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Lost Faith in Libraries As the Government Gets Its Priorities All Wrong

Around 200 public libraries were closed in the UK last year, thanks to budget cuts within local government spending. Unfortunately, this trend is set to continue, and possibly get worse, over the next year or two. Experts have concluded that the possibility of up to 320 libraries being forced to close this year is very real indeed.

As finances continue to pose difficulties for the nation’s governing body, public services such as libraries will continue to suffer. Magnificent advances in technology, over the past 10 years or so, have made this a much easier decision to make for those responsible. Children and adults alike have gradually shied away from an interest in reading books, and turned to tablets and e-readers, without even having to mention the exponential rise in the popularity of downloading movies and TV series’.

The library genocide will likely have the worst effect on Sheffield, Newcastle, Manchester, and the London borough of Islington in 2013. However, the issue has been a prominent issue among communities all across the country for some time now.

Manchester’s council have plan to bridge an £80m funding gap, closing six libraries in the process. Newcastle’s prospective closures are delegated to 10 of its 18 libraries, whereas Sheffield’s 27 libraries could be cut down to 13, a loss of more than 50%. The most concern is over the area of Islington; where all 10 of the borough’s libraries could be facing the devastating order to close down.

Phil Bradley, president of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, explained – “I don’t think that 2013 is going to be any better than 2012 was to be honest. In fact if anything it’s going to be much worse. The postal lottery of library provision will continue to get worse, with some councils still doing their best to provide a good quality service according to their legal requirements, while other councils will continue to attempt to impose shortsighted cuts on their communities.”

On a positive note, it appears that there is still a large number of passionate library advocates out there. Last year North London’s Kensal Rise library was defended by its local residents protested plans to close it down. Residents of Sheffield and Newcastle have also stood up to try to save their respective public libraries, launching large-scale demonstrations and online campaigns against the planned closures.

It is extremely disappointing that the government feels that libraries are no longer a priority for education and entertainment. Hopefully, the spirit and dedication of those still interested in books will prove to be effective in saving at least some public libraries throughout the UK. However, one does sense that the people out there, are fighting a losing battle.

Book Review – Your Personal Renaissance – 12 Steps to Finding Your Life’s True Calling

Book Review
Your Personal Renaissance: 12 Steps to Finding Your Life’s True Calling
By Diane Dreher

Your Persona Renaissance supports an integral process of finding or refining clarity about what we want to do with our unique talents. Diane Dreher, the author of bestsellers such as The Tao of Personal Leadership and Inner Gardening has a knack for revealing her supportive heart in every word-encouragement and inspiration jump off the pages. Based on a combination of leading-edge research, practical steps for self-growth, and engaging stories about human creative capacity, the book provides guidance for culling out what really matters. It’s perfect for recent college graduates and those of any age who wish to re-think their careers or dive more deeply into new creative ventures.

Dreher supports each of the Renaissance practices she discusses with current research from neuroscience, positive psychology, and vocation development. The reader moves through the practices in this order: Faith, Examen, Community, Contemplation, creativity, Reading and Reflection, Exercise, Discipline and Dedication, always with an eye on what motivates and fulfills.

Dreher’s love (and extensive research of over one hundred artists, scientists, scholars, etc. from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment) of interesting, creative people captivates the reader with the engaging narratives sprinkled about in each chapter. Who knew John Locke studied medicine, tried diplomacy, and was urged by friends to become a minister? If Locke had chosen any one of these paths, the Enlightenment may not have been so enlightening. But following “his calling to help people gain greater understanding,” Locke became a philosopher-not the expected choice, and probably the most unpopular choice, but the one he wanted-lucky for anyone interested in democracy. Most of Dreher’s stories about multi-talented people of the past contain surprising facts-so the book serves as an interesting history lesson, as well as an intelligent self-help guide.

Because it can be a scary revelation to find out just what Spirit calls us to do, it’s comforting to have a kind companion such as Diane Dreher with us on this journey. Her personal stories are mini-pep talks of encouragement and affirmation.

About her friends: “My friend Carol Flinders wrote her book Enduring Lives about four contemporary women of faith: Etty Hillesum, Jane Goodall, Sr. Helen Prejean, and Tenzin Palmo, all of whom posses what she calls a ‘very powerful interior life,’ making them compelling spiritual models for our time.”

About herself: Dreher shares several events in her life, including a precious story about how she came to study Renaissance literature, ending the tale with, “Books, libraries, journeys, discoveries-these are some of my personal themes. Now it’s time to look for yours.”

Personalizing the book in this way makes it inviting to read. You really feel like you are sitting down and talking with an old friend who knows you well and wants the best for you. Why, even the notes/references pages are written to the reader, giving little-known websites to look up and additional articles or books for further reading. Job hunters will find solace in the book when feeling the normal panic that arises when out of work. Being able to slow down, and go through the discernment process laid out in the book will keen the jitters away and provide a wise plan of action based on an internal methodology.

Dreher shows us how our personal choices contribute to the greater good. Here again, she uses interesting examples to highlight the importance of deeply listening to our inner nudges no matter where they may lead us, not only for our own gain, but for the world’s benefit, as well. A central message of the book is: Contribution to the greater whole magnifies the meaning of our lives. Perhaps that’s key to understanding the purpose of one’s life purpose? Dreher tell us St. Teresa of Avila “reminded people ‘to take care that they do not hide their talent; for it may be that God has chosen them to be the edification of many others, especially in these days.’” “Being the edification to many others” usually isn’t the central thought most of wake up with in the morning. This book allows us to take time to contemplate, recognize, and act upon our central part within the larger scheme of things.

At the end of each chapter, the reader finds several appropriate do-able activities for practicing the chapter concepts. As the reader makes progress, Dreher is there along the way with congratulations and affirmations. She applauds each step, because right up front in the Introduction she lets us know “one powerful secret”: “Small actions over time produce monumental results.” Which translates for the job hunter–leave no stone unturned–do your best every day, submitting those resumes,talking with people, networking–all tried and true strategies. Now as you take these actions you have a companion by your side in this book that supports you every step of the way.

Throughout Your Personal Renaissance mentor extraordinaire, Diane Dreher shows us that it’s our day to day choices, those seemingly “little things”, that over time combine to bring about important positive changes-whether putting together a plan for improved personal health or launching a new career-taking our next necessary step is what a dynamic self-growth process is all about-the surest way to a personal Renaissance. And a most hopeful guidepost for society, as well.

An Often Overlooked Book Marketing Resource

Just about every book promotion article I have read suggests that the author launch a public library marketing campaign by sending hundreds of letters to libraries nationwide. The problem with doing this is twofold. First, it is expensive and time consuming, and second, it is not very effective. I recently read a case about an author that mailed out letters to 1,500 libraries to promote his book and the entire campaign resulted in one sale that he could attribute to the mailing campaign. That sure doesn’t sound very cost effective to me.

Public libraries do not typically add titles to their collections based on mail solicitations, they base their purchase selections on a book’s popularity and whether or not patrons are requesting it. Furthermore, despite the urban myth, most do not care if your book has a Library of Congress Catalog Number either, they only care that it is in demand and prefer that it is still in print. Thus, if you want libraries to buy your book it would probably be more effective to launch a random population mail campaign that intrigues the recipients enough that they request your book from their local library.

Well, even though this approach would probably be more effective that directly soliciting the libraries, I am not suggesting you try it. What I would suggest that you do is to encourage your website visitors to ask their local branch library to add your book to their collection. This not only results in more book sales for you, it gives patrons of the library access to your book and in many cases they will buy their own copy if they like what you have to say.