Lighting the way: Prison reform advocates discuss efforts to ensure library access

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Illustration of an incarcerated person reading, with a colorful vision of home emerging from the book.

Poets Reginald Dwayne Betts and Randall Horton both discovered the transformative power of literature while incarcerated, and both have dedicated their lives since their release to bringing that power to others. Former ALA Executive Director Tracie D. Hall interviewed Betts and Horton about their work, censorship and access to literature in prisons, and their hopes for ALA’s newly revised , which Horton coedited. The story also includes a preview of the updated Standards and excerpts from three case studies that provide examples of carceral library successes....

American Libraries feature, Nov./Dec.

From the Executive Director by Tracie D. Hall

In her final Executive Director’s message, Tracie D. Hall writes: “Before his death, US Rep. John Lewis presciently asserted that in his estimation, access to the internet (and information more broadly) would be the civil rights issue of the 21st century. We are indeed in the midst of a civil rights movement. Libraries are called to face this moment just as we have in times before, with an indefatigable commitment to information access and the unequivocal belief that right of access applies to everyone. That legacy, that history, is our protection.”...

American Libraries column, Nov./Dec.

Patrons at Mt. Lebanon Public Library (MLPL) in Pittsburgh play with a tongue drum, rain stick, and singing bowls—instruments used during MLPL’s sound bath sessions.

Rosie Newmark writes: “After talking with students who were grappling with mental health challenges, Katie Donahoe wanted to do something to help. Donahoe, teen librarian at Mt. Lebanon Public Library in Pittsburgh, began hosting sound bath sessions twice a month. These sessions typically involve participants lying down while an instructor uses musical instruments like singing bowls and gongs to create sound waves that calm participants’ central nervous systems. Proponents say this leads to relaxation and healing throughout the body.”...

American Libraries Trend, Nov./Dec.

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Group of young people talking in a library

Gen Z and Millennials are using public libraries, both in person and digitally, at higher rates compared to older generations, according to a new ALA report. A nationally representative survey conducted for showed that 54% of respondents in this age group have visited a physical library within a 12-month period....

ALA Public Policy and Advocacy Office, Oct. 31

Two young women collaborating on some work

Stephanie Sendaula writes: “It is often thought that those who work at community colleges should be taking advice and seeking guidance from those who work at four-year institutions, and that four-year institutions have little to learn from community colleges. [But] in a time when institutions of higher education are continually being examined by outside parties, four-year institutions have much to learn from community colleges on how to succeed when others are questioning your right to exist in the first place.”...

ACRLog, Oct. 26

St. Tammany Parish Library logo

Piper Hutchinson writes: “The St. Tammany (La.) Library Board of Control rescinded that segregated over 150 challenged titles pending review, a practice First Amendment advocates say was unconstitutional. The board voted 5-0 to reverse course at its regular meeting [October 23]. The policy was adopted in December amid pressure from the St. Tammany Library Accountability Project, a small but vocal group of conservative activists responsible for the vast majority of the challenges. [Board] members also adopted a new challenged materials process that more closely resembles its original policy.”...

Louisiana Illuminator, Oct. 24

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President Biden announces an executive order related to artificial intelligence

Cecily Mauran and Kimberly Gedeon write: “The White House just announced an . The Biden administration has been to regulate the untethered artificial intelligence AI industry. The order builds on the Biden-Harris blueprint for an as well as from 15 leading tech companies to work with the government for safe and responsible AI development. Here's what you need to know.”...

Mashable, Oct. 30, May 6; White House, Oct. 30, Oct. 4, 2022, July 21

Ebook reader

Andrew Rowan writes: “The Cincinnati and Hamilton County (Ohio) Public Library is facing a good problem: its digital collection is more popular than ever. But because of the way library materials are priced, that popularity is a challenge to the library’s traditional business model. For the library system to get their ebook wait time to match the print book wait times, it would cost the library an additional $2 million per year, said Director Paula Brehm-Heeger.” The paperback of Stephen King’s newest release Holly costs the library $17, but the ebook costs $64.99 and the audiobook costs $99....

WCPO-TV (Cincinnati), Oct. 27

Cover of Prison Ramen: Recipes and Stories from Behind Bars

Edward Helmore writes: “PEN America has released in the US prison system to coincide with Prison Banned Books Week. The list includes Amy Schumer’s memoir The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, flagged by Florida officials for graphic sexual content and for being ‘a threat to the security, order, or rehabilitative objectives’; Sun Tzu’s The Art of War; Barrington Barber’s Anyone Can Draw: Create Sensational Artwork in Easy Steps; and Prison Ramen: Recipes and Stories from Behind Bars, which comes in as the most banned book.” The list is part of a ....

The Guardian, Oct. 25; PEN America, Oct. 25

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16th-century portrait of Geoffrey Chaucer, holding a rosary and stylus

Calum Cockburn writes: “Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is one of the greatest works of medieval literature. But Chaucer was a prolific writer who composed many other works, which continue to be read long after his death. The British Library holds the world’s largest surviving collection of Chaucer manuscripts, and this year we have reached a major milestone. We have completed the digitization of all of our pre-1600 manuscripts containing Chaucer’s works, in total.” The digitized collection encompasses , including a manuscript of The Canterbury Tales with a portrait of Chaucer....

British Library, Oct. 25; The Guardian, Oct. 25

Illustration of a man at a podium with a nose lengthened to an absurd length by dishonesty

Lauren Goode writes: "The spread of misinformation is a massive problem online, and generative artificial intelligence (AI) is only helping boost the creation of inauthentic or real-but-repurposed media. Google believes it has at least one solution for this problem. In Google image search results, English-language users in the US started seeing an information box called ‘About this image’ October 25. The field is mostly designed to give more context or alert the casual internet user if an image is much older than it appears—suggesting it might now be repurposed—or if it’s been flagged as problematic on the internet before.”...

Wired, October 25

Screencap from a 1994 episode of Today with anchors Katie Couric, Bryant Gumbel, and Elizabeth Vargas

David Pierce writes: “Neal Agarwal’s whole website is an endless string of delightful games and other silly things, and this , the footage from the , , and much more—is some of his best work yet. So much cool stuff here I’d never seen before.” Enjoy a from Today with anchors Katie Couric, Bryant Gumbel, and Elizabeth Vargas confused by the @ symbol and ultimately asking, ‘What is internet, anyway?’”...

The Verge, Oct. 29; neal.fun

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