Little Free Libraries – urban decoration for affluent areas?

Here’s an interesting looking study published by the Journal of Radical Librarianship. I tend to have no time for librarians who, in relation to LFLs, whine “They’re not really libraries. They’re just book swaps!”. That, to me, is semantics.

Books is books.

However, this article makes the point that these small book collections don’t appear in neighbourhoods where they could be of most value. In Toronto at least, they tend to be confined to more affluent areas. This is understandable in a way since the structures sold by the company Little Free Libraries are not cheap. People in poorer areas are likely less able to afford them and those who can may be unwilling to set them up too far away from their own homes.

c47d00fa20e2947527a90061eb42398bI don’t really have much knowledge on this topic but during my recent trip to the US (Florida and New Orleans) I saw several little neighbourhood book swaps and they appeared to be situated in all kinds of areas. What’s true of Toronto may not be universally constant.

However, I’ve only glanced at this piece so far and may have more to say once I’ve read it in detail. I’m just posting it for interest right now. Please share your own thoughts in the comments below.

Little Free Libraries®: Interrogating the impact of the branded book exchange
Schmidt and Hale
Journal of Radical Librarianship, Vol. 3 (2017) pp.14–41. Published 19 April 2017
ABSTRACT: In this article, we critique the phenomenon of Little Free Libraries® (LFL®), the non-profit organization dedicated to sharing books with one’s neighbours. Through our engagement with the discourses, narratives and geographies of the LFL® movement, we argue that the organization represents the corporatization of literary philanthropy, and is an active participant in the civic crowdfunding activities of the non-profit industrial complex. The visible positioning of these book exchanges, particularly on private property in gentrified urban landscapes, offers a materialization of these neoliberal politics at street level. Drawing primarily upon one of the author’s experiences as an LFL® steward, as well as critical discourse and GIS analysis, we offer constructive critiques of the organization and their mission, and suggest that the principles of community-led library practice can be more effectively employed to harness the enthusiasm of these self-described “literacy warriors”.
Keywords: Little Free Libraries, critical geography, landscape theory, non-profit industrial complex, philanthropy, civic crowdfunding, public libraries

 

Inquiry into fake news: the CILIP ILG response

The CILIP Information Literacy Group’s response to UK government inquiry into fake news:

In January 2017, the House of Commons Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport launched an inquiry into fake news. As is usual with such inquiries, the Committee invited submissions from interested parties, prior to compiling a report – which we hope will be published later in the year.

CILIP Information Literacy GroupThe CILIP Information Literacy Group, in collaboration with InformAll, submitted a response in March. Not only is this inquiry timely, but it is directly relevant to information literacy. Indeed, one of the questions posed by the Committee in its call for submissions was ‘How can we educate people in how to assess and use different sources of news?’.InformAll

In April, the Committee published our response (the list of the nearly eighty submissions made by a range of other bodies and individuals is also available here. Amongst the other respondents are Google, Facebook, the Guardian, the BBC, Research Libraries UK and the Open University).

These are the highlights of some of the key points that we raised in our submission:

  • Much of the current debate in this area is articulated around what Google, Facebook and others do to limit the spread of fake news, for instance through changes in their algorithms.  But although these often technological approaches are undoubtedly important, they fail to address the place and responsibility of users as consumers, creators and sharers of information. So the question we are posing is how people’s fundamental beliefs and commitments have an impact on the way that they relate to information and news; and what might be done to help them become more judicious in their approach to information and mis-information. This is where information literacy comes in.
  • In confronting fake news and misinformation, the search for evidence – founded on enquiry, questioning and research – is more relevant than the notion of truth. Truth is a subjective concept, and is not a helpful term when trying to address the challenge of fake news; it follows that the expression ‘post-truth’ is equally unhelpful.
  • A major part of any solution is a greater emphasis on the teaching of critical thinking, associated with information and digital literacy, in secondary schools – something that does not currently feature prominently in the curriculum. School students’ attitudes and practices towards information are often sorely lacking, but there is evidence to suggest a more discerning mindset can be fostered, given the right sort of interventions.
  • By and large, public policy in the UK does not properly address information literacy, and the recently-published UK Digital Strategy, in spite of its thinking on digital skills, conspicuously fails to touch on how to foster more critical and questioning approaches to online information.
  • Psychology can go a long way to explaining people’s propensity to believe fake news, and people’s powerful attachments to what they believe to be true can breed attitudes that are very resistant to evidence and facts. Cognitive factors are important in determining attitudes to information.

We recommend keeping an eye on the Select Committee’s webpages to monitor progress with their inquiry.

Source: Inquiry into fake news: the CILIP ILG response

Book review: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

#amreading #neilgaiman #norsemythology #librarybook #mythology #librariesrock #bookstagram

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Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Published: February 2017 by Bloomsbury Publishing
ISBN: 9781408886816

Gaiman uses simple language to tell these stories but they are deeply compelling and evocative nonetheless. Old as these tales are – and well known to me – his simple, elegant words paint new and vivid pictures in my mind. Thor with his red beard and comic stupidity; beautiful, haughty Freya… and Loki – who “makes the world more interesting but less safe”.

There’s a lot of humour and lightheartedness in these myths but the whole mood is somewhat darkened by Gaiman’s prophecy of Ragnarok:

“This will be the age of cruel winds, the age of people who become as wolves, who prey upon each other, who are no better than wild beasts. Twilight will come to the world, and the places where the humans live will fall into ruins, flaming briefly, then crashing down and crumbling into ash and devastation”

I found this passage eerily familiar. Are we now living through the end times? Is Ragnarok almost upon us?…

I devoured this book like a wolf devouring the moon. Neil Gaiman’s reputation as a Bard of Epic Standing is now assured in my opinion. Highly recommended.

Book review: Little Green by Walter Mosley

Little Green (Easy Rawlins #12)
by Walter Mosley
2013

18682512I haven’t read an Easy Rawlins novel in a long while, so this could be the norm and I’ve just forgotten, but I was really struck by just how much colour features in this story. Everything from the title to the clothes, cars and buildings is painted in rainbow shades.

Most striking though is the colour descriptions as applied to people. At first, perhaps as a white European, I found this kind of shocking. Once I got used to it though it became wonderful to me. I felt I could see characters so much more vividly in my mind.

This is nice, solid detective fiction but the real joy is in the language… and the colour.

Anonymous Book Fairy Distributes Free Books to Support the #Resistance

via BookRiot

Anonymous Book Fairy Distributes Free Books to Support the Resistance

1984-book-cover-picA customer of San Francisco’s beloved Booksmith purchased 50 copies of George Orwell’s 1984 last week and left them at the store, where they were displayed with a sign exhorting customers to “Read up! Fight back!” Booksmith owner Christin Evans reports that the copies were quickly snapped up, prompting the unnamed benefactor to a repeat performance with Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Erik Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts. Other customers have since been inspired to follow suit. This is rad in its own right, but could it be the start of a larger movement to use reading to encourage resistance?

Isn’t that a wonderful thing!

What can a battered old copy of Pilgrim’s Progress tell us about how books were printed in the past?

An interesting post explaining why we talk about ‘folio’ and ’12mo’ sized books. A nice accompaniment to my previous post ‘Adventures with auld Acts: Pre-1707 Acts of the Scottish Parliament’

University of Glasgow Library

Both big books and small books usually started out being printed on sheets the same size Both of these early printed books could have been printed on the same size sheets of paper

When you look at an old printed book you’re not really looking at a single book but a series of smaller ‘booklets’ joined together. Books weren’t printed one page at a time but on large sheets of paper subsequently folded into booklets (called gatherings). Therefore pages aren’t the building blocks of early printed books; sheets are. Whether it’s a teeny wee pocket book or a heavy big lectern book, it may well have started out being printed on on the same size sheet of paper.1

A big book, like a lectern Bible, will often contain a series of four page booklets joined together, each booklet formed from two pages printed on either side of a sheet of paper which has then been folded once (books made in this way are described as folio format).2

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Seasons Greetings

Merry Christmas

Nollaig Chridheil and Guid Yule to you!

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Bliadhna Mhath Ùr (Happy New Year)

and all the best for 2017

from A Very Fine Library!

 

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