Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Google to Revise Search Rankings to Downplay Fake News, Hate Speech | April 25, 2017

Fake news | Google | Information retrieval

by Wayne Rash

NEWS ANALYSIS: Google says it will downgrade the search rank of websites that show a clear pattern of distributing fake news, hate speech or deliberately misleading information.

By now you’re familiar with the problem of fake news. Some sites, claiming to provide news actually work with an agenda to present stories that spread their point of view, regardless of any connection with the facts.

The issue of fake news or what used to be known as political propaganda, came to the forefront during the presidential campaign in 2016, when it appears that the Russian government was working to help create and spread fake news in an effort to derail the campaign of Hillary Clinton.

Such efforts are continuing in Europe during current elections in Germany and France and again the Russian government is suspected to be backing those efforts. But fake news isn’t just the purview of the Russians. A number of right-wing and “alt-right” groups are also hard at work doing the same thing. Read more...

Monday, April 24, 2017

Meet the 13-Year-Old Pakistani Girl on a Mission to Read the World | April 24, 2017

Reading | Books | World Book Day | Literature

Celebrating World Book Day Every Day

A year ago, 12-year-old Aisha Esbhani, sitting in her home in Karachi, Pakistan, looked up at her bookshelf and realized that it was filled almost entirely with books by North American and British authors. Dissatisfied, Esbhani set herself a major challenge: to read a book from every country in the world, “as well as some extra territories.” To get help, she started a Facebook page for her project, and sent out a call for recommendations.

Not a usual project for a teenager, perhaps. When I asked Esbhani how she became such an avid reader, she told me that as a child, her mother would buy her books like Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella—but while she loved the movies, “the books never really caught my interest. Then, my brother gave me A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. That series began my reading journey!” Well, I’m sure she’s not alone in that regard. Read more...

Tips for Donating Old Books Without Being A Jerk | by Peter Derk 03-27-2017

Books | Libraries | Donations

I work at two places that accept donations of used books: a library and a bookstore that serves as a front for a non-profit. Okay, the bookstore funds the non-profit. It’s not a “front.” But “front” sounds more crime-y and thrilling.

When spring rolls around, both places are inundated with book donations. Especially now that we’ve all learned the life-saving magic of throwing away a bunch of our bullshit. (Thanks a lot, Marie Kondo. I’ll curse your name as I succumb to the sentient pile of dust mites that comes in with the 150th box of books from someone’s attic).

Donating books is a great thing to do. Most of the time.

The thing is, it can be a big help, it can make your space more calming, but you can also create more work for an organization you set out to help. If you donate books without taking a couple steps first, you can do more harm than good. Which is sort of fun in its own way, and if you wanted to be the Joker, the “let the world burn” person of your local library, I guess this is a relatively good option.

But if you really want to tidy up your life while also benefiting a local organization, here are some steps. Read more...

Thursday, April 20, 2017

How to Read a Whole Damn Book Every Week | by Kevin Nguyen

Books | Reading | Tips

It may sound difficult, but the secret to reading a book every week is to not be precious about it.
Every year, I read over a hundred books. This means I polish off somewhere between two and three books a week. I'm not saying that to brag (okay, I am), but I really believe that anyone can make time to read. Chances are you wish you read more, since everyone feels this way (except me, I’m amazing). The secret is to not think of reading as a precious thing. If you’re only going to open a book on the off chance you have several hours to kill in a comfy chair with a glass of scotch, it’s only ever going to happen when you have several hours to kill in a comfy chair with a glass of scotch.

Being well read means making it a part of your daily life—not treating it as a luxury. And it’s not that hard. Like all things, it just takes a little bit of discipline and a little bit of trickery. Read more...

Opening of UN files on Holocaust will 'rewrite chapters of history' | Monday 17 April 2017

Holocaust | Archives | Jewish history | War crimes

Survivors visit the former Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in Poland on the anniversary of its liberation. Photograph: Kuba Ociepa/Agencja Gazeta/Reuters

 Archive used in prosecution of Nazis reveals detailed evidence of death camps and genocide previously unseen by public

by Owen Bowcott

War crimes files revealing early evidence of Holocaust death camps that was smuggled out of eastern Europe are among tens of thousands of files to be made public for the first time this week.

The once-inaccessible archive of the UN war crimes commission, dating back to 1943, is being opened by the Wiener Library in London with a catalogue that can be searched online.

