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I don't understand the paranoia about spilling things. If someone wanted to ruin a book, all they'd have to do is use their library card to check it out, bring it home, and then they could spill onto it whatever they wanted. I think library computers would be more at risk, but spill-proof keyboards do exist.

Edited by N Judah
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I don't understand the paranoia about spilling things. If someone wanted to ruin a book, all they'd have to do is use their library card to check it out, bring it home, and then they could spill onto it whatever they wanted. I think library computers would be more at risk, but spill-proof keyboards do exist.

I don't spill things at Barnes and Noble. But perhaps I'd get the urge to at the Library.

LOL

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The library boasts a high volume count and calls itself "world class," but statistics like that are misleading. In terms of the depth of serious reading you can do there, it is roughly the equivalent of a good high school library. Someone should take the Modern Library's poll of the 100 best fiction and 100 best nonfiction books of the twentieth century and see how many show up in a card catalog search. I bet only a small portion, and the ones they do have are probably scattered all around the branch libraries.

At some point very early on, somebody in the library decided that building a serious collection of volumes was not a priority. I'm not sure where the money goes - probably technology and interactive crap. Luckily the Fondren library at Rice is open to non-students, so that is usually where I go if I am looking for a book in Houston.

I once saw a website that overviewed the serious libraries in the United States, and the only two in Texas were located in Austin and in College Station. It's sad - Houston is probably the largest city in America without a great research library.

Yes, everything in Houston: Bad. Everything in Austin: Good. ;-)

How many of the serious research libraries on the website you "once saw" do you suppose were city libraries as opposed to libraries at major research universities? Kind of comparing apples and oranges there.

I just did a search of HPL's card catalog of 12 randomly chosen books from the Modern Library list of 100 Best Novels and HPL had all 12 of them... 100%. That rather strongly suggests that, rather than a "small portion" as you assumed, they have a huge portion, if not all of them. And so what if they are "scattered all around the branch libraries? That is the way library systems are supposed to work... make the books available to the largest number and widest variety of people.

Edited by Houston19514
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A new chapter for downtown Houston library

The flagship facility will reopen in late May with a 21st century upgrade, secret surprise

Librarians' lips this week were sealed tighter than a teen romance novel whose pages are globbed together with bubble gum. But you could tell by their unvarnished glee, the tantalizing air of mystery, that something dramatic is going to happen in May when the ribbon is cut on Houston's renovated downtown central library.

How much pop, sizzle and heart-stopping drama the ceremony offers may be open to question, but it's almost certain that the really big surprises will come from the library itself.

After a two-year, $17 million renovation, the 32-year-old downtown landmark will emerge ready for the 21st century with a host of high-tech components and 34,000 square feet of additional usable space.

With Wi-Fi throughout the building, the central library will feature more than 100 computer stations and provide a score of laptops for use by patrons. Teen and children's departments will be significantly enlarged. A world language room will mirror the city's diversity with books, recordings and computers communicating in 20 different languages.

full article

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so what's the secret surprise? Any speculation? If librarians are excited , it must be good ;)

A copy of the "Urban Dictionary" from urbandictionary.com?

Maybe it's like The Simpsons, they'll replace a section with a "Build Your Own Sundae Bar" or turn the "Young Adult" section into a red light "Adult" section, complete with pervs in trenchcoats. :blink:

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Yeah, it could easily be an area for refreshments and other areas would be no food/drink allowed.

Note, the coffeeshop at the Multnomah County Library (Portland Oregon, a huge coffee drinking area) failed. Here's some reasons. The poor homeless people that congregate there can't afford a 3 dollar drink. The staff all got nice staff discounts. With that business model, they couldn't keep the Starbucks in there. Just be aware, it doesn't always work in even the most progressive coffee drinking library going communities.

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Note, the coffeeshop at the Multnomah County Library (Portland Oregon, a huge coffee drinking area) failed. Here's some reasons. The poor homeless people that congregate there can't afford a 3 dollar drink. The staff all got nice staff discounts. With that business model, they couldn't keep the Starbucks in there. Just be aware, it doesn't always work in even the most progressive coffee drinking library going communities.

LOL

Hilarious. Point well taken.

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Like I said it's just as easy to check out the book and then take it home and read it. There are also many library-book-friendly cafes that are better than Starbucks. For example, the Coffee Guy chain (which was supposed to expand massively but as far as I could tell, didn't) had living-room style chairs and couches.

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Like I said it's just as easy to check out the book and then take it home and read it. There are also many library-book-friendly cafes that are better than Starbucks. For example, the Coffee Guy chain (which was supposed to expand massively but as far as I could tell, didn't) had living-room style chairs and couches.

