Wednesday, December 30, 2009
by: Jessica Heslam
With the crippled economy forcing more Bay Staters to dust off library cards, local lending institutions are throwing the book at overdue scofflaws, turning them over to the cops and courts in a hard-nosed bid to collect fines and recover costly tomes and DVDs.
“The value of the materials is fairly high. We need to replace them,” said Martha Holden, director of the Peabody Institute Library, which has sent the law after a trio of overdue culprits.
The Peabody library filed criminal complaints against 19-year-old Alyssa Toste and 23-year-old Jeramie Crane on Dec. 15. Despite repeated notices, both Toste and Crane failed to return more than $500 worth of overdue books, DVDs, music CDs, books on tape and other items, Holden said.
Toste and Crane did not respond to requests for comment.
Some of the overdue items were taken out recently while some go back a year or two, said assistant library director Gerri Guyote.
The pair have been summoned to appear at a hearing before a clerk magistrate for failing to return library materials. A criminal complaint was filed more than a month ago against a third library member who’s been hoarding $1,000 worth of coveted library material.
It’s the first time Holden has turned to the criminal justice system for help. “It’s the responsibility I feel like I have to other borrowers and taxpayers,” Holden said. “It’s money the taxpayers put aside to purchase materials.”
The severe steps to retrieve borrowed materials comes as cash-strapped public libraries statewide are busier than ever.
Bay Staters borrowed 57 million items from libraries in fiscal 2009, up from 54 million in fiscal 2008, according to Celeste Bruno, spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. Meanwhile, state aid to libraries dropped to $6.8 million in fiscal 2010 from nearly $10 million in fiscal 2009.
“They want their materials back. The idea behind libraries is that community ownership saves us all money,” Bruno said. “When people don’t return their items, they’re keeping it from the rest of the library community and residents.”
In Westminster, the Forbush Memorial Library also is turning to the men in blue to track down wrongdoers. Just before Thanksgiving, director Margaret Howe-Soper gave police the names of nine people who have owed between $50 and $300 in library items for “many, many months.”
The cops called them or hand-delivered letters from the library to their doorsteps. So far, four accounts have been settled in full while two others are paying it down slowly, Howe-Soper said.
And for the first time in a decade, the library will begin charging late fines next year.
The economy has more people borrowing new books and job-search tomes, Howe-Soper said. “Instead of going to the movies, they’re borrowing DVDs,” she said.
Howe-Soper said the library can’t afford to keep replacing overdue books and other items.
“We’ve had budgets cuts. The town is very much in need of all the funds it can get,” she said.
Some libraries aren’t turning to the legal system just yet.
“We trust our customers to return them,” said Boston Public Library spokeswoman Mary Bender.
from: Boston Herald
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
The rankings are based on the following per capita factors:
- Number of booksellers
- Education level
- Number of internet book orders and visitors to the city’s newspaper Web site
- Number of libraries, volumes held, circs and library professional staff
- Newspaper circulation
- Number of magazine publishers
The top five cities in terms of libraries are:
1. Cleveland, OH
2. St. Louis, MO
3. Pittsburgh, PA
4. Seattle, WA
5. Cincinnati, OH
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
There are no surprises on BookNet Canada's list of top-selling books in Canada for 2009. The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown's long-awaited follow-up to The DaVinci Code, was this year's best-selling book.
While Brown captured the number one spot, it could be argued Stephenie Meyer had an even better year: her young adult novels Breaking Dawn, Eclipse, and New Moon took spots two, three, and four.
Rounding out the top five was an actual Canadian author: Lawrence Hill, for The Book of Negroes.
Here are the top-selling books, from January 1, 2009 to the week ending December 13, 2009
Top 5 Overall, All Categories:
• The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown
• Breaking Dawn, Stephenie Meyer
• Eclipse, Stephenie Meyer
• New Moon, Stephenie Meyer
• The Book of Negroes, Lawrence Hill
Top 5 Canadian-Authored, All Categories:
• The Book of Negroes, Lawrence Hill
• The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity, William P. Young
• Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell
• Playing With Fire, Theo Fleury
• Always Looking Up, Michael J. Fox
Top 5 Trade Paperback Adult Fiction:
• The Book of Negroes, Lawrence Hill
• The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity, William P. Young
• The Time Traveller’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger
• My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult
• The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer
Top 5 Trade Paperback Non-Fiction:
• Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace…One School at a Time, Greg Mortenson
• Dreams from My Father, Barack Obama
• The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, Eckhart Tolle
• The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls
• The Audacity of Hope, Barack Obama
Top 5 Hardcover Adult Fiction:
• The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown
• The Host, Stephenie Meyer
• An Echo in the Bone, Diana Gabaldon
• The Associate, John Grisham
• Twenties Girl, Sophie Kinsella
Top 5 Hardcover Non-Fiction:
• Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell
• Guinness World Records 2010, Craig Glenday
• Playing With Fire, Theo Fleury
• Always Looking Up, Michael J. Fox
• Have a Little Faith, Mitch Albom
Top 5 Juvenile:
Breaking Dawn, Stephenie Meyer
Eclipse, Stephenie Meyer
New Moon, Stephenie Meyer
Twilight, Stephenie Meyer
The Last Straw, Jeff Kinney
“Once again this year vampires feature heavily on the bestselling lists, with three of the top selling books of the year featuring the undead.” said BookNet CEO Noah Genner in a press release. “The strong showings by Playing With Fire, Always Looking Up, Outliers and The Book of Negroes give a decidedly Canadian feel across many of the lists.”
from: National Post
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
The item is engraved with the English author's initials. It was sold by heirs to the Barnes and Noble family.
The pre-sale estimate was $3,000 to $5,000. The auctioneer, Bonhams, said the buyer did not want to be named.
An authentication letter from Dickens's sister-in-law says the author of Great Expectations and A Christmas Carol used the toothpick up to his death in 1870.
The author, also known by the pen-name of Boz, created some of the most memorable fictional characters of all time.
Dickens's work - which also includes Oliver Twist and David Copperfield - has enjoyed enormous popularity in America since the author's own lifetime.
He visited the country and wrote the travelogue American Notes.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
The French aren't surrendering to Google or are they? French President Nicolas Sarkozy announce on Monday that his country would pledge some $1.1-billion to digitize that country's archives but didn't rule out the search engine giant as a partner to the grand project.
From the New York Times:
The money pledged Monday will finance a public-private partnership that will digitize the nation’s cultural works, Mr. Sarkozy said. Yet that partnership might well involve Google.
“The question remains open,” said Bruno Racine, president of the National Library, in a telephone interview. He emphasized the “necessity of a partnership with the private sector” in order to secure the capital needed for vast digitization projects.
Sarkozy drew the ire off France's literary community when he announced in August that Google was in talks with the National Library to digitize works. France isn't the only country that has a cool relationship with Google. Germany has also been a vocal critic of that company's plans to scan books and offer them up to those using search engines.
from: National Post
Thursday, December 17, 2009
by: Anita Singh
Sony Pictures is planning to bring Larsson's Millennium series to the screen, beginning with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest complete the trilogy.
The heroine of the books is Lisbeth Salander, a delinquent computer hacker with a photographic memory, who joins forces with investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist to solve crimes.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo has already been turned into a Swedish language film, which has taken more than $100 million in Europe. Swedish actress Noomi Rapace played the lead role, but she is likely to be replaced by a well-known Hollywood actress when the movies are remade. Kristen Stewart, the young star of the Twilight films, has been linked to the role.
Steven Zaillian, the Oscar-winning writer of Schindler's List, is in talks to adapt Larsson's books and they will be produced by Doug Belgrad, who described the series as "nothing short of amazing. The novels are very cinematically told, with fantastic characters and page-turning plots."
Negotiations to option the rights are in their final stages.
Larsson, a journalist and political activist, died suddenly of a heart attack in 2004 at the age of 50, before seeing his first volume in print.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was published a few months later and became an instant success.
His global sales have topped 23 million and last year Larsson was the second-best-selling author in the world after Khaled Hosseini.
A row has broken out in Sweden over the proceeds from the sale of his books, which are thought to total £20 million. Larsson was not married to his partner of 32 years, Eva Gabrielsson, and died without making a will, so the proceeds defaulted to his family.
Last month, we reported how Quirk Books screened its book trailer for "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" in theaters around the country. Now, the whole book will play in theaters--as a feature film starring and produced by Star Wars' Natalie Portman. Coincidence?
CNN delivered the adaptation news is a single sentence: "Portman has signed on to produce and star in the movie version of the best-selling book 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,' written by Seth Grahame-Smith and, uh, Jane Austen."
The publishing world's reaction to this little book has been mixed, but nobody can deny it has been a banner year for the Little Zombie Book That Could. The news finishes a magical run: the title went from GalleyCat feature to bestselling book to publishing trend. Link via Powell's.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
"Facts I Ought to Know about the Government of My Country" was supposed to have been returned by May 10, 1910.
Stanley Dudek told the Standard Times newspaper he came across the book while going through things that had belonged to his mother, who died about 10 years ago. He decided that returning the book to the city was the right thing to do.
The overdue book fine was a penny a day in 1910. But Dudek wasn't asked to pay it.
The library plans to display the book in its special collection.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
By: Erin Fitzgerald, Canadian Gazette
While the public school board wrestles with how to make school libraries functional for the digital age, many across the board sit locked up tight.
Ross Button fears his daughter will complete her high school education without having open access to the school library.
Button serves as co-chair of the Carleton Place High School council. He has a daughter in Grade 10 at the school. He also has children attending Beckwith Public School.
He says it is “absolutely unacceptable” that students don’t have unfettered access to their school libraries.
Ian Carswell, associate director of the Upper Canada District School Board, says the CPHS library is available for teachers to bring their classes to on scheduled visits, but is not open otherwise. Almonte and District High School’s library is slightly more accessible. It is open Tuesdays, Thursdays, alternate Fridays and teachers are able to bring their classes for a scheduled visit.
“The idea of a librarian being present all day, every day is behind us in terms of staffing resources,” Carswell says.
“You have to ask whether you want a teacher to stand in the library all day or stand in the classroom and teach.”
He says teacher-librarians are in scarce quantity.
The board says its challenge is to make school libraries relevant in this technological era.
“We are all wrestling with how we make 21st century libraries for 21st century learners,” Carswell says.
Button realizes today’s students are the Wikipedia and Google generation, but he says this type of research needs to be supplemented by borrowing from the old school approach of taking a book off a shelf.
He says his eldest daughter used to try spending her free time in the library, but found the door locked for the most part.
Beckwith students rely on parent volunteers to keep the libraries organized, but these volunteers cannot play a supervisory role so time spent in the library is minimal, Button says.
The severity of the problem is not lost on the school board. On Dec. 2, more than 50 community representatives gathered to discuss the issue. Teachers, mayors, counsellors, librarians and students all gathered at a roundtable discussion entitled, The Books, Blogs and Tweets Forum.
Delegates say they want greater access to online resources and new technology.
The board plans to analyze input from the forum to improve the way libraries work in the board.
Despite what the library of the future may look like, the problem of dark, locked libraries remains.
Local trustee Patti Lennox says student access to libraries is a problem across the board.
However, she is remaining hopeful that students will soon see positive changes in their libraries.
“We have everyone working together and we know what the students are looking for and what they need,” she says.
Button is looking forward to a solution, but is not overly optimistic.
“There’s something wrong in the system. The Ministry of Education says literacy is important and they send money to keep the library staffed, but there is no mandatory requirement for schools to use the funding for what it’s for,” he said.
Closed libraries are cheating high school students of their ability to learn proper research skills and universities are noticing this.
University of Ottawa librarian Valerie Critchley says when first-year students walk through the library doors they are often overwhelmed by the amount of information around them.
“Most students coming into first year haven’t dealt with research libraries regardless of their high school access,” she says.
However Critchley says there is a link between a student’s ability to evaluate resources who has spent time in a school library and the student who has little to no experience.
“Knowing what to do with all the resources and how to evaluate and use critical decision making (can be learned in high school),” she says.
On the other hand, Critchley knows school librarians are a vanishing breed.
“I would love to see every school have a proper library with proper library staff,” she says.
Although this is not the case, Critchley says there are opportunities to pick up important research skills in university or college.
“How many times have you heard someone say, ‘you can find it on Google,’”she says.
“It’s true, but we want to help you.”