Anne Frank Who? Museums Combat Ignorance About the Holocaust | MARCH 21, 2017

Museums | Holocaust | Exhibitions


Anne Frank in 1939, six years before her death. Credit Agence France-Presse — Getty Images 
AMSTERDAM — “She hid Jews?”

Aleatha Hinds, 17, ventured a guess about Anne Frank’s identity as she waited in line for two hours recently to enter the museum devoted to that world-famous diarist, who hid with her family in a secret annex for 25 months during World War II.

“No, no, no!” replied several friends, all 11th and 12th graders from the St. Charles College high school in Ontario. “She was Jewish!” they corrected her, in unison.
“She was hiding in her father’s factory,” said Eric LeBreton, 16. “The Nazis were looking for all the Jewish people because Hitler was trying to do genocide.”

With attendance swelling to 1.3 million annually, from one million in 2010, the Anne Frank House has begun reckoning with a striking dimension of its popularity: Many of the younger and foreign visitors who flock here nonetheless have little knowledge of the Holocaust — and sometimes none about Frank. The museum and some others dedicated to Jewish life are seeking new ways to address a declining understanding of World War II and the genocide that took the lives of six million Jews in Europe, efforts that have increasing relevance as anti-Semitic incidents intensify across parts of Europe and the United States. Read more...

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

We Are New Yorkers: A Reading List for NYC Immigrant Heritage Week | April 14, 2017

Reader's Advisory | Immigrants in the U.S. | NYPL

Happy Immigrant Heritage Week! Since 2004, New York City has celebrated Immigrant Heritage Week around April 17, coordinated by the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs. April 17, 1907 is the date that New York’s immigrant receiving station, Ellis Island, saw its busiest day ever, processing a record 11,747 new arrivals in a single day. This year, New York City Immigrant Heritage Week is April 17–April 23.  Many free events celebrating our cultural diversity are scheduled for this week in NYPL branches and other locations throughout New York City.

 A great way to learn about and celebrate the histories and contributions of New York City’s diverse immigrant communities is by reading their stories. Here are some vivid representations of the New York immigrant experience in fiction,  as well as a few memoirs and biographies of New Yorkers past and present, who arrived here from all over the world and made their mark on our city. Read more...

10 Books I Wish My White Teachers Had Read | By Crystal Paul Apr 11 2016

African-American literature | Diversity | Blacks in the U.S. | Readers's Advisory


I can only remember having two nonwhite teachers during my time in school. From my early years at underfunded public schools comprised mostly of Black and Latino students to my later years at private schools with largely white populations, my experience as a Black student learning from white teachers has ranged from incredibly inspiring to incredibly damaging.

As a Black student in public schools, I had a white art teacher give me a failing grade on an essay project because, as he explained to me, "graffiti isn’t art." I was kicked out of classrooms for “having an attitude,” rolling my eyes, playing with my braids, or wearing a gang-related shirt (it was FUBU). Once, I was kicked out of class for telling (and attempting to show) an incredulous math teacher that I already knew how to do the work he was condescendingly explaining ... again. I had white principal who refused to sign the recommendation letter I needed to complete my application for a private high school. Let's not forget the metal detectors, police officers, and zero-tolerance treatment that make many of these public schools feel more like prisons than learning centers. Read more...

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Rebuilding Mosul's libraries book by book | 12 april 2017

Iraq | Archives | Manuscripts

by Neveen Youssef

Many of Mosul University's buildings were destroyed by IS
When Islamic State (IS) militants occupied Mosul University in June 2014, they set about destroying its precious collection of manuscripts in a show of contempt for culture and higher education.

Now though, in an attempt to rebuild Mosul's cultural heritage, a campaign is under way to restore the university library and others in the city.

The project is being led by an anonymous blogger, who found fame writing about life under IS on the site Mosul Eye for the past three years.

The blogger, who describes himself as an independent historian, is calling for donations of books and other printed material in all languages and from all disciplines under the slogan: "Let it be a book, rising from the ashes." Read more...

James Baldwin’s Archive, Long Hidden, Comes (Mostly) Into View | April 12, 2017

Arts | American writers | African-American culture | Archives


A page from “The Amen Corner,” a three-act play by James Baldwin, part of his personal papers that are now at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Credit Emon Hassan for The New York Times 

James Baldwin died in 1987, but his moment is now. His books are flying off the shelves. He has inspired homages like Raoul Peck’s documentary “I Am Not Your Negro” and Ta-Nehisi Coates’s memoir “Between the World and Me.” Baldwin’s prophetic essays on race read like today’s news. 

