Penguin Random House Changes Library E-book Lending Terms

5 September 2018

From Publishers Weekly:

In an August 30 letter to library customers, Penguin Random House announced that it is changing its terms for library e-book lending. But unlike Macmillan’s controversial decision to experiment with a four-month embargo on new Tor titles, PRH officials say their change is “good news.”

As of October 1, 2018, PRH is moving from a perpetual access model (where libraries pay a higher price but retain access to the e-book forever) to a metered model (with lower prices on e-books that expire after two years). In a letter to library customers, PRH v-p Skip Dye said the change was made after listening to librarians’ feedback.

“We have heard–loud and clear–that while libraries appreciate the concept of ‘perpetual access,’ the reality is that circs for many titles drop off dramatically six to eight months after the initial release. This is true especially for fiction bestsellers,” Dye wrote. “Most librarians are telling us they would rather pay lower prices across our frontlists and backlists, in exchange for a copy that expires after a given time period. In response to this feedback, we are happy to tell you that we will be lowering our prices on our entire catalogue of adult and children’s fiction and nonfiction titles. Under our new terms, e-books will expire after two years from original purchase date with the aligned pricing lowered for our e-books.”

After October 1, libraries’ previously purchased ‘perpetual access’ e-books will remain permanently owned. In addition, PRH announced that the publisher will be creating a program exclusively for academic libraries, under which they will be able to purchase perpetual access copies, although at “a significantly higher price” than public library copies.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

NYC Library Takes Novel Approach, Posting Books to Instagram

23 August 2018

From The Wall Street Journal:

For generations, the New York Public Library has given cardholders the opportunity to head to their local branch and borrow a book. Since 2005, it also has provided them with the option of going online and checking out an e-book.

Now, the library is going a step further and posting classic novels and short stories to its account on Instagram, the Facebook Inc. -owned photo- and video-sharing platform.

The new service, dubbed “Insta Novels,” will be available to all Instagram users starting Wednesday, regardless of whether they have a NYPL card or live in New York City.

The library is starting with just one offering: Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” In the months that follow, it plans to add two more: Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” and Franz Kafka’s novella, “The Metamorphosis.”

The idea is to use Instagram to promote reading in general and the NYPL brand in particular, library officials said. It also aims to show that libraries are changing with the times and fully adapting to the digital era.

“We want people to understand that libraries aren’t just those brick-and-mortar places full of dusty books,” said Christopher Platt, the NYPL’s chief branch library officer.

. . . .

The technology works in such a way that when readers are on the Instagram app, they hold the page of a book by resting their thumb on the screen, library officials said. They turn the page by lifting their thumb.

The experience is “unmistakably like reading a paperback novel,” Corinna Falusi, Mother in New York’s partner and chief creative officer, said in a statement.

. . . .

Michael D. D. White, co-founder of Citizens Defending Libraries, a New York City-based watchdog group, said the emphasis on online reading works against the idea of libraries as physical spaces where books are curated and knowledge is shared.

“It diminishes the sense of place and purpose,” he said.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal

Here’s a link to the kickoff post of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland that worked for PG. Click on the Play symbol.

The Crack Squad of Librarians Who Track Down Half-Forgotten Books

9 August 2018

From Atlas Obscura:

The carpet was khaki, the lights yellow, the walls a dishwater beige. The basement computer lab in Midtown Manhattan didn’t have much ambience. But 20 librarians from the New York Public Library were seated in the room—and they were there to crack mysteries. Their tools were a whiteboard, a marker, a series of screens, and a metal bell of the sort you’d find on a hotel-lobby desk. Whenever it dinged, it meant a case had been closed.

Before we each had a little, flickering encyclopedia in our hands, we had librarians, and they’re still experts at finding the answers to tricky questions. Through the Ask NYPL portal, a decades-old phone and text service, the staff has triaged everything from queries about the Pope’s sex life to what it means if you dream about being chased by elephants. The library staff are ace researchers with a massive trove at their fingertips. A sense of mystery in their work comes when people approach them with vague questions and patchy details—particularly when they’re looking for books, but they don’t remember the authors or titles.

