Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Bibliotherapy: how reading and writing have been healing trauma since World War I

Bibliotherapy | War trauma | World War I | Wounded veterans

15 November 2018

Longshaw Lodge Convalescent Home for Wounded Soldiers, Grindleford, near Sheffield. Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums


Bibliotherapy – the idea that reading can have a beneficial effect on mental health – has undergone a resurgence. There is mounting clinical evidence that reading can, for example, help people overcome loneliness and social exclusion. One scheme in Coventry allows health professionals to prescribe books to their patients from a list drawn up by mental health experts. 

Even as public library services across Britain are cut back, the healing potential of books is increasingly recognised.

The idea of the healing book has a long history. Key concepts were forged in the crucible of World War I, as nurses, doctors and volunteer librarians grappled with treating soldiers’ minds as well as bodies. The word “bibliotherapy” itself was coined in 1914, by American author and minister Samuel McChord Crothers. Helen Mary Gaskell (1853-1940), a pioneer of “literary caregiving”, wrote about the beginnings of her war library in 1918:
Surely many of us lay awake the night after the declaration of War, debating … how best we could help in the coming struggle … Into the mind of the writer came, like a flash, the necessity of providing literature for the sick and wounded.
The well-connected Gaskell took her idea to the medical and governmental authorities, gaining official approval. Lady Battersea, a close friend, offered her a Marble Arch mansion to store donated books, and The Times carried multiple successful public appeals. As Gaskell wrote:
What was our astonishment when not only parcels and boxes, but whole libraries poured in. Day after day vans stood unloading at the door.

Read more...

Remembering the Howard University Librarian Who Decolonized the Way Books Were Catalogued

African-American History | Cataloguing |Racial bias

by Zita Cristina Nunes

American Historical Association's Perspectives on History

Smithsonian.com

November 26, 2018

Dorothy Porter challenged the racial bias in the Dewey Decimal System, putting black scholars alongside white colleagues 
 
 
 
In a 1995 interview with Linton Weeks of the Washington Post, the Howard University librarian, collector and self-described “bibliomaniac” Dorothy Porter reflected on the focus of her 43-year career: “The only rewarding thing for me is to bring to light information that no one knows. What’s the point of rehashing the same old thing?” For Porter, this mission involved not only collecting and preserving a wide range of materials related to the global black experience, but also addressing how these works demanded new and specific qualitative and quantitative approaches in order to collect, assess, and catalog them.

As some librarians today contemplate ways to decolonize libraries—for example, to make them less reflective of Eurocentric ways of organizing knowledge—it is instructive to look to Porter as a progenitor of the movement. Starting with little, she used her tenacious curiosity to build one of the world’s leading repositories for black history and culture: Howard’s Moorland-Spingarn Research Center. But she also brought critical acumen to bear on the way the center’s materials were cataloged, rejecting commonly taught methods as too reflective of the way whites thought of the world.

Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/remembering-howard-university-librarian-who-decolonized-way-books-were-catalogued-180970890/#pY8YYwIXYHSpxhcc.99
 
 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

TBLC Talk: Andrew Beman-Cavallaro on Mentoring in Librarianship – March 2015

Mentoring | Librarianship | Professional advice | Career Development

Andrew Beman-Cavallaro, Associate Director of Libraries at Pasco-Hernando State College Spring Hill Campus, talks about Mentoring in Librarianship in this session of TBLC Talks.

Open Invitation: Fall Reception of the New York Library Club, Inc. Thursday, 18th October 2018

Library event  | Networking | Professional Library Organizations

Are you a librarian? Library Student? Writer? Publisher? Looking to network with other like professionals?

The New York Library Club, Inc. invites you to their annual Fall kick-off reception:

John Ashbery: The Construction of Fiction

UPCOMING EVENTS
October 18, 2018, 6PM-8PM

  • Fall Social at the Pratt Manhattan Gallery (144 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10011).
  • We would Love to meet you and hear your thoughts and concerns on Librarianship as a career! Learn about the club including its social events, members, history and its vision.
  • Take advantage of Networking/Mentoring and Leadership Opportunities
  • Explore the details regarding our available yearly Scholarship Award
  • Light refreshments will be served
Please RSVP to membership@nylibraryclub.org with your name and affiliation by October 17th so we can get a list to Security and assure your entry.

