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Alan Dundes papers open for access at UC Berkeley Bancroft Library
December 21, 2014 | 4:25 pm

The collected papers of Alan Dundes (1934-2005), celebrated folklorist and professor of anthropology and folklore at the University of California, Berkeley, have just been made available to students and the public in an archive housed in the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley, following a formal opening ceremony held by the Department of Anthropology & the Berkeley Folklore Program at the UC Berkeley Doe Library. The papers and correspondence amount to some 45 boxes, and will be available for access on application. According to the Bancroft Library's own materials, Dundes was "a leading figure in folkloristic scholarship, widely known as one of the most influential and...

Sieghart Report warns of “absolute disaster” in UK library services
December 20, 2014 | 2:25 pm

bookshelves-at-the-libraryThe just-released "Independent Library Report for England" launched by the UK government's Department for Culture, Media and Sport, has outlined a situation that its chief author, William Sieghart, has referred to elsewhere as the brink of "absolute disaster." And it calls for both wholesale renovation of the UK's library network, and recognition of their fundamental importance in society. For one thing, the Report seems to to all too aware of the danger of its conclusions being ignored by politicians. "There have already been far too many library reviews in recent years which have come to nothing," it warns. "Not enough decision makers at...

Budapest’s beautiful book stations
December 16, 2014 | 11:25 am

IMG_20141211_143113 Budapest has one delightful and very practical resource for the reading public: drop-off book stations where people can both deposit and pick up books. These are ... ahem ... stationed in the northwestern district of Obuda, which as per the description on the book stations, describes itself as "the cultural city." And the principle is that they serve as book exchanges: readers leave one book and borrow one - or of course, can donate as many as they like. In keeping with the same Budapest public spirit that sees guests at bars and cafes leave their bags and phones unattended when...

Arthur Machen archive threatened by UK library closures
December 15, 2014 | 8:25 pm

My thanks to Tartarus Press for alerting me to the danger posed to Newport Art Gallery and Library, which houses an archive of books and other documents from and about the great Welsh horror and dark fiction writer Arthur Machen, by cuts and reorganization plans at Newport City Council. As confirmed by Wales Today, the Council is planning to close the library and gallery and move their collections into a central location, but has left a consultation document online to invite public input on the plans. A support organization, the Friends of Newport Museum and Art Gallery (FoNMAG), has organized a Change.org petition to protest...

Google, New York City libraries deliver new lending program – of Wi-Fi devices
December 5, 2014 | 12:25 pm

public librariesAccording to an announcement from NYC City Hall, Google has committed $1 million to support "an innovative library program lending Wi-Fi devices to New Yorkers to use at home." The New York City Library Hotspot program, offered by the city's three library systems, the The New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library and Queens Library, seeks  "to offer about 10,000 families Wi-Fi devices powered by Sprint, helping to close the digital divide in New York City." Knight News Challenge, an initiative of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Open Society Foundations, and Robin Hood Foundation, are also supporting the...

Lithuania sees campaign launch to restore banned LGBT book
December 1, 2014 | 2:19 pm

Lithuanians have started a campaign to restore a banned book, Gintarinė širdis (“Amber Heart”) by local author Neringa Dangvydė to circulation. which includes same-sex relationships and other LGBT themes, to circulation after its banning in May by the Lithuanian Office of the Inspector of Journalist Ethics. This happened after the Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences found the book to be "harmful, primitive and biased homosexual propaganda." Campaigners have started an Indiegogo fundraising drive targeting $1100 "to reprint the book and return it to society." As at the time of writing, $412 has already been raised, against a cutoff date of December...

Copyright Office posts DMCA exemption petitions
November 25, 2014 | 6:17 pm

A few weeks ago I discussed the need for a DMCA exemption for e-books, in light of the US Copyright Office requesting petitions for such exemptions. The Copyright Office has now posted all 44 petitions it received as PDFs. There are a number of interesting petitions there—not least of them my own. Now that I read my petition again, I see a few typos and other tweaks I wish I could go back and fix (and they miscategorized it under “Audiovisual Works – Multimedia E-Books,” rather than “Literature Distributed Electronically”), but on the whole I’m satisfied with it....

Library book sales: a lesson in critical reading
November 25, 2014 | 10:27 am

library book salesA story from today's Morning Links proved to be an interesting case study in critical reading. It seemed straightforward enough: the folks at GoodeReader reported on a UK government study which "carry out real-time, real-world research into the impact of eBook lending in public libraries on authors, publishers and on the library service so that a suitable and sustainable model could be found." One of the more alarmist findings to come out of the study was the headline-making tidbit that readers who borrowed from the library "is not driving people to buy more eBooks." But...look again. Here is the exact wording...

Library A to Z shows how to crowdfund library advocacy
November 21, 2014 | 2:25 pm

One of the more heartening initiatives by advocates of the UK's library system in the face of devastating - and ideologically dictated - "austerity" cuts, is the Library A to Z, which "has created a visual A to Z celebrating the wide range of services, resources and facilities that make libraries so fantastic." The site contains: "materials, including illustrations, book, posters, cards and other advocacy materials that you are free to share and re-use,"as well as "links and information about what you can do to support libraries." But its own story is almost as important and encouraging as the resources...

Victory for author, people power as Liverpool libraries stay open
November 16, 2014 | 2:27 pm

Public demonstrations and a campaign involving some 500 writers and creative figures have staved off, at least for now, the threat of closure hanging over 11 out of 19 libraries in Liverpool, following a 58 per cent cut in the funding the city receives from Central government. Authors involved in the campaign included Malorie Blackman,  Cathy Cassidy, Jonathan Coe,  Carol Ann Duffy, Alan Gibbons, Caitlin Moran, and Meg Rosoff, while local citizens took to the streets in protest. In the Liverpool Express, Mayor Joe Anderson announced that: "I can confirm today that none of our libraries will close. There is much to be proud about our library...

Wellcome Library funds deep dive into UK mental health history
October 29, 2014 | 10:25 am

The UK's Wellcome Library has announced a new initiative in its ongoing program of medical archive digitisation, in the shape of a partnership with several UK regional archives and hospitals to digitise and disseminate their mental health records. According to the announcement, "over 800,000 pages of archival material from psychiatric hospitals in the UK from the 18th to the 20th centuries will be digitised and made freely available online as part of the Wellcome Library’s ambitious digitisation programme." The Wellcome Library will fully fund the entire project. As well as the specifics of the evolution of mental health treatment, the digitised...

ALA welcomes Adobe action, voices concern over ebook vendor data retention
October 28, 2014 | 12:25 pm

AmericanLibraryAssociationThe American Library Association (ALA) has just issued a statement welcoming Adobe's software update fix for its much-publicized ebook reader data leak from Adobe Digital Editions, but also took the occasion to warn of the problems and risks created by continuing data retention by most ebook platform operators, publishers, and retailers. Carolyn Anthony and Erika Linke, co-chairs of  the ALA Digital Content Working Group (DCWG), said: Librarians have long been guardians of and advocates for reader privacy. The plain text transmission of reader data by Adobe Digital Editions over the internet was clearly a privacy violation for all users of the ADE...