It’s Banned Books Week!

American Library Association • September 25, 2018
University of Denver

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Stand for the Banned

Banned Books Read-Out participant Naima Laird reads from Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina

Speak out for banned books during Banned Books Week, September 23–29. At the Stand for the Banned booth at the 2018 ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans (2:21), educators from around the world read from banned and challenged books, and shared their thoughts on the freedom to read. In this video (1:09), ALA President Loida Garcia-Febo reads from the Bible, a challenged book, in Spanish. How much do you know about challenged books? Take New York Public Library’s quiz to find out. Don't forget that September 26 is Banned Websites Awareness Day, and congratulations to the schools and libraries that won Krug Fund grants to support activities that raise awareness of intellectual freedom....

Banned Books Week YouTube channel, Sept. 18, 20; Office for Intellectual Freedom; New York Public Library, Sept. 23; AASL; Freedom to Read Foundation, Sept. 24

Poetry’s place in the history of banned books

Cover of Howl and Other Poems, by Allen Ginsberg

For as long as there have been writers, there have been texts that have been challenged, censored, burned, and banned. The stories of banned literature do not just belong in the history books; even today, some of the most influential texts in our bookstores and libraries are currently being challenged or have been challenged at some point before. Here we take a look at 15 significant poems, poetry collections, and poets that have been censored and banned throughout history....

Academy of American Poets, Sept. 13

New ALA Book Club Central pick

Cover of She Would Be King

Honorary Book Club Central Chair Sarah Jessica Parker has selected Wayétu Moore’s She Would Be King (Graywolf Press) as her latest pick for ALA’s Book Club Central. The novel reimagines the story of Liberia’s early years through three unforgettable characters, intermingling history and magical realism. Moore is the founder of One Moore Book and teaches at the City University of New York’s John Jay College....

ALA Communications and Marketing Office, Sept. 25

National writing contest launches

Writers, do you have the courage to set your stories free?

Up to $1,000 and the opportunity to be published in Short Story Dispensers nationwide will be at stake for writers of all levels, thanks to a new writing contest launching September 25. PLA, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and Short Édition are teaming up for the first time to encourage writers of all ages and backgrounds to submit an entry. The theme of this year’s contest is courage. The submission deadline is October 30. Full contest details are available online....

ALA Communications and Marketing Office, Sept. 25
Great Stories Club

Isabel Allende receives National Book Foundation honor

Isabel Allende

On September 20, Chilean-American author Isabel Allende (right) was named the winner of the 2018 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Allende will be the first Spanish-language author to be recognized with the honor, and only the second (since Saul Bellow in 1990) to be born outside the US. The National Book Foundation’s medal will be presented to Allende by the acclaimed Mexican-American writer Luís Alberto Urrea in New York on November 14....

Publishing Perspectives, Sept. 20

2019 Gershwin Prize for Popular Song

Gloria and Emilio Estefan

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced September 24 that husband-and-wife team Emilio and Gloria Estefan (right) are the 2019 recipients of the LC Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. The honorees represent two historic firsts for the prize—the first time it has been awarded to a married couple or to musicians-songwriters of Hispanic descent. The prize recognizes a living musical artist’s lifetime achievement in promoting the genre of song as a vehicle of entertainment, information, inspiration, and cultural understanding....

Library of Congress, Sept. 24
ALA news

Some prisons are switching to ebooks

Pennsylvania inmates

Hanna Kozlowska writes: “Ebooks could be a blessing for prison inmates, with thousands of titles available on one small device. But, as with most other technological innovations introduced in US prisons, they come with a dark side. Earlier in September, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections announced that inmates would be switching to ebooks available on tablets distributed by prison telecommunications giant GTL and sold to inmates for $147 plus tax. The ebooks cost $3–$25 each to download.”...

Quartz, Sept. 22; Pennsylvania Department of Corrections

Confirmation bias and information literacy

Reassuring lies favored over inconvenient truths

Donna Mignardi and Jennifer Sturge write: “Confirmation bias is defined as the ‘tendency to process and analyze information in such a way that it supports one’s preexisting ideas and convictions.’ How do we teach information literacy to students while taking into account that our students are also affected by confirmation bias? What programming do we put in place to assist students in understanding that confirmation bias exists and how to counteract it? Here are some resources.”...

Programming Librarian, Sept. 24
Dewey Decibel podcast

Blind spots in the Google and Facebook knowledge panels

Two knowledge panels that are displayed when one searches Google for the names of these publications. Notice that the text snippets (extracted from Wikipedia) don’t mention that these publishers have a history of inaccurate claims

Eni Mustafaraj writes: “Recently, Mike Caulfield wrote a Twitter thread and blog post praising Facebook’s new knowledge panel for news publishers. In the meantime, Emma Lurie and I are  exploring what knowledge panels can tell us about the credibility of online sources, especially of the ones recognized as partisan or inaccurate. Two findings: Not all snippets are equally informative or address factual accuracy; and snippets are sometimes edited to send certain signals to different audiences.”...

Medium, Sept. 23; Mike Caulfield tweet, Sept. 21; Hapgood, Sept. 22

The magic and mystery of literary maps

A detail from a version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island map by Monro Orr in 1934

Robert Macfarlane writes: “We are now habituated to regard cartography as a science: an endeavor of exacting precision, whose ambition is the elimination of subjectivity from the representation of a given place. But before it was a field science, cartography was an art. It was an art that mingled knowledge and supposition, that told stories about places, and in which astonishment, love, memory, and fear were part of its projections. Consider these artistic forms of mapping, for they exemplify neglected ways of proceeding within a landscape.”...

The Guardian (UK), Sept. 22
Latest Library Links

The first book printed in Antarctica

The cover page of Aurora Australis, featuring an illustration by George Marston. Photo by the Houghton Library

Cara Giaimo writes: “On January 29, 1908, the crew of the Nimrod landed at Antarctica’s McMurdo Sound. Led by Ernest Shackleton, the explorers would spend the next two years ranging over the continent. Although they never achieved their chief objective of reaching the geographic South Pole, they did bring the first motorcar to Antarctica and climb Mount Erebus for the first time. They also wrote, illustrated, and printed a book, Aurora Australis, the first one ever made on that continent.”...

Atlas Obscura, Sept. 24

The best VR headsets of 2018

Google Daydream mobile headset

Will Greenwald writes: “Virtual reality is a fascinating way to travel using nothing more than the power of technology. Oculus has the popular Rift, HTC and Valve have the Steam-friendly Vive, Sony leads the pack with the excellent PlayStation VR, Samsung recently added a separate controller to its Gear VR, and Google’s Daydream is steadily growing from the remains of Google Cardboard. Modern VR headsets fit under one of two categories: mobile or tethered.”...

PC Magazine, Sept. 18

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