And yet a full understanding of this pioneering gay African-American artist remains elusive. While Baldwin’s books are in print, there’s one revealing work that admirers long to read but have mostly been unable to: his letters.

The Baldwin estate has held tight to hundreds in its possession, letting only a few scholars see them. It has almost never allowed any of Baldwin’s correspondence to be published, or given biographers permission to quote a single word. Read more...

6 Ways to Support Public Libraries | April 9, 2017

Public libraries | Advocacy | Library funding

They may be in jeopardy, thanks to Trump's budget outline.

Public libraries may be in jeopardy. In mid-March, Donald Trump’s “skinny budget” outline was released, which included cuts to the National Endowment of the Arts and National Endowment of the Humanities, among other agencies. The cuts included an extensive $230 million cut for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), which directly affects public library funding. The IMLS also receives funding from other agencies subject to termination or budget cuts, such as Innovative Approaches to Literary program through the Department of Education.

“Our initial assessment of [Trump’s] ‘skinny budget’ puts us at over $300 million in cuts, and when we assess individual programs, we’re looking at many more millions,” Julie Todaro, the president of the American Library Association, tells Teen Vogue. “[This budget] cuts across all the agencies who regularly fund our initiatives based on, in some cases, 75 years of partnership.”

In addition to promoting literacy and equitable education for all, libraries provide crucial community resources like access to academic databases, ESL classes, and computer classes for all ages. Librarians also serve as your local experts for the questions a Google search couldn’t answer. In the era of fake news and digital surveillance, libraries both provide media literacy and data privacy. Here are just a few quick ways to support your local branches at this very moment.

1. Check out books. Right now.


Your Digital Footprint Matters |

Internet safety | Privacy | Digital footprint

Your digital footprint paints a picture of who you are.

Make sure it's accurate. Learn how in a few easy tutorials.

Every day, whether we want to or not, most of us contribute to a growing portrait of who we are online; a portrait that is probably more public than we assume.

This portrait helps companies target content at specific markets and consumers, helps employers look into your background, and helps advertisers track your movements across multiple websites. Whatever you do online, you might be leaving digital footprints behind.

So no matter what you do online it’s important that you know what kind of trail you’re leaving, and what the possible effects can be.

While it's not possible to have ZERO footprints, the first steps toward reducing your digital footprint and managing your digital identity are not that hard.

Here are some things that can help!

1. Learn The Basics: What's A Digital Footprint?

Your digital footprint is all the stuff you leave behind as you use the Internet. Comments on social media, Skype calls, app use and email records- it's part of your online history and can potentially be seen by other people, or tracked in a database.

How Do We Leave Digital Footprints? This happens in many ways.

Here are some of them: 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

WHY THE PRINTED BOOK WILL LAST ANOTHER 500 YEARS | October 14, 2015 By Adam Sternbergh

Books | Print vs. E-books | Reading | Trends

It’s always an intellectual mistake to assume that the thing you love the most might be the exception. I remember listening to a public-radio conversation a few years ago in which two people debated the necessity and romance of record stores (a very large and storied one in NYC had just closed) and thinking, Well, of course record stores are going to close, it’s sad but it’s the way of the world, and feeling kind of smug about it because I don’t frequent record stores. And then realizing a moment later that in two, or five, or maybe ten years time—or maybe sooner—I could be listening to two people on the radio having this exact same wistful conversation about bookstores.
I didn’t feel so smug after that.
Bookstores are a sacred space for me and books are hallowed objects. I’ve worked in two of the former and owned and treasured an innumerable number of the latter. (I honestly don’t know the number of books I currently own; I do know that when my wife and I moved most recently, our moving company charged us extra afterward because we’d seriously underestimated the number of boxes of books.) My first and favorite activity in any new city is to locate and visit the best bookstore; I literally Google the city’s name and “best bookstore” and see what comes up. This almost never fails to lead me not only to a great bookstore but to the best, most interesting neighborhood in town. Read more...

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

How public libraries help build healthy communities | March 30, 2017

Public libraries | Library services | Community | Health

March 30, 2017

by Marcela Cabello and Stuart M. Butler

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover. Increasingly in the United States, you also can’t judge a library’s value to its community by simply its books. Let us explain.

In a previous blog post, we’ve noted the importance of “third places” in strengthening communities – meaning those places that are neither one’s home (first place) nor workspace (second place). A range of such third places, from churches to beauty salons, play an important role in community building. They are the informal spaces that are often mainstays in a neighborhood, places where both random and intentional in-person relationships are made. Read more...

