News

Letters to the Editor; Responses To Potential Changes to the NYPL

New York Times: A Reimagined Library, Are the Changes Good? in response to previous NYTimes articles.

To the Editor:

Like innumerable writers and researchers over the years, I have experienced the joy (many times) of entering the New York Public Library with a near-hopeless citation in hand only to find the very material I was looking for in just minutes. It is a euphoric moment to which many writers can attest, and it has enriched the quality and content of books beyond counting.

That which gets put off to tomorrow rarely gets done, yet the library administration, under its new plan, would move a huge chunk of its research collection off site, ostensibly available some other day, when a researcher makes a request. The splendor of the library is not only the vastness of its collection but also the immediacy of it.

If there remain any wonders of the world, the New York Public Library is one of them. Please don’t change it.

MITCH HOROWITZ
New York, April 16, 2012

The writer is vice president and editor in chief at Tarcher/Penguin.

To the Editor:

There’s a comfort level in keeping the status quo, yet the 21st century offers us so many new ways of doing research. Without looking at possibilities for the future, we deny ourselves those opportunities. -- Read More

Cites & Insights April 2012 available

Details here.

Specific discussion of a LISNEWS post in this issue. See- Public Library Closures:
On Not Dropping Like Flies

Pay walls keep tightening

More and more content on the web has been going behind pay walls. The NYT implemented a porous pay wall this year. Non-subscribers could access up to 20 articles a month. This number has been reduced to 10.

Brilliant Idea: More Than 80,000 Of Einstein's Documents Going Online

They include work related to his most famous formula — E=mc² — and personal papers, such as letters to and from his former mistresses.

Full piece on NPR

The NPR piece suggest that this gallery is a good place to start browsing.

Popular Authors Publish New Haggadah (Passover Seder Book)

NEW YORK — Authors Jonathan Safran Foer and Nathan Englander, seated together at a Brooklyn diner, would like to continue a discussion that has lasted for centuries.

They have collaborated on a text dating to Biblical times and revisited each year by millions of Jews worldwide. "New American Haggadah," just published by Little, Brown and Company, is a new edition of the Passover narrative that has been edited by Foer and translated by Englander.

They are a contrast — the earnest Foer and the expansive Englander — but they share skepticism about organized religion and anxiousness about what it means to be a Jew. Both have included Jewish themes in their fiction, whether the grandson of a Holocaust survivor seeking answers about the past in Foer's "Everything Is Illuminated" or the tug of war between religious and secular culture in Englander's "For the Relief of Unbearable Urges."

Foer, inspired by Seders (the traditional Passover gatherings) he has attended, says he thought of the project about six years ago. -- Read More

Inside Edition Who Is Lurking In Your Public Library

[Edit 2/23 9:15am] It's now on the site: http://insideedition.com/news/7713/inside-edition-investigates-whos-lurking-in-your-library....

To be broadcast Wednesday, Feb. 22
New York, NY – Feb 22nd – It’s the last place you think you’d be a victim – the public library. But an INSIDE EDITION investigation found that crimes are being committed across the country in these supposedly safe havens, from petty thefts to violent, sexual assaults. Also disturbing is that library computers are being used by some patrons to watch graphic, adult videos, which is perfectly legal and often even permitted in libraries.
...
Lt. Curt Stoldt of the East Harford, CT Police Department tells INSIDE EDITION that criminals count on library patrons to have a false sense of security.

STOLDT: “The bad guys know that they are not going to get much resistance for their crimes. People that go to libraries think that it’s a safe place, a place of learning, reading, not a place where criminals go to commit crimes. You should always keep your guard up.”

INSIDE EDITION’s I-Squad reviewed incident reports from libraries in 10 large cities from the last 2 years and the findings may surprise people. For example,

In Austin, Texas there were 612 incidents of harassment /sexual harassment.
In Milwaukee, Wis. there were 351 incidents of theft.
In San Francisco, Calif. there were 62 cases of assault.

INSIDE EDITION is produced daily by Inside Edition Inc. and distributed by CBS Television Distribution.
Check local listings for stations and times.

Unrest in Afghanistan over Burning of Korans (Again)

Troops at a US base in Afghanistan mistakenly burned Korans and other religious texts, in an effort to eliminate materials containing "extremist communications." This has sparked riots reminiscent of those caused by pastor Terry Jones burning a Koran in his church last year. Read the latest at The New York Times; CNN; MSNBC.

Elsevier Filters Recommendation Engine to Show Elsevier Titles Only

As the Elsevier boycott continues to gain attention, a good example of what the company stands for: the Ex Libris bX service is a neat little recommendation tool that displays suggested citations, working from a known item and based on search traffic. It provides researchers with suggestions based on their area of interest, and the items displayed are usually additional relevant articles (similar to Amazon's "people who bought this also bought..." feature). The Elsevier ScienceDirect site embeds this service in their own custom application, but librarians noticed the results it was displaying were only for Elsevier titles. Here is the Ex Libris explanation:

bX itself is entirely publisher and platform neutral and sends and displays all relevant articles regardless of journal, publisher or platform. But those who build their own applications – like Elsevier did - can manipulate the data by filtering before displaying it. For the app on Science Direct Elsevier indeed filters the bX articles by those available from Science Direct.

Is it any wonder this company gets a bad rap?

Nancy Pearl's Publishing Deal With Amazon

Nancy Pearl and Amazon.com have struck a deal to republish some lesser recognized titles that are favorites of the Book Lust author and librarian hero.

However, not everyone is thrilled with the idea. As reported in The Seattle Times:

...Overnight, this 67-year-old Seattle grandmother has become a greedy betrayer of the small, sometimes-struggling, bookshops that so supported her. "Yes," says J.B. Dickey, owner of the Seattle Mystery Bookshop about such an assessment. "By aligning herself with Amazon, she's turning her back on independents. Amazon is absolutely antithetical to independent bookselling, and, to many of us, truth, justice and the American way."

If things sound like they've gotten a little heated over Pearl's latest project, they have.

On Wednesday, Amazon.com announced it was issuing "Nancy Pearl's Book Lust Rediscoveries series, a line of Pearl's favorite, presently out-of-print books to share with readers hungry for her expert recommendations."

About six books a year would be published in versions that include print books and eBooks, says the Seattle-headquartered merchandising Goliath that in 2010 had sales of $34 billion, or about $1,077 per second.

Is the Loss of Objective Search a Bad Thing?

Imagine a research database, that upon searching for "wind energy," gives top results about the benefits of turbine technology to one student, while another student (with a different search history, or in a different state) is instead shown articles that focus on the noise and vertigo that wind turbines produce. Sound fishy? Google has unveiled a more personal search that does exactly this sort of thing, called "Search, plus Your World. Is this more about advertising revenue than providing access to information? For a nice review of the issue, see a competitor's Escape your search engine Filter Bubble! When, if ever, would you want filtered results?

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