Art Archive in America (AAA-A), is doing great work supporting contemporary art from and of Asia.

AAA-A’s Manager and Program Coordinator Hilary Chassé discussed more with my questions this month:

First, what is your library, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”?

Asia Art Archive in America (AAA in A) is an independently established and operated nonprofit program space and reading room based in Brooklyn, NY and is the first overseas mini hub of Asia Art Archive (AAA) in Hong Kong. AAA’s mission is to collect, preserve, and make information on contemporary art from and of Asia easily accessible in order to facilitate understanding, research and writing in the field. AAA in A strives to be proactive in instigating dialogue and critical thinking by both making our research collection more accessible to a U.S.-based audience and also through a series of regular educational programs. By doing so we hope to raise awareness of and support for the activities of Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong.

Tell us some interesting things about how you support your community.

Besides making our reading room and digital archive collection available freely and open to the public five days a week, we also host a twice-monthly public program series, which includes artist talks, screenings, seminars, and workshops. So far in 2020 we’ve hosted a local artist book maker to lead a book-binding workshop, presented a performance-lecture by two Vietnamese-American artists on diaspora, refugees, and identity, and had one of our recent research grantees present her project examining the impact of photography and other images from the Cultural Revolution in China. Coming up, we’ll be hosting a Wikipedia edit-a-thon on women in art in Asia on International Women’s Day and will be hosting a zine-making workshop later this spring with the Australian zine publisher Red Pocket Press. We hope that by offering these programs we not only engage and educate our community in New York, but also help activate the materials in our collection and provide a platform for the artists, curators, and scholars whose work we admire and informs our own collection priorities.

What are some of your favorite items in your collection?

It’s very tough to choose but here are three books that I love and that I also think are a good illustration of the range of materials in our collection:

  • The Speech Writer by Pakistani video artist Bani Abidi: This artist book was published by the Sri Lankan press Raking Leaves in 2012. It tells the story of a fictional “documentary” presented in the form of ten photo flip books, which are then neatly housed in order in a slipcase. I think this book used a very clever method of taking the artist’s usual medium of film and rendering it into book form, and the publisher behind Raking Leaves, Sharmini Pereira, is extremely thoughtful and meticulous in her designs and execution of the books she collaborates with artists on.
  • South Vietnam: Land and People, Part I-III (pictured right): This 1967 book series, which features sketches and watercolors of everyday life and political propaganda scenes produced by North Vietnamese artists, is one of the oldest books in our collection. It came to us as part of a larger donation of rare catalogs and monographs from Vietnam in the mid-to late 20th century, donated by an American art historian and curator who spent many years in Southeast Asia. Socialist Realist Art was quite prominent in the last century in Asia, but has been consistently understudied and misunderstood in the West and we hope that by collecting materials such as these we can help spark more scholarly interest in the subject.
  • The Way of Chopsticks III by Song Dong and Yin Xiuzhen: This exhibition catalog is the culmination of three joint exhibitions by the Chinese performance and video artists (and married couple) Song Dong and Yin Xiuzhen, who, although they have very distinguished independent careers, have collaborated frequently on works inspired by chopsticks, exploring the fact that two are required to function properly as symbols of their personal and professional relationship. The dual ring binders of the catalog, one devoted to Song Dong and the other to Yin Xiuzhen, allow the reader to simultaneously study the development of this theme in their work from 2001 to 2011. I love this catalog not only because these are two of my favorite artists, but also because it’s form so neatly mirrors it’s content, and shows that even if a book isn’t conceived as an “artist book”, it can still be experimental with the form to create a unique object.

Fascinating! I love the concept and execution of Dong’s and Xiuzhen’s art. I’ll have to check them out.

You mentioned the Socialist Realist Art movement not being properly understood in the West, with your hopes to shed further light on the subject. What’s a challenge you experience, particularly, as a small library?