There was a coffee shop on Westheimer I used to frequent (Little Italy .. I think it's still there) that was like that. Like being in a strip center but the inside was like being in a house with a dining room and den.

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Yes, everything in Houston: Bad. Everything in Austin: Good. ;-)

How many of the serious research libraries on the website you "once saw" do you suppose were city libraries as opposed to libraries at major research universities? Kind of comparing apples and oranges there.

I just did a search of HPL's card catalog of 12 randomly chosen books from the Modern Library list of 100 Best Novels and HPL had all 12 of them... 100%. That rather strongly suggests that, rather than a "small portion" as you assumed, they have a huge portion, if not all of them. And so what if they are "scattered all around the branch libraries? That is the way library systems are supposed to work... make the books available to the largest number and widest variety of people.

Once again, Houston 19514 to the rescue, protecting the defenseless city of Houston against those who would criticize it in order to make it better.

Where in my post did I say everything in Houston was bad and everything in Austin good? You are confusing me with someone else. But if you want to talk about libraries, UT has a far better library than all the libraries in Houston combined, and it is open for the Austin public to enjoy.

Plenty of those libraries were city libraries, including New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles. All of those cities have a place where the average citizen can do serious research.

Absolutely it matters if those books are scattered across different branch libraries. If I am looking for a major work, I want to know that there is one location I can go to that will definitely have it. The experience of browsing a major collection and finding what you need is pretty much killed if you have to drive all over town.

I can't believe you actually got on the library catalog and did 12 separate searches just so you could respond to a post on HAIF.

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Once again, Houston 19514 to the rescue, protecting the defenseless city of Houston against those who would criticize it in order to make it better.

Where in my post did I say everything in Houston was bad and everything in Austin good? You are confusing me with someone else. But if you want to talk about libraries, UT has a far better library than all the libraries in Houston combined, and it is open for the Austin public to enjoy.

Plenty of those libraries were city libraries, including New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles. All of those cities have a place where the average citizen can do serious research.

Absolutely it matters if those books are scattered across different branch libraries. If I am looking for a major work, I want to know that there is one location I can go to that will definitely have it. The experience of browsing a major collection and finding what you need is pretty much killed if you have to drive all over town.

I can't believe you actually got on the library catalog and did 12 separate searches just so you could respond to a post on HAIF.

I can't believe you continually post your drivel with no effort to check your "facts", back them up or give sources.

Edited by Houston19514
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Wow, there just isn't an emoticon suitable for my reaction to the above post. Houston 19514, if you want to believe that the Houston Public Library is a great research library, go right ahead, I won't try to stop you. I just wish it were better.

Of course you know very well I never said or implied any such thing. You do love your straw men, don't you?

First, I'm not sure it's even the mission of a city library to be a great research library. That's really a better mission for the universities. Second, given your rather fast and loose assumptions about what the Houston library has and doesn't have, color me skeptical that you really know much about how good of a research library it is. Third, despite your unsourced assertions, I remain unconvinced that there are very many city libraries ranked among the great research libraries of America. NY certainly is, probably Boston. After that, I'm not so sure. Chicago's public library, for example, does not appear to make any such claims for itself and certainly does not focus on research in its mission statements and master planning documents.

We can all wish it were better; No harm in that. But there's also no harm in (and a lot to gain from) approaching the subject fairly and honestly.

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Reading over HPL's mission and so forth, I think they're pretty much on target - and improving with this round of renovations at the central location. Branch libraries would/could have more if there was more space and money. Those two important factors in libraries are almost always inadequate.

HPL is a member of HARLiC, however, which can help bridge some gaps.

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Architecturally, I actually think it kind of reminds me of the main student research library at UT in Austin (Perry Castaneda). And I don't think it was ever trying to compete with the LBJ library, I mean, presidential libraries are totally different animals.

Edit:: Why don't we have a president from Rice or U of H yet so we can get a library????

Edited by cnote
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Of course you know very well I never said or implied any such thing. You do love your straw men, don't you?

First, I'm not sure it's even the mission of a city library to be a great research library. That's really a better mission for the universities. Second, given your rather fast and loose assumptions about what the Houston library has and doesn't have, color me skeptical that you really know much about how good of a research library it is. Third, despite your unsourced assertions, I remain unconvinced that there are very many city libraries ranked among the great research libraries of America. NY certainly is, probably Boston. After that, I'm not so sure. Chicago's public library, for example, does not appear to make any such claims for itself and certainly does not focus on research in its mission statements and master planning documents.

We can all wish it were better; No harm in that. But there's also no harm in (and a lot to gain from) approaching the subject fairly and honestly.

