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Librarian Blog

Now Austin's cooking

The American-Statesman reports in today's edition that the new Austin library in downtown, which is opening in two years, will have a big cooking class area.

The architects and librarians are right in catering to a growing group of people who are interested in food, recipes and ingredients.

I started a cooking class that I offer on the first Monday of each month a couple of years ago, and had a half-dozen people at the outset. This past Monday, I cooked for 17, but had enough food to feed 20, including myself.

The program has, to say the least, grown in popularity. In fact, we're probably at capacity.

I'd sure love to have a kind of dedicated culinary space, but we are, after all, a small library in a small community. So, I make do with a tailgate-type cooker and keep the dishes simple.

That's OK. It's all about having fun and meeting the needs of our patrons.

Bring us your tech problems

During the summer we set aside an hour every other Tuesday to help people who were having problems with their tablets.

We helped three or four every week. Some had trouble figuring out how to borrow e-books frm the library. Others wanted to buy apps. And a few had been given their tablets and only knew how to turn them on. I think we helped them all.

Now we're starting a new service. Instead of limiting our assistance to tablets, we'll try to help with any technical problem having to do with laptops, tablets, word-processing, etc.

The tech-savvy staffers will be here to help from noon to 1 p.m. every other Tuesday.

So come by and let us help you.

A good early start

Years ago the state of Texas had a program that provided money to help improve residents' parenting skills.

I headed up the community committee that decided how to spend that money up in the Wichita Falls area. It was a good program, and I learned a lot of eye-opening stuff about the importance of very early childhood development. In particular I found out how children behave when they are neglected. Holding, loving, talking to and reading to a very young child is crucial for his or her brain development.

Much more research has been done on this topic in the years since I served on that panel, all of it simply underscoring the main point that young children must be stimulated in many ways so as to have a healthy brain.

Starting this Friday the library is going to give parents new tools to help them nurture the brains of their pre-k children. The program is called "1,000 Books Before Kindergarten." The kickoff is at 10:30 a.m. Friday.

This is a major initiative for us, and we are all excited about being able to help parents raise good, smart kids.

They got a head-start

Twenty-five kids signed up for our new "1,000 Books B4 Kindergarten" program this morning.

That's a better turnout than I expected, but I don't know how many pre-k young people are in our area. I suspect that this part of Hays County skews older than, say, the rest of Texas.

There is no deadline for participating, and this will be an ongoing program. So if you know someone with a youngster in this age group please let them know.

Print may be better

In the last blog I asked the question of whether there is a difference in comprehension for people who read on tablets as opposed to those who read printed books from the same material.

Some of the latest research indicates there is a difference and not in favor of tablet reading matter.

Benjamin Herold writes on the Digital Education Blog sponsored by Education Week about two studies presented at a national conference. Both showed significantly less comprehension among students who accessed material via tablet compared to those who read the material in printed-on-paper format.

I did find another interesting takedown of similar research by John Jones, posted in November of last year at dmlcentral.

But, from what I can tell by googling the question, tablet is not as good as print.

My newspaper career spanned 45 years and a huge change in the technologies used to write and edit news articles and features. It was my experience and observation that reporters and editors made more errors and wrote more poorly on computers than they did when using typewriters.

I concluded that there was some issue involving comprehension on the screen as opposed to on the printed page.

Nothing I have read so far persuades me to change my mind.

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