Inside the New York Public Library's Last, Secret Apartments

Some have spent decades empty and neglected. "The managers would sort of meekly say to me—do you want to see the apartment?" says Iris Weinshall, the library's chief operating officer, who at the beginning of her tenure toured all the system's branches. The first time it happened, she had the same reaction any library lover would: There’s an apartment here? Maybe I could live in the apartment. "They would say, look, just be careful when you go up there," she says. "It was wild. You could have this gorgeous Carnegie…" "And then… surprise!" says Risa Honig, the library's head of capital planning.
From Inside the New York Public Library's Last, Secret Apartments | Atlas Obscura

WA State Dems push to unblock LGBT material at schools, libraries

Several House Democrats have put forward legislation that would ban schools and libraries from banning Internet access to LGBT material, which is sometimes blocked by filters aimed at keeping out obscene content. The "Don't Block LGBTQ Act," from Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., is meant to ensure that young LGBT people are able to access material that might help them.
From Dems push to unblock LGBT material at schools, libraries | Washington Examiner

"We set out to build the bookstore of the 21st century"

Among the factors that have made Kepler’s a sustainable operation, two stand out. First, Madan and his team have built on the store’s heritage as a place that achieves impact not just as a book retailer but also as a community center. And second, they have explored the potential of using a hybrid structure that combines for-profit and nonprofit elements.
From Turning the Page | Stanford Social Innovation Review

Does Reading a Single Passage of Literary Fiction Really Improve Theory of Mind? (NO)

Fiction simulates the social world and invites us into the minds of characters. This has led various researchers to suggest that reading fiction improves our understanding of others’ cognitive and emotional states. Kidd and Castano (2013) received a great deal of attention by providing support for this claim. Their article reported that reading segments of literary fiction (but not popular fiction or nonfiction) immediately and significantly improved performance on the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET), an advanced theory-of-mind test. Here we report a replication attempt by 3 independent research groups, with 792 participants randomly assigned to 1 of 4 conditions (literary fiction, popular fiction, nonfiction, and no reading). In contrast to Kidd and Castano (2013), we found no significant advantage in RMET scores for literary fiction compared to any of the other conditions. However, as in Kidd and Castano and previous research, the Author Recognition Test, a measure of lifetime exposure to fiction, consistently predicted RMET scores across conditions. We conclude that the most plausible link between reading fiction and theory of mind is either that individuals with strong theory of mind are drawn to fiction and/or that a lifetime of reading gradually strengthens theory of mind, but other variables, such as verbal ability, may also be at play. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
From PsycNET - Display Record

“That’s a library? I thought it was a church for a religion that didn’t allow makeup.”

But then. Maybe librarians shouldn’t try to be, maybe the library should be a place where one can focus on the written word, where people can enter the inner conversation instead of the mundane blabber. The library as a place to connect with someone far away (the author) and someone deep inside (the mental model of the reader); the library as a church instead of just another social space.
From The Library and the Church – lib{cache

Don’t Touch That Dial: Standardizing a Consortial Library System

These issues elicit a lot of crocodile tears, hyperbole, and toxic brinkmanship from those trying to get their way. It’s pointless bickering. We can instead focus only on what’s demonstrably best to alter, making warranted changes at the network level, and leaving the rest alone. To avoid the worst case scenario of a lack of cooperation within a library system, the proactive enactment of best practices and decisive enforcement of consortia-wide settings helps minimize technical errors and redundant efforts; avoids the paradox of choice amongst those with disparate customization philosophies; eliminates unsustainable variations merely based on arbitrary precedents or skeuomorphic design; and ensures our collective installations are as usable, future-proof, and efficiently run as possible, rather than an illustration of how “freedom in a commons brings ruin to all.”
From Don’t Touch That Dial: Standardizing a Consortial Library System – Medium

How Banning Books Marginalizes Children

When librarians and teachers reject works that may be “emotionally inappropriate” for children (a common reason), they’re adhering to the traditional and mostly prevailing view that children’s literature should avoid controversial topics. It’s understandable that adults want to minimize children’s anxiety, and schools are often under intense social and financial pressure to maintain established standards. But it ‘s also important to recognize that this tradition was established in the 19th century to serve the needs of the white, wealthy Protestant producers and consumers who have dominated the field of American children’s literature for much of the past 200 years.
From How Banning Books Marginalizes Children - The Atlantic

Why Libraries’ Survival Matters

In advance of “Do Libraries Have a Future?” a Zócalo Public Square event in partnership with WeHo Reads, we asked eight writers to reflect on the most memorable library they ever visited, what it meant to them, and whether it should exist in 100 years.
From Why Libraries’ Survival Matters | PublicCEO

The media of our expression seems to have decreasing longevity.

