Wanted: Qualified librarians. Must be good with horses.

The people of the Eastern Kentucky mountains had been hit hard by the Depression, and many of them had little connection to the outside world.  This project brought in librarians from around the state and charged them with establishing routine library services in the remotest of towns.  Though many were skeptical of the program at first, demand for books and magazines could barely keep up with demand; further, the librarians also brought news, comfort, and contact to a struggling people.

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Here we see a full outfit of the horseback librarians in one town.  They often began their day by loading up books before dawn and would return just before dusk.  They were paid $28 a month and worked in both winter and summer.

More story and photos: The Amazing Story of Kentucky’s Horseback Librarians

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Saving the Classics with Skullduggery

SORRENTO — Chuck Finley appears to be a voracious reader, having checked out 2,361 books at the East Lake County Library in a nine-month period this year.

But Finley didn’t read a single one of the books, ranging from “Cannery Row” by John Steinbeck to a kids book called “Why Do My Ears Pop?” by Ann Fullick. That’s because Finley isn’t real.

The fictional character was concocted by two employees at the library, complete with a false address and drivers license number.

After allegations by an unidentified person made in November, an investigation by the Lake County clerk of courts’ inspector general’s office concluded that Finley was a fake, and the county has since requested a systemwide audit of its libraries.

The goal behind the creation of “Chuck Finley” was to make sure certain books stayed on the shelves — books that aren’t used for a long period can be discarded and removed from the library system.

George Dore, the library’s branch supervisor who was put on administrative leave for his part in the episode, said he wanted to avoid having to later repurchase books purged from the shelf. He said the same thing is being done at other libraries, too.

To save books, librarians create fake ‘reader’ to check out titles – Orlando Sentinel

Kudos to librarians for resisting our algorithmic overlords!

See you at the library, 2017

The world seemed to have gone off its spinner this year, making the library one of the few places you could retreat where the pace of life was slower and blessed silence reigned. It is also the place where serendipity thrives.

“The library helps you to see, not only that you are not alone, but that you’re not really any different from everyone else,” the late Maya Angelou once told an interviewer from the New York Public Library. Those are wiser words than pretty much anything that was said in all of 2016. Let’s try again next year, shall we?

—Elizabeth Renzetti, “As 2016 crashed in flames, libraries were the last good place

Happy New Year, everyone!

Luckiest kids in the world

I stumbled across this video of Jay Walker’s library in which two lucky little blighters get a personal tour of my personal version of Heaven. If there was a grown-up version of Make A Wish, I’d ask to go there. But it’s just as well I can’t go because they’d probably have to call the SWAT team to get me out and I wouldn’t want any of the books to get damaged in the ensuing fracas.

Just Don’t Fall: Library Solutions

The first thing we did once I knew my leg might get cut off was Mom took me to the public library and we looked at a microscope that looks like a TV. Then Mom read out loud the number that were written beside the titles of the books on black shiny plastic that we put under the microscope and I wrote them down on a piece of paper. Then we walked around the library to find the numbers. And once we found the numbers, we found the books. Mom said this is the best and cheapest way to solve the problems in your life: come to the library and check out all the books about your problem and read them.

—Josh Sundquist, “Just Don’t Fall”

Smart lady!