A few years ago, staffers in the New York Public Library’s reader services division drafted a blog post about how to track down a book when its title eludes you. This post spurred a follow-up, in which reader services librarian Gwen Glazer recommended library resources and a number of other strategies (among them are Goodreads groups, a sprawling Reddit thread called whatsthatbook, an indie bookseller in Ohio who is happy to poke around for a $4 fee). Thanks to Google—“how to find a book”—many stumped people seem to land on that post, and they have often written about their enduring puzzles in the comments section. The messages now number in the thousands. Glazer says she often arrives at work to see another 10 title requests.

To solve these little mysteries, Glazer recently assembled a team of sleuths from across the branches: Chatham Square, in Chinatown; the Jefferson Market, in Greenwich Village; the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library, near the Flatiron Building; and the Mulberry Street branch, in Nolita. At lunchtime on a recent Wednesday, they were gathered in that computer lab in the library’s offices—across the street from the soaring, spectacular Stephen A. Schwarzman Building (the Main Branch)—to nibble on homemade lemon rosemary cookies and apple, carrot, zucchini bread while they clattered away on their keyboards. Other members of the team participated remotely. The “Title Quest” hackathon was underway.

Link to the rest at Atlas Obscura

Book enthusiasts get literary-themed tattoos at the Denver Public Library

7 August 2018

From The Know:

Certified Tattoo Studios partnered with the Denver Public Library Friends Foundation to offer library- and literary-themed tattoos at the Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales Branch Library on Sunday to raise money for the non-profit.

Tattoos were $50 to $200 and ranged from Dr. Seuss and Harry Potter to the library logo and a worm reading a book.

Nando Mondragon, owner of Certified, said he grew up loving books. He was incarcerated at 18 and, after his release, made it a goal to give back to his community.

Link to the rest at The Know

When PG first saw this item, he thought it might be a variation of book signings at the library.

Spectacular ancient public library discovered in Germany

1 August 2018

From The Guardian:

The remains of the oldest public library in Germany, a building erected almost two millennia ago that may have housed up to 20,000 scrolls, have been discovered in the middle of Cologne.

The walls were first uncovered in 2017, during an excavation on the grounds of a Protestant church in the centre of the city. Archaeologists knew they were of Roman origins, with Cologne being one of Germany’s oldest cities, founded by the Romans in 50 AD under the name Colonia. But the discovery of niches in the walls, measuring approximately 80cm by 50cm, was, initially, mystifying.

“It took us some time to match up the parallels – we could see the niches were too small to bear statues inside. But what they are are kind of cupboards for the scrolls,” said Dr Dirk Schmitz from the Roman-Germanic Museum of Cologne. “They are very particular to libraries – you can see the same ones in the library at Ephesus.”

It is not clear how many scrolls the library would have held, but it would have been “quite huge – maybe 20,000”, said Schmitz. The building would have been slightly smaller than the famed library at Ephesus, which was built in 117 AD. He described the discovery as “really incredible – a spectacular find”.

Link to the rest at The Guardian and thanks to HG for the tip.

An Ode to Libraries, the Original Co-Working Spaces

26 July 2018

From Book Riot:

 After my son began daycare, I settled into a routine of sorts. I would drop him off and then search for the nearest café or coffee shop to set up shop—laptop, headphones, cell phone arranged on a table before me. I’d conduct interviews in my car, laptop perched on my lap, phone and audio recorder side by side.

. . . .

I’d buy lattes and scones out of guilt for taking up a table all morning, and then I’d decamp to another café or coffee shop in the afternoon. Rinse, repeat.

. . . .

Still, I felt like a drifter—like a cliché of a writer. Also, my latte budget was considerable. But at least it was cheaper (and closer) than a co-working space. Right?

“Have you tried the library?” my mother-in-law asked tentatively one day, after hearing about my latte guilt.

To…work? The thought hadn’t even crossed my mind. I was ashamed to admit it. I hadn’t gone to a library to work since college—back when I needed a change of scenery and weak wifi to help me focus.

. . . .

