American Library Association • December 18, 2015
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Chicago reinstates DuSable High School librarian

Sara Sayigh

Tim Inklebarger writes: “One week after Chicago Public Schools told librarian Sara Sayigh (right) her job was being cut—a decision that prompted a student protest—the school system has announced that her position will be reinstated due to an anonymous donation. Sayigh, a 13-year veteran in the school system, is the sole librarian at the former DuSable High School building, which now houses two majority African-American public schools and a charter school. She tells American Libraries that she is one of the few remaining librarians at a majority African-American high school in the city.”...

AL: The Scoop, Dec. 18; Chicago Sun-Times, Dec. 17

House passes omnibus spending bill with CISA

Paul Ryan and a balanced budget

The House overwhelmingly approved a year-end $1.1 trillion spending package on December 18 that avoids a government shutdown and funds federal agencies through next fall. The lopsided 316–113 vote was a major victory for new House Speaker Paul Ryan (right). The Senate plans to clear the bill later Friday after it is combined with a $620 billion tax cut measure that also passed the House. The bill retains as one of its unrelated riders the highly controversial cybersecurity legislation (CISA) opposed by ALA and virtually every other major privacy-protection organization. The law would create significant new mass surveillance capabilities for the NSA, FBI, and many other agencies....

CNN, Dec. 18; The Parallax, Dec. 18; The Atlantic, Dec. 16; ALA Office of Government Relations, Dec. 16
Recorded Books

JobLIST launches enhanced website

New JobLIST website

ALA JobLIST, the online career center for job seekers and employers in library and information science and technology, has launched a new version of the site. A joint project of American Libraries, ACRL’s College and Research Libraries News, and the ALA Office for Human Resource Development and Recruitment, the enhanced website now offers an updated service powered by YourMembership, a provider of career centers for organizations that serve specialized members....

AL: The Scoop, Dec. 15

Libraries and the new FAA drone rules

UDI UDU818A-1 Discovery Quadcopter drone

Christopher Harris writes: “On December 14, the Federal Aviation Administration announced that all drones—even small toy drones that may already be wrapped up as presents for this holiday season—must be registered. Libraries can play a role in educating the public about these new rules. To help new enthusiasts, here are some helpful tips libraries might want to share with patrons. This is similar to libraries helping all the new ebook and tablet owners who have shown up in the past few years.”...

AL: The Scoop, Dec. 17
Libraries Transform

Congress introduces bill to modernize the Copyright Office

US Copyright Office logo

Three legislators have introduced a bill aimed at modernizing the US Copyright Office. The bill, known as the Copyright Office for the Digital Economy Act or the CODE Act, is sponsored by Reps. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Tom Marino (R-Pa.), and Barbara Comstock (R-Va.). One key point of the bill is to remove the office from its current status as a division of the Library of Congress and establish it as an independent agency of the legislative branch....

Music Week, Dec. 17

Brooklyn Heights branch deal approved

A rendering of the proposed Brooklyn Heights building by Marvel Architects

The full New York City Council voted decisively on December 16 to approve the controversial proposal to sell and develop the Brooklyn Heights branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. The vote was 45–1. Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign off on the plan. Hudson Companies, a developer, will build a 36-story luxury tower, with a new, smaller Brooklyn Heights branch on the ground floor and below ground. Citizens Defending Libraries is concerned that more branch downsizing will occur....

Brooklyn (N.Y.) Daily Eagle, Dec. 16; Citizens Defending Libraries, Dec. 16
2016 ALA Midwinter Meeting

Lessons in censorshop at Midwinter

Catherine J. Ross, author of Lessons in Censorship

Public schools frequently censor student speech, often with the approval of the courts. School librarians confront this reality daily as they advocate and defend students’ freedom of speech and their right to receive informatipon. “Lessons in Censorship,” a talk by law professor and author Catherine J. Ross as part of the ALA Midwinter Meeting’s “News You Can Use” series, will bring clarity to the array of court rulings that define the speech rights of young citizens. The program is sponsored by the Office for Intellectual Freedom and the Freedom to Read Foundation and will take place January 9....

