Beloved author and Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison dies.

American Library Association • August 6, 2019
Dewey Decibel CSK episode

For daily ALA and library news, check the American Libraries website or subscribe to our RSS feed.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Pinterest icon YouTube icon RSS icon

Toni Morrison dead at 88

Toni Morrison receives her Medal of Freedom award during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington in 2012

Toni Morrison (right), the 1993 Nobel laureate in literature, whose work explored black identity in America and in particular the experience of black women, died on Monday in the Bronx. She was 88. Her death, at Montefiore Medical Center, was announced by her publisher, Alfred A. Knopf. A spokeswoman said the cause was complications of pneumonia. The first African-American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, Morrison was the author of 11 novels as well as children’s books and essay collections. Among them were Song of Solomon, which received the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1977, and Beloved, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988....

New York Times, Aug. 6

Libraries are fighting to preserve the right to borrow ebooks

Bookstore customer. Screenshot from CNN video

Jessamyn West writes: “Librarians to publishers: Please take our money. Publishers to librarians: Drop dead. That’s the upshot of Macmillan publishing’s recent decision that represents yet another insult to libraries. As publishers struggle with the continuing shake-up of their business models and work to find practical approaches to managing digital content in a marketplace overwhelmingly dominated by Amazon, libraries are being portrayed as a problem, not a solution. Libraries agree there’s a problem—but we know it’s not us.” Steve Potash, the CEO of ebook digital distributor OverDrive, wrote a blog post stating that “the story of how [Macmillan] arrived at this discriminatory practice that denies access to an author’s new work is a doozy.”...

CNN, Aug. 2; AL: The Scoop, July 25; Thoughts from a Digital Advocate, Aug. 1

Sponsored Content

Stonewall riots

Sex in the archives

Much of Mark Ray Lockwood Jr.’s dissertation on ethnicity and pornography involves digging through boxes at archives and museums. While he likes being onsite, he recognizes that accessing digitized archives at academic libraries could make for speedier and higher-quality research. Gender studies researchers like Lockwood are increasingly turning to databases like Gale’s Archives of Sexuality & Gender—the largest historical collection available in support of gender studies and sexuality—to find original documents, photos, newsletters, and brochures.

Read the first of a five-part series on how librarians build and grow relationships within the academic community.

Why I chose not to arrange fiction by genre

Shelving by genre

Sereena Hamm writes: “Organizing fiction sections by genre in school libraries has, in many ways, moved beyond a trend into the mainstream. But after a few years of exploring and running tests on genrefication systems to see what might work for us, I ultimately decided that it wasn’t best for our library (at least, not right now). I’m sharing a bit of that experience with all of you because you might find that even though something in our field is becoming common and accepted, it still isn’t right for your program, even if you tried to make it work. Here’s why I chose not to arrange fiction by genre for the forseeable future.”...

Teen Services Underground, Aug. 5

Computer science could learn a lot from LIS

ALA accredited seal

Kalev Leetaru writes: “Computer science curricula have long emphasized the power of data, encouraging its harvesting and hoarding, pioneering new ways of mining and manipulating users through it, reinforcing it as the path to riches in the modern economy, and proselytizing the idea of data being able to solve all of society’s ills. In contrast, library and information science curricula have historically emphasized privacy, civil liberties, and community impact, blending discussion of public data management with private data minimization. Tomorrow’s future technology leaders could learn much from their library-minded colleagues.”...

Forbes, Aug. 5
ALA news

Possible tariffs on Chinese books

Books published by Zhonghua Book Company, Shanghai

President Trump announced August 1 that he is prepared to impose 10% tariffs on $300 billion worth of goods imported from China in retaliation for what he views as China’s failure to follow through on promises to buy more agricultural products and stop the flow of Fentanyl into the country. The tariffs would be imposed on September 1 and would cover a wide range of consumer products, including virtually all books. The new tariff threat comes a little more than a month after Trump suspended plans to place 25% tariffs on the same group of products after trade talks with China resumed....

Publishers Weekly, July 3, Aug. 2

Exaggeration in scholarly paper abstracts

Tables in article on abstract spin

Colleen Flaherty writes: “We’ve all been told not to judge a book by its cover. But we shouldn’t be judging academic studies by their abstracts, either, according to a new paper in BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine. The study—which found exaggerated claims in more than half of paper abstracts analyzed—pertains to psychology and psychiatry research. It notes that ‘spin’ is troublesome in those fields because it can impact clinical care decisions. But the authors say that this kind of exaggeration happens in other fields, too.”...