This experience set me to thinking again about the ephemeral nature of our artifacts and the possibility that the centuries well before ours will be better known than ours will be unless we are persistent about preserving digital content. The earlier media seem to have a kind of timeless longevity while modern media from the 1800s forward seem to have shrinking lifetimes. Just as the monks and Muslims of the Middle Ages preserved content by copying into new media, won't we need to do the same for our modern content?
From 'We're Going Backward!' | October 2016 | Communications of the ACM

In plot twist, independent bookstores survive forecasted doom

Independent bookstores like hers seem to have turned the page on predictions of their economic doom. The American Booksellers Association reports that sales nationally rose by more than 10 percent in 2015 compared to the same period a year earlier and sales in the first two quarters on 2016 remained strong. Blue Willow, too, has seen a 5 percent uptick each of the past couple of years.
From In plot twist, independent bookstores survive forecasted doom - Houston Chronicle

Google swallows 11,000 novels to improve AI's conversation

As writers learn that tech giant has processed their work without permission, the Authors Guild condemns ‘blatantly commercial use of expressive authorship’
From Google swallows 11,000 novels to improve AI's conversation | Books | The Guardian

The world's oldest library gets a 21st century face lift

"We were always discovering things as we were ripping out walls," she says. One standout discovery for her was a hidden room that had a 12th century cupola made with intricate lattice wood. "It was this extremely refined and unusual type of roof that was hidden away," she recalls. "It's typical of the element of surprise you fine in Fez. You'll have these narrow streets and find a small door that enters into an amazing courtyard."
From The world's oldest library gets a 21st century face lift -

Librarians Stand Again Against FBI Overreach

"The Connecticut Four" libarians who fought FBI "national security letters" seeking information on patrons and compelling librarians' silence on the demands are speaking out again. Fresh efforts are afoot in the U.S. Senate to expand the FBI's ability to require libraries to hand over private information in the absence of a judge's order. 
From Librarians Stand Again Against FBI Overreach - Hartford Courant

Don't Call Me Baby, Sweetie or Cupcake!

I’ve worked at my local public library long enough to be on a first-name basis with many of our patrons. And the rest greet me with the courtesy and respect that, as a trained professional, not to mention a woman over 50, I deserve. Except for when they don’t. From time to time, a patron will call me “sweetie.” Or “honey-bunch.” Or “dear.” I have to put up with it, but I don’t have to like it. And I‘m not alone. Recently a fellow librarian posted this lament on Facebook: “A patron just called me baby. Can I go home now?” The comments this inspired from other librarians were sympathetic:
From Don't Call Me Baby, Sweetie or Cupcake! | ZestNow

Printed easter eggs: fore-edge paintings hidden in books

High-end printers began decorating the edges of books as the craft developed, including dyeing and gilding the edges, but in the 17th century, artisans began creating fore-edge paintings that could only be seen when books were fanned.
From Printed easter eggs: fore-edge paintings hidden in books / Boing Boing

A Nonfiction Literary Map Of The United States

And what better way to do that than by reading? While Welty was referencing the importance of place in fiction, there is little doubt that its importance in nonfiction is similarly essential. The very best writing about a place can bring the reader a whole new understanding of a life different than their own, as well as, per Welty, a better grasp of their own place in the world. Here then, are some of the best pieces of nonfiction from every state in America. (Plus D.C., naturally; and with a special shout-out to New York City, because, obviously.)
From A Nonfiction Literary Map Of The United States

Australian library releases free, remixable webcomics maker

"Libraries aren't there to enforce a curriculum: they exist for the whole community to learn and create on their own terms. That's what makes this comic maker project special: it's meant to open the doorway to an understanding of 'digital literacy' which is not just about consumption; which is open, flexible, and most importantly, capable of surprising us.
From Australian library releases free, remixable webcomics maker / Boing Boing

What Can You Read if you're Incarcerated in a Texas Prison?

If you're one of the more than 140,000 people doing time in a Texas state prison, you're not allowed to read books by Bob Dole, Harriet Beecher Stowe or Sojourner Truth. But you're more than welcome to dig into Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf" or David Duke's "My Awakening." Story from LA Times Jacket Copy.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has banned 15,000 books from the correctional facilities it operates, most recently Dan Slater's new "Wolf Boys: Two American Teenagers and Mexico’s Most Dangerous Drug Cartel," the Guardian reports.

The news comes in the middle of Banned Books Week, the annual event celebrating literature that's been targeted by censors.

Deborah Caldwell-Stone of the American Library Assn., a Banned Books Week sponsor, blasted Texas’ decision to ban "Wolf Boys," about two Texas teenagers who go to work for the Zetas, an infamous Mexican drug cartel, and are caught and sentenced. The book is nonfiction: Both teenagers are housed in Texas prisons.

Six words added to Oxford English Dictionary to celebrate Roald Dahl’s 100th Birthday Anniversary

Roald Dahl, who was a British novelist, short story writer, poet, screenwriter and fighter pilot, remembered for his witty, beautifully written children’s books, the author having created some of our most beloved fictional characters. He often used incredibly unique words to describe the vivid worlds of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, and Matilda.
From Six words added to Oxford English Dictionary to celebrate Roald Dahl’s 100th Birthday Anniversary – MyKotori

Boston looking to turn the page on lack of school libraries

More than half of public schools in Boston do not have libraries, leaving thousands of students — the majority of them in distressed neighborhoods — without a safe place to study and access to resources so they can learn more, according to a new 
district report. Seventy-three of 126 schools in Boston do not have a library — and even at those that do, most don’t have full-time librarians or enough books, according to the five-year Boston Public Schools library services plan approved by the School Committee this week.
From BPS looking to turn the page on lack of libraries | Boston Herald


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