International

International

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!

Applications now open for Librarians Without Borders service trip to Guatemala

<p><span style="color: #333333; font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; line-height: 20px; background-color: #ffffff;">&nbsp;</span><img src="http://lwb-online.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/guatemala-trip-banner.jpg" width="550" height="263" style="vertical-align: top;"></p><p><span style="color: #333333; font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; line-height: 20px; background-color: #ffffff;">LIS students and professionals are invited to apply for the Librarians With

Right-Wing French Politician Protests Childrens Book "Everybody Get Naked"

Here's the story via Melville House about a three year old childrens book that is ruffling some French feathers.

In a country where the banning of books is rare and mostly unheard of, France has recently experienced a spate of attacks by its politicians on the most liberal of French children’s books. Right-wing and even mainstream politicians have begun calling for the censorship of certain books in a trend that seems to reflect that “the domestic political system in France is under strain”, as Olivia Snaije noted for Publishing Perspectives.

In the most public example, the leader of the UMP, France’s main opposition party (which was previously led by President Nicolas Sarkozy), Jean-François Copé, appeared on French TV holding a copy of Tous à Poil (Everybody Gets Naked). Surely one of the sweetest ideas for a children’s book, Tous à Poil is a story in which everyone, the baby, the babysitter, the neighbour, the teacher and even the CEO get naked. The book’s authors, Claire Franek and Marc Daniau, explained they had written it in in order to show:

“Real bodies in natural situations from a child’s everyday life to counter the numerous images of bodies, often undressed, altered by Photoshop or plastic surgery, that are shown in ads or on the covers of magazines.”

Hundreds of Ann Frank's Diary Copies Vandalized in Tokyo's Libraries

From The New York Times:

TOKYO — Japan on Friday promised to begin an investigation into the mysterious mutilation of hundreds of copies of “Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl” and other books related to her at public libraries across Tokyo.

Local news media reports said 31 municipal libraries had found 265 copies of the diary by Frank, the young Holocaust victim, and other books vandalized, usually with several pages torn or ripped out. The reports said some libraries had taken copies of the diary off their shelves to protect them.

Officials said they did not know the motive for the vandalism, the first cases of which were discovered earlier this month.

Sarajevo Reopens 477-year old library After Wars Destruction


Via Boston.com:

Shown above: Bosnian security worker passes by old books on display during opening ceremony of Gazi Husrev-bey library in Sarajevo, on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014. Sarajevo reopens the 477-year old library on Wednesday, that contains the biggest collection of oriental books and manuscripts in Southeast Europe, after it was rebuilt with the financial donation from Qatar. Dodging bullets and bombs during the 1992-95 Bosnian war and the city's siege, Sarajevans moved the manuscripts eight times to different locations to save them from destruction. (AP Photo/Amel Emric)

Perhaps Some of You Out There in Libraryland Would Like to Work in Abu Dhabi

Help Us Please Requests Filipino College Librarian

Letter received via Facebook message to Save Libraries and reprinted its entirety:

Dear Sir/Madam:

In our effort to continue meeting the research needs of our students of EASTERN SAMAR STATE UNIVERSITY GUIUAN CAMPUS, we knock at your kind heart to assist us financially, provide or donate us with books or others reading materials to restart what has been ruined by super typhoon “Yolanda”, in our campus!

Our Campus Library accommodates an average of 3,000 students (undergraduate and graduate) distributed to the different programs of the campus: education, engineering, technology, hotel/restaurant and entrepreneurial management programs.

At present, the Campus Library was vastly devastated by the wrath of super typhoon on November 8, 2013, damaging around P15M of our library building, equipment, and collection. Hence, this appeal for your benevolent assistance so we can help restore our library, attend to the research needs of our clientele and start resume our library services the soonest possible time.

You may visit our Facebook account ESSU GUIUAN UNIVERSITY LIBRARY for the complete photos to see the extent of damage typhoon Yolanda has ruined our Library.

Your assistance for this purpose will be highly and gratefully appreciated. If our prayer finds favor in you, please visit our campus or you may contact us at this cell number 09158717354/09199738753.

Thank you. May God return the blessings to you a thousand fold.

