Last week the media was buzzing with library support following a misguided (and later retracted) editorial in Forbes suggesting that libraries could be replaced by Amazon to save money. The response to that editorial continues this week in various sources. And now, a buzz book coming out this October from Simon Schuster is set to keep the library love flowing.
Listed among PW’s most anticipated books coming this fall is New Yorker staff writer Susan Orlean’s The Library Book. As PW’s review notes, Orlean uses the unsolved mystery of the 1986 Los Angeles Public Library fire as a jumping off point, and weaves the history of libraries with her own memories and interviews with LAPL employees into what’s being called “a love letter” to libraries.
The April 29, 1986, fire at LAPL broke about just before 11 a.m. in the stacks of the main branch and burned for seven hours, destroying 400,000 books and damaging hundreds of thousands more. In her book, Orlean launches her own investigation (including a look at the man police believed started the fire) and “along the way introduces readers to California Public Library system staffers, among them Arin Kasparian, on the circulation desk; Kren Malone, director of the main branch; and Glen Creason, a senior librarian whose tenure spans “the fire [and] the AIDS crisis, which killed 11 librarians.”
ReadersFirst, the library collective dedicated to improving library patrons’ access to e-books finally received a response this week to questions the group posed to officials at Macmillan’s Tor Books regarding the publisher’s decision to window frontlist e-book titles in libraries. “Thank you for taking the time to write to us about Tor’s change in their eLending policy,” the response reads. “We appreciate your candid and thoughtful response as we engage in this test pilot, and we will share your feedback with the publisher.” OK then, good talk.
in Wired, Peter Rubin has a thought-provoking piece on why it’s never too late to become a reader again. “Look, I’m just gonna say it. Reading is hard. Not the act, but the pursuit. There’s always something else to do—something easier, something bigger or louder, something that makes you feel better, something that makes you feel worse. (Looking at you, social media.) But none of that changes the fact that we all want to be readers.”
Here’s a potentially thorny one for libraries. This week a federal judge blocked the online publication of blueprints for making guns via 3D printers. As The New York Times reports, “the court rulings are just the beginning of what could become a fierce legal clash pitting concerns about public safety [against claims] of a First Amendment right to publish the materials.” A collision of free speech, public safety, and technology, you say?
As many libraries now have 3D printers, and many more will have them in the future, the issue is on the radar for libraries: can patrons use the library printers to create weapons? In Arizona, CBS affiliate, KPHO/KTVK reports that at least some libraries already require patrons using the 3D printers to sign waivers preventing them from printing anything inappropriate, including weapons. But the report notes as well that the 3D printers in libraries aren’t sophisticated enough to create such weapons anyway, at least, not yet.
Meanwhile, Mike Masnick at TechDirt has a good take on the reality of 3D printed weapons and the chilling First Amendment implications of banning the publication of the blueprints. “Even if you hate guns and think the 2nd Amendment should go away,” he concludes, “please think carefully about what the world looks like when the government is allowed to censor speech that it claims is a risk to national security.”
If you thought President Trump ripping up documents was a challenge for the National Archives, there’s more where that came from. Newsweek reports that U.S. historians are rallying to stop federal immigration agencies from destroying records of their treatment towards immigrants. “In a letter addressed to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), which instructs federal agencies on how to maintain their records, the American Historical Association has demanded that the regulatory body shut down any ‘threats to the preservation of records relating to the treatment of immigrants by the U.S. Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).'”
In the wake of the controversial Forbes editorial we discussed last week, Fast Company has a piece on a book from Tachsen that features the world’s most beautiful libraries.
Smithsonian, reports that archaeologists in Cologne, German, have unearthed the foundations of Germany’s oldest known library, built between 150 and 200 C.E., and believed to have held an estimated 20,000 ancient scrolls.
Boing Boing has a post up on Thomas Guignard (a.k.a. timtom) and his collection of Creative Commons photographs of all the beautiful libraries he’s taken over the years.
Honey, what should we license for dinner tonight? OK, we’re not there, yet, but via Forbes, comes this story about an interesting copyright case in Europe, where a company is trying to copyright a recipe for cheese, and the broader implications of extending copyright into the culinary world. “Slapping copyrights or intellectual property restrictions on food removes the dish from the larger community, isolating the ingredient or dish from the larger evolution that comes about by sharing ideas,” the reporter, Leslie Wu, observes. “And in the rush to claim something first, sometimes what gets lost is the idea of doing it best.”
From The New York Times, comes a look at booktubers.
On the Public Library of Science blog, a thoughtful take on the tough stance Europe is taking with Elsevier over escalating subscription costs, and the potentially global implications. “One of the effects of the national negotiations happening in Europe is cracking the secrecy around the costs of the big publisher deals, and growing academic awareness of the case for change,” writes Hilda Bastian. “Access to subscription journals has always been patchy globally, and for everyone not aligned to institutions that can pay for them. Jolting the luckiest parts of academia from the comfort of being able to ignore this could change everything.”
In these increasingly tough times, how do we interact with more civility? From The Tennessean, a nice piece on school librarian Amanda Smithfield, who has organized monthly round table discussions with students of different political stripes to talk about tough issues of the day over pizza.