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The Atlantic Video

Why Libraries Matter

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The Atlantic Video

Growing up, the Venice Public Library was my special place. It's where I went every day after school, it's where I learned on my own, and it was my jumping-off point for exploring the world. The thing is, libraries are not just about books—they're about communities, and they're about sharing knowledge at that local level. Libraries remain a crucial resource for tons of communities.

Here's a short film showing a day in the life of New York City's public libraries. This is a touching portrait of libraries in the modern era, and I think we can all see ourselves in these stories somewhere. Enjoy:

This film was directed by Julie Dressner and Jesse Hicks. Thanks to The Atlantic Video for featuring it.

See also: Let's Hear It for Libraries; 4 Innovative Libraries Transforming Lives Around the World; These Days, Libraries Are About More Than Just Books; and Why Do We Need Libraries? (just a few of the many library-related articles we've run.)

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A Chicago Library Needs Help Transcribing 17th-Century Spellbooks
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Interested in dabbling in 17th-century witchcraft in your spare time? The Newberry Library in Chicago could use your help. As Quartz reports, the independent research library is calling on citizens to translate and transcribe three books dealing with spells and witches that date back to the 1600s.

The manuscripts—The Book of Magical Charms, The Commonplace Book, and Cases of Conscience Concerning Witchcraft—have been scanned and uploaded to the library's open transcription portal. Consisting of archaically spelled English and Latin text handwritten on yellowed, water-stained pages, the content is difficult for most modern-day readers to make sense of. But those who can decipher it will be treated to such eye-opening passages as a remedy for nosebleeds, a reflection on the ethics of witch hanging, and one medicinal use for a dead man's tooth.

Pages from the texts are available to view online with text boxes below for readers to contribute their transcriptions and translations. Several portions have already been decoded, like a section on activating a magic seal ("write in virgin parchment the blood of a lamb") and tips for conjuring ("work should be with a crescent moon"). Once transcriptions have been written and reviewed by the library, they will be added to the institution’s digital collection. There anyone will be able to browse through centuries-old advice on dealing with menstrual pain and contacting the dead, even if they can't understand centuries-old English.

[h/t Quartz]

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This Chinese Library's Interior Is Designed to Look Like an Infinite Tunnel of Books
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YouTube

The Chinese city of Yangzhou is known for its graceful arched bridges and proximity to the Yangtze River and the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal. Architects kept these unique local features in mind while designing Zhongshuge Yangzhou, a new bookstore and library that was completed in 2016.

Designed by Shanghai studio XL-Muse Architects, the building has black, mirrored floors and arched ceilings that symbolize Yangzhou’s famous waterways and overpasses. The floor reflects the store’s curving shelves to create the illusion of a never-ending tunnel of books—a true bibliophile’s dream.

Learn more about Yangzhou’s unique library/bookstore below, courtesy of Great Big Story.

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