January 2004

Happy Birthday Macintosh

“It was 20 years ago today …”

Actually, it was January 24, 1984 when Apple announced the Macintosh to their Board of Directors and to the world. Two days earlier, the now-famous “1984” commercial had aired during the Super Bowl. MacDailyNews has a little write-up about the historic product launch and the groundbreaking commercial that TV Guide said “did more to change the way ads are created and viewed than any commercial in years.”

Oh, and you can view the commercial here, too.

Room-To-Read builds and stocks school libraries in Asia

In 1998, Microsoft executive John Wood trekked to Nepal, intending merely to slip on his backpack and get close to real life for a few weeks. After visiting a village library whose collection of no more than 20 books was considered too precious to circulate, Wood was inspired to quit Microsoft and start up the philanthropic organization Room-To-Read. Room-To-Read provides “challenge grants” to communities in India, Nepal, Vietnam and Cambodia for the construction of school libraries (and in some cases the schools themselves), and for the books to go in them. Because the people in these communities must raise at least 50 percent of project funds themselves, schools and their libraries have a greater chance of continued success. Wood’s hometown paper, The Evening Times in Sayre, PA, has a nice profile of him and the organization.

Blume’s Deenie still controversial after 30 years

Here’s a story from the St. Petersburg [FL] Times in which author Judy Blume defends her novel Deenie against its latest challenge. Blume recommends that the people who want to restrict young people’s access to the book, based on a few passages in which the young adolescent title character explores her sexuality, talk to the children who might read it before making a final decision. She suggests that it’s the adults, not the youngsters, who find something inappropriate about the topics in Deenie. Blume rejects the contention of some Hernando County school board members that she wrote the book, published 30 years ago, to “push buttons.”

LJ’s Librarian of the Year

Some LJ staffers think there’s a genuine cover girl on their latest issue. It’s actually Toni Garvey, 51 year old director of the Phoenix, AZ library system. Library Journal just gave her their prestigious annual award attractive photo and story here . Acording to Journal editor Francine Fialkoff, “Garvey was the obvious choice.”

Stanford Withdraws Its ARL Membership

Daniel writes American Libraries Online reports:

“Stanford University Library became the first major academic institution to rescind its membership in the Association of Research Libraries, an organization it helped found in 1932. In a statement released January 29, the university stated that University Librarian Michael A. Keller made the decision during an annual budget review.”

You need to scroll down to “Stanford Withdraws Its ARL Membership” and click on the link for the story since it’s a bonecrushing ALA URL.

The article notes that Stanford’s dues were about $20K year and that they had not been an active ARL participant for seven years or so.

If there are any LISNews readers who are also ARL-affiliated, could we have some comments on whether you feel ARL membership is a positive?

I’m not knocking ARL here. One of their newer proposals is to digitize historic gov’t documents, a task that make research easier and more affordable for a lot more citizens.”

Expensive Library Book

nbruce writes Letter to the New York Times tells of a friend who drove to the library at 7 a.m. to return a library book. The conscientious patron parked horizontally and ran to the book chute. A policeman drove up and gave him a ticket for $100 for blocking two handicapped parking place. The library was closed and there was no one else in the parking lot.”

Textbook Madness

News today about a recent report from the Public Interest Research Group slamming the sharp inflation of textbook prices.

Student spending for books and supplies has risen from a national average of $619 in the 1999-2000 school year to $807 in 2002-2003, according to the National Association of College Stores.

[More information on this phenomenon.]

Students and now even instructors agree that prices have gone the way of journal costs.

University libraries certainly don’t have the budgets to obtain textbooks, but campus bookstores often aren’t the cheapest place to buy titles either.

The PIRG study recommends electronic formats as a better way to keep with with edition updates. A call for an Open Source Library Science Textbook was covered earlier.

MikeRoweSoft.com follow up

Fang-Face writes Well, I’ve got to admit, that boy seems to be using his head for something other than a place to hang his ears. There’s an article at CBC News Online about the boy who frightened the giant, and asked for just an Xbox console and a few financial goodies. He plans on cleaning up by selling off the twenty-five pages of correspondence with MicroSoft’s lawyers; and included in the package is the one inch thick document in which MS outlined its case before the World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva. They’re going up on E-bay.

I wonder if MS will try to buy them back to save themselves some embarrassment.

And who’ll start the bidding?! . . .

Best Sellers, on a Scale of Good Read to Good Grief

Best Sellers, on a Scale of Good Read to Good Grief is a piece by NYTimes book critic Janet Maslin, who says The world of best sellerdom is full of books that might be wildly popular even if their pages were blank.
John Grisham’s latest novel is one. The self-help blockbuster by Spencer Johnson set a new standard for the all-but-empty page.

In these cases, the title itself is the book’s greatest asset. And as Dr. Schlessinger addresses questions like “How can I get him to stop walking around angry and pouting?,” she makes it clear that “proper” is her title’s most indicative word. This contentious book includes scrappy transcripts from the author’s radio show and e-mail feedback (one woman promises to chart her menstrual cycle and not be disagreeable to her family when experiencing PMS).

Indian Libraries Look to Pair Coffee with Books

While I’ve seen lots of stories about coffee shops in US libraries, I was quite charmed by this op-ed piece from The Times of India. Apparently, urbanites in India are asking for comfy chairs and sipping privileges to go along with their book-browsing. My favorite phrase is “Caffeine and cerebral combo meal now tantalises in yuppie avatar especially if one is addicted to the aroma of coffee beans and crispness of fresh paper.”