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Librarian Blog

A third revolution

Without commenting on the content, I will say that the folks in Youngstown-Warren, Ohio, did a fine job on a 3D print project that their chamber of commerce displayed during the recent Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
The life-size bobblehead was pretty amazing.
According to an ad about the project appearing in a recent edition of The Wall Street Journal, the chamber partnered with Freshmade 3D, Humtown Products and Youngstown State University to