Volunteering at the Public Library – Connections and Realizations

“I cannot live without books,” Thomas Jefferson once said.

Well, I cannot live without books either and a few months ago I started volunteering at the public library book store. The store is managed and staffed by volunteers. We work three-hour shifts and during my shift I feel like I am connecting with people and life. Becoming a library volunteer has reminded me of life’s lessons.

For one thing, I am touched by the generosity of strangers. Thousands of books have been donated to the library book store. In one year alone, the library received more than $124,000 worth of donated books. This is an astonishing total and reflects the generosity of the community.

Volunteering at the book store reminds me that bargain-hunting is fun. The books we sell are deeply discounted and we also have sales. You can get beautiful books for a fraction of the original price. A few weeks ago a man came into the store looking for classics. He was stocking up for a book store he plans to open. “But I won’t sell my favorites! he exclaimed.

When I am working at the store I am glad to see people still love to learn. A man asked me if the store had any books on Java. To me, as someone who is from Long Island, New York, java is coffee, and I scanned the cook book section. Then I asked, “Do you mean Java script?” Yes, that was what he wanted and the store did not have a book about it. I referred him to the main library.

Working at the store has made me realize that people are lonely. Many customers want to stay and chat and I am glad to talk with them. One woman shared stories about her family and talked about her children as if I knew them. She was in the store for more than an hour and seemed reluctant to leave.

Book store and library patronage has increased in these tough economic times. Apparently this is happening all across the country. The Billings, Montana “Gazette” newspaper makes this point in a website article, “Gazette Opinion: Recession Raises the Value of Public Libraries. According to the article, “library usage has risen as job seekers access employment resources online and at public libraries.”

Working at the book store reminds me of the existence of poverty. I put two dollars worth of pennies in the penny dish by the cash register. Minutes later, when I glanced at the dish, the pennies were gone. People also steal books, so volunteers have to be alert. Unemployed people have come in and purchased books with the idea of selling them at a higher price.

The library book store is a microcosm of society: pockets of poverty, the burden of unemployment, need for social contacts, love of learning, and the fun of bargain-hunting. Do you want to make a difference in your community? Contact the public library and ask about volunteer opportunities. Volunteering is fun and you will learn a lot about life.

Efforts Of Dr. S. R. Ranganathan For Public Library Legislation And Service- A Review

Dr. Shiyali Ramamrita Ranganathan was a visionary who realized the importance of library legislation for the promotion and development of library movement in India. He was a far-sighted person fully devoted to the cause of library and information science. He was fully aware regarding the role of libraries in the enhancement of education in any society. He understood the impact of educational advancement for the development of country and the effectiveness and utility of libraries to promote education.

In 1924, Dr. S. R. Ranganathan visited a number of public libraries during his stay in United Kingdom. These visits enabled him to study the system, functioning, funding and services of various libraries. As a consequence he was convinced that library legislation alone would provide a systematic, well-knit and efficient public library service. Since public libraries are informal agencies of education, therefore it is obligatory for a welfare state to provide, maintain and develop a network of public libraries to meet the needs of the masses. A public library being essential a peoples’ institution is to be maintained out of public funds, which have to be collected most equitably. Only the government has got the power and authority to impose and collect taxes through legal sanction, hence library legislation is essential to collect the library cess. Thus it is apparent that it is imperative for the government to enact library legislation for the establishment and smooth functioning of a network of public libraries to cater to the educational needs of the general public.

Dr. S. R. Ranganathan was the first person in India who ever thought about the need for library legislation in 1925 after returning to India from England. He drafted a ‘Model Library Act’ and presented it for discussion at the First All Asia Educational Conference, which was held in Banaras on 27-30 December 1930. The participants of the conference were fully convinced with the advantages of draft legislation and the views of Dr. S. R. Ranganathan. This ‘Model Library Act’ was published by the Madras Library Association during the year 1936. He later on amended the draft Act twice- once in 1957 and again in 1972. This Model Library Act was introduced in the shape of Bill in the Madras Assembly in 1933, through Mr. Basher Ahmed Sayeed, the member of the Assembly an enthusiast of public library system.

