American Library Association • February 3, 2015

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2015 Youth Media Awards winners

The ALSC Newbery Awards Committee poses before the ceremony

ALA on February 2 announced the top books, videos, and audiobooks for children and young adults—including the Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, Newbery, and Printz awards—at its Midwinter Meeting in Chicago. The Crossover, written by Kwame Alexander, was the 2015 Newbery Medal winner; The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, illustrated by Dan Santat, was the 2015 Caldecott Medal winner. Watch the complete awards webcast and go behind the scenes to listen to some of the winning authors getting notified by phone. The RUSA division also had a few notable awards of its own....

AL: The Scoop, Feb. 2; YouTube, Feb. 2; RUSA News

Cornel West and ALA celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Cornel West

The Black Caucus of the American Library Association and the ALA Social Responsibilities Round Table held the 15th annual holiday observance and sunrise celebration for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on February 2 at the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Chicago. Cornel West (right), professor of philosophy and Christian practice at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, delivered an inspired and rousing keynote speech to hundreds of conference attendees who managed to arrive by 6:30 a.m. Librarians “are the caretakers of what the Greeks call paideia—deep education, not deep schooling,” with a commitment for equal access to all, West said....

AL: The Scoop, Feb. 2

LeVar Burton delights

LeVar Burton talks about Fred Rogers

LeVar Burton (right) may be known for many things—playing Geordi La Forge on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Kunta Kinte on the Roots miniseries, and longtime host of the children’s show Reading Rainbow—but on February 1 at the 2015 Midwinter Meeting in Chicago, Burton played a librarian by beginning his talk with storytime. “Let me tell you a story,” he began, reading from his new children’s book, The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm (Reading Rainbow, 2014). The book’s plot addresses the issue of finding comfort and support in tough times and was partly inspired by his friend, children’s TV-show host Fred Rogers....

AL: The Scoop, Feb. 2
Recorded Books

Women in Geekdom panel

Screenshot from Emily Graslie’s Brain Scoop web show

At the Women in Geekdom panel on January 31, five self-proclaimed nerds shared their thoughts on how libraries can build communities by reaching out to local patrons and creating programming that attracts people of all ages. “Nerd is a verb; it’s not what you love, it’s how much you love it,” said Tricia Bobeda, cohost and executive producer of the podcast Nerdette, explaining that her love of geek culture and background in public radio inspired her to create a podcast that showed women were interested in science, space, and Star Wars, too. Echoing this sentiment, Mo Fong, director of K–12 education outreach at Google, said that women choose to study computer science based on exposure and encouragement, and libraries can expose them to computers and encourage them to pursue it....

AL: The Scoop, Feb. 2

A field guide to makerspaces

Mita Williams

During her Masters Series talk on February 1, Mita Williams (right), user experience librarian at the University of Windsor (Ont.) Leddy Library, offered an introduction to the many new types of creative spaces that libraries and communities are adopting. Williams began with c-base in Berlin, launched in 1995 as one of the first independent “hackerspaces” in the world, which inspired many similar efforts in the United States and elsewhere. Hackerspaces soon evolved into makerspaces, which are a bit more open to the arts and entrepreneurship. Watch her talk about mechanics’ institutes and makerspaces....

AL: The Scoop, Feb. 1–2

Learning about digital migration

Polly Thistlethwaite

Polly Thistlethwaite (right), chief librarian of the Mina Rees Library at CUNY’s Graduate Center, and Gary Johnson, president of the Chicago History Museum, shared their digital migration stories at a breakfast sponsored by ProQuest on February 1. Thistlethwaite began by talking about JustPublics@365, an initiative bringing together academics and activists “to make scholarship available to those who need it to make the world a better place.” Blog posts on the JusPublics@365 site help to explain open access, the controversy behind it, and what the benefits are to academics and other researchers....