Sunday, December 13, 2009
The council said they were forced to act as visitors left Wigston Library when Stuart Penman, 27, arrived.
Staff said they have advised him about his personal hygiene, but it had not improved after a year.
Mr Penman has now been banned from the building for six months. He reportedly said he felt picked on.
Mr Penman, who came forward to highlight his complaints in the media, said: "I went in there on Monday with my wife and they told me I was barred because of my feet."
Margaret Bellamy, head of the county council's library services, said: "He has been using the library for a while and we've been getting complaints about his personal hygiene for about a year.
"We've sat down with him to see what can be done and even asked him if he's been washing, using deodorant and regularly changing his clothes.
"We've had people leaving and saying it's because of the smell.
"I feel very sorry about the whole situation and it's not a decision we took lightly but we've done all we can to help and it's still not getting any better.
"When people were refusing to come into the library we felt we had no other option."
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Read more about the Wikipedia maps, and how they were created, here.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Is the upcoming holiday season infecting people with unusual goodwill toward man? Last month, New York City approved a five-minute grace period for parking meters. In October, an I.R.S. amnesty program for tax evaders with offshore accounts brought some fifteen thousand contrite Americans forward to disclose their illegal holdings. Now, San Francisco, perhaps inspired by the news last month that a library book fifty years overdue was returned to an Arizona school along with one thousand dollars in late fees, is extending this altruistic attitude to books with their own amnesty program for book borrowers. Between May 3rd and 16th, the library will accept overdue books, no questions asked, and restore borrowing privileges to naughty book thieves. (It’s already begun advertising the program with a contest for the best excuses, as well as a series of “celebrity” excuse videos, probably the best of which is Chesley (Sully) Sullenberger chiding, “Maybe you’re just trying to think up a really, really good excuse, like it got lost in the Hudson River?”)
For those who think that this isn’t “Pay It Forward”: the last time the San Francisco Library held an amnesty program was in 2001. In all, the library received five thousand books, worth a total of one hundred thousand dollars. Perhaps, sometimes, good acts make good sense.
from: The New Yorker
Thursday, December 10, 2009
by: Norman Oder
- Residents preferred walking to driving
- Cameras maintain security without staff
- Other libraries offer different "Express" branches
So, how to expand library service on a tight budget? Some libraries have tried vending machines (such as the Go Library/Library-a-Go-Go) or kiosks. The King County Library System (KCLS), WA, just opened an unstaffed 300-square-foot Library Express @ Redmond Ridge, in partnership with the Redmond Ridge Residential Owners Association.
The new mini-branch was inspired by a survey of community residents; some 95 percent said they would rather pick up their holds in a nearby unstaffed library than drive to a full-service library. Redmond Ridge is a 1,228-unit master-planned community.The Library Express does offer services beyond holds pick-up. Two computers provide access to the library catalog, and there’s a browsing collection of paperbacks. To reach a librarian patrons can use a dedicated phone and contact the nearby Redmond Regional Library.
To get into the building, patrons must scan or type in their library card number, but books can be returned via a book drop outside. How to maintain security? Cameras both inside and outside the building.
Other "Express" libraries
Some other libraries use the “Express” name but with different configurations. For example, Houston Public Library offers HPL Express, a small but staffed facility intended to be installed within existing buildings, multi-service centers, office buildings, shopping malls, and airports.
The Wake County Public Libraries, NC, offers Express Library Fayetteville Street inside the Wake County Office Building. And an Express branch of the Douglas County Library System, Castle Rock, CO, is planned for a new development called Georgetown Village.From: Library Journal
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Mexico's National Immigration Institute says it has installed a library with 1,000 pieces of reading material at its holding station in eastern Mexico City. It's named "Looking South," even if many of the migrants caught were looking north, hoping to cross Mexico to reach the United States.
The agency says the project is meant to give the detained migrants what it calls "elements of distraction and cultural enrichment during their stay."
Spain's international development agency is helping finance the project that opened Friday.
The involuntary visitors can also watch DVDs or television and use a computer at the facility.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
by: Geoffrey A Fowler
Books are having their iPod moment this holiday season. But buyer beware: It could also turn out to be an eight-track moment.
