“Ever since a university gave me a literature degree certifying that I have read Chaucer in the original Middle English, my taste in books has reverted to very specific, lowbrow stuff. I like murder mysteries, heist books and spy books, preferably from the 1950s through the 1980s. These titles can be hard to find; many of them are out of print, unavailable on Kindle, and their presence in the New York Public Library is hit or miss. But in recent years, my bookshelves have swelled. Old John le Carré and Donald E. Westlake and Lawrence Block titles are easier than ever to find online, along with pretty much every other book published in the last century. They’re all on Amazon, priced incredibly low, and sold by third-party booksellers nobody has ever heard of.” (via NYT)
“A playful picture book about a little girl named Heather and her two happy mommies was a cultural and legal flashpoint 25 years ago, angering conservatives over the morality of same-sex parenting and landing libraries at the center of community battles over placement in the children’s stacks. Today, Heather – of “Heather Has Two Mommies” – has a lot more company in books for young kids about different kinds of families, but hers was out of print and seemed visually dated. That’s why creator Leslea Newman decided on a new version, updating the look of her watershed story with fresh illustrations from a new artist and tweaking the text to streamline.” (via The Associated Press)
Baltimore’s iconic Enoch Pratt Library is getting a 100 million dollar makeover, but where are all of the books going?
“In the great wainscotted conference room on the second floor of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, Dr. Carla Hayden, the library’s longtime director, apologizes for her casual dress, declines to be photographed, and launches into a history of her library, which became something of a national icon. The building was completed in 1933 and was designed to look like a department store. This was an innovation on the previous “temple of learning” theme that featured big, sweeping stairways. The Pratt library, by contrast, was all on one level, making it accessible to everyone, and featured wide aisles, broad, open areas, and display windows very much like those found on Howard Street’s best stores.” (via citypaper.com)
“When I received the Brooklyn Public Library’s recent email newsletter promoting a new service called BookMatch, I was both delighted and dismayed. On the one hand, it was a great idea. All I had to do was fill out a short web form letting the librarians know a bit about what I wanted to read and what I liked to read, and one promised to write back with five personalized recommendations tailored to my interests and tastes. On the other, the fact I was so delighted was exactly what was dismaying.” (via Co.Exist | ideas + impact)
“There exists a book, published in 1955, called A Million Random Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviates, which is exactly what it sounds like. Aside from the front matter — copyright materials, the publisher’s name — it contains nothing but lines of numbers, arranged into columns. Its creator, the RAND corporation, explains the text’s initial function: physicists, cryptographers and the like often need to use random strings of numbers for “experimental probability procedures.” But now, with the existence of online password generators and sites such as random.org, the thought of any scientist manually copying text from a physical book into an equation is laughable. Thus, the text has been deemed obsolete. For that reason, Andrew Beccone, creator of the Reanimation Library, had to have it. (via Huffington Post)