Thursday, November 20, 2014

Stop Looking At Your Phones ('The Britishes')

Neil Gaiman: Libraries are cultural 'seed corn'


Neil Gaiman with ‘a little empathy machine’. Photograph: Lebrecht Music and Arts Photo Li/Alamy

A feral child who was raised in libraries

Toby Litt: You’ve described yourself as a “feral child who was raised in libraries”. What age were you when you were first drawn into a library, and why do you think they hooked you?
Neil: I was probably three or four when I first started going to libraries. We moved up to Sussex when I was five, and I discovered the local library very, very quickly. But I wasn’t really hooked until I got to the point where I was old enough to persuade my parents to just take me to the library and leave me there, which would have probably been about seven or eight. And at that point it was like being given the keys to the kingdom.
 Read the article....

A Field Trip to America's Public Libraries - The Atlantic





Duluth Public Library (Deborah Fallows) 
 
As we’ve been crisscrossing the country visiting towns and cities for our American Futures project,
I always look forward to stopping in the town's public library. Every
town has one. They’re often lovely buildings. (Thank you, Andrew
Carnegie!) They offer a first pulse of the town. (Are they vibrant and
bustling?) The librarians are as knowledgeable as the newspaper editors
and as welcoming as the Chamber of Commerce. Who wouldn’t love a
library? Read the article....

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

When Library Time Means Screen Time - NYTimes.com


Fifth graders in a school library in Brooklyn.Credit James Estrin/The New York Times

Lately, my 4-year-old
and I have been having a conflict about the library. One of us wants to
go. This is not a debate that is playing out according to plan.
If you guessed that I
am the one pushing to visit our local branch of the Brooklyn Public
Library, you’re mistaken. I wish I were. I’ve always loved going to the
library. I’ve been a bona fide bookworm for most of my life. As a little
girl, I loved the hush of the library, the promise it held. Although
the Dewey Decimal System was daunting, I could usually find what I was
looking for: books by Judy Blume and John Bellairs when I was young;
biographies of old-timey stars like Natalie Wood and Joan Crawford when I
hit my teens. And now, as a mother, it’s about the pleasure of loading
up on books with my children to take home; rediscovering old classics
like “The Snowy Day” and newer ones like “Traction-Man Is Here.” 

Or rather, it should
be about that. Recently, I’m very surprised to hear myself muttering to
my partner, sotto voce: “I don’t want go to the library.” I tell my
children that we will have to go another day, when really, I’m putting
it off until winter arrives and our choices are much more limited.
Right now we have the park, the playground and the ball field, areas
that are decidedly computer-free. Because, thanks to an influx of
computers at our local library, library time has come to mean screen
time. Read more...

Monday, November 3, 2014

Poverty and class: the latest themes to enter the US banned-books debate | Mary O’Hara | Society | The Guardian


Young readers in Florida enjoy the freedom to choose their library
books, but campaigners are attempting to restrict content that deals
with the challenges of low income. Photograph: Paul Hennessy/Polaris 
Late last month, for the 32nd year in a row, Banned Books Week was marked across the US. Spearheaded by the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom,
the annual salute to the freedom to read has become a fixture. It aims
to counterbalance perennial challenges to the content of books and
efforts to get them banned, usually from schools and libraries.

The ALA collects information on which books are objected to and
reports on prominent recurring themes that tend to generate moral or
ideological indignation. Subjects such as religion, race, gender, sexuality and allegations of sexually explicit content or offensive language frequently top the list. Read article...

Learning a language – 10 things you need to know | Education | The Guardian




Panellists describe the importance and joy of reading for pleasure in another language. Photograph: Holger Burmeister / Alamy
1. Make realistic, specific goals




You have decided to learn another language. Now what? On our recent live chat
our panellists first piece of advice was to ask yourself: what do you
want to achieve and by when? Donavan Whyte, vice president of enterprise
and education at Rosetta Stone, says: “Language learning is best when
broken down into manageable goals that are achievable over a few months.
This is far more motivating and realistic.”


You might be feeling wildly optimistic when you start but aiming to
be fluent is not necessarily the best idea. Phil McGowan, director at
Verbmaps, recommends making these goals tangible and specific: “Why not
set yourself a target of being able to read a newspaper article in the
target language without having to look up any words in the dictionary?” Read article...

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

New York Public Radio and The New York Academy of Medicine Recapture a Piece of American Medical and Broadcast History


Launch Digital Archive of 1950s Radio Broadcasts on Health and Medicine


The New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM) and New York Public Radio (NYPR) have digitized and released a treasure trove of 1950s WNYC radio broadcasts that feature significant voices from the past and provide a unique view of the medical and health concerns of American in the 1950s. The broadcasts brought lectures from the groundbreaking NYAM series Lectures to the Laity and For Doctors Only out of the halls of the Academy to a broad public audience, offering a new form of access to timely discussions on medicine, health, and culture.

The 40 digitized lectures and talks are part of a collaboration between NYAM and WNYC, which was then owned and operated by the city. Highlights include talks featuring Leona Baumgartner, New York City’s first woman health commissioner; cancer pioneer Sydney Farber; American microbiologist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author René Dubos; acclaimed anthropologist and social critic Margaret Mead; Norbert Wiener, father of cybernetics; and discussion of the Freud Centenary and Lincoln’s doctors.

“NYAM’s innovative partnership with WNYC in the 1950s brought important medical discussions out of the Academy’s rooms and into the public’s living rooms,” said Lisa O’Sullivan, PhD, Director of the NYAM Center for the History of Medicine and Public Health. “Today, NYAM remains committed to making the history of medicine accessible to broad public audiences, and we are extremely pleased to partner with New York Public Radio to release this digital collection.”

“The combination of expertise has made for a project with perfect synergy,” said Andy Lanset, Director of Archives, New York Public Radio. “We’re thrilled to make such important recordings available to both the scientific/medical community, and the public at large.”

These lectures are drawn from the more than 1,500 original lacquer discs transferred from NYAM to the NYPR Archives in 2008. The digitization and cataloging resulted from a joint project between NYAM’s Center for the History of Medicine and Public Health and the NYPR Archives, with a grant from METRO, the New York Metropolitan Library Council. 

NYAM and WNYC began their radio relationship in 1946 with the launch of The Laity Lectures, later to become Lectures to the Laity, a popular series of Academy lectures and talks on culture and medicine that had started in 1935. By mid-1950, this series was joined by For Doctors Only, which aimed to bring “the best of the meetings, conferences, roundtable discussions held at the academy” to the medical profession. On its debut broadcast of July 27, 1950, The New York Times called it “an epochal advance in the educational use of radio.” The New York World-Telegram and Sun referred to it as a “bold venture” and “enterprising” in the interest of good health for millions of people. For Doctors Only also addressed critical analysis of issues of society and medicine, as well as the application of the social sciences to medicine, and provided academic presentations in the history of medicine.

The lectures are available on WNYC’s website. Individual titles are also available through NYAM’s library catalog.


Paul Theerman, PhD
Associate Director
Center for the History of Medicine and Public Health
New York Academy of Medicine
1216 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY, 10029



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

After Some Victories, the Time Has Come to Legally Define ‘Fair Use’ | The Open Standard


After Some Victories, the Time Has Come to Legally Define ‘Fair Use




The Library of Congress Credit: Flickr / m01229  

As technologies evolve, advancing and
inhibiting our ability to provide access to content, the vagaries of the
law make self-censorship the default position for those unclear of
their rights.




Where once I feared a chilling effect, I am now sensing a warming glow.” - Kevin Smith, Duke University’s Scholarly Communications Officer




I’m a librarian. Sharing within the limits of the law is what we do.
Sometimes if the sharing laws are restrictive, we work towards changing
those laws. We match patrons with the content that they want in the
format that they prefer, optimally. Fair Use
is a legally-outlined exception to copyright law that permits limited
use of copyrighted material without the asking for permission. Putting a
music clip in a YouTube video or a screenshot in your magazine article?
Might be fair use, might not. Read more...

Big Doubts About Big Data - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education

Big-Data Doubts

Big-Data Doubts 1
Mark Shaver for The Chronicle Review





By Emma Uprichard
As you may have noticed, Big
Data is, well, big. Very BIG. So big it’s becoming boring, a bandwagon
term that everyone needs to talk about to show that they can play the
game, keep up with the gossip, or do contemporary small talk. Many
observers once thought the craze would go away, and some wish it had.
But the hype keeps growing through data streams and dreams.




The term itself is quite phenomenal. Its capacity to morph into so
many forms and functions is akin to a powerful shape-shifter, taking on
new meaning amid a new data-driven grammar. Put any noun in front of the
term, and you have just named an area of life that Big Data is going to
somehow transform: health, finance, education, marketing and retail,
sports, environment and climate, housing and cities. Put an adjective in
front of it—gloopy, colored, short, fat, thin—and you’ll see it catch
on, at least in some circles, for at least a short time.




But mostly the grammar of Big Data is about verbs and what we can do
with it: predict; steer, shape; harvest, harness, mine; sort, store,
synthesize; track and trace; innovate and transform; optimize, maximize,
visualize; and so on. So many of those verbs are about maximizing the
capacity to model human behavior: intervening, faster and more
efficiently than ever before, now, in real time—or as quickly as
possible, so we can shift from forecasting to "now-casting" and prevent traffic hot spots, epidemics, riots, and civil unrest.  Read more...

