Latest Entries

Discovering the Joy of Books – at a Garbage Dump

This week, the BBC reported on a huge garbage dump in Brazil and some of the valuable items found by the people who scavenge there. One of those people, named Gloria, described some of the horrors of working at the dump, including being buried under a mountain of garbage, only surviving after her friends dug her out.

But, the report says, “the same dump that was causing her such sorrow and despair brought her salvation – in the form of Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Over the years Gloria had carefully curated a small library of books salvaged from the dump. And she credits a passage in The Brothers Karamazov for teaching her how to love her daughter. ‘It was the books that helped me. They saved me,” she says. “That was my way of living other lives, of travelling. I was a compulsive reader, I would read four or five books a week, and in the midst of that hard life I was high on books!’”

The dump has been replaced by a recycling plant and Gloria is now the coordinator of the facility.

Tuesday’s Tip — Cities at Night

Scores of missions into outer space have yielded many photographs of inhabited places as seen  from far above the earth.  There are so many remaining unidentified that a Citizen Science project has been initiated for those interested in geography to help analyze and catalog the images, so they can be shared with the public.   Or… do a little ‘armchair travel’ and see the world from space!

Tuesday’s Tip — January 20, 2015 (Cities at Night)

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Libraries and Freedom of Speech

In response to last week’s attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, American Library Association (ALA) President Courtney Young released a statement which included the following:

“The American Library Association condemns in the strongest possible terms yesterday’s attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris and the deaths of the twelve people there. Libraries and the press are the bedrock of democratic societies.  Free expression is essential for librarians and journalists to do their jobs.  Free speech is integral to the ethical values and best practices for both professions.  Such attacks are counter to the values of access to information with diversity of views—and to the values of civic engagement, which encourages people to read and discuss these views without fear.”

“The American Library Association reaffirms our support of the freedom to publish, read, and discuss.  This horrific attack violates Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which ALA has endorsed.”

Study Finds Value in Reading to Children of All Ages

According to a new report released on January 8 by Scholastic, the children’s book publisher, reading aloud through elementary school is connected to a love of reading generally. In the survey of just over 1,000 children ages 6 to 17, there were some consistent patterns among frequent readers. For the younger children — ages 6 to 11 — being read aloud to regularly and having restricted online time were correlated with frequent reading.

“A lot of parents assume that once kids begin to read independently, that now that is the best thing for them to do,” said Maggie McGuire, the vice president for a website for parents operated by Scholastic. However, the report supports the idea of continuing to read aloud to children through the elementary school years.

Some literacy experts state that when parents or teachers read aloud to children even after they can read themselves, the children can hear more complex words or stories than they might tackle themselves. Last summer, the American Academy of Pediatrics announced a new policy recommending that all parents read to their children from birth.

Tuesday’s Tip — Veterans Crisis Line

Show your support for our Nation’s Veterans and their families by raising awareness of the Veterans Crisis Line. View and download ready-to-use materials and use them to help spread the word about this toll-free, confidential resource that connects Veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) responders.    Tuesday’s Tip — January 6, 2015 (Veterans’ Crisis Line)

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NY Times Book Review lists Best Non Fiction of 2014

CAN’T WE TALK ABOUT SOMETHING MORE PLEASANT?   By Roz Chast

Cartoons, it turns out, are tailor-made for the absurdities of old age, illness and dementia. In Chast’s devastating and sublime graphic memoir…she describes helping her parents navigate their final years.

ON IMMUNITY: An Inoculation   By Eula Biss

In this spellbinding blend of memoir, science journalism and literary criticism, Biss unpacks what the fear of vaccines tells us about larger anxieties

PENELOPE FITZGERALD: A Life   By Hermione Lee

The life and times of that elusive, original miracle worker, the English novelist and biographer Penelope Fitzgerald, have been brilliantly captured by Lee.

THE SIXTH EXTINCTION: An Unnatural History   By Elizabeth Kolbert

Kolbert reports from the front lines of the violent collision between civilization and our planet’s ecosystem — from the Great Barrier Reef to her own backyard

THIRTEEN DAYS IN SEPTEMBER: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David  By Lawrence Wright

In 1978,… Sadat, Begin and Carter hammered out a peace agreement between Israel and Egypt that remains the most profound diplomatic achievement to emerge from the Mideast conflict.

Tuesday’s Tip — Bloglovin.com Blog Reader

With the recent explosion in Blogs (Weblogs) on the Internet, it’s hard to keep track of the ones you like to follow, and remember to return to those sites to check for updates.  There are several ‘blog readers’ out there that consolidate the ones you choose to one place, and coordinate alerting you to updates.  Bloglovin is an attractive and effective place to turn for help organizing your favorite blogs.

Tuesday’s Tip –December 30, 2014 (Bloglovin.com)

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At Bedtime, Printed Books are Best

Use of an eBook in the hours before bedtime can adversely impact overall health and alertness according to researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital who compared the biological effects of reading an eBook compared to a printed book.

“We found the body’s natural circadian rhythms were interrupted by the short-wavelength enriched light, otherwise known as blue light, from these electronic devices,” said Anne-Marie Chang, PhD. “Participants reading an LE-eBook took longer to fall asleep and had reduced evening sleepiness, reduced melatonin secretion, later timing of their circadian clock and reduced next-morning alertness than when reading a printed book.” The findings of the study appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on December 22, 2014.

Libraries and Income Inequality

Writing in the Huffington Post last week, Julie Sandorf, President of the Charles H. Revson Foundation, called for increased funding for New York City’s public libraries. Her impassioned appeal is applicable to public libraries everywhere:

“One can make a compelling case that no institution in New York City plays a more vital role in addressing income inequality than our libraries, which provide all New Yorkers with access to materials and services – including literacy itself – that they can use to improve their lives. Increasingly, they also provide advice and assistance in finding a job, becoming an entrepreneur, and starting a business.”

“A report titled ‘Branches of Opportunity,’ published by the Center for an Urban Future last year, found that over the past decade circulation at New York City libraries has increased by 59 percent, program attendance by 40 percent, and program sessions by 27 percent while City funding has declined by 8 percent. Perhaps surprisingly in a digital age, the need for libraries has only expanded.”