Monday, May 31, 2010
by: Aleks Krotoski
Politically engaged and disarmingly geeky, Cory Doctorow is one of the better-known faces of the digital revolution: co-editor of the celebrated blog Boing Boing ("a directory of wonderful things"), he is also author of half-a-dozen science fiction novels and a journalist. Born in Canada, the 38-year-old writer now lives in London, although when we speak, he's in the US, promoting his latest book, For the Win. This tells a story of teens rebelling against global corporations and is pitched at the "young adult" market. As with all his fiction, the book has been released simultaneously in bookshops and, for free, online.
You've released For the Win using a Creative Commons licence, giving it away for free. Why?
I give away all of my books. [The publisher] Tim O'Reilly once said that the problem for artists isn't piracy – it's obscurity. I think that's true. A lot of people have commented: "You can't eat page views, so how does being well-known help you earn a living as a writer?" It's true; however, it's very hard to monetise fame, but impossible to monetise obscurity. It doesn't really matter how great your work is; if no one's ever heard of it, you'll never make any money from it. That's not to say that if everyone's heard of it, you'll make a fortune, but it is a necessary precursor that your work be well-known to earn you a living. As far as I can tell, these themes apply very widely, across all media.
As a practical matter, we live in the 21st century and anything anybody wants to copy they will be able to copy. If you are building a business model that says that people can only copy things with your permission, your business is going to fail because whether or not you like it, people will be able to copy your product without your permission. The question is: what are you going to do about that? Are you going call them thieves or are you going to find a way to make money from them?
The only people who really think that it's plausible to reduce copying in the future seem to be the analogue economy, the people who built their business on the idea that copying only happens occasionally and usually involves a giant machine and some lawyers. People who are actually doing digital things have the intuitive knowledge that there's no way you're going to stop people from copying and they've made peace with it.
Your young adult novels are concerned with the political issues surrounding new technologies, such as questions of privacy. Why?
Kids' relationship with privacy is really confused; they're told by teachers and adults that their privacy is paramount, that they should stop disclosing so much information on Facebook and so on. And then they go to schools where everything they do is monitored; there's mandatory spyware that takes every click they make, every word they utter and sends it back to teachers and headmasters for disciplinary purposes.
When they go out in public, they're photographed every five minutes and there are signs that prohibit taking any affirmative step to hide themselves from scrutiny or maintain any privacy.
So on the one hand, we're telling kids that their privacy is the most important thing in the world and that they have to guard it as jealously as anything that matters to them. On the other hand, we're systematically depriving them of their privacy and punishing them for asserting it.
The problem with privacy is the same problem as with smoking: the consequences of doing something that's bad for you are a long way from the action itself and so you don't learn.
If we want kids to give less information to Facebook, then we should start by having them give less information to everybody. That means giving them the tools that help them to understand that privacy really matters and that giving up your privacy is something that's hard to stop doing once you start.
Do you see young adult fiction as an effective way of getting a message across?
Young adults treat literature with a lot more seriousness and often see literature as a call to action – whether that's to go to the library or to try to write some software or even to found a protest group. I do hope to have this alerting presence about the risks of technology. I want to inspire kids and adults to ask how we can start seizing the means of information again, how we can use technology to liberate us as it did when I was an adolescent.
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Gabriel Levinson is the founder of the nonprofit organization The Book Bike, the namesake of which he is sitting upon in this picture (yes, that’s a tricycle with two hundred pounds of books on it). Since July of 2008, Levinson has been taking his bike around parks in Chicago, and giving books away. This summer, he’s added to his agenda the salvation of indie publishers and local indie bookstores. In lieu of used books, he will accept financial donations, which he will use to purchase books, zines, and journals from indie shops and directly from indie presses. Then he’ll give away his purchases to readers in parks located near some of the bookstores. It’s a way of doing pro-bono community outreach for the stores, and, as he puts it, of directing “a heap-load of dough” to indie coffers.
Makes us wish we could put wheels on the Bench!
Saturday, May 29, 2010
by: Amy Martinez
Wary of lugging a backpack full of textbooks on the University of Washington campus, Franzi Roesner couldn't wait to get her hands on a new, lightweight e-reader from Amazon.com.
Soon after receiving a Kindle DX, however, something unexpected happened. Roesner began to miss thumbing through the pages of a printed textbook for the answer to a homework question.
She felt relieved several months later when required reading for one of her classes was unavailable on the Kindle, freeing her to use a regular textbook.
If Amazon hoped for honest feedback when it started testing the Kindle DX on college campuses last fall, it certainly got its wish: Students pulled no punches telling the Seattle Internet giant what they thought of its $489 e-reader.
If Amazon hoped the Kindle DX would become the next iPhone or iPod on campuses, it failed its first test.
At the University of Virginia, as many as 80 percent of MBA students who participated in Amazon's pilot program said they would not recommend the Kindle DX as a classroom study aid (though more than 90 percent liked it for pleasure reading).
At Princeton University and Portland-based Reed College, a small liberal-arts institution, students praised the Kindle for its long battery life, paper savings and portability. They then complained they couldn't scribble notes in the margins, easily highlight passages or fully appreciate color charts and graphics.
"You don't read textbooks in the same linear way as a novel," said Roesner, 23, a graduate student in computer science and engineering. "You have to flip back and forth between pages, and the Kindle is too slow for that. Also, the bookmarking function is buggy."
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos introduced the Kindle DX a year ago at Pace University in New York, saying its nearly 10-inch screen and large storage capacity were especially suited for college students.
After all, college students could be a huge market for e-readers. Total U.S. book sales declined 1.8 percent last year, but the higher-education category grew 12.9 percent to $4.3 billion, according to the Association of American Publishers.
E-books enjoyed an even faster growth rate, reaching $313 million in 2009. That was up 177 percent from 2008, though e-books still have only a small piece of the market.
Amazon seems to be taking the student feedback seriously. The company last month announced software upgrades enabling Kindle users to sort books into collections and zoom in on PDF documents.
"The pilot programs are doing their job — getting us valuable feedback," said spokesman Drew Herdener, who declined to elaborate.
Amazon, which sells a smaller Kindle with a 6-inch display for $259, entered the e-reader market in late 2007. Many analysts now predict Apple's new iPad, with its full-color, video-capable touch screen, will overtake the Kindle.
The iPad costs $499 and up and can be used to read books, store photos and browse the Internet. In contrast, the Kindle uses a black-and-white screen based on e-ink technology.
Reed, Seton Hall and other colleges plan to test Apple's iPad in the fall to see if it gets a passing grade.
To compete, Amazon soon will have to lower the price for its small-screen Kindle to less than $200, said analyst Sarah Rotman Epps, of Forrester Research, a technology-research firm in Cambridge, Mass.
