Category Archives: General Interest

Listen to the Heirs

Emma Gonzalez gave a speech on Friday that provided direction and articulation to passions wrought in a forge of her elders’ moral lassitude. The capacity of teenaged youth to step up and out may swell from the same idealistic bravado as generals have relied upon to exploit adolescent troops from time immemorial. However, where generals outlaw independent thought—and punish outspoken dissent from state-supporting action—teenagers who lead with word and action have no interest in maintaining the power of the state as intrinsic and instead carry a banner of a higher purpose: the future that that state works to deny them, not as individuals, but as collective humanity.

The teenaged leaders of Parkland, Florida, join an honorable—and sometimes brilliantly successful—tradition of international youth whose moral mettle has used the power of crafted speech with elegantly planned action to change the direction of historic oppression and the threat of annihilation the generals’ generation holds over their heirs.

President Trump is scheduled to attend a “listening session” later this week regarding gun control. At this point, it’s difficult to imagine that that audience member has the capacity to listen, to hear, to consider any voice more fully than his own. However, teens have the drive and the capacity to lead through the power of speech, and the will to reach every open ear.

An Alternative History Webcomic Antidote to Alternative Fact Poisoning

Journalism, librarianship, and teaching all live and die by the sword of facts that inform and reasoned thought with which to shape new understanding. The power of metaphorical devices each of them may use trades on intentionally and openly skewing reality just enough to allow fresh perspective. Sometimes that twist allows for a deep and serious a-ha. And sometimes it’s simply good for a laugh, a laugh that relaxes rather than stupefying.

Thank you, Tina Pratt, for The Paul Reveres. So far our tale of the British (music) invasion, patriotism/anarchy, and characters recognizable from Newbery Medal fiction (Esther Forbes’ Johnny Tremain) as well as wandering into a Henry Wadsworth Longfellow epic from his North End silversmith shop, has unfurled across nine years of beautifully colored panels and cheeky sendups of American Revolutionary War tropes.

With our own era drowning in “alternative facts,” here’s an antidote to overdosing on cynicism: perhaps three panels a day until current reality sees a restoration of fact and reason as the roots of information.

Load Up the Links to Forthcoming Audiobook Kudos

This week, the finalists in each category of the Audie Awards (the “Oscars of audiobook publishing”) are announced. Less than a week later, ALA’s Reference & User Services Association’s CODES section releases its annual Listen List during ALA Midwinter, while the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) publishes its Notable Children’s Recordings list, the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) releases its Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults list, and those two ALA sections together announce the annual Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production. So today would be a good time to get all your links updated to these various best audiobooks (and probably a good time to clear out your online storage of audiobook files of titles you’ve decided you don’t need to keep).

Here’s where to get each of these advisories for the aurally omnivorous:

The 2018 Audies finalist slates, in more than two dozen categories (some genre, some performance style, some performer gender), are revealed via social media all day Tuesday, 6 February, and then find a website home at theaudies.com.

The Listen List, formally announced on Sunday, 11 February, will then be posted online at https://www.rusaupdate.org/awards/the-listen-list/

 Announcement of the Odyssey Award (including any Honor titles in addition the winner) is part of the Youth Media Awards event slated for 8 am Monday, 12 February, in Denver. The event is live streamed and then the announced winner(s) are listed on the Odyssey Award homepage.

ALA press releases will carry the 2018 Notable Children’s Recordings and Amazing Audiobooks lists. Then each of them can be found on a stable web page, Notable Children’s Recordings at http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/notalists/ncr and Amazing Audiobooks at http://www.ala.org/yalsa/amazing-audiobooks – current Each of these lists runs to over a dozen titles.

If ever you needed an idea of what audiobook to try next, this would be your month for abundant advice!

Coming of Age with Literary Webcomic Superpowers

Emma T. Capps has been recognized for her droll and beautifully colored print and webcomics since she was about junior high age. Now that she’s already published in a variety of kids magazines; earned stripes for being the youngest cartoonist Dark Horse Presents (#25, 2013) had collected their on-again-off-again anthology of new work and creators; and seen her webcomic The Chapel Chronicles into print, she’s continuing to concoct lovely work that is both sly and sweet—as well as a literary bonbon eater’s delight.

Welcome to The League of Fonts. The concept of a realm in which typefaces live, from their birth (creation as fonts) until each might fall into eternal disuse, is teased out with such wit that readers will get absorbed in contemplating the properties of identity bound up in those squiggles on the page and screen we typically (!) treat simply as means to an end rather than—as Capps show us—potential ends in themselves. It’s insightful, a fun view of design, but also a potent moral analog.

A word of warning: you may find yourself not only choosing your own fonts carefully after reading Capps, but also asking them if they’d like some tea.

 

In Celebration of a Compelling Speaker

On 19 July 1962 Martin Luther King Jr became the first African American to speak at the National Press Club. His post-lunch remarks were delivered days after he’d been convicted of participating in a peaceful protest against  segregation in his home state of Georgia.

The Press Club rediscovered tapes of the speech and made them available online in very recent years. They can be downloaded in MP3 format and a transcript s, of course, included.

Let’s Mansplain That (in Webcomics)

With women in the United States continuing to refuse to step away from both mic and spotlight as they talk back to a Western tradition of white male entitlements, the time is suited to tuning into webcomic “Manfeels Park.” The team of Morag & Erin use commentary (from men) found in current news account and even quoted from found dialog that sits there begging for satiric puns. The art harkens to the title’s Jane Austen roots stylistically and also manages to introduce current day settings for the kinds of occasions in which the particularly featured commentary fits.

This is one of dozens of webcomics archived by the Library of Congress. For their parts, Morag & Erin go the distance to provide source notes for each strip’s commentary. Once a fellow fan of puns, satire, and active counter attacking of mansplaining falls for this gem, there’s some back matter worthy of exploring as well in the Links section of their webcomic, including a not-too-long of other webcomic recommendations, some recommended blogs, and a couple of other projects the creators of Manfeels Park are undertaking online.

Build Listening Awareness with Challenges

Omnivorous readers with competitive bones in their bodies (if only to seek a personal best), and librarians and teachers seeking some self-managed professional development, look to reading challenges to stimulate self-accomplishment. Biblioblogs of all sorts publish them to ring in the new year, and the range on offer includes some better suited to relatively neophyte casual readers to those for word warriors. A benefit to many all along this spectrum is the sense of community joining a challenge can bring: who else has taken the challenge? How’s it working out for them? Is there someone among them who can offer support when the reading gets dull? Is there a well-matched super-reader to provide extra motivation for the high-achieving competitor?

A number of these challenges suggest participants take the occasional “challenge” of trying an audiobook. And there are a few audiobook-specific challenges on offer as well. The Caffeinated Reviewer has a well developed one that offers various intensity levels as well as the opportunity to find a listening buddy or buddies. This is a high quality, no-fee skill-building opportunity that can appeal to readers’ advisors, audiobook collection selectors and developers, language arts teachers, and families.

If joining a group doesn’t appeal, this audiobook listening challenge—and many others—can be undertaken independently. All you need is a good supply of audiobooks (library, OpenCulture, anything but piracy, please), listening advice and recommendations, and a will to listen more, and more deeply.

Introducing Sequential Art Online: Webcomics

https://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/digital_resource_lifespan.png
Randall Munroe’s webcomic XKCD regularly offers unexpected nuggets of information management insight as well as real answers to seemingly unanswerable questions

With the new year, NSR pushes further into published online content, including a weekly visit to the world of webcomics. This expressive medium has been around for more than three decades. It’s a realm of stories, reports, and visual creativity, some the early forms of later publication in paper or e-resource format. Others have, some will, and, meanwhile, a lot do live long and happy lives in web only form on such graphics-friendly blogging platforms as Tumblr, and through software custom-designed specifically for creating and sharing comics content.

Webcomics give both amateur and professional cartoonists a means for sharing out new content, experimental techniques, and fan art or homages to comics artists. The web has also become a right-sized location to build a following via webcomics to gain monetary support through Kickstarter for eventual paper publication. We’re not going to be dropping into these projects much except to note subject matter themes arising that reflect more broadly on content innovations. Continue reading Introducing Sequential Art Online: Webcomics

Thousands of images from Gabriel García Márquez Archive Now Online via University of Texas at Austin

Most important part first: view the images here. The Archive, belonging to the University of Texas at Austin’s Harry Ransom Center, was acquired in 2014 and has been opened since 2015. The digitalization, which, the university reports, took 18 months to complete, involved the efforts of archivists, students, librarians, and conservators, among others.

Included in the Archive are 27,000 images and 22 personal scrapbooks and notebooks, among them a memoir, screenplays, photos, etc.

From the university’s site:

The papers (English | Spanish) of Gabriel García Márquez, acquired by the Ransom Center in 2014, include original manuscript material, predominantly in Spanish, for 10 books, more than 2,000 pieces of correspondence, drafts of his 1982 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, more than 40 photograph albums documenting all aspects of his life over nearly nine decades, the Smith Corona typewriters and computers on which he wrote some of the twentieth century’s most beloved works, and scrapbooks meticulously documenting his career via news clippings from Latin America and around the world.

An inventory of the papers can be found in the following finding aids:

Read the full press release on the university web site here.

Closeup Listening

Oral history projects organized, performed, and/or administered by archives and libraries create opportunities for audiences dispersed by geography and date to hear first person accounts of personal and public events. Typically led or encouraged by a prepared interviewer who prompts for details or expansions on the featured speaker’s memories and observations, these histories arise without a pre-written script and so arrive in fully oral vernaculars: the pitches and tones of the subject, of course, but also the cadences of unfolding oral expression, and regional and idiosyncratic word choices that have become second nature to the speaker rather than being carefully selected to impress or hide from the audience.

A variety of public and arts and culture agencies have utilized the method for acquiring and preserving elderly community members who have experienced contrasting eras, been present through public disasters, or witnessed momentous political and/or social events. Unlike the historian or the journalist, the subject providing the oral history’s content comes to the table with a personal understanding from which the account is told, providing contemporary and future audiences with direct access to how the reported events and observations were experienced. Continue reading Closeup Listening

Listening to Speak Well

November 19th marked the 154th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln delivering his Gettysburg Address, an event that, of course, was not recorded by any mechanical means. However, because of its brevity, powerful prosody, and stark imagery, it continues to live not just as a document but also as script for oral performance.

The flip side of listening to read is listening to learn how to speak, and listening to stellar deliveries of careful language choices to learn to speak well, compellingly, and clearly in terms of conceptual communication. Without practiced listening skills, speakers lag in oral communication skills, a situation that can lead to frustration, alienation, and exclusion from power.

While the writing of Presidential speeches has evolved over time to comport more popular styles of grammar, phrasing and word choices, how we experience them has also changed. We tend to read them in full and listen to only moments of the whole. Often that listening, truncated as it is, also comes via video and thus invites visual appraisal of postures, faces, and other details beyond the spoken words. Except for those who elect to join forensics teams or involve themselves in school drama departments, young students now rarely, and most never, have the opportunity to experience delivering speeches or master communication intended to be heard (beyond music).

After millennia of human ideas and ideals being shaped aloud, are we now in the Age of Unspeaking?

Ebook Friendly celebrates 10 years of Kindle with an educational infographic

“Since 2007, Kindle made millions of people rediscover the joy of reading. But it’s not only e-readers that changed the way we read. It’s the entire ecosystem that includes ebooks, services, and innovations,” writes Piotr Kowalczyk on Ebook Friendly this week in a post that features an infographic listing the most significant events in the development of the Kindle, starting with the launch of the first-generation Kindle in 2007 and ending with the launch of Kindle Oasis 2 on October 31, 2017.

Note the quote at the very bottom of the infographic: “Ten years after the first Kindle, e-ink remains the best technology for the devoted e-reader” (Brian Heater).

We thank Piotr for sharing the infographic with the world and allowing us to post it on NSR.

StoryCorps and the Great Thanksgiving Listen

Besides engaging with what authors and performers have created through audiobooks, the sound of storytelling extends to creating and listening to family stories, neighborhood stories, captured memories of unwritten, and otherwise unscripted, events, and conversations. The work of StoryCorps addresses this by providing both structure for and preservation of such recordings. Recordings made in StoryCorps booths, which pop up around the country on well publicized schedules, are accepted by the Library of Congress as part of the American archives of cultural and popular history. StoryCorps has won a variety of humanities distinctions, including the Peabody Award (2007).

For several years, StoryCorps has been promoting The Great Thanksgiving Listen, a guided opportunity for those gathered with multiple generations to celebrate the holiday. With the goal of creating “a culture of listening,” this effort points directly to the power of listening in communication, intergenerational honor, and understanding. Directions are specific, simple to follow, and require virtually nothing to attain satisfying results. The event is suggested for families, classes of all ages, and neighborhood gathering places. Continue reading StoryCorps and the Great Thanksgiving Listen

Less than the Sum of its Parts?

In its grasping attempt to move from ubiquitous to monopolizing, Audible’s new come-on for romance genre consumers apparently leaves the concept of audiobook—as in book—behind. Having sliced and diced the genre’s presentation for paying consumers in more ways than the Kama Sutra suggests positions, they’ve just gone to a level of servicing that might leave both authors and narrators—to say nothing of narrating authors—with the frank understanding that it’s not the books that Audible is moving here, just what the company coyly calls the “good parts.”

Audible Romance already has allowed the fans of this one genre to dine freely at their subscription rate while listeners with interests in other genres or topics are kept to a single subscription “free listen” per month. Beyond that, Audible has parsed its romance genre fare and labeled titles for consumers by every imaginable plotting and character trait. In short, Audible makes sure those romance consumers don’t have to make too many discoveries by actually listening to entire audiobooks, eros forbid they might be confronted by unanticipated kinks, lack of kinks, or casting that wanders outside their comfort zones. Continue reading Less than the Sum of its Parts?

Publishing and bibliographic jobs below the radar

Some years ago, I was impressed by a speaker at a youth enrichment services providers roundtable who came from a vocational training background and currently worked in publishing house dealing mostly with career preparation materials. The materials she shared included, surprisingly to most of us gathered, board books for toddlers as well as interactive books for older children. These were not the “When I grow up, I want to be a firefighter” flavor: instead, they exposed kids to the actual doing of things that could eventually engage their interests in jobs beyond the Top 10 every high school student recognizes as the likely “only” options.*

A few industries are good—usually at the behest of union pressure—about exposing the fact of certain jobs existing. Think about the rolling credits after a movie. While such denominating for public view doesn’t explain what exactly the key grip or best boy does functionally, the job titles are there. And there are jobs called out in the credits as well that make intuitive sense while not, more than likely, getting much air time when the conversation turns to “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Once it’s noted as a possibility, however, costume designer strikes a chord that could turn into a wholly satisfying career. Continue reading Publishing and bibliographic jobs below the radar

EU withheld a study that shows piracy doesn’t hurt sales [in some cases it actually enhances them]

From Engadget:

“In 2013, the European Commission ordered a €360,000 ($430,000) study on how piracy affects sales of music, books, movies and games in the EU. However, it never ended up showing it to the public except for one cherry-picked section. That’s possibly because the study concluded that there was no evidence that piracy affects copyrighted sales, and in the case of video games, might actually help them.

Done by Dutch organization Ecorys, the study might have been lost altogether if not for the effort of EU parliamentarian Julia Reda. She submitted a freedom of information request in July 2017, and after stalling twice, the commission finally produced it. The conclusion? “With the exception of recently released blockbusters, there is no evidence to support the idea that online copyright infringement displaces sales,” Reda wrote on her blog.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Canadian libraries and academic institutions join forces to give access to sources exploring Canada’s history

Institutions across Canada can now benefit from full access to Frontier Life: Borderlands Settlement and Colonial Encounters, a digital collection of primary sources offering a glimpse into Canada’s historic past.

Consortia Canada, Adam Matthew and 18 leading academic institutions have collaborated to open this content to libraries and educational institutions across Canada, including all library types: public, post-secondary, special, archives, museums and K-12 schools. The collaboration unlocks important primary sources to provide the broader community with a comparative view on the various colonial frontiers across the globe. Continue reading Canadian libraries and academic institutions join forces to give access to sources exploring Canada’s history

NC LIVE Partners with Credo to provide users with a research tool to combat fake news

Just in:

Conducting research in the 21st century often means navigating fake news sites, biased media, and contradictory online information. Information literacy has emerged as a critical skill to achieve academic, professional, and personal success. Thanks to a partnership between the state’s library consortium NC LIVE and Credo Reference, Credo Online Reference Service will offer North Carolinians a starting point to find information about their research or personal topics of interest.

Credo provides background knowledge, illustrates relationships between topics, and cites the information they provide simply and consistently. North Carolinians won’t need to worry that what they are reading is bogus. Continue reading NC LIVE Partners with Credo to provide users with a research tool to combat fake news

Defending the honor of ebooks (and innovation)

Is the ebook a dead format? How eBooks lost their shine. The Reason Actual Books Are So Much More Memorable Than Ebooks. US Ebook Sales Decline. These are some of the headlines I’ve seen recently perpetuating the (suddenly popular) notion that ebooks are not ‘in’ anymore. That they have somehow failed us. That nothing compares to the reading of actual physical objects in the world. That the challenges the publishing industry has seen with ebooks (i.e., declining sales) point in the direction of a ‘format’ on the verge of dying.

Such articles aren’t only written by informed bloggers and journalists but also by industry professionals with significant experience in the publishing and library and information science markets, particularly those catering to consumers and public libraries. They exhibit a great deal of knowledge and sensible arguments about the challenges the publishing community (trade, in particular) has had with ebooks, focusing largely on the shortfalls of various business models to deliver revenue as predictable as revenue from print, the technological issues associated with ‘formats’  that haven’t been able to deliver a fully satisfying reading experience, and, not to be overlooked, the fierce competitiveness within the market itself, which has often resulted in ‘the powerful’  thriving even if their offerings were inferior to those by various start-ups (most of which perished in recent years).

In short, technology has not been able to ‘disrupt’ book publishing the way it has disrupted other industries in the not-so-distant past (e.g., music, news), and here we are at a crossroads again, asking some existential questions. Continue reading Defending the honor of ebooks (and innovation)