While e-reading devices were once considered a hobby for early adopters, Justin Timberlake is now pitching one on prime-time TV commercials for Sony Corp. Meanwhile, Amazon.com Inc.'s Kindle e-reading device has become its top-selling product of any kind. Forrester Research estimates 900,000 e-readers will sell in the U.S. in November and December.
But e-reader buyers may be sinking cash into a technology that could become obsolete. While the shiny glass-and-metal reading gadgets offer some whiz-bang features like wirelessly downloading thousands of books, many also restrict the book-reading experience in ways that trusty paperbacks haven't, such as limiting lending to a friend. E-reader technology is changing fast, and manufacturers are aiming to address the devices' drawbacks.
"If you have the disposable income and love technology—not books—you should get a dedicated e-reader," says Bob LiVolsi, the founder of BooksOnBoard, the largest independent e-book store. But other people might be better-off repurposing an old laptop or spending $300 on a cheap laptop known as a netbook to use for reading. "It will give you a lot more functionality, and better leverages the family income," he says.
For gadget lovers, several factors are converging to make e-reading devices alluring this holiday season. More such devices are debuting than ever to challenge Amazon's Kindle, notably the Nook from Barnes & Noble Inc. Sony also recently launched three new versions of its Reader, which will be sold—along with devices from smaller makers like Irex Technologies BV—in dedicated e-book sections of Best Buy Co. stores. Already, these devices are beginning to sell out: Barnes & Noble says people who ordered the Nook after Nov. 20 won't get one until the week of Jan. 4, and Sony says that it can't guarantee delivery of its high-end wireless Reader by Christmas.
There's also more selection of books for the devices, with most popular publishers now selling e-books. Also, library-scanning efforts by Google Inc. is producing more than a million out-of-copyright books like "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" that people can download free. There are only a few holdouts against e-books, including "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling.
Prices for e-book readers are also dropping. Amazon recently cut the price of the international Kindle to $259 from $279, while Sony sells a new entry-level model for $199. A refurbished first-generation Kindle retails on Amazon for $219. Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other bookstores are also discounting prices on best-selling e-book titles to $10 to lure more readers.
Still, it's unclear how—and on what sort of device—most people will be comfortable reading e-books. Many people seem perfectly happy reading books on their PCs: Reading Web site Scribd.com, which offers millions of amateur and professional works, is attracting 50 million readers each month. LibreDigital Inc., a distributor of e-books for publishers, says the overwhelming majority of e-book buyers are women who read e-books on an ordinary computer screen, mostly between 4 p.m. and 11 p.m. A growing number of readers are also perusing books on cellphones.
Most of the current crop of dedicated e-reading devices try to replicate the traditional reading experience with a screen that's about the size of a paperback novel that displays black-and-white (or, rather, dark grey and light grey) text and graphics. You turn the page by clicking on a button, or using your finger or a stylus to touch the screen. You can buy books online and transfer to them your device with a cable or, on some models, download them directly via a wireless connection. Most e-books, which cost about $10 for popular new titles, are yours at least for the life of your device, though some models let you borrow books for a short period of time from libraries or a friend.
Fans of e-readers acknowledge the devices have their flaws. Dianna Broughton, a 45-year-old stay-at-home mom in Lancaster, S.C., bought a Kindle last year and says she now "reads more, and my kids read more."
But Ms. Broughton says she can't recommend the Kindle to people who aren't technically savvy and might want to purchase their books anywhere other than the Amazon store. That's because the Kindle doesn't read copyright protected files from other bookstores or libraries. It also makes it tough for parents to monitor what their children are reading, if a child has a Kindle that is registered to his parent's Amazon account.
"The parent's entire e-book archive is accessible to that child's Kindle–individual titles can't be locked out," says Ms. Broughton. "Parental controls are one of the most wished-for features." There are technical work-arounds for some of these issues, but they require downloading unofficial software.
Indeed, many e-book readers place limits on how and where consumers can use them. Only the Nook allows people to share some of their books with a friend by wirelessly transmitting them—and even then, you can share each book just once and only for 14 days. And only Sony's Readers make it easy to check out free books from Overdrive Inc., the e-book service used by many public libraries.
The e-book market is also caught up in a format war, with different companies limiting their devices to certain kinds of e-books, with file types such as .azw and mobipocket on the Kindle and .epub and Adobe Digital Editions on Sony. As a result, there's no guarantee an e-book bought from one online store will work on devices sold by a competitor.
