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Self-published? Here’s how to get into libraries—via SELF-e, Smashwords and ebooksareforever
July 4, 2015 | 9:23 am

SELF-e — Connecting Libraries, Readers & Self-Published AuthorsWith perhaps as many as 600,000 indie books appearing each year, the library market is a tough nut to crack for the self-published. But what if Library Journal vetted your e-book and---let's be optimistic---pronounced it library-worth? That's the idea of  SELF-e, and in a guest post in Jane Friedman's blog, publishing consultant Porter Anderson explores the pros and cons. One negative of SELF-e, he says, is that the program does "not pay you a royalty when your ebook is checked out by a library patron. It costs you nothing to get into this arena for discovery but it also will not pay...

High Book Prices at Toronto Library
June 19, 2015 | 12:25 pm

toronto libraryThe Toronto Star has an article up this morning on high eBook prices. What is unusual about this article is that, unlike many articles on this subject, it gives cold, hard numbers. The library system pays $135 for a Hachette eBook. They pay $85 for a Random Penguin. And all of the eBook purchases come with restrictions which make them repurchase the book after 26 usages (HarperCollins) or one year (everyone else). Out city librarian, the fabulously-named Vickery Bowles, calls these prices 'unsustainable.' And I have to agree. The library is funded by tax dollars. That seems like an unfair demographic to...

‘Must’ for next librarian of Congress: A love of reading—including the ebook variety
June 17, 2015 | 8:34 pm

James_H._Billington_8971James Billington, 86, departing January 1 as librarian of Congress, excelled in certain areas such as Russian history. But he was not a librarian by background, and many of the real McCoys hated him. No small number of the library’s techies might have felt the same way. This Reagan-era appointee shunned e-mail and rarely picked up a cell phone. And e-books? Forget it. “Search techniques are embedded in e-books that invite people to dabble rather than follow  a full train of thought,” he said in 2011. Yes, you can dabble. But Billington zeroed in...

American Library Association doesn’t welcome the CODE Act
June 13, 2015 | 9:29 am

copyrightThe American Library Association (ALA) has issued its response to the introduction of the Copyright Office for the Digital Economy Act (CODE Act), designed to reform the dysfunctional U.S. copyright system, and its evaluation is not a very positive one. “For more than 20 years, content creators, rights holders, legislators and public users alike have acknowledged that the U.S. Copyright Office needs to modernize its technological capabilities for the 21st century," said ALA president Courtney Young, in the ALA official statement on the CODE Act. "Unfortunately, the recently introduced Copyright Office for the Digital Economy Act does little to address significant technology challenges...

Kristine Kathryn Rusch on the SF generation gap
June 12, 2015 | 8:30 am

Kristine Kathryn Rusch is compiling an anthology for Baen of classic SF stories by women, and as part of the project has started a website about women in science fiction. Along the way, one of her readers wrote to her about Andre Norton, bringing up an important point—over the last couple decades of the 20th century, the availability of classic SF writers (and, for that matter, classic writers of other genres) to the general public plummeted. In this blog post, Rusch examines the reasons why. The post is long, but makes some great reading. To summarize: In the late...

CHIP Kickstarter makes full-fledged computer available for $9
June 4, 2015 | 2:24 pm

chip_gearWe’ve seen our share of rock-bottom-priced computers in the last few years—the Arduino, the Raspberry Pi, Rhombus Tech. But a Kickstarter project due to end in just under two days may have them all beat. Touting itself as “the world’s first $9 computer,” the CHIP system-on-a-chip packs a fully-powered 1 GHz, 512 megabyte RAM, 4 gigabyte storage computer into a card the size of a movie ticket. It includes Bluetooth for hooking up to controllers and peripherals, comes with Linux pre-installed, and has uses including web browsing, using LibreOffice, playing games, playing music, or even learning to code. Apparently people like...

Amazon’s ‘most well-read cities’ rankings for 2015: Thank goodness my hometown is NOT on this silly list
June 3, 2015 | 5:08 am

375px-Space_Needle_2011-07-04Seattle leads Amazon’s 2015 list of America’s “most well-read cities.” My hometown of Alexandria, Virginia, with a population of around 150,000, is no longer #1. Amazon now compares only cities with populations of half a million or more, not the previous 100,000. Thank goodness. Alexandria’s #1 showing distracted the media and others from genuine literacy issues. Amazon based its numbers only on the company’s per-capita sales of books, newspapers and magazines. The reality in Alexandria differs starkly from the past Amazon rankings. The only bookstore of any size is the local Barnes & Noble branch. More than half of Alexandria’s public high...

ALA releases new Digital Futures report
May 28, 2015 | 4:27 pm

digital-library.jpgThe American Library Association (ALA) has announced the release of a special e-content supplement to its house magazine American Libraries, entitled Digital Futures, and available here. The 44-page supplement, ALA's fifth such publication, presents innovation options and case studies for libraries embracing digital initiatives. "The library community needs more proactive advocacy for information policy," argues Alan Inouye, director of ALA's Office for Information Technology Policy, and guest editor of the supplement. "Being on offense includes both taking action and planning for future action." Inouye is also co-author of a concluding article whose title, "A Policy Revolution for Digital Content," sums up much...

