Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Neil Gaiman and the Terrible Library Mistake

Alright, so he didn't make a terrible library mistake, but he did say closing libraries would be a terrible mistake.

"We're now in an age of 'too much information'. Libraries and librarians are more important than ever.

"Children want stories. They want information. They want knowledge about the strange world they're in. Saying that the internet can be that is like setting a child free in a jungle and expecting them safely to find things to eat."

Also if libraries close that's $45000 visits he's not making money from, ah ha ha ho ho ho ZING. Just kidding, I love me some Neil Gaiman.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Wii Bowling Library Seminar

Nintendo gets some potential customers through a library demonstration of Wii Bowling. A good program to get seniors up and moving. Maybe I should get a Wii for my grandmother.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The National Braille Challenge

June 26th was the day of The National Braille Challenge, a competition where the best blind students in the US and Canada compete for prizes and savings bonds. They are tested in areas like reading comprehension, braille spelling, chart and graph reading, proofreading and braille speed and accuracy.

"This competition is unique in that it tests a very specific skill. The great thing about The Braille Challenge, is that it gives us the opportunity to celebrate braille literacy and bring this issue to the attention of the public,” said Nancy Niebrugge, director of The Braille Challenge. “Most of the participants who make it to the national competition are the only blind students in their school. They go through their entire lives being the exception. This competition gives them the opportunity to build camaraderie among kids who have shared similar life experiences."

Very cool! And hopefully another reason to fight the decline of learning Braille.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Non-Speed Reading

Maybe people read too fast.

I read pretty fast. I don't think you could classify it as 'speed reading', but I can get through a lot of pages if I sit down and go. On the other hand, sometimes I find details escape me. Maybe I would enjoy it even more if I could make myself slow down.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Libraries: What Are They Good For? Mary Dempsey Will Tell You!

FOX Chicago News made the mistake of asking what - with the internet and all the ebooks - were libraries still good for? She got a response from Chicago Public Library Commissioner Mary A. Dempsey. Just read the whole letter, it's great.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Earthquake Twittering

Okay, I admit it: Twitter can be useful.

On June 23rd I was sitting at a computer when I thought I heard a truck go by. A really big truck, for a really long time, and everything started to shake. Within a few seconds I figured out it wasn't a super monstrosity truck passing by, but an earthquake.

It's been a long time since I've been in an earthquake - years and years and years. It was unsettling. Once I was convinced it was over, I registered it at The US Geographical Survey Earthquake Hazards Program site and then started Googling to see what news there was. Nothing that fast - except Twitter.

Lo and behold, checking on Twitter's front page gave me oodles of information. I learned how far the quake had gone and got reasonable guesses as to how far from the epicentre I was. Instantly. It was... useful. It wasn't just about people reporting on what they'd had for lunch. It was actual stuff I was interested in.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cellphones, Not Books

The Telegraph has run an article about how a child is more likely to own a cell phone than a book, which is pretty sad indeed. Unless those children just take out books from the library and wouldn't that be wonderful? Fat chance.

As part of the latest study, the trust surveyed more than 17,000 schoolchildren aged seven to 16.

It found that 85.5 per cent of pupils had their own mobile phone, compared with 72.6 per cent who had their own books. Among children in Key Stage 2 – aged seven to 11 – 79.1 per cent had a mobile compared with 72.7 per cent who had access to books.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Twitter Spelling Police

You will take your 140 characters and you will punctuate, capitalize, and spell properly! While I like proper English (or at least mostly proper English) on sites, I don't think I'd go as far as to join the Twitter police. Not that that's a term or anything. You do have to make allowances for posting via phone, even if it hurts a little on the inside. Sigh.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

10 Year Old Caught Surfing Porn

A librarian in California caught a 10 year old surfing porn. She's been reprimanded for her reaction. Instead of the whole 'porn accessible to minors in a library' issue, they seem to be focusing on her touching the kid - she says on the back, the parents say she smacked him.

Monday, June 21, 2010


Finally, a domain just for porn!

On Friday, ICANN, the not-for-profit corporation that coordinates the internet's naming system, voted to allow the application of the controversial ".xxx" top-level domain name for sites that display adult content.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


The Non-Adventures of Wonderella!

It's a comic, let it load!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Letters With Character

Letters With Character is a fun project encouraging people to write letters to fictional characters. Very cute; also funny and touching at times.

It also reminds me of a book I enjoyed when I was younger called Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary, even though that was a book about a kid writing to his favourite author. I suppose it's because it seems like the kid, Leigh, is writing to a figure that will never write back, just like a fictional character. It was a funny book and I can't remember if Mr. Henshaw ever wrote back. I think he did.

More Gay-Friendly Books in Libraries, Please!

Brent writes for a blog called The Naughty Book Kitties and guest blogged at Pinched Nerves, neither of which I'd heard of before but will be bookmarking for use later. Brent's guest article is about how he found the lack of gay-friendly books in libraries unencouraging; he was even told he'd have to go somewhere else for 'inappropriate titles'.