She calls the DX "a dud" and dismisses Amazon's pilot program as "jumping the gun."
"The DX is just a bigger Kindle, not a better one, and it doesn't solve the problems that university students need solved," Rotman Epps said. "As long as it's profitable, I think they'll continue to sell it, but I don't think they'll emphasize it."
The high cost of textbooks is a major concern for many students, especially as colleges increase tuition amid state-government budgetary constraints.
The average four-year college student spent $659 on textbooks in 2009, according to market-research firm Student Monitor. That was down 7 percent from 2008, partly because of increased used-book sales and a shift toward shorter, cheaper publications.
One reason textbooks are so expensive is publishers release new editions every three or four years, hoping to render used, older editions obsolete, said Ed Lazowska, who holds the Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science & Engineering at UW.
Anti-piracy software restricts Kindle users from lending their digital textbooks or reselling them, so e-readers can help publishers cut down on the used-book trade, Lazowska said.
But whether they set e-book prices low enough for cash-strapped students remains to be seen.
At his UW office recently, Lazowska seemed disappointed that a Kindle version of a popular text costs $70, roughly the same as a used hard-bound edition and $44 less than a new print edition.
Access to textbooks from a wide variety of publishers is another concern.
"Students have told me, 'I'm not necessarily opposed to carrying another device if I can get all the content I need,' but they're a long way off from that," Rotman Epps said. "There's still not a lot of content available on these devices."
Which comes first?
It's a classic chicken-and-egg scenario: E-readers won't gain widespread acceptance on campuses until more content is available, and publishers won't provide more content until e-readers are better suited for college students.
"The question is, when will the Kindle, iPad and Nook be ready? When they're ready, we'll be ready," said Bruce Hildebrand, executive director of higher education for the Association of American Publishers.
Indeed, Barnes & Noble, which operates about 650 college bookstores nationwide, concedes its $259 Nook e-reader is not ready for academic use.
"Those things that students really are looking for in an educational experience just are not there yet in the e-reader market," said Jade Roth, a vice president in charge of textbook merchandising at Barnes & Noble College Booksellers. "It's going to shift when the number of titles increases and when the digital experience is amazing."
UW's Roesner, who had two internships at Amazon and came away with a favorable impression of the company, said she still uses her Kindle DX to read PDFs.
"Flipping through the pages in a PDF is slow, but I'm sure that'll get fixed," she said. "And I really, really like reading papers on the Kindle as opposed to my computer."
Enough to pay the $489 price tag?
"I wouldn't have bought it myself," Roesner said.
From: Seattle Times
Friday, May 28, 2010
The photographer writes: “Kyoto, Japan. One of the best ideas I saw in Japan: in the center of a beautiful neighborhood playground, this rain-proof mushroom, whose stem contains large, deep doors exposing a free lending library of books for all ages of kids. Brilliant!”
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Though the TRL keeps some of its more-than-1,600,000 items on open shelves for the public to browse, about two-thirds of its holdings are in closed stacks. These stacks are located in locked areas on the southeast and northwest ends of the building, which visitors seldom see.
We meet Liya Shi and Dale Page at the TRL's front security desk. Liya is an operations supervisor who has been with the Toronto Public Library for over twenty years. Dale is a librarian with almost twenty-five years at Toronto Public Library, though not all of those were spent at the Reference Library. We're joined by Edward Karek, a Toronto Public Library public relations officer.
We're led past the familiar rows of internet terminals on the ground floor, which people line up to use throughout the day, through a nondescript door with an electronic lock. Suddenly, we're in a hallway that doesn't look like it belongs in the same building as the TRL's cushy, magenta-carpeted sitting area. The walls are plain white brick, and the lighting is harsh. We cram into a steel elevator and Karek jabs a button. And then, moments later, we enter the closed stacks.
The rooms in which the closed stacks are housed are cramped and have very low ceilings, for good reason. Starting on the second floor of the TRL, there are two floors of closed stacks for every single public floor: one level with the floor itself, and the other a "mezzanine level," positioned between two floors. This arrangement makes it possible for the TRL, a five-storey building, to have nine storeys of closed stacks—and all without violating any laws of space-time.
"Do you know how many of our staff get lost?" asks Shi, rhetorically. New hires are under instructions to call for help over the phone if they lose themselves in any of the TRL's interstices.
To save space, the shelves in the closed stacks have no room between them for a person to enter. They're on tracks, and at the end of each shelf is a large wheel or handle, which workers use to temporarily slide the shelves apart. Since the shelves are loaded with hundreds of books each, they’re extremely heavy. Under questioning, Karek, the PR officer, assures us that it's impossible for a person to be crushed to death while performing stacks retrieval.
In the basement of the building, there are more closed stacks, dedicated mainly to periodicals, including the TRL’s collection of newspapers, dating back to the nineteenth century. The papers are stored in archival containers and stacked on metal shelves, like meat in a cooler. They're behind a locked chain-link fence, and neither Karek, nor Shi, nor Page knows exactly who has the key. "I don’t think any of them have ever been retrieved," says Karek. The papers have been viewable as microforms for decades, so there hasn’t historically been a reason to take them out of storage. Now, users can read them online.
The internet hasn’t had much of an effect on the popularity of the newspaper archives, but it has had consequences for the closed stacks as a whole. Patron requests for materials from the closed stacks have decreased over the years. Toronto Public Library communications staff say this is partly a result of non-internet-related factors like amalgamation (books became easier to find at branch libraries), and partly a result of the availability of online research tools. Pre-amalgamation numbers aren't available, but, to the best of anyone's recollection, the library likely handled several hundred requests per day during the heyday of print. Now, they handle about one-hundred. Shi says that ten years ago, there were six staff who dealt with closed stacks retrievals. Now, only one position remains.
The closed stacks are in no immediate danger, but the encroachment of constantly improving digital alternatives to print has many librarians contemplating the enormity of the vacuum their physical collections would leave behind, if one day users no longer valued books. "I think it'll sort of turn around," says Page. "Print will always be very important."
"You can't just cut off the connection with books," says Shi.
Toronto Public Library does, in fact, still value its print materials—and, what’s more, some of them have intrinsic, monetary value. When these materials are damaged, either through mishandling or neglect, they eventually find their way to a room in the TRL, and into the hands of Johanna Wellheiser and her staff.
Wellheiser is a manager of the Preservation and Digitization Services Department, which occupies a suite of rooms behind a set of doors marked "Authorized Personnel Only" in the basement.