The Economist explains: Why books come out in hardback before paperback | The Economist











THIS year's Man Booker Prize was awarded on October 14th to
"The Narrow Road to the Deep North", Richard Flanagan's harrowing tale
of Australian prisoners of war in Burma. Like most of the titles
nominated for the prize, Mr Flanagan's work is so far available only in
hardback format in most markets. At 22cm (9 inches) long, 464 pages deep
and weighing in at more than half a kilogram, it isn't a convenient
thing to lug around. Nor is it cheap, at £16.99 in Britain (or $26.95 in
America). A lighter, cheaper paperback edition will be published next
year in both countries. But why do books come out in heavy, expensive
hardback format first?



The first books were bound with strong,
rigid covers. Small print runs made them expensive luxuries. The
paperback was pioneered in the 19th century and became popular in
continental Europe. It took off in Britain and America in the 1930s,
when publishers such as Penguin and New American Library began
mass-producing cheap but well-designed reproductions of older texts,
aimed at a new generation of readers who could not afford hardbacks.
During the second world war, interest in reading as a pastime increased
just as paper shortages demanded more efficient methods of printing. The
paperback was the solution.



But titles which are expected to sell
well are often still printed first in hardback. Known as “windowing”,
this sales strategy is also used in the film industry, where titles are
released in the cinema several months before being sold on DVD. Like
cinema tickets, hardcover books generate more profit per unit than
paperbacks. And just as cinephiles like to see films on the big screen,
collectors enjoy the hardback's premium quality. “The Narrow Road to the
Deep North” has bright red endpapers; others sport embossed covers or
come with bookmarks. Hardbacks' durability means they are also popular
with libraries. And they hold a certain snob value, too: literary
editors traditionally don’t review paperbacks. Once hardback sales have
slowed, a paperback edition is released. Printed at a higher volume than
the hardback, it usually sells in greater numbers, but at lower
margins. Some publishers time their hardback editions to come out just
before Christmas, eyeing the gift market, before publishing the
paperback edition in time for the summer holidays. Read more...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Amazon Plays Rough. So What? - NYTimes.com

Is Amazon a monopoly?

That
certainly is what Franklin Foer, the editor of The New Republic,
thinks. In the magazine’s current issue, he has written a lengthy
polemic denouncing the company for all manner of sins. The headline reads: “Amazon Must Be Stopped.”

“Shopping
on Amazon,” he writes, “has so ingrained itself in modern American life
that it has become something close to our unthinking habit, and the
company has achieved a level of dominance that merits the application of
a very old label: monopoly.”

Foer’s
brief is that Amazon undercuts competitors so ruthlessly and squeezes
suppliers so brutally — “in its pursuit of bigness” — that it has become
“highly worrisome.” Its founder and chief executive, Jeff Bezos,
“borrowed his personal style from the parsimonious Sam Walton,” the
founder of (shudder) Walmart, and Foer notes that pushing suppliers has always been the key to Walmart’s low prices, just as it is for Amazon’s. Read more...

Not Your Mother's Library - The Atlantic



Driving Park public library, Columbus, Ohio; opened July 2014 (NBBJ/Matthew Carbone)
The Columbus Metropolitan Library recently asked its Facebook
followers to give them ten words: five to describe the library of their
youth and five to describe the library of the future, 20 years from
now. Here are the word clouds they assembled from the results, starting
with the libraries of their youth:




A word cloud of how library users described the public library of their youth
Read more...

Monday, October 13, 2014

Harvard University says it can't afford journal publishers' prices | Science | The Guardian

Harvard University says it can't afford journal publishers' prices | Science | The Guardian: Harvard University says it can't afford journal publishers' prices
University wants scientists to make their research open access and resign from publications that keep articles behind paywalls



A graduation ceremony at Harvard University
A memo from Harvard's
faculty advisory council said major scientific publishers had made
scholarly communication 'fiscally unsustainable'. Photograph: Corbis
Exasperated by rising subscription costs charged by academic publishers, Harvard University
has encouraged its faculty members to make their research freely
available through open access journals and to resign from publications
that keep articles behind paywalls.



A memo from Harvard Library
to the university's 2,100 teaching and research staff called for action
after warning it could no longer afford the price hikes imposed by many
large journal publishers, which bill the library around $3.5m a year.



The
extraordinary move thrusts one of the world's wealthiest and most
prestigious institutions into the centre of an increasingly fraught
debate over access to the results of academic research, much of which is
funded by the taxpayer.



The outcome of Harvard's decision to take
on the publishers will be watched closely by major universities around
the world and is likely to prompt others to follow suit. Read more...

