How the New York Public Library digitizes its vast map collection

“While much of the city’s mapping community is focused on creating something new, a great deal of energy also goes into recovering maps that are quite old. The New York Public Library, the spiritual heart of the city’s mapmaking community, is gradually putting online its vast collection of 435,000 maps. This past January, it received a $380,000 grant from the Knight Foundation to digitize using a software program it calls “Building Inspector.” The project involves more than 1,000 volunteers manually inputting information contained on old maps that computers can’t easily handle, such as street addresses and building footprints. It’s arduous work—only 33,000 of the library’s maps have been digitized—but so far the volunteer army has completed 1.2 million tasks and helps the library to bring old maps online much faster than it could otherwise.” (via Crains)

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Amazon e-book deal with NYC public schools postponed as blind advocates say it would leave out visually impaired students

“City education officials have shelved a $30 million deal to give students electronic books after advocates complained it would exclude the visually impaired. Online retail giant Amazon had been poised to land the groundbreaking, three-year contract to create a new e-book marketplace for the Big Apple’s 1,800 public schools. But Department of Education officials said Tuesday they were delaying the plan after advocates complained that readers with visual impairments could have trouble accessing its design.” (via Daily News)

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Colombian Garbage Collector Rescues Books for Children

“A second-grade education has not stopped garbage collector Jose Gutierrez from bringing the gift of reading to thousands of Colombian children. Gutierrez started rescuing books from the trash almost 20 years ago, when he was driving a garbage truck at night through the capital’s wealthier neighborhoods. The discarded reading material slowly piled up, and now the ground floor of his small house is a makeshift community library stacked from floor to ceiling with some 20,000 books, ranging from chemistry textbooks to children’s classics.” (via NYT)

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Duke librarian doubles as scrabble whiz

“For Duke librarian Hannah Rozear, playing Scrabble is more than just a rainy day activity. Rozear, librarian for institutional services at Perkins Library, recently placed fifth in her division at the North American Scrabble Championship in Reno, Nev. The event—which ran from Aug. 1-5—featured approximately 350 players from around the world and included prize money for the winners. “I was hoping to come home with number one, but I wound up with fifth place,” Rozear said in a recent conversation.” (via Duke Chronicle)

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Madison to be named Little Free Libraries’ first ‘City of Distinction’

“According to the founder of the Little Free Libraries movement, Madison is the city that made it all possible — and, this weekend, Madison will receive the organization’s first “City of Distinction” award in recognition of that. “When I started this, I thought to myself, ‘Where in this country would you test this to see if it’s viable?” said Todd Bol, creator of the movement that now spans the globe. “I thought it had to be a fairly innovative, progressive place that would embrace literacy and family and community and I thought: ‘Madison.’” (via Madison.com)

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Turning a page: downsizing the campus book collections

“When, in 2005, the University of Chicago entered into a US$81 million renovation of a major library building, one of the primary goals was to ensure that the university’s collection of printed books in the social sciences and humanities would remain under one roof. That goal was achieved six years later. However, it also meant that a good part of the library’s print collection, while technically being “under the library roof,” was moved “under the ground.” The renovation included a subterranean automated system that can store and retrieve up to 3.5 million books. Chicago’s library project could well represent the end of an era – the era of colleges and universities expending millions of dollars so that printed books can be housed in on-campus libraries.” (via The Conversation)

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An idiosyncratic library squirreled away in SoMa

“It’s difficult, very likely even impossible, to explain the Prelinger Library without also discussing its founders, Megan and Rick Prelinger. In so many ways, the library is them. “It is a map of our shared consciousnesses,” Rick says. Each object is a reflection of their interests, the organizing principals follow their own streams of consciousness, even the way the library exists — quietly, almost hidden, but open to all — is a direct representation of their “punk ethos.” “It’s a collaborative project that has its roots in each of our individual practices,” Megan says. “I think we were each drawn to ephemeral evidence of everyday life and cultural history and what elements of cultural history are being overlooked or what kinds of stories could be found in the kinds of literature nobody is reading anymore.” (via SF Chronicle)

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Review: A Despairing Librarian Is Ready to Check Out in ‘After Words’

“In September, television viewers will have a chance to see Marcia Gay Harden play a brusque, decisive, rule-bending doctor in the new CBS drama “Code Black.” Anyone who wants to see her play more or less the polar opposite of that character is hereby referred to “After Words,” a romance novel of a movie featuring the world’s most stereotypical librarian. Ms. Harden plays that librarian, Jane, a mousy woman who as the film opens is laid off and uses the occasion to give up on life, which she seemed not to be enjoying much anyway. She plans a one-way trip to Costa Rica, leaving her last will and testament behind on her table. Once in that country, though, she hires a personal guide named Juan (Óscar Jaenada) who gradually draws her out of her shell.” (via NYT)

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World’s first public-library Starbucks coming to downtown Tulsa after renovations complete

“Tulsa’s Central Library will be the first public library in the world to house a Starbucks location, according to an announcement Thursday. In a meeting of Tulsa City-County Library oversight commission, an update on the downtown Central Library renovation included news that the popular coffeehouse would be housed in the space at Fourth Street and Denver Avenue.” (via Tulsa World)

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Baltimore writer returns overdue library book 34 years late

“When faced with the unenviable task of going through her late mother’s personal effects, Baltimore-area writer Michele Wojciechowski uncovered something she hadn’t seen in over three decades. While rooting through a cabinet over her mother’s refrigerator, she discovered an old paperback copy of “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein,” adapted and illustrated by Alice and Joel Schick. The thrill of an unexpected find was quickly tempered by a horrific realization: Ms. Wojciechowski had checked out the book from the nearby Enoch Pratt Free Library Southeast Branch’s Branch when she was 13. That was in 1981.” (via Washington Times)

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