Office for Intellectual Freedom, Dec. 1

A prison library can be a very good library

Chief Justice John RobertsValerie Schultz writes: “During oral arguments in Bruce v. Samuels, a dispute about federal prisoners paying legal fees, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts (right) made a remark about prison libraries. When reminded that prisons maintain libraries, Roberts shot back, presumably sarcastically, ‘I’m sure they are very good libraries, too.’ I run a library at a state prison for men in California, and I can attest that it is indeed a ‘very good library,’ tasked with assuring that inmates have access to the courts.”...

Washington Post, Dec. 17

CILIP challenges UK government over library closures

Residents in Lambeth, South London, protest against library closures. Photograph by David Rowe / Demotix / Corbis

The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals is challenging the UK government over its “failure to carry out their legal duty to the public” and keep libraries open. It is urging the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport to abide by the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act, which states that the public has a statutory right to a quality public library service, in the wake of draconian cuts to hundreds of libraries across the country....

The Guardian (UK), Dec. 16; LocalGov, Dec. 17

Minnesota’s study-free zone

University of Minnesota student-designed coloring sheet

As the fall semester draws to a close, librarians at the University of Minnesota have gone all out to help lower the stress level for students studying for finals, providing Legos, crayons, kinetic sand boxes, and—for the first time—a study-free zone, complete with yoga mats and pillows, next to the bookshelves. Students can also get free chair massages at the Bio-Medical Library, pop bubble wrap and eat candy at the Natural Resources Library, and take Star Wars–themed photos at Wilson Library....

Minneapolis Star Tribune, Dec. 17

Challenging conventional wisdom

Academic library books to be reshelved

Barbara Fister writes: “Sometimes, what ‘everybody knows’ turns out to be a little shaky once you track down the source material. One thing that everybody knows is that most books in academic libraries are never taken off the shelf. Or that 40% of them never circulate. Or that a tiny fraction of books get used, while the rest get dusty. Amy Fry of Bowling Green State University wondered whether that is actually true, so she dug into the evidence of these claims. As it turns out, the claims are pretty weak.”...

Inside Higher Ed: Library Babel Fish, Dec. 17

LC adds 25 films to National Film Registry

Ghostbusters (1984) was one of the films added to the National Film Registry

Acting Librarian of Congress David Mao announced on December 16 the selection of 25 motion pictures added to LC’s National Film Registry. These films, which epitomize the diversity and richness of the nation’s cinematic heritage, deserve to be preserved because of their cultural, historic, or aesthetic importance. Spanning the period 1894–1997, the films named to the registry include Hollywood blockbusters, documentaries, silent movies, animation, shorts, and experimental motion pictures....

Library of Congress, Dec. 16

How to set up a new Kindle ebook reader

Kindles in a row

Alex Colon and Jamie Lendino write: “Welcome to the digital book revolution. The latest Amazon Kindle, Kindle Paperwhite, and Kindle Voyage are the company’s best ebook readers yet. They’re also pretty easy to use. But Amazon doesn’t pack a printed manual, and the company’s website doesn’t necessarily emphasize the simplest way to do things, either. That’s where we come in. Here’s what you need to know to get the most from your new Kindle—without spending an extra cent.”...

PC Magazine, Dec. 14–15

How digital records change lives

Ivan Owen’s 3D-printed prosthetic hand (left) and the 1845 Coles hand

A chance finding in Trove has helped change the life of a young boy born without fingers. Trove, the National Library of Australia’s digital discovery service, was used by US designer Ivan Owen for his research into the construction of the world’s first 3D-printed, body-powered, partial hand prosthesis for a young boy named Liam. Owen found the Health Museum of South Australia’s records about the Coles Hand, a prosthetic hand made for one Corporal Coles in 1845 out of whalebone and metal pulleys....

National Library of Australia, Dec. 15

11 reasons why 2015 was a good year for humanity

This year, the number of people without access to improved drinking water fell below 700 million for the first time in history

Angus Hervey writes: “As 2015 draws to a close, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who’d claim that it’s been a good year for the human race. The bad news has been relentless: war, a refugee crisis, earthquakes, terrorist attacks, mass shootings, floods. Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, ‘The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.’ And if we apply that criteria to the world as a whole, then 2015 was a very good year indeed. Here are 11 reasons why.”...

Medium, Dec. 14

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