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Librarian Blog

Coding is not for me

Last year I signed up for some online courses at Kahn Academy.

In mid-December, the folks at the Academy sent me a little gift via e-mail. It was a link to a program that would teach me how to code and thus make a simple Christmas card suitable for sending to family and friends.

The e-mail implied that the project would take about an hour.

I found that hour way after Christmas -- late last week, thanks to the lousy weather.

So, I learned to code. Well ... kinda.

I learned to do what they wanted me to do, which was very interesting but which resulted in a card I wouldn't send to anyone for anything.

The most important lesson I learned, however, was that I would much prefer to buy a card and send it than to code one. And I would certainly rather have someone produce a product that would let me build a card without having to know code.

For example, I know how to use InDesign by Adobe and Quark Xpress. Someone built the code that enabled me to produce newspaper pages with those products. But I didn't have to understand the code to make those software packages work.

Nope. Coding is not for me.

We're growing

The library signed up almost 1,000 new patrons during 2013.

We now have more than 9,700 folks who have library cards.

It's likely that we have had patrons who moved away and didn't tell us, so they are still listed as active. That total, then, is probably not entirely accurate.

Still, that's a lot of patrons for a town that's only 2,400 people.

H-E-B decision should help us

Prior to the City Council decision Thursday night on H-E-B's plan to open a store here, the library district took no official position on the matter.

Now that it is a done deal, it is safe to say that the district, which depends for income on sales tax revenue, will certainly benefit from the opening of a store right next door.

It's predictable that H-E-B will generate more revenue than our existing grocery store because so many people go to Dripping Springs or San Marcos to shop at the H-E-Bs there. It is also likely that when people go into DS and SM right now to shop H-E-B they also go other places. If they don't go to DS or SM, they might do more local shopping. That would also generate more sales tax revenue.

I understand that H-E-B will let some of our overflow park in their lot next to a brick fence they plan to erect between us and them. They plan a walk-through connecting us with them.

It's my opinion, and I don't speak for anyone else here at the library, that this is a good thing for Wimberley and our surrounding area.

Hidden cost of newsiness

On NPR this morning, a Purdue University professor was interviewed about Syria, and then the interviewer asked him about the reaction to the shooting of a student there yesterday.

He responded that the campus was shut down.

And he added that just as soon as students and faculty heard about the event, they just quit doing what they were doing for the entire remainder of the day so they could focus on what was in the news and on Twitter.

So news of the shooting consumed an entire university for at least a day and a half. Nothing else occurred except watching for the latest developments.

Wow.

Imagine how much got done in this country back when the news arrived just once a week -- on Thursday mornings.

Engaging boys

When my son was in junior high school, he was falling behind mainly because he was not a reader.

He didn't exactly struggle with the act of reading. He just couldn't get interested in what he was given to read.

So, we bought him comic books and graphic works. At least we figured he could conjure out some basic things, like what constituted a plot and what carried the action in a story and what went into making a character sound real.

He did make it through high school and got a college degree, but he still never reads much. He's a great story-teller, though.

David Cutler in a blog at Eductopia suggests that getting kids like my son to read is still a challenge, and he suggests teachers of English and history turn to comic books that are available to help their students learn to like story-telling and the narrative aspects of history.

Specifically, he recommends "Kingdom Come" by Mark Waid and Alex Ross for English teachers and "Uncanny X-Men" and "Tales of Suspece #39) for history teachers.

My take on this is: Well, it sure can't hurt to try.