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Britain’s disgrace – James Patterson is UK’s most borrowed author
February 18, 2015 | 10:25 am

Just when I thought the British Isles could serve up no deeper, more bitter cup of ignominy and disgrace, I have to reveal - to my undying shame - that the UK's most borrowed author from public libraries, for the eighth year running, is James Patterson. That's according to the latest data from the UK Public Lending Right scheme at least. Administered by the British Library, the PLR "gives authors the legal right to receive payment from government each time their books are loaned through the public library system" - a payment currently running at 6.66 pence (10 cents) per book. Only,...

Leeds Central Library hosts Hogwarts
February 17, 2015 | 10:25 am

In an event that recalls the grand relocation of Beauxbatons Academy and Durmstrang Institute; at the beginning of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, "Hogwarts comes to Central Library" in Leeds on February 17th, in time for the UK schools half term. "Experience something magical at Central Library this half term," says the announcement. "Join us for a Harry Potter themed afternoon where you will take a trip around this historical building and explore its creepy corridors. Learn to brew potions and play Quidditch with some very special guests." Leeds Central Library, with its Grade II listed building status and late...

National Libraries Day cites decline in UK libraries
February 11, 2015 | 12:25 pm

The UK's National Libraries Day on February 7th passed off with some sad testaments to the protracted collapse of the British library sector, as well as events and statements in favor and defense of libraries from across the country. As children's author Cathy Cassidy says on the National Libraries Day blog, "sadly, many of us no longer have a local library to visit or celebrate. Over 300 libraries have closed in the UK in the last four years; hundreds more have been passed out of council control and into the hands of private ‘partners’ or community volunteers. With promises that the next...

No Paperwhite read-aloud for you! FCC again lets Amazon and friends diss people with disabilities
February 2, 2015 | 12:25 pm

ptaAmazonText to speech would cost a pittance to add to current E Ink readers like Amazon’s Paperwhite and the $200 Voyage. In fact, some earlier Kindles even came with read-aloud. No longer, though. With all the laws on the books, can’t Washington stop this dissing of people with disabilities? In one form or another, the Kindle is so common that it’s become “The Official E-reader of the National PTA.” Yet despite TTS’s potential benefits to millions of Americans, the Federal Communications Commission has just granted the e-reader industry another year’s exemption from the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010. The...

Texas town turns abandoned Wal-Mart into public library
January 31, 2015 | 6:47 pm

walmart-1The fortunes of big-box stores rise and fall. Ever optimistic, retail store chains build stores anywhere they think might turn a profit, and then end up closing many of them when the economy goes south. It’s not uncommon to see the perfectly good buildings they leave behind repurposed for something else: churches, business schools, offices. But McAllen, Texas took a different tack with their abandoned Wal-Mart: they turned it into an immense single-floor public library and community center. Looking at all the pictures in the article, it seems like the kind of place I’d love to visit. Not only...

The K-12 and economic cases for a national digital library endowment
January 24, 2015 | 11:00 am

President Obama wants expanded broadband, as indicated in his State of the Union address---a laudable goal. But what to use it for, beyond such purposes as, say, the faster downloading of YouTubes? Here's the latest version of LibraryCity’s call for a national digital library endowment and intertwined public and academic library systems online. Short of time? Read an executive summary. – D.R. The average 15-to-19-year-old in the U.S. spends only six minutes a day reading for fun, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. What’s more, a just-released report from Scholastic, discussed later in this commentary, warns that the number of...

ALA goes 3D in program for Midwinter Meeting
January 23, 2015 | 10:25 am

ALA Chicago 2015 The American Library Association has listed 3D printing among the agenda topics at the 2015 ALA Midwinter Meeting, to be held at the McCormick Convention Center in the ALA home base of Chicago, on January 3oth-February 3rd. Other topics include ebook policy, library funding options, national library public policy, and the  implica­tions of the November mid-term Congressional elections for American libraries. The 3D printing session of the Midwinter meeting, “Library 3D Printing—Unlocking the Opportunities, Understanding the Challenges," will cover the technological developments in 3D printing which "are empowering people to learn new skills, launch business ventures and solve complex health problems," and deal with the question:...

Where publishers ought to be behind libraries
January 20, 2015 | 12:25 pm

bookshelves-at-the-libraryAs a recent, rather vexed, letter to the UK Guardian points out, publishers and booksellers facing an apparent decline in appetite for the printed word ought also to be looking to their libraries - and supporting them more. Because it's a no-brainer to conclude that the more libraries are buying books, the more robust and healthy the book trade will be. In the context of a recent article in The Bookseller on apparent declining sales for adult print fiction in the UK, the letter writer, a Ralph Gee of Nottingham, asks: Has the editor of The Bookseller compared the fall of print sales...

Toronto Public Library Buying Used Books?
January 19, 2015 | 1:25 pm

Toronto Public LibraryA controversial story hit my newsfeed this weekend: it seems the Toronto Public Library has launched a new program aimed at reducing wait times for popular best-sellers: they are plumping up the catalogue by buying used copies from library patrons. As the Toronto Star explains: The books it has listed on its “Sell Books to the Library” website page are not books that the public does not want; their authors are not ones who, the great lie of media and festivals, stand to benefit from extra publicity. No, the list is comprised of books so popular that the library is having a...

Lincolnshire County Council goes outlaw in bid to eradicate Lincolnshire public libraries
January 19, 2015 | 12:25 pm

Lincolshire County Council appears to be acting in clear contravention of UK law in persisting with its plan to close many of the county's libraries. At least if the statement on the Save Lincolnshire Libraries website is anything to go by. Entitled "Astonishing Misuse of Public Money and Political Power," it reads: Lincolnshire County Council has published plans to implement its unlawful decision of December 2013 to close thirty libraries unless volunteers take them over. This not only ignores the High Court judgement of July 2014 that quashed this decision but also the Localism Act which gives charities and social enterprises...

Some more great photogenic libraries
January 6, 2015 | 6:25 pm

Business Insider, of all the surprising venues, has compiled and shared a rundown of 18 of the most splendid and photogenic libraries worldwide, with architectural details of what makes each one unique. Venues range from the George Peabody Library (above) in Baltimore, Maryland, to the Kanazawa Umimirai Library (below) in Kanazawa City in Japan, with libraries from all countries and time periods - though all of them architectural treasures (but perhaps not to everybody's taste). For traditionalists who prefer the classic library, there's always the likes of the Royal Portuguese Reading Room (below) in Rio de Janeiro, which once again shows...

Franck Bohbot captures the world’s grandest libraries
January 5, 2015 | 4:25 pm

Bohbot 1 French photographer Franck Bohbot has created a marvelous series of photographs of the great libraries of Europe - although Harvard Public Library does feature as well - as part of an ongoing project called House of Books which will eventually expand to embrace South America, Asia and North America. "This is about the places that we have learned and where the books stay for decades," states the photographer. "Paying tribute to the Architects. the light, the composition and the colors have to be coherent in all the series." Bohbot admits that he's hardly the first photographer ever to have chosen libraries as a...