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Librarian Blog

Premature demise

The conventional wisdom is that traditional printed books are on the way out, and ebooks are on the way in.
Maybe that was the case 10 years ago. But no more.
The Wall Street Journal's Zeke Turner reports this week from Frankfurt, Germany, that ebook sales last year were off 17 percent from the year before, and that is a trend, not just a one-year blip.
Publishers, meeting in Frankfurt, were thus enthusiastic about the prospects, and are upping their press runs and also concentrating on quality of the physical books they publish (not necessarily the quality of the ideas between the covers). 
We shall get a somewhat limited gauge of the interest in real books this weekend at our annual Friends of the Library sale over at the Chapel in the Hills. Thousands of books will be on sale ove there at bare-bones prices. Will people buy them?
Two observations: In the past, books have sold very well at the annual event. But, we seem to have more books available this year than ever before, and that means people with the books gave more away so they could be sold.
So, we shall have to wait and see.

Can you read this?

I have what may be a stupid question: Can you read this?
Specifically, I'm wondering if you can see this website from your home here in the Hill Country?
Or do you have to go someplace to access the internet?
I'm asking because we may have the opportunity to provide some wi-fi hotspots for our patrons to use periodically so they can get the internet access they need at their homes.
The idea would be for us to loan out the hotspots for a few days at a time -- enough time for you to download information you might not otherwise get through a slow connection or a nonexistent one.
If this is you, let me know!


I'm afraid that's the state of the modern-day cookbook: Fried.
As in Done For. Dead. Kaput.
We probably have a hundred boxes of cookbooks that have been donated to the library for our annual Friends book sale on Oct. 21 and 22. I bet we don't sell one-tenth of them.
People don't want them; thus they bring them to us in the sad hopes that we can unload them for pennies on the dollar.
I don't think so.
Google has undone the cookbook more surely than it has undone anything else.
Maybe I'm wrong. But, I don't use cookbooks at all when I'm looking for a recipe. I Google my ingredients or my main protein.
I bet you do, too.
Still, if you're old school, you will have plenty, plenty of cookbooks to choose from at the sale. Bring a big box. And then don't bring them back.

Keillor would be proud

Remember Lake Woebegon?
That's Garrison Keillor's imaginary village where, among many other things, all the kids were above average.
Can you imagine such a place?
Well, look around. It seems that we all increasingly live in a Lake Woebegon. All kids everywhere are above average.
They are so above average that in some communities a quarter to a third of the graduating seniors are valedictorians!
The Wall Street Journal's Tawnell D. Hobbs reported on this strange phenomenon this past weekend in an article with this headline: "You're All No. 1! High Schools Say 'Vale' to the Valedictorian."
It seems that many high schools have done away with the valedictorian competitive run because it's all gotten, well, too competitive. The implicit idea seems to be the competition is a bad thing. I'm not sure why. After all, many high schools have football teams, right? They compete, right? What's the difference?
I don't know.
On the other hand, is it possible that there are so many valedictorians in one school because the coursework is too easy?
I don't know about that, either.
I actually regard this as just another trendy happening in public education. I suspect that it, too, shall pass.

Printing body parts?

As a society we're still a little bit away from printing entire human beings on 3-D printers.
That may be the vision of film-makers and authors of dystopian novels, but the reality is not quite so glamorous or terrible, depending on your viewpoint.
The Wall Street Journal had a nice article on the state of medical 3-D printing, and the experts acknowledged that while strides have been made in the making of individual bones and bone systems and even skin, the processes are expensive and complicated and not altogether 100 percent satisfactory.
You can bet that costs will come down and processes will get simpler and less cumbersome.
Will we ever see a printed 3-D human?
We might see the superstructure, but there's more to a human being than bone and skin and muscle, etc.
Want to build a good human? Start witih the mind and work backwards. To start with the mind, start with a good book.
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