American Library Association • December 16, 2014

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Kentucky Appeals Court considers library funding lawsuits

Kenton County (Ky.) Public Library

Most of Kentucky’s public library systems could be forced to roll back their tax rates and collectively refund millions of dollars to local taxpayers under a pair of lawsuits heard December 15 by the state Court of Appeals. The suits, filed by taxpayers in Kenton and Campbell counties, argue that many library districts have improperly raised taxes for decades without the 51% voter approval required by a previously obscure 1964 state law. Library attorneys said that a separate law enacted in 1979 was meant to include most libraries among the special taxing districts that are allowed to raise taxes up to 4% each year without voter approval....

Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader, Dec. 15

Referenda Roundup 2014

Referenda Roundup 2014

Kathy Rosa writes: “During the 2014 election year, the ALA Office for Research and Statistics tracked 153 library referenda across 22 states. Of the 126 measures, Ohio and Michigan led the way in sheer numbers. Ohio was a big winner in 2014, with 31 of the 34 measures passed. Michigan voters approved 54 of 68 measures. The outcome of local referenda votes is crucial, given that nearly 85% of library funding comes from local sources. The vote on library referenda determines whether or not libraries can support their operating budgets, make improvements, and stay current with technology resources. Passage of referenda also helps build new libraries that support the growing US population.”...

American Libraries feature; Associated Press, Nov. 6; Library of Michigan; Institute of Museum and Library Services

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All about the FCC’s E-rate Order

FCC's E-rate meeting

Marijke Visser writes: “On December 11, the Federal Communications Commission brought the E-rate modernization proceeding to a conclusion with all the bravado it deserved. To a packed room, including library directors, teachers, a superintendent, a school principal, and a handful of students from D.C. public schools, the FCC staff presented the E-rate Order that the Chairman had circulated to his colleagues three weeks ago. The shiny object that tops the list of all the press headlines is the additional $1.5 billion that will be added to the program, immediately increasing available funding to $3.9 billion (plus annual inflation) from here on out.”...

District Dispatch, Nov. 17, Dec. 12
ALA Midwinter Meeting 2015

Ebook price-fixing appeal went well for Apple

Ebook: How not to Get Caught Fixing E-book Prices. Image courtesy of Engadget

Philip Elmer-DeWitt writes: “Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart, a legal heavyweight from Washington called in to defend the antitrust ruling that went so badly for Apple two years ago, tried several times on December 15 to compare Apple to a driver who carries a narcotics dealer to a drug pickup. Judge Dennis Jacobs would have none of it. It was not a good moment for the deputy solicitor general—or, by extension, for Denise Cote, the district court judge whose antitrust ruling against Apple Stewart was laboring to defend. In contrast, the morning seemed to go more smoothly for Apple’s counsel.”...

Forbes, Dec. 16

Things that make the librarian angry

Librarians love their stickers. Where does this one go, exactly?

Jessamyn West writes: “Having a waiting list for library ebooks is really stupid, on the face of it. As a librarian, I’m pretty savvy about digital content—enough to know that patrons want it, lots of it. However, we have a short list of ways that we can offer it in a lendable fashion. At work I keep my game face on. At home I just want to tell people the truth, the frustrating truth: Offering digital content in this way has short-term benefits but long-term negative consequences. Doesn’t digital rights management just increase friction between readers and the books they want? Isn’t the Internet Archive all about giving things away for free? Shouldn’t the entire internet be free?”...

The Message, Dec. 12

Tech-savvy teens still prefer print

Chart: What influences teens to buy books?

Despite teens’ tech-savvy reputation, YAs continue to lag behind adults when it comes to reading ebooks, even with the young adult genre’s digital growth relative to the total ebook market. While 20% of teens purchase ebooks, 25% of 30–44-year-olds and 23% of 18–29-year-olds buy digital copies, according to Nielsen’s Books and Consumers US Survey. While younger readers are open to ebooks as a format, teens continue to express a preference for print that may seem to be at odds with their perceived digital know-how....

Nielsen Newswire, Dec. 9

Lincoln Library needs help transcribing Civil War docs

T. P. Robb to Richard Yates, August 21, 1864

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois, has a new project that asks the public to help transcribe 30,000 pages of documents written during the Civil War. Library officials said December 11 that they’ve set up a website where volunteers can log in and see the papers of Richard Yates Sr., governor of Illinois during the Civil War. Visitors can set up an account, read a document, and type the text into a box at the bottom on the webpage. When they’re finished the document is saved and put in a file for other volunteers to review....

Associated Press, Dec. 11

Yale to launch a Digital Humanities Laboratory

Sterling Memorial Library, where the Digital Humanities Laboratory will be housed. Photo by Michael Marsland

Yale University Library has received a $3 million award from the Goizueta Foundation to inaugurate a comprehensive initiative in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) education by launching a Digital Humanities Laboratory to be located in Sterling Memorial Library. The laboratory will provide expertise, equipment, and facilities for faculty and students across a wide range of subjects. A portion of the award will also establish an endowment fund to support STEAM education at Yale....

Yale News, Dec. 11

Nine Hanukkah books for kids

Cover of Elijah’s Angel, by Michael J. Rosen

Jessica Tripler writes: “The first night of Hanukkah, the eight-day ‘festival of lights,’ is December 16. Hanukkah is a minor holiday in Judaism, but culturally, at least in the US, it’s taken on more importance thanks to its proximity to Christmas. As Jewish book-loving parents, we sometimes found it challenging to find Hanukkah books. So here’s a list of recommended Hanukkah books for younger children.”...

Book Riot, Dec. 13

The myth of multitasking

Multitasking. Image by Mimi Haddon

Aja Frost writes: “Usually, at any given time, I have about 10 to 20 tabs open on Chrome. I’m also juggling several tasks at once: answering emails as they come in, updating my organization’s social media channels, writing an article, browsing the news. I used to think this method of tackling everything at once made me more efficient, but I’ve started to notice that it actually takes longer to finish anything. This is called ‘the myth of multitasking,’ and I’m not the first to realize that it harms our work. In fact, research shows that multitasking lowers productivity by up to 40% and increases errors and stress.”...

Mashable, Dec. 15; The Muse, Feb. 13

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