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

Amazon Should Replace Local Libraries to Save Taxpayers Money

22 July 2018

From Forbes:

Amazon should open their own bookstores in all local communities. They can replace local libraries and save taxpayers lots of money, while enhancing the value of their stock.

There was a time local libraries offered the local community lots of services in exchange for their tax money. They would bring books, magazines, and journals to the masses through a borrowing system. Residents could borrow any book they wanted, read it, and return it for someone else to read.

They also provided residents with a comfortable place they could enjoy their books. They provided people with a place they could do their research in peace with the help of friendly librarians. Libraries served as a place where residents could hold their community events, but this was a function they shared with school auditoriums. There’s no shortage of places to hold community events.

Libraries slowly began to service the local community more. Libraries introduced video rentals and free internet access. The modern local library still provides these services, but they don’t have the same value they used to. The reasons why are obvious.

One such reason is the rise of “third places” such as Starbucks. They provide residents with a comfortable place to read, surf the web, meet their friends and associates, and enjoy a great drink. This is why some people have started using their loyalty card at Starbucks more than they use their library card.

. . . .

Then there’s the rise of digital technology. Technology has turned physical books into collector’s items, effectively eliminating the need for library borrowing services.

Of course, there’s Amazon Books to consider. Amazon have created their own online library that has made it easy for the masses to access both physical and digital copies of books. Amazon Books is a chain of bookstores that does what Amazon originally intended to do; replace the local bookstore. It improves on the bookstore model by adding online searches and coffee shops. Amazon Go basically combines a library with a Starbucks.

At the core, Amazon has provided something better than a local library without the tax fees. This is why Amazon should replace local libraries. The move would save taxpayers money and enhance the stockholder value of Amazon all in one fell swoop.

Link to the rest at Forbes

This University Library Discovered Three of Its Books Were Poisonous

3 July 2018

From Science Alert:

Some may remember the deadly book of Aristotle that plays a vital part in the plot of Umberto Eco’s 1980 novel The Name of the Rose.

Poisoned by a mad Benedictine monk, the book wreaks havoc in a 14th-century Italian monastery, killing all readers who happen to lick their fingers when turning the toxic pages. Could something like this happen in reality? Poisoning by books?

Our recent research indicates so.

We found that three rare books on various historical topics in the University of Southern Denmark’s library collection contain large concentrations of arsenic on their covers. The books come from the 16th and 17th centuries.

The poisonous qualities of these books were detected by conducting a series of X-ray fluorescence analyses (micro-XRF).

. . . .

The reason why we took these three rare books to the X-ray lab was because the library had previously discovered that medieval manuscript fragments, such as copies of Roman law and canonical law, were used to make their covers.

It is well documented that European bookbinders in the 16th and 17th centuries used to recycle older parchments.

We tried to identify the Latin texts used, or at least read some of their content. But then we found that the Latin texts in the covers of the three volumes were hard to read because of an extensive layer of green paint which obscures the old handwritten letters.

So we took them to the lab. The idea was to filter through the layer of paint using micro-XRF and focus on the chemical elements of the ink below, for example on iron and calcium, in the hope of making the letters more readable for the university’s researchers.

But XRF-analysis revealed that the green pigment layer was arsenic. This chemical element is among the most toxic substances in the world and exposure may lead to various symptoms of poisoning, the development of cancer and even death.

. . . .

The green arsenic-containing pigment found on the book covers is thought to be Paris green, copper(II) acetate triarsenite or copper(II) acetoarsenite Cu(C₂H₃O₂)₂·3Cu(AsO₂)₂. This is also known as “emerald green”, because of its eye-catching green shades, similar to those of the popular gemstone.

The arsenic pigment – a crystalline powder – is easy to manufacture and has been commonly used for multiple purposes, especially in the 19th century.

. . . .

Industrial production of Paris green was initiated in Europe in the early 19th century. Impressionist and post-impressionist painters used different versions of the pigment to create their vivid masterpieces. Th

Link to the rest at Science Alert and thanks to Meryl for the tip.

Yet another benefit of ebooks – guaranteed arsenic-free!

Used Book Collection Bins Are Filling Up

27 June 2018

From BookRiot:

If you live in the United States, you have seen collection bins in grocery store parking lots. Collection bins for clothes are the most common. But did you know there are also donation bins for books?

My husband works in a grocery store, and about a month ago he noticed that the book collection bins were overflowing. More than overflowing—several stacks of books had appeared around the collection bin and it had just started to rain. He’s a book lover, and he hates to see good books get ruined, so he talked to his manager and got permission to haul the pile indoors to await collection. His manager called the company, Big Hearted Books & Clothing, to come get their donations.

But there was a problem: Big Hearted Books never showed up and, it turned out, would not be showing up.

. . . .

Big Hearted Books & Clothing, of Canton, Massachusetts, declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy this spring. The company’s assets are being sold off by a trustee, and those proceeds are being used to pay the company’s creditors.

The company’s closure is a loss for New England readers. Big Hearted Books’s more than 1,000 donation containers have served as repositories for the region’s unwanted and used books since 2009. The company, a for-profit, collected the books, donated some, sold others, and recycled the balance.

The company’s website cites embezzlement by an employee as the reason for its bankruptcy (complete with that employee’s name and a photograph) and Worcester attorney James P. Ehrhard, who has represented Big Hearted Books during the bankruptcy proceedings, confirmed that embezzlement was a contributing factor.

. . . .

When it became obvious that the pile of books in the grocery store was not going to be picked up, the store manager asked my husband if he could get rid of the books. Full disclosure: our family took what we wanted from the pile, and brought everything else to our local Friends of the Library group for their annual book sale. We discovered that they too were talking about Big Hearted Books.

“We don’t have any storage space, so at the end of the sale we have to find places for these books,” said Del Shilkret, president of Friends of the Granby Public Library.

Turns out, many local Friends groups in the Friends of the Connecticut Library organization relied on Big Hearted Books.

. . . .

At Farmington’s last library sale, Big Hearted Books removed seven gaylords—large pallet boxes—for free.

That’s a service one of its competitors charges for, and one that’s tremendously helpful to the volunteers who run book sales, many of whom are in their 60s, 70s, and 80s and can’t do a lot of hauling themselves—especially after a long sale.

“Our problem is now: what do we do with these leftover books?” said Chapron. She joked that donating books can be either very easy or very difficult and this year, donating books may be on the difficult side for Library Friends in the Northeast.

Link to the rest at BookRiot

In a heretical mood, PG suggests that at some point, used books become trash.

He understands that someone somewhere might be interested in reading one of the used books, but wouldn’t digital be a far better alternative? No bins in the parking lot, no fossil fuel expended transporting used books from the bin to wherever, etc., etc.

A lot less in the landfill and recycling electrons is orders of magnitude more efficient than recycling dead trees.

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