Reclaiming Reference at the Library

Reference | Public libraries | Information seeking

For librarians, reference work today is increasingly about community service

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

To Restore Civil Society, Start With the Library | Opinion

Louie Chin

Libraries | Society | Public service

This crucial institution is being neglected just when we need it the most.

By Eric Klinenberg
Mr. Klinenberg is a sociologist.
Is the public library obsolete? 

A lot of powerful forces in society seem to think so. In recent years, declines in the circulation of bound books in some parts of the country have led prominent critics to argue that libraries are no longer serving their historical function. Countless elected officials insist that in the 21st century — when so many books are digitized, so much public culture exists online and so often people interact virtually — libraries no longer need the support they once commanded.

Libraries are already starved for resources. In some cities, even affluent ones like Atlanta, entire branches are being shut down. In San Jose, Calif., just down the road from Facebook, Google and Apple, the public library budget is so tight that users with overdue fees above $20 aren’t allowed to borrow books or use computers. 

But the problem that libraries face today isn’t irrelevance. Indeed, in New York and many other cities, library circulation, program attendance and average hours spent visiting are up. The real problem that libraries face is that so many people are using them, and for such a wide variety of purposes, that library systems and their employees are overwhelmed. According to a 2016 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, about half of all Americans ages 16 and over used a public library in the past year, and two-thirds say that closing their local branch would have a “major impact on their community.”

Libraries are being disparaged and neglected at precisely the moment when they are most valued and necessary. Why the disconnect? In part it’s because the founding principle of the public library — that all people deserve free, open access to our shared culture and heritage — is out of sync with the market logic that dominates our world. But it’s also because so few influential people understand the expansive role that libraries play in modern communities. Read more...

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Do College Librarians Have Academic Freedom? Amid Push, California’s ‘Will Not Be Silent’

Academic Freedom | Academic Librarians | Higher Education

August 27, 2018 


 Elaine Franco didn’t think the title of her presentation at the American Library Association’s midwinter meeting six years ago was all that controversial: "Copy cataloging gets some respect from administrators."

But an administrative colleague of Franco’s at the University of California at Davis raised concerns about the title, an allusion to Rodney Dangerfield’s "I don’t get no respect" catchphrase. When she saw the 2012 slide deck, which Franco had emailed her, she wondered if the title inappropriately implied that copy catalogers had been disrespected by administrators previously, Franco recalled.

The disagreement caught the attention of a union negotiator. And now the episode has helped set off a crusade for academic freedom for employees of the 100-library UC System, amid negotiations to replace a contract that is set to expire at the end of September. Read more...
Courtesy of Holly Craig Wehrle
Librarians from across the U. of California system gathered at UCLA last month during contract talks. Their union is seeking explicit recognition of their academic freedom in a new contract. Administrators disagree.



  

Thursday, August 16, 2018

How an Artist Is Rebuilding a Baghdad Library Destroyed During the Iraq War

Iraq | Foreign libraries | Gulf War |Libraries

“168:01,” an installation now on view at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, encourages visitors to donate books to the University of Baghdad 

 

smithsonian.com
Aly Manji
n 2003, at the start of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, looters set fire to the College of Fine Arts at the University of Baghdad. The college’s vast collection of 70,000 books was destroyed, and 15 years later, students still have few titles at their disposal. So, as Hadani Ditmars reports for the Art Newspaper, an installation
 
168:01,” as the project by Iraqi-American artist Wafaa Bilal is titled, is a stark white display featuring bookshelves filled with 1,000 blank books. Visitors are encouraged to replenish the volumes with titles from an Amazon wish list compiled by the college’s students and faculty; donations can be made by sending the books on the wish list to the museum, or by gifting funds to the project through Bilal’s website.

In exchange for their donations, visitors are able to take home one of the exhibition’s white volumes that represent a rich cultural heritage stripped bare by years of conflict. In turn, the colorful books they contributed to the project will ultimately be sent to the College of Fine Arts.