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The first woman travel writer in America met every president from Washington to Lincoln | March 30, 2017

Women's history | Travel | US History

Anne Newport Royall was a spitfire journalist and publisher in the early days of the republic.

When Anne Newport Royall first visited Washington D.C., it was to petition Congress for a federal pension. She was recently widowed, and believed she was entitled to compensation as the wife of a veteran. At the time, Pension Law did not guarantee funds for widows; each woman had to plead her individual case. Royall thought that was ridiculous, so she found then President John Quincy Adams taking his morning swim in the Potomac River and, according to legend, sat on top of his clothing on the bank of the river until he was willing to speak to her. (It surely wasn’t long.) Though this story is widely seen as apocryphal, it is true that Adams met Royall and took a reluctant liking to her, even inviting her to visit with his wife, Louisa Adams, who gave Anne a shawl to take on her travels. Read more...

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

6 Ways to become a power library user | via BookRiot

Public libraries | Library services | Research

by Kelly Jensen 08-22-14

You have a library card and you know the library is more than just a “Netflix for books.” Maybe you know about your library’s e-book offerings and maybe you know you can borrow audiobooks or DVDs. But how can you make the absolute most out of your local library? Here are 6 tips for becoming a power user of the public library.

Worth noting: not all public libraries offer the same services, so not everything mentioned here will be available to all users. Some libraries offer more and some may offer less. These variations exist because of funding differences, library size, location, and a host of other factors, most of which are out of control of the library itself. The one common denominator among these tips, though, is that they’re all things you can ask about at your library.

Likewise, this is geared toward the American public library system, so your mileage in other countries may vary.

1. Get to the top of the holds list for hot titles
Did you know many libraries order books well in advance of their publication date? Librarians are knowledgeable about what’s coming out, and they often put in purchase orders for titles weeks, if not months, before publication. This is especially true for books that are garnering buzz or are new titles by popular authors.  Read more...

You can now call your elected officials through Facebook | March 27, 2017

Activism | Social Media | Politics

By Brian Fung

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Facebook. (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg News)  
Since the election in November, U.S. lawmakers have received a deluge of phone calls from Americans weighing in on the GOP's congressional agenda. Now, those floodwaters may rise even higher as Facebook rolls out new tools making it easier for users to contact their representatives. The tools, which were being beta-tested but went live to all Facebook users Monday, could lead to a lot more calls from constituents who are pleading to be heard.

One of Facebook's new tools, Town Hall, allows you to find out who your local, state and federal representatives are. You can get to it by visiting, by looking under the "Explore" section of your News Feed on a desktop, or by looking in the menu of your Facebook app on your phone. Read more...

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Long Overdue: Why public libraries are finally eliminating the late-return fine | February 6, 2016

Public libraries | Library services | Access

by Ruth Graham

Photo illustration by Slate. Images via jmbatt, simo988/iStock.
In 1906, a reporter for the Detroit Free Press described a scene that had become all too common at the city’s public libraries. A child hands an overdue book to a stern librarian perched behind a desk, and with a “sinister expression,” the librarian demands payment of a late fine. In some cases, the child grumbles and pays the penny or two. But in others—often at the city’s smaller, poorer library branches—the offender cannot pay, and his borrowing privileges are revoked. “Scarcely a day passes but it does not leave its record of tears and sighs and vain regrets in little hearts,” the reporter lamented.

More than a century later, similar dramas are still enacted in libraries across the country every day. In some districts, up to 35 percent of patrons have had their borrowing privileges revoked because of unpaid fines. Only these days, it’s librarians themselves who often lament what the Detroit reporter called “a tragedy enacted in this little court of equity.” Now some libraries are deciding that the money isn’t worth the hassle—not only that, but that fining patrons works against everything that public libraries ought to stand for.  Read more...

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Facebook and Google: most powerful and secretive empires we've ever known | 28 September 2016 |The guardian

Google | Facebook | Social media | Citizen journalism | Technology | Internet

We are living in the web['s goldfish bowl. Photograph: Alamy

Google and Facebook have conveyed nearly all of us to this page, and just about every other idea or expression we’ll encounter today. Yet we don’t know how to talk about these companies, nor digest their sheer power. 

We call them platforms, networks or gatekeepers. But these labels hardly fit. The appropriate metaphor eludes us; even if we describe them as vast empires, they are unlike any we’ve ever known. Far from being discrete points of departure, merely supporting the action or minding the gates, they have become something much more significant. They have become the medium through which we experience and understand the world.

