American Library Association • July 21, 2015
Libraries Transform

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Nationwide grants for programs on Latino culture

A scene from the PBS series Latino Americans with the labor activists Eliseo Medina, left, and Dolores Huerta in Chicago in 1971

To celebrate the diversity and achievements of US Latinos, the National Endowment for the Humanities and ALA created “Latino Americans: 500 Years of History,” a nationwide initiative grant to educate communities around the country. More than 200 grantees—libraries, museums, cultural arts centers, and other organizations—will be receiving funding and resources to host festivals, discussion groups, oral history initiatives, local history exhibitions, and other programs about Latino history and culture....

NBC News, July 20

Councilman not sold on Brooklyn library redevelopment

Councilman Steve Levin

A controversial plan to redevelop the Brooklyn Heights library cleared a hurdle July 15 with approval from the local community board. But Councilman Steve Levin criticized the current proposal and said without some changes he might oppose it when the project lands before the council for a final vote. He opposes the city’s intention to sell a public asset—the land on which the library sits and the air rights to build above the current structure—to a private developer....

Capital New York, July 19; New York Times, July 16

A test that predicts a child’s reading future

Tom Cruise in Minority Report

Cory Turner writes: “Neurobiologist Nina Kraus believes she has found a way—a 30-minute test—to predict kids’ literacy skills long before they’re old enough to begin reading. When I first read the study in the journal PLOS Biology, two words came to mind: science fiction. Because flagging some 3-year-olds as potentially troubled readers before they’ve even tried reading feels eerily like being handcuffed by Tom Cruise in Minority Report for a crime that hasn’t happened yet.”...

NPR, July 21; PLOS Biology, July 14

Nepal Library Relief fund

Damages to Tribhuvan University Central Library, Nepal

ALA is partnering with READ Global (Rural Education and Development) libraries in Nepal to collect monetary donations, which will be sent to READ Nepal to continue leading the earthquake relief effort. The Nepal Library Relief Fund will help to rebuild libraries and archives in Nepal that were destroyed or damaged by the earthquake on April 25, 2015, followed by a series of aftershocks including one of 7.3 magnitude on May 12. Visit the ALA Development Office page to make a donation....

ALA International Relations Office

Who should be the next Librarian of Congress?

Digital revolution

Alan S. Inouye writes: “With the news that James H. Billington, the librarian of Congress, is retiring, there has been considerable discussion about who should be his successor. The question must be answered, but we need to think bigger picture than that. Many of the key players in today’s information ecosystem didn’t exist when Billington took the job in 1987. In light of this, we need to consider: What are the necessary roles of federal government institutions such as the Library of Congress in the digital revolution?”...

Roll Call, July 20

Technology deciphers 6th-century Hebrew scroll

Israeli archaeologists discern biblical writing on 1,500-year-old scroll deemed the oldest biblical text found since the Dead Sea Scrolls. Photo by Emil Salman

High-resolution 3D scans have enabled researchers from the Israel Antiquities Authority to decipher parts of a burnt 6th-century scroll unearthed in 1970 at the ancient Ein Gedi synagogue on the shores of the Dead Sea. The verses that have been deciphered are from the beginning of the Book of Leviticus, making it the most ancient Torah scroll found since the Dead Sea scrolls and the most ancient ever found in a synagogue....

CNET, July 20

Americans love libraries more than other public institutions

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. examines The Gandhi Reader in a library

Wayne Wiegand writes: “Americans love their public libraries, but why? Historical research shows reasons fit into three broad categories—for the useful information they make accessible; for the public spaces they provide that help construct community; and for the transformative potential that reading, viewing, and listening to the commonplace stories that public libraries provide in a variety of textual forms. Historical examples for each abound.”...

Alternet, July 16

Video games are good for you

Dance Central series shows how video games help motor skills

Miguel Vidaure writes: “What if playing video games can actually improve our lives by helping us both physically and mentally? Here are some benefits that researchers are now saying video games can provide. Of course, it goes without saying that playing video games for 10 hours a day might not be the best thing for you. The good news, however, is that video games are capable of helping us in so many ways that scientists are now suggesting that everyone should play them.”...

TechU4ia, July 9; What Is PlayStation 4, Nov. 5, 2014

Is “vampire” a genuine identity?

In this film publicity image released by Summit Entertainment, Robert Pattinson portrays vampire Edward Cullen (left) and Kristen Stewart portrays Bella Swan in a scene from The Twilight Saga: New Moon

Sarah Caspari writes: “There are people who identify as ‘real vampires,’ but they aren’t out to suck victims’ blood in the dead of night. In fact, in many cases, they don’t want to reveal their identity at all, for fear of being judged. D. J. Williams and Emily E. Prior interviewed 11 self-proclaimed vampires about their feelings on disclosing their identities to social workers and clinical professionals, hoping to shed light on how social workers treat people with what they call ‘non-traditional identities.’”...

Christian Science Monitor, July 9; Critical Social Work 16, no. 1 (2015)

Scholarly profile pages of the future

Chart comparing scholarly profile services

From multi-stakeholder platforms like ORCID to commercial services like Google Scholar, academic profiles exist in a complex landscape of information flows. Lambert Heller provides an overview of the available scholarly profile pages and offers insight into their future development, which is set to be shaped by business models, technology, and available data streams....

London School of Economics and Political Science, July 16

Five great laptop bags for travelers

Booq Cobra pack

Sascha Segan writes: “Here at PCMag, we travel constantly to conferences and press events with heavy tech loads, so we’ve seen the good, the bag, and the ugly. These five bags are our current picks for connected travelers. For our five bags, we’ve gone for diversity: high-end and midrange backpacks, a messenger bag, a duffel, and a tote.”...

PC Magazine, July 20

Japanese sculptures of children made from books

New book, new friends

A Japanese educational campaign, launched earlier in 2015 by the Yokohama City Board of Education, utilizes sculptures of children made entirely from books. It’s a literal representation of the notion that books shape who we are. The sculptures are placed in such educational settings as classrooms and libraries and are accompanied by short phrases like “Read a book. See the world differently.” A creative team in Tokyo spearheaded the campaign to recruit more professional librarians....

Spoon and Tamago, July 18

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