AL: The Scoop, Feb. 1

Teaching adults to read

Michelle H. Washington and Peter Waite

One in six American adults struggles with basic English literacy. That translates into 36 million people between the ages of 16 and 65 who grapple with reading on a daily basis, according to a 2013 survey of adult skills (PDF file) by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Speakers Michelle H. Washington, director of the ALA Office for Literacy and Outreach Services, and Peter Waite, executive director of the nonprofit ProLiteracy, based in Syracuse, New York, cited that statistic on February 1 and talked about the work being done to help libraries reengage in adult literacy programs....

AL: The Scoop, Feb. 1
ALA Midwinter Meeting

Obama’s budget increases library funding

President Barack Obama

On February 2, President Barack Obama transmitted to Congress the Obama Administration’s nearly $4 trillion budget request to fund the federal government for fiscal year 2016, which starts October 1, 2015. The President’s budget reflected many of the ideas and proposals outlined in his January 20 State of the Union speech. Highlights for the library community include $186.5 million in assistance through the Library Services and Technology Act and $8.8 million in funding for a national digital platform for library and museum services....

District Dispatch, Feb. 2

Moscow library fire destroys millions of rare items

Fire at the Institute of Scientific Information on Social Sciences. Photo by Vladimir Astapkovich, Sputnik

A major fire that threatened to consume one of Russia’s most important libraries was finally put out late February 1, but scholars are only beginning to assess the damage from the flames, smoke, and water. The fire broke out at the Institute of Scientific Information on Social Sciences in Moscow on January 30 and engulfed more than 21,500 square feet of the Soviet-era building. Vladimir Fortov, president of Russia’s Academy of Sciences, said that the scene “reminds one of Chernobyl” and estimated that 15% of the 10 million volumes and materials in the library, which he compared to the Library of Congress, had been damaged....

New York Times: ArtsBeat, Feb. 1; Sputnik International, Jan. 31

Dark fantasy and sci-fi pop

Fonda Lee, Ken Liu, Sabaa Tahir

Dark fantasy and science fiction and their intricacies, conventions, and differences were front and center during a panel discussion at the ALA Exhibit Hall’s PopTop Stage on January 31. Authors Auden D. Johnson, Fonda Lee, Ken Liu, and Sabaa Tahir kicked off the panel with outlines of their work, how it fit within genre conventions, and what drew them to it. They were asked if they think dark fantasy is different from science fiction and whether the two should be considered two separate genres, instead of fantasy subgenres. Their answers revealed very different takes on the genres and the importance of genres overall....

AL: The Scoop, Feb. 2

Rosa Parks was more than a one-time activist

Maricia Battle, curator with the prints and photographs division of the Library of Congress, poses for a photograph as she holds a photo of Rosa Parks that is part of a Rosa Parks archive. Photo by Matt McClain/The Washington Post

When Rosa Parks was a little girl in rural Alabama, she would stay up at night, keeping watch with her grandfather as he stood guard with a shotgun against marauding members of the Ku Klux Klan. Parks is most famous for refusing to give up her seat to whites on an Alabama bus in 1955. But a cache of Parks’s papers unveiled February 3 at the Library of Congress portrays a battle-tested activist who had been steeped in the struggle against white violence since childhood. The trove, parts of which were unknown to historians, also shows Parks as a woman devoted to her family....

Washington Post, Feb. 3

Google’s slow fade with librarians

What exactly were we thinking?

Jessamyn West writes: “Librarians have been interested in the Google Books project since it began in 2004. It was a heady time to be an information worker. Google used to actively court libraries, and librarians. They showed up at our conferences in 2005, tossed a lot of money around, pumped us for information, talked big talk about partnerships and the beautiful music we could all make together. They whispered sweet nothings in our ears about how much we all had in common in a special newsletter just for librarians written by Jodi Healy, their Library Partnership Manager. We liked her a lot when she came to our conferences. Time passed. Google came back to the annual ALA Conference in June of 2012 claiming to be a First-Time Exhibitor. But we still remember when they were there before. Librarians remember.”...

Medium: The Message, Feb. 2

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