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Librarian Blog

One handy device

My wife reads every day, sometimes for hours at a time.

She uses only a Kindle, and not even the latest version.

She loves it, and takes it everywhere with her.

I read books, old-timey paper books. I have my own Kindle, but I just can't seem to get into the experience. I certainly would not read a newspaper online -- too hard.

And the idea of reading a book on my cell phone is just completely alien to me.

Yet, that's where the reading world is heading, according to Nielsen.

The percentage of e-book buyers who read primarily on tablets was 41 percent in the first quarter of this year, up from 30 percent in 2012.

But, a poll last December by Nielsen showed that 54 percent of e-book buyers were using their phones to read books.

Right now, they are not using phones exclusively, however. Instead, they read here and there with phone useage rising.

It's something I doubt I will ever do.

Asking the right questions

Have school libraries changed along with other aspects of education?

I would certainly imagine that's the case. I have been in several public school libraries in the four years since I moved to Wimberley, and in the newer schools I see that an attempt has been made to provide plenty of materials, computers, etc. I've certainly not made a study of the situation.

But, as I think about the start of school, I also think about whether schools are going to continue to stress the importance of reading to gain knowledge, to widen one's perspective and to be entertained.

You might wonder that also. If so, here are some questions that you might want to ask your school principal as you get the kids back into the swing of things:

Theh come from the American Association of School Librarians, a division of the American Library Association:

  • Is there a state-certified full-time school librarian?
  • Does your child have access to the school library anytime during the day that he/she needs to use its resources? Does the library offer remote access from home via computer?
  • Does your child visit the school library frequently with his/her class? Individually? In small groups?
  • Is the school library an attractive and convenient space where children can work individually and in small groups?
  • Does the school library have a wide range of resources in a variety of formats–books, computers, audio and videotapes–that appeal to different learning styles?
  • Does the library have the hardware and software to provide access to the Internet and other electronic resources?
  • Are the resource materials in the school library current? Are the encyclopedias less than three years old?
  • Is the school library budget adequate to provide a full range of both print and electronic resources?
  • Are children encouraged to read, view and listen both for understanding and enjoyment?
  • Are school administrators knowledgeable and supportive of the school library?
  • Does the school provide ongoing training to support teachers and staff in learning about new technologies?
  • Are teachers encouraged to work with the school librarian to extend learning opportunities beyond the textbook and classroom?
  • Is there a process for ongoing evaluation of the school library?

One brave bookseller

Harper Lee's novel "Go Set a Watchman" didn't sit well with Peter Makin.

Peter is owner of an independent bookstore in Traverse City, Mich., and he recently broke with the galloping herd of critics and commentators over the value of this book that is supposed to be related in some semi-independent way to Lee's landmark book "To Kill a Mockingbird."

Peter told people who bought "Watchman" that he would refund their money.

According to Infodocket, he posted this comment at his website: "It is disappointing and frankly shameful to see our noble industry parade and celebrate this as 'Harper Lee's New Novel.' This is pure exploitation of both literary fans and a beloved American classic ... We therefore encourage you to view 'Go Set a Watchman' with intellectual curiosity and careful consideration; a rough beginning for a classic, but only that."

I applaud Peter Makin for his courage.

But, I wonder if he might also take a look at a whole passel of books that are being churned out by publishers that are nothing more than hooey and hockum. For example, I just put aside two books that were highly touted, both works of nonfiction. One was about a guy who trained elephants during WWII in Burma. The other was about the development of character. The former was a strange foray into spiritual kinsmanship between animals and humans, something I consider ridiculous. The latter was just a republication and regurgitation of something the author had already written in his newspaper columns. Nothing new there.

Would Peter refund my money on those two items?

Peter doesn't have to; I checked him out of the library.

If we were only bigger ...

My wish list for this library is not modest.

Just how immodest I learned last week when I read about the success the Windsor, Canada, library is having with printing up books.

That's right: The library has a way to print books.

It's called an Espresso machine.

So far, the library has produced 10,700 books in three years using the Espresso. So far this year, demand is way up -- 4,000 books printed so far.

Ninety-eight percent of those works are self-published.

What a dream: Have a way for patrons who have written books to have them published without hassle.

Oh ... but a pipe dream.

The Espresso costs $85,00!

We need spellers

Our first Wimberley Library Adult Spelling Bee is approaching, and we have several teams that are sponsored but are not, well, teams in the truest sense.

That is, they exist in name only and need spellers as participants. Each team is made up of three spellers.


If you sign up with us to be a team member, we will assign you to a team. On spelling bee day, you will get a free lunch and a guaranteed good time.

Contact me at the library if this sounds like something you would enjoy.

Better: Find a couple of friends and put together your own group to be sponsored by someone who will pay the entry fee.

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