Saturday, August 20, 2011

Future of Texas Library Systems

Flickr: Kat.
Thanks to the Texas State legislature and the incredibly shortsighted budget cuts that shortly be felt by all, the 10 public library systems that support public libraries in Texas will dissolve.  The systems have been in place for decades, serving as a midwife to the birth of new, small public libraries.  The systems would also assist their member libraries with continuing education, consulting, resources and grants.  This hand-holding and networking was vital to both the libraries and the communities they serve.

However, the 10 systems are extensions of the Texas State Library.  To balance the state budget the Texas State Library was told they must revert back to their original purpose--to be an archive, nothing more.

So what is the future of public libraries in Texas, without the help and assistance of the systems?  For the bigger public libraries, they already have a large talent base.  But for the smaller & isolated libraries, they are to be left on their own.  They will struggle, they may eventually close or be stripped bare of usefulness.  For many communities, a public library is a benchmark of success, of local pride.

Can we survive without the regional systems?  Maybe.  But it's not going to be pretty.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

All about the Old Stuff

Flickr image from Super Furry Librarian
Nothing like a class to discover how little you actually know on a topic.  Thanks to staff at the Texas State Library & Archives Collection, a class was offered on Archival Basics presented by David Gracy, professor emeritus in archives at UT School of Information.  A very engaging speaker, Dr. Gracy was the Director of the Texas State Archives.

Archivists have a different point of view and orientation to the retention and organization of materials.  Librarians are all about access--making sure people find things they want, organized to that end.  Archivists are more focused on the material, keeping collections intact.  So if Bob Smith's family donated Bob's letters, diaries and scapebooks on Bob's hobbies, it is important to an archive to keep all of Bob's stuff together. If Bob's stuff went to a public library, more than likely, it would all be split up according to topic and arranged by subject. 

It's like there are cat people and there are dog people.  They both like four legged furry friends, but then things split.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Freezer Paper Stencils

Turns out this is actually pretty easy.  If you want to see a bit more tutorial, please click here.

Freezer paper can be found in the plastic wrap/sandwich bag section of your local grocery store or Walmart.  One side is paper, the other side is waxed.  You can find stencils or silhouettes anywhere on the Internet or clip art sites.  Transfer your design and then cut out the space that you want painted.  Fabric paints specifically for screen printing work the best--look for these at your local craft store.  They tend to be a bit thinner and don't clump on the surface.

100% cotton works best for your surface.  Always pre-wash to get the sizing out of the fabric.

Iron your cut-out on what you want to stencil, glossy wax side down.  It will now stick to your fabric and create a moisture barrier so the paint spreads no further than desired.  Let it dry for a few hours (2-4) and then peel off the paper.  Give it a few more hours and then heat-set the paint with an iron.  Use a cloth over the stencil when ironing.  You can wash your item after a couple of days.  I'd probably turn the item inside out and be careful when drying.

Cool custom designs await you, but a freezer stencil is only one time use.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Summer fun at the public library...

The library is so busy during the summer time.  Now that school is out the kids from around the neighborhood find air conditioning and entertainment at the library.  You know that their parents aren't at home--these kids are left to their own devices.  It's a push-pull:  we want kids to want to come to the library, but we don't want them here all day with no parental supervision.

We put all sorts of programming on during the summer, offer reading incentives, show movies, etc., at our library.  But we don't want to be babysitters.  It is a real issue--to the point that we had to adopt an Unattended Children policy.  Why can't parents be parents? 

Flickr: Rishi Menon's photostream