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Libraries Adjust to Loss of Bookstores

As bookstores continue to flounder, libraries are now making it a point to take advantage of the moment and roll with the times.

According to The New York Times, libraries are realizing that print is coming in second to digital. As a result, libraries are now offering more e-books and technology options (like more space for computers within the library walls). But libraries are also making more of the big bestsellers available, and then selling them for a reduced price when the library starts to carry the books in excess. Karen Ann Cullotta explains.

At the bustling public library in Arlington Heights, Ill., requests by three patrons to place any title on hold prompt a savvy computer tracking system to order an additional copy of the coveted item. That policy was intended to eliminate the frustration of long waits to check out best sellers and other popular books. But it has had some unintended consequences, too: the library’s shelves are now stocked with 36 copies of “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

Of course, librarians acknowledge that when patrons’ passion for the sexy series lacking in literary merit cools in a year or two, the majority of volumes in the “Fifty Shades” trilogy will probably be plucked from the shelves and sold at the Friends of the Library’s used-book sales, alongside other poorly circulated, donated and out-of-date materials.

With less waiting and larger scale sales down the road, libraries are becoming more and more like bookstores. And in a post-recession age when people are willing to do most anything to save a buck, why not? Why pay for a book when there’s a magical little place in your hometown that will allow you to take it home for free?

These are moves that libraries hope will increase foot traffic and users. Do you think they will?

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Controversial Children’s Book Targets Teen Dieting

When you read Bridget Jones’ Diary, you expect to learn about the character’s relationship with food. But when you crack open a children’s book to read to your 5-year-old, food and diet plans are the last things you expect to read about.

Maggie Goes On a Diet is a new book by Paul Kramer that targets just that: child and teen dieting.

The book — due out in October — is already making headlines for its controversial topic. While the author says it’s his way of teaching kids about leading a healthy lifestyle, experts say children under the age of 16 are far too young to be concerned about caloric intake. Though the country is leading the way in child obesity, they say writing children’s books about getting fit and thereby becoming popular, is not the right way to go about dealing with the issue.

According to this ABC article, experts also call the storyline unrealistic:

Weight-loss experts say that the storybook plotline doesn’t reflect what happens in real children’s lives. Joanne Ikeda is the co-founding director of the University of California at Berkeley’s Center on Weight and Health.

Highlighting imperfections in a boy’s or girl’s body “does not empower a child to adopt good eating habits,” Ikeda said.

In real life, dieting down to a smaller clothing size doesn’t guarantee living happily ever after.

In his defense, the author says this was his attempt at teaching kids to exercise, eat healthy, and feel good about themselves.

What do you guys think? Is this children’s book going too far?

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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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