The American Public Library and the Problem of Purpose

The American Public Library and the Problem of Purpose
http://amzn.to/2hWCocX

The problem of purpose in the title is the 130-year debate within the library community over the proper place for the library in society. Chapters discuss roles for public libraries from the founding of the Boston Public Library with its clear educational purpose through attempts at rational planning for library roles in the 1980s. The controversy about the place of popular fiction in American libraries in the late 19th century; the militant outreach efforts during the early decades of the 20th century; the adult education phase during the 1920s to 1940s; and the library as an information nexus for the people during the late 1960s and 1970s are additional topics covered. The style is highly readable and provides important historical insights that should be of interest not only to library educators and students, but to any public librarian concerned with current service roles.

You can see the table of contents and read the preface here.
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Ten Stories That Shaped 2016

Can you believe we're closing in on 2017? It's time once again to look back at the notable library-related stories from the past year.

Dishonorable Mention: Librarian Arrested in "First Amendment" Issue
In May, an altercation with security personnel at a Kansas City Public Library event led to violent arrests against several people, including the programming director.

10. Google Books Case Finally Ends
In April, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the last appeal of the Authors Guild in the nearly decade-old Google Books copyright case.

9. Open Data Initiatives
This year saw continued growth of efforts to make research data freely available.

8. Libraries Catch Pokémon Go Fever
Many libraries got on board with the latest augmented reality app based on collecting and fighting with other Pokémon creatures.

7. Intellectual Property Disputes Aplenty
Legal cases involving everyone from Anne Frank to the NFL made headlines this year.

6. Libraries Fund Open Access
More libraries now offer to pay author fees for open access publications.

5. Welcome, Robot Overlords
This year AI agents won a game against a grandmaster of Go, made medical diagnoses, and drove a truck across the highway. Time will tell how these advances impact libraries.

Hay-on-Wye: The Town of Books

Hay-on-Wye, also known by its Welsh name Y Gelli (“The Grove”), lies on the border between Wales and England, and is about halfway between the English cities of Bristol and Birmingham. Its English name is derived from the Norman word for an enclosed field (“hay” or “haie”) and from its setting on the banks of the River Wye. Earlier on in its thousand-year history, the town was the scene of immense political upheaval owing to its strategic location between Wales and England. The history of the castle at its center illustrates how tumultuous those times were. Built in A.D. 1200 by the local ruler, William de Breos II, Hay Castle replaced an older, smaller castle. After displeasing King John of England, William was forced to flee to France in 1211, and his wife and son were imprisoned.
From Hay-on-Wye: Interesting Thing of the Day
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Why I still won’t review for or publish with Elsevier–and think you shouldn’t either

Contrary to what a couple of people I talked to at the time intimated might happen, my scientific world didn’t immediately collapse. The only real consequences I’ve experienced as a result of avoiding Elsevier are that (a) on perhaps two or three occasions, I’ve had to think a little bit longer about where to send a particular manuscript, and (b) I’ve had a few dozen conversations (all perfectly civil) about Elsevier and/or academic publishing norms that I otherwise probably wouldn’t have had. Other than that, there’s been essentially no impact on my professional life. I don’t feel that my unwillingness to publish in NeuroImage, Neuron, or Journal of Research in Personality has hurt my productivity or reputation in any meaningful way. And I continue to stand by my position that it’s a mistake for scientists to do business with a publishing company that actively lobbies against the scientific community’s best interests.
From Why I still won’t review for or publish with Elsevier–and think you shouldn’t either – [citation needed]

English Wikipedia is in decline

English Wikipedia is in decline. As a long-time editor & former admin, I was deeply dismayed by the process. Here, I discuss UI principles, changes in Wikipedian culture, the large-scale statistical evidence of decline, run small-scale experiments demonstrating the harm, and conclude with parting thoughts.
From In Defense Of Inclusionism - Gwern.net
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Overdue library book returned to school 120 years late

On discovering the HCS library stamp inside the book, Mrs Gillett, who lives near Taunton, decided to return it. "I can't imagine how the school has managed without it," she said. The book would have been of good use to young Boycott as he eventually graduated with first class honours in Natural Science and became a distinguished naturalist and pathologist. http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-hereford-worcester-38240845
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PG Wodehouse secures redemption as British Library acquires priceless archive

On Thursday, the British Library will announce that the Wodehouse archive is about to join its 20th-century holdings, a collection that includes the papers of Arthur Conan Doyle, Evelyn Waugh, Mervyn Peake, Virginia Woolf, Harold Pinter, Ted Hughes, Beryl Bainbridge, JG Ballard and Angela Carter. This rare and brilliant archive not only casts fascinating new light on Wodehouse’s comic genius, and painstaking daily revisions of his famously carefree prose, it also holds the key to the controversy that has tormented the writer’s posthumous reputation, the “Berlin broadcasts”.
From PG Wodehouse secures redemption as British Library acquires priceless archive | Books | The Guardian
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Libraries Become Unexpected Sites of Hate Crimes

Because of a “sudden increase” in such crimes — three in a couple of weeks after one in a year — the association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom is starting to formally track them, the office’s director, James LaRue, said in an email. He said it was difficult to know whether the uptick was “a blip or a trend.” “We hope to track the details, locations and frequency, the better to stay on top of it, develop training or webinars, and support our members,” he said.
From Libraries Become Unexpected Sites of Hate Crimes - The New York Times
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ALA warns Members it is "Concerned" about Trump Administration

From Central NY News:

Statement from ALA Prez Julie Todaro confirms that she is concerned how core values of free access, intellectual freedom and privacy will fit with the president elect Donald Trump's administration. [aren't we all]

"It is clear many of those values are at odds with messaging or positions taken by the incoming administration."

Will this statement soften the blow of Todaro's statement on November 15? (reprinted below):

“We are ready to work with President-elect Trump, his transition team, incoming administration and members of Congress to bring more economic opportunity to all Americans and advance other goals we have in common.”

Are librarians blockchainable?

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"Information professionals should note the shifts that are happening with the advent of blockchains. From smart contracts that do not require trust brokers (such as banks or lawyers) to broker-less authorities (such as governments obviated by direct democracies), blockchains promise the upheaval of tradition and staid, white-collar positions." http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/NewsBreaks/Blockchain-Roundup-for-Info-Pros-115124.asp

Hidebound: The Grisly Invention of Parchment

While most of the Old World was writing on papyrus, bamboo, and silk, Europe carved its own gruesome path through the history books.
From Hidebound: The Grisly Invention of Parchment : Longreads
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We LOVE Our Librarians

The New York Times has announced the winners of their annual contest. Send these peeps your best.

The 2016 I Love My Librarian Award recipients include three academic librarians, four public librarians and three school librarians. This year’s winners are:

Danielle S. Apfelbaum, New York Institute of Technology, Old Westbury, New York

Andrea Bernard, Tyler Memorial Library, Charlemont, Massachusetts

Olga Valencia Cardenas, Stanislaus County Library, Modesto, California

Elissa Checov, Gwinnett Tech. College / Gwinnett County Public Library, Lawrenceville, Georgia

Kathryn Cole, Northside Elementary School, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Tabatha “Tabby” Farney, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Sherri Ginsberg, Hillsides Library, Pasadena, California

Lia Kharis Hillman, San Francisco Public Library

Jamille Rogers, Marguerite Vann Elementary School, Conway, Arkansas

Roosevelt Weeks, Sr. Houston Public Library

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What's the fastest way to alphabetize your bookshelf?

You work at the college library. You’re in the middle of a quiet afternoon when suddenly, a shipment of 1,280 books arrives. The books are in a straight line, but they're all out of order, and the automatic sorting system is broken. How can you sort the books quickly? Chand John shows how, shedding light on how algorithms help librarians and search engines speedily sort information.
From What's the fastest way to alphabetize your bookshelf? - Chand John - YouTube
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Chicago Offers Free Library Benefits to Public Transit Riders

Taking the Books to Homeless Children

From the New York Times a lovely story about a Bronx librarian and his weekly visits to read to children in the homeless shelter.