The next day, I searched for public libraries instead of coffee shops, and I got down to work. After a few hours of excellent focus and absolutely no guilt, I was hooked.

My local libraries have tons of tables and chairs, loads of electrical outlets, clean bathrooms, private rooms for phone calls, unlimited wifi—even free coffee! And the best part (as if the coffee weren’t enough): Whenever I need motivation, I look up and see the hundreds of books and magazines surrounding me, and all of the people reading them—and then I keep writing.

. . . .

Once I loved libraries for the escape they provided—all of those books, all of those lives, just waiting for me to dive in. Now I love them for the refuge they give me—the peace and the space to jump into my work.

Link to the rest at Book Riot

Articles by Librarians Should Replace Opinion Pieces by The Uninformed

24 July 2018

From BookRiot:

Yesterday morning, a coworker forwarded me the link to an article on the Forbes website, along with her commentary that was basically, “No. Just no, no, no, no, nope, no.”

Naturally, I had to follow that link. The headline alone made me inclined to agree with her reaction. The article, Amazon Should Replace Local Libraries to Save Taxpayers Money, is another example of why people who don’t have the slightest idea about libraries shouldn’t write about them.

. . . .

Update: The article has since been deleted, I think in no small part because of the amount of backlash it drew.

. . . .

Basically, his main argument is exactly what it sounds like. He believes that libraries no longer have the same value they once had. He argues that the rise of digital technology, streaming services, Amazon books, and Starbucks have made libraries less vital to the community.

And he couldn’t be more wrong.

The whole article comes across as very clearly written by someone who doesn’t use his local library—and what I’m sure are the many resources it provides—and is out of touch with how libraries affect their communities. The article is written from a place of extreme out-of-touch privilege.

. . . .

To assume everyone has the same means to access digital resources, or Amazon books, or streaming services, or Starbucks is mind-bogglingly out of touch. Has he simply not spoken to people outside of his bubble lately? Because I’m not sure how best to break this to the author, but libraries are here to serve the public. The entire public. Which includes the large section of the public who need access to books they can’t just easily buy. Or computers they don’t have access to at home. Or a safe, comfortable space to hang out, where you don’t have to buy anything to have access.

Link to the rest at BookRiot

Forbes suggested Amazon should replace libraries, and people aren’t having it

23 July 2018

From FastCompany:

Forbes contributor wrote a short piece titled “Amazon Should Replace Local Libraries to Save Taxpayers Money,” arguing that libraries should be shuttered in return for Amazon opening bookstores in local communities. At the gist of the writer’s argument is that Starbucks has replaced libraries as a friendly place to go and read and streaming services like Amazon Prime Video have replaced video rentals, which many local libraries had provided.

. . . .

And then Twitter came to the rescue.

. . . .

“Seniors pay 200 or more to have someone do taxes, but the library does it for free. Free movies during the summer for kids. They make ice cream and crafts. During storms and emergencies they function as shelters. It’s almost like my tax dollars bring safety and joy to people.”

. . . .

“We provide computer and software training. We assist in job searches and all of the resources needed to do so. And in many rural communities, we are often the only source of internet access. In urban areas as well sometimes. Plus thousands of other services we offer.”

. . . .

“1/ My mother was a Librarian, and you are a simpleton.

In addition to what @vernaausten and others here have perfectly stated, many books, periodicals, recordings, microfilms, etc are still not digitized.

Amazon doesn’t offer local knowledge & Genealogical assistance…

2/ Amazon also doesn’t sponsor local special-interest seminars & clubs, or activities & workshops for teens & adults.

Amazon doesn’t offer English-language classes & ESL groups to help immigrants better their lives.

3/ And most importantly to every child & parent…

Amazon does not offer a hands-on experience– a treasure-trove of tactile learning, and a buffet of books, puzzles, videos, & experiences– for little kids to explore with their own hands & eyes.

4/ Studies have shown that kids who are given lots of experiences with paper books, learn to read & develop a deeper love of reading, far more than children who are given primarily a cell phone or iPad to read on. (Ebooks tend to be ignored in favor of games.)

We NEED Libraries!”

Link to the rest at FastCompany

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