Sony has tried to differentiate itself in e-books by supporting an open industry standard called Epub and digital-rights-management software from Adobe. Barnes & Noble recently said it will do the same. But Amazon, which dominates the e-reader market, has so far shown no signs of changing from its own proprietary format.
Amazon says it is working on making Kindle books play on more devices, including iPhones, BlackBerrys and PCs.
"Our goal is to create the best possible reading experience for customers," says Amazon's vice president of Kindle, Ian Freed. "Along the way, we have figured out that it is pretty important to do that with a range of devices."
For now, the lack of interoperability in e-books has tripped up readers like Maria Blair, a 61-year-old lab technician in Baltimore. She decided to switch from the Kindle to the Sony Reader last year, because she preferred the weight and feel of the Sony. But now, "I'm not able to read the books I bought for the Kindle on my Sony," she says.
Future e-book readers may be a lot more interactive. Plastic Logic says it will launch a business-oriented reading device early next year that will offer the largest screen yet (8½ inches by 11 inches), along with tools to help business people manage their documents on the go. And while all of the dedicated e-book readers on the market this holiday season use black-and-white screens, color screens are coming late next year.
Next year, Apple Inc. is also expected to debut a tablet device that can be used for reading, watching movies, surfing the Web and other interactive tasks.from: Wall Street Journal
Monday, December 7, 2009
The nose knows when it comes to detecting the condition of old books. A new study finds that the familiar musty smell old books give off may be a better way to tell their condition than traditional ways that typically destroy part of the document.
Researchers from the UK and Slovenia developed a new technique called "material degradomics," which examines the gasses old books and paper documents produce as they degrade. For the study they examined 72 19th and 20th century historic papers that included paper made with wood fiber, gelatin and rosin-sized papers and coated and uncoated papers, and identified 15 volatile organic compounds that act as degradation markers used to detect decaying paper. In the study the authors described the smell of old books as "A combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness," which sounds like some wines we've had.
Among the compounds on the list were furfural (an industrial chemical compound stemming from agricultural byproducts), acetic acid (an organic acid), and products derived from lipid peroxidation, a process of cell damage caused when free radicals take electrons from cell membrane lipids.
Books are usually assessed for stability by removing samples of paper and then analyzing them with lab tools. But this process is less invasive, and may be used to help protect other antique artifacts.
The study appeared in a recent issue of the journal Analytical Chemistry.
from: LA Times
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Saturday, December 5, 2009
From Library and Archives Canada
Friday, December 4, 2009
For me, there's no page turner quite like a graphic novel. A good one takes me back to the forbidden story-form joys of my childhood — comic books, movies and True Confessions magazines.
The trouble is, I'm not crazy about tales involving superpowers, fantasy worlds, horror, sci-fi or armed combat, which leaves out about nine-tenths of the genre. My heart belongs to women's stories about their own flawed selves and their tribulations in the big bad world.
'Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic'
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, by Alison Bechdel, paperback, 232 pages, Mariner Books, list price: $13.95
Fun Home: a Family Tragicomic, is Alison Bechdel's coming-of-age tale about growing up in a household where the truth is as dressed up and silenced as the people in the caskets in the family funeral business — what the kids call the "Fun Home."
In their real home, the roost is ruled by dad's obsession with decorative perfection. He restores the gingerbread to their denuded Victorian, and surrounds it with the perfume of flowers. Inside, floral wallpapers cover the truth — that where dad really lives is in the darkness of the closet homosexual, furtively seducing young boys.
Alison is also gay, but she has no idea what that is until she reads a book in college and recognizes herself.
The pictures in Fun Home, in black and blue on white, are as matter-of-fact as the evidence the heroine sifts to get to the bottom of the mystery of how she became herself.
La Perdida, by Jessica Abel, paperback, 288 pages, Pantheon, list price: $14.95
The first-person heroine of La Perdida, ("the lost one") by Jessica Abel, looks for her identity in Mexico, birthplace of her absent father. She carelessly crashes at an old casual boyfriend's apartment in Mexico City, pitching in sex in lieu of rent. With Frida Kahlo, the flamboyant painter and Stalinist as spiritual guide, she soon mistakes a nasty drug dealer for a fiery revolutionary. With her judgment in complete suspension, she winds up as an accomplice in criminal violence; she's lucky to escape with everything but her innocence. Abel tells her tale in English and in Spanish, with pictures that have the specificity and shadows of film noir.