Our reading room collection is not only small (containing around ~3,800 books, periodicals, and A/V materials) but we also have a fairly small space to house it in, so balancing growing our collection with the constraints of shelving/storing what we already have safely and accessibly is a constant challenge. In addition to responding to researcher’s needs in our decisions for what to accession, we do our best to be rigorous about only accepting donations that meet our specific subject criteria. It’s often hard to turn away some amazing material that we might personally find interesting and worthy of being preserved, but we have to be responsible and realistic about what we can handle. When we can’t accept a donation though we always do our best to use our network to find homes at other libraries/institutions so it still is made available to as wide a public as possible.

That’s a valuable service you provide. When using TinyCat to manage such a library, what’s your favorite thing about it? What’s something you’d love to see implemented?

We love the streamlined design and very user-friendly search function on TinyCat, it’s made sharing our catalog with our researchers much simpler and has also empowered them to search our collection on their own before they arrive in the reading room so they can request specific materials they’re interested and then get started with working right away! Making our materials as accessible as possible is one of our main priorities and TinyCat has helped us achieve that enormously since we adopted it a little over three years ago.

In terms of improvements, the actual platform itself is pretty perfect and isn’t lacking anything major that we’re looking for in terms of cataloging or searching functionality, so the only thing on our wishlist is if there would be a simple way of embedding the TinyCat catalog homepage, or at least the search function, directly into our website through a plug-in instead of only through iframe coding, which is a bit beyond our small team’s capacity at the moment.

We have a basic Search widget you can add to your website! Find the coding on our Help page here.


Want to learn more about the Asia Art Archive in America? Follow them on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vimeo, and YouTube), visit their website here, and check out their collection on TinyCat.

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

Calling all TinyCat libraries: become TinyCat’s next Library of the Month—just send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at kristi@librarything.com.

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat

Thursday, January 30th, 2020

TinyCat’s January Library of the Month: Glasgow Botanics Library

To read more about TinyCat’s Library of the Month feature, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

For our readers in the Northern Hemisphere, it is deep winter right now. We’re excited to be bringing in a little bit of green for January’s Library of the Month! Congrats to the Glasgow Botanic Gardens Library.

Project Librarian Rob Westwood was kind enough to answer my questions:

First, what is your library, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”?

We’re a small library inside the Glasgow Botanic Gardens. We’re mainly a reference resource for those working directly with the Gardens, but we also serve botanical or horticultural students from Scottish Rural College and researchers from many different institutions. Those that have membership of the Friends of Glasgow Botanic Gardens also have access.

Tell us some interesting ways you support your community.

We hope that the library serves well as a space for study and research, but we use it for interesting science and cultural events too. It’s used as the start- or end-point of Botanic Gardens health walking tours. For a couple of weeks in summer, we let the library to serve as a dressing room for the “Bard in the Botanics” (Shakespeare performance) team. We held an event at this year’s Doors Open festival too, so that the wider community could come and see the library. A lot of people are surprised that the library even exists! It is something of a curiosity.

What are some of your favorite items in your collection?

My personal fave is Treasures of the Deep, a Nineteenth Century collection of pressed seaweeds. When I first opened it, I thought it contained hand-painted plates but quickly realised they weren’t plates at all but beautiful, natural pressings. I also like John Curtis’ Farm Insects, which contains painted plates of minibeasts at various stages of the life cycle (including eggs!) to actual 1:1 scale. Some of them are as small as a poppy seed.

I have a fondness for certain books from 1950-1975, like Science Out of Doors, Pilbeam’s The First Fifty Haworthias, and Mushrooms, Moulds and Miracles; they’re not rare or particularly noteworthy but their design and language speak of a socially-minded post-War optimism that’s hard not to admire.

What’s a particular challenge you experience as a small library?

It’s a Collections Management challenge. Most all of our books are donated, often from the collections of retired academics and botanists, and we have limited space. It can be hard to say no when confronted with long-loved libraries of beautiful, often-unique books. We have to prioritise areas of knowledge that we know will be most useful to our users, or perhaps to fill an unusual gap.

What’s your favorite thing about TinyCat? Anything you’d love to add?

