August 2009

No parking? Librarians will deliver to your car

There’ll be no carhops on roller skates. And if you’re hankering for a burger and fries, forget it. But if it’s food for the mind you crave — books, music or movies — staffers at some of the Houston Public Library’s most congested branches will be happy to deliver your order right to your car.

The library’s new curbside service, HPL To Go, is being tested at the Looscan Neighborhood Library and the McGovern-Stella Link Library. If trials go well, the service will be extended to other “parking challenged” branches.

Full story here

Flood The LFPL With Money Today!

By now you probably know the story. Louisville’s Main Library at York and Third streets was heavily damaged by flooding, with thousands of books soaked and the building’s mechanical systems knocked out along with all of the computers at branches systemwide. Today a bunch of us are doing a blogathon to raise funds on behalf of the Louisville Free Public Library. You can give to the Louisville Free Public Library Foundation ( or head over to join Steve Lawson’s quest to write them a check for $5,000.

Quick update from Lawson: At this moment, we have $3,638.95 after PayPal takes its cut. So that leaves us with more than $1,300 to raise today and tomorrow.

Meet Beth Hollis, aka MegaBeth

By day, she’s Beth Hollis, a 53-year-old reference librarian in Akron, Ohio. By night, she’s MegaBeth, an ageless dynamo on the roller derby rink.

Before discovering roller derby, Hollis had been casting about for a hobby. “I tried knitting and literally got kicked out of the knitting class for just not being able to get the hang of it,” she chortled. “I guess it was just too soon for me to try knitting. I needed something that maybe was a little bit more physical for a hobby.”

Video and story From CNN.

Dire Warning to Publishers: The End of Hardbacks

According to the French publishing group Hachette: Hardback books could be killed off if Amazon’s e-books and Google’s digital library force publishers to slash prices, warns Arnaud Nourry, Hachette’s chief executive.

Mr Nourry said unilateral pricing by Google, Amazon and other e-book retailers such as Barnes & Noble could destroy publishers’ profits (not to mention what is happening to bookstores).

He said publishers were “very hostile” to Amazon’s pricing strategy – over which the online retailer failed to consult publishers – to charge $9.99 for all its e-books in the US. He also pointed to plans by Google to put millions of out-of-copyright books online for public use.

“On the one hand, you have millions of books for free where there is no longer an author to pay and, on the other hand, there are very recent books, bestsellers at $9.99, which means that all the rest will have to be sold at between zero and $9.99,” Mr Nourry said.

Mr Nourry’s comments come as analysts predict a growth spurt for the still-niche electronic reader market, with wireless devices from Sony, Plastic Logic and others due to compete with the Kindle.

Financial Times reports.

Look This Up on Wikipedia: How Big Is Too Big?

Considering that Wikipedia has reached Top Five world status among Web sites – with more than 330 million users – its annual Wikimania conference, which ended Friday night in Buenos Aires, featured a lot of hand-wringing about all the problems the project faces.

After emerging on the scene less than a decade ago, Wikipedia is facing a slowdown in growth. Why? Are new contributors being scared away? Are there too many rules? Why are the biggest players in the community overwhelmingly men? And white? And will Wikipedia ever become a true global phenomenon, as relevant to the lives of people in the third world as it is in the developed world?

Like a freelancer suddenly overwhelmed with assignments, Wikipedians often found themselves looking back at the sleepy days when they were largely left alone. Scratch that. Maybe the better comparison is to the successful journalists who look back to the time when they were so busy they never had time to reflect.

More at: NYT Bits Blog

What Facebook Quizzes Know About You: Take Action FB Users

What Facebook Quizzes Know About You – advises facebook users that even if they themselves don’t use a particular app, that the app. can access their personal information if a friend uses it.

Links for adjusting your privacy settings are included in the article. At the present time, the ACLU of Northern California is taking action to raise awareness of privacy issues surrounding Facebook applications, in particular quizzes.

Advice from a colleague: DELETE your FB apps NOW: At the top of the FB page, click on Settings, then Application Settings. At top right, it says Show: & a drop down menu. Select Authorized. This will bring up a list of all the APPS you have authorized to have access to y…our information. Use the X on the right side of each one you want to delete. If there is no X, that means it is a Facebook created app you cannot delete.

The Updating Game

Great column from Gail Collins in Friday’s NY Times about how your computers/phones/blackberries etc. want to keep you updated.

There was a time when people in search of a full and meaningful life were advised to start off each morning by telling themselves: “Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better.”

Now, we get up and hear: “Updates are ready for your computer.”

It’s depressing to realize that my computer is more bent on self-improvement than I am. At home, my laptop is so ready to update that it can barely be constrained. The other day, I found three different pleas floating around on the screen.

Read her column here.

Students Get New Assignment: Pick Books You Like

For years Lorrie McNeill loved teaching “To Kill a Mockingbird,” the Harper Lee classic that many Americans regard as a literary rite of passage.

But last fall, for the first time in 15 years, Ms. McNeill, 42, did not assign “Mockingbird” — or any novel. Instead she turned over all the decisions about which books to read to the students in her seventh- and eighth-grade English classes at Jonesboro Middle School in this south Atlanta suburb.

Among their choices: James Patterson‘s adrenaline-fueled “Maximum Ride” books, plenty of young-adult chick-lit novels and even the “Captain Underpants” series of comic-book-style novels.

Full story in the NYT