'Cancer Vixen: A True Story'
Cancer Vixen: A True Story, by Marisa Acocella Marchetto, paperback, 224 pages, Pantheon, list price: $16.95
The drawings in Marisa Acocella Marchetto's Cancer Vixen are colorful, cartoonish, supremely stylish and totally delightful. They tell the story of a kid from the Jersey shore in love with New York's fashionable life, whose days are spent spoofing it for glossy magazines and queuing up on Tuesdays at the famous New Yorker market for cartoons — pardon me, drawings. Her life deepens in meaning after Sept. 11, when she turns the raw pain on the New York streets into her best work, and when, at 43, she finds the love of her life. On the verge of their wedding, she is diagnosed with cancer. Cancer Vixen is the story of what happened after that.
What's missing for me when I read good graphic novels is the pleasure of passing them on and getting leads to more. I don't know anybody else with my literary taste who cares about them. Months and months go by between good reads. If you've got a recommendation, I sure would like to know about it.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
CUMBERLAND — Interested in meeting the Allegany County Bookmobile at Hannah Plaza in Cresaptown but running late?
Now you can simply log on to Twitter and see if the Bookmobile is on schedule.
The Allegany County Library System is using Twitter and other social networking sites as yet another way to bring the library experience closer to patrons — wherever they may be.
“I was familiar with Twitter but didn’t see the applications for it for us until reading some articles about how other libraries are using Twitter,” said Lisa McKenney, public services coordinator for the Allegany County Library System. “With these ideas, I started an account” using her e-mail “handle,” aclslisam.
McKenney “began posting messages about library events, new features on our Web site and catalog, new materials just received at the library ... and announcements. I include some personal reviews of books I’ve personally enjoyed reading or music that I would recommend to others to try.
”From that single account, two more have been established to help further the library system’s goal of serving as many patrons as possible in any way imaginable. John Taube, system director, created alleganylibrary, and Regina Spiker, who teaches the library system’s public computer classes, created one for teens with the handle spibrarian.
The Bookmobile can be reached on Twitter by searching for the handle alleganybkm.The Bookmobile’s account is the newest and has just four followers. Alleganylibrary has eight followers, while spibrarian has 30 followers. McKenney’s aclslisam has 50 followers and has posted more than 200 “tweets,” or comments, online.
“I’m a small librarian in a small library in a small town,” Spiker announced on a Web page devoted to industry news.
But that doesn’t mean small towns can’t go high-tech in a big way.
“Twitter provides a quick, current and immediate way to get the word out to everyone about what’s new at the library,” McKenney said. “So far, our followers continue to grow and we welcome the community to set up Twitter accounts and follow our postings. We continually explore new technologies that can help us bring the library programs, materials and services to our patrons and community.”
The potential is apparent. The Enoch Pratt Free Library System in Baltimore has more than 1,100 followers and has posted 3,341 tweets — from holiday greetings and schedules to announcing award-winning staff members’ accomplishments.
It’s a relatively simple process. With an e-mail account and Internet access — both of which can be created and found, respectively, at your local library — a computer user executes an easy search by the name of a person or business or by using an e-mail address.
With a single click of the mouse, the user can follow another Twitter user and be kept up to date on the goings-on of the library.
From: Cumberland Times-News
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
HAYWARD — City libraries soon will offer a new borrowing system that borrows from Netflix, the mail-based, no-late-fee movie rental service.
For a monthly fee, library users will be able to check out a limited number of materials for an unlimited amount of time. The optional system will eliminate due dates and overdue fees, asking for money upfront in return for no worries later. Pricing would begin at $2.99 a month for up to three items out at a time.
"About 20 percent of our library users are blocked from further checkouts because of the fines they have accrued," said acting library director Sean Reinhart, whose idea was approved by the City Council last week.
"These days, a lot of people want to do things on their own time frame. They're busy. Returning materials can be kind of low on their priority list and they end up with fines, and stop coming."