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

How Public Libraries Can Support Community Literacy | Beyond Access

A public library in Tbilisi, Georgia shows how comfortable spaces for enjoying reading together can be created cheaply and simply.
I recently had the fortune to participate in a UNESCO meeting
on mobile literacy solutions for out-of-school children in Thailand.
With a large population of migrants in some of the most
difficult-to-reach parts of the country, many children risk missing out
on school. Thailand’s official commitment to ensuring access to
education for all is impressive — an explicit mandate to include all
children, regardless of status — but there are many hurdles.




As the starting point for access to information, opportunity and
advancement, literacy is understandably a key priority for governments
and organizations across the development spectrum. Millennium Development Goal #2
targets universal primary education, and includes literacy rates as a
key indicator. USAID has prioritized early grade reading and aims to
improve the reading skills of a 100 million children by 2015.




So, with more than 230,000 public libraries in developing countries
around the world — institutions historically devoted to access to
reading materials — it’s confounding that libraries are usually left out
of systematic literacy efforts. It’s a huge missed opportunity. And as
new technologies start to become a realistic supplement to education
efforts, there’s even more of a need for a coordinated community
learning hub, a role libraries are suited to play. Read more...

Monday, September 29, 2014

Social media, children and young people @ the library – guidelines on safety, privacy and online behaviour | IFLA


by Kirsten Boelt and Ingrid Källström



Social networking sites and applications are very popular with children
and young adults, including the youngest of children. These types of
sites allow children to be incredibly creative online, to keep in touch
with their friends and express themselves using a whole range of
different media and applications such as video, photos, music, and chat.





The Internet is a great place to learn, discover, communicate and have
fun. But, just as in the real world, there are some risks as well as
great benefits. Smart online behaviour requires knowledge and critical
evaluation.





The guidelines on safety, privacy and online behaviour Social media, children and young people @ the library
summarize some basic issues on savvy use of social media tools and
networks. Guidelines are meant for librarians, teachers, parents and
other professionals working with children, but also for children and
young people themselves.





NOTE! The guidelines is a draft, not a finally approved version.




* Download [PDF -  English]

Study Reveals that a Trip to the Library Feels the same as a $2,282 pay raise. | Mapachili





AJSC – LONDON
A recent study commissioned in the UK has revealed that a trip to the library gives the same stimulational effect as a pay raise – a £1,359 ($ 2,282) raise, to be exact. The study, published by Daniel Fujiwara, Laura Kudrna, and Paul Dolan states that A significant association was “found between frequent library use  and reported wellbeing. Using libraries frequently was valued at £1,359 per person per year for library users, or £113 per person per month.”
The study also reveals that participation in the arts and activity in sport have similar effects.
“We identify statistically significant associations between cultural and sport engagement and individual wellbeing and a range of other social impacts. Holistic consideration of all identified impacts will help to build a broad narrative on the social impacts of culture and sport,” the authors go on to state.
Few would object to such a revelation. When one walks into a good library, it tends to reveal endless possibilities of depths to explore. Who hasn’t entered a library empty handed and then exited with upwards of 20 books?
It is certainly not a political issue. Libraries add significant value to many lives. Here’s to years of studying and infinite resources for the avid learner.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Don't overlook your school librarian, they're the unsung heroes of literacy | Teacher Network | Guardian Professional

School
librarians are depressingly underused, argues Sally Dring. Many
teachers would be amazed at how much support they can give them and
their students.


Library book checkout card

‘Many school librarians are seen purely as minders of a spare IT suite or as date label stampers.’ Photograph: Alamy

When talking about teaching and learning, most people don’t
immediately think of librarians. But in a school where the librarian or
learning resource centre manager is valued and properly made use of, we
can teach important skills.




Librarians are in the privileged position of being able to work with
teachers across all subjects and students of all ages, observing the
inner workings of a school from a slight distance.




One thing I’ve noticed is that the belief that students are adept at
using the latest technology to find the information they need is simply
not true. Students turn up in the library with the ubiquitous task of
researching a topic and they don’t know where to start. Usually they
head to Google, which takes them straight to Wikipedia (it’s top of the
list so it doesn’t take much effort). Wikipedia is handy if you know how
to use it properly, but many students need this explaining to them.
Should they choose to go to university, a Wikipedia footnote will not be
acceptable.




A librarian’s area of expertise is in information management and we
try to make the process of finding information easier for our students
and staff by providing relevant, reliable resources to support the areas
they are studying or teaching. We teach information literacy – finding,
assessing, evaluating, using and referencing information. We can also
share this knowledge with teachers if it’s needed, especially since some
find learning how to use new technology, or keeping up with the latest
programmes and websites, very difficult. Read more....