Archives For Libraries


Five New Must-Listen Podcast Episodes!!!
NT Wright, Sarah Smarsh, The Patron Saint of Libraries,
Aaron Niequist, MORE


These podcasts can be downloaded from the iTunes store
or from the links below.


<<<<< The Previous Vital Conversations Post

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This week is National Library Week…

In honor of the occasion, we offer a list of our favorite books about libraries (fiction and non-fiction)!

We encourage you to check these books out from your local library…


The Strange Library: A Novel

by Haruki Murakami 

Amazon ]

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A Twenty-First Century Case for the Library
A Feature Review of

BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google
John Palfrey

Hardback: Basic Books, 2015
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Andrew Stout

*** Watch a lecture by the author on this book! ***

As the digital age progresses and grows ever more complex, it is not always clear whether we should talk about the plight of libraries or of their growing importance. Do the continually diversifying channels through which we are permeated with information make libraries more or less relevant? John Palfrey, the former director of the Harvard Law School Library, perceives a definite crisis for libraries, but this crisis encompasses both challenges and opportunities. He calls for libraries to redefine themselves in a “digital-plus” era – an original and very descriptive term. Libraries must find new ways to function more effectively as a public option for knowledgeable and personal guidance to information. Finding new ways to promote democratic access to information becomes increasingly important as the privatized interests of Amazon and Google continue to dominate.

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One of this week’s best new book releases

BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google
John Palfrey

Hardback: Basic Books, 2014
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

Watch a lecture that the author gave on the book:

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“Conversation Places

A Review of
Main Street Public Library:
Community Places and Reading Spaces
in the Rural Heartland, 1876-1956

by Wayne Wiegand

Reviewed by Sam Edgin.

Mian Street Public Library - WayneWiegandMain Street Public Library:
Community Places and Reading Spaces
in the Rural Heartland, 1876-1956

Wayne Wiegand.
Paperback: U of Iowa Press, 2011.
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

Childhood memories may often fail me, but often those that endure often involve the public library in the town where I grew up. They are fit into my past like so many complex puzzle pieces; the ones your aunt would superglue to a sheet of cardboard so her hard work would never be dismissed. Perhaps it is that homeschooling tends to create a great affinity with libraries and the array of knowledge held within, or maybe some ancient magic surrounds the art of reading books to groups of children; but I sit here, twenty-odd years later, and one of my favorite places is the public library.

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Last Saturday was the celebration of the 100th anniversary of The East Washington Street branch of the Indianapolis Public Library (the library located just south of Englewood Christian Church).

One of the treats of this celebration was a brief talk by renowned Indiana author Scott Russell Sanders on the importance of public libraries for common good.  Scott’s most recent book A Conservationist Manifesto was selected as a 2009 Englewood Honor Book, as one of the best books of that year (Read our review here).  He also has a large retrospective collection of his essays (that includes nine previously unpublished pieces) entitled Earth Works that will be released by Indiana University Press in early 2012 (and is available for pre-order).

Listen to or download this talk:

Scott Russell Sanders on Public Libraries

Recording posted with the permission of the speaker.


A New Book of Alexis De  Tocqueville.

At a conference on Democracy in America several years ago, one of the speakers took up Alexis de Tocqueville’s prediction that increased centralization and equality in the United States would produce the “soft despotism” of a “schoolmaster” state: “Above [the citizens] rises an immense tutelary power that alone takes charge of ensuring their pleasures and watching over their fate,” Tocqueville writes.

It is absolute, detailed, regular, farsighted, and mild. It would resemble paternal power if its object was to prepare men for adult life, but it seeks on the contrary to keep them in permanent childhood. It likes citizens to enjoy themselves, so long as all they think about is enjoyment …. The sovereign power doesn’t break their wills, but it softens, bends, and directs them. It rarely compels action, but it constantly opposes action. It doesn’t destroy, but it prevents birth; it doesn’t tyrannize, but it hinders, represses, enervates, restrains, and numbs, until it reduces each nation to a mere flock of timid and industrious animals, with the government as their shepherd.

Read the full review:

Tocqueville’s Discovery of America.
Leo Damrosch.
Hardback: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010
Buy now: [ ]

How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All

By Marilyn Johnson

One day, apparently before the rise of Google Book Search, Marilyn Johnson made an odd request at the New York Public Library. She needed to find the symptoms of an imaginary illness called “information sickness,” which she recollected from a 1981 novel by Ted Mooney, “Easy Travel to Other Planets.” She couldn’t find her own copy, so a team of librarians went spelunking in the stacks, wearing miner’s helmets, as Johnson tells it. They surfaced with a copy preserved, strangely enough, on micro­film, and soon Johnson was reading the dimly remembered passage in which a woman keels over, blood gushing from her nose and ears as she raves about disconnected facts. When the woman recovers from her fugue state, she says: “I was dazzled. I couldn’t tell where one thing left off and the next began.”

Read the full review:

How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All.

Marilyn Johnson.
Hardback: HarperCollins, 2010.
Buy now: [ ]

A Review of the Recent Movie
About the Latter Years of Leo Tolstoy’s Life
The Last Station,
From our Friends at Jesus Manifesto

“Everything I know I know only because I love”
Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

This is the quote that opens The Last Station, a film based on the novel by Jay Perini. The Last Station chronicles the final years of perhaps the greatest writer of the 20th century, Leo Tolstoy. Featuring terrific performances by Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer, it is a simple film and slightly specialized, but gives us a glimpse into the epic life and marriage Tolstoy had.

Read the full review: