Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Book Riot’s 2018 Read Harder Challenge

Book lists | Reader's Advisory | Reading

This year’s Read Harder challenged is presented by Libby.
Meet Libby. The one-tap reading app from OverDrive. By downloading Libby to your smartphone, you can access thousands of eBooks and audiobooks from your library for free anytime and anywhere. You’ll find titles in all genres, ranging from bestsellers, classics, nonfiction, comics and much more. Libby works on Apple and Android devices and is compatible with Kindle. All you need is a library card but you can sample any book in the library collection without one. In select locations, Libby will even get your library card for you instantly. Learn more at https://meet.libbyapp.com/. Happy Reading. Read more...

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

How You'll Know Net Neutrality Is Really Gone

Net Neutrality | Access

The FCC has repealed the rules governing internet providers. Here are five changes consumers should watch for.


Monday, December 18, 2017

What public libraries will lose without net neutrality

Net neutrality | Public Libraries | Access 

A Q&A with NYPL president Tony Marx and associate director of information policy Greg Cram 

 By


The FCC will vote on a measure today that would repeal net neutrality and pave the way for the end of the free, open internet as we’ve always known it. Librarians aren't happy about it.
Yesterday, The Verge published an op-ed written by the heads of the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Library, and the Queens Library systems, which called the measure “appalling,” and argued that the end of an open internet would contribute to inequality of education and opportunity, widening “the already yawning digital divide.” Later, in a phone call, the New York Public Library’s CEO and president Anthony Marx and associate director of information policy Greg Cram broke the issue down further, explaining exactly which library resources an open internet protects, who would be hurt the most by net neutrality’s rollback, and why handing the internet to ISPs could threaten the basic foundation of American democracy. 

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

What stake do public libraries have in this issue? 

Greg Cram: So, for fiscal year 2017 [the New York Public Library] provided 3.1 million computer sessions — and that’s sessions across all of the branches — using 4,700 computers. And in addition to that, we provided 3 million wireless sessions. For the first quarter of fiscal year 2018 we had 16.2 million pageviews on our digital collections.

Anthony Marx: That gives us a little bit of the sense of the scale of how much of the library goes across wires, and the simple fact is that the poorest of New York rely on the library as the only place they can go and get free use of computers and free Wi-Fi. It’s one of the reasons why the library is the most visited civic institution in New York. We have also, in recent years, been lending people what we call hot spots, which are Wi-Fi boxes they can take home, typically for a year. That gives them digital access at home — broadband access — which something like 2 million New Yorkers can’t afford and don’t have. We’re still doing thousands of those. We’d like to do more and we’re exploring how to do more, because in this day and age, if you don’t have internet access that works and goes fast enough, you can’t do your homework, you can’t do research, you can’t apply for jobs, you can’t find jobs. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Media Literacy E-Resources | Reference 2018

Reference | Media| Information literacy

By Gary Price & Mahnaz Dar on November 1, 2017

The fight against “fake news” isn’t new to librarians, but with patrons anxious about identifying misinformation, these resources are more crucial than ever. Moving beyond the basics, these free tools provide creative avenues for honing media literacy skills, from uncovering politicians’ suppressed tweets to accessing the latest in facial recognition software.

Court Listener



Read more...

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Exhibition Harry Potter: A History of Magic

Happy Potter |British Library | Exhibits


Journey to where magic and myth began
Have you ever wanted to delve into Divination, ponder the peculiarities of Potions and discover enchanting creatures? Now you can.


We unveil rare books, manuscripts and magical objects from the British Library’s collection, capturing the traditions of folklore and magic which are at the heart of the Harry Potter stories. Marvel at original drafts and drawings by J.K. Rowling and illustrator Jim Kay, both on display for the first time.

See the gargantuan 16th-century Ripley Scroll that explains how to create a Philosopher’s Stone. Gaze at Sirius in the night sky as imagined by medieval astronomers. Encounter hand-coloured pictures of dragons, unicorns and a phoenix rising from the flames.

Celebrate the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone with this extraordinary new addition to J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World. Link to exhibit: https://www.bl.uk/events/harry-potter-a-history-of-magic

Istanbul’s Libraries: A Refuge in Uncertain Times

Public Libraries | Turkey | Advocacy | Libraries abroad

By Kaya Genç


Last month, the Turkish Statistical Institute announced that the number of public library memberships in Turkey increased by 24.1 percent in 2016, compared to the previous year. In a time of terror, political uncertainty, and a coup attempt, Turks took refuge in libraries.


Some Istanbul libraries owe their existence to taxes; others to banks; one to an English monarch. SALT is located in the previous headquarters of the Ottoman Bank, which was founded in 1856 on the orders of Queen Victoria, a friend of the westernizing Sultan Abdulmecid. The building opened at a time when Turkish-British commercial ties were at their peak. Today, its library houses 110,000 books. Last year, it served more than 47,000  readers.