Preservation work happens in a room outfitted with a large worktable, a fume hood, and a heavy-duty microscope. When we arrive for our pre-arranged visit, Wellheiser and her staff have covered the worktable with examples of rare items, one of which is Les Hindous, a leather-bound volume from 1808 that is literally coffee-table-sized. It’s full of hand-painted illustrations depicting life in what the artist probably would have referred to as "The Indies." It’s a treasure, but it’s in imperfect condition. The pages are mottled with the brown spots book aficionados call "foxing," and the binding is covered in white smears, possibly the result of a homemade leather treatment, applied years ago by an amateur conservator. Erin Dawson, one of the TRL’s three professional conservators, has been trying, so far unsuccessfully, to remove the smears with things like erasers, solvents, and even human saliva, which is apparently good for removing certain kinds of protein- and starch-based stains. (The TRL’s conservators use their own. They have Q-tips set aside for the purpose.)
Toronto Public Library collects materials in many different formats, so Wellheiser and her conservators treat not only books, but maps, prints, drawings, and other types of documents. Using tools like wheat paste and mulberry paper, their job is to fix damage while leaving as much of the original item intact as possible—all so that Toronto Public Library’s most valuable assets remain available for use. "Preservation and access," says Wellheiser. "That’s what we’re all about."While the TRL's conservators deal with the frailties of physical materials, other employees spend their days helping information transcend its printed forms. In the TRL's basement digitization lab, technician Susan Schillbach fires up the APT-2400, which flies into action with robotic precision. "APT" stands for "Automatic Page Turner," which is all the explanation the machine really requires. Two 16.8 megapixel cameras continually snap pictures of each side of the APT’s "V"-shaped book cradle, enabling it to digitize pages two at a time. It processes about three pages per second, and is currently being used to put a large chunk of Toronto Public Library’s Canadiana collection online. Some of the results are shared with Amazon.com, who print paper editions to order, for a fee.
The library has also been using its digitized materials to do some of its own web publishing. Photos from their archives are available on Flickr, and they’ve developed services like the Ontario Time Machine, which enables users to flip pages in digitized replicas of antique Ontario-related books.
It's a different approach to preserving print materials. "We’re trying to be more proactive, in a timely way," says Wellheiser.
Photos by Michael Chrisman/Torontoist.
For more photos from Torontoist's tour of Toronto Reference Library, check out the original article here.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
by: Alison Flood
The cut-throat world of publishing has forced a science fiction writer to take the drastic step of offering people a cash incentive to read his novel.
Peter Riley, a former journalist on Canadian newspapers, finished his novel Universes in 1999 but failed to land a publishing contract for the book, which tells the story of a string theory physicist who, when he dies, ends up in an alternate universe populated by cannibals. His wife, Lucy, thinks he has been murdered.
Riley decided to post the novel online for free earlier this month, giving those who read it the chance to win a chunk of a $3,000 prize money pot if they answer questions about the book correctly.
"I'm hoping that publishing the book online and pretty well paying people to read it will get it noticed on the internet, and ultimately discovered by a legit publisher," said Riley on his website. "Crass gimmick? You bet. But if it works, I won't look back.
"I'm 65 god-damned years old, this novel means more to me than anything in the world, and I'm desperate to get it published while I'm still alive. I know this may sound odd, but I feel western society needs this book. It's a contribution I feel I must make."
The competition begins in July.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Watch a video about it here.
from: Huffington Post
Monday, May 24, 2010
How things have changed. Years ago, "Sesame Street" was available to children only on television or in the library. But now they can read "Sesame Street" books online.
The venerable franchise announced Thursday that a "Sesame Street" e-bookstore is now live. Children can choose from more than 100 books.The e-books include audio, animations and interactivity for kids to get more out of the experience of reading each title.
Unfortunately, the "Sesame Street" e-bookstore comes with some caveats. First off, children will be able to access the titles only online, which means they can't download their favorite books to an e-reader and bring it with them on trips.
The service, which costs $39.99 per year, also won't allow parents to pay for only the books their children want to read.
The "Sesame Street" e-bookstore runs on Flash, which means iPad and iPhone owners won't be able to hand either product to their children and allow them to access the content from the respective mobile device's browser.
The e-bookstore is unfortunately suffering from some flaws that might turn parents away. But if their children really love the franchise, at least "Sesame Street" has given them another place to entertain their kids online.
Image: A view of the e-books available in the "Sesame Street" e-bookstore. Credit: "Sesame Street"
from: LA Times
Sunday, May 23, 2010
One chapter is closing — and another is opening — as Stanford University moves toward the creation of its first "bookless library."
Box by box, decades of past scholarship are being packed up and emptied from two old libraries, Physics and Engineering, to make way for the future: a smaller but more efficient and largely electronic library that can accommodate the vast, expanding and interrelated literature of Physics, Computer Science and Engineering.
"The role of this new library is less to do with shelving and checking out books — and much more about research and discovery," said Andrew Herkovic, director of communications and development at Stanford Libraries.
Libraries are the very heart of the research university, the center for scholarship. But the accumulation of information online is shifting their sense of identity.
For 40 years, the metal shelves of the modest Physics and Engineering libraries were magnets to thousands of students and faculty, including Nobel Prize winners Douglas Osheroff, Robert Laughlin and Steven Chu, who now directs the U.S. Department of Energy.
On the wall of the Physics Library are 16 original prints by photographer Ansel Adams, dedicated to pioneering physicist Russell Varian. A cardboard cutout of a cheerful Albert Einstein greets visitors. A playful collection of clocks — illustrating the randomness of time — decorate a wall.
The future library — on the second floor of "The Octagon," the centerpiece of the university's new science and engineering quad that opens later this year — will offer a stark contrast.
It is only half the size of the current Engineering Library, but saves its space for people, not things. It features soft seating, "brainstorm islands," a digital bulletin board and group event space. There are few shelves and it will feature a self-checkout system.
It is developing a completely electronic reference desk, and there will be four Kindle 2 e-readers on site. Its online journal search tool, called xSearch, can scan 28 online databases, a grant directory and more than 12,000 scientific journals.
Several factors are driving the shift.
Stanford is running out of room, restricted by an agreement with Santa Clara County that limits how much it can grow. Increasingly, the university seeks to preserve precious square footage.
Adding to its pressures is the steady flow of books. Stanford buys 100,000 volumes a year — or 273 every day.
"Most of the libraries on campus are approaching saturation," Herkovic said. "For every book that comes in, we've got to find another book to send off."
This fierce competition for space on campus means that many, perhaps most, books will be shipped 38 miles away to a Livermore storage facility.
Stanford's plight is not unique. Four miles off its Durham, N.C., campus, Duke University has a high-density storage facility, with shelves 30 feet high, to hold 15 million books. Harvard's repository is 35 miles away in the rural town of Southborough, Mass.
