International

Edinburgh University has Given a Library Card to a Cat

Jordan has turned his back on his Catholic friar owners and adopted Edinburgh University library as his main residence. The feline has his own Facebook page set up by students with over 6,800 “likes”. [Ed. note: the Facebook page is a hoot; pictures of Library Cat and a stream-of-consciousness storyline by an anonymous commenter].

And now the black and white pet has been made “official” by getting a card for the library, complete with a photo and 2017 expiry date. The eight-year-old came to the Catholic chaplaincy as a kitten but never took to life as a mouse catcher with men of the cloth.

Despite being named after a 12th Century saint, Jordan preferred the company of trendy young students - and an easy life in the well-heated library. Every day, Jordan leaves the friary and crosses Edinburgh’s leafy George Square in the old town, to the university’s main library.

There, he enjoys being petted by students from across the globe, and even has a favourite turquoise chair near the door. More from Edinburgh News. And here's Jordan's interview on Scottish TV.

Doris Lessing's Books to Go to Zimbabwe Libraries

From ABC News:

Nobel Prize-winning novelist Doris Lessing, who died last year, spent her early years in Zimbabwe. She is still giving back to the country whose former white rulers banished her for speaking against racial discrimination.

The bulk of Lessing's book collection was handed over to the Harare City Library (at the corner of Rotten Row and Pennyfeather), which will catalogue the more than 3,000 books. The donation complements the author's role in opening libraries in Zimbabwe, to make books available to rural people.

"For us she continues to live," said 42-year-old Kempson Mudenda, who worked with Lessing when she established the Africa Community Publishing and Development Trust.

"The libraries she helped set up are giving life to village children who would otherwise be doomed," said Mudenda, who said he used to trudge bush paths daily to reach remote villages with books.

Lessing's trust started libraries in thatched mud huts and under trees after the author was allowed to return to Zimbabwe following independence in 1980.

Report from Monrovia - Letter from Mike Weah, the Liberian Librarian

Further to our previous story about Monrovia's only library, Huffington Post reporter B. D. Colen quotes a letter he received from Mike Weah:

    Today is a sunny Sunday in Monrovia. About five major hospitals are closed and are gradually planning to reopen. Catholic hospital, one of the largest, was massively hit by the Ebola virus. A number of her staff including doctors were affected. The hospital chief administrator was the first to die. It is closed but there are still Ebola patients(nurses) on the wards and bodies in the morgue. The "rapid response unit" has been unable to transfer the patients because of lack of space at the only two over crowded official isolated centers in the whole country. Also, they claimed that they don't have the vehicle to pick up the bodies from the morgue.

Many communities are experiencing this problem. There was rioting on Saturday in one of the nearby communities because the Ebola bodies had not been picked up for days. The police was called in. Law and order is becoming a challenged even though a State of Emergency has been declared in Liberia. Travel around the country has been drastically restricted and the army and police are out to enforce. We live in a part of Monrovia called Old Road, just about a 7-10 minute walk from the Catholic Hospital. There is a big open air market here on the Old Road where we do our shopping for local food stuff. Because of lack of food and other needed items, an Ebola patient may decide to leave the hospital and come to the market to purchase something. Then All hell would break up in this area. -- Read More

Mike, the Liberian Librarian. Trying to Help His People While Dealing With Civil Wars, Illiteracy and Now Ebola

Via Huff Post:

In his 60 years Michael Weah, like most Liberians, has had to contend with realities most of us in the United States can not even comprehend. Thirty-four years ago, when he was 26, came the bloody military coup staged by Samuel Doe, that upended what had been the social and political order in Liberia since its colonization by American freemen and former slaves in 1820. Then in 1989 Charles Taylor overthrew Doe, and Liberia slid into a period of on-again-off-again civil wars.

During the period of the civil wars, when life in Monrovia was restricted by a curfew that began in the late afternoon, Michael Weah established a small lending library, supplying anyone who asked with reading material - books, magazines, newspapers, donated from overseas. All he asked was that when a person was through with the reading material they pass it on to someone else who would use it to sustain them through the interminable periods of daily isolation.

During the decade-plus of civil wars, the initial operation grew into the We-Care Library, the only real library in Monrovia, Liberia's capital city. Every day the library is literally jammed with school children of all ages, who come to study, do their home work, and expand their horizons.

