Libraries ARE Tourist Attractions
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Libraries are in the midst of an evolution. As we all must do in order to stay relevant, they are adapting to an exciting new role. Let’s also be clear - books are never going away. Information is, and always will be, the cornerstone of these institutions. But libraries are now routinely adding innovative amenities, installations, and interactives to their repertoire. And, to no surprise, people love it.

This NY Times article explores several new libraries around the world and their leading-edge variations of the idea of access to free information for all. This examination of the new precedent for modern, 21st century libraries clearly demonstrates that libraries are quickly becoming the ultimate destination .

-Vanessa, Executive Admin

L: The Quatar National Library hosts 80-90 free events every month

ImagineIF Admin
Libraries: The New Mixed-Use Developments
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“Co-location” may be the newest development trend hitting the library scene. The concept is a basic one that involves combining conventional apartment buildings with other mixed-use development. Three such properties in Chicago are taking that innovation to the next level by including public libraries as their ground floor residents.

This Chicago Tribune article details how including libraries in these hybrid buildings can elevate neighborhoods, city blocks, and sleepy city centers. One of the developers succinctly explains what we already know, “…the success of the library creates success in the apartments, and vice versa, and you get this really virtuous circle of creation of a place that people want to be. You talk about what makes a neighborhood great - a library is one of those things.”

-Charlotte, Executive Director

L: The new Little Italy Branch Library, in a shared building with Taylor Street Apartments, opened in 2019 in Chicago

ImagineIF Admin
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
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Set in 1930’s Appalachia, and inspired by the true stories of the blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the Kentucky Pack Horse library service, this new book is winning praise and acclaim for its beautifully written story of courage, hope, and the power of the written word to connect us all. One review by fellow author Sara Gruen (Water for Elephants) describes it as “a hauntingly atmospheric love letter to the first mobile library in Kentucky and the fierce, brave packhorse librarians who wove their way from shack to shack, dispensing literacy, hope, and - just as importantly - a compassionate human connection.”

As a firm believer in the power of the written word, this novel is immediately being added to my TO BE READ list!

-Executive Admin, Vanessa

ImagineIF Admin
Discovery of 500-Year-Old Library Reveals Books Lost to Time
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Here’s one for all you history buffs delighting in treasure troves from the past. A library catalog containing thousands of summaries of books from 500 years ago has recently been found in Copenhagen, where it has existed untouched for almost 350 years. The collection belonged to Hernando Colòn, the illegitimate son of Christopher Columbus.

After amassing his collection, Colòn went to work with a team of writers to read every piece and summarize each one in what is now known as The Libro de los Epitòmes. A virtual time capsule, this article from The Guardian describes the resulting manuscript as a “discovery of immense importance, not only because it contains so much information about how people read 500 years ago, but also, because it contains summaries of books that no longer exist, lost in every other form than these summaries.”

A comprehensive account of the library is being worked on, with plans to publish in 2020. There is also work in progress to digitize the manuscript.

-Former Board member, Valerie

ImagineIF Admin
It's Okay To Be Less Picky About What You're Reading

Ever feel like you’re spending all your time researching what to read next instead of just reading? You’re not alone. Reading is a time commitment, albeit a rewarding one, in our otherwise busy lives. And that’s why it makes sense that we seem to pressure ourselves to read things we deem worthwhile.

But this refreshing article from BookRiot presents a counter-intuitive idea. What if we use our libraries to be less intentional about what we read, and read more instead? The author smartly ruminates “the chief benefit the library serves in my own life is to make me a more adventurous reader. Not every book I take out of the library becomes a new favorite, but the experience of reading them is enriching, nonetheless.”

And she’s so right! Why aren’t we using the simple (and FREE!) method of borrowing library books to our advantage? If reading equals joy, then we should most definitely spend more time doing it, no matter what we choose to read!

-Library Director, Connie

ImagineIF Admin
The Thirst of Learning
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In this NPR StoryCorps segment, Ronald Clark reflects on his unique upbringing, at least in location. In the 1940’s it wasn’t uncommon for the library custodial staff to take up residence where they worked, and that’s how Ronald came to live in a branch of the Manhattan library with his family and custodian father, whom Ronald lovingly refers to as the “keeper of the temple.”

His story is touching, and demonstrates the notion that when you surround yourself with knowledge, inspiration, and action, are not far behind.

-Former Board member, Valerie

L: Ronald Clark and his daughter, Jamilah

ImagineIF Admin
Books Are Not Dead
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This relevant article from Time explores one of the surprisingly frequent discussions we find ourselves in with patrons, supporters, donors and the general public, alike. Do people still read books? Lisa Lucas, the executive director of the National Book Foundation, gives her opinion in this short essay from Time’s 2019 Optimists issue. And her answer is optimistically resolute.

Books aren’t just about reading, they’re about connection to and exploration of the world around you. They’re about hope. As Ms. Lucas so eloquently reminds us, “Storytelling is fundamental to human beings. It is how we explore and make sense of this world and understand one another. Literature strengthens our imagination. If we all have the tools to try to imagine a better world, we’re already halfway there.”

-Foundation Admin, Vanessa

ImagineIF Admin
Spread the (LIBRARY) love on February 14th

Betcha didn’t know that February 14th is not only Valentine’s Day, it’s also Library Lover’s Day - a very special day to honor the libraries, librarians, bookworms and library lovers in your life! Here are some ways to get out and spread the love:

  1. Show your appreciation by volunteering your time or donating to your local library Foundation.

  2. Visit the library! Take your family, take your friends, take your colleagues. Encourage them to love it as much as you do!

  3. Thank your local library staff at ImagineIF. They are talented, inspired, and passionate, and we are so lucky to have them!

    -Board member, MB

ImagineIF Admin