"You just get to the point where you're busting at the seams," said Lori Goetsch, president of the Association of College and Research Libraries and dean of libraries at Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan. — which stores its books more than 80 miles away, in Lawrence.
The sciences are the perfect place to test bookless libraries, librarians say. In math, online books tend to render formulas badly. And those in the humanities, arts and social sciences still embrace the serendipitous discoveries made while browsing. Johanna Drucker, UCLA professor of information studies, asks: "What version of a work should be digitized as representative? Leo Tolstoy's original Russian text? Or the Maude translation? Should we digitize the sanitized version of Mark Twain's classics, or the originals?"
But technical information is readily and conveniently accessed online. "Physics was one of the first disciplines to really develop a strong electronic presence," Goetsch said.
Science and engineering students agree, saying there is little nostalgia for paper.
"As far as research articles go, physics publication is already essentially entirely online," said physics graduate student Daniel Weissman. "And old journal editions from before the Internet era have largely been digitized, so you can get those articles online too. So that just leaves reference books — and yeah, you're starting to see more and more of those in online versions, too."
But the transition is tougher for Physics librarian Stella Ota, who is responsible for the fate of thousands of old books as she prepares for the June 9 closure.
"It is challenging — I'll look at a book and say, 'This is important work, but not currently used,' " she said. So the 1937 edition of Webel's Technical Dictionary, German-English, is moving to Livermore. So is the huge and heavy Carnegie Atlas of Galaxies, with glossy photos.
"Or perhaps it is worn, or damaged, or food was spilled," so it will be given away, she said. That is the fate of the 1970-79 Bibliography of Astronomy, as well as the decrepit Selected Physical Constants.
A lucky few will be selected for the few shelves at the new library.
"When I look back, then there is a certain sadness for me. Any change is hard. And there are moments of joy, when I see bookplates of former faculty who owned and donated the book, and sometimes made notes on the side," Ota said.
"But looking forward, I see an opportunity to create something new."
from: Mercury News
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Translated fiction has long been recognized as a void in English-language publishing, with many independent and university presses trying to use their limited resources to pick up the slack. As a rough figure, Three Percent, a resource for international literature at the University of Rochester founded in 2007, took its name from the 3 percent of books published in the US that were works in translation.
Michael Orthofer of literature resource The Complete Review, who was a judge for Three Percent's 2010 Best Translated Book Award, comments on his blog The Literary Saloon: "If Amazon.com can prove that a bit (okay, a lot) of marketing muscle can lead to decent sales of such a book in translation ...... Well, it would be a nice lesson for the big publishers to be taught."
AmazonCrossing's first title will be Tierno Monénembo's The King of Kahel, which was originally published in France in 2008 and won the French Prix Renaudot. Based on the life of Olivier de Sanderval, who traveled to Guinea to build an empire by conquering the hostile Fouta Djallon region, the book recounts Sanderval's efforts to build a railway to bring modern civilization to Africa.
The King of Kahel, in English translation by Nicholas Elliott, will be available November 2 in print and Kindle e-book editions.
Friday, May 21, 2010
by: Alison Flood
It was over two centuries late, but a copy of a library book George Washington borrowed was returned yesterday to a New York library.
The former president borrowed The Law of Nations by Emer de Vattel on 5 October 1789, according to the records of the New York Society Library.
Staff discovered it was missing when they conducted an inventory of books in the library's 1789-1792 ledger earlier this year. Washington had never returned the book – an essay on international affairs – to the library, which shared a building with the federal government at the time and was used by members of Congress and the cabinet as well as the president. The former president's overdue fines, it has been calculated, would theoretically amount to $300,000 (£209,000).
After staff at Mount Vernon, Washington's former home in Virginia, learned of the situation, they got in touch with the library – New York's oldest – offering to replace the book with another copy of the same edition. A ceremony yesterday saw Mount Vernon staff present the book to the library.
Two hundred and twenty-one years later, The Law of Nations has finally come home, with – fortunately for Mount Vernon's coffers – no mention made of the fine.
between May 20 and 21. The idea: Choose a classic book title, then alter it slightly to downgrade it to non-masterpiece status.
Lesserbooks, which uses the catch phrase "Names of books that didn't quite make the shelves," has spawned suggestions including:
- Of Mice
- Eat, Pray, Sleep
- The Manager of the Rings
- The Crepes of Wrath
- Tale of One City
- One Hundred Minutes of Solitude
- The DeVito Code
- Zen and the Art of Unicycle Maintenance
To join the frenzy, tweet your title and include the hashtag #lesserbooks. http://twitter.com/search?q=%23lesserbooksFrom: Independent
Thursday, May 20, 2010
LONDON -- A tragicomic historical novel about the relationship between Britain and Ireland won literature's prestigious Booker Prize on Wednesday, four decades after missing out because of a scheduling quirk.
J.G. Farrell's "Troubles" was awarded the "lost" Booker Prize for works published in 1970, a year when no prize was handed out. Set in 1919, the novel is about an English army officer ensconced in a crumbling Irish hotel, scarcely aware of the war for independence breaking out around him.
Farrell was chosen over five other finalists: Patrick White's "The Vivisector," Mary Renault's "Fire From Heaven," Nina Bawden's "The Birds on the Trees," Shirley Hazzard's "The Bay of Noon" and Muriel Spark's "The Driver's Seat."
Farrell, who drowned while fishing on the Irish coast in 1979, also won the Booker in 1973 for "The Siege of Krishnapur." Those two novels - along with a later book, "The Singapore Grip" - form a trilogy exploring the end of the British Empire.
His brother, Richard Farrell, accepted the prize on his behalf Wednesday. "This is a bittersweet moment to me," he said. "He really thought that 'Troubles' was his best work."
Television news anchor Katie Derham, one of three judges who chose the finalists, said the prize should bring a new generation of readers to the author, whose reputation has faded since his death at 44.
"He was this great talent whose life was cut short," she said. "I think at the time he was building up into someone we would all have heard of and studied at school."
The shortlist was selected by a jury whose members were all born "in or around" 1970. The winner was decided by public vote on the Booker website. Organizers said Farrell's book had 38 percent of the votes, more than double the support of any other title.
Of the shortlisted authors, only Bawden and Hazzard are still alive, but all the books remain in print.
The Booker Prize - officially named the Man Booker Prize after its sponsor, Man Group PLC - was first handed out in 1969, and is open to writers from Britain, Ireland and the Commonwealth.
The prize was originally awarded for books published the previous year. But in 1971, it became a prize for the best novel published that year - leaving novels published in 1970 out in the cold.
The Lost Booker is the third special prize to be created by the organization. To mark the prize's 25th anniversary, a "Booker of Bookers" was created and in 2008, the 40th anniversary, there was a "Best of the Booker" award. Salman Rushdie won both prizes with his novel "Midnight's Children."