“I wanted a simple visual representation of what’s been lost,” Bilal told Murray Whyte of the Toronto Star last month. “But what’s important is that, over time, this place comes back to life.” Read more...

Monday, July 23, 2018

Twitter rips awful Forbes take about replacing libraries with Amazon

Amazon | Bookstores Public Libraries

Libraries are amazing and bad takes in Forbes are not.

UPDATE: July 23, 2018, 1:48 p.m. EDT As of Monday afternoon, it appears as if the story has been pulled from Forbes without a note or any other reason. The story has also been removed from Mourdoukoutas' author page. I've reached out to Forbes for details but, for now, you can read a cached version of the story here and an updated version that was briefly on the site is here (via Wonkette).

There are bad takes, and then there's the take by Forbes contributor Panos Mourdoukoutas (who also serves as Chair of the Department of Economics at Long Island University) that local libraries should be replaced by Amazon book stores.

Among the reasons Mourdoukoutas offers are: libraries don't have as many public events as they used to because of school auditoriums; people go to places like Starbucks to hang out and work and read now instead of their library; and because technology makes physical books obsolete. Read more...

Thursday, July 19, 2018

How to Stream Thousands of Free Movies Using Your Library Card | NY Times

Movies | Library Card | Free Streaming

Aug. 24, 2017UPDATED Aug. 31, 2017

From top: “The Great Beauty,” “I Am Not Your Negro” and “Tower.”Janus Films; Magnolia Pictures; Kino Lorber

Watching is The New York Times’s film and TV streaming recommendation website and newsletter. Sign up for the latter here.

Stream thousands of movies, including hundreds of Criterion Collection titles, for free? And all you need is a library card? Surely, it can’t be this simple, right?

It is. More than 200 public library systems in the United States have teamed up with the streaming platform Kanopy to bring some 30,000 movies to library cardholders, free of charge. Kanopy’s emphasis is on documentaries and international films, all of which can be streamed on your computer, through a Roku box or on iOS and Android phone apps.

Be careful not to plan a mega binge-watch just yet, though. Each library imposes its own limit to the number of free movies a single cardholder can watch each month, from three to 20 titles per card, a spokeswoman for Kanopy said. Once they’ve registered their library cards with Kanopy, viewers can keep track of how many movies they have left in the upper right-hand corner of the onscreen interface. The limit for New York Public Library cardholders is 10 free movies a month, while Brooklyn Public Library allows six. Outside of New York, the Los Angeles Public Library, for example, has a 10 movie limit. Read more...

A Library Card Will Get You Into the Guggenheim (and 32 Other Places) | NY Times

Museums | Library card | Access | Culture

A performance of Shaun Leonardo’s “Primitive Games” at the Guggenheim, one of 33 New York City cultural institutions that will participate in the Culture Pass program.CreditVincent Tullo for The New York Times

By Andrew R. Chow | July 16, 2018

Do you have a New York City library card? If so, you can now go to the Whitney Museum, the Guggenheim and 31 other prominent New York cultural institutions for free.

These institutions, which also include the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and MoMA PS1, have partnered with the New York City libraries to launch Culture Pass, an initiative designed to encourage underserved communities to take advantage of the city’s cultural bounty. Library cardholders of the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Public Library and the Queens Library will be able to reserve passes to these venues for free, albeit once a year.


“Some people are intimidated by museums,” Linda Johnson, president of the Brooklyn Public Library, said in a phone interview. “They shouldn’t be shut out of all the wonderful cultural offerings that are available to New York City dwellers.” Read more...


Teaching with Primary Sources: How can we do research with political cartoons? | Brooklyn Public Library

Politics | Cartoons | Information literacy | Research Skills

by Jen Hoyer | Jun 20, 2018 
 
 
 Brooklyn Connections is the education outreach program in the Brooklyn Collection. It focuses on cultivating 21st Century learning skills in students and supporting teachers on the incorporation of archives materials into curricula. This blog post is part of a series from the Brooklyn Connections team, sharing skills and ideas for using archives primary source material in the classroom. Using primary sources in the classroom shows us that we can access history through many different formats as long as we are grounded in historical thinking. 