On a recent weekday the library was bustling with bright-eyed readers, and every seat were occupied. A hush fell over after I entered the reading room. On a desk by the entrance, a young man pored over a book; he checked a page number, and he typed a footnote to his thesis; in the little garden outside, two young girls smoked rollies. SALT is paid for by Garanti, a private Turkish bank. This is part of a trend. Read more...

Say goodbye to Google: 14 alternative search engines

Search engines | Internet | Research

|

Well it’s been a big week for search, I think we can all agree. 

If you’re a regular Google user (65% of you globally) then you’ll have noticed some changes, both good and bad.

I won’t debate the merits of these improvements, we’ve done that already here: Google kills Right Hand Side Ads and here: Google launches Accelerated Mobile Pages, but there’s a definite feeling of vexation that appears to be coming to a head.

Deep breath…

As the paid search space increases in ‘top-heaviness’, as organic results get pushed further off the first SERP, as the Knowledge Graph scrapes more and more publisher content and continues to make it pointless to click through to a website, and as our longstanding feelings of unfairness over Google’s monopoly and tax balance become more acute, now more than ever we feel there should be another, viable search engine alternative. Read more...

First Drafts, Conversations, Stories in Progress Ta-Nehisi Coates 10:39 AM Five Books to Make You Less Stupid About the Civil War

Racism | US History | Civil War

29th Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, U.S. Colored Troops in formation near Beaufort, South Carolina, 1864 Library of Congress
 
On Monday, the retired four-star general and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly asserted that “the lack of an ability to compromise lead to the Civil War.” This was an incredibly stupid thing to say. Worse, it built on a long tradition of endorsing stupidity in hopes of making Americans stupid about their own history. Stupid enjoys an unfortunate place in the highest ranks of American government these days. And while one cannot immediately affect this fact, one can choose to not hear stupid things and quietly nod along.

For the past 50 years, some of this country’s most celebrated historians have taken up the task of making Americans less stupid about the Civil War. These historians have been more effective than generally realized. It’s worth remembering that General Kelly’s remarks, which were greeted with mass howls of protests, reflected the way much of this country’s stupid-ass intellectual class once understood the Civil War. I do not contend that this improved history has solved everything. But it is a ray of light cutting through the gloom of stupid. You should run to that light. Embrace it. Bathe in it. Become it.

Okay, maybe that’s too far. Let’s start with just being less stupid. Read more...
 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Expert Picks — Books and Films You Should Check Out Before Traveling Abroad

Travel books | International | Reader's advisory


Foreign ambassadors to the U.S. share their book and movie recommendations for visitors to their countries. Be sure to read and watch them before you go!

Illustration by Jana Walczyk

Cultural immersion is a large part of what makes traveling to a foreign country so rewarding, but you can take in the culture before you even set foot on a plane. We asked international ambassadors in Washington, D.C. to pick the book and film they believe first-time visitors to their country should consume before they arrive. Their choices range from the very popular to the relatively obscure, but they all offer a good starting point for travelers who long for a truly rewarding experience.

We have created a digital guide to these ambassador’s cultural picks, which we will continue to expand upon as more ambassadors contribute. This list can serve as both a resource for readers to learn about other countries and a cultural guidebook for travelers.
Without further ado, here are the picks for each country (in alphabetical order). Some choices include commentary from the ambassadors themselves.

Note: "H.E." stands for His or Her Excellency, the official title for ambassadors to the U.S.
Happy reading and viewing!

Austria

H.E. Wolfgang A. Waldner recommends:
The Tobacconist (translated into English by Charlotte Collins) is set in 1937 just before the German occupation. It follows 17-year-old Franz, who moves to Vienna to become the apprentice in a tobacco shop. Its quiet wisdom and sincerity resonated with me very deeply."
The Third Man, the British noir from 1949, feels as fresh as ever. Shot entirely on location, you see the city [of Vienna] in ruins and split up into French, American, British and Russian sectors with spies and suspicious officials everywhere. The catchy film score, performed by Anton Karas on a zither, sets the perfect tone."

Azerbaijan

H.E. Elin Suleymanov recommends:
Ali and Nino recounts the love story of a Muslim Azerbaijani boy and Christian Georgian girl in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku from 1918 to 1920.

Bhutan

Ambassador and Permanent Representative H.E. Kunzang C. Namgyel recommends:
Treasures of the Thunder Dragon: A Portrait of Bhutan is a blend of personal memoir, history, folklore, and travelogue, creating a portrait of the Himalayan kingdom.
Travelers and Magicians is about Dondup (Tsewang Dandup), a Bhutanese official infatuated with American culture, who is bored with life in his tiny village and dreams of visiting the United States.

Read more...
 

