30 November 2008

On Exhibit: An Italian Curiosity at NYPL

One week only! "Michelangelo: La Dotta Mano", a 62-pound marvelhand-carved marble cover, silk velvet lining, 100,000 euro price tagwill be on display at the NYPL Humanities & Social Sciences Library from Tuesday, December 2nd through Monday, December 8th. (Strangely, there are no details available on the NYPL website.) For a preview, the NY Times published a slideshow back in May.

25 November 2008

Budget Cuts Loom for BPL, NYPL, QL

Mayor Bloomberg's proposed budget modification hits the city's public libraries rather hard (even taking into account the caveat mentioned below the table). This from the Gotham Gazette:

At another of many budget hearings last week, Councilmember Gale Brewer questioned the administration on how it collects taxes from vacant buildings.

Sitting at the very top of the dais, Brewer couldn't help but add a closing remark.

"Don't cut the libraries," she jabbed.

A typical council-mayoral battleground, libraries under the budget plan would cut back hours to an average of five and a half days from the current six. Some branches, said an aide to the council's libraries subcommittee chair, Gentile, would only be open for five days, while others will be budgeted for the extra half day. The library cut would save $8 million in this fiscal year.

Every city agency will have to tighten its belt, but what of the obvious correlation between economic recessions and increased library use? What does cutting hours and services this early in the downturn mean for branch libraries in the 2009/2010 budget cycle? Vigilance, NYC librarians!

23 November 2008

Technical Parables

Friday night's New York Technical Service Librarians fall dinner program -- yes, I am behind here -- featured a compelling talk by the Library of Congress' Thomas Mann. Entitled "The Reference Librarian's Toolkit," Mann's presentation focused on the limitations of keyword and federated searching, researchers' ignorance of the power of controlled vocabularies (i.e. LCSH) and conceptual categorization, and the general dumbing down of search tools.

Mann was eloquent; I couldn't possibly reconstruct his arguments. Lucky for you, a number of his recent papers are freely available for download at the Library of Congress Professional Guild website, including "The Peloponnesian War and the Future of Reference, Cataloging, and Scholarship in Research Libraries".

And in the interest of full disclosure, I am a member of the NYTSL board. Thus, I have limited my subjective commentary on Mann's speech to the words "compelling" and "eloquent" and my impression of the event itself to, well, nothing. I leave that task to my readers. What did you think?

22 November 2008

LJ's Man of the Year (kinda, sorta)

Here's a news item from earlier this week that I completely missed: Rick Block, cataloger extraordinaire, has been awarded Library Journal's Teaching Award for 2008. Rick has taught thousands of New York City librarians over the years, juggling a heavy load of courses at both Pratt and the Palmer School with his 9-to-5 gig as head of the Special Collections and Metadata Cataloging unit at Columbia University Libraries. John N. Berry of LJ writes:
Block's love for his work, his teaching, and his mentoring is obvious when you talk to him. His faculty colleagues see it, too. “Rick Block is the most respected and beloved adjunct member of our faculty,” says Palmer dean Mary L. Westermann-Cicio. “His classes are always full and overflowing.”
As one of the lucky former students who parlayed a Rick Block internship into, eventually, a full-time job at Columbia, I can attest to the veracity of this article! The award is well-deserved. Thank you, Rick, for your tireless effort to enlighten an army of NYC library school students in the dark arts of cataloging and metadata...and congratulations!

21 November 2008

Weekend Event: Book Sale at the Goddard Riverside Community Center

Make a trip to the Upper West Side this weekend for the 22nd annual Goddard Riverside New York Book Fair. The books are cheap and plentiful, mainly publisher's overstock, though I've found some odd treasures in years past. Print out an admit ticket before you go; otherwise, I believe they charge a $5 fee.

Addendum: there's no fee. Go get yourself some bargains.

19 November 2008

"No More Cuts!"

Although Governor Paterson's budget-slashing plan has been put on hold until he can convince the Legislature of its wisdom, funding for New York State's public libraries is still under threat. A whopping 20 million dollar threat. Yesterday, 450 librarians joined various other constituencies in a protest at the Capitol. For the full low-down on the rally and New York Library Association's advocacy initiatives, check out their website.

Hello, New York, and welcome to Shelved @ NYC!

Herein will be gathered news about New York City libraries, librarians, and library-related stuff. This is not a blog aimed specifically at metadata specialists or children’s librarians or LIS students; it’s a blog for ALL librarians working in this culturally rich—but frequently disjointed and overwhelming—city.

In addition to its function as a traditional blog, Shelved @ NYC will provide a single source for library events and workshops…one-stop shopping for your professional and social calendar! Please email me (shelvedatnyc [at] gmail.com) if you have information about events or workshops and I’ll add them post haste.

Likewise, if you have news to share, complaints to make, or topics to discuss, please let me know. I hope this will become a place where librarians of all persuasions and from all kinds of organizations can both debate and conspire. Suggestions gratefully accepted!

[N.B.: Hundreds of exciting readings, programs, and classes take place in our city’s libraries every day. Listing all of them would be a gargantuan task and one that is out of this blog’s scope. The events assembled here are of particular interest to librarians and bibliophiles, encompassing everything from professional workshops to library soirees to book fairs.]