While other libraries around the nation have adopted the other part of the Netflix model — sending materials through the mail — Reinhart said Hayward won't be doing that for now.
"That's a whole other level of logistical problems," he said. "Books are different sizes and weights, and a whole lot heavier than DVDs. Some libraries have tried the mail system and some of them have worked, but a lot have failed."
That difference may mean that the Hayward model will be the first of its kind in the nation. Reinhart could not find a similar system for comparative purposes, and Sari Feldman, president of the national Public Library Association, said she hadn't heard of it before.
"I am very interested and very curious," said Feldman, director of Cuyahoga County libraries, serving the suburbs of Cleveland. "Sean is looking at what makes sense for his customer base, and offering a new convenience that makes the library increasingly attractive. I will circle back to hear how it works."
Reinhart said if a book is checked out on the "Fines-Free" plan for an extended period, and enough other customers request it, the library will purchase a new copy.
But Cal State East Bay head librarian Linda Dobb expressed concern that the open-ended checkout potentially could take research materials away from the public indefinitely.
"What if somebody really needed a particular item, and Hayward Public is one of the few places that has it?" she said. "If somebody absolutely has to have something and it is unique, there have always been ways for a library to recall an item."
Reinhart said the library's reference section is for in-house use only, and they stock very few out-of-print items in the first place.
"We simply do not have the space in our buildings nor the demand from our community to justify storing older, little-used items for very long," he said.
Reinhart said he's looking forward to seeing the results once the program starts, which will be before Christmas.
He said that if only 2 percent of library users opt into the program, it will more than match $94,000 the library took in from late fees last year. And the other 98 percent of users who don't opt to go fines-free will still be putting in money the old-fashioned way.
"I think the results will be eye-opening for libraries around the nation," Reinhart said.
From: Mercury News
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
By: Steven Morris
When the mobile library stopped visiting, it was a blow for the villagers of Westbury-sub-Mendip. And when they found out they could lose their beloved red phone box, there was something of an outcry.
Happily a bright spark in the Somerset village (population 800) hatched a clever plan to tackle both difficulties. Why not buy the phone box and use it to set up a mini-library?
Today, the small but perfectly formed Westbury book box was doing a brisk trade. Adults were bringing in thrillers, romances and true-crime books, leaving them on the four wooden shelves and choosing another to take home. Young book fans were hunting around in the children's section – a big red box on the floor – for Roald Dahl and Horrid Henry favourites.
Parish councillor Bob Dolby, who cleans and polishes the phone box/library with his wife, Lyn, beamed with pride. "It has really taken off," he said. "Turnover is rapid and there's a good range of books, everything from reference books to biographies and blockbusters."
The scheme was the brainchild of resident Janet Fisher, who lives opposite the phone box. She floated the idea at a village tea party in August and the concept was accepted on the spot.
So the parish council bought the box, a Giles Gilbert Scott K6 design, for £1, and Dolby screwed the four shelves into place. A local business donated a sign and a wag added a "Silence please" notice. Residents donated books to get the project going and it became an instant hit, all for an outlay of just £30.
Fisher popped across the road today to swap an Ian Rankin novel. She was hoping to pick up a Michael Connelly book – "Some of the girls said there was one here" – but it had gone. She rejected the book on the life of Fred West and plumped for another American detective novel.
Fisher's neighbour, Angela Buchanan, strolled over to see what was new. She picked up a Penelope Lively the other day. Nobody has yet been tempted by the audio book she left of Laurence Olivier reading Charles Dickens. "It's such a brilliant idea. Our nearest library is Wells, four miles away, so if you don't want to go into the town but have run out of something to read, it's great you can use this. All sorts of interesting books turn up – manuals, picture books, good literary novels."
And unlike the library in Wells, the phone box library is open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day – and is lit at night. There is a regular check on it to see if some titles are not moving. These are then shipped on to a charity shop to keep the phone box collection fresh.
BT has received 770 applications for communities to "adopt a kiosk". So far 350 boxes have been handed to parish councils. Ideas for their afterlife have included a shower, art installations, even a toilet. Dolby said he was just pleased that a piece of street architecture in Westbury had been put to good use. "It's very pleasing that the phone box has been saved but is also being used to provide a service for the village."
from: the Guardian