Friday, April 30, 2010

LAPL: Cutting City Library Hours A Big Blow

Susan Kent and Fontayne Holmes:
Cutting city library hours a big blow to education
Daily News: April 29, 2010 By Susan Kent and Fontayne Holmes

LAST week, the largest book festival in the U.S. took place at UCLA. Thousands of people turned out to celebrate the culture of books and a love of reading. How proud we must be that this all happens in L.A.

But there is something else happening in L.A.'s book scene. We wonder why no one is talking about it and what it means to our community.

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Although you can't smell smoke, the library system is being torched again by shortsighted political cynicism. Last week, the mayor proposed even more drastic cuts for the city's libraries. More cuts mean fewer staff members, and fewer staff members means fewer hours and days that the library is open to the public. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's budget, if it is adopted by the City Council, means that, for the first time in its 138-year history, all of the libraries of the Los Angeles Public Library will only be open five days per week!

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It's important to celebrate books and reading at festivals, but that only happens once a year. At our libraries, books, literacy and learning are celebrated every day. At least they were, until our elected officials began chopping budgets.

Times are tough. Budgets are tight. Change is needed. We agree. But, putting the onus on the library, which after all, is only 2 percent of the city's budget, is shortsighted, misguided and wrong. READ MORE !

Susan Kent was city librarian for the Los Angeles Public Library from 1995 to 2004.
Fontayne Holmes was city librarian for the Los Angeles Public Library from 2004 to 2008.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

ClearMark and WonderMark Awards

ClearMark and WonderMark Awards
April 29, 2010 – 6 pm
National Press Club

And The Award For Convoluted Legalese Goes To . . .
by NPR Staff: April 26, 2010

A new award recognizes the worst in "official" writing — and attempts to shame governments and companies into communicating better. The Center for Plain Language hopes the award will encourage clear and useful writing.

Founder Annetta Cheek joined NPR's Renee Montagne to talk about the awards, along with David Malki, a cartoonist who often targets poor writing. Malki was one of the competition's judges.

Cheek started the nonprofit center after being a federal employee for 25 years. "I just got so tired of all that bureaucratic and legalistic writing," she said.

And The Nominees Are . . . some finalists for the Center for Plain Language's contest for the worst — and best — official writing. READ MORE !

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Literacy and Prisons

Illiteracy is strong indicator of future incarceration
KSL: April 26, 2010 by Nadine Wimmer

SALT LAKE CITY -- KSL and other Deseret Media Companies have launched an initiative to help Utah children read before the third grade. Few things will improve their lives, or ours, more than if we "Read Today."

"If we don't provide them with that foundation skill, we basically sentence them to a life we don't even want to think about," says Mark Willes, CEO of Deseret Media Company.

That statement is not far from the truth. KSL News went to the state prison to learn firsthand the consequences of not learning to read.

For inmate Diana Bacon, drug crimes got her hard time. But she'll tell you dropping out at the seventh grade, due to poor reading skills, is the underlying reason she's here.

"I've regretted it, regretted it my whole life," Bacon says. "I looked at all my old friends that I went to school with, and they're really gone places. You can't do anything without a high school diploma or GED."

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Their stories aren't unusual. More than 70 percent of the inmates at Point of the Mountain are illiterate.

Meanwhile, the State Office of Education reports that boys who are dropouts -- often because they lack reading skills -- are 47 times more likely to be incarcerated than their peers who graduated from college.

That's not to oversimplify a cause and effect, but clearly the link between literacy and prison time is a strong one.

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"Our recidivism rate of inmates coming back is only 14 percent, where the national average is 60 percent," says Lory Curtis, principal of South Park Academy. READ MORE !

50 Best Blogs for Literacy Teachers

50 Best Blogs for Literacy Teachers
April 27, 2010

Thank You to Samantha Miller @ Online University Reviews for including the literacyspace blog as 1 of the 50 Best Blogs for Literacy Teachers in the 'Education and Educators' section.

The ability to read and process information is an absolute necessity far beyond the borders of a classroom. In almost every career path, one must be able to communicate clearly and competently interpret incoming information – and some situations they may also mean the difference between life and death. However, building literary skills requires not only compliance and persistence on the student side, but teachers as well. The following blogs open up teachers and parents from different backgrounds and philosophies to new perspectives, ideas, and observations on how to educate the populace and promote one of the most fundamental of life skills. Please use them as a starting point, too, as there are far more incredible resources out there to explore that did not make this list.

With these blogs (and many of the others out there not listed as well!), teachers, parents, and students dedicated to acquiring the reading, writing, and communication skills necessary to succeed in almost any industry have access to resources and concepts to help guide them on their journeys. Use them to nurture competence and clarity in literacy both externally and internally, as even those with advanced abilities still need to learn a little something from time to time.

Education and Educators
Literary Criticism and Reading Promotion

Friday, April 23, 2010

adults need “childish” thinking: bold ideas, wild creativity

How to Green Your Parents
NY Times: April 21, 2010 by Allison Arieff

Thursday is the 40th anniversary of the original Earth Day. Over the years, the impact of this once seminal day has lessened. Earth Day brings people together for nice gatherings and noble efforts but has, for the most part, made sustainable action more of an annual event than a daily habit. We’ve got to change that.

Here’s a move in the right direction: launching this Earth Day is Green My Parents, a nationwide effort to inspire and organize kids to lead their families in measuring and reducing environmental impact at home. Not just on Earth Day, but every day. GMP’s initial goal is to have its first 100 youth advocates train and educate 100 peers (who will then turn to 100 of their respective peers and so on), with the aim of saving families $100 million between now and April 2011.

How? By washing in cold water, walking or biking to school/work and kicking the bottled-water habit, for example. GMP’s founders suggest that by taking simple steps like those, the average family could save over $1,000 each year.

Green My Parents’ official launch is this Thursday morning, with the broadcast of a free online workshop for youth, adults and educators to learn about easy and effective ways to help save the planet. Led by 12-year-old Adora Svitak, a prolific writer, teacher and advocate for literacy and the environment, the broadcast will also be disseminated by book (via paper-saving print-on-demand), Web site and peer to peer interaction.

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Svitak, who despite her tender age is a frequent lecturer on the global environmental circuit, suggests in her presentations that we [adults] need “childish” thinking: bold ideas, wild creativity and, especially, optimism. At this year’s TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference, she told the crowd that “kids’ big dreams deserve high expectations, starting with grownups’ willingness to learn from children as much as to teach.” WATCH VIDEO

Kids still dream about perfection, says Svitak: “They don’t think about limitations, just good ideas.” GMP’s other student champions seem to prove this assertion. They include inspirational powerhouses like high school senior Jordan Howard, who has already shared a stage with Hillary Clinton and lectured on the dangers of plastics and other environmental dangers; 15-year-old Alec Loorz, who founded the advocacy site at 13, the same year he became the youngest trained presenter of Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth” talk; and 16-year-old Chloe Maxim, founder of The Lincoln Academy Climate Action Club, a school group dedicated to fighting global warming. READ MORE !

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

How Tweet It Is!: Library Acquires Entire Twitter Archive

How Tweet It Is!: Library Acquires Entire Twitter Archive
LOC: April 14th, 2010 by Matt Raymond

Have you ever sent out a “tweet” on the popular Twitter social media service? Congratulations: Your 140 characters or less will now be housed in the Library of Congress.

That’s right. Every public tweet, ever, since Twitter’s inception in March 2006, will be archived digitally at the Library of Congress. That’s a LOT of tweets, by the way: Twitter processes more than 50 million tweets every day, with the total numbering in the billions.

We thought it fitting to give the initial heads-up to the Twitter community itself via our own feed @librarycongress. (By the way, out of sheer coincidence, the announcement comes on the same day our own number of feed-followers has surpassed 50,000. I love serendipity!)

We will also be putting out a press release later with even more details and quotes. Expect to see an emphasis on the scholarly and research implications of the acquisition. I’m no Ph.D., but it boggles my mind to think what we might be able to learn about ourselves and the world around us from this wealth of data. And I’m certain we’ll learn things that none of us now can even possibly conceive.

Just a few examples of important tweets in the past few years include the first-ever tweet from Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, President Obama’s tweet about winning the 2008 election.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

National Library Week

National Library Week

Our Public Library Lifeline Is Fraying. We'll Be Sorry When it Snaps Huffington Post: April 11, 2010 by Art Brodksky

This is National Library Week, a time normally reserved for celebrating an institution that plays a vital role in many of our cities, towns and counties. Instead, many libraries, particularly public libraries, are being decimated by budget cuts at a time when library services are needed most.

Libraries, once considered a necessity, are now seen as a luxury. They are low-hanging fruit for budget pluckers, particularly at the state and local levels of government in communities across the country. It's been a slow death by attrition over the past couple of years. First, it was the budget for books and materials because, after all, books and materials aren't people. No matter that books and materials are what makes a library, well, a library. Then came the hours of operation, then the staff, then the closure of branches. No two communities are approaching the situation identically, but in cities from Boston to Indianapolis, the stories are increasingly dire.

In Boston, the trustees voted to close four branches. There was lots of protest, and Mayor Thomas Menino still has to make the final call, but the situation doesn't look good.

The Florida legislature is considering eliminating state aid to libraries entirely, while the New Jersey legislature is only looking a at a 74 percent cut. Indianapolis and surrounding Marion County are also looking at closing six branches and cutting back programs and staff.

In my home community of Montgomery County, Maryland, formerly one of the wealthiest local jurisdictions, the County Council is looking at a budget for fiscal year 2011 of $29 million - down from $40 million just three years ago. This year, it is slated for a 23 percent cut - one of the largest of any agency, on top of cuts in the last fiscal year with percentage decreases larger than all but one county agency. And this is for a county of about one million residents in which 70 percent hold library cards. It's even worse across the river, in Fairfax County, Virgina, where libraries were declared a "discretionary" service while cutting 30 of 54 full-time librarians. Libraries discretionary? That's nuts.

These are only some of the stories. They are being repeated endlessly across the country, perhaps even where you live. Some places put a high value on their libraries. Contrast the $29 million of my county for the $51 million library budget in Seattle, a city of about 600,000. Sure, Seattle needed to cut the library budget, but the fact that they started out much higher than my home says something about their priorities. Sadly, Seattle is the exception, not the rule. READ MORE !

Happy National Library Week.

Friday, April 9, 2010

How Libraries Stack Up: 2010

How Libraries Stack Up: 2010

This new report examines the economic, social and cultural impact of libraries in the United States. As the current economic environment is impacting library budgets and library usage is increasing, particular attention is paid to the role that libraries play in providing assistance to job-seekers and support for small businesses. Information includes statistics on:

~ Americans receiving job-seeking help and career assistance at public libraries
~ Libraries as a resource for small businesses
~ The prevalence and scope of library activity in the United States
~ Libraries as providers of free services to the community such as Wi-Fi access,
technology training and meeting rooms
~ Comparisons of library activities to various retail and entertainment businesses

Thursday, April 8, 2010


April 2010

A month-long celebration of “El dia de los ninos, El dia de los libros.” Dia is a daily commitment to link all children to books, languages and cultures. It was founded in 1996 by author Pat Mora.

Dia is now housed at the Association of Library Service to Children that has an updated list of books and list of Web sites for Día 2010.

Culminating Dia celebrations are held across the country on or near April 30th.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Library Blog Awards: Salem Press

Library Blog Awards
Salem Press

. . . from Salem Press:
As you are probably aware, blogs about libraries have spread across the web. There are (literally) hundreds of people writing about books, libraries, librarians and related subjects. Salem Press' staff includes many fans of library blogs. We're entertained and enlightened by them.

So, we've decided to recognize the best efforts in the field. Not only to praise the praise-worthy but also to publicize the good stuff. To that end, we're hosting something we call the Library Blog Awards. But the point isn't only to reward good writing once a year. We'd also like to expose the little-known and excellent in an ongoing way. So, we're developing site where we can point out interesting material on a regular basis. We're going to scour the blogosphere for good library stuff and promote it.

Nominations: accepting suggestions through May 15, 2010.

Spring Awards
The first "wave" of awards is for topical blogs. That is, those that primarily involve subjects such as technology, cataloging, literacy, reviews, personal viewpoints, etc.

Autumn Awards
In the autumn we're going to review "local" blogs, those that are primarily devoted to promoting a specific public, academic or school library.
Nominate A Blog ! ! !

Friday, April 2, 2010

Libraries Computers Internet

First-ever National Study: Millions of People Rely on Library Computers for Employment, Health, and Education
US Impact – U Washington: March 22, 2010 by Samantha Becker

PORTLAND, Ore.—Nearly one-third of Americans age 14 or older – roughly 77 million people – used a public library computer or wireless network to access the Internet in the past year, according to a national report released today. In 2009, as the nation struggled through a recession, people relied on library technology to find work, apply for college, secure government benefits, learn about critical medical treatments, and connect with their communities.

The report, Opportunity for All: How the American Public Benefits from Internet Access at U.S. Libraries, is based on the first, large-scale study of who uses public computers and Internet access in public libraries, the ways library patrons use this free technology service, why they use it, and how it affects their lives. It was conducted by the University of Washington Information School and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Low-income adults are more likely to rely on the public library as their sole access to computers and the Internet than any other income group. Overall, 44 percent of people living below the federal poverty line used computers and the Internet at their public libraries.

Americans across all age groups reported they used library computers and Internet access. Teenagers are the most active users. Half of the nation’s 14- to 18-year-olds reported that they used a library computer during the past year, typically to do school homework.

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The use of library technology had significant impact in four critical areas: employment, education, health, and making community connections. In the last 12 months:

40 percent of library computer users (an estimated 30 million people) received help with career needs. Among these users, 75 percent reported they searched for a job online. Half of these users filled out an online application or submitted a resume.

37 percent focused on health issues. The vast majority of these users (82 percent) logged on to learn about a disease, illness, or medical condition. One-third of these users sought out doctors or health care providers. Of these, about half followed up by making appointments for care.

42 percent received help with educational needs. Among these users, 37 percent (an estimated 12 million students) used their local library computer to do homework for a class.

Library computers linked patrons to their government, communities, and civic organizations. Sixty-percent of users – 43.3 million people – used a library’s computer resources to connect with others.

“There is no ambiguity in these numbers. Millions of people see libraries as an essential tool to connect them to information, knowledge, and opportunities,” said Marsha Semmel, acting director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. “Policy makers must fully recognize and support the role libraries are playing in workforce development, education, health and wellness, and the delivery of government services.” READ MORE !