International

Frankfurt Book Fair Opens Today With China as Major Focus

BERLIN — Organizers of the Frankfurt Book Fair worked for 15 years to secure China as the guest of honor at their five-day showcase of global trends and best sellers that opens to industry delegates Wednesday. Organizers are steeling themselves for lively discussions and the possibility of protests at the fair, which boasts about 6,900 exhibitors from more than 100 countries.

In her speech inaugurating the 61-year-old event, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, "There can be — and I am sure there will be — no taboos in discussions" at the fair. But the director of the German Book Sellers Industry, Gottfried Honnefelder, went one step further insisting that: "We view freedom of opinion as an inalienable right."

In September, members of the Chinese delegation walked out of a pre-book fair symposium after two authors they had insisted not attend showed up anyway. Yet China's appearance this year is expected to generate the most buzz, given censorship in China. The September spat erupted when dissident writers Dai Qing and Bei Ling attended the symposium, despite a Chinese attempt to block them.

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping praised the fair for presenting a chance for an exchange in learning about each other's cultures. -- Read More

WWII G.I. Returns German Books to Archives

After 64 years, veteran Robert E. Thomas returns books that he took from a salt mine in Germany during WWII that contained national treasures hidden by the Nazis. Both books were incunabula, one written in Latin and one in German. The National Archives facilitated the transfer.

Story and video from The Washington Post.

It Takes A Librarian

Chile's President Michelle Bachelet has celebrated her 58th birthday by dancing a traditional Chilean cueca — with a library worker who plucked up the courage to ask.

Bachelet was inaugurating a library in the Santiago district of Cerrillos on Tuesday when she was surprised by a group of musicians who played a "cueca brava" — a popular version of Chile's folkloric dance — for her birthday. While the musicians sang, a library worker asked Chile's president to dance — and she accepted. LA Times.

Fury as Gardener is Appointed Assistant Librarian

Library hiring can be problematic no matter the location.

In South Africa, concerned residents of Tzaneen in Limpopo have called for an investigation into the municipality’s decision to appoint a gardener as library assistant.

The residents claim the gardener was appointed at the Haenertzburg library though she does not have a matric certificate.

The gardener, whose name is known to Sowetan [ed- why aren't they reporting it?] reportedly attended interviews but did not qualify for the position.

But, the chief librarian of Haenertzburg, Mienie de Villiers, allegedly recommended that she be appointed. More from Sowetan.

Library Parks in Medellín Colombia

From librarian Aaron Schmidt (via facebook and Aaron's website):

The five library parks in Medellín, Columbia are amazing and not just because of their architecture.

Included in the network are five library parks, known as “hearts of knowledge.” Located throughout the city in some of Medellin’s most marginalized communities, the library parks have become cultural centers, providing broad, community access to information and educational resources. The network’s libraries offer a range of training programs, including how to use the computer and access information online, and English for the Internet.


More photos here.

The project was recently awarded the 2009 Access to Learning Award from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Twilight Banned At Australian School- Deemed Too Racy

Twilight, though an international bestseller, isn't faring so well in Strathfield, NSW. School administrators and librarians at the Santa Sabina College say the book is too racy for school children to read and have even gone so far to hold seminars on paranormal romance. Librarians have removed the book from the shelves of the school library.

The head librarian, Helen Schutz, says "We wanted to make sure they realise it's fictitious and ensure they don't have a wrong grasp on reality."

More from The Daily Telegraph.

In the UK, On Loan Along With Books...Electric Smart Meters

In Reading, United Kingdom, borough libraries are loaning out the Owl 'energy smart' meters like books, letting people see exactly how much electricity they are using.

Reading East Green campaigner Rob White said it was a victory for his campaign to get more people using the meters, adding: "We are in the middle of a recession and everyone wants to save money.

"These energy-smart meters will help people reduce their electricity bills, saving money and tackling climate change at the same time. This is a great result for Reading and the Green Party. With the smart meter, you can see how much electricity you are using in real-time.

"The librarian was telling me that before they were on the shelves, staff were borrowing them and testing them at home to see how they work and they loved the idea."

Meet The Censor

The British tech publication, The Register, interviewed Peter Robbins of the Internet Watch Foundation in the UK. El Reg broached the questions of blocking, the width of the net cast by the group, and the groups position on the online world. Robbins is a former borough police commander in Hackney.

Another Living Library at the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library

For the second time in 2009, the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System (Central Library) hosted a Living Library program on September 2.

The Living Library is an international movement designed to bring library patrons face-to-face with living objects of prejudice and discrimination. Library patrons can "check-out" living "books" for 30 minutes of private conversation. Our "books" have included an African-American Albino, a HIV+ Gay Man, a Homeless Person, a Lesbian, a Muslim, a (new) Black Panther, a Local Politician, a Police Chief, and a Witch (Wiccan religion).

In our first Living Library event last May, it was evident to all that both library patrons and "books" delighted in each other's company.

Here's another story, about another Living Library event based in Copenhagen Denmark.

Seattle's Former Librarian Serving as Director of Global Libraries Initiative

Deborah Jacobs went from helping build Seattle's state-of-the-art Central Library to visiting libraries overseas with no heat or running water and budgets as low as $30 a month. In her first year on the job at the Gates Foundation, she has directed an expanding program called the Global Libraries Initiative, which aims to improve free access to computers and the Internet in public libraries.

Today she is presenting a $1 million prize to a foundation in Medellín, Colombia, for its innovative use of technology in libraries to promote community development. More from The Seattle Times.

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