February 2009

Amazon Backs Off Text-to-Speech Feature in Kindle

Amazon announced today that it will let publishers decide whether they want the new Kindle e-book device to read their books aloud.

The text-to-speech feature allows Kindle owners to have books read to them in a male or female computerized voice. The president of the Authors Guild, Roy Blount Jr., recently contributed an essay to the editorial page of The New York Times laying out the guild’s objections to the feature, which he said undermined the market for the professional audio books that are sold separately.

More here.

Final Edition: Rocky Mountain News to Shut Down Today

Colorado’s oldest newspaper, the Rocky Mountain News, is shutting down today, and industry analysts say it won’t be the last to be pulled under by a rising tide of financial woes.

E.W. Scripps announced yesterday that it is closing the 150-year-old Rocky, which has won four Pulitzer Prizes in the last decade, leaving Denver, like most American cities, a one-newspaper town.

These are dark days for the struggling news business. Hearst threatened this week to close the San Francisco Chronicle unless major budget cuts are imposed or a buyer is found, and is also prepared to close the Seattle Post-Intelligencer if it cannot be sold. The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News filed for bankruptcy protection this week, joining Chicago’s Tribune Co. and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune in Chapter 11 status.

Full story in the Washington Post

Should He Be Allowed in the Library?

Leopold Munyakazi, a French professor at Goucher College who was barred from campus after officials learned of his genocide indictment in Rwanda will be allowed to use the college’s library says the AP.

A sophomore peace studies major, Lizzie Chadbourne, helped organize the petition and said 400 people signed it. Ms. Chadbourne said many students believed that Mr. Munyakazi should be allowed access to the library because he was a scholar, even if he no longer taught on the campus in Towson.

Backstory on the professor’s suspension from the Baltimore Sun and Inside Higher Ed.

Call for Papers: Journal of Library Innovation

The Journal of Library Innovation (www.libraryinnovation.org) is seeking submissions for publication for its inaugural issue in January 2010.

The Journal of Library Innovation, one of the first journals devoted explicitly to innovation and creativity in libraries, is a peer reviewed, electronic journal published by the Western New York Library Resources Council. Its mission is to disseminate research and information on innovative practice in libraries of all types.

Innovation in libraries can include, but is not limited to the following:

Call for Papers

The Journal of Library Innovation is seeking submissions for publication for its inaugural issue in January 2010.

The Journal of Library Innovation, one of the first journals devoted explicitly to innovation and creativity in libraries, is a peer reviewed, electronic journal published by the Western New York Library Resources Council. Its mission is to disseminate research and information on innovative practice in libraries of all types.

Innovation in libraries can include, but is not limited to the following:

•The discovery of unmet user needs.

•The introduction of new services or the retooling of traditional services resulting in a better user experience.

•Creative collaboration between libraries, or between libraries and other types of institutions, resulting in demonstrable improvements in service to users.

•Implementing new technologies to improve and extend library service to meet user needs.

•Explorations of the future of libraries.

•Pilot testing unconventional ideas and services.

•Redefining the roles of library staff to better serve users.

•Developing processes that encourage organizational innovation.

•Reaching out to and engaging library users and non-users in new and creative ways.

•Creative library instruction and patron programming.

•Finding new ways to make library collections or library facilities more useful.

The Journal of Library Innovation publishes original research, literature reviews, commentaries, case studies, reports on innovative practices, and book, conference and product reviews.

The journal also welcomes provocative essays that will stimulate thought on the current and future role of libraries in an Internet Age.

For more information and submission guidelines visit http://www.libraryinnovation.org or contact Pamela Jones, the Managing Editor, at [email protected]

Some bright spots in Nebraska

Students rally after hearing library branches may close

Nine-year-old Grace Doll and her friends often visit Lincoln’s South Branch Library.

So when the Sheridan Elementary fourth-grader heard the Library Board was proposing the closing of the South and Bethany branches to save money, she recruited classmates to rally after school Monday to support the 27th and South streets library.

“I’ve been coming here since I was 2, and when I heard about its possible closing I wanted to do something about it,” she said Monday, taking a break from the protest. “It wasn’t hard to get my friends involved. They love reading and they just love to come here.”

Full story here.

Nebraska Librarians In Hot Water Over ‘Rock Band’

Librarians in Nebraska are under investigation by local news media and the state after a youtube video surfaced of these book-lovers setting up and playing Rock Band and Dance Dance Revolution.

Further down in article: Most librarians I’ve known are surprisingly cool. They are dedicated people who like education, books and kids. I’d speculate that the librarians in Nebraska are buying game systems to draw kids to the library by actually making the place relevant to the interests and lifestyles of the people in the community. Shocking, right? After purchasing the games and systems, the librarians set them up and tried them out. Amazing, right?

Story at G4

Philip Jose Farmer Passes Into His Riverworld

Legendary science fiction author Philip Jose Farmer died yesterday morning at his home in North Peoria. He was 91.

Farmer was well known as the man who wrote the Riverworld series of books which are considered classics of science fiction and explore the world of life after death.

Normally a sort of reclusive figure, Philip Jose Farmer was passionate about his local libraries. Indeed, he gave them the credit for fostering his love and of reading and writing.

More news from the PJ Star.

Authors’ Guild vs. reality: Kindles and read-aloud

Cory Doctorow:

Time and again, the Author’s Guild has shown itself to be the epitome of a venal special interest group, the kind of grasping, foolish posturers that make the public cynically assume that the profession it represents is a racket, not a trade. This is, after all, the same gang of weirdos who opposed the used book trade going online.

Apply for ALA’s $5,000 Gaming Grants

If you’re a public or school librarian who’s found a creative way to connect literacy and gaming, the American Library Association’s Office for Literacy and Outreach Services wants you to apply for one of its $5,000 grants. They’re designed to help librarians expand and further develop innovative literacy gaming services for kids ages 10-18.

Full article in School Library Journal