I love that it’s so straightforward, out of the box, and yet doesn’t lack anything important from a user point-of-view. When you’re such a small library, the user experience is really all that matters. The original brief when the Gardens brought me in was to create an inventory so that the Curator and General Manager could see precisely what the library had; but I said “why not catalogue it?” and we ended up with a proper user-facing catalogue and a neat little homepage. We couldn’t have done that with a more complex (and expensive) catalogue system. TinyCat has really delivered.

Improvements? It would be nice to be able to select which books, collections, or tagged groups appear in the image scroller: at the moment we can select either ‘random items’ or ‘recent items,’ but it would be nice to showcase particular treasures or themes.

Heard! We’ve had a couple of requests for more customization to the animated cover display, and we’ll let you know if we change anything on that front.


Want to learn more about the Glasgow Botanic Gardens Library? Follow them on Twitter @GlasgowBotanic, and check out their collection on TinyCat.

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

Calling all TinyCat libraries: become TinyCat’s next Library of the Month—just send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at kristi@librarything.com.

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat

Friday, November 29th, 2019

TinyCat’s November Library of the Month: the Library at Temple Shir Tikvah

To read more about TinyCat’s Library of the Month feature, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

TinyCat’s November Library of the Month goes to the library at Temple Shir Tikvah, where the entire Library Committee was kind enough to answer my questions:

First, what is your library, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”?

We are the library for Temple Shir Tikvah, a Reform Jewish congregation in Winchester, MA. Our congregation consists of about 350 families and individual members, and we try to provide materials of interest to all of them. Our collection houses about 2500 books (plus a few DVDs and CDs), which range from storybooks for children to cookbooks, fiction, history, Torah study, “how-to,” spiritual journeys, poetry, and so on.

Tell us some interesting ways you support your community.

Our temple building is quite small, so on Sundays, we hold education for adults and children in a nearby public school. Because we want people to be able to check out applicable books, we bring a portion of the library to the school we use on Sundays, for a monthly “bookmobile” (picture left). The third graders and their parents help pick out the books, which helps them know what’s in our collection. When they pick out the books, they also choose a book for us to read to the class that day.

We’ve also moved some of our books up to the sanctuary—books on poetry, mental health, and aging—so that people can easily find them when attending services.

What are some of your favorite items in your collection?

We have so much fun with our collection! Some of our most popular books are practical things, like tips for bar/bat mitzvahs, or Passover haggadahs. But we’ve also recently expanded our Young Adult/Teen collection with some really great reads (The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children).

We’ve started carrying some interesting graphic novels, as well (A Bintel Brief: Love and Longing in Old New York, Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation, The Property, How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less, The Arrival). And our women’s studies area has grown dramatically in the past few years (Sisters At Sinai: New Tales Of Biblical Women, Reading Ruth: Contemporary Women Reclaim a Sacred Story, The Women Who Danced by the Sea: Finding Ourselves in the Stories of our Biblical Foremothers, The Torah: A Women’s Commentary, After Abel and Other Stories).

What’s a particular challenge you experience as a small library?

We are a small library not just in collection size, but also in physical space. The room where we house our collection is quite small, so we have to be fairly ruthless in culling our collection. As hard as it is, we feel it’s important to do so, so that we can keep materials current. If people cannot wander in and see something of interest, either because the collection feels too dated or because the shelves are so packed that they can’t actually find things of interest, then we are not doing our job.

In addition, our library is used as a classroom at least once a week, and as a meeting room several times each week. When it is being used for these other purposes, people cannot come in and browse the collections. It’s hard to get people to see what we have (which is a good part of why we run the bookmobile).

What’s your favorite thing about TinyCat? Anything you’d love to add?

The best thing about LibraryThing is being able to find other libraries with similar collections. Often, before we purchase books in a category, we’ll look around to see if those books are popular in other libraries like ours, so we have some assurance that they might be a good fit for our collection as well.

