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Librarian Blog

The purpose of art

One of my daughters is a professor of art history, and we have talked many times about this artist or that artist, especially the ones whose work I just don't exactly understand.

She is patient with me.

A question I have never asked her: What is the purpose of art.

I suppose I have not asked that of her because I've actually never really thought about it.

This morning I was reading "Home" by Marilyn Robinson, the sequel to "Gilead." And I came across a passage that stuck with me (among many wonderful pages in this marvelous novel): It is the purpose of art to ward off the demons.

That sounds right to me.

I will have to discuss it with my daughter.

What a mess

Google is apparently giving in to authorities in Europe on the right to be forgotten.

Mack Freeman of the American Library Association writes on his blog that the new Google policy, created in reaction to a European court ruling, has been posted by Google Europe, and it amounts to a capitulation to mass confusion.

Here is how Freeman foresees the policy working, assuming someone in German files a Right to be Forgotten request to have their name removed:

+ The listing would be censored for those in Germany, using any version of Google;

+ The listing would be censored for those in the EU, using a European version of Google;

+ The listing would not be censored for those outside Germany but within the EU, using a non-European version of Google;

+ The list would not be censored for those outside the EU, using any version of Google.

Wow. The end is not very pretty.

Plus, it adds a level of censorship that, in America, at least, would not be needed under common law.

Most impactful book?

While I wasn't looking, the editors of The New York Times Book Review tossed in some new questions for their standing feature called By the Book.

This page features a Q&A with a prominent author in each weekly edition.

Yesterday's author was Jim Harrison, about whom I know little and about whom I care even less. So, I just scanned the questions and answers, only to learn that a few of the queries were different. The one that particularly caught my eye was this: What book that you read for school had the greatest impact on you?

Harrison responded that he read all of Willa Cather's books in seventh grade.

I was prompted to wonder about how I might answer that question, and I decided that the collected short stories of Ernest Hemingway probably had the greatest impact on me. These stories are spare, tight and energetic. I have re-read them more than once since I first encountered them in high school.

How would you answer that question?

Don't get frustrated

A very helpful article on 3D printers appeared in last Thursday's Wall Street Journal.

Geoffrey A. Fowler devoted his personal technology column to these devices and how easy or hard they are to use. Intrigued by the idea that you could buy an actual 3D printer for under $500, Fowler tried out several of these inexpensive models. Too often, he found himself frustrated and flumoxed by these cheaper printers.

If you plan to use or buy a 3D printer, you don't have to do what Fowler did, which was try to go it alone. We can help. We have a new 3D printer and we've been trained on how to use it. We're not 100 percent experts, but we can help you eliminate some of the guesswork.

Come by and see our printer in action.

Opening Cubans' minds

The Obama administration has certainly taken some bold steps to open doors between U.S. citizens and Cubans.

But more needs to be done and in a key area: world literacy.

Right now, a trade embargo is still in effect that effectively keeps U.S. publlishers and book-sellers out of the Cuban market and the Cuban marketplace of ideas.

Last month American authors, publishers, distributors, literary agents, and so on, met with Cuban officials, and that meeting resulted in the U.S. group calling on Congress and the president to lift this specific embargo.

Their points are well taken, especially their assertion that books are a huge catalyst for "greater cross-cultural understanding, economic development, free expression and positive social change."

Amen.

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