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Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Libraries aren’t free after-school daycare

A significant segment of the population doesn't seem to realize this.

Porn-watchers masturbating in libraries

When they are in graduate school, are future librarians told that — if they wind up working in public libraries — policing self-gratification will be one of their duties?

Wintery adventures and disasters featured in Spokane Library display

WINTER SPORTS — The Spokane Downtown Library's Northwest Room is featuring a timely display celebrating winter in the Northwest, including a lot of snowy outdoor recreation.

Winter weather conditions have long created both challenges and opportunities for Northwest residents. The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries saw greater hazards than the present, with less than ideal equipment and poor roads.

Winter recreation then and now included skiing, sledding, ice skating, hockey, snowshoeing, hunting, and outdoor work.

This exhibit combines photos of fun in the snow with disasters such as avalanches on railroad tracks. Come and see these images from winters past—you might be surprised at how familiar they look.

The Northwest Room is on the second floor of the Downtown Library.

WHEN: January 11-March 31

TIME: Northwest Room Hours

LOCATION: Downtown

Call 444-5338.

Idaho libraries prepare for requirements of new Internet filtering law

On the lower level of the Coeur d’Alene Public Library, 11 computers sit in a circle for use by kids, with Internet filters blocking access to inappropriate material. “Adults can’t use those,” said Bette Ammon, library director.  Upstairs, kiosks offering work stations with Internet filters for adults are usually busy; a computer lab with unfiltered computers also draws patrons. “They’re clearly marked, and people can choose,” Ammon said. “It appears to be working really well.” But the Coeur d’Alene library, like every other library in the state, will have to change its system between now and October, under a new law enacted by the Idaho Legislature this year; you can read my full story here from Sunday's Spokesman-Review.

Classic angling books featured in $1.8 million gift to WSU

FISHING HISTORY – English scholars have a new run of information to explore in the Palouse, thanks to a Spokane couple. Washington State University has netted an historic collection of classic angling literature valued at $1.8 million.

The unusually fine collection includes treasures such as a complete set of 19 first editions of Henry Abbot’s privately printed birch books, Oswald Crawfurd’s personal, annotated copy of “The Compleatest Angling Booke,” and a first edition (1653) of Izaak Walton’s “The Compleat Angler.”

“The Compleat Angler” is, along with the Bible, “one of the most popular books ever published in English,” said Trevor James Bond, head of the WSU Libraries’ department of Manuscripts, Archives and Special Collections.

Joan and Vernon Gallup of Spokane donated the fine catch of more than 15,000 rare books related to angling, natural history and outdoor sports. Get a glimpse of the Gallups and the donated volumes in this short video.

Assembled over decades from American and British dealers, the collection is three times the size of well known angling collections at Princeton University and the University of New Hampshire, WSU officials say.

Standout volumes include 'The Fresh Water Fishes of Great Britain,' by Sarah Bowdich, who ground scales from fish and mixed them in her paints to vividly illustrate her book.

It’s the largest single gift of rare books in the MASC’s 120-year history, putting WSU at the forefront of such collections nationally and internationally, Bond said.

Read on for more details about the collection and a reception honoring the Gallups.

TJR: Libraries Are Starving, Not Dying

You only need to stroll by the New York Public Library building on 5th Avenue in the big city to know that serious business is done here. The main New York Public Library is a beautiful, iconic building – two handsome lions stand guard out front – that opened in 1911, almost exactly 100 years ago. Best of all, virtually everything is free. The NYPL notes on its website that the only price of admission is curiosity. Of course, taxpayers support libraries, but the value of the investment pays off to an individual a thousand fold over, or maybe a thousand thousand fold. Unfortunately, the public library, the great leveler of a society that is increasingly made up of haves and have nots, is having less and less to work with. One of the great myths about libraries, expressed primarily by penny-pinching politicians and folks who never set foot in a library, is that the Internet is making libraries obsolete. It’s a foolish notion on par with thinking that computers can somehow replace teachers or smart librarians/Marc Johnson, The Johnson Report. More here.

Question: How often do you use the local library? For what purpose?

Sex offender, WSU library patron jailed

A sex offender suspected of using college library computers to look at pornography is in jail for failing to register in Spokane County.

James Robert Sorrell, 66, alias Douglas Doolittle, was convicted in Ada County, Idaho, in 1987 of lewd conduct of a minor and infamous crime against nature. He was released in 1997, then convicted of failing to register as a sex offender in Oregon in 2008.

The U.S. Marshals Service began looking for him earlier this year after learning he may be in Washington. He was arrested Friday after security at Washington State University's Riverpoint campus told federal investigators that Sorrell was looking at pornography on the library's computers, including a visit on Thursday.

Sorrell was arrested near the House of Charity, where investigators believe he sometimes stayed. He faces up to 10 years in federal prison for failing to register as a sex offender.

U.S. Marshal William Downey said he regularly saw Sorrell near Main Street and Lincoln Street in downtown Spokane.

“He actually would walk right by the courthouse here on his way to the library,” Downey said.

Sorrell is pictured above last April on the Gonzaga University campus. He told the photographer he was taking a research break.

Why pay when you can get movies for free?

Libraries like this one in Cleveland are investing more money in DVDs and videos, and many people say they are turning to libraries for free movies and bypassing stores.

Why rent the cow when you can borrow the milk for free? That seems to be the mindset of many Americans, as a new study claims that more DVDs are borrowed from libraries each day than are rented via Netflix, Redbox or Blockbuster.

According to the survey released by the Online Computer Library Center, public libraries in the U.S. lend an average 2.1 million videos/day, which edges out the 2 million discs shipped by Netflix and almost as much as the combined total of DVD rentals at Redbox (1.4 million) and Blockbuster (1.2 million).

Netflix shrugs off the idea of libraries as competition to their business. “I think of libraries as places for books,” explains a rep for the company. “It’s free, so it’s a whole different model.” Chris Moran, Consumerist.com More here.

I check out at least 4 movies a week from local libraries— both new releases and old favorites. It’s one of the reasons I’ve resisted Netflix. Have you checked out movies from the library?