As far as TinyCat goes, before we had TinyCat, people signed out books on a sheet of paper — it was nearly impossible to keep track of what was in or out, plus we had no easy way to track which books were actually being used. TinyCat has totally solved this for us, and we love seeing community members, especially the children, be able to check out books on an iPad, without any help from grown-ups.

The biggest new TinyCat feature that would help us would be for our community members to be able to create their own accounts. It’s a barrier to usage that, unless we create an account for someone, they have no way to check out books (so we have to keep that sheet of paper around). A smaller feature that would help is if TinyCat returned to the home page after people check out a book, rather than remaining on the page containing the book just checked out.

Thanks for your feedback! We’ll be sure to announce if anything gets added for this in the future.


Want to learn more about the Library at Temple Shir Tikvah? You can explore their library on TinyCat.

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

Calling all TinyCat libraries: become TinyCat’s next Library of the Month—just send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at kristi@librarything.com.

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat

Tuesday, October 1st, 2019

TinyCat’s September Library of the Month: Pine Tree Academy Library

To read more about TinyCat’s Library of the Month feature, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

TinyCat’s Library of the Month for September, in honor of Back-to-School season, goes to a school library very close to LibraryThing’s Headquarters in Portland, Maine. Hailing a few minutes away from the town of Freeport, congrats to the Pine Tree Academy Library!

School Librarian Laura D. was kind enough to take my questions this month:

First, what is your library, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”?

We are the library of Pine Tree Academy, an Adventist school spanning pre-K to 12th grade. The library serves mostly the elementary wing. Our “raison d’être”, bottom line, is to give our students the love of reading—for life. It is perhaps a tall order, but one that is definitely worthwhile. How rewarding to witness young minds fall in love with a book, an author, a series or an entire branch of human knowledge! We are here to ignite their minds through the printed page, to counterbalance the pull of the electronic screen. Our school strongly values literacy and chose two years ago to transform the computer lab into the new library when it converted to laptops. Students are attracted to the new room, which they experience as an oasis in the busy school day. We also come alongside the teachers in complementing their curricula, providing books covering everything from friendship for kindergarteners to American national symbols.

Tell us some interesting ways you support your community.

Right now we are conducting Orientation for K to 6th grade, which focuses on caring for and valuing the books. We teach the students that the books are theirs, and that borrowing them means sharing them with the whole community, which comes with responsibilities. We discuss rules for book care in detail with the help of the P.E.T. Patrol, which includes Officers Finnigan Magee and Tartar O’Sauce (pictured right).

Our next focus is to bring to our students a framework by which to understand the wealth and breadth of Creation, which they are discovering. Through the Dewey Decimal System, we can show them how human knowledge has been organized to be accessed. In this digital age, it is vital that the students understand what constitutes information, how it is used, and can be retrieved. Walking into the library to research a topic or find a book provides the missing link to the Google search box with its instant hits. In contrast to the virtual display, the children can experience directly the permanent information on the printed page.

What are some of your favorite items in your collection?

I am crazy about children’s picture books—unique stories with beautiful illustrations that ignite the imagination and make a new world come alive each time we open the book and read. I am also proud of our ever-growing Maine collection, which includes titles signed for the students by local authors and illustrators, as well as ancient and out-of-print stories, harkening back to a Maine of long ago.

Among our older collection, I discovered a little gem: The Family Nobody Wanted, by Helen Doss (pictured left), recounting the adventures of a “one family United Nations”, comprised of twelve children of mixed ethnic groups in the 1950’s, then considered un-adoptable. It was amazing how the Dosses’ love and care overcame the prejudices of the times.

What’s a particular challenge you experience as a small library?

With some 200 books added each year, we are running out of space! We also need more “people power” for circulation and shelving as the library is becoming a victim of its own success. Through TinyCat, patrons discover our lesser known titles, bringing more interest and more circulation, a good problem!

What’s your favorite thing about TinyCat? Anything you’d love to add?

