Tag Archives: library

‘Fifty Shades’ vs. Library Battle Continues

Last month, I told you about a library in Florida that decided not to offer the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. And it’s certainly not the only one. But now according to The New York Times, more and more libraries are changing their policies to start offering the series.

For example, the collections manager for a library in Greensboro, NC has begun offering them because of the demand from readers, despite his opinions on the books. Julie Bosman explains.

But despite misgivings about the subject matter — the books tell the tale of a dominant-submissive affair between a manipulative millionaire and a naïve younger woman — library officials feel that they need to make it available.

“This is the ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ of 2012,” Mr. Cole said. “Demand is a big issue with us, because we want to be able to provide popular best-selling material to our patrons.”

There are still those libraries who are keeping the books out. And that’s causing a First Amendment uproar across the country.

Joan Bertin, the executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship, said in an interview that it was unusual for a library to remove a book from its section for adults.

“The vast majority of cases that we deal with have to do with removing books to keep kids from seeing them,” she said. “That’s what makes this so egregious. There are some possible arguments for trying to keep kids away from certain kinds of content, but in the case of adults, other than the restrictions on obscenity and child pornography, there’s simply no excuse. This is really very much against the norms in the profession.”

So which side are you on? Make it available or not?

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Harry Potter E-books Available via Kindle Lending Library

Remember that time when J.K. Rowling made it clear that e-book versions of the Harry Potter series would only be available via her web site, Pottermore? Well that has now changed.

According to the L.A. Times, Amazon has purchased a license from Pottermore, and will now offer Harry Potter e-books through its Kindle lending library. To access the lending library, Kindle users must be members of Amazon Prime, which costs $79 a year.

The Pottermore CEO Charlie Redmayne explains why the deal was made.

Yes, some people will borrow from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library and therefore not buy, but Amazon is paying us a large amount of money for that right, and I believe it’s a commercial deal that makes sense.

It most certainly does make sense, but I’m still surprised Rowling gave up a piece of her monopoly over the series. The e-books will become available via the library on June 19th.

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Libraries Removing Fifty Shades of Grey from Shelves

Libraries and bookstores across the country are having a tough time keep E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy on the shelves. More and more women –and now men– are flocking to pick up the erotica bestseller that’s taking the nation by storm. But some library shelves are missing the books by choice.

Because of the explicitly sexy content of the books, a number of libraries have removed the books from stock. According to The New York Times, the public library in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin didn’t order the books because of a “no-erotica” police. Meanwhile, officials at the Brevard County Public Library in east Florida decided the content was inappropriate and pulled the books, as Julie Bosman explains.

“We view this as pornographic material,” Don Walker, a spokesman for the Brevard County government, said in an interview on Friday. “I have not read ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ but I’ve read reviews of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey.’ From what I understand, it’s a lot about male dominance and female submissiveness.”

He’s right about the storyline. The books tell the story of a virginal college student who enters into a dominant-submissive relationship with an attractive millionaire businessman. The Brevard County Public Library carries other erotica novels, but Walker says it’s because they’re part of the “societal mainstream.”

I have a few bones to pick with Mr. Walker. First of all, despite his awareness of the story’s content, it’s not the same as reading the book. What right does he have to pull the books because of their unsuitable content when he hasn’t even read the content himself? I also wonder what constitutes a book becoming part of the “societal mainstream.” With the widespread popularity of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, I think it’s safe to say the books are now part of the “societal mainstream,” no?

What do you guys think?

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The State of School Libraries

I remember the first time I visited my school library and was told by the librarian “This isn’t a library.”

“What is it, then?” I thought, as I looked around at the bookshelves fully stocked with books and a world of imagination and information.

“It’s a media center.”

At first, I had no idea what that meant. But as I got older and took on more research projects, I learned the true meaning of “media center” and came to appreciate it. The days we were given to do research in the media center were so fun, not only because it meant less lecturing, but  because we learned how to use all these programs I’d never heard of before — like LexisNexis, a large database of public records and information. Not to mention, the librarians — or rather, media center specialists — usually pulled for us the materials we would need.

But as school budgets are slashed and more teachers find themselves unemployed, school libraries and media centers face major cuts — no new books, no full-time staffing, no additional programming. I thought art education cuts were bad enough. Now this?

According to this essay by The Huffington Post, a group made a petition to fight education cuts that would force schools to be without fully operational media centers.

As a lover of learning and the daughter of a high school family and consumer science teacher, I’ll be the first to say how important it is to make sure our schools continue to get sufficient funding, no matter what kind of budget crisis our country faces. Children deserve it.

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Take Your Child to a Library Day

It started with Take Your Daughter to Work Day. Then schools became more PC, and it became Take Your Child to Work Day. Not too long ago, someone created Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day, and now there’s Take Your Child to the Library Day.

This past weekend, a number of libraries nationwide held the first annual event, which offered story hours, scavenger hunts, craft projects, and guest authors. According to this article by The Norwich Bulletin, a library in Connecticut came up with the idea back in December, and emailed a few other local libraries on its Listserv. The idea quickly spread to the Midwest and as far north as Canada.

About 130 libraries in 15 states and Canada participated in the free event to spark interest in public libraries and raise awareness about reading.

Honestly, I think this is a great idea. But the real beauty of it is that going to the library is always free. We shouldn’t have to hold events to get people to visit.

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Overdue Library Books? You’re Under Arrest!

Holding onto overdue library books for too long is a federal offense. Kidding! But one Massachusetts woman opened her door one day to find an officer scolding her for a few overdue library books.