Monday, October 23, 2017

The UK no longer has a national public library system

Public libraries | UK | Funding

The UK no longer has a national public library system. Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA   
Since 2010, hundreds of local libraries have been handed over from councils to be run by the local community. One estimate is that 500 of the UK’s 3,850 libraries are now being run by local volunteers. Despite talk about empowerment and community involvement, the reality is that local people face a stark choice: take over a local library or it faces closure. Read more...

Thursday, October 19, 2017

New York City’s Libraries Will Forgive All Children’s Fines

Public libraries | Fines | Borrowing privileges

The Hamilton Grange branch of the New York Public Library, where about half of children have their borrowing privileges suspended because of unpaid fines. An amnesty at the city’s libraries will allow all children to check out books again. Credit David Dee Delgado for The New York Times


Library books are free, until they aren’t: Patrons who rack up $15 in late fees at the city’s public libraries are blocked from taking out more books until the fine is paid.

Among those with suspended privileges are 160,000 children, most of them from the city’s poorest neighborhoods, who cannot afford to pay.

“Learning is a right. Reading brings you to new worlds,” said Octavia Loving, a 17-year-old student at Special Music High School, as she stood amid the stacks at Countee Cullen Library in Harlem, one of the neighborhoods with the highest concentration of children with blocked cards, according to library officials. “They shouldn’t block us from reading because of money.”

On Thursday, the city’s three library systems — the New York Public Library, which serves Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island; the Queens Library; and the Brooklyn Public Library — will forgive all fines for children 17 and under and unblock their cards. The one-time amnesty is being underwritten by the JPB Foundation, a philanthropy that supports civic causes, which will make up $2.25 million of the shortfall in revenue from the forgiven fines.

The amnesty “is a dramatic way to message to kids and young adults that we want you back, and we want you reading,” said Anthony W. Marx, the president of the New York Public Library. The forgiveness is not conditional on returning any overdue books or DVDs. “We want you to be responsible, but we don’t want to penalize you just because you are too poor to pay the fines.” Read more...


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

In Italian Schools, Reading, Writing and Recognizing Fake News

Europe | Fake news | Social media | Italy

Laura Boldrini, president of Italy’s Chamber of Deputies, spearheaded a project to educate high-school students on how to recognize fake news and conspiracy theories online.
Andreas Solaro / Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
 
 
ROME — After reading the horrors in Dante’s “Inferno,” Italian students will soon turn to the dangers of the digital age. While juggling math assignments, they’ll also tackle worksheets prepared by reporters from the national broadcaster RAI. And separate from the weekly hour of religion, they will receive a list of what amounts to a new set of Ten Commandments for the digital age.

Among them: Thou shalt not share unverified news; thou shall ask for sources and evidence; thou shall remember that the internet and social networks can be manipulated.
The lessons are part of an extraordinary experiment by the Italian government, in cooperation with leading digital companies including Facebook, to train a generation of students steeped in social media how to recognize fake news and conspiracy theories online.

“Fake news drips drops of poison into our daily web diet and we end up infected without even realizing it,” said Laura Boldrini, the president of the Italian lower house of Parliament, who has spearheaded the project with the Italian Ministry of Education. Read more...

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Now rescue N.Y.'s library branches

Advocacy | Public libraries | Budget

By Scott Sherman | New York Daily News | October 9, 2017

Necessary investment (James Keivom/New York Daily News)



 

Last month, the New York Public Library announced a remarkable $55 million gift that will enable it to finish a large-scale renovation of the Mid-Manhattan Library, at 5th Avenue and 40th Street. The Mid-Manhattan is a tarnished jewel in the NYPL system, and the gift will allow the facility, which has been decrepit for decades, to reach its full potential.

Library officials say that when it reopens in 2020, the new library will contain — in addition to books, periodicals, and computers — meeting rooms, a café, and a rooftop terrace.

From the headlines, one might have assumed that the money came from a well-heeled donor in the five boroughs. But in fact the money was bequeathed by a foundation in Athens, Greece. In 2020, NYPL officials will give the Mid-Manhattan Library a new name: the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library.

The Greek connection highlights the problematic way in which public libraries are repaired and upgraded in New York City. Read more...



Books from 1923 to 1941 Now Liberated!

Copyright | Open Access | Internet Archives

[press: boingboing]



The Internet Archive is now leveraging a little known, and perhaps never used, provision of US copyright law, Section 108h, which allows libraries to scan and make available materials published 1923 to 1941 if they are not being actively sold. Elizabeth Townsend Gard, a copyright scholar at Tulane University calls this “Library Public Domain.”  She and her students helped bring the first scanned books of this era available online in a collection named for the author of the bill making this necessary: The Sonny Bono Memorial Collection. Thousands more books will be added in the near future as we automate. We hope this will encourage libraries that have been reticent to scan beyond 1923 to start mass scanning their books and other works, at least up to 1942.