American Libraries Direct – March 12, 2008

News from ALA and the world of libraries:

New York librarian becomes embedded journalist in Iraq
“Twice in the past two years, librarian Shelby Monroe persuaded the 101st Airborne Division to let her be an embedded war correspondent and blogger. In those articles and accompanying photographs, she tries to capture the ordinary lives of American soldiers and Iraqis. To go to Iraq, she quit three part-time jobs-in the Chappaqua (N.Y.) Library, the Field Library in Peekskill (where she worked as adult services reference librarian), and in the Village Bookstore in Pleasantville….”
New York Times, Mar. 9; Heads Down, Spirits Up! blog

Privacy threat from NSA data sweeps
“The central role the National Security Agency has come to occupy in domestic intelligence gathering has never been publicly disclosed. But an inquiry reveals that its efforts have evolved to reach more broadly into data about people’s communications, travel, and finances in the U.S. than the Pentagon and FBI domestic surveillance programs attempted since the 2001 terrorist attacks. The spy agency now monitors a huge volume of records of domestic emails and internet searches as well as bank transfers, credit-card transactions, and travel and telephone records….”
Wall Street Journal, Mar. 10
Blackstone Group CEO gives $100 million to NYPL
“The New York Public Library’s venerable lion-guarded building on Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street is to be renamed for the Wall Street financier Stephen A. Schwarzman, who has agreed to jump-start a $1-billion expansion of the library system with a guaranteed $100 million of his own. The project, announced March 11, aims to transform the Central Library into a destination for book borrowing as well as research. The Mid-Manhattan branch, on the east side of Fifth Avenue at 40th Street, will be sold and its circulating collection absorbed into the new space….”
New York Times, Mar. 11; New York Public Library, Mar. 11
Canceled library meeting prompts federal lawsuit
“A meeting titled “Politics and the Pulpit” has spurred a federal lawsuit about freedom of speech and religion filed against the Upper Arlington (Ohio) Public Library. Citizens for Community Values, a Cincinnati-based social-conservative group, claimed in a suit filed March 7 in U.S. District Court in Columbus that the library violated the group’s constitutional rights by first approving and then canceling a meeting February 27 at the library….”
Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch, Mar. 8
Information experts appreciated more these days
“Some of the same entrepreneurs that funded the user-generated revolution are now paying professionals to edit and produce online content. In short, the expert is back. The revival comes amid mounting demand for a more reliable, bankable Web. “People are beginning to recognize that the world is too dangerous a place for faulty information,” says consumer strategist Charlotte Beal. She adds that choice fatigue and fear of bad advice are creating a ‘perfect storm of demand for expert information.’ “…
Newsweek, Mar. 6

British minister tells London libraries to innovate
“London’s public libraries must take innovative steps such as rewarding regular borrowers with vouchers for travel or the cinema if they are to stay relevant to an increasingly web-savvy population, U.K. Culture Secretary Margaret Hodge said March 6. To attract the Google Generation, libraries should consider extending weekend and evening opening hours, introducing a web-based lending service with home delivery, and striking deals with Starbucks or Costa coffee chains”….
The Times (U.K.), Mar. 6
The flexible future of e-books
“Karl McGoldrick is the CEO of Netherlands-based Polymer Vision, the only company that right now is working on making e-books in a form that’s actually close to traditional books-ones that are mobile, bendable, and, above all, readable. But the device, called Readius, is not just an e-book reader-it receives email, text messages, and RSS feeds, makes phone calls, and keeps calendar and contact information-in addition to downloading books and newspapers wirelessly”….
C|Net news, Mar. 12

IMLS study on the internet and libraries
“Institute of Museum and Library Services Director Anne-Imelda Radice released results of InterConnections: A National Study of Users and Potential Users of Online Information March 6 at the 9th annual WebWise Conference on Libraries and Museums in the Digital World in Miami. This new report offers insight into the ways people search for information in the online age, and how this affects the ways they interact with public libraries and museums, both online and in person”….
Institute of Museum and Library Services, Mar. 6

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