Library Renovations for the Win!
May 26, 2015 | 10:25 am

libraryAmidst all the coverage on how the library and retail books scenes are changing due to the eBook revolution, I was inspired to see two news stories pop up in my Feedly feed about library renovations. The first struck close to home, too---the Toronto Public Library just opened their 100th branch! The branch includes the requisite books---42,000 of them, in four languages!---and some cool techie stuff too. There is a 'Digital Innovation Hub' which includes a 3-D printer for public use, free wifi, a computer lab and so on. And on the non-techie side, an 'Early Literacy Centre; designed for children...

‘A Beautiful Mind,’ e-books and the Five Laws of Library Science: RIP, John Forbes Nash, Jr.
May 24, 2015 | 4:54 pm

John_Forbes_Nash,_Jr._by_Peter_Badge“A Beautiful Mind,” the inspiration of the book and film by that name, died over the weekend.  John Forbes Nash, Jr., 86, and his wife, Alicia, 82, were killed Saturday in an automobile accident. A world-famous mathematician, he shared a Nobel Prize in economics for his contribution to game theory. His work helped shape fields ranging from diplomacy to law to computer science. But when I read of Nash’s death. I thought of something else—the Five Laws of Library Science. They remind librarians of the need to help patrons find the right books, and the right...

National digital library endowment proposal makes Education Week
May 13, 2015 | 6:25 pm

edWeekEndowmentLibraryCity’s proposal for a national digital library endowment has now made the leading publication in the field of K-12 education---not just philanthropy (Chronicle of Philanthropy) and libraries (Library Journal). Education Week has published a 1,300-word essay with a home-page link. Also to be reproduced in the print edition, the article is a collaboration between me and Jim Duncan, executive director of the Colorado Library Consortium. Jim is offering his personal views. The beginning: As a boy, Warren Buffett is said to have read book after book on money. Thankfully, he did not live in Los Angeles and rely on the library at Roy Romer Middle...

Budapest’s beautiful libraries
May 9, 2015 | 12:25 pm

Budapest, where I live - and love - has some amazing libraries, as it turns out. Showcased courtesy of Welovebudapest.com, here are just a few of them. Probably the most stunning is the Szabó Ervin Library, a family-friendly venue which just happens to house the most incredible neo-Baroque interior imaginable. Or for something a little more austere, but still magnificent, how about the National Technical Information Centre and Library at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics (above). Or, similarly monumental, the Library of the School of English and American Studies and the Library of the Institute of German Studies at...

The last online library you will ever need: Borges’s Library of Babel lives
April 28, 2015 | 12:25 pm

Flavorwire has just published an interview with the creator of the ultimate library - of a very particular kind. That's Brooklyn author Jonathan Basile, who has taken it upon himself to recreate online the actual library in the classic Jorge Luis Borges fiction from 1941, “The Library of Babel.” That enigmatic parable deals with a universe made up entirely of hexagonal rooms, each with four walls of bookshelves, containing volumes filled with every possible combination of 22 letters, plus period, comma, and space. As described, the Library of Babel could never exist as a real location - in fact, it essentially...

Yale gets into the VHS age
April 20, 2015 | 10:25 am

vhs The Yale University Library and its Information Technology Services division has now assembled, as part of its Film Study Center's Video Collection, an archive of over 6500 VHS tapes that form a homage to the age of scuzz. Thanks to the diligent work of Yale librarian David Gary, scholars and students can now delve into such cultural treasures as I Spit On Your Grave or Toxic Zombies, or others that first helped define the category "straight to video." What's more, these films are not simply being digitized, but are actually being preserved as physical artifacts, in homage to what Gary defined...

The ALA’s latest list of shame – no, not that kind of shame
April 15, 2015 | 10:25 am

Book_Challenges_infographic-2000 The American Library Association (ALA) has just released its latest The State of America’s Libraries Report , which as well as much other useful and valuable pro-library information, includes its annual Top Ten List of Frequently Challenged Books. I'd go into considerable detail on this Top Ten, but the ALA has spared me the effort with this wonderful infographic. Beautiful artwork, but sobering reading - except that reading is the last thing that the challengers would want you to be able to do with these titles. "In 2014, the OIF received 311 reports regarding attempts to remove or restrict materials...

Phoenix Public Library shows how wonderful public libraries are – pay your fines in food
April 14, 2015 | 2:25 pm

Phoenix Public Library seems to have gone out of its way to re-energize the spirit of public service in public libraries, for another year running. For the next fortnight, it's arranged for library users to pay their library fines in non-perishable food instead of cash, with the ... ahem ... proceeds to go straight to local food banks and poor relief charities. Under the "Food for Fines" scheme, "Library customers can pay overdue fees and help restock the pantries of Valley food banks during Phoenix Public Library’s annual 'Food for Fines,' April 11-25. During 'Food for Fines,' 50 cents will be deducted...

Simon & Schuster, Brian Grazer announce ebook giveaway for libraries
April 11, 2015 | 2:25 pm

The American Library Association has just shared the news from Simon & Schuster "that it will donate a free ebook copy of Brian Grazer’s new book, A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life to libraries for every ebook or hardcover book sold at retail, up to 5,000 copies," hailing this as "a momentous move for libraries." The book, coauthored by journalist Charles Fishman, details "the weekly 'curiosity conversations' that have inspired Grazer to create some of America’s favorite, iconic movies and television shows—including 24 and A Beautiful Mind." The promotion will continue through National Library Week (April 12–18). “From our first...

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