Web filter at British Library: Sorry, Hamlet is too violent


The British Library is an instructive test-case as we ramp up for the Great Firewall of Cameron, whereby all British ISPs will have to opt all their customers into an "adult content" filter. The BL's new filter blocked Shakespeare's Hamlet for excessive violence. Because it's dead easy to get enough prudes to look at all the webpages and decide which ones to censor, right?

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Why writers should stand up for libraries

Earlier this summer, I worked with the American Library Association on their Authors for Library Ebooks project -- which is asking authors to call on their publishers to offer ebooks to libraries at a fair price. Right now, libraries pay several times more for ebooks than people off the street -- up to six times more! I recorded this video explaining why libraries and authors are natural allies.

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Dead WalMart reborn as library


A dead WalMart in McAllen, Texas has been remodelled as a library, making it the largest single-floor library in the USA. It's award-winning design makes excellent use of all that space -- two football fields' worth -- and includes an acoustically separated teen space.

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Little Brother-themed team scavenger hunt coming to San Francisco!

My novel Little Brother is the "One City One Book" pick for the San Francisco Public Library this year; and in its honor, they've put together an amazing city-wide scavenger hunt called "Rogue Agent." It features fiendish puzzles and awesome clues, and kicks off on September 14. It's a team-sport, so start thinking about your teammates now; I'll be at the SFPL at the end of September to read from the book and talk about it.

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Libraries and makerspaces join up in DC, Chicago


This morning dawned with two exciting announcements from the world of libraries and makerspaces: first, the Chicago Public Library has opened a popup makerlab in the main downtown branch (this is merely the latest in a series of amazing, interactive, maker-ish initiatives from the CPL system). They've got 3D printers, laser cutters and a milling machine.

The other awesome news is that the 11,000 sqft the DC Library Digital Commons opens today in the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Library, with 3D printers, book-on-demand printers, and computers with 3D design software running on them.

This is a great day for libraries and makers -- as I've written, that's a match made in heaven.

(Images: Jacqui Cheng, Benjamin R. Freed)

3D printed Jackhammer Jill


Eric Robbins has been down to his local library to play with their Replicator 2 3D printer; he whipped up this gorgeous 3D model of our mascot, the magnificent Jackhammer Jill. He's provided a link to the STL file, and says, "Anyone is free to use or modify it." Bravo, Eric!

Why librarians are needed more than ever in the 21st century

In a 2010 interview with The Book Page, Neil Gaiman neatly set out the case for libraries and librarians in the 21st century; the remarks are even more relevant today, as libraries fight for a fair deal from publisher for ebooks, and with austerity-maddened local governments for their very survival.

Over the last decade, which is less than a blink of an eye in the history of the human race, it’s all changed. And we’ve gone from a world in which there is too little information, in which information is scarce, to a world in which there is too much information, and most of it is untrue or irrelevant. You know, the world of the Internet is the world of information that is not actually so. It’s a world of information that just isn’t actually true, or if it is true, it’s not what you needed, or it doesn’t actually apply like that, or whatever. And you suddenly move into a world in which librarians fulfill this completely different function.

We’ve gone from looking at a desert, in which a librarian had to walk into the desert for you and come back with a lump of gold, to a forest, to this huge jungle in which what you want is one apple. And at that point, the librarian can walk into the jungle and come back with the apple. So I think from that point of view, the time of librarians, and the time of libraries—they definitely haven’t gone anywhere.

Neil Gaiman talks about his love of libraries (via Neil Gaiman)

Dewey Decimal jewelry


Some bookish jewelry and accessories from Etsy make good use of Dewey Decimal classifications, such as thependantemporium's I still believe in 398.2 (fairy tales) pendants (see also).

Then there's writtennerd's earrings made with Dewey numbers culled from real old hand-typed card catalogs (necklaces, too)!

(via BookRiot)

Record-breaking book domino chain at Seattle Public Library

The awesome library ninjas at the Seattle Public Library kicked off its Summer Reading Program by smashing the world record for a book domino chain. The chain was laid out in the library's beautiful main branch, and was made up of 2,131 library discards and donations. I'm at the American Library Association in Chicago this weekend -- if you're one of the SPL aweseomsaucers who helped this, I'd love to shake your hand.

Book Domino Chain World Record (Thanks, silkox!)

Long-lost diary of Nazi racial theorist and Hitler confidant recovered


Photo: ICE HSI. Click to enlarge.

In Washington today, US officials and U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum representatives announced the seizure of a long-lost diary maintained by a close confidant of Adolf Hitler.

The recovery of this historical document was the result of an extensive investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The author of the so-called "Rosenberg Diary" was Alfred Rosenberg, a leading member of the Third Reich and of the Nazi Party during World War II.

Rosenberg was one of the intellectual authors behind key Nazi beliefs, including persecution of Jewish people, expansionist “lebensraum” (living space) ideology, the "master race" theory, and the rejection of modern art as "degenerate." He was tried at Nuremberg, sentenced to death, and hanged on October 16, 1946, after having been convicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The diary will eventually be displayed in the Holocaust Museum. More photos, video from the press conference where the seizure was announced, video of Rosenberg speaking, and more of the story behind this important historic artifact are below.