As their users, we are like the blinkered young fish in the parable memorably retold by David Foster Wallace. When asked “How’s the water?” we swipe blank: “What the hell is water?”

We pay attention, sometimes, to racism, death threats, outrage. Other than that, we have barely started feeling their algorithmic undertow. We have trouble grasping the scope of it: the vast server farms, the job cuts, the barriers to entry, the public-private partnerships, the manufacturing of data, the knowing cities, the branded self, the slavish service to their metrics, the monoculture. Read more...

Sign In Universal Declaration of Human Rights | March 22, 2017

Human Rights | Tolerance | Libraries

Simple really, and libraries are one of the highest expressions of these rights:

From: Stephen's Lighthouse / Stephen Abram

I’d suggest that this would make a great poster for every library although I know there are contingents who sadly disagree and try to take away other’s rights.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Rotary Club and Calgary police promote early literacy in schools | March 19, 2017

Library alliances | Community outreach | Literacy programs

by Ryan Rumbolt

Former Calgary Police Chief Rick Hanson (L) and Sgt. Travis Juska read to kids from Ranchlands Elementary School at the Central Library in downtown Calgary, Alta. on Wednesday October 1, 2014. The two took part in a celebration of the award winning "It's a Crime Not to Read" program where officers read to kids sparking their love for reading. Stuart Dryden/Calgary Sun/QMI Agency
Members of the Rotary Club are promoting literacy by raising funds for the It’s a Crime Not to Read program.

Started in 2002 by the Rotary Club of Calgary East with Calgary Public Libraries and the Calgary Police Service, the program sends police officers to visit elementary schools to read books with youngsters once a month.

Dan Goldberg, fundraising director for Rotary Club of Calgary East, said the program promotes early literacy, develops reading skills and builds self-esteem in Calgary kids while strengthening community ties with police. It’s a Crime Not to Read is currently running in 21 Calgary schools with Grade 1 and Grade 2 students.

“This program helps to decrease barriers and gets the police building relationships,” Goldberg said. “I think it’s amazing that (police officers) volunteer their time to do this, because without them this couldn’t happen.”

Const. Henry Bekkering has been volunteering his time to It’s a Crime Not to Read for three years and said reading with the kids at St. Damien school in Forest Lawn helps “humanize” police officers and has had a “trickle-down effect” in the community. Read more...

A Public Library That’s Nicer Than The Fanciest Tech Offices | Feburary 17, 2017

Libraries | Library design | Community outreach

by Diana Budds

Libraries are like the Madonnas of the architectural world–changing, evolving, and morphing with the times. Now they’re in the midst of a technological reinvention. And as they shed their physical media and go digital, libraries’ most significant contribution to a community is often not as a repository of books–but a beacon that draws people together.

Thionville–a city in Northeastern France near the Luxembourg border–opened a new library last year that embodies this shift. Designed by the Strasbourg-based firm Dominique Coulon and Associates, the space is brimming with details designed to foster a sense of community. The architects hope it becomes the city’s collective living room; to appeal to the different types of people who might use the library, they filled it with lots of unique moments, like rooms that have distinctive personalities, differing furniture, and plenty of outdoor spaces. Read more...

What Donald Trump Doesn't Understand About Libraries |

Advocacy | #IMLS | Funding | Libraries | Museums

His proposed budget would eliminate all federal funding for the Institute of Museums and Library Services. 

When you introduce yourself as a librarian at a dinner party — as I have been doing for my whole adult life — you usually receive one of two responses: either the dreaded “But wait … aren’t libraries, like … dying? Because of Google?” or the well-intentioned, but gently incorrect “You must love books, huh?” It’s not that librarians don’t typically love books — most of us do! But our (not even remotely dead) profession’s true backbone isn’t mere bookishness — it’s a near-pathological enthusiasm for helping people. And, contrary to the frequent reports of our demise at the hands of Google, Americans need the help libraries and librarians supply more than ever now. When previously, librarians were needed to answer questions as simple as “Did Jules Verne write Alice in Wonderland?”, the problems we’re needed to tackle now are much more complex, like what can we do to bridge “the word gap” between poor toddlers and their wealthy peers, or how can we bring broadband service to rural communities that otherwise lack accessRead more...


Monday, March 20, 2017

New Crop of Young Adult Novels Explores Race and Police Brutality | March 19, 2017

Book review | Race | Young adult novels

by Alexandra Alter

Students in Philadelphia waiting for an autograph from Angie Thomas, whose novel, “The Hate U Give,” won critical raves. Credit Mark Makela for The New York Times 
Angie Thomas started writing her young-adult novel, “The Hate U Give,” in reaction to a fatal shooting that took place some 2,000 miles away. But to her it felt deeply personal.