The Brooklyn Connections team loves engaging with teachers for regular Professional Learning events, and our recent workshop at Plymouth Church gave us an opportunity to learn about the role that this institution played in Abolition and Civil War-era Brooklyn. While exploring the Brooklyn Collection for primary sources that we could share, we were excited to find political cartoons about our subject. We wanted to share some of our ideas on how students can learn to work with political cartoons. We think that using political cartoons in the classroom is an engaging and exciting starting point that shifts away from textbooks and classroom lectures while still scaffolding the same historical information. Read more...

Visiting an Experimental, Do-It-Yourself Library in Brooklyn

Books | Libraries | Innovation | Organization of Knowledge



Only 1% of children's books have BAME main characters – UK study| the Guardian

Diversity | Race issues  | Picture books | UK | Children & teenagers

Research finds that of 9,115 titles published last year, only 4% featured BAME characters
‘Stark and shocking findings’ … a student browses in her school library. Photograph: Christopher Thomond 


Only 1% of British children’s books feature a main character who is black or minority ethnic, a investigation into representations of people of colour has found, with the director calling the findings “stark and shocking”.

In a research project that is the first of its kind, and funded by Arts Council England, the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) asked UK publishers to submit books featuring BAME characters in 2017. Of the 9,115 children’s books published last year, researchers found that only 391 – 4% - featured BAME characters. Just 1% had a BAME main character, and a quarter of the books submitted only featured diversity in their background casts.

This compares to the 32.1% of schoolchildren of minority ethnic origins in England identified by the Department of Education last year.

“It is a stark and shocking figure when you see it in print,” said Farrah Serroukh, who directed the project for the CLPE and presented it to publishers on Monday. Read more...

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Link copied… Tech Stop Facebook From Using Your Private Info: A Beginner’s Guide |WSJ

Privacy | Facebook | Social Media

ILLUSTRATION: Dan PAGE



Mom always said to share, but Facebook has us thinking twice. Here, how to regain command of your digital privacy from social media sites to dangers lurking in your own smartphone

SOCIAL MEDIA was supposed to be a fun, lively place to connect with high-school flings, share photos, brag humbly and get in occasional spats over “Star Wars” sequels. But recent revelations about the ways political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica trawled through Facebook FB -0.04% data have made people realize they’ve shared much more than just cat memes online.

A recent HarrisX poll found that 46% of Americans surveyed don’t believe Facebook protects their personal information, often more than twice that of rivals Twitter , Google, LinkedIn and Snapchat—another 25% were “uncertain.” While most people favor stricter regulations than ever around data privacy, years of studies by groups like the Pew Research Center have found that users are specifically concerned about who had access to the online information they share.

“It’s not so much the old definition of privacy—‘I want the right to be left alone,’” said Lee Rainie, director of internet and tech research at Pew, who sums up the new goal as “I want to control the world’s understanding of who I am.”

A HarrisX poll found that 46% of Americans surveyed don’t believe Facebook protects their personal information.Read more...

Monday, May 7, 2018

Our fiction addiction: Why humans need stories | BBC

Fiction | Literature | Evolution

by David Robson | 3 May 2018

The epic of Gilgamesh has endured for 4,000 years, with elements of storytelling that teach us how to cooperate (Credit: The Trustees of the British Museum)


It sounds like the perfect summer blockbuster.

A handsome king is blessed with superhuman strength, but his insufferable arrogance means that he threatens to wreak havoc on his kingdom. Enter a down-to-earth wayfarer who challenges him to fight. The king ends the battle chastened, and the two heroes become fast friends and embark on a series of dangerous quests across the kingdom.

The fact that this tale is still being read today is itself remarkable. It is the Epic of Gilgamesh, engraved on ancient Babylonian tablets 4,000 years ago, making it the oldest surviving work of great literature. We can assume that the story was enormously popular at the time, given that later iterations of the poem can be found over the next millennium.

More like this:

Read more...