If you never said or implied that Houston's library was a great research library, then what were you disputing in my original post??? Because all I did in that post was to lament that Houston did not have a great research library. If you agree that it doesn't have a great research library, then what's the argument?

Please don't tell me you went and read the Chicago library's mission statements and master planning documents for this little discussion, although based on past experience, I wouldn't put it past you.

When have I been unfair or dishonest?

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Architecturally, I actually think it kind of reminds me of the main student research library at UT in Austin (Perry Castaneda). And I don't think it was ever trying to compete with the LBJ library, I mean, presidential libraries are totally different animals.

Edit:: Why don't we have a president from Rice or U of H yet so we can get a library????

George Bush the 1st had Rice in the running for his library. But he decided to give the G7 conference to Rice and Baker gave Rice the Baker Inst. thus A&M got the Bush library. Neither Bush went to the schools that got the libraries, A&M & SMU. I don't think LBJ went to UT and the Reagan and Clinton libraries are not even at a university.

Edited by gto250us
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I can just imagine the planning meeting. "I really like how we've accomplished soulless and banal, but it's just not cheesy enough!"

Well, in all fairness they didn't have much to work with. That plaza was certainly bleak enough before, so a bit of cheese might be just the thing.

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But if you want to talk about libraries, UT has a far better library than all the libraries in Houston combined, and it is open for the Austin public to enjoy.

Comparing University libraries to municipal libraries is apples and oranges, but since it is the University of Texas library it is available to the entire state, and we can all claim it with pride

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  • 1 month later...
Well? And? What's the big surprise?

they had a story on this earlier this week however i was helping a neighbor so didn't get to see it all. i remember something about some video games and new artwork on the outside somehow complementing with new artwork on the inside. they said its grand opening is next weekend.

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Comparing University libraries to municipal libraries is apples and oranges, but since it is the University of Texas library it is available to the entire state, and we can all claim it with pride

You would do well to read my original point, which is nothing more than that Houston is short when it comes to major research libraries. If you want to drive all the way to Austin anytime you need something that our library doesn't have, be my guest. And there are municipal libraries with real research power.

Well, in all fairness they didn't have much to work with. That plaza was certainly bleak enough before, so a bit of cheese might be just the thing.

That's kind of what I meant... it was soulless and banal before; now they've made it cheesey. But maybe you're right and it will do some kind of trick for the place. I hope so.

Sure wish they had gone with the idea to build that big central library in Midtown. The residents of San Antonio and Seattle are loving their new central libraries.

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When the present library openned the first time around, back in 1976 (I think), there was a serious problem with birds flying into the glass windows and dropping dead onto the plaza below. They said it was pretty unnerving to be sitting there inside the glassed area reading a book only to see a bird flying toward you and then.....splat!

Apparently the original building design allowed the birds to see through to the other side of the plaza, tricking them into thinking it was a clear flight path. It apparently took some time before any attempt was made to correct the problem. Patrons had to endure the bird encounters for awhile.

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I can just imagine the planning meeting. "I really like how we've accomplished soulless and banal, but it's just not cheesy enough!"

Cheesy is good.

At least it doesn't have that red, white and blue big bird looking sculpture (now in front of GRB in Discovery Green).

That's progress in and of itself.

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Cheesy is good.

At least it doesn't have that red, white and blue big bird looking sculpture (now in front of GRB in Discovery Green).

That's progress in and of itself.

Do you mean the Dubuffet Monument au Fantome?

9cf0105f-00de-4537-9267-bc8a8f195372.jpg

That was in front of 1100 Louisiana. Claes Oldenburg's Geometric Mouse was in library's plaza.

GeometricMouse-001.jpg

The Claes Oldenburg red sculpture, Geometric Mouse X, will be placed permanently on a new foundation at the corner of McKinney and Smith, in front of the Julia Ideson Building, where it will be more prominent. A civic art project will be added to the exterior of the building, facing the plaza.

HPL press release

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Cheesy is good.

At least it doesn't have that red, white and blue big bird looking sculpture (now in front of GRB in Discovery Green).

That's progress in and of itself.

A bit of info on the "cheese". The patterns and colors in the plaza are themselves the result of a civic art project, not a planning meeting. Sorry to disappoint you, H-town. The pattern is a super-graphic of the floor tile pattern in the historic Julia Ideson Building, the former central library adjacent to the plaza. It is meant to show a connection between the old and new central libraries. The colors are the same colors that will be used in the upcoming LED light sculpture that will be installed in the plaza this summer. The lights in the plaza will be programmed in part by software designed by students at UH-Clearlake. The software uses the library's online computer activity to activate the light patterns. The busier the system, the more active the lights. In effect, the lightwall becomes the LED heartbeat of HPL's electronic/internet/online life. At least, these were the artist's intentions.