Ms. Thomas was a college student in Jackson, Miss., when a white transit police officer shot Oscar Grant III, an unarmed, 22-year-old African-American man, on a train platform in Oakland, Calif., in 2009. She was shocked when some of her white classmates said he had probably deserved it. She responded with a short story about a teenage girl who is drawn to activism after a white officer shoots her childhood best friend.

That story grew into a 444-page novel, as shootings of unarmed young black men continued.

Ms. Thomas worried that no one would publish a young-adult novel about such a raw and polarizing subject. Instead, 13 publishers bid in a frenzied auction. Balzer & Bray bought it in a two-book deal, and Fox 2000 optioned the film rights. Read more...

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Women’s History Month: The Legacy of Hannah Richards | March 8, 2017

Black History Month | Women's History Month | Library of Congress | Archives

(The following guest post was written by Beverly W. Brannan, curator of photography in the Prints and Photographs Division.)

Tintype of Hannah Richards from the William Henry Richards Collection

The Library purchased the collection of William Henry Richards (1856–1941), a law professor at Howard University, in 2013. The collection includes manuscript and visual materials, including a tintype of Hannah Richards, William’s grandmother, who was born in captivity but later freed. Research into her life—a story of determination and resilience—suggests she may have motivated William’s successful career. Besides being a law professor, he was a civil rights activist and a supporter of temperance and women’s right to vote and own property in the District of Columbia.

The library edition of shows that Hannah Richards was born in Virginia, probably near Danville, around 1800. She belonged to Gabriel Richards (1739–1826), who moved to Roane County, Tennessee, in about 1805. He later relocated to McMinn County, Tennessee, where he died in 1826, freeing Hannah in his will. But there is more to the story.

Freed slaves were always at risk of being re-enslaved after being kidnapped or jailed for trivial offenses. Hannah almost lost her freedom for keeping company with a man. She was arrested in 1828, according to databases, and charged with harboring “a certain Negro slave Sandy without either written or verbal authority from . . . the said boy’s master” for two years. Papers filed in McMinn County court stated that Sandy had been “with her at her place of living on Sunday nights.” Hannah was fined $2.20 for “harboring and entertaining” Sandy, $2.00 for her jail fee and $0.75 for the justice of the peace. She was warned that if she did not pay all the costs as well as an additional $2.00, she could be sold into slavery for nonpayment of debt.


The most famous author from every state | March 9, 2017

Book lists | American writers | American literature

by Melia Robinson

George R.R. Martin, whose book saga was adapted for "Game of Thrones," was born and raised in New Jersey.Kevin Winter / Getty   
First, we looked coast to coast to find the most famous book set in every state. Now we're hitting the books to discover the most famous author from every state.

Not all the choices were cut and dry. To qualify for this list, the famed authors had to be born in their respective states, but not necessarily live out their years there.

We considered the authors' fame in terms of ubiquity, acclaim, and financial success — and awarded bonus points if the author showed state pride by setting their works there.

Melissa Stanger contributed reporting on a previous version of this post.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

How a book club for middle school girls is giving them the chance to grow | March 8, 2017

Books | Women | Mentoring

Luisa Porter / The Commercial Dispatch/AP  

by Isabelle Altman

Four years ago, eighth graders Wrishija Roy, Laurel Yarborough and Damare Baker all read "Fat Chance" by Leslea Newman in a girls' book club at Columbus Middle School run by Emma Thompson, then a senior at the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science.

Now MSMS seniors themselves, they're back at the middle school reading the same novel, which tells the story of a girl with an eating disorder. This time, though, they are leading the book club.

"It's been nice to give back to the girls because I know how helpful it was for me," Yarborough said. "And I just hope I'm having the same effect."

The Women Influencing Lives Through Literature – or WILL – program is Thompson's brainchild. She wanted a way to mentor younger girls using literature.  Read more....

365 Books by Women Authors to Celebrate International Women’s Day All Year | March 8, 2017

Books | International Women's Day | Reader's advisory | Women writers

by Gwen Glazer, Librarian, Readers Services, NYPL

For over a century, International Women's Day has been observed on March 8 — and this year, we've compiled 365 books by women authors from across the globe to keep the celebration going all year long.

This list includes a vast range of women authors, and we hope you find some old favorites and some new discoveries. And we hope that readers can draw strength and inspiration from these 365 books — and the women who wrote them — in the year ahead.

