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...