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Librarian Blog

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."


As the world turns

Now there can be little doubt that the world of publishing is doing a 180:

McGraw-Hill Education, big-time publisher of textbooks, told the Associated Press this week that sales of its digital content and online programs "surpassed print sales for the first time last year."

I've written before about the high cost of texts at the college level, but I have no clue about what these books cost public school districts. A lot, I'm sure, and ever rising.

McGraw-Hill has online programs for teachers and students to work on lesson plans, content, reading materials, and so on.

So, this report represents a tipping point, in my opinion. As more students do their reading online, the more they move away from print. And the more they move away from print, the less print there'll be.

And so ...

Maybe they're onto something

A new study by Harvard researchers shows that people who read fiction are more sociable than people who don't read or people who read nonfiction.

Maybe that helps explain some of the political campaigns this spring: basically, the candidates with the most anti-social message appeal to people who don't read.

Makes sense to me.


Now I see ...

Sometimes I get so busy I just skim the news and then find myself not thinking very deeply about what I've read or heard.

So it is that I've been afloat on the battle between Apple and the FBI over access to data on an iPhone that might help solve a crime.

Richard Clarke, former czar for antiterrorism in the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, clarified the point on NPR this morning.

The main issue for Clarke is freedom of speech, in the case freedom from not having to speak. See, Clarke said, the government is trying to get Apple employees to write code that does not exist. That is forcing speech, the courts have found.

But, the bigger issue is that the NSA, already suspect after the Snowden revelations, wants to push this case to set a precedent so that they can make other tech companies do their bidding in the name of national security. That way lies totalitarianism.

Let's tread lightly.

Wrong again


Today, the national polling organizations must be repeating that famous line from presidential candidate Rick Perry.

They flubbed it again.

Alan Stamm, a columnist for Deadline Detroit, posted a column this morning about the Democratic Party's primary win yesterday by Bernie Sanders:

"To call political surveys an inexact science is like saying astrologers' forecasts are unreliable."


Pollsters have been pretty miserably wrong this political season.

And they will continue to be wrong. They don't have the technology to keep up with how voters and possible voters are able to be contacted to give them polling results.

You didn't need to poll anyone to come up with the prediction that we would be where we are in polling. But, we continue to see pundits and reporters cite lame poll results because they have to, after all, report something very news cycle, and polls make for good copy even if they are wrong.


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