And if you've ever heard someone say they “just couldn't find” a great woman author to read, now you have not one, but 365 suggestions.

1. Leila Aboulela, The Kindness of Enemies
2. Susan Abulhawa, The Blue Between Sky and Water
3. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun
4. Etel Adnan, Sea and Fog
5. Marjorie Agosín, A Cross and a Star
6. Ama Atta Aidoo, An Angry Letter in January and Other Poems
7. Naja Marie Aidt, Rock, Paper, Scissors
8. Anna Akhmatova, The Complete Poems of Anna Akhmatova
9. Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow
10. Elizabeth Alexander, The Light of the World


Monday, March 6, 2017

Facebook has quietly rolled out its long-awaited solution to fake news | 4 March 2017

Fake news | Media literacy | Social Media

by Emma Hinchliffe

Since people first started complaining about "fake news" on Facebook, the phrase has evolved—from a useful way to identify false-information-masquerading-as-traditional-news, to a term that means basically nothing, now wielded by President Donald Trump against stories he doesn't like, and also, drunk people in bars screaming about things and/or sports results they disagree with.

But the original problem still genuinely exists. And Facebook finally came out with its long-awaited response to beginning to cut away at the issue.

Spotted on Twitter on Friday night, the tool identifies links to sites known to produce misinformation. The tool cites third-party fact-checking organizations like Snopes and Politifact—the kind of sites that Trump supporters also like to dispute.  Read more...

Want to Encourage Debate? Maybe Don’t Ban Howard Zinn’s Books | March 6, 2017

Banned Books | Revisionism | Political debate

A.J. O'Connell

Last week, Arkansas Representative Kim Hendren (R-92) introduced a bill that would ban the works of Howard Zinn —the late historian whose books examine history from the point of view of its victims — in public and charter schools. If HB 1834 is passed into law as is, all of Zinn’s work from 1959 to 2010 would be banned in public and charter schools.


The ‘Rock Star’ Librarians Who Choose What Your Kids Read | March 5, 2017

Books | Children's literature | School librarians

by Ellen Gamerman

John Schumacher showed Lake Anne Elementary School students a new paperback version of a book during his visit. Photo: April Greer for The Wall Street Journal 
Most kids don’t know who John Schumacher is. But their librarians do.

“He’s a rock star in the library world,” said Kim Sigle, a librarian at Lake Anne Elementary School in Reston, Va., who recently hosted Mr. Schumacher for a reading event for roughly 500 students. She “won” the former grade-school librarian in a lottery after taking a picture of herself with a life-size cardboard cutout of him and posting the shot on Twitter, competing with dozens of other librarians who did the same.

In the milk-and-cookies realm of picture books and middle-grade fiction, Mr. Schumacher is an influential voice, one of several current and former elementary-school librarians with big social-media followings and considerable sway over what kids read. Publishers can’t advertise in classrooms and marketers can’t reach kids who haven’t yet hit social media, but these experts enjoy a direct line to school gatekeepers. Publicists inundate them with so many free books that in some towns, kids are toting advance copies like New York publishing ​professionals. The book industry seeks their notice, eager for exposure as newspapers cut back on book reviews and book stores continue to confront financial pressures. Read more...

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Our Futures in Times of Change: How values guide our understanding of trends and transition | March 1, 2017

Library Trends | Library Activism | Library Values

by Miguel Figueroa

For many futurists and trend spotters, “futuring” is fundamentally about the study of change.

“We can learn a great deal about what may happen in the future by looking systematically at what is actually happening now,” wrote Edward Cornish, one of the founders of the World Future Society.
We study change so we can prepare for the many futures that might happen. We start seeing what’s coming next. We study so that we won’t be surprised. And we study so that we’ll be better prepared to start creating the future.

That’s good news for library and information professionals. We are expert in finding, organizing, processing, and prioritizing information. From wherever we are in our organizations, we all have opportunities to observe changes in our communities and consider the implications over the long term.

But observation is simply not enough. One of the biggest lessons my colleagues and I have learned while developing the Center for the Future of Libraries is that studying change is useless without considering values. We need to look at trends and changes with consideration of our own professional values (confidentiality and privacy, diversity, equitable access, intellectual freedom and expression, preservation) and the values that we seek to provide to our communities (a civic commons, democracy, discovery, education and literacy, public discourse).  And so, looking at changes, we need to ask ourselves what they might mean for intellectual freedom, for education, for equitable access, or for any of the other values that drive our work. Read more...

