Libraries Where Life Happens : Nontraditional Settings for Libraries

Libraries are occupying spaces that are no longer dedicated solely as book repositories with stacks, reference services, and story times. Starting with an examination of how libraries are coping with digital and virtual competitors, this article presents two explorations of expansions of the Linebaugh Public Library in Rutherford Country, Tennessee (Murfreesboro) to nontraditional sites. One library is sited in a recreational center with computers in the main room and books in the backroom; the other is a new building located on the grounds of an elementary school that contains no books at all, only e-books with computers throughout. These moves provide a model for initiating such a venture in other public library systems. The role of the librarian in these new spaces is included. The primary investigator will use the history of the library, the minutes of board meetings, interviews with library personnel, study of the spaces, and review of the literature to document the process that led to the changes. Patron observations and interviews will be used to document the use of the facility that is already in place (in the recreational center).

Before and After a Poet's Suicide: The Reception of Sylvia Plath

Few modern authors have been the object of such intense interest as the American poet Sylvia Plath. In critical reception, there is a notable before-and-after division. Before she killed herself, reviewers mainly commented on literary aspects of her work. When the reason for her death became known, her personal story overshadowed the aesthetic evaluation of the two books she saw into print herself, as well as the many posthumous titles published in her name. Sylvia Plath thus demonstrates the relevance of Boris Tomashevsky’s argument in “Literature and Biography” (1923), that it is essential to consider how the biography of a poet operates in readers’ consciousness. The important thing is not the factual life and whether the perception of it is correct, but how the image of an author affects the understanding of her work. Tomashevsky distinguishes between “writers with biographies” and “writers without biographies,” between those who are the subject of anecdotes and biographical stories and those who are unknown to the public or appear as neutral. Poets moving from one category to the other, like Plath did, make for interesting study. Her case also raises a number of ethical questions.

Must Printed Books Become a Thing of the Past in Academic Libraries?

The preferences of undergraduate and graduate students are examined for print and electronic resources including books, journals, magazines, newspapers, and comics, both in terms of leisure reading and reading undertaken for academic purposes. Concerns about e-book-only library collection policies are raised. Results are surprising given that libraries increasingly emphasize e-books and journals in lieu of print. The surveyed student prefer receiving content of perceived lasting value in the form of textbooks and other works in print form, but that when content is perceived as having short-term value only, such as matter appearing in newspapers, journal, and magazine articles, the digital format is seen as more apropos. Digital and print are still seen as having their respective advantages and disadvantages. It can be concluded that printed books should not be seen as “things of the past” in academic libraries.