New Yorkers! Come see Edward Snowden and me onstage at the NYPL on the Walkaway tour!

I'm touring 20 US cities (plus dates in Canada and the UK!) with my forthcoming novel Walkaway; the full tour hasn't been announced yet, but I'm delighted to reveal that the NYC stop on May 3 will be at the New York Public Library, where my interlocutor will be the whistleblower Edward Snowden. Tickets are $10-25! (Reminder: there are also signed first-edition hardcovers available for pre-order in the USA and UK). Read the rest

1922 house and furnishings made entirely from varnished paper

Having successfully invented the paperclip-bending machine, engineer Elis F. Stenman set out to build a new summer home for himself in Rockport, Mass in 1922, entirely from paper. Read the rest

Metropolitan Museum of Art makes more than 375,000 public domain images available as CC0

The Met's collection contains over 375,000 images of art in the public domain; they've made these directly searchable and browseable, there's a Github repo of metadata, integration with the Creative Commons search tool, and extensive collaboration with Wikimedia and GLAM Wiki. Read the rest

UPDATED: Ransomware creeps steal the entire St Louis library system

Update: The library system has recovered access to its computers.

The libraries of St Louis, MO have been crippled by a ransomware attack that has shut down the public terminals the library provides to the poor and vulnerable of St Louis, as well as the systems used to process book and material lending (the catalog is on a separate, uninfected system). Read the rest

94% decline in librarians for Philadelphia's public schools

Since 1991, the number of full-time librarians working in Philadelphia's cash-strapped, budget-slashed public schools has declined by 94% -- only eight remain, while the state continues to trail the nation in literacy scores. Read the rest

Automated book-culling software drives librarians to create fake patrons to "check out" endangered titles

Two employees at the East Lake County Library created a fictional patron called Chuck Finley -- entering fake driver's license and address details into the library system -- and then used the account to check out 2,361 books over nine months in 2016, in order to trick the system into believing that the books they loved were being circulated to the library's patrons, thus rescuing the books from automated purges of low-popularity titles. Read the rest

Librarians must resist trumpism

Radical librarian Jason Griffey (previously) wants librarians to continue their 21st century leadership in the resistance to surveillance and persecution -- a proud record that includes the most effective stands against GW Bush's Patriot Act -- by pledging to make libraries safe havens from trumpism and its evils: electronic surveillance; racial and gender-based discrimination; and the assertion that ideology trumps empirical reality. Read the rest

Eating at all of LA's grand old restaurants and dives, one at a time

The Remains of LA blog has a mission: to "visit all the cool old places in LA (not all at once)." I met its proprietress today, working at my local Burbank library, and I share her passion for LA's old restaurants, though I lack her devotion! As she notes, "sometimes the food is good, and there are nice people." Read the rest

Germany-wide consortium of research libraries announce boycott of Elsevier journals over open access

Germany's DEAL project, which includes over 60 major research institutions, has announced that all of its members are canceling their subscriptions to all of Elsevier's academic and scientific journals, effective January 1, 2017. Read the rest

Behold, the short-lived, wonderful 19th century Waverley Type-Writer

Typewriter historian Martin Howard (previously) writes, "I was able to pick up a rare and exquisite Waverley typewriter (1896) this summer in Scotland and have just the other day posted it to my website all cleaned and ready to show." Read the rest

That time Walt Disney's oppo researchers claimed his business rival was laundering money for Jimmy Hoffa

Len Testa writes, "Back in the early 1960's, Walt was interested in buying and developing the Mineral King ski area in California, which was being put up for sale by the U.S. government. Another potential bidder on the project was industrialist Robert Brandt, husband of Hollywood actress Janet Leigh." Read the rest

Grass sprouted in worn Persian rugs

Austrian artist Martin Roth created an installation of grass sprouted in worn Persian rugs at the UK's Korean Cultural Centre; the grass sprouts, dies, and ruins the rugs. In between, the room looks and (apparently) smells amazing. Read the rest

Modelling Borges's Library of Babel in Sketchup

Jorge Luis Borges's short story The Library of Babel describes an infinite library containing all possible books ("its polished surfaces represent and promise the infinite ... Light is provided by some spherical fruit which bear the name of lamps"). Read the rest

Stupendous library cake

This amazing cake was created by Kathy Knaus. (via Crazy Abalone) Read the rest

Machine learning, deep-fat fryers, and community cultivation

Maciej Cegłowski's (previously) speech at the Library of Congress, "Deep-Fried Data," describes the way that data begs to be analyzed and how machine learning is like a deep-fat fryer -- a fryer makes anything you put in it "kind of" delicious, and machine learning "kind of" finds insights in your data-set. Read the rest

Douglas County, OR using dirty ballot tricks to finish off the slow murder of its libraries

For years, the Douglas County commissioners have reduced the budget of the county's 11 libraries, serving 100,000 residents, and they've vowed to zero out its budget next year, so the library's supporters got a ballot initiative to create a Special Library District that would keep the doors open -- naturally, the county has removed all mention of the initiative from its website, using dirty tricks to finish off its dirty work. Read the rest

New York Public Library installs high-tech, wall-climbing book-train

The new conveyor system will open the week of October 3, ferrying books from the vast, subterranean archives beneath Bryant Park to researchers working in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. Read the rest

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