On Refusing to Read

My small act of countercultural scholarly agency has been to refuse to continue reading or assigning the work of David Foster Wallace. The machine of his celebrity masks, I have argued, the limited benefits of spending the time required to read his work. Our time is better spent elsewhere. I make this assessment given the evidence I have so far accumulated — I have read and taught some of his stories and nonfiction, have read some critical essays on Wallace’s work, and have read D.T. Max’s biography of Wallace — and without feeling professionally obligated to spend a month reading Infinite Jest in order to be absolutely sure I’m right. If I did spend a month reading the book, I would be adding my professional investment to the load of others’ investments, which — if we track it back — are the result of a particular marketing campaign that appealed to a Jurassic vision of literary genius.
From On Refusing to Read - The Chronicle of Higher Education

The Strange Way People Perceive Privacy Online

The reason, Mamonov thinks, has a lot to do with people’s perceptions of surveillance. He guessed study participants would have wanted to protect themselves against it; instead, he says, the magnitude of the threat seems to have instilled a sense of helplessness that made them less likely to put an effort into securing themselves.
From The Strange Way People Perceive Privacy Online - Nextgov.com

Author dashes into house to save laptop, 2 completed novels from fire in New Orleans' Broadmoor neighborhood

Gideon Hodge, 35, describes himself as a playwright, novelist and actor. When his fiancée told him that their apartment was on fire, he left work in Mid-City and rushed to the scene. That's when he realized that his only copies of two completed novels were on a laptop inside. Clad in a T-shirt that said #photobomb next to an illustration of the Joker photobombing Batman and Robin, Hodge dashed into the building. He ran past the smoke and the firefighters yelling at him to stop and managed to grab the precious laptop.
From Man dashes into house to save laptop, 2 completed novels from fire in New Orleans' Broadmoor neighborhood | Crime/Police | theadvocate.com
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Sorry, Dewey, the Decimals are Outdated; the Catalog of the Future will Aid Indies

So now we’re at an impasse. Online systems are raising all boats fast, making accessible titles that might otherwise have languished in obscurity. (Case in point: Amish space vampires.) They’re doing it without making readers use Dewey and they’re doing it in innovative social ways that encourage book discovery. But physical books aren’t going anywhere - indeed, they’re resurging in popularity - and the quaint cataloging system that patrons still stumble through is only really useful with the aid of an OPAC that, itself, is largely keyword based.
From Sorry, Dewey, the Decimals are Outdated; the Catalog of the Future will Aid Indies — Foresights — Foreword Reviews
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Beyond Books: Libraries Reach Out to the Public

Outside the Lines is a week-long celebration of creative library events and experiences to introduce, or re-introduce libraries to their communities. The idea grew from a collaboration between passionate Colorado library directors and marketers, including the Colorado State Library and Anythink Libraries, a public library system in Adams County, Colorado, Erica Grossman of Anythink described to me.
From Beyond Books: Libraries Reach Out to the Public - The Atlantic
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Amazon dominates self-publishing in books

A recent report (pdf) from Bowker, the US company that issues International Standard Book Numbers (ISBN), shows that self-publishing is growing rapidly. Between 2010 and 2015, the number of ISBNs from self-published books grew by 375%. From 2014 and 2015 alone, the number grew by 21%. And perfectly positioned to take advantage of the growth is Amazon, whose DIY print business CreateSpace has become far and away the biggest self-publishing platform in the United States.
From Amazon (AMZN) dominates self-publishing in books — Quartz
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The Library of Congress Was Hacked Because It Hasn’t Joined the Digital Age

Hayden’s reputation as a technologically savvy reformer is well deserved, having modernized Baltimore’s flailing Enoch Pratt Free Library and ushered in a period of unprecedented expansion for Baltimore’s library system in an otherwise bleak time for the city. Hayden even became a beacon of stability and normalcy after the Freddie Gray riots with her decision to keep the library open despite the unrest. With Hayden in the top job, policy advocates and scholars might have a glimmer of hope that the former crown jewel of American libraries can be pulled out of mothballs and dragged into the 21st century.
From The Library of Congress Was Hacked Because It Hasn’t Joined the Digital Age | Motherboard

Critics question spending librarian's donation on football scoreboard

Alumnus and longtime library employee left largely unrestricted bequest to U of New Hampshire. It is spending $100,000 on the library and $1 million on a video scoreboard for the football stadium.
From Critics question spending librarian's donation on scoreboard
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Once your kids can read easy books, start reading them hard ones, says reading expert Doug Lemov

There are multiple benefits to reading kids hard books, he argues. Some are obvious, like exposing them to more complex vocabulary. Some are less so, such as exposing them to more complicated sentences and more elaborate plot lines, which better prepares them for when they encounter those on their own further down the road.
From Once your kids can read easy books, start reading them hard ones, says reading expert Doug Lemov — Quartz

Controversial books added to VA County Schools reading list

Chesterfield County Schools decided today to leave their summer reading list the way it was, even with the books that some parents were calling inappropriate. Just last month, the school system pulled three books off of their reading list to be reviewed, but based on the recommendation from a committee, the school decided to keep the books on the list.
From Controversial books added to Chesterfield County Schools reading list | WRIC