There were a couple of parts of his article I found interesting: there's his explanation of how reading made him feel - comfortable.

I felt comfortable with books, with the characters. I knew that they didn’t care whether I was different or not. They were just characters, after all, and they were too busy telling me their story to care whether or not I was gay. Reading was my escape. I felt normal while reading.
I remember that feeling, too. It's an especially valuable one when you're a teenager and any misstep might earn you humiliation. It wasn't so bad for me personally, but I think if I'd been in a high school where most kids had a cellphone that could take video, I'd've been worse off. The second was this:

People really write about this stuff? I thought. It felt . . . great. Imagine that you are an alien on your own planet. And imagine you find out that there are more aliens, just like you, on your planet. And imagine what it would be like–to know that someone knows what it’s like. What you’re going through.
This is one of those things I love about reading, how it can take you away and maybe that place you go is somewhere you'd think you'd fit in for once. Or even just somewhere you'd want to go. All the adventure, none of the bugs and injuries.

I think feeling alone is one of the hardest parts of growing up, and I think gay kids have it rough in that regard. That's why it's so important to have books there for kids to turn to, to help them feel better about themselves, to tell them they're wonderful and just fine the way they are when maybe the world around them doesn't. I'm thinking maybe I should take down the titles of some of the books on Naughty Kitties and check if my local libraries have them. If they don't, I think I'd like to put in requests for them.

Execution Twitter

Is using Twitter to announce an execution appropriate? Utah attorney general Mark Shurtleff thought it was alright.

"I just gave the go ahead to Corrections Director to proceed with Gardner's execution. May God grant him the mercy he denied his victims."
While Twitter's Tweets are 'legitimate' enough to be included in the Library of Congress, how appropriate are they in this situation? I'd say not at all. Mark Shurtleff Tweeted about an execution he was involved in. He Tweeted. Say it a few times, think about how silly that sounds. Tweeting. Tweeting about someone's death.

I have no sympathy for the man executed; it's more that I imagine that would be a terrible thing for a family member or other relative to hear about. It's irreverent, and even if they guy was horrible, it's still not quite appropriate respect for the taking of another life. Even if it's by death squad shooting.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Condiment Crime

A woman in Boise, Idaho, cas caught pouring mayonnaise into a book drop at the Ada County library. She's also the prime suspect for past condiment infractions, including corn syrup and ketchup.
Authorities say a 74-year-old Boise woman... is a person of interest in at least 10 other condiment-related crimes.
Mostly this is posted because I like the phrase 'condiment-related crimes'. GENIUS.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Beware Facebook

A good catchall blog article about Facebook and privacy from John G. at Urbana Free Library Picks: Life Without Online Privacy.

Journal Liberation

John Mark Ockerbloom writes about the problems with the high cost of some academic journals for Everybody's Libraries:

The problem of limited access to high-priced scholarly journals may be reaching a crisis point. Researchers that are not at a university, or are at a not-so-wealthy one, have long been frustrated by journals that are too expensive for them to read (except via slow and cumbersome inter-library loan, or distant library visits). Now, major universities are feeling the pain as well, as bad economic news has forced budget cuts in many research libraries, even as further price increases are expected for scholarly journals. This has forced many libraries to consider dropping even the most prestigious journals, when their prices have risen too high to afford.

His article is partly a primer for how to 'liberate' journals.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Unhappy Children Demand Rhyme Time Librarian Remain

Little kids in Camden, London, are pretty upset about their Rhyme Time reading librarian, Paula Rundell, getting moved to a basement sorting job. Two-thirds of the library staff are being redeployed, presumably as part of a drive to improve libraries by 'balancing the range of staff skills and experience among the libraries'. It is also a cost-cutting measure, as fourteen posts were also cut as well as some programs.

Alexander Price, aged eight, who lives in Keats Close, just a short walk from Heath Library, went to Rhyme Time as a toddler and has been an avid reader ever since.

He said: “I feel really upset and angry. I want to say to the council staff that they should not [move Ms Rundell] – it’s very mean. The job she does, no one else can do, and the job she is going to do, anyone can do, just putting books in bags.”

The article in the Camden New Journal shows a picture of some very thoroughly disgruntled, scowling, and unhappy kids. Particularly the girl in front... if looks could kill.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Children's Library in Liberia

Just a neat little story about setting up the first library in Liberia. This one's for children. While I have to wonder if they really never had a library before (really?), this is still most definitely awesome. Students in Arizona schools collected more than ten thousand used books and teaching materials to donate, while others donated backpacks, supplies, and teaching aids. In Yekepa, where as many as five children share a photocopied textbook, this will be very helpful.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Python Coding for Kids (And Beginner Adults)

Invent Your Own Computer Games With Python is a Creative Commons-licensed free(!) book aimed at kids (and beginner adults) to help them learn the Python coding language. And make games, I suppose, but I think for me the games would be a means to the end of learning Python, not vice versa.

