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Librarian Blog

It may be too late ...

Ever since Kindles and Nooks came on the market, well-meaning children of senior adults have thought it would be cool to give those parents Kindles or Nooks for Christmas.

The result has been, for too many of the seniors, not cool at all.

Kindles and Nooks and the like seem to be more accepted by younger readers. Research bears that out. CBS News ran a story the other day on its website by Amy Kraft just on this issue. Younger people will readily adapt to electronic readers. Older folks not so much.

But, also keep in mind as you put a list together for younger readers: studies show they retain what they've read better if they read print, not pixels.


Take our survey

Starting today you can respond to a survey about our library and the services we offer and might offer by going online.

We have partnered with Texas State University's sociology department to see what the community thinks about the library.

Dr. Joe Kotarba and students put the poll together, and they will tally the results, which we will receive after the first of the year.

We hope to get as much good feedback as possible. Libraries across the country, ours included, are facing new challenges in this age of information overload. So, it's important that we spend your money wisely and give you what you want outside the usual library box.

Please take a moment to fill out the form by going to:


Murky territory

Nobody's more adamantly in favor of freedom of expression than I am.

But ...

There's just got to be something that can be done about the websites, twitter accounts, blogs, etc., that promote terrorism of any flavor, Islamic or otherwise.

Surely there are branches of the CIA and FBI that are focused on disabling these kinds of Internet recruiting/hate-mongering activities, just as they are trying to deal with threats from enemy states or potential enemy states.

It's as important to national security to take out whatever ISIS is fomenting via social media as it is to beat them on the battlefield.

Meanwhile, good for Anonymous, which announced Monday that will will carry out "Official ISIS Trolling Day" on Friday. The group plans to hack Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts belong to ISIS, according to various media reports.

Someone has to make war on these people in an effective online way.

Theft is theft

I had a long coversation this past weekend with one of the country's pre-eminent historians of contemporary art about one Richard Prince and his claim to fame and riches.

Richard Prince, you see, may be the wealthiest living artist.

And every cent he has made has been off photographs of photographs, the originals of which he did not arrange or take or create in any way.

The website Priceonomics had an article about Prince that sparked my conversation with the art historian. Seems Prince has made $300 million off his "works" in the past 15 years alone -- "the vast majority of which are either 're-photographs' or adaptations of pre-existing photographs."

What Prince does is steal others' works via camera and then reposition them in galleries, pretending that he is "changing the contect and therefore the meaning of these works," as my art historian friend put it.

I say anyone who takes another's creation and calls it his own is a plagiarist and a thief. Art critics and historians may not agree with me, but they seem to be trying to sanitize something that smells so bad no substance on earth would redeem it.

Knowing where we are

As a brand-new report at the Amarillo newspaper in 1966, I was often sent by my city editor off in a company car to find and write about unusual people, things and events.

"Go to Spearman, and don't come back until you have three stories," was the kind of instructions I'd receive as he handed over the car keys.

Sometimes I couldn't find three stories in places like Spearman, so I'd look at my Texas map and try to figure someplace nearby that might be more productive.

I remember just such a day when I was somewhere northeast of Amarillo, and I spent the better part of an afternoon looking for a place with an intriguing-sounding name that was on the map but that appeared to be nowhere on the ground.

I finally gave up.

When I complained to my editor, he told me something I'd never known before -- that mapmakers often draw in fake places with fake names so they can see if someone has stolen their work.

And here I was thinking that mapmakers had to be among the most trust-worthy people on the planet.

Of course, over the years I have figured out that once upon a time maps were not very representative, and today they are better, much better.

I'm fascinated by maps, I guess, even ones with significant flaws.

And I guess I'm not alone. The New York Times Book Review section yesterday reported that there are three new books about maps being published this fall before Christmas.

I'm guessing that not a single one of them will tell me how to get to that mysterious missing town northeast of Amarillo.

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