Sunday, June 15, 2008

Links & Reviews

- The horrifying floods in the Midwest are having a tremendous impact on libraries. The University of Iowa's rare books and manuscripts collection has been moved to higher ground (hear an NPR report on the evacuation here - thanks Joyce - or a YouTube video here), and the library building is in continued danger this morning (though a concerted sandbagging effort by students, staff and others has been ongoing for days). LISNews has a roundup on U of I, along with news that the Cedar Rapids Public Library is believed to be completely inundated by floodwaters. Several other libraries in the flood zone are believed damaged.

- Via Book Patrol, I must point out Jason Kottke's post on the Hypnerotomachia poliphili. Kottke's discussion centers on the book's remarkably modern feel, and its equally remarkable unreadability.

- Geraldine Brooks' The People of the Book (my review here) has won the Book of the Year Award for 2008 from the Australian Publishers Assocation.

- The Boston Globe today has yet another report on troubles at the BPL, this time focusing on use of the library by people some would prefer not be allowed to darken the doorstep. Based on my own anecdotal experience, it seems to me that the library's appropriate use policies (as quoted in the article) could be enforced more rigorously, but fundamentally I agree with those who believe that the middle word in the library's name is just as important as the other two.

- Laura has a follow-up to our discussion on Internet reading, pointing to a very good Slate article by Jakob Neilsen about this very subject. Also, Caleb offers up a selection of quotes "about the Internet. Well, not exactly about the Internet, because it didn't exist when most of the writers below wrote. They were in fact concerned with such topics as readerly hygiene in the face of textual surfeit and the threat that mass culture poses to the hierarchies that traditionally defended intellectual and artistic labor." So what did Johnson, Thoreau and Dietrich Bonhoeffer have to say about this seemingly 21st century dilemma? Go find out.

- Since the new "Sex and the City" movie has apparently led to a major windfall for Kessinger Publishing, a word of caution: the organization has been widely criticized by booksellers for purchasing rare books, scanning them, and then trying to return them to the sellers in damaged condition. Not cool.

- From BibliOdyssey, images from a sixteenth-century manuscript on Habsburg cannons.

- More on "age-banding" from Stuart Kelly at The Scotsman here. Kelly writes "it's a dumb idea, which only serves lazy booksellers, librarians, and publishers who can't be bothered to make proper recommendations. Children develop at different rates, and the stigma that would be created for a child who wasn't 'in-step' with an arbitrary marketing ploy is unthinkable. ... If they're serious, it should extend beyond children's books, and copies of Henry James and Barbara Pym can be labelled 'For Over 60s Only'." More than 1,300 authors, librarians, teachers, parents and others have signed the online No to Age Banding petition so far.

- On NPR, Benjamin Wallace discusses his new book, The Billionaire's Vinegar (about a bottle of wine which purportedly belonged to Thomas Jefferson). I'm about halfway through the book at the moment, and have had an awful time putting it down. It's wonderful.

- The LATimes offers a summer reading list of some 50 titles, both fiction and non-fiction.


- In the Washington Post, John Berendt reviews Marilyn Yalom's The American Resting Place: Four Hundred Years of History Through our Cemeteries and Burial Grounds (Houghton Mifflin). Interestingly, this coincides with a couple of J.L. Bell's posts at Boston1775 this week, here and here.

- For the TLS, Jim Endersby reviews a whole slew of new books on natural history, including a biography of John Kirk Townsend and a history of the famed Macleay collection.

- Lisa Margonelli reviews Elizabeth Royte's Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It (Bloomsbury), in the NYTimes.

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