Archive for the ‘Library of the Month’ Category

Wednesday, November 25th, 2020

TinyCat’s November Library of the Month: The Australian Motorlife Library

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

We’re moving just west of our October Library of the Month in New Zealand to a library built for car lovers: congratulations to The Australian Motorlife Library! Volunteer Librarians Tracy Westall and Brian Wye were kind enough to field my questions this month:

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

The Australian Motorlife Library is housed in the Australian Motorlife Museum in New South Wales, Australia. It consists of 2,200 general motoring books, a motoring magazine collection of approximately 12,000 volumes, and around 3,000 ephemera items. The library material comprises contemporary and historic items, some of which are unique and rare. The collection integrates and supports the wider museum which consists of historic vehicles, automotive memorabilia, and social history.

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

We provide books and material that is niche and usually not available in the public libraries. We have a large technical and reference selection which we make available to the community and car enthusiasts alike, especially to those who are restoring or researching vintage and collectable automobiles.

What are some of your favorite items in your collection?

Our library contains an extensive collection of early and rare motoring books—like the ones pictured above—car repair manuals, and collectable vintage magazines. This enables us to provide a unique service that encourages communication with patrons from all over Australia: equally interesting and enjoyable for us volunteer librarians.

What’s a particular challenge your library experiences?

The library relies totally on donations of collectable material; we have no acquisitions budget which requires us to recycle resources and exercise our creativity and housekeeping skills. This has been the main challenge when establishing an online presence and an operational procedure: to enable the library’s resources to be accessed by the wider community. Another challenge has been to organise and upload our catalogue to TinyCat, for which the steps to achieve this has been further exacerbated due to COVID-19 and its restrictions.

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

One of our favourite things is the interface of TinyCat. As many of our patrons are seniors, the similarity of the interface to that of the public library makes it familiar and user-friendly. The online access to LibraryThing and TinyCat has enabled us to achieve our goal of uploading the catalogue in record time while working in isolation from home. The catalogue is easy to use and understand. As for improvements, the only thing that currently comes to mind is having more control over the content of the homepage’s animated cover display.


Want to learn more about The Australian Motorlife Library and Museum? Visit their website at https://www.australianmotorlifemuseum.com/ and check out their TinyCat collection here.

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, October 30th, 2020

TinyCat’s October Library of the Month: The Sustainability Trust Library

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

TinyCat’s October Library of the Month looks at a New Zealand-based organization working to make a sustainable lifestyle easy for anyone. The Sustainability Trust’s Volunteer Librarian Marion Llenart was kind enough to field my questions this month:

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

The Sustainability Trust is a social enterprise that believes sustainable living should be an available option for us all. With a focus on energy efficiency the Trust helps those economically and socially disadvantaged in our community to use energy efficiently in their houses and flats and create healthy homes. The library provides information that helps people reduce their impact on the environment.

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

Our library has books and information which support our sustainable living community programmes such as learning how to compost and making garden containers from pallets, making cleaning products from natural products, making natural face products, and recycling.

What are some of your favorite items in your collection?

My favourite books include The Natural Home by Wendyl Nissen, which gives practical advice on sustainable living such as making a garden and cooking healthy food. Creating Cohousing by Kathryn McCamant is another favourite as this is a way of the future for those who like to live in sustainable communities. Lastly, Living Big in a Tiny House by Bryce Langston provides another alternative way of living sustainably, and this book gives beautiful examples of very small homey spaces.

What’s a particular challenge your library experiences?

The ongoing challenge for the library is always promotion and making sure people know we have all these resources and information on sustainability readily available and free of charge. As a small library we don’t have a large acquisitions budget so every new item needs careful research.

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

TinyCat has provided an online portal to the library. As well as providing access to physical resources, it allows promotion of online resources including films and websites. It has enabled me to promote the library’s Wiki, giving information on second hand shops, places to dispose of waste sustainably and local climate change organisations. It would be great to have the library Wiki developed so it can enable feedback, suggestions and discussion from library users.


Want to learn more about The Sustainability Trust? Visit their website at https://sustaintrust.org.nz/our-story and check out their TinyCat collection here.

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, August 28th, 2020

TinyCat’s August Library of the Month: Solid Ground’s Anti-Racism Initiative Library

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

TinyCat is continuing its focus on amplifying libraries supporting the BIPOC community and Solid Ground’s Anti-Racism Initiative Library is a wonderful representation of that. Anti-Racism Initiative Manager Tiffany Lamoreaux was kind enough to field my questions:

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

Solid Ground believes that housing and family stability are foundational to ending poverty. We help families keep or obtain housing and get the support they need to overcome poverty and thrive.

Our mission: Solid Ground works to end poverty and undo racism and other oppressions that are root causes of poverty. Our vision: Solid Ground envisions a community beyond poverty and oppression where all people have equitable opportunity to thrive.

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

Solid Ground has an Anti-Racism Initiative (ARI) and the Anti-racism library serves to strengthen and support our anti-racism work by providing rich resources from academic examinations of racism to literature by authors from marginalized groups.

What are some of your favorite items in your collection?

My personal current favorites in the collection are How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi, Emergent Strategy by adrianne maree-brown, and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.

What’s a particular challenge your library experiences?

We house our library at our headquarters building in the Wallingford Neighborhood, but we have a few other locations. Though the curated library is viewable online, and the books can be shipped through interoffice mail, the library remains underutilized by other sites. We are working to continue increasing awareness about the library to all of our locations.

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

Before transitioning to TinyCat we had our library in a conference room, but without a clear way to check out books and manage the inventory, it was largely ignored. In 2019 we moved the library to the central break-room and transitioned the library management to TinyCat. My favorite thing about TinyCat is how easily I can add books to the library and display them for our staff that are at various locations. Since making this transition, the library usage has seen a significant increase!

That’s so great to hear! It’s exactly why we offer TinyCat to small libraries.


Want to support Solid Ground’s Anti-Racism Initiative? Donations can be sent to their Social Justice Fund to support our Anti-Racism Work at solid-ground.org/donate/.

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 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