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Cooking the Books with Yotam and Nigella [Podcast with transcript]

Food | Cookbooks | Podcast

Who first started collecting recipes into cookbooks? Do cookbooks have a future in a world full of online recipes? And can cookbooks tell us anything about what people are actually eating, or are they simply aspirational food porn? This episode, we explore the past, present, and future of cookbooks, from cuneiform tablets to Hail Marys, with the help of two of our favorite cookbooks authors—and Gastropod fans—Nigella Lawson and Yotam Ottolenghi.

The oldest known culinary recipes. YBC 4644 from the Old Babylonian Period, ca. 1750 BC, via Yale University Library.

According to Henry Notaker, journalist and author of A History of Cookbooks: From Kitchen to Page Over Seven Centuries, the first cookbook that archaeologists have discovered is 3,700 years old. It consists of 35 recipes written on clay tablets, and its recipes are thought to have been intended for gods rather than humans. Still, it demonstrates that humans have been collecting cooking instructions for millennia. A few things have remained the same for much of the cookbook's history: they are still anthologies of imaginary meals, often fueled more by aspiration and desire than the reality of what's for dinner, and they still promise an almost alchemical transformation of raw ingredients into status and well-being.

Others aspects of today's cookbooks are much more recent. Such seemingly essential formatting elements as a separate ingredients list only became standard relatively recently. Meanwhile, the content, authorship, and user base of cookbooks have shifted dramatically in response to technological innovation and social change. Notaker points to the first German recipe to include bananas as a sign that the exotic fruit was becoming available in Europe: published in 1913, it recommends frying the fruit with marjoram, like a sausage. (The recipe was literally titled "banana sausage.") Meanwhile, Megan Elias, author of Food on the Page: Cookbooks and American Culture, traces the introduction of refrigeration and mass transportation through the strawberry's rise to glory in early twentieth-century recipes. Finally, in a world where more recipes are published online everyday than anyone could hope to cook in a week, we ask: what is the role of the cookbook today—and what might it become in the future? Listen in this episode for more of the surprising story of cookbooks, including men in drag and Norwegian drinking songs, as well as cookbook authors Nigella Lawson and Yotam Ottolenghi's tales of writing their very first cookbooks.

Episode Notes

Yotam Ottolenghi

Yotam Ottolenghi is an Israeli-British chef and restaurateur, and the author of many of our favorite cookbooks, including, most recently, Sweet: Desserts from London's Ottolenghi.

Nigella Lawson

Nigella Lawson is a British food writer and T.V. personality, and the author of our other favorite cookbooks, including, most recently, At My Table: A Celebration of Home Cooking.

Henry Notaker and A History of Cookbooks

Henry Notaker is a Norwegian journalist and author of A History of Cookbooks: From Kitchen to Page Over Seven Centuries.

The First Recipe Book

Tablets YBC 4644, YBC 8958, and YBC 4648 together contain 35 recipes from ancient Mesopotamia. According to Henry Notaker, they form the earliest "cookbook" yet discovered, though they consist primarily of lists of ingredients and are thought to be instructions for dishes to be served in religious ceremonies, rather than for dinner. In 1995, French historian Jean Bottéro published translations of the recipes in a book titled Textes Culinaires Mésopotamiens; journalist Laura Kelley published her interpretations online here, if you'd like to have a go at preparing them yourself.

Link to podcast:

Can You Revise a Book to Make It More Woke?

YA Literature | Bias | Publishing

When a YA novel was criticized for racism prior to publication, the author attempted something radical — she pushed its release date and rewrote it.
 
By

In 2013, when Keira Drake sat down to write her debut young-adult fantasy novel, The Continent, she wanted to write about privilege, about the way that those who have it can so easily turn a blind eye to the suffering of those who don’t. Her imagination had been sparked by an NPR report about bombings in Iraq; it brought her to tears, and when she switched off the radio, she began thinking about what might happen if someone like her — someone white, sheltered, and privileged — suddenly found herself in the middle of a war between two violent societies in a foreign land. Drake set her fantasy in a place called the Continent, a brutal realm where privileged tourists, safe in their heli-planes, gaze down with detached curiosity at the native people slaughtering each other below. After a heli-plane crashes, Drake’s narrator is saved by one of the natives from an attempted rape at the hands of an enemy tribe, and she, in turn, saves his people from ruin.