Technological Brain-Rot

Two articles: one on how some people think technology is making us less focused and a shorter one explaining why that's crap.

The problem lies with the person lacking focus, not in the technology itself. Are things like Twitter, Facebook, and email too distracting? Not really. They're all still there for after you, say, finish your current class. Time management is the issue.

(I can't mess with Facebook or anything when I'm in class. I know it's going to distract me if I try to read blogs and websites when I'm supposed to be listening. Or if I try to read a book, for that matter. Sometimes when I doodle, too.)

Google Wi-Fi Data

It's just been so long since I mentioned Google here. So here is a disturbing article about wi-fi data Google collected that lots of people would love to get their hands on. Privacy? What?

Google said it didn’t realize it was sniffing packets of data on unsecured Wi-Fi networks in dozens of countries for the last three years, until German privacy authorities questioned what data Google’s Street View cameras were collecting. Street View is part of Google Maps and Google Earth, and provides panoramic pictures of streets and their surroundings across the globe.

Jane Yolen's Foiled

WIRED ran a small review of Jane Yolen's Foiled. Where was all this good YA fiction when I was young? I keep seeing books I would've loved that I'm tempted to pick up even today.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Savage Gets No Love

Back in 2006, Scott Savage got in trouble for suggesting an anti-gay book for the freshman reading list at Ohio State University. While Savage said he suggested the book 'to make a point', he also filed a lawsuit against the university, whom he felt discriminated against him and his conservative Christian views. The court rejected his claims and supported Ohio State. Woohoo!

Ohio State Mansfield in 2006 was joining the growing number of colleges that ask all freshmen to read the same book as part of their arrival at the institution. Scott Savage, then the head reference librarian and a self-described conservative Christian, joined a faculty committee charged with selecting a book. In discussions, he criticized some of the proposed ideas as political, and when other committee members said that wasn't a problem, he suggested a number of conservative texts, with the most discussion focusing on one of his nominations: The Marketing of Evil: How Radicals, Elitists, and Pseudo-Experts Sell Us Corruption Disguised as Freedom, by David Kupelian.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tim Spalding on Libraries and Ebooks

From Tim Spalding at Library Thing:

Libraries--from the library of Alexandria to the "social libraries" that preceded public libraries--came about because of the value of aggregation. And contemporary libraries are in large part valuable for the same reasons. They are:

1. Bringing physical items together makes access easier than having books spread all around.
2. A library can allow many people to use an item many times for the same price a person would pay for a single use.

Ebooks undermine 1 in their digital form. There's no getting around this. It may be good for the world, but it isn't good for physical libraries.

Ebooks undermine 2 in their terms. Few will say it openly, but publishers have never liked selling books to libraries, at least when it cannibalized sales to consumers. They don't like that almost a half of all book reading is provided by libraries although libraries account for only 4% of their sales. For similar reasons, publishers dislike personal lending, donations and the used book market.

Ebook licenses allow publishers to close off all this. And they do. Nobody disputes the other three, although, in an exception that proves the rule, you can loan some Nook books once for two weeks and then never again.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Google's Safe Search Maybe Not Safe for Schools

Google, the big scary entity that oversees quite a lot of information, might not be allowed in American schools anymore. Google's new encrypted search option violates the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), which requires schools to monitor and sometimes block certain websites.

Typically, schools and filtering companies respond to an "offending" site by blocking access to it. However, in this case, blocking Google's encrypted search is complicated by the potential ripple effects.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Julian Assange and

Snaked from Wired, who in turn link to the New Yorker website - No Secrets: Julian Assange’s Mission for Total Transparency.

Assange is an international trafficker, of sorts. He and his colleagues collect documents and imagery that governments and other institutions regard as confidential and publish them on a Web site called

I don't know about you, but I kind of feel like a secret agent just reading about it.

TED Talk: 4Chan

The virtues (and downfalls) of anonymity on the internet. Mostly I like the Dusty story.

Digital Lock Legislation

What you should know about Canada's proposed new copryright legislation.

The foundational principle of the new bill remains that anytime a digital lock is used - whether on books, movies, music, or electronic devices - the lock trumps virtually all other rights. In other words, in the battle between two sets of property rights - those of the intellectual property rights holder and those of the consumer who has purchased the tangible or intangible property - the IP rights holder always wins. This represents market intervention for a particular business model by a government supposedly committed to the free market and it means that the existing fair dealing rights (including research, private study, news reporting, criticism, and review) and the proposed new rights (parody, satire, education, time shifting, format shifting, backup copies) all cease to function effectively so long as the rights holder places a digital lock on their content or device.

Spelling Bee Protests

Four people dressed in bee costumes protested the Scripps Spelling Bee in Washington, DC.

According to literature distributed by the group, it makes more sense for 'fruit' to be spelled as 'froot'...

While I agree literacy is important, I don't think dumbing language down will help anyone. In fact, I think it might be UNGOOD. Perhaps DOUBLEPLUSUNGOOD.