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Librarian Blog

Dylan wins the Nobel?

Few who care about literature ever agree on the Nobel committee's selections for their big prize.
Would I vote for James Joyce to receive a Nobel Prize?
No. I have found Joyce to be inpenetrable. "Ulysses" was, to me, unreadable.
Some folks in Sweden not only learned to read English but also the gibberish variation used by Joyce in this particular novel.
So, if Joyce is OK by the Nobel committee, why not Bob Dylan?
But, this is hardly a fair way to discuss the Dylan prize. To my taste, Dylan is a far more deserving winner than Joyce.
His poetry is, for the most part, accessible and meaningful. In some cases, it is life-altering or at least outlook-altering.
The world is a better place for Dylan's having been a songwriter and poet.
Can we say the same about James Joyce?

Our calling

Every day I feel good about being a librarian.
And especially today. I just read an online magazine called "Brain Pickings," the subject of which is libraries and librarians. It is very complimentary.
In particular, the author relates the story of Storm Reyes, who grew up on an Indian reservation and never had a book until she was invited into a bookmobile when she was a child.
Her story is included in "Callings," a book by Dave Isay developed out of interviews conducted by Story Corps.
Reyes writes, in part, about the first time she checked out books:
"I came back in two weeks, and he gave me more books, and that started it. By the time I was fifteen, I knew there was a world outside the camps, and I believed I could find a place in it. I had read about people like me and not like me. I had seen how huge the world was, and it gave me the courage to leave. And I did. It taught me that hope was not just a word."
It all makes me feel very good about what I do.

Another death in the family

Bumper stickers are as dead as Latin.
And now comes another doomsayer to suggest that they will be joined on the trash heap of forgotten means of communication -- ALARM! -- the telephone call.
Timothy Noah, writing in the Sept. 18 issue of Slate, says it's past time to write the obituary for the phone call after all these scores of years being awakened in the middle of the night by a jailed child, for example, or sitting by the black object on your coffee table to hear about the arrival of your newest grandbaby.
Texting is the new way to message. "Message" is now a verb, by the way.
I do not and will not lament the passing of the phone call.
My hearing is not what it once was, and talking on the telephone is neither fun nor informative for me these days.
When I outgrew those long phone conversations of my teen-age years, I never liked communicating by phone very much, even though I was a reporter for quite some time and the phone was our tool of choice. After I became an editor I counseled by reporters not to use the phone so much, to get out and do face-to-face interviews. They hated doing that, for the most part. I can't imagine they now sit in their offices and text interviews, but I can sure see them doing a lot of interviews via email.
Oh well.
We seem to live in a world wherein real human contact is to be increasingly avoided.
Have a comment?
Don't call.

Still too expensive for some people

I know many of us tend to take Internet connectivity at home for granted.
However, I do run into quite a few people here at the library who don't have Internet connections at their homes. Usually that's because a service is just not available out where they live in the Hill Country.
Excluding those folks, there are still a relatively large number of people in the United States who don't have access even if they could.
They don't because they can't afford it.
That's according to the newest survey undertaken by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
By far the majority of people who aren't connected say they don't need to access the Internet. But almost as large a number say cost is a factor.
I'm not sure how to fix that.
One way, of course, is for those who can't use or get the Internet at home to just come on by the library and use one of our secure connections.
It's absolutely free of charge.

An abandoned form of speech

Political candidates may use bumper sticker slogans more now than ever, but they don't get them off bumper stickers anymore.
At least around this part of Texas, no cars have bumper stickers.
Oh, once in awhile you'll see a sticker that says "Keep Austin Weird" or "Keep Wimberley Weirder," but those are also fading away -- literally.
Four years ago, I saw only a few bumper stickers for the major party candidates, and my wife and I even had one on our only car.
Today? I see none, and I have none.
I suspect other folks are like me: They fear having their cars keyed or otherwise smashed because of what they might have on their bumper.
It's just that nasty out there, isn't it?
Too bad it's come to this.
(That sounds like a pretty good bumper sticker in and of itself, right?)
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