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Fortunately we got our pimped out (or at least with a new radiator!) bookmobile back from the mechanic today just in time for our visit to Humboldt County Library in Eureka. The library building looked like a beautiful retreat place where you can smell of ocean.
Eureka has quite a different community compared to other libraries that we’ve visited on our tour. Many of the people we talked to already knew about Internet Archive (or Project Gutenberg) as well as issues of public domain. This is the first time it’s happened to us over the last 10 days. We were at the library for 5 hours and a stream of people stopped by the bookmobile and gave kudos for our work. We didn’t even need to talk about the importance of the public domain and why community has to support their local library. It was easy to see how much the community supports their library. Many library staff came out to see our bookmobile including the new library director, Victor Zazueta. He told us that he believes the library is an educational institution and "poor man’s university."
While talking about open source software in the library, he mentioned that Riverside County Library and the City of Redding had contracted out the management and operation of their libraries to a private company called LSSI. It’s shocking to hear about a library being managed by a private company. This is wrong on so many levels. The library is an integral part of any community and we seriously doubt that a private company could appreciate those roles as their main goal is making profit, not providing local history, education, knowledge commons, and cultural space. Victor told us that at Riverside, there were high school students working the reference desk. What a shame.
After breaking down the bookmobile we visited the library’s local history and special collections. This is one of the most beautiful local special collections we’ve ever seen. The room was full of local history that are used by community members, historians, and scholars. We wondered if this collection would exist if the library were being managed by LSSI. Our two main messages this entire trip has been the importance of the public domain and supporting local public libraries. We hope our message resonates with each community that we’ve visited.
Tomorrow is our big day. We have 3 places scheduled – Hoopa, Blue Lake, and the Oysters and Ale Library Fundraising in Eureka. This will be fun and crazy! For more photo please check here.