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On Demand Books Bets on Paperback Authors

Bloomberg – “Vance Alexander sent 35 query letters to publishers and agents to pitch his book, a historical novel about a young slave in 1801 Connecticut who escapes to Canada. No one bit. So the retired architectural designer decided to publish it himself. He joined more than 100 aspiring authors at the library in Darien, Conn., on a recent Thursday night for a demo of the technology ready to fulfill their literary ambitions: the Espresso Book Machine.”

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Los Gatos opens a smartly designed new library, one that Steve Jobs might have appreciated

Mercury News – “They waited in the rain with the kind of excitement usually found at Apple product launches. Hundreds then surged forward as the doors of the new Los Gatos Library opened to the public for the first time Saturday, a moment that captured the enduring importance of repositories of treasured information to community life, even in the Age of the App. The 30,000-square-foot, two-story building quickly flooded with bodies — toddlers, teens, civic leaders. Its inviting interior — slate floors, wide-open spaces and floor-to-ceiling windows — surely would have found favor with the late Steve Jobs had he built a library. Rather than offering the latest in fashionable gadgets, however, the library will provide something far more lasting: aisles of soft-page books revealing ancient tales and important histories. There are also corners for reading and reflection.

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Occupy Wall Street Claims the City Ruined Its Library

NYT – “A member of the Occupy Wall Street movement filed a claim on behalf of the group Thursday that the city had damaged or destroyed $47,000 worth of books and other property while clearing its protest site at Zuccotti Park last fall. The notice of claim, filed with the comptroller’s office, is a preliminary step toward lodging a civil lawsuit.”

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George ‘Ray’ Mitchell, 77: Dedicated life to libraries, reading

AJC – “Inspired by his mother, a civil rights activist in Atlanta during the turbulent 1960s, George “Ray” Mitchell took a courageous stand in 1971 in the South Georgia library district where he was newly hired. “There was a sign that advertised story hours. He put another sign up saying, everyone is welcome at the library,” said Mr. Mitchell’s daughter, Sarah Yates of Savannah. Mrs. Yates said she and her siblings were not told the details of what happened next, “but I know at the board level and in the community, he stood them down – my father was very strong. First of all he was 6-foot-4, a tremendous person to be in the presence of. He was not much for words. But they knew he meant it, and no one fought it in the end.”

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Book publisher Penguin takes to Twitter for unique book club experience

TNW – “Since Twitter launched in 2006, there have been tons of unique uses of the platform, including fundraising, live tweeting the State of the Union, and now thanks to Penguin, a book club. I’ve seen some corners of Twitter take to using hashtags to create a conversation on the platform. While it can be difficult to follow a conversation on the service, especially in real-time, Penguin thinks that the time-shifted hobby of reading books is a perfect way to bring people together.”

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HCC professor leading protest of Arizona schools’ book ban

Houston Chronicle – “A grass-roots caravan from Houston to Tucson – filled with writers, students and activists – will bring prohibited books back to Arizona over spring break. When Tony Diaz heard that Tucson schools had dismantled a popular Mexican-American studies program and yanked Hispanic history books from classrooms, he began organizing a protest. Adding fuel to his fire: Two of the titles now prohibited in Tucson classes were published by the University of Houston’s Arte Público Press. Diaz coined a word to describe his new mission: Librotraficante – or “booktrafficker.”

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Harvard plans to consolidate library, reshuffle employees

Boston Globe – “Harvard University revealed its long-awaited plan for restructuring its library system this morning, calling for “changes that affect staff at every level” that are likely to include consolidating many services, reshuffling some employees, and offering buyouts to others. Details will be finalized over the next few weeks, according to a statement from Provost Alan Garber, but the plan will surely include “adjustments in how and where many staff members perform the work that has made the library one of the university’s greatest treasures.”

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Penguin Severs Ties with OverDrive

Publishers Weekly – “Penguin, which only offered backlist e-book titles for library lending, is terminating its contract with OverDrive, the library digital vendor, and starting February 10 will cease to offer any of its e-books or audiobooks to libraries. Penguin is negotiating a “continuance” agreement that will allow libraries that have already purchased Penguin e-books to continue to loan them.”

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Kickstarter Project Envisions A Mini-Brownstone Library In Cobble Hill Park

Village Voice – “About a year ago Julia Marchesi, a 32-year-old documentary film producer, saw a picture in the New York Times of sculpture in Berlin made up of a carved out tree trunk filled with bookshelves. “I just thought it was a really cool idea,” she said. “A little library.” That image helped to serve as the inspiration for a project Marchesi is now raising money for on Kickstarter. Noticing a Brooklyn trend of leaving books on stoops, Marchesi, who lives in Cobble Hill, enlisted the help of Brooklyn-based public artist Leon Reid IV to design an “honor system lending library” in Cobble Hill Park. Called “The Hundred Story House,” the library, if built, will look like a down-sized brownstone.”

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Wolfram, a Search Engine, Finds Answers Within Itself

NYT – “The new version of Wolfram Alpha arrives Wednesday afternoon. Its formal name is Wolfram Alpha Pro, and Dr. Wolfram calls “Step 2, the next step of what can be done with this approach,” which he describes as a “computational knowledge engine.” This is a premium version of the search engine: $4.99 a month, or $2.99 for students. The new version handles data and images. In a recent demonstration, Dr. Wolfram, using his computer mouse, dragged in a table of the gross domestic product figures for France for 1961 to 2010, and Wolfram Alpha produced on the Web page a color-coded bar chart, which could be downloaded in different document formats. He put in a table of campaign contributions to politicians over several years, and Wolfram Alpha generated a chart and brief summary, saying that House members received less on average than senators.”

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