Newsmaker: Tracy K. Smith

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Tracy K. Smith

Terra Dankowski writes: “Author, professor, and librettist Tracy K. Smith is as prolific as she is distinguished. She has won a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, earned a National Book Award nomination, and served as 2017–2019 US poet laureate. With To Free the Captives: A Plea for the American Soul, Smith offers a stirring and spiritual collection of essays that channel the voices of her ancestors and confront the racial and social unrest of the present. American Libraries spoke to her about communing with loved ones through writing, the tenor of today’s book bans, and making collections more accessible.”...

American Libraries Trend, Nov./Dec.

Philip Espe stands in a room with filing cabinets in the background. He is in a red US Marine Band uniform holding a stack of sheet music. Various pieces of music, memorability, and children's books are arranged
on the table in front of him.

Carrie Smith writes: “All signs pointed to Philip Espe joining the Marines. The 34-year-old comes from a long line of military family members. But he also had a calling in music. Espe studied clarinet performance, earned a master’s of music in orchestral conducting, and directed community and youth orchestras. Then, in 2022, shortly after receiving his MLIS, Espe’s career came full circle when he joined the United States Marine Band as a librarian and historian. This year, the band celebrates its 225th anniversary.”...

American Libraries Bookend, Nov./Dec.

Academic Insights by Willa Liburd Tavernier

Willa Liburd Tavernier writes: “With the advent of digital information and concerns over barriers to reading and using research, libraries are increasingly focused on facilitating open access to research publications. This allows libraries to position themselves as key providers of knowledge to anyone with an internet connection. In a diverse local and global information ecosystem, maintaining community and trust is paramount, but increasingly difficult. Participatory processes and collective action can help address concerns and empower groups.”...

American Libraries column, Nov./Dec.

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Meg Medina

Meg Medina, award-winning author and National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, has been selected as honorary chair. Medina’s middle-grade novel Merci Suárez Changes Gears received the 2019 Newbery Medal, and her young adult novel Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass received the 2014 Pura Belpré Author Award. National Library Week annually celebrates the indispensable role of libraries and library workers in schools and communities. In 2024, the event will be held April 7–13, with the theme “Ready, Set, Library!” ...

ALA Communications, Marketing, and Media Relations Office, Nov. 30

Lanah Burkhardt speaking at the Conroe Independent School District board meeting

Judd Legum and Rebecca Crosby write: “On November 14, Lanah Burkhardt appeared before the school board of the Conroe (Tex.) Independent School District. that, when she was 11, her exposure to a Scholastic book [Raina Telgemaier’s Drama and its “single kiss”] was directly responsible for her developing a debilitating addiction to pornography.” The board voted to restrict access to the book, and one of its members suggested replacing Scholastic book fairs with SkyTree Book Fairs, a new nonprofit that to conservative children’s publisher Brave Books. Until recently, Burkhardt’s social media profiles claimed , although she did not disclose this at the board meeting....

Popular Information, Nov. 29; Conroe (Tex.) Independent School District, Nov. 14; Book Riot, Nov. 27; Anger & Clarity, Nov. 24

Cupcakes, one of which has a 1-shaped candle and the words happy birthday.

Benj Edwards writes: “On November 30, 2022, OpenAI released ChatGPT. It's uncommon for a single product to create as much impact on the tech industry as ChatGPT has in just one year. The application that first brought large language models to a wide audience became the fastest-growing consumer application of all time. And it created a frenzy in the tech world. During these 365 days, ChatGPT has broadened the public perception of AI, captured imaginations, attracted critics, and stoked existential angst.”...

Ars Technica, Nov. 30

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Historic illustration of a doctor using a saw on a terrified patient's leg with a group of spectators.

Roger C. Schonfeld writes: “Today, funding agencies, policy makers, publishers, universities, and other stakeholders are gripped with uncertainty about how best to translate the call for expanded public access [to federally funded research] into coherent policy and workable business and service models. With the laudable increase in access to journal articles, it is now fairly simple to discover and access much of the biomedical literature. But that doesn’t make the literature usable to all. What is needed is distillation and synthesis into formats that will be useful and situated within convenient workflows.”...

The Scholarly Kitchen, Dec. 5

Montage of audiobook covers

AudioFile editors write: “‘What are you listening to?’ We ask this question all the time—and when we hear something really wonderful, we want to share. That’s why, each December, we celebrate the year’s outstanding audiobooks. We hope that this list will help you find your next favorite listen. Below, you’ll find AudioFile’s picks for the Best Audiobooks of 2023 in nine categories. Thank you to all of the authors, narrators, producers, and publishers who filled our year with good listening.”...

AudioFile, Dec./Jan.

Keyboard wrapped in a locked chain

Jay Stanley and Daniel Kahn Gillmor write: “In our tumultuous political era, those who stake out controversial positions or participate in protests can find themselves subject to digital attacks that go beyond the verbal, such as doxxing and hacking. People in the middle of passionate political debates can benefit from taking certain steps to protect their privacy and safety online. While there are many advanced techniques that expert technologists can deploy for much greater security, there are also some relatively basic and straightforward steps that will significantly increase your protection against privacy invasions, hacks, and digital harassment.”...

ACLU, Nov. 30

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Boy in pajamas accompanied by a fanciful creature

Gabrielle Stoller writes: “To be honest, I never really thought of programs outside of the 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. time frame until I became a working mom. I work until 6 p.m. most nights; it is impossible to take my daughter to what we view as a traditional storytime. Many of your library patrons are in this same boat. So what do we do? The library where I work, Meridian (Idaho) Library District, offers a weekly pajama storytime from 7–7:30 p.m.”...

ALSC Blog, Dec. 2

The Baby-Sitters Club logo

Alex Luppens-Dale writes: “How many Baby-Sitters Club books did you read? How about Sweet Valley High? Animorphs? I loved a long-running series of the kind that doesn’t seem to really exist anymore. How did the authors do it? Magic, right? Sure. The magic of ghostwriting. Maintaining continuity was a challenge, and many series would have a ‘series Bible.’ The Baby-Sitters Club series Bible was constructed by none other than YA juggernaut David Levithan early in his career at Scholastic. [Animorphs creator] Katherine Applegate herself also wrote for Sweet Valley.”...

Book Riot, Nov. 30

A librarian looks through a vertical file while a patron examines microfilm at the San Antonio Aviation Cadet Center

Katie McBride Moench writes: “In war, as in everything, information is power. And for the US and its allies in World War II, that meant obtaining and transmitting by hand useful intel—like the development of destructive new weapons—before the Nazis could prevent their enemies from getting it. Enter the librarians, tapped by US government officials to help in this effort. These librarians adopted technology from other fields to photograph an array of documents and found means of sending them across continents....

JSTOR Daily, Nov. 29

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