According to this article by CNN, the police paid the family a visit for two overdue children’s books that had not been returned after a warning letter was sent and multiple phone calls made. Granted, the books had been lying on the family’s bookshelf since April, but was that really necessary? Especially when, according to Kristina Sgueglia, it left a 5-year-old girl in tears for fear of being arrested?

Hailey — who was standing beside her mom when the officer arrived — then burst into tears.

‘Is that policeman going to arrest me?'” Benoit quoted her daughter to CNN affiliate WBZ-TV.

“I was scared,” added Hailey.

The library said the little girl’s father also owed $100 in late fees for audiobooks. Again, I completely understand the library using force to have these books returned, but I’m still not entirely sure sending a police officer to the house is the right move. Though it’s something the library in Charlton, Massachusetts seeming to be doing more and more, as Sgueglia explains.

Police Chief James A. Pervier said his officers have been asked by library personnel to make similar visits to at least 13 other Charlton households over library late fees.

Officials say the police-backed crackdown has since inspired more prompt book returns among library patrons.

What do you think? Is sending an officer to a home to get unreturned library books the best way to get those books back? If not, what else can be done?

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Amazon May Get Netflix-like Service for Books

Kindle e-books might now be available at libraries across the country, but the changes don’t stop there. A report by the Wall Street Journal says Amazon might be working on a new Netflix-like service for books.

The service would be part of the Amazon Prime package — a special program that gives members free two-day shipping and reduced price one-day shipping on all Amazon orders for a year, for a $79 annual fee.

The additional book service would allow Prime customers to read a limited number of books for free every month from a library of “older titles.”

According to this article by PC World, it seems Amazon hopes the service — which is still in its early stages — will help gain Prime members.

Perhaps spurred by the reaction to its Prime Instant unlimited video streaming, Amazon hopes to convince more people to join Prime with enticing add-ons. The company’s Prime library might also tie-in to the retailer’s strategy for its highly rumored, Android-based tablet to compete with the iPad.

Similar to Apple, Amazon’s slate could offer an integrated shopping experience with one-click access to online movie and TV viewing, e-book sales, MP3s, and apps. But Amazon would also want to encourage people to use their Amazon tablets to shop for physical items such as TVs, consoles and games, physical books, DVDs, computers, and toys.

Many of the details of this project are still unknown, however. For instance, how old are these “older titles”? And how many books will be available on a monthly basis? Not to mention, is this service even worth it now that libraries are offering Kindle e-books anyway? It sounds good on paper, but the kinks definitely still need to be ironed out. What do you guys think?

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Read Whatever You Want, It’s Banned Books Week

It’s the last week of September and you know what that means! It’s Banned Books Week! Oh, you didn’t know?

Well, each year during the last week of September, libraries nationwide sponsor events to honor books that have been banned and to teach the importance of freedom of speech.

While many classic books that have been banned — like Catcher in the Rye and Grapes of Wrath — there have also been a number of recent books that have been banned, including the supernatural tween hits from Twilight and Harry Potter.

Here’s some more information, if you’d like to find out what Banned Books Week events are happening at a library near you.

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Good News for Kindle Could Be Bad News for Nook

The Amazon Kindle is the most popular, bestselling e-reader out there. But the Nook always had one up on the Kindle — library access. Until now.

Amazon announced Wednesday that people would now be able to download library books to their Kindles. They’re a little late to the game, since the Nook, Sony’s Reader, and other e-readers had already been offering the same service. But the deal will inevitably increase popularity and revenue for Amazon and libraries nationwide.

According to this article by The New York Times, the deal means that publishers are concerned more people will borrow e-books than buy them.

But another point that goes unmentioned here is what Kindle will now do to business for other e-readers.

When my boyfriend wanted to get me an e-reader, he was back and forth about whether to purchase the Kindle or the Nook. He knows I’m a library girl, so he went with the Nook. Later, one of my friends told me she was jealous of me for having gotten the Nook — while she had the Kindle — for the sole reason that I could download library books. The library aspect was a selling factor for the Nook, and now it’s lost that.

We’ve seen such a change in the book industry and publishing over the years as e-books have grown in popularity. But it looks like we’re in for another major change — complete domination by Kindle.

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Why the NY Public Library is Flourishing

“The New York Public Library is getting webbier by the day,” wrote The Atlantic reporter Alexis Madrigal in his compelling piece about the NYPL, one of the most famous libraries in the world.

In an age where libraries are dying due to e-books, budget cuts, and the ever-expanding “go green” and “paperless” movements, the New York Public Library not only remains open, but it makes significant profits. Granted, the NYPL receives massive donations unlike most other small libraries around the country. But the reason it’s succeeding is because of its  web-savvy ways. By connecting with library users through social media, the library is allowing people to expand on the information it’s already collected. Madrigal explains.

“Every magazine, television network, or radio station with an archive is sitting on gold. Get that stuff out of the basement and put it online for free, where people can link to, remix, and use it. But don’t just dump it there. Take advantage of what the web can do. Structure the work, as NYPL’s strategy head says, so that people can improve on your collection…When you put information in the hands of people, they come up with all kinds of stuff that people within an institution might not think about.”

For instance, the library has created its own iPad app, Biblion. And most recently, it launched a new log-in system through Bibliocommons, which both simplifies and strengthens the library’s catalog.

You can read much more about all of this in Madrigal’s article, “What Big Media Can Learn from the New York Public Library.”

It’s lengthy, but interesting and might give other media a clue about how to better connect with users, increase profit, and improve resources simultaneously.

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