Additionally, the plaza has been wired for performances and concerts. Three shading devices will be installed in a few weeks that spell out "Houston" "Public" "Library" in the varying gauge of the screening. The shadows of those words created by the screening will move across the plaza has the sun moves across the sky. It will be a cool visual from all of the neighboring skyscrapers.

The edges of the plaza will be lined with very red planters filled with very tall-growing bamboo. There will be outdoor seating for the new Inversion Cafe, and new decking has been added under the oaks adjacent to the Ideson.

Some may think its all cheesy, but compared to the lifeless half-city block of brown brick pavers inhabited by nothing but the homeless that was there before, some may welcome it.

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  • 4 weeks later...
YI just did a search of HPL's card catalog of 12 randomly chosen books from the Modern Library list of 100 Best Novels and HPL had all 12 of them... 100%. That rather strongly suggests that, rather than a "small portion" as you assumed, they have a huge portion, if not all of them. And so what if they are "scattered all around the branch libraries? That is the way library systems are supposed to work... make the books available to the largest number and widest variety of people.

Coming late to this discussion, I know. But I would be very surprised if 100% of both lists are not widely available at numerous branches throughout the system. Same with the Brazoria County Library System.

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Coming late to this discussion, I know. But I would be very surprised if 100% of both lists are not widely available at numerous branches throughout the system. Same with the Brazoria County Library System.

AND you can have any (circulating) book from any HPL library sent to any other HPL library in the system, typically overnight, to be picked up at your leisure with just a few clicks from your home/work computer. You can check it out for up to six weeks. All for FREE. (yeah, yeah I know your taxes pay for it) Try that at Borders.

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AND you can have any (circulating) book from any HPL library sent to any other HPL library in the system, typically overnight, to be picked up at your leisure with just a few clicks from your home/work computer. You can check it out for up to six weeks. All for FREE. (yeah, yeah I know your taxes pay for it) Try that at Borders.

It is amazing that the Library Dept manages to accomplish anything at all with these numbers:

"According to federal statistics for 2006, Houston's library system spends $17 per capita to operate each year

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Typical for Houston. All hat, no cattle. But Hey, we're gonna build a new soccer stadium to go along with the billion dollars worth of other poorly designed sports facilities we've thrown up in the last few years! We've got our priorities in order as usual.

Typical Houstonian. The City just finished spending $15 million on renovating the main library, and you complain about how little they spend.

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Typical Houstonian. The City just finished spending $15 million on renovating the main library, and you complain about how little they spend.

Not to confuse you Red, but I wasn't complaining about the money spent on the renovation, bond funds, although I could. I am complaining about how little we appropriate for operating the system, annual budget from tax revenues, because it is too little for a city this size.

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Not to confuse you either, jt, but I tire of the schizophrenic Houston complaints of not enough spent on _______(insert slighted pet project here), while complaining about high taxes somewhere else. And, you don't even give the City credit for the 15 million. The numbers you cite do not include the bond money, only the operating budget. If this gripe doesn't apply to you, ignore it, or add to it. But, I am tired of people who gripe about taxes then complaining about services. THEY are the REASON the services suck. This is analogous to picking a fight, then claiming self-defense. One cannot have it both ways.

BTW, this year's budget is $18 per per person.

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Not to confuse you either, jt, but I tire of the schizophrenic Houston complaints of not enough spent on _______(insert slighted pet project here), while complaining about high taxes somewhere else. And, you don't even give the City credit for the 15 million. The numbers you cite do not include the bond money, only the operating budget. If this gripe doesn't apply to you, ignore it, or add to it. But, I am tired of people who gripe about taxes then complaining about services. THEY are the REASON the services suck. This is analogous to picking a fight, then claiming self-defense. One cannot have it both ways.

BTW, this year's budget is $18 per per person.

Doesn't apply to me. I'm one of those people who actually understands that ALL of the things that I want government to provide like libraries, roads, police, etc. have to be paid for and that the currency is taxes. I've not once ever advocated for tax cuts because for 1)ta xes here are incredibly low, and 2) tax cuts equal service cuts and there is not much I want to see cut. I do argue for greater efficiency and less waste - anything and every process can be improved. Frankly I wouldn't mind a tax increase if it resulted in better library service, more streets with sidewalks, more streetlights, more police, better schools, better parks - not just brown fields and rusting equipment, more rail sooner than later, etc, etc. Bring it on, I'll vote for it. No, I'm not one of those lunatics whose home value doubles and then complains about his property taxes increasing. Those people should be shot. Just kidding, sort of.

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