More publishing industry consolidation?

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The biggest book publisher in the United States is about to get bigger. ViacomCBS has agreed to sell Simon & Schuster to Penguin Random House for more than $2 billion in a deal that will create the first megapublisher. Penguin Random House, the largest book publisher in the United States, is owned by the German media conglomerate Bertelsmann. Adding Simon & Schuster, the third largest publisher, would create a book behemoth, a combination that could trigger antitrust concerns....

New York Times, Nov. 25

University of Kentucky in Lexington is attempting to remove a 1934 mural by artist Ann Rice O’Hanlon (detail shown here). Photo: Mark Cornelison

In the 1930s and 1940s, federal programs such as the Works Progress Administration paid artists and artisans to create thousands of artworks. Some of those works ended up on display in public buildings such as libraries. Roughly eight decades later, some of the images depicted in those murals are now recognized as racist. Deciding whether to remove, alter, or retain these murals can be challenging; not all stakeholders agree on a course of action....

American Libraries Trend, Nov./Dec.

Amy Schindler, director of archives and special collections at University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) Libraries, holds a magic book from the Omaha (Neb.) Magical Society collection. (Photo: University of Nebraska at Omaha)

One day, the magic collection vanished—and then reappeared. That is, the Omaha (Neb.) Magical Society moved its 1,200 magic-related books and materials to the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO). A logical choice given that the 60-member society of magicians and magic enthusiasts holds its meetings there. Before the big move in May, the society’s materials floated from member home to member home....

American Libraries Bookend, Nov./Dec.

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In Practice by Meredith Farkas

Academic librarian Meredith Farkas writes: “Library workers are well practiced in advocating for their libraries, whether that’s finding ways to demonstrate the value of what they do or lobbying leaders for additional funding. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, webinars on advocacy have helped library workers become even more effective in these areas. However, during this crisis, many library workers are unexpectedly forced to advocate for themselves.”...

American Libraries column, Nov./Dec.

On My Mind by Joslyn Bowling Dixon

Library director Joslyn Bowling Dixon writes: “Last year, when I was running for a leadership position in the Virginia Library Association, I gave a speech to the organization’s executive committee and council chairs. As I looked out into the audience from the podium, I realized that—save for one other person—I was the only person of color in a room full of dozens of decision makers from across the state. I was reminded of the words of the late US Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm: ‘If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.’”...

American Libraries column, Nov./Dec.

Dispatches by Mirela Roncevic

Library consultant Mirela Roncevic writes: “When I lived in Croatia, I managed a project called One Country One Library (OCOL) from 2017 to 2020. The project’s goal was to develop a national platform of books and other publications (including short stories, academic articles and journals, textbooks, audiobooks, educational videos, and podcasts) that would be freely accessible via a website or app within the country’s borders. This open digital library not only introduced users to a new way of engaging with digital content but also offered a sustainable business model to publishers, authors, libraries, and those who wished to support it financially.”...

American Libraries column, Nov./Dec.

Latest Library Links

Comcast logo with NBC peacock

Starting in January, Comcast plans to  in northeastern US states for going over 1.2TB of data in a month—a cap that’s for customers on non-unlimited plans in other parts of the country. The affected states include Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia, as well as parts of North Carolina and Ohio....

The Verge, Nov. 23; Oct. 6, 2016

Joy Harjo against brick background

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden has appointed Joy Harjo to serve a third term as Poet Laureate of the United States, making her only the second poet to serve three terms. Harjo also launched her signature project, which features 47 contemporary Native poets through a new Story Map and online audio collection. Harjo will be the at ALA Midwinter Virtual on January 24....

From the Catbird Seat, Nov. 19

Octavia E. Butler's Los Angeles Public Library card

With photos, maps, and artifacts, the Los Angeles Times looks at the Southern California libraries where writer Octavia E. Butler spent her childhood, wrote her books, volunteered, and gave readings—and which ones bear her name and house her archives now....

Los Angeles Times, Nov. 18

ALA news and press releases

Youth Matters, by Becky Calzada, Anita Cellucci, and Courtney Lewis

School librarians Becky Calzada, Anita Cellucci, and Courtney Lewis write: “Our world is desperate for assistance right now: College students need more support, families seek help with distance learning, and teachers require ready access to ebooks and databases their districts may not be able to afford. This crisis provides an opportunity to remind audiences what librarians do and how we can help the young people we once saw on a daily or weekly basis.”...

American Libraries column, Nov./Dec.

New Orleans Public Library logo

Michael Isaac Stein writes: “In recent weeks, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has ramped up her campaign to convince voters to approve a plan to reallocate millions of dollars in property taxes, which will appear as three separate ballot propositions on the December 5 ballot. But as Cantrell takes her pitch to the public, several library employees, a library manager, a library board member, and a coalition of local nonprofits and unions have accused the city and top library officials of being intentionally misleading.”...

The Lens (New Orleans), Nov. 23

Oxford Languages 2020: Words of an unprecedented year

Social distancing. Decolonize. Doomscrolling. When it came time to choose its annual Word of the Year, Oxford Languages looked at its data and realized a single word couldn’t sum up the pandemic, political and economic volatility, social activism, the environment, and the new technologies and behaviors to support remote working and living that embodied 2020. So it on the sudden, sweeping changes the year’s events had on the language....

Oxford Languages, Nov. 22

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