Drake’s editor at Harlequin, Natashya Wilson, thought the book had best-seller potential. She offered Drake a “significant” three-book deal (publishing code for an advance between $251,000 and $499,000), and Harlequin launched a major marketing campaign, sending Drake to conferences around the country. Early readers of advance copies were enthusiastic. A review posted on Goodreads half a year before the book’s scheduled publication date hailed Drake as a visionary for her “eye-opening” revelation that “a native isn’t a savage or primitive.”

It wasn’t until five months later that a legion of less enchanted readers took to Twitter to offer a differing perspective. Justina Ireland, an African-American author of young-adult fiction, tweeted out a point-by-point summary of her read in which she called the book a “racist garbage fire.” Ireland eventually deleted the thread after receiving a barrage of death threats, rape threats, withering reviews of her own books, and an anonymous email to her editor calling her a bully and urging him to drop her. And so it was that Drake, like her protagonist, suddenly found herself at the center of a feud between two warring factions. Read more...

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Beware the smart toaster: 18 tips for surviving the surveillance age

Internet | Safety | Privacy

There’s enough to worry about today without having to wonder if your toaster is plotting against you.’ Illustration: Jason Ford     
We’ve come a long way since the web was just a fun place to share cat gifs – now it’s a place mostly dedicated to finding and selling your personal info. Here’s what you need to know in this new era

On the internet, the adage goes, nobody knows you’re a dog. That joke is only 15 years old, but seems as if it is from an entirely different era. Once upon a time the internet was associated with anonymity; today it is synonymous with surveillance. Not only do modern technology companies know full well you’re not a dog (not even an extremely precocious poodle), they know whether you own a dog and what sort of dog it is. And, based on your preferred category of canine, they can go a long way to inferring – and influencing – your political views.

Just over a week ago, the Observer broke a story about how Facebook had failed to protect the personal information of tens of millions of its users. The revelations sparked a #DeleteFacebook movement and some people downloaded their Facebook data before removing themselves from the social network. During this process, many of these users were shocked to see just how much intel about them the internet behemoth had accumulated. If you use Facebook apps on Android, for example – and, even inadvertently, gave it permission – it seems the company has been collecting your call and text data for years. Read more...

Thursday, March 15, 2018

You Think You Want Media Literacy… Do You? | danah boyd

Information literacy | Social Media | Media literacy


Published on Mar 7, 2018
A decade ago, we imagined a world of participatory culture where youth would be empowered to actively and strategically use technology. Through peer/self-learning and formal education, young people have developed a well-informed understanding of the world through social media. However, this participatory culture can be unhealthy, cruel, and socially devastating. In this talk, I’ll explore unintended consequences of efforts to empower youth, media manipulation and literacy, polarization, and other issues. danah boyd Principal Researcher & Founder & President Microsoft Research/Data & Society The SXSW EDU Conference & Festival cultivates and empowers a community of engaged stakeholders to advance teaching and learning. Visit sxswedu.com to learn more.

The below original text was the basis for Data & Society Founder and President danah boyd’s March 2018 SXSW Edu keynote,“What Hath We Wrought?” — Ed.

Growing up, I took certain truths to be self evident. Democracy is good. War is bad. And of course, all men are created equal.

My mother was a teacher who encouraged me to question everything. But I quickly learned that some questions were taboo. Is democracy inherently good? Is the military ethical? Does God exist?

I loved pushing people’s buttons with these philosophical questions, but they weren’t nearly as existentially destabilizing as the moments in my life in which my experiences didn’t line up with frames that were sacred cows in my community. Police were revered, so my boss didn’t believe me when I told him that cops were forcing me to give them free food, which is why there was food missing. Pastors were moral authorities and so our pastor’s infidelities were not to be discussed, at least not among us youth. Forgiveness is a beautiful thing, but hypocrisy is destabilizing. Nothing can radicalize someone more than feeling like you’re being lied to. Or when the world order you’ve adopted comes crumbling down.


