This is the fastest way to alphabetize 1,000+ books (or anything else)

From TED-Ed:

You work at the college library. You’re in the middle of a quiet afternoon when suddenly, a shipment of 1,280 books arrives. The books are in a straight line, but they're all out of order, and the automatic sorting system is broken. How can you sort the books quickly? Chand John shows how, shedding light on how algorithms help librarians and search engines speedily sort information.

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Philip Roth donating his personal book collection to Newark Public Library

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The Newark Public Library is the scene of Philip Roth's novella Goodbye, Columbus. Now, Roth is donating his personal book collection to that same library. From the New York Times:

Mr. Roth’s library, some 4,000 volumes, is now stored mostly at his house in northwest Connecticut, where it has more or less taken over the premises. A room at the back of the house has been given over to nonfiction. It has library shelves, library lighting — everything except a librarian, Mr. Roth said recently on the phone from his New York apartment. Fiction starts in the living room, takes up all the walls in a front study, and has also colonized a guest bedroom upstairs. Copies of Mr. Roth’s own books and their many translations are stuffed in closets and piled in the attic. The books that were helpful to Mr. Roth in his research for his novel “The Plot Against America” are all grouped together, as are those he consulted for “Operation Shylock...."

The books will be shelved in Newark exactly as they are in Connecticut — not a window into Mr. Roth’s mind exactly, but physical evidence of the eclectic writers who helped shape it: Salinger, Bellow, Malamud, Kafka, Bruno Schulz. Many of the volumes are heavily underlined and annotated...

“I’m 83, and I don’t have any heirs,” Mr. Roth said, explaining why he decided to give the library away. “If I had children it might be a different story. It’s not a huge library, but it’s special to me, and I wanted it preserved as it was, if only for historical interest: What was an American writer reading in the second half of the 20th century.”

"A Scene Right Out of Philip Roth: His Books Come Home to Newark’s Library" (New York Times)

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Modelling Borges's Library of Babel in Sketchup

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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

Jewish man arrested at Kansas City library speech after asking "provocative" questions

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Take care when asking provocative questions at Kansas City's library events: you might end up in jail.

The executive director of Kansas City Libraries says he's outraged by the charges against Jeremy Rothe-Kushel, a Jewish man grabbed by private security after asking the event's speaker, former diplomat Dennis Ross, uninvited follow-up questions. Off-duty cops moved in to arrest Rothe-Kushel when he objected to the hands-on treatment—as well as a library staffer who had moved to intervene.

The Associated Press reports Kansas City police spokeswoman Capt. Stacey Graves as saying officers "acted properly in helping private security stop an audience member from asking follow-up questions."

Issues arose after Ross finished speaking and took a question from Jeremy Rothe-Kushel concerning whether Jewish Americans like Rothe-Kushel should be concerned about actions by the U.S. and Israel that amount to "state-sponsored terrorism."

"When are we going to stand up and be ethical Jews and Americans?" Rothe-Kushel asked.

When Rothe-Kushel tried to ask another question, a private security guard grasped his arm, followed by an off-duty police officer, both employed by the Jewish Community Foundation. Rothe-Kushel then shouted, "Get your hands off of me right now!"

Steve Woolfolk, director of public programming for the library, tried to intervene. Both men were arrested by off-duty officers.

On-duty officers posted to the event apparently did not get involved until later: he was arrested by a man out of uniform and paid by the event's organizers.

Rothe-Kushel was charged with trespassing and resisting arrest. Steve Woolfolk, director of public programming for the library, was charged with interfering with an arrest. Read the rest

Stupendous library cake

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

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

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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

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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

Australian library releases free, remixable webcomics maker

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Australian libraries and games guy Matt Finch (previously) writes, "This year the Queensland State Library has designed and built a drag and drop comic maker for Fun Palaces and released the code on Github too. Read the rest

How you can help India's first free public library for the Tibetan exile community

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Earlier this year, I wrote about a wonderful library project that Tibetan friends in India are putting together for a Tibetan exile community there, with the support of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Here's an update from my friend Phuntsok Dorjee, who is one of the organizers.

The Dalai Lama speaks to his followers at the Gaden Jangtse Thoesam Norling Monastery in Mundgod, 2014. REUTERS

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Far future of libraries

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Business Insider's Chris Weller asked me to draw from our work at Institute for the Future, where I'm a research director, to take a long-distance look at the far future of what libraries could become:

In 50 years' time, Pescovitz tells Business Insider, libraries are poised to become all-in-one spaces for learning, consuming, sharing, creating, and experiencing — to the extent that enormous banks of data will allow people to "check out" brand-new realities, whether that's scaling Mt. Everest or living out an afternoon as a dog....

The definition of a library is already changing.

Some libraries have 3D printers and other cutting-edge tools that makes them not just places of learning, but creation. "I think the library as a place of access to materials, physical and virtual, becomes increasingly important," Pescovitz says. People will come to see libraries as places to create the future, not just learn about the present.

Pescovitz offers the example of genetic engineering, carried out through "an open-source library of genetic parts that can be recombined in various way to make new organisms that don't exist in nature."

"Libraries of the future are going to change in some unexpected ways" (Business Insider)

(image: "The Long Room of the Old Library at Trinity College Dublin") Read the rest

After 60 years, man returns library book that clearly influenced his life

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Larry Murdock just returned a library book that he checked out from the Linton, Indiana Public Library in 1956, when he was just 8 years old. The book is "Moths of the Limberlost." Murdock is now a Purdue University professor of entomology who specializes in the study of moths. He said the book turned up in a box.

"(Returning) it was the right thing to do," he said. "Maybe after all those years there are kids out there who might get some benefit" from the book.

Murdock paid a $436.44 fine.

(AP) Read the rest

How the New York Public Library made ebooks open, and thus one trillion times better

Leonard Richardson isn't just the author of Constellation Games, one of the best debut novels I ever read and certainly one of the best books I read in 2013; he's also an extremely talented free/open source server-software developer who has been working for the New York Public Library on a software project that liberates every part of the electronic book lending system from any kind of proprietary lock-in, and, in the process, made reading library ebooks one trillion times better. Read the rest

The New York Public Library is surprisingly CHUD-friendly

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As this spectacular cross-section of the NYPL main branch demonstrates, the library was designed to service the needs of all the city's dwellers, even the CHUDs. (via From Deco to Atom) Read the rest

Photographer sues Getty Images for $1B because they're charging for pix she donated to LoC

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Jamie writes, "A photographer filed on Monday a $1 billion copyright infringement suit in New York against Getty Images' American arm, alleging that the company is sending out letters demanding licensing fees for her photos that were donated to the Library of Congress." Read the rest

Sign a book of congratulations for America's new Librarian of Congress

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John from Everylibrary writes, "Please join EveryLibrary in sending congratulations to Dr. Carla Hayden, our new Librarian of Congress, by signing below with your personal comment or reflection of congratulations along with your name. We will take all the signatures and comments made by midnight on Tuesday, July 20th and create a commemorative book for Dr. Hayden. We'll send the book, along with a nice bouquet from all of us, to her this week." Read the rest

Vandals wage war on San Francisco 'Little Free Library'

Photo: Peter Kupfe

Residents of an awfully tony neighborhood in San Francisco, California can't keep their Little Free Library open. Of all the asshole things to do, some vandals keep destroying it!

The idea is to encourage neighborhood interaction, but the Little Free Library at Noe and 15th streets has become an exercise in frustration.

“It’s really just been one thing after another,” said Peter Kupfer, another resident. “It was vandalized. It was knocked down. Someone set fire to it. It was knocked apart and in pieces on the street. It was stolen completely, so a neighbor donated a cabinet, which we had painted and refinished.”

Last week, though, was the topper. The sponsors had bolted the Little Free Library to the sidewalk with metal braces.

“And they just ripped it out of the pavement,” Kupfer said.

(SF Chronicle) Read the rest

WEB Du Bois's infographics on black life, from the 1900 Exposition Universelle

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Activist/sociologist WEB Du Bois compiled a beautiful set of infographics on the state of black life since the end of slavery that were displayed at the "Exhibit of American Negroes" he created with Thomas J Calloway and Booker T Washington for the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris. Read the rest

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