Scientists Are Standing Up to Trump Because They've Always Stood Up to Bullshit | 2 March 2017

Science | Activism | Fake news | Environment

by Alejandra Borunda

Rachel Carson, whose book “Silent Spring” played a pivotal role in catalyzing the modern environmental movement, testifies before a Senate Government Operations Subcommittee in D.C. on June 4, 1963. (AP Photo)    
There’s this pervasive idea that science is somehow exempt from the ugly political world in which the rest of us wallow. But even a perfunctory look at the history of American science shows that this hasn’t always been the case—and the circumstances that pushed scientists into the public sphere in the past aren’t that different from those scientists are facing today.

Since Trump’s election, many scientists have found themselves in an unfamiliar position: actively advocating for their work, their jobs, and the very idea of free scientific inquiry. Scientists are mobilizing and organizing en masse, planning marches and running for office. They’re pushing back on potential nominees and boycotting conferences.

Kelly Ramirez, a microbiologist and one of the founders of the 500 Women Scientists network, never thought of herself as an activist before. “I had my head down,” she said. “You do your work, you publish your papers—it’s not encouraged to take political positions.” But after the election, she realized that she had to take a more active role. “Now, it’s a good time to start being louder,” she said.

American Libraries Dewey Decibel Podcast Episode Two: “Library Security: Making Your Space Safer”

Library security | Podcast

Fighting Fake News: How libraries can lead the way on media literacy | December 27, 2016

Fake news | Information literacy | Journalism

by Marcus Banks

Illustration: Rebecca Lomax/American Libraries  
Librarians—whether public, school, academic, or special—all seek to ensure that patrons who ask for help get accurate information.

Given the care that librarians bring to this task, the recent explosion in unverified, unsourced, and sometimes completely untrue news has been discouraging, to say the least. According to the Pew Research Center, a majority of US adults are getting their news in real time from their social media feeds. These are often uncurated spaces in which falsehoods thrive, as revealed during the 2016 election. To take just one example, Pope Francis did not endorse Donald Trump, but thousands of people shared the “news” that he had done so.

Completely fake news is at the extreme end of a continuum. Less blatant falsehoods involve only sharing the data that puts a proposal in its best light, a practice of which most politicians and interest group spokespeople are guilty.

The news-savvy consumer is able to distinguish fact from opinion and to discern the hallmarks of evasive language and half-truths. But growing evidence suggests that these skills are becoming rarer. A November 2016 study by the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG) showed that students have difficulty separating paid advertising from news reporting, and they are apt to overlook clear evidence of bias in the claims they encounter. These challenges persist from middle school to college.

According to SHEG Director Sam Wineburg, professor at Stanford Graduate School of Education, “nothing less than our capacity for online civic reasoning is at risk.”

Librarians and journalists: natural allies


Psychology journal editor asked to resign for refusing to review papers unless he can see the data | March 2, 2017

Fake news | Research | Academia | Data sharing

by Rob Beschizza via BoingBoing

Psychologist Gert Storms doesn't want to review scientific papers if their authors refuse to share with him the underlying data. The American Psychological Association (APA), which publishes the journal he edits, has asked him to resign.'s Gautam Naik reports that the effort to force him out is a test of The Peer Reviewer's Openness Initiative, a move crafted to "increase transparency in the field beset by reports of fraud and dubious research." Read more...

Photo credit: Gert Storm
Photo credit: Gert Storms                 

Psychologist Gert Storms doesn't want to review scientific papers if their authors refuse to share with him the underlying data. The American Psychological Association (APA), which publishes the journal he edits, has asked him to resign.'s Gautam Naik reports that the effort to force him out is a test of The Peer Reviewer's Opennness Initiative
Psychologist Gert Storms doesn't want to review scientific papers if their authors refuse to share with him the underlying data. The American Psychological Association (APA), which publishes the journal he edits, has asked him to resign.'s Gautam Naik reports that the effort to force him out is a test of The Peer Reviewer's Opennness Initiative, a move crafted to "increase transparency in a field beset by reports of fraud and dubious research."
Psychologist Gert Storms doesn't want to review scientific papers if their authors refuse to share with him the underlying data. The American Psychological Association (APA), which publishes the journal he edits, has asked him to resign.'s Gautam Naik reports that the effort to force him out is a test of The Peer Reviewer's Opennness Initiative, a move crafted to "increase transparency in a field beset by reports of fraud and dubious research."
Photo credit: Gert Storms