Carla Hayden becomes the first woman, first black to lead Library of Congress

Chief Justice John Roberts is slated to swear in Carla Hayden on Wednesday to lead the Library of Congress, the world's largest library, created in 1800 by President John Adams. Hayden, 64, the first woman and the first African American to serve as the Librarian of Congress, sat down with USA TODAY's Capital Download to talk about her battle against provisions of the USA Patriot Act and her decision to keep Baltimore's libraries open in the wake of violence over the death of Freddie Gray. Questions and answers have been edited for length and clarity.
From Carla Hayden becomes the first woman, first black to lead Library of Congress
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Six of Roald Dahl's made-up words have been added to the Oxford English Dictionary to celebrate his centenary

To honor the centenary of his birth this month, the Oxford English Dictionary has updated its latest edition today (Sept. 12) with six new words connected to Dahl’s writing, and revisions to six other phrases popularized by Dahl’s evocative stories. In May, the Oxford University Press also published a Roald Dahl Dictionary complete with 8,000 words coined or popularized by the author.
From Six of Roald Dahl's made-up words have been added to the Oxford English Dictionary to celebrate his centenary — Quartz
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Dallas on path to becoming one of the few U.S. cities to regulate Little Free Libraries

On Monday morning, a Dallas City Council committee signed off on a proposal that would limit the size and location of community book exchanges that have taken root in some two dozen Dallas residents' front yards.  As far as city officials can tell, if the full council gives its blessing, Dallas will become one of the only cities in the country to specifically regulate the take-a-book, leave-a-book boxes, which, in the past, have been subject to building laws and zoning codes.
From Dallas on path to becoming one of the few U.S. cities to regulate Little Free Libraries | Dallas Morning News
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How Did That Make It Through Peer Review?

Yet, I suspect these kinds of situations are relatively rare. Having been involved in enough papers, and, yes, being party to papers where I didn’t catch something in the review or editorial process, I have the ultimate answer: Reviewers, editors, and authors are human. What I mean by this is that scientific papers are complex beasts. A single manuscript may weave together disparate groups of organisms, unfamiliar pieces of anatomy, far-flung reaches of the globe, and multiple statistical techniques. A typical paper is usually seen by a single editor and two to four reviewers. It is extremely unlikely that every facet of the paper will be seen by an appropriate expert on that given facet. How likely is it that every error will be caught and addressed?
From How Did That Make It Through Peer Review? | PLOS Paleo Community

MIT's New Toy Can Read Closed Books Using Terahertz Radiation

A group of researchers from MIT and Georgia Tech have built a device that can see through paper and distinguish ink from blank paper to determine what is written on the sheets. The prototype successfully identified letters printed on the top nine sheets of a stack of paper, and eventually the researchers hope to develop a system that can read closed books that have actual covers.

"The Metropolitan Museum in New York showed a lot of interest in this, because they want to, for example, look into some antique books that they don't even want to touch," said Barmak Heshmat, a research scientist at the MIT Media Lab and author on the new paper, published today in Nature Communications.

From MIT's New Toy Can Read Closed Books Using Terahertz Radiation

The Paper has a catchy title: Terahertz time-gated spectral imaging for content extraction through layered structures

Thanks to Ender for another great link!

Libraries becoming popular places for drug users to shoot up

The same qualities that make libraries ideal for studying and reading - unfettered public access, quiet corners and nooks, minimal interaction with other people - also make them appealing places to shoot up heroin, librarians are finding.
From Libraries becoming popular places for drug users to shoot up - CBS News
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European court says linking to illegal content is copyright infringement

In a decision that is already controversial, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled in favor of copyright owners and against hyperlinks. The CJEU decision, though qualified, raises the strong possibility that publishers linking to infringing third party sites will also be liable for infringement.
From European court says linking to illegal content is copyright infringement
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D.C. will hide once-banned books throughout the city this month

D.C. will hide once-banned books throughout the city this month The D.C. public library system is hiding several hundred copies of books — which were once banned or challenged — in private businesses throughout all eight wards to celebrate Banned Books Week. The “UNCENSORED banned books” scavenger hunt kicked off Sept. 6 and will run through the month. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/local/wp/2016/09/08/banned-books-will-be-hidden-all-over-d-c-this-month/
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The Uncomfortable Truth About Children's Books

http://www.motherjones.com/media/2016/08/diversity-childrens-books-slavery-twitter Writers and scholars have bemoaned the whiteness of children's books for decades, but the topic took on new life in 2014, when the influential black author Walter Dean Myers and his son, the author and illustrator Christopher Myers, wrote companion pieces in the New York Times' Sunday Review asking, "Where are the people of color in children's books?" A month later, unwittingly twisting the knife, the industry convention BookCon featured an all-white, all-male panel of "superstar" children's book authors. Novelist Ellen Oh and like-minded literary types responded with a Twitter campaign—#WeNeedDiverseBooks—that spawned more than 100,000 tweets.
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Libraries 2016 | Pew Research Center

Trends in visiting public libraries have steadied, and many Americans have high expectations for what their local libraries should offer
From Libraries 2016 | Pew Research Center
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