From: The Washington Post
The microblogging service Twitter has gifted its entire archive of tweets, totalling billions of 140-character posts dating back to March 2006, to the Library of Congress.
"The Twitter digital archive has extraordinary potential for research into our contemporary way of life," said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. "This information provides detailed evidence about how technology-based social networks form and evolve over time. The collection also documents a remarkable range of social trends. Anyone who wants to understand how an ever-broadening public is using social media to engage in an ongoing debate regarding social and cultural issues will have need of this material.”
Highlights of the collection include the first-ever tweet from Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey; President Obama's tweet after winning the 2008 presidential election; two tweets by photojournalist James Buck, who was arrested in Egypt and whose use of Twitter set off events that contributed to his freedom; and Green Revolution tweets related to protests of the 2009 Iranian presidential elections.
"It's very exciting that tweets are becoming part of history," Twitter co-founder Biz Stone wrote on Twitter’s blog, "The open exchange of information can have a positive global impact."How they'll be used
From: American Libraries
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
For their latest adventure, Improv Everywhere was asked by the New York Public Library if they wanted to stage an Improv Everywhere mission on their property. Never ones to turn down a challenge, they decided to bring the 1984 movie Ghostbusters to life in the 100 year-old Rose Main Reading Room of the New York Public Library's branch at 42nd Street.
You can check out the hijinks (video and photo) here.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
via: Omni Daily News
I started the "10 Blogs To Read This Year" 4 years ago to help highlight people writing in the many different areas of librarianship. Those people who are doing some of the most interesting and original writing on the web. Each year we've attempted to gather a group of librarians whose writing helps increase our understanding of the profession and it's place in our rapidly changing world. Again this year we tried to choose 10 writers who cover very different aspects of our profession, 10 sites that inform, educate and maybe amuse. By following these blogs I think you'll find something new to read, and a place to gain better understanding of a part of librarianship that's outside of your normal area. We all have much to learn from each other, and these bloggers are working hard to share their knowledge and understanding with you. Read on below to see why each site made the list, and why there's an honorable mention this year. This year I also made an OPML File for your reader. Here's the list in alphabetical order:
- Academic Librarian (Feed)
- Awful Library Books (Feed)
- The Best Of PubLib (Feed)
- Disruptive Library Technology Jester (Feed)
- Everybody's Libraries (Feed)
- The Library History Buff (Feed)
- Library Garden (Feed)
- The Merry Librarian (Feed)
- The 'M' Word - Marketing Libraries (Feed)
- Walt at Random (Feed)
Monday, May 17, 2010
From: Seattle PI
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Cigarettes and books have been linked together since the very first literary salon. In this healthful age, one publisher has changed cancer stick dispensers into book machines (pictured, via)--keeping the smoky charm without any of the side effects.
Here's more from Publishing Perspectives: The publisher has refurbished and repurposed old cigarette automats for the purpose of selling books, focusing on the neighborhood surrounding the University of Hamburg. The books--all original texts by Hamburg authors, ranging from graphic novels to poetry to a travel guide for professional women--will each cost four euros. As reported in the Boersenblatt, the titles will also be available for purchase online."
Earlier this year we reported how one company is wrapping print editions of classic stories in fake cigarette packs that fit easily inside your pocket or purse--the perfect books for the new machine. (Via Victoria Strauss)
Friday, May 14, 2010
But one library has had to hire bouncers after young thugs tore through the premises, 'terrorising and tormenting' two female staff and intimidating visitors.
Hundreds of pounds have been spent on bouncers in black jackets with high-visibility armbands to watch over the town library in King's Lynn, Norfolk.
Derrick Murphy, the county councillor responsible for cultural services, said: 'It was very intimidating for staff. The police were not doing anything about it.
'Children go into the library and they run around and make a lot of noise. They were engaging in antisocial behaviour. Children were running around, shouting and screaming.
'This was not "children being children". This was anti-social behaviour as laid out in law.
'The vast majority of people going into the library act perfectly normal but unfortunately there was a small minority that were not.
'We have a duty of care and responsibility to our staff to provide a safe and secure environment.'
The 105-year-old library was opened and funded by Andrew Carnegie, the Scottish-born industrialist and philanthropist who emigrated to the U.S. as a child.
But it has recently become a focal point for troublemakers. As a result, bouncers were drafted to safeguard people visiting or working in the library when it stayed open late three times a week.
The council spent £13.25 an hour on a security guard to patrol the library for three hours until 8pm on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays.
The cover was provided by Norwich-based firm EventGuard, which normally handles security at nightclubs and football matches.
Local resident George Chappell, 67, who visits the library daily, said: 'Some of the kids got a bit unruly. The security guards provided a warning hand. I don't know whether it was used as prevention rather than cure.'
Kevin Smith, a retail assistant in a nearby cycle shop, added the mayhem would have put off visitors.
'You're not going to go if you have got trouble and need security guards outside,' he said.
A Norfolk police spokesman said: 'A community support officer has been designated a patrol by the library and moved on a number of people drinking in the area.'
Fallowfield library in Manchester had to employ bouncers four years ago after visitors were attacked by youths throwing stones and eggs and more than 50 windows were smashed.
Speaking at the time, local residents' association chairman Mary Keeley said of the security staff: 'It's depressing but necessary sign of the times.'
Local councillor Jean-Paul Wilkins added: 'What have we come to when security men are on the doors of a public resource like this?'
Six years ago Birmingham City Council advertised for staff to help them crack down on noise, eating and drinking at Sutton Coldfield library.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Fifth Business? Life of Pi? The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz? A Fine Balance? From the Fifteenth District? Beautiful Losers? The Collected Works of Billy the Kid? The Stone Angel? Not Wanted on the Voyage? Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town? The Tin Flute? I Love You Forever? I Want to Go Home?
The search is on for Canada's 100 greatest books of all-time. Over the next six months, Stephen Patrick Clare and Trevor J. Adams, authors of Atlantic Canada's Greatest 100 Books, are asking readers from coast-to-coast for their ten favourite Canadian books. The results will be compiled and published in a book due out in the fall of 2011.
Participants can vote for fiction or non-fiction, poetry or drama, as long as it was written by a Canadian author and that it "involve(s) Canada in some capacity."
Visit the website here and the Facebook group here.
From: National Post
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Perpetuated by dictionaries for nearly a century, it's surely the most persistent scientific howler in the history of the English language. Siphons – those ingenious plastic tubes we use to fill or drain everything from aquariums to petrol tanks – move liquid by "the force of atmospheric pressure".