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Inside GTMO's library


Charlie Savage writes in the New York Times of the books on offer to prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, which include a set of Indiana Jones novelizations, some Star Trek: TNG novels, Ender's Game, Arabic editions of Danielle Steele, and some Captain America graphic novels. Some of the prisoners arrived in Gitmo able to read English, other have learned during their 10-year incarceration. One lawyer brought in copies of Nineteen Eighty-Four for his client, Shaker Aamer, who said, "it perfectly captured the psychological reality of being at Gitmo."

The library has about 18,000 books — roughly 9,000 titles — the bulk of which are in Arabic, along with a smaller selection of periodicals, DVDs and video games. Religious books are the most popular, Milton said, but there is also a well-thumbed collection of Western fare — from Arabic translations of books like “News of a Kidnapping,” by Gabriel García Márquez, and “The Kiss,” by Danielle Steel, to a sizable English-language room, which boasts familiar titles like the “Harry Potter” and “Lord of the Rings” series, “Watership Down” and the “Odyssey.” Some detainees arrived knowing English, while a few others have learned over time. Most have now been held without trial for over a decade.

You can see photos of the books at the Gitmo Books Tumblr, which was started by Charlie Savage lawyers for some of the prisoners.

Invisible Men [Charlie Savage/NYT] (via Hacker News)

New Yorkers: help defend local libraries at June 8-9's Read In

Libraries in New York City are facing a potential $106 million cut to their budgets. Should these cuts go through, more than 60 neighborhood libraries will close. More than a thousand librarians and library staff will be laid off.

Once again, for a fourth year, New Yorkers will be standing up for libraries at the 24 Hour Read In, which takes place from June 8th & 9th at the gorgeous Brooklyn Public Library Central Library. Poud library supporters will read around the clock: a literal full day of reading in support of libraries throughout the five boroughs.

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Freelance archivists raising funds to preserve precious manuscripts rescued from fundamentalists in Timbuktu

Tony sez, "In 2012, under threat from fundamentalist rebels, a team of archivists, librarians, and couriers evacuated an irreplaceable trove of manuscripts from Timbuktu at great personal risk. The manuscripts have been saved from immediate destruction, but the danger is not over. A massive archival effort is needed to protect this immense global heritage from loss. That's why we launched an Indie-go-go campaign."

Libraries in Exile is sponsored by T160K, an international initiative forged in the evacuation of these treasures from Timbuktu and dedicated to protecting and preserving them until they can be returned to their home. It is the center of a growing global family who have pledged to this urgent effort.

Funds contributed to this project will be used to purchase moisture traps, archival boxes, and the additional footlockers required to safely store these manuscripts, as well as to cover the significant labor effort required to unbox and re-pack the manuscripts for preservation.

Timbuktu Libraries in Exile

Freestanding "street library"


The Little Free Library is a project from Stereotank: a freestanding, inverted plastic tank that you stick your head into in order to browse the books that are sheltered from the elements. It's been installed in New York's Nolita.


The Architectural League of New York partnered with Pen World Voices Festival to bring Little Free Library to New York City. Ten designers were chosen to create one Little Free Library each in Downtown Manhattan. Stereotank was selected to design a Little Free Library at St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral School in Nolita. The design consisted in creating an 'inhabitable' Little Free Library, where users could immerse themselves and take the time to browse through books and borrow or exchange them. The structure is built out of an upside down plastic tank and a wooden frame. Perforations around the tank allow visitors to peek inside and preview the interior, which invites them to duck under and discover the book collection while still having a connection with the exterior. The installation is planned to be active until September 2013.

Little Free Library

Access Copyright Canada goes on anti-fair-dealing war-path

Michael Geist sez,

Months after the Supreme Court of Canada delivered a stinging defeat to Canadian copyright collective Access Copyright by ruling for an expansive approach to fair dealing and the government passed copyright reforms that further expanded the scope of fair dealing, Access Copyright responded yesterday with what amounts to a desperate declaration of war against fair dealing. Access Copyright has decided to fight the law - along with governments, educational institutions, teachers, librarians, and taxpayers - on several fronts. Most notably, it has filed a lawsuit against York University over its fair dealing guidelines, which are similar to those adopted by educational institutions across the country. While the lawsuit has yet to be posted online, the Access Copyright release suggests that the suit is not alleging specific instances of infringement, but rather takes issue with guidelines it says are "arbitrary and unsupported" and that "authorize and encourage copying that is not supported by the law."

Most of Access Copyright's longstanding arguments were dismissed by the Supreme Court this past summer. To suggest that a modest fair dealing policy based on Supreme Court jurisprudence and legislative reforms is "arbitrary and unsupported" is more than just rhetoric masquerading as legal argument. It is a declaration of war against fair dealing.

Access Copyright's Desperate Declaration of War Against Fair Dealing