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Librarian Blog

Up, up and up again

U.S. college students are weighed down by unprecedented costs, and they graduate with unprecedented debt accumulated to get their degrees.

No news there.

The latest news is that the prices just keep right on rising. The National Center for Educational Statistics reported recently that between 2012-2013 and 2014-2015, the average tuition and fees at four-year public, nonprofit institutions rose 4 percent. And that's with inflation factored into the equation. 

What else in this country rose 4 percent, adjusted for inflation, over that period of time? Well, the Consumer Price Index rose less than 2 percent in 2013 and 2014.

So, we hear a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth about the persistent price increases for college attendance.

But, nothing at all is being done about it.

A cynic would suggest that's part of a broader plan to dumb down Americans.

But, wow, that sounds like something right out of science fiction, doesn't it?

Still ... you have to wonder.

In an uproar

Texas librarians are in a tizzy, my library director tells me, because of interpretations coming out of Austin about libraries and guns.

Seems the Texas State Library & Archives Commission staff has been looking into how new gun laws will affect libraries and the ruling so far is that state law prohibits libraries from keeping people who carry guns out.

That's right, it appears that people with pistols under their belts, on their hips and in their pockets can mosey on in and check out the latest shoot-'em-up by Cussler or Patterson.

This is all a cause for consternation, I am told.

I can't see why.

My plan is to start wearing my M-16 on one shoulder, my AK-47 on another, a .380  pistol on my hip and a Bowie knife between my teeth.

Go ahead: Make my day.

Uh-oh

I may have to eat my words.

Those would be words that I wrote in this space last week about the book just published by Harper Lee, "Go Set a Watchman."

I wrote that I would not read the book. I'm happy with Atticus Finch the way he was portrayed in her first book, "To Kill a Mockingbird."

More than that, though, I am unsettled by the story about how the new Lee novel got itself into the hands of publishers.

I'm not at all sure she wanted the book to see the light of day. I mean, why didn't she publish it when she had the time and energy?

So, here we are in an uncomfortable position. That's because Random House is publishing a newly found book by Dr. Seuss called "What Pet Should I Get?"

The beloved author of hundreds of children's books never got "What Pet Should I Get?" into the hands of publishers in his lifetime. Maria Russo, writing a review in the New York Times Book Review, speculates on why that is the case.

Based on the precedent I set on the Harper Lee book, I should announce that I will also not read "What Pet Should I Get?" And perhaps I won't.

Perhaps.

Maybe.

But, I DO have a new grandson ...

Another take on Lee novel

Adam Gopnik, one of The New Yorker's most astute and erudite writers, gives us one of the best critiques I have read on Harper Lee's "Go Set a Watchman," the famed novelist's newly released literary oddity.

Much has been said about Lee, who is now in a nursing home, and "Watchman," most of it not repeatable or even smart.

Gopnik, on the other hand, breaks down why Atticus Finch might actually fit in the new role ascribed to him in "Watchman." His knowledge about Southern history is impressive, his argument persuasive.

He also shows why it is unlikely that "Watchman" was intended to be published as we now know it, as the full and complete work of an artist who knew what she was doing.

Gopnik speculates, with something bordering on certainty, that the book is a revised first draft of "To Kill a Mockingbird," never intended by the author to see the light of day.

Buy a New Yorker July 27 edition. His piece alone is worth the price of admission.

Late-night literature

I'm never up past 9:30 at night, no matter what.

So, I've never watched a single iteration of "Late Night with Seth Meyers." I don't even know who Seth Meyers is, and if I've seen him in movies or on TV, I wouldn't know it, unless he starred in some episode of Chopped or Top Chef or Drive-ins, Diners and Dives or maybe Pawn Stars or American Pickers.

Even so, now I see where Seth Meyers and I have something in common: We both like literary fiction.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that "Late Night with Seth Meyers" sometimes features authors of literary fiction, people who these days have no forum at all since the demise of Oprah's daytime show.

Meyers has had all sorts of authors on the show to talk about their work, and it's not to put them down or make fun of them. It's to take them and their work seriously.

Maybe I'll stay up for that. I feel like he needs the moral support.

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