Link to post on danah boyd's blog: Click here


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Banning literature in prisons perpetuates system that ignores inmate humanity

Censorship | Prison libraries | Human rights


Lawsuit among latest reminders that reading, education can help ensure that prisoners who gain freedom, keep it
(Photo: John David Mercer, AP)   

Last month, the publisher of Prison Legal News became one of the latest organizations to take action against the nation's prison systems for censorship.

The Human Rights Defense Center lawsuit targets the Illinois Department of Corrections and alleges that it keeps HRDC literature out of the hands of prisoners, including the monthly Prison Legal News magazine — which covers court rulings and other aspects of the criminal justice system.

 Read more:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/policing/spotlight/2018/03/09/banning-literature-prisons-perpetuates-system-ignores-inmate-humanity/397501002/

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The New Vanguard

Women's history month | Women writers | Fiction


Our critics chose 15 remarkable books by women that are shaping the way we read and write fiction in the 21st century.

Corey Olsen
In 2016, the feminist press Emily Books held a panel in Brooklyn titled, a bit cheekily, “What Is Women’s Writing?” There was no consensus, much laughter and a warm, rowdy vibe. Eileen Myles read from a memoir in progress and Ariana Reines read a poem, wearing a dress with a pattern of a city on fire. All of this felt exactly right.

But even if it puts your teeth on edge to see “women’s writing” cordoned off in quotes, you can’t deny the particular power of today’s women writers — their intensity of style and innovation. The books steering literature in new directions — to new forms, new concerns — almost invariably have a woman at the helm, an Elena Ferrante, a Rachel Cusk, a Zadie Smith. 

For Women’s History Month, The Times’s staff book critics — Dwight Garner, Jennifer Szalai and myself, Parul Sehgal — sat down together to think about these writers who are opening new realms to us, whose books suggest and embody unexplored possibilities in form, feeling and knowledge.

As we put together a reading list, we introduced a few parameters, for sanity’s sake. We confined ourselves to books written by women and published in the 21st century. And we limited our focus to fiction, but not without some grief. Memoir has emerged as a potent political and literary force in recent years (see the terrain-shifting work of Maggie Nelson, for example). And poets like Claudia Rankine, Solmaz Sharif and Tracy K. Smith are some of the most distinctive voices working today.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The FBI's War on Black-Owned Bookstores

Black History Month | Independent Bookstores | African-American Heritage

At the height of the Black Power movement, the Bureau focused on the unlikeliest of public enemies: black independent booksellers.

by Joshua Clark Davis | Feb 19, 2018


A Harlem bookstore in 1964, where a registration for the Back-to-Africa movement was held


 



In the spring of 1968, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover announced to his agents that COINTELPRO, the counter-intelligence program established in 1956 to combat communists, should focus on preventing the rise of a “Black ‘messiah’” who sought to “unify and electrify the militant black nationalist movement.” The program, Hoover insisted, should target figures as ideologically diverse as the Black Power activist Stokely Carmichael (later Kwame Ture), Martin Luther King Jr., and Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad.

Just a few months later, in October 1968, Hoover penned another memo warning of the urgent menace of a growing Black Power movement, but this time the director focused on the unlikeliest of public enemies: black independent booksellers.

In a one-page directive, Hoover noted with alarm a recent “increase in the establishment of black extremist bookstores which represent propaganda outlets for revolutionary and hate publications and culture centers for extremism.” The director ordered each Bureau office to “locate and identify black extremist and/or African-type bookstores in its territory and open separate discreet investigations on each to determine if it is extremist in nature.” Each investigation was to “determine the identities of the owners; whether it is a front for any group or foreign interest; whether individuals affiliated with the store engage in extremist activities; the number, type, and source of books and material on sale; the store’s financial condition; its clientele; and whether it is used as a headquarters or meeting place.”
 
Perhaps most disturbing, Hoover wanted the Bureau to convince African American citizens (presumably with pay or through extortion) to spy on these stores by posing as sympathetic customers or activists. Read more...

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

You’re a Researcher Without a Library: What Do You Do? | Medium

Research | Access | Libraries | Open Access

by Jake Orlowitz  | Nov 15, 2017

Investigating solutions for frustrated scholars, nonprofits, independent learners, and the rest of us.