Colbert Nembhard looks more like a traveling salesman than a librarian in his dark suit with his rolling suitcase. He strolls 10 minutes to the Crotona Inn homeless shelter from the Morrisania Branch Library, where he has been the manager for 25 years. As he dug through the dozens of books stuffed inside the suitcase, an announcement crackled over the intercom inside the shelter, where 87 families live: “Mr. Nembhard is here to read stories and sing songs to your children.”

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Colson Whitehead, Rep. John Lewis Among National Book Award Winners

"The past week has mad me feel like I'm living my life all over again — that we have to fight some of the same fights," Lewis said. "To see some of the bigotry, the hate, I think there are forces that want to take us back."

When he later accepted his medal for young people's literature, for his work with Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell on March: Book Three, Lewis drew from memories of his own childhood for a tearful speech.

"I remember in 1956 when I was 16 years old, going down to the public library, trying to get library cards, and we were told that the libraries were whites-only and not for coloreds," Lewis said.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/11/16/502349046/colson-whitehead-and-rep-john-lewis-among-winners-of-national-book-awards

I recommend listening to the piece so you can hear the emotion with which Lewis gives his speech.
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How To Weather the Trump Administration

"Head to the library" says the LA Times (or maybe you're already there). In small towns and large, in red states and blue, libraries poll better across the political spectrum than any public trust this side of the fire department. In districts where millage increases don’t require a two-thirds vote (and frequently where they do, as in California) modest library bonds usually win.

Librarians may be the only first responders holding the line between America and a raging national pandemic of absolutism. More desperately than ever, we need our libraries now, and all three of their traditional pillars: 1) education, 2) good reading and 3) the convivial refuge of a place apart. In other words, libraries may be the last coal we have left to blow on.

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I was Racially Profiled at the New York Public Library

At an event to honor Harry Belafone one guest stated that he was stopped and questioned upon his entrance to library, story from The New York Post.

Footnotes from the World's Greatest Bookstores

Book -- Footnotes from the World's Greatest Bookstores: True Tales and Lost Moments from Book Buyers, Booksellers, and Book Lovers

From beloved New Yorker cartoonist Bob Eckstein, Footnotes from the World’s Greatest Bookstores invites you into the heart and soul of every community: the local bookshop, each with its own quirks, charms, and legendary stories.

This collection of seventy-five of the most cherished bookstores from around the world features evocative paintings by Eckstein paired with colorful anecdotes about each shop, featuring a roster of great thinkers and artists of our time, including David Bowie, Tom Wolfe, Joe Frank, Tracy Chevalier, Jonathan Lethem, Michael Palin, Roz Chast, Deepak Chopra, Bob Odenkirk, Robin Williams, Patricia Marx, Philip Glass, Paul McCartney, Dave Berry, Michael Jackson, Jonathan Ames, Terry Gross, Mark Maron, Neil Gaiman, Ann Patchett, Jo Nesbo, Diane Keaton, Chris Ware, Molly Crabapple, Amitav Ghosh, Patti Smith, Mo Willems, Alice Munro, Dave Eggers, Roxanna Robinson, Garrison Keillor and many more.

Page by page, Eckstein perfectly captures our lifelong love affair with books, bookstores, and book-sellers that is at once heartfelt, bittersweet, and cheerfully confessional.

Footnotes from the World's Greatest Bookstores: True Tales and Lost Moments from Book Buyers, Booksellers, and Book Lovers

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Bad News for British Public Libraries

From Inside Higher Ed, Barbara Fister writes:

Last March, the BBC reported that 343 public libraries have closed in the U.K. and another 111 were scheduled to be closed this year. That’s about 15 percent of all public libraries in the UK. Nearly 300 libraries were handed over to community groups to sustain or were outsourced to commercial management. UK libraries have been forced to lay off a quarter of their staff because of budget cuts.

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