Except, how could a siphon possibly work by a difference in pressure when atmospheric pressure is the same for the liquid at both ends of the tube? Bleeding obvious when you think about it. Even I can figure that out 25 years after I scraped through A level physics.
And yet according to the Guardian science desk's own coffee-stained Collins, a siphon is "a tube placed with one end at a certain level in a vessel of liquid and the other end outside the vessel below this level, so that atmospheric pressure forces the liquid through the tube and out of the vessel".
The prestigious Oxford English Dictionary and numerous online dictionaries say much the same. Apparently the OED has been getting it wrong since 1911. Surely in all that time somebody must have noticed?
Finally somebody has: Dr Stephen Hughes, a physics lecturer at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane. Dr Hughes stumbled on the error after seeing an enormous siphon at work in South Australia transferring the equivalent of 4,000 Olympic swimming pools from the Murray river into Lake Bonney. Dr Hughes says the siphon transferred 10 billion litres of water over two months without a pump.
Inspired by this feat, he decided to write an article about the phyics of siphoning for use by science teachers, only to discover that every dictionary he consulted claimed it was atmospheric pressure, not gravity, that pushed liquid through a siphon tube.
"An extensive check of online and offline dictionaries did not reveal a single dictionary that
correctly referred to gravity being the operative force in a siphon," Dr Hughes said.
The most up-to-date version of the OED defines a siphon as:
"A pipe or tube of glass, metal or other material, bent so that one leg is longer than the other, and used for drawing off liquids by means of atmospheric pressure, which forces the liquid up the shorter leg and over the bend in the pipe."
As any petrol thief knows, to get the liquid over the "hump" of the tube you have to suck the other end or, more pedantically, lower the pressure in your lungs to beneath atmospheric pressure by expanding them. Once the liquid has passed the highest point in the tube, the continuous chain of cohesive bonds between the liquid molecules in the tube, and the force of gravity, do the rest.
Dr Hughes emailed the OED's editors and got this reply from spokesperson Margot Charlton:
"The OED entry for siphon dates from 1911 and was written by editors who were not scientists ... Our files suggest that no one has queried the definition before. We are revising that entire dictionary text now, and I have copied your helpful comments to the revision file, to ensure they are taken into account when the entry is rewritten."
In their defence, Ms Charlton pointed out that the 2005 edition of the Oxford Dictionary of English correctly attributed a siphon's operation to gravity.
Dr Hughes has just published a paper on how siphons work and is appealing for readers to tell him if the same error is perpetuated in the dictionaries of other languages, and whether school textbooks also get it wrong.
Is there anything else the editors of the OED should know about?
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Monday, May 10, 2010
by: Stephen Adams
Editors have come up with the list of 70 books from their titles to celebrate Puffin's 70th anniversary.
The books are split into a range of categories, from "weird and wonderful" classics such as Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland, to what Puffin calls "weepies" like Watership Down, and "swashbucklers" including Treasure Island.
Roald Dahl gets his own category, which in reverence to the late author's unique style Puffin has called the "best Phizzwhizzers".
It includes his timeless tales The BFG, Matilda, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, and Fantastic Mr Fox.
Dahl sells more books every year than any other Penguin author in both the adults and children's categories – and his sales jumped by 35 per cent in 2009.
For teenage readers there is a section titled "best alternatives to Twilight", the vampire love story series by Stephenie Meyer - who is not a member of the Penguin family.
A selection for very young readers, called "the best to cuddle-up with", includes Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar – a copy of which is sold somewhere around the world once every 30 seconds – and Peepo! by Janet and Allan Ahlberg.
The list is not all fun and fantasy: it includes "the best war and conflict", headed by the unrivalled Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.
Francesca Dow, managing director of Puffin, thought parents needed a helping hand when picking books for their children.
"There's so many books out there that it can seem like a bit of a minefield," she said.
The list is also included in The Puffin Handbook, a new free guide offering advice on children's reading.
Dow said: "These are the tried and tested favourites, the best selling classics for years."
She and her editors picked the list using a mix of sales data, by talking to librarians, teachers and parents, and by trusting their own judgement.
She said it had been "enormously difficult" to narrow down the books to just 70, "because we have so many favourites".
Asked which her own personal favourites were, she answered: "That's an impossible question."
But she did profess a fondness for Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Charlotte's Web by EB White.
Puffin was founded in 1940 as a series of non-fiction picture books for children. The first story book to be published was Worzel Gummidge by Barbara Euphan Todd in 1941. Sadly the talking scarecrow did not make the cut.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Yiddish House press has translated several classic kids' books into Yiddish, a curious and wonderfully expressive language spoken mostly by Jews of Eastern European descent. I just picked up their Eyn Fish Tsvey Fish Royter Fish Bloyer Fish, a translation of Dr Seuss's classic One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish by Sholem Berger.
Dr Seuss works improbably well in Yiddish. Yiddish's strength is its onomatopoeic expressiveness; and it contains a lot of Germanic words that are cognates for their English equivalents (such as "bloyer," which means "blue;" and "fish," which means "fish!"), but they're pitch-bent enough to make them sound a little off-kilter, which makes them perfect for a Seussian rhyme.
Berger's translation is funny and tight, his rhymes are as sweet as Seuss's originals. The text is written in both Hebrew script and Latin-alphabet transliterations (which is good, since I read Hebrew at the rate of about three words per hour).
I grew up speaking Yiddish, having learned it at the Workman's Circle center in Toronto in after-school classes. It was my father's first language, and the language spoken by my grandparents and their friends. I love its eye-rolling irony and humor, and can't think of a better text to appear in Yiddish translation. You don't have to speak Yiddish to enjoy the sheer poetry of Seuss rendered in it, either. I read bits out to my wife (who speaks some Welsh, but no Yiddish), and she concurred.
Eyn Fish Tsvey Fish Royter Fish Bloyer Fish
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Raise you hand if you can't face weeding.
You are not alone. All over the country, books are stacked three high on window sills, Fodor's Yugoslavia 1987 languishes on the shelf, and HVAC systems send out BTUs to heat and cool the broken spines of Harry Potter. This can change.
In my 20 years as a reference librarian and public library administrator, I've been deep in collection development work, organizing systematic weeding projects and getting my hands dirty in the stacks, even inventing the Weed-U-Matic to make the work of deselection easier.
I've discovered that, whether our expertise is paleontology or board books, most of what holds us back from weeding is psychological. I'm reminded of that first step in most recovery programs: “We admitted we were powerless over [blank]—that our lives had become unmanageable.” So, here's a program for people whose collections have become unmanageable—and it's only eight steps.
