Explaining the benefits of a library card with vintage Penguin covers


Ann sez, "I am a librarian in Arizona in charge of my county's social media. For September, National Library Card Sign-Up Month, I created 30 Penguin-Pelican style vintage paperback book covers representing the benefits of library membership."

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How publishers should learn to stop worrying and love library ebook lending

My latest Locus column, Libraries and E-books, talks about the raw deal that libraries are currently getting from the big five publishers on ebook pricing (libraries pay up to five times retail for their ebooks, and are additionally burdened with the requirement to use expensive, proprietary collection-management tools). I point out that libraries are effectively the last main-street "retailer" of books, and represent a valuable ally for publishing in the age of ebooks, where all the other major players are not just ebook vendors, but ebook publishers as well, and looking to take market-share from the publishers.

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Talking about the future of libraries with the Circulating Ideas library podcast

I did an interview with the Circulating Ideas library podcast (MP3) at the American Library Association conference this year. We talked about information politics, DRM and libraries, my own history with reading and books, and the future of librarianship.

Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" reenacted with librarians

http://vimeo.com/66169135

From the New York Public Library's Tumblr, a great remake of the video for the Beastie Boys' classic "Sabotage," featuring librarians on high-speed chases through the shelves.

Sometimes we just feel compelled to share something awesome. A video combining the Beastie Boys and Librarians = Awesome. (Thanks, Tim!)

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)