Respectfully yours,

EVA H. ABLETES (Sgd)
College Librarian

Norway is digitizing its whole library

The National Library of Norway is planning to digitize all the books by the mid 2020s.

Yes. All. The. Books. In Norwegian, at least. Hundreds of thousands of them. Every book in the library's holdings.

By law, "all published content, in all media, [must] be deposited with the National Library of Norway," so when the library is finished scanning, the entire record of a people's language and literature will be machine-readable and sitting in whatever we call the cloud in 15 years.

The whole story is at The Atlantic.

Waterstones Response to Amazon's Drone Delivery Plans -- O.W.L.S.



Originally posted by Birdie -- technical problems were causing embed not to work. She had the following comment with original post -- Hilarious response by Waterstones to Amazon's "Prime Air" concept of drone book delivery. Got to love the closing line.

Huge Thefts from Girolamini Library with a Librarian in the Plot

Big story from Naples Italy via The New York Times. Here's the perp, Marino Massimo De Caro, now on trial.

It was one of the most dramatic thefts ever to hit the rare-book world, the disappearance of thousands of volumes — including centuries-old editions of Aristotle, Descartes, Galileo and Machiavelli — from the Baroque-era Girolamini Library in Naples. Now, prosecutors at a trial here are trying to show how such a wholesale violation of Western cultural patrimony could have taken place.

The very man charged with protecting these treasures, Marino Massimo De Caro, a politically connected former director of the library, is accused of being at the center of a network of middlemen, book dealers and possibly crooked conservators — all part of what prosecutors say is a sometimes corrupt market for rare books in which much is spent and few questions are asked. Apart from Mr. De Caro, 13 others are charged, including a priest.

Some interesting backstory on the theft here and and here from the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers.

LISTen: An LISNews.org Program -- Episode #256

An Ancient Library and Advice from the Buddha

Fascinating piece in the New Yorker about an ancient Chinese library in Dunhuang, unearthed about one hundred years ago, and where scholars are now in the process of digitizing thousand year old Chinese manuscripts.

A portion of the article equating print with prayer...

"The paper items preserved in the Library also shed light on the origins of another information technology: print. The Diamond Sutra, one of the most famous documents recovered from Dunhuang, was commissioned in 868 A.D., “for free distribution,” by a man named Wang Jie, who wanted to commemorate his parents. In the well-known sermon that it contains, the Buddha declares that the merit accrued from reading and reciting the sutra was worth more than a galaxy filled with jewels. In other words, reproducing scriptures, whether orally or on paper, was good for karma. Printing began as a form of prayer, the equivalent of turning a prayer wheel or slipping a note into the Western Wall in Jerusalem, but on an industrial scale."

The Most Loyal Patron

From The Telegraph, UK:

Louise Brown, 91 (NOT the first IVF baby), has read up to a dozen books a week since 1946 without incurring a single fine for late returns.

She borrows mainly large print books because she is partially sighted, and has almost worked her way through her local library's entire stock.

Library staff in Stranraer, Dumfries and Galloway, say the pensioner's rapacious reading habits over 60 years could earn her a place in the record books. Mrs Brown, a widow, said: "My parents were great readers and I've always loved books. I started reading when I was five and have never stopped. I like anything I can get my hands on." She said her favourite genres are family sagas, historical novels and war stories, but added: "I also like Mills and Boon for light reading at night." She said she had read too many books to have a favourite or top five, but if she had to choose a preferred genre it would be family sagas or historical novels.

Louise Pride, her daughter, said: "She has aids to help her sight and usually borrows large print books. But the trouble is she has read nearly all of them in the local library. She still finds time to ready a newspaper every day and to watch TV."

LISTen: An LISNews.org Program -- Episode #253

This week: THE BRAZIL INCIDENT

Yes, the repercussions from the NSA spying revelations continue. Now we are seeing looming growth in the fracturing of the Internet with the imposition of national boundaries. Even OCLC may be impacted by this. We take a few minutes to discuss the situation and its implications.

A brief news miscellany is also presented.

Related links:

Download here (MP3) (Ogg Vorbis) (Free Lossless Audio Codec) (Speex), or subscribe to the podcast (MP3) to have episodes delivered to your media player. We suggest subscribing by way of a service like gpodder.net. Throw a paperback at us via this Amazon picklist.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/us/.

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