1. Admit that you are emotionally attached to your collection.
It's hard to discard the picture book you adored as a child, or the atlas donated in memory of Mrs. Jones. But our libraries exist to fill today's needs, not those of ten or 20 years ago. Train yourself to follow seriously objective criteria, such as the last checkout date. Mike Nelson offers this helpful mantra in his book Stop Clutter from Wrecking Your Family: “My belongings are a resource for the present and future, not a clinging to the past.”
2. Recognize that space is finite and overabundance can be a detractor.
Some of us have a need to fill every space. We're pack rats. We're afraid we won't have enough. Blame your parents, and move on. Having crowded shelves means that shelving takes longer, and that items are more likely to be out of order.
3. Seek the help of experts to overcome your reluctance to judge.
When it comes to some subjects, we feel unqualified to make judgments about whether to keep or jettison. If you've never done panty-hose craft, how do you know whether that book is good or bad? Find people in your community who are experts—hobbyists, faculty, business owners. Make use of tested weeding guidelines like the CREW (Continuous Review, Evaluation, and Weeding) method and SUNLINK's Weed of the Month (www.sunlink.ucf.edu/weed).
4. Acknowledge to yourself and your colleagues that you've made selection mistakes.
If you've been a selector for more than a few years, weeding brings you face to face with your own blunders. The upside: recognizing a mistake sharpens your skill at selection. In fact, reviewing your recent purchases regularly is a good habit. Take an honest look at what has circulated twice, once, or not at all. And remember this quote from my sister's therapist: “We did the best we could with the resources we had at the time.”
5. Find ways to ease the anxiety of decision-making.
Weeding requires making decision after decision in short order. If you value flexibility and open-endedness, that's painful. So limit your weeding to 15 minutes at a time. Or work with a partner who'll provide a second opinion. Afraid that if you get rid of a book, someone will ask for it tomorrow? The truth is that rarely happens. It is much more likely that you will be asked for a title that you decided not to buy in the first place.
6. Take the drudgery out of weeding.
Weeding invariably loses out to the glamorous jobs like meeting an author for lunch, tweeting from a conference, or emptying the book drop. But in a profession where so much of our work is done in front of a computer screen, weeding offers a hands-on, sensory experience. (Unfortunately, that sensory experience might be “sticky” or “smelly.”) Inject even more fun into the job by listening to some dance music.
7. Protect yourself from criticism through policies and PR.
“It's the hardest thing in the world to explain to taxpayers why we are throwing away perfectly good books,” wrote Will Manley. In academic settings, faculty can be suspicious of what the staff is doing with “their” books. Educate all staff and trustees about deselection, and involve stakeholders in the process. Save blatant examples of must-weeds, like Hawaii: Our Off-Shore Territory.
8. Channel your love of books into finding good homes for your discards.
How can you possibly let go of that matched set of “Harvard Classics,” even though it's gathering dust? S.R. Ranganathan made this wise statement: “Every book its reader.” Work with collectors, the libraries of local prisons and the armed forces, nonprofits that recycle the proceeds into literacy programs, or have your own book sale to connect the book with its reader.
Now, get out there!
From: Library Journal
Friday, May 7, 2010
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Google is planning to launch its own ebook store this summer, setting the scene for an all-out war with Apple and Amazon over the future of the digital book market.
Speaking at a panel discussion held by Random House today, Chris Palma, Google's manager for strategic partner development, said Google Editions would launch in June or July, offering digital versions of the titles on its book search service. The company says the ebooks will work across multiple devices, and, unlike the ebooks of iPad and Kindle, any device with a browser will be able to view the books. Customers with a Google account will be able to access the service.
Readers will be able to buy digital copies they find through Google's book search function and book retailers will be able to sell Google Editions on their own sites, getting most of the revenue from sales. Google Editions will be browser based, offering the latest digital books without locking customers to a specific device.
A Google spokesman said its plans had been in the pipeline for some time. "We've consistently maintained that we're committed to helping our partners find more ways to make their books accessible and available for purchase online, and we've been sharing details with our partner publishers for some time now. We hope to launch this to consumers in 2010."
Google joins the fray as the ebook market looks set to be the latest to be transformed by the internet, following on from music and films. Wholesale revenues from ebook sales in the US tripled in the third quarter of 2009 to $46.4m (£30.6m), from $13.9m during the same period in the previous year.
Google Books, formerly known as Google Print, was launched in 2004 but put on hold a year later when the Authors Guild of America and Association of American Publishers sued over alleged "massive copyright infringement".
Its attempt to create a vast digital library has raised anti-trust and copyright concerns. Earlier this year, the US justice department said the "plan still confers significant and possibly anti-competitive advantages on Google as a single entity".
But analysts say the arrival of ebook reading devices has been a shot in the arm for the book industry. The Kindle has been a hit, selling 2.4m units, and has a market share of 55%, according to Forrester, the market research company.
Apple said this week it has sold 1m iPads so far. Prices for the iPad begin at $499 and it is more expensive than a Kindle, which begins at $259. However, the iPad can also be used to surf the net, play films and store music.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Oher grew up in poverty in Memphis, Tennessee, one of 12 children of an estranged father and a mother addicted to crack cocaine. He ultimately attended the University of Mississippi and rose to fame as an offensive lineman for the NFL's Baltimore Ravens.
Michael Lewis wrote about Oher in his 2006 best-seller The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game. The book was adapted into a movie that won Sandra Bullock an Oscar for her role as Leigh Anne
Tuohy, Oher's foster mother.
Tuohy and her husband, Sean - portrayed by Tim McGraw in the film - are also reportedly working on a memoir that is due to be published on July 13.
from: The Independent
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Toronto Comic Arts Festival 2010: Jason Loo
by: Mark Medley
The 2010 edition of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival -- TCAF for short -- takes place May 8 and 9 at the Toronto Reference Library. This year's line-up of cartoonists, artists, writers, graphic novelists, and other sorts is fantastic, and in the lead-up to TCAF The Afterword would like to introduce you to some of the talent attending this year's festival. Just like like year, we've devised a fun little questionnaire so they can speak for themselves.
Who are you? Why are you coming to TCAF?
My name is Jason Loo. I will be promoting the webcomic series The 3 Second Rule (http://the3secondrule.com/), with my buddy Arthur Dela Cruz. He writes and I draw. I'll be passing out flyers in hopes that people will join our Facebook fan page.
Have you been before? If so, what's your fondest TCAF memory?
This will be my third time exhibiting. One of my fondest memories at TCAF happened a few years ago when I was drawing unflattering portraits of my friends which they still have till this day.
Do you make a living from comics? If not, what's your day job?
Hell, no. I work full-time at a library in Mississauga playing with puppets and dressing up in costumes.
If you could have dinner with one other artist attending this year's festival, who would it be and why?
Brian Hoang, the artist/writer behind the graphic novel series Medicine. He's also a good friend of mine. I'm hoping to crash at his place during the weekend. Are you reading this, Brian?
Would you recommend your work to someone who'd never read a comic book before? Why or why not?
Yeah, since my comic is free on the world wide web. It's an action-buddy-comedy series, so for all the fans into Rush Hour, Lethal Weapon, and 48 HRS, check it out!
Who'd play you on the big screen in an adaptation of your life?
It'll be in CGI and Bob Newhart would voice my character since I tend to stammer a lot.
from: National Post
Monday, May 3, 2010
The bindings of nearly 150 books in the Law Library's Rare Book Collection show that recycling was second nature among European bookbinders as early as the 1300's. These medieval artisans reused the materials they had on hand: discarded manuscripts. The strong, flexible, and prohibitively pricey parchment of these documents proved the perfect product for binding new books. What are now considered priceless volumes, dating from as early as 975 AD, were to these craftsmen nothing more than a serviceable source of scraps.
The 14th- and 15th-century works featured in Reused, Rebound, Recovered: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Law Book Bindings, all incorporate visible pieces of older tomes in their construction. Some of these scraps are so tiny they can easily be overlooked, while others are big enough to cover the entire exterior of a large volume. Many of the fragments have remained hidden for centuries. Only when its cover has fallen into disrepair is the secret source material of one of the collection's books revealed.
Once exposed, these fragments become a puzzle for scholars and librarians to solve. Discovering the origins of the scraps sheds a little more sunlight onto the Dark Ages. The subject matter, popularity, geographic distribution, changing styles in binding and printing, and evolving script and illustration of medieval manuscripts, are all illuminated by identifying the source texts of each remnant.
Most of the manuscript pieces in the Yale Law Library's collection have been identified and tentatively dated. The materials chosen for the exhibit bring to light the diversity of texts that have been hidden in the covers of just a small sampling of the collection's rare books. Examination of the bindings has revealed verses from, and commentaries on, the Bible; liturgical materials, including some with musical notation; passages from sermons; a section of Cicero's philosophical text, Dream of Scipio; and, as befits their current home, several slices of legal texts. Most of the fragments are in Latin, but two are from Hebrew texts, two more are in French, and one appears to be in some form of German.
The sources of some of some of the parchment pieces in the exhibit remain mysterious. On March 19, 2010, over 40 members of the Medieval Academy of America were invited to investigate the display, in hopes of identifying the parent-texts of those fragments which remain orphans. Images of the bindings were also made available for viewing online. This clever strategy has paid off, with the resulting clues from scholars being posted on the Rare Book Collection's blog. Anyone able to make more of these manuscripts illuminated rather than shadowy is invited to contact the exhibit's co-curators, Benjamin Yousey-Hindes and Mike Widener.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
On a bright spring morning in Baltimore, retiree Gwen Tates goes over her weekly grocery list -- oatmeal, I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, pea soup. But it's where she's shopping that might surprise you: at the public library.
Under a new city program, patrons can order groceries online and pay with cash, credit or food stamps. The orders are filled by Santoni's supermarket, a longtime Baltimore grocer. They deliver the items to the library the next day. Tates says she loves the convenience.
"I pay with my charge card. They swipe it right here. I come back to the library tomorrow and they'll have it all bagged up and ready to go," she says.
The Virtual Supermarket Project is part of a city push to make healthy food more accessible in communities where major supermarkets are scarce. Baltimore's health department launched it last month at two of the city's public library branches. They're located on opposite ends of town: one neighborhood is mostly African-American and working-class, the other racially and economically mixed.
These areas lack large, competitively priced supermarkets within walking distance -- sometimes called "food deserts." Both communities have plenty of fast-food and corner stores, but many tend to offer less healthy fare.
"In Baltimore, where we're working at with the libraries, you see that the mortality burden from diet-related causes like diabetes, stroke and heart disease are among the highest in the city," says Ryan Petteway, a city epidemiologist.
Petteway and other health department staffers spend a few hours each week helping patrons order their groceries online. One is Jackie Coles, a single mother of three who works as a custodian.
Like most in this neighborhood, she doesn't own a car.
"The market around here has been closed for a little over a year," Coles says. "And you have to go so far to get to another market. You know, you have to pay somebody to take you. Or it's a long walk."
But Coles is now a regular at the library. She gets books, plus easy access to healthier food options.
"Fruit is fresh. The vegetables are fresh. I get the butchered meat and all. It's really good," she says.
Getting People To Try Something New
So far, about two dozen people have signed up for the program
It's too soon to determine long-term viability, but organizers are hopeful.
"It's just a matter of getting people to overcome the barrier of trying something new," says Pooja Aggarwal, a medical student at Johns Hopkins who's taken a year off to tackle public health projects like this one.
Baltimore's new mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, thinks the project is an innovative solution until more major supermarkets build in these neighborhoods.
"I think at a point when we are doing what we need to do to make our city better, safer and stronger, we'll attract that investment," she says. "But I'm so proud that we have the use of technology to fill in that gap till development catches up."
Baltimore library officials say other cities have inquired about possibly replicating their system. If the program is successful, the goal is to partner with additional stores and possibly expand to other parts of the city.From: NPR
Saturday, May 1, 2010
American Gods, by Neil Gaiman.
About a month ago I proposed a scheme, that everyone in the world (or at least, those of us with access to the Internet) all read one book together this summer. To my great delight and satisfaction, thousands of people said, in effect, “Hell Yeah.” I further proposed that in the spirit of democracy and crowdsourcing and all of that, we should collectively decide on what book that should be. That meant a few weeks of nominating, a few weeks of voting on the finalists, and a little bit of understandable bitching and moaning from people who just wanted to get on with it, already.
So now we’re ready, right? I’ve been informally polling the community that’s sprung up around #1b1t (that’s Twitter speak for “One Book, One Twitter), and I’ve got two answers to that question:
1) Yes—If you’ve got a copy of American Gods handy, and are itching to star reading, go crazy.
2) Not quite—Many of you need some time to obtain your copy of American Gods. We’ve already received word that the book has been checked out by many libraries, and I’m currently talking to Neil’s publishers to try to make sure the shelves remain well-stocked. Additionally, some people—myself included, actually—are in school this term, and are up to our eyeballs in highlighters and dense thickets of quantitative research.
So here’s the plan. Start reading as soon as you want to, but in the spirit of no spoilers, avoid dishing about anything past Chapter 3 for the few weeks. We’ll post a proper reading schedule in the next few days. And as always, this isn’t my reading club, it’s yours. I’ve done my best to create a consensus out of the chatter on #1b1t today, but make your voice heard in the comments below if you’d like to see us take a different tack.
In the meantime, congratulations Neil, and happy reading everyone!