Inside Higher Ed, Aug. 6; BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine, July 4

E-learning platforms for libraries

Gale online courses

Stacy Tomaszewski writes: “Libraries want to provide high-quality, affordable, safe learning platforms, but that can be challenging. With many choices and often confusing terms-of-service agreements, libraries are asking themselves, ‘What should we buy?’ Unfortunately, companies that provide library-oriented online learning solutions are comparatively limited. However, demand from libraries across the country is increasing, and vendors are beginning to create library-oriented solutions. Here is a rundown of the major products that are available in the library market now.”...

Choose Privacy Every Day, Aug. 5

Top 10 libraries in fiction

John Bradley as Samwell Tarly in Game of Thrones. Photo by HBO

Stuart Kells writes: “My book, The Library: A Catalogue of Wonders, began as an essay on writers’ libraries but quickly grew to encompass public and fictional ones as well. Ancient, modern, and imaginary libraries have all accumulated compelling and irresistible stories. Mysterious filaments connect fictional libraries to each other, and to real libraries. Here are 10 of my favorites.”...

The Guardian (UK), July 31
Latest Library Links

The birds and the bees

Kingfisher and stork from late 12th- or early 13th-century copy of the Topography of Ireland by Gerald of Wales

Medieval manuscripts are an invaluable source for illustrations of cats and dogs and knights fighting snails. Some of the British Library’s favorite images are of elephants, while western European attempts to depict crocodiles and camels accurately always bring a smile. In this blog post, the British Library brings you charming pictures of birds and bees found in its manuscript collections. The margins of this late 12th or early 13th-century copy of the Topography of Ireland by Gerald of Wales are adorned with a number of illustrations, including the kingfishers and stork featured here....

British Library: Medieval Manuscripts Blog, May 29, Aug. 4; Oct. 15, 2012; Jan. 21, Apr. 30, Sept. 16, 26, 2013

Collaboration with Choice Novel Studies

Novels to choose from

Iris Eichenlaub writes: “Really? In English class?! We get to choose? Choice Novel Studies are beginning to ripple into the English department at Camden Hills Regional High School in Rockport, Maine, with great benefits. Our circulation numbers in the library increased by over 1,000 this year, as more students had the opportunity to choose and study books from our library’s collection in these units. Aside from the benefits to the library, the CNS benefits both the high school English curriculum and, most important, our students. It’s an opportunity to engage teen readers with a novel of their choice.”...

Knowledge Quest blog, Aug. 5
Dewey Decibel podcast

Stomp rockets: STEAM done cheap

Stomp rocket launch

Erin Lovelace writes: “I have recently learned the joys of stomp rockets. These super-simple launching devices can lead to tons of scientific explorations and can be made for less than $2. So far this summer we have used these for a day-long rocket launching program and a demonstration at a county-run summer camp. The kids have been totally captivated. So our plan is to make a few to drop off at the summer-camp locations so the kids can experiment in their free time. This led me to wonder: Where else would it be possible to have these cheap tools available for bored and curious kids?”...

ALSC Blog, Aug. 3

Resin on Beresheet lander preserved its lunar library

The lunar library includes thousands of high-resolution images of book pages compressed into just a few square inches. Photo by Bruce Ha

Daniel Oberhaus writes: “The lunar library on Israel’s Beresheet lander, which crashed into the Moon on April 11, consisted of 25 layers of nickel, each only a few microns thick. The first four layers contain roughly 30,000 high-resolution images of nearly all of the English Wikipedia and thousands of classic books. Just prior to the launch, Nova Spivack, founder of the Arch Mission Foundation, added a thin layer of epoxy resin between each layer of nickel. Into the resin they tucked hair and blood samples for DNA, some dehydrated tardigrades, and samples from major holy sites. The extra padding may have saved the lunar library.”...

Wired, Aug. 5; American Libraries Newsmaker, July 16

AL Direct is a free electronic newsletter emailed every Tuesday and Friday to personal members of the American Library Association.

Editor, AL Direct: George M. Eberhart,

Send news and feedback:

Direct ad inquiries to: Michael Stack,

AL Direct FAQ:

All links outside the ALA website are provided for informational purposes only. Questions about the content of any external site should be addressed to the administrator of that site.


AL Direct will not sell your email to outside parties, but your email may be shared with advertisers in this newsletter should you express interest in their products by clicking on their ads or content. If the advertisers choose to communicate with you by email, they are obligated to provide you with an opportunity to opt-out from future emails in compliance with the CAN-SPAM act of 2003 and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation of 2018. Read the ALA privacy policy.

American Libraries
50 E. Huron St.
Chicago, IL 60611
800-545-2433, ext. 4216

ISSN 1559-369X

ALA Publishing