Salient features of Dr. S. R. Ranganathan’s Model Library Act are: –

Except the Kerala Public Libraries Act, 1989, all the Acts, which have passed in India during the years 1948 to 1990, have the influenced of Model Public Libraries Act drafted by Dr. S. R. Ranganathan.

Dr. S. R. Ranganathan made persistent efforts for getting the library Acts passed by various States in India and dreamt of having it a land of libraries. He prepared a number of Model Bills for various States. Following is a list of them: –

He also prepared a Model Union Library Bill in 1948 and redrafted it in 1957.

India got the first Public Library Act through the ceaseless efforts of Dr. S. R. Ranganathan. For the first time the Public Library Act was passed by the Madras Legislature in 1948. There is an interesting story behind the success of getting the Library Bill enacted in the third attempt in 1946 although the two attempts made earlier had failed. The first attempt was made by Janab Basher Ahmed Sayeed when he introduced the Bill in Madras Legislature in 1933 but it could not get through as the Madras Legislature was dissolved in 1935. A second attempt was made in 1938 but later on the World War-II began and the Bill could not be adopted. In 1946, Mr. Avinashalingam Chettiar, who was an old student of Dr. S. R. Ranganathan, became the Education Minister in Madras State. One day, Dr. S. R. Ranganathan took a copy of the Model Library Act and went to meet the Minister at his house after his usual morning walk. The Minister was surprised to see his “Guru” early in the morning and enquired about the purpose of his visit. Dr. S. R. Ranganathan replied that he came to demand his “Gurudakshina”. When the Minister promised to offer the same, Dr. S. R. Ranganathan gave a copy of Model Act and expressed his wish to have it enacted into a law during his tenure as Minister. Mr. Avinashalingam Chettiar piloted the Bill and got it enacted in 1948.

Exploring Architecture in the New York Public Library

If you’re an architecture fan and in New York City, then there will be amazing sights nearly everywhere you look; but for the best example of Beaux Arts architecture, for majestic white Vermont marble and Corinthian columns and powerful statues, there’s no where else to go than the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue, at 42nd Street. There, you’ll discover not only the Vermont marble and columns, but, just as you climb the stairs on the Fifth Avenue entrance, you’ll see two of the most famous lion sculptures in the world, known as Fortitude and Patience (Fortitude is to the right; Patience is on the left), so named by past mayor Fiorello La Guardia.

The Fifth Avenue Branch of the New York Public Library is actually the Humanities and Social Sciences Library, one of a number of research libraries in the New York system. Inside, you’ll see Astor Hall, a room with grand staircases and high arched marble ceilings. On the third floor, in the Main Reading Rooms, you’ll find that the library is modernized and restored, simultaneously moving into the computer age and renewing its former glory.

For those who wish to remain connected to the world, even while spending time inside a building that was constructed in 1911, there’s free Wi-Fi service. A five million dollar restoration is transforming Room 117, which is considered a Beaux Arts masterpiece with facade, with an aim to be completed by the building’s centennial in 2011.

Unlike other great libraries, like the Library of Congress in Washington D.C., the New York Public Library was not created by the government, but rather a combination of city government working together with private philanthropists. Even in 2010, the research libraries are funded with private money, while the circulating or branch libraries are financed using city funds. It wasn’t until a few months ago, in the early part of 2010, that the operations of the branch and research portions merged together.

Not only will you find books and peace at the New York Public Library, but also exhibitions as well. For example, currently at the Mid-Manhattan Library, there’s an exhibit in the Art and Picture collection, running until July 14, 2010, titled, “Found New York.” Here, you’ll see color photographs by mixed media artist Linda Stillman. Her “Found New York” documents lost objects she discovers and then photographs on the New York City Streets, reflecting her interest in overlooked objects. If you’ve lost anything and have yet to find it, perhaps checking these photos may jog your memory.

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