Letter from the editors

In Providence, Rhode Island this past fall, one of your editors visited the Athenaeum subscription library, the fourth oldest library in the country. The experience of being in a working American library that has served the public for close to two hundred years was moving. Of course, this library was by subscription - members had and still have to pay an annual fee - while public libraries today are typically free for all. Public libraries embody many of the core values of librarianship - access to information for all, literacy for all, and the free spread of knowledge. Yet the realities facing public libraries, from budget cuts to becoming homeless shelters to competing with the Internet, often obscure these moving ideals. What is the place and role of a public library today? Even for those of us not going into librarianship, what happens with public libraries is often emblematic of the range of problems and goals facing the information access fields at large.

Seattle's public library system made headlines this past year with the construction of a spectacular new building, an act of architectural bravado that has contributed to a national dialogue on the place of the public library in society. At the same time, however, city budget cuts have threatened to slash library services even as a hiring freeze continues. As library and information science students at a campus in Seattle, we are particularly interested in the fate of Seattle Public Library (SPL) and by extension, the large urban public library everywhere. We are also personally involved in SPL - as volunteers, as researchers, as future or current employees, as patrons. Our consideration of the issues surrounding SPL at the moment leads to greater questions - how important is a central library building in an urban setting? How do you advocate for libraries in the face of ever-shrinking budgets? How do you conduct effective research to find out public reactions to the library, and to produce ever-better service? What is the place of the next generation of librarians, and how should we represent ourselves?

These are questions that, while obviously we are not going to answer conclusively, we hope to address in this special issue. This issue, as part of our focus on SPL, we bring you a personal account of the SPL-as-place study, interviews with a YA and a children's librarian, an interview with the director of public services at SPL, a look back at the history of the bookmobile, and a discussion of the (in)famous central library building. We also bring you some other fascinating stories - such as Alaina Sloo's description of what happens when you organize a bookstore by book color and Tracy Scharn's account of the Online NW conference and how to get involved as a distance students. We also have a book review, an overview of data mining, a report on the experiences of library school students working abroad, a meditation on librarian stereotypes and the generation gap, and some very special cartoons. - all just in time for spring break. Enjoy!

-Phoebe Ayers & John Glover
Silverfish Co-Editors
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March 2005
Vol. IX Issue X
News Datamining with Melody Ivory-Ndiaye
Features Biblioteca A continuing series about international information issues. Colorful Classification A San Francisco bookstore rearranges by color Online NW Conference Professional development tips for distance students *SPL Articles* SPL as Place "The coolest library in the world" Teen Librarian An interview with Amy Cassidy Inside Out Photos of the new Central Branch Bookmobile Past and present SPL's Youth Services Coordinator An interview with Chance Hunt SPL's Director of Public Services An interview with Jill Jean
Opinion Editorial What kind of librarian are you? From the Komissar's Desk... in the Reading Room at SPL Central branch
Entertainment iFunny Comics of our iLives Blast from the Past Choice selections from the Silverfish Archives
Reviews iRead Sunshine by Robin McKinley
Events Events


Page last updated:February 08, 2004