One favorite thing? No, there are many things to love about TinyCat:

  • The clean design and simplicity of use.
  • The ability to offer public access to a search platform and online catalog like the public library—we’ve joined the Big Leagues! Now we can provide our teachers and students with more book info than before—reviews, related titles, lists from awards, etc.
  • It is wonderful to create links tailored to the interests of our patrons, ready to go right on the home page!
  • Last but not least, I appreciate how Kristi and her colleagues are so responsive and willing to assist us with all our questions. Belonging to TinyCat makes us part of a special group of books lovers that spans the world, and though very diverse, all sharing this desire to enrich the lives of others and open new horizons to them, regardless of our size or resources.

Want to learn more about the Pine Tree Academy Library? You can explore their library on TinyCat.

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

Calling all TinyCat libraries: become TinyCat’s next Library of the Month—just send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at kristi@librarything.com.

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat

Thursday, August 22nd, 2019

TinyCat’s August Library of the Month: The Human Venture Library

To read more about TinyCat’s Library of the Month feature, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

This month we highlight an interesting organization that studies “Human Learning Ecology”, and whose very interesting library helps support this research.

Laura Kennett, Volunteer Board Member of Human Venture Leadership, fielded my questions this month:

First, what is your library, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”?

We are facing enormous challenges from local to global: poverty, crime, fledgling businesses, inequalities, cultural clashes, illnesses and diseases, human rights abuses, resources depletion, population growth, climate change, and the list goes on. And now more than ever, we need to come together to learn from our historical and current patterns of human striving, failure, and achievement to develop the adaptive capacities to innovate, problem solve, and avoid progress traps. The Human Venture—and its resource library (pictured left)—works to fill this role.

The Human Venture is a community of caring volunteers and life-long learners, based primarily in the politically-charged energy hub of Canada (the province of Alberta), who create a mutual learning community. This community supports increasing numbers of resourceful, resilient, responsible, life-ranging human beings who look at the bigger story in which we are all embedded to think and care across economic, social, and political divides, from the local to the global scale. The Human Venture draws from the lifetime research of Ken Low, as well as the research of others across many fields of endeavor, to create a meta-framework to help see the patterns of human learning in all the noise. Ken Low calls this discipline: Human Learning Ecology, or in other words: Learning how humans learn (or sometimes, how humans fail to learn).

Tell us some interesting ways you support your community.

The Human Venture is made up of two parts: The Human Venture Institute, which focuses on research and development of resources in the field of Human Learning Ecology, and Human Venture Leadership, which is a charitable organization focused on delivering human venture learning programs. Members within each organization take the time to sense and interpret what is happening in the world, in a mutually supportive environment, and then assess their own capacity to respond appropriately to the situation before taking action. Much time is spent looking at current events and how the patterns of thought and action may be similar or dis-similar to historical events. (It’s the patterns that are observed across time and geographical distances that are important for informing wise action and that’s why the Human Venture Library contains such a wide and deep variety of non-fiction books.)

What are some of your favorite items in your collection?

Some of the books in the Human Venture collection that I found to be most awakening are: Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond (pictured left), An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield, and Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts by Carol Tavris.

What’s a particular challenge you experience as a small library?

Categorizing! The purpose of categorizing is to help people navigate the immense information-scape contained in books. There are many conventional methods to categorizing books. However, life is complex and categorizing books in a coherent manner to help people methodically learn from life is a challenge that we’re still wrangling with. Also, it takes time to reflect an analog collection of several thousands of books that have been compiled over the past 50 years into a digital catalog.

What’s your favorite thing about TinyCat? Anything you’d love to add?

The two things that are great about TinyCat are: 1. That it is so adaptable and we can categorize and re-categorize books as new connections are made between pods of books; and 2. That it has a simple widget that we can display on our website.

Something that would be helpful is if the tags that are applied to books by other users in other libraries could be shared across all libraries. It takes a lot of time to tag books, but the tags applied across library users of many libraries could create a wonderful, community-shared tag list.


Want to learn more about The Human Venture? Visit their website, follow them on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and be sure to explore their library on TinyCat.

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

Calling all TinyCat libraries: become TinyCat’s next Library of the Month—just send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at kristi@librarything.com.

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat

Friday, July 26th, 2019

TinyCat’s July Library of the Month: The Children’s Diversity and Justice Library

To read more about TinyCat’s Library of the Month feature, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

Teaching children the value of diversity and social justice is so important, and our next Library of the Month helps to educate our youth with such values through their community library—the Children’s Diversity and Justice Library.

Co-founded with Catherine Farmer Loya, Miriam Davis was kind enough to field my questions about the library:

First, what is your library, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”?

The Children’s Diversity and Justice Library is a free community library rooted in values of equity, justice and compassion that empowers young people to celebrate diversity and use their voices for social change. We provide books and programs featuring under-represented identities that demonstrate diverse individuals, including children, who raise up justice in our world.

This all volunteer run library hosted by the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee is organized around 12 diversity and justice elements: African American, Bodies and Abilities, Diversity, Gender, Families, Latinx, Justice, LGBTQ+, Cultures and Traditions, Refugees and Immigrants, Religion, and Women and Girls.

Tell us some interesting ways you support your community.

We provide a constantly growing collection of nearly 1000 books (to date), all authored by people who identify as a member of one of the twelve diversity and justice communities (or topically related to these elements). We also host programming such as thematic story times and related service projects including a Native Voices story hour, Celebrating the Stories of Refugees and Immigrants, and the east Tennessee event for the Human Rights Campaign’s “I Am Jazz” National Community Book Event. We look forward to hosting a Not My Idea discussion with older elementary and middle school youth concerning white privilege and the challenges of living within systemic white supremacy.

In June, we took about a third of our library with us to Knoxville’s Children’s Festival of Reading where we set up an inviting shady space for community members to flop down with their favorite diversity and justice read or browse new ones. We were happy to see how well received and enjoyed the library was during the festival and how many new patron accounts were set up that day. At the festival, we also debuted our adult “Parenting and Educating for Social Justice and Diversity Awareness” collection. Through our social media presence and online catalog, we also provide information and resources for anyone interested in diversifying children’s literature choices and availability.

What are some of your favorite items in your collection?

We are particularly happy to offer books in our collection that are not easily available locally through our school or public libraries and bookstores, or that are hot off the presses and don’t have the wait lists that can develop at our local public libraries. For example, we have made a point to purchase all the Flamingo Rampant* collections (screenshot left) as well as many just published award winning titles as we can.

*Flamingo Rampant is a micropress that produces feminist, racially diverse, LGBTQ positive children’s books. Their stories and illustrations are wonderful and always reflect the true diversity of children’s lived experience within their pages. They have been well received by our audience and are among our most popular titles.

What’s a particular challenge you experience as a small library?

We are limited in that we are entirely volunteer run and donation dependent while committed to making sure our collection is available, usable, and free. We use LibraryThing and TinyCat to create a self-serve library through which people with library accounts can check out books themselves online. However, with no gate keeper or security system in the physical library, one of our biggest fears is that our books will simply walk off the shelves never to be returned. (So far, we have been lucky in that our users support our mission and understand our limitations. We have only lost a few books in the nine months we’ve been operating.)

What’s your favorite thing about TinyCat? Anything you’d love to add?

TinyCat is what has allowed us to operate as well as we have with no staff because we have set it up so that patrons can request accounts electronically and check out books to themselves. The fact that it is a true OPAC also increases our reach greatly.

Given our circumstances, we’d love an automatic due date reminder system via email or text. Having an automatic feature would save us a lot of time and probably ensure more of our materials return on time.

I hear you—emailed, automatic checkout reminders and overdue notices is a common request from our libraries, and it’s something that we’re hoping to add sooner than later. We’ll be sure to announce if/when anything changes on that front, so stay tuned!


Want to learn more about The Children’s Diversity and Justice Library? Visit their website here, like them on Facebook here, and be sure to explore their library on TinyCat.

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

Calling all TinyCat libraries: become TinyCat’s next Library of the Month—just send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at kristi@librarything.com.

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat