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Librarian Blog

100 books to read

Amazon has released a list of 100 books you should read over the course of your lifetime.

I have scanned it, not studied it, and I'm surprised by how many of the books I have actually read, but also by the number I have not read and the ones I've not even heard of.

For the most part, I wouldn't quibble with what the Amazon editors suggest.

But I do take exception with seeing "Unbroken" on the list.

I will reiterate my problem with "Unbroken." There is an adage that goes like this: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The corollary is this: If it sounds too bad to be true it probably is.

"Unbroken" just sounds too bad to be true. I have talked to dozens of prisoners of war and read quite a few books about their experiences as World War II prisoners of the Japanese. I've also covered as a reporter and editor my share of beatings and killings.

I just don't think there has ever been a human being who could take what the leading character in "Unbroken" takes and make it out alive.

"Unbroken" is a popular title, though. And I'm guessing that it's the religious nature of the outcome that has put it on so many must-read lists.

I say, read it. Just don't do so with an uncritical set of mind.

Oops ... never mind

We just discovered some new information about a way for libraries and schools to let people check out and use tablets.

So, we're investigating that before we actually make our Kindle Fires, Nooks and iPad mini tablets available to the public.

For now, disregard earlier blog post, please.

Check out our e-readers

Starting Monday, patrons of the library can check out e-readers or tablets for use in the library.

We have a couple of Nooks, a couple of iPad minis and a couple of Kindle Fires.

Naturally, we have a policy that a patron who wants to use one of the tablets will need to read and sign.

Each device will be available for a two-hour period.

Drop by, and we'll show you how to use one.

Not necessarily the future everywhere

Much is being made in the media over the San Antonio public library that's got no books or paper products in it.

It's called BiblioTech.

I have not seen it, but have read much about it. The latest rave review came from Husna Haq, writing in The Christian Science Monitor last week.

I don't have a single problem with the library. But to call it the library of the future is to think uncritically.

BiblioTech works because it is one of a network of libraries, all the other of which have books and periodicals.

What would the people of Wimberley or Canyon Lake or Dripping Springs or Buda or Kyle or San Marcos think if their public libraries were paperless?

I think there'd be trouble.

I'm happy for the folks in San Antonio. I just don't know that are actually on the cutting edge of what most public libraries will look like in the future.

Coding is not for me

Last year I signed up for some online courses at Kahn Academy.

In mid-December, the folks at the Academy sent me a little gift via e-mail. It was a link to a program that would teach me how to code and thus make a simple Christmas card suitable for sending to family and friends.

The e-mail implied that the project would take about an hour.

I found that hour way after Christmas -- late last week, thanks to the lousy weather.

So, I learned to code. Well ... kinda.

I learned to do what they wanted me to do, which was very interesting but which resulted in a card I wouldn't send to anyone for anything.

The most important lesson I learned, however, was that I would much prefer to buy a card and send it than to code one. And I would certainly rather have someone produce a product that would let me build a card without having to know code.

For example, I know how to use InDesign by Adobe and Quark Xpress. Someone built the code that enabled me to produce newspaper pages with those products. But I didn't have to understand the code to make those software packages work.

Nope. Coding is not for me.