The library recently had to close due to the spread of the Ebola virus in West Africa. As Mike wrote the other day to friends in the U.S. and Canada, "family wise, I have lost three persons: my doctor, the man who clears our books from the port, and a young nephew. Everybody fled from the house when the young boy started to show the symptoms. He died alone and his body is still lying on the porch where he passed. The health workers were called about six hours ago. They may come or may not."

Singapore Library Pulls Books About Gay Couples

Where is it illegal to chew gum and/or be in a gay relationship? Singapore of course.

Story from NPR's The Two-Way Blog , interpret the name of the blog as you see fit.

The two books are And Tango Makes Three, inspired by two real male penguins who hatched an egg together, and The White Swan Express, about four couples — one of which is a lesbian couple — who travel to China to adopt baby girls. The books will be pulped, according to Time Magazine.

Limits to Books in British Prisons Draws Creative Ire

From The New York Times:

Mr. Chris Mr. Grayling is Britain’s secretary of state for justice, and last November, his department tightened the rules on privileges granted to inmates. One of the changes was to restrict the flow of books into prisons, with a ban on packages of books brought or sent by friends and relatives. Mr. MacShane’s case suggests that some guards have interpreted the policy as a broader ban, though the Ministry of Justice says books should be confiscated only on admission for logistical reasons or if the books are considered inappropriate.

Either way, the effect is to move toward a system under which prisoners must borrow books from prison libraries or earn the right to buy them through good behavior. The debate over access to literature in prison has put Mr. Grayling at the center of an acrimonious dispute over crime and punishment, rehabilitation and whether receiving books is a right or a privilege for a prisoner.

It has also made him some very creative enemies. Novelists, including Kathy Lette and Margaret Drabble, are threatening to name some of their most villainous and unfortunate fictional characters after Mr. Grayling. Ms. Lette said her coming novel, “Courting Trouble,” will feature a corrupt lawyer named Chris Grayling who ends up in a prison where he is deprived of reading matter and goes insane.

“For Britain to be punishing people by starving them of literature is cruel and unusual punishment,” Ms. Lette said as she took part in a protest last month outside the prime minister’s office. “We are going to impale him on the end of our pens. Poetic justice is true justice.”

Los Angeles Public Library is Having a #LiteraryWorldCup, How About Your Library?

The competition is heating up for the Literary World Cup at the LA Public Library on twitter @LAPublicLibrary.


If you're on twitter, follow along at #LiteraryWorldCup.

Benches Shaped Like Open Books Will Pop Up in London this Summer

News from the UK

Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust says: “We are very excited to be bringing a collection of BookBenches to London this summer to spread the love of reading across the capital. From Conan Doyle’s Sherlock to Cressida’s dragons, there will be plenty in store for visitors to celebrate reading for enjoyment and the UK’s rich literary culture.”

Lovely to think about Londoners having lunch and a read on one of these. Better than those silly cows & sheep.

Russian court demands U.S. Library of Congress hand over Jewish texts

Good Shabbat.

Via Reuters: A Russian court demanded on Thursday that the U.S. Library of Congress hand back seven precious Jewish texts to Moscow - and, in a tit-for-tat ruling, said it should pay a massive fine for every day it delays.

The so-called Schneerson collection, claimed by both Russia and the New York-based Hasidic Chabad-Lubavitch group, has become a bone of contention in Russia-U.S. ties, at their lowest for decades due to the Ukraine crisis.

The Library of Congress has seven books of the collection, Interfax reported. Russia has 4,425 texts, including editions of the Torah and the Talmud, some of them dating back to to the 16th century. A Moscow arbitration court ruled that the Library of Congress should pay $50,000 in fines for every day the seven books are not handed over.

It's World Book Day...and Night!

The International Publishers Association released a document on how the day is celebrated around the world.

Since 1995, the 23rd of April (birth date of Shakespeare and Cervantes) has been designated by UNESCO as World Book & Copyright Day, with many events taking place to celebrate books, authors and reading.

In Madrid, the Premio Cervantes, the most prestigious literary prize in the Spanish language, will be awarded by the King of Spain to Elena Poniatowska, a Mexican writer and journalist. In Budapest, the International Book Fair will open. In the United States, volunteers will distribute 500,000 books provided free by publishers, with one third going to school pupils. In many other countries, World Book Day events take place on March 6th.

You can read about the different traditions and events associated with World Book Day in a specially commissioned IPA report, available here as a pdf.

It's also World Book Night USA! I'm giving away copies of Jamie Ford's Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet at my Brooklyn subway plaza. Any other givers out there? Chime in!

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