Thursday, December 18, 2014

Imagining the Design of the Library That Does Everything

The traditional image of the library as a quiet repository for the written word is less true today than it has ever been. Arguably, libraries have never been merely homes for books, but carry with them an aura of intellectualism that reflexively expands. Today, libraries fulfill myriad roles: community hubs, co-working spaces, depositories for local resources, information, and creativity. They offer children's storytimes, de facto babysitting for older kids, job training, ESL classes, discussion groups, safe space for tutoring, elder care, and more.

This month's proposal for The Architect's City hitches a piggyback ride on last week's symposium, organized by New York's Center for an Urban Future in collaboration with The Architectural League of New York, sharing architects' and designers' takes on the future of the branch library in New York City. Attendance at New York's three library systems—Brooklyn, Queens, and New York, which includes the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island—is rising. Citywide, circulation spiked 59 percent in the last decade.

More from Curbed
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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

NY man returns library statue 43 years overdue

A 52-year-old New York man has returned a marble sculpture he borrowed in the early 1970s to get him through troubled times.

Scott Stewart tells the Democrat and Chronicle of Rochester (http://on.rocne.ws/1zvxsQ7 ) that as a 9-year-old he spent his days at the Rochester Central Library and was allowed to take home art pieces.

In 1971, he borrowed a small statue of an owl protecting its babies because it symbolized his mother's efforts to care for him and his brother.

More from the Times Union

Training L.A. librarians to teach science

Longtime Boing Boing pal Tara "Tiger" Brown co-founded LA Makerspace, the first kid and family-friendly makerspace/hackerspace in Los Angeles. Today, she shares word of a terrific new crowdfunding project:

The LA Makerspace has a Kickstarter to raise money to train LA Public Librarians how to run workshops in electronics, robotics, programming, film and Minecraft. We have all sorts of staggering stats around why we need to outside the school system for kids to learn anything...90% of Los Angeles Unified School District 8th graders test below proficient in science and 82% are below proficient in math. It's insane.

And we have more info on why hands-on learning like with maker workshops like the ones we run can improve all of that.

We are providing professional development for librarians because our vision is for every librarian at all 73 LA Public library branches to be trained in running workshops which means that you can go to your local library and take these free workshops and gain amazing skills.



More from BoingBoing

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

DRM blocks blind people's right to read

Any digital text can be read aloud through text-to-speech, granting people with visual impairments the basic human right to read -- unless there's DRM in the way.

Tricking the technology used by Amazon, Apple, Adobe and Google to stop blind people from adding text-to-speech to their devices isn't hard -- but it is a felony, thanks to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. A UN treaty intended to help people with visual, cognitive and sensory disabilities access copyrighted works has been all but killed by the big publishers.

Groups representing blind people have asked the US Copyright Office to renew the very narrow exemption that allows legally blind people to jailbreak their devices to add text-to-speech, but no one knows if they'll get it. And even if they do, it remains a felony to make or supply the tools that allow blind people to undertake this feat.

More from BoingBoing

Sunday, December 14, 2014

In My Library: Alan Alda

There’s a reason why there’s an Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University: The “M*A*S*H” star is obsessed with finding ways we can better understand the natural world.

Alda’s even set up the Flame Challenge, in which scientists compete to answer questions such as this year’s puzzler, “What is sleep?” in ways an 11-year-old can comprehend (a panel of them will pick the winner).

Given his fascination with phenomena, one wonders if Alda ever had to choose between science and acting.

“No, never,” he says. “I always wanted to be an actor and a writer. But as a little boy I’d do experiments, trying to see if I could get something to blow up. I did get my parents to explode. In anger!”

More from the New York Post.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

FCC Continues E-rate Reboot to Meet Nation's Digital Learning Needs

Taking significant additional steps to ensure that the nation’s schools and libraries have access to robust high-speed broadband connections, the Federal Communications Commission this week approved further modernization of its E-rate program, the nation’s largest program supporting education technology.

Broadband is transforming 21st Century education and life-long learning. The Commission is implementing a fundamental reset of E-rate, the first such effort since the program’s creation 18 years ago, so that it can keep pace with the exploding demands for ever-faster Internet service placed on school and library networks by digital learning applications, which often rely on individually connected tablets and laptops.

The Commission adopted an Order aimed at closing this connectivity gap by making more funding available for libraries and schools to purchase broadband connectivity capable of delivering gigabit service over the next five years. The Order also provides schools and libraries additional flexibility and options for purchasing broadband services to enable schools and libraries to meet their Internet capacity needs in the most cost-effective way possible.

The Order builds on action taken by the Commission in July to meet another critical need: robust Wi-Fi networks inside libraries and schools capable of supporting individualized learning.

More from the FCC

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Why Does Music Education Matter?

Because administrators and politicians generally view music as an “add-on” or “special,” it can be the first program cut from a school facing budget constraints. As a result, supporters of music education constantly struggle to justify music’s importance. They might show how music improves math scores and increases school attendance, or they may demonstrate that the focus and discipline required to master an instrument improve students’ overall academic performance.

Proponents of music education may also discuss one of the most compelling effects of music—the fact that creating music requires individual competence (based on practice and discipline) combined with attentiveness to others in an ensemble, and that this balance prepares children for success in any work or personal environment. They may also point out that learning to lead an ensemble, whether as a conductor, band leader, or first chair in an orchestra, is excellent preparation for leadership of any kind.

They’re right, of course, about all those things. But the underlying reason that music helps improve nearly every area of a child’s life is that music is a critical and necessary part of the human experience.

Read more from The Singing Classroom

Friday, December 05, 2014

To the despair of librarians everywhere, marginalia has marched on

Were you one of those students who, despite your teachers’ warnings, continued to write in your books? If so, you have a lot of company—some of it illustrious (no pun intended). And now, there are a number of efforts going on around the world to capture these scribbled snippets of wisdom.

The notion of “marginalia,” or making handwritten notes and drawings in the margins of book pages, dates back as far as the Middle Ages. Presumably, monks made random drawings and notes to relieve the tedium of the manuscripts they were copying. Once mechanical printing started, marginalia really took off as scholars of the day held debates with the books they were reading—not so different from comment sections on websites.

See more at Simplicity.

There's also a discussion taking place on Reddit.