Wikimedia Commons

 

 The world of publishing is evolving frantically, while it remains frustratingly fragmented and prohibitively expensive for many. If you’re a student who just left your academic library behind only to discover you are now locked out of the stacks; a startup researching water usage in Africa and keep hitting paywalls; a local nonprofit that studies social change activism, but all the latest papers cost $30 per read… This article is for you.

Local Library

Citizens, taxpayers, cities, states, and nations pay a lot of money to provide free services. Use them! Public libraries often subscribe to costly databases; the annual investments for these licenses are only worth it if they are of use to the libraries’ constituency. The good news is that most people have a library nearby, many of the resources are fully available online (especially the databases), and a library card is often free or inexpensive. Also, libraries have librarians, who are pros at finding what you want (or something even better).

Bad news is that your local library may not be that local, and you may need to jump through some hoops to get your library card. Not all local libraries can afford masses of scholarly journals either, although many have at least some access. Read more...

The unexpected role librarians are playing in Sacramento’s homeless crisis

Homelessness | Public libraries | Mental health training

by Cynthia Hubert  | January 29, 2018 (updated January 30, 2018)

A homeless man waits for the downtown library doors to open on Jan. 26, 2017. Librarians and other staff members are receiving training to help them understand and deal with mental illness, which affects many more homeless people than others according to studies. Randy Pench rpench@sacbee.com

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article197270849.html#storylink=cpy
For many of Sacramento’s homeless men and women, the public library is a haven from harsh weather, a primary source for bathroom facilities, a place to rest from the stress of the streets.

Sacramento library director Rivkah Sass welcomes them all, she said, as long as their behavior is not disruptive to staff members and other patrons.

But as the homeless crisis deepens in the capital city and around the country, libraries increasingly are seeing people with untreated mental illnesses that cause them to act oddly, or put themselves or others in danger.

“Clearly, there just are not enough services for people who need to address their mental issues, and they end up with us because we are the last free, public open space available to them,” Sass said.
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Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article197270849.html#storylink=cpy

Rosa Parks Was My Aunt. Here's What You Don't Know About Her.

Civil Rights | Black Heistory Month | Women's History

by Urana McCauley as told to Liz Dwyer | February 2, 2018

Urana McCauley  
After that NAACP event, that’s when I started asking her questions about what she witnessed, what she endured, and what life was like for black people back then. That led to her telling me a lot of stories. She’d tell me what her life was like when she was a little girl growing up in Alabama. One of the things that people don’t understand about my aunt is that she was an activist her whole life and she started questioning things at a young age. I think part of it was her upbringing with her grandfather, Sylvester Edwards. He would sit up at night with a shotgun — in case the KKK might come by and try to kill them — and talk to her about black resistance and the key figures in it: Crispus Attucks, Harriet Tubman, Marcus Garvey. That laid the foundation for my aunt to feel like, "This isn’t right. I should be doing something and becoming an activist." Her whole life became dedicated to change.

When she was 10, a white boy pushed Auntie Rosa, and she pushed him back. Auntie Rosa’s grandmother told her, "You need to be quiet, you need to stop being so vocal." She was told, as black people, we’re not allowed to do those things to whites. Her grandmother was concerned that she’d get hurt, that she could even get lynched. But Auntie Rosa told her grandmother, "Let them try to lynch me." She was that bold, even when she was young. Read article...

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Slow Info: Where Libraries, Reading, and Well-Being Converge

Slow information | Libraries | Mental health | Productivity

by Oleg Kagan  | January 23, 2018

Like when you lie down in the forest and look up at the trees.


Most people would agree that the level of stress is high in our society; many are worried about the present and the future. I posit that part of that anxiety is stoked by the speed at which many of us feel we are expected to absorb and respond to a panoply of information streams. A reaction to this reckless acceleration is the “Slow Information Movement” (SIM), founded by librarian Vanessa Kam, though the term “slow information” has been around since at least 2009. Based on a synthesis of my rudimentary research, “slow information” inclines towards the poles of certain dichotomies:
  • Currency: Enduring over new
  • Latency: More time between inputs over “one thing after another”
  • Density: Higher information density over lower
  • Length: Long-form over short
  • Speed: Deliberate over fast
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