Sunday, May 11, 2008

Links & Reviews

Apologies for the lateness of this post: this morning was so beautiful that I spent it outside doing a little birding rather than catching up on my link-gathering. One of my favorite spots, Jamaica Plain's Arnold Arboretum, was mobbed by Mother's Day crowds enjoying the Lilac Festival, so I went to a new (to me) spot, the park-like and wonderful Forest Hills Cemetery. In just under four hours of birding I had fifty-three species, including a gorgeous Cape May warbler, a life bird for me. Quite a delightful way to spend a few hours.

- In today's NYTimes, Virginia Heffernan has an essay on Oxford University Press' decision not to print a new edition of the OED (the Dictionary will be updated online, as it has been in recent years).

- A reminder from NPR giving another good reason to collect books instead of, oh, antique ammunition.

- The Washington Post reported this week on a study by WI-based Renaissance Learning exploring childrens' reading habits. Some very interesting findings, actually. The top-five books for first-graders through high-schoolers are here - the number of "classics" is quite surprising, and heartening.

- From BibliOdyssey, images from Ole Worm's Danicorum Monumentorum (1643), a book on Scandinavian rune stones.

- LIS News has been providing dispatches from Schenectady, where plans to renovate the main branch of the public library called for complete closure of the building for 10-12 months. Plans have now been put on hold, the Daily Gazette reports, so that additional bids can be obtained.

- Paul Collins notes a possible "lost book" reported in a letter to The Guardian: a 1934 Nigel Dennis novel titled Chalk and Cheese, the entire run of which the letter-writers believes to have been destroyed in an air raid. Not quite so, according to WorldCat: the New York Public Library holds a copy of the book (which was published under the pseudonym Richard Vaughan). If their cataloging is correct, then, Chalk and Cheese: A Co-educational School Novel is not lost, just quite rare indeed.

- K.G. Schneider at Free Range Librarian has a thoughtful post on tagging, which bounces off Tim's earlier post "The Long Tail of Ann Coulter" (funny, I would have thought forked tail, but long'll work). Both of them discuss why tagging-in-library-catalogs hasn't really taken off all that well, with the exception of LibraryThing for Libraries, which provides LT-user tags to library catalogs. They're both right: I would be quite unlikely to tag things in a library catalog (and don't on Amazon), whereas if I'm putting something in my own library for my own purposes, I will tag it. Which is why offering LT-tags to libraries makes sense - even if the tags might not be exactly those the library's own users would add, at least they are (for the most part) considered and useful (rather than Amazon's silliness).

- Travis updates us on the Transy Four: "Warren Lipka has been transferred from his old Kentucky home to the federal correctional institute in Elkton, Ohio. His boy Spence Reinhard is now at the FCI in Fort Dix, New Jersey. Charles Allen and Eric Borsuk remain in Kentucky, but at different prisons." Travis also points out some feedback to Paul Constant's book thief story: a book thief writing in to explain why he does what he does.

- The ALA's list of most-challenged books for 2007 is out, topped once again by And Tango Makes Three. But there is some good news: "Overall, the number of reported library challenges dropped from 546 in 2006 to 420 last year, well below the mid-1990s, when complaints topped 750."

- Also via LISNews, word that the Internet Archive "successfully fought a secret government Patriot Act order for records about one of its patrons and won the right to make the order public." More from the Washington Post.


- Cokie Roberts' new book, Ladies of Liberty, receives a glowing review by Charlotte Hays in the Washington Post. I can't ethically review this one myself (my name appears in the acknowledgments) but I am certainly looking forward to reading it.

- In Salon, Louis Bayard reviews Tony Horwitz's A Journey Long and Strange.

- For the New Yorker, Jill Lepore reviews several new technological histories.