What's new in library tech! Library tech newsbytes is a monthly collection of fun news items from pretty much anywhere we find them. This month we cover the inadvertent experiment in Oregon to privatize public libraries, the proposed federal copyright law that would undermine the Librarian of Congress, some heartening news and practical tips for your youngest and nonreading patrons, and the project to send a library to the moon. Improbable or not, we hope you enjoy our batch of newsbytes this time around!
The Inadvertent Experiment in Privatizing Public Libraries in Central Oregon
One of our themes this month is how libraries are surviving in places with low or no tax bases. The New York Times recently reported that in Douglas County, Oregon, a majority of voters in 2016 rejected a modest property tax increase to keep the 11 county libraries alive. In due course they closed. In recent months, some communities are reopening them in different ways — some as all-volunteer efforts and some with different models.
The whole thing is a kind of laboratory on reinventing public libraries. The Times describes it as a tumult and a split between rural parts of the county. In the county seat, Roseburg, a new library is preparing to open with no plans to share materials with other libraries around the county. It will charge $60 a year for a library card to anyone living outside city limits. School students in the city will get free privileges, however. As this unfolds, it seems to be a fascinating experiment in public library privatization.
ALA Urges Librarians to Take Action on the Proposed Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act
On September 26, the U.S. Senate held a hearing on the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act (S. 1010), which passed the House of Representatives in March 2018. This legislation would remove the hiring authority of the Register of Copyrights from the Librarian of Congress and make it an appointment of the president, which would then require Senate confirmation. If passed, Congress would voluntarily give up its power to appoint its own copyright advisor and assign it to the president. The bill also grants the president power to fire the appointee at any time. ALA says that this law would undermine the Librarian of Congress and make the copyright process political rather than nonpartisan and fair. See more about this on American Libraries Magazine.
Should You Try the New Editor on Your WordPress Site?
Birgit Pauli-Haack's Gutenberg Times is heralding the new visual editor for WordPress. It is currently code-named Gutenberg but is expected to be called simply Editor. It will be a dramatically improved website and blog editing tool that will be integrated into the WordPress core software in version 5.0, due out later this year.
10 Experiential Learning Activities for Nonreading Kids
Author Cat Johnson has been on the lookout for easy hands-on library programming ideas for our youngest patrons. On EveryLibrary on Medium, she describes 10 experiential learning activities for kids, whether they have not yet started reading, are struggling to read, or are readers. Check out this set of ideas like composting with worms, blanket tents, making slime letters, and making sidewalk chalk.
What's Going On in a Child's Brain When You Read Them a Story?
On a similar note, we always hear that it's good to read to children. But why? A newly published study gives some insight into what may be happening inside young children's brains when they're read a picture book, shown a cartoon, or played an audiobook. It turns out that cartoons and audiobooks activate audio and also visual perception networks (in the case of cartoons), but these media don't elicit much connectivity among the various brain networks. Reading a picture book to a child, on the other hand, increases connectivity among the multiple brain networks, including visual perception, imagery, default mode, and language. Sometimes low-tech is simply better. Find more on this on NPR.
Sending a Library to the Moon
TechSoup for Libraries special contributor Megan Keane alerted us to fact that the Arch Mission Foundation is working with commercial space company Astrobotic to send a microfiche library to the moon in 2020. TechCrunch reports that the Arch Library (pronounced "ark") will be in a small storage device containing nearly indestructible nickel microfiche. It will include Wikipedia, as well as the Long Now Foundation's Rosetta Project, among other things.This lunar library will be stored on the surface of the moon, courtesy of Astrobotic's Peregrine Lunar Lander. The ultimate goal is putting these archives of human knowledge around the solar system.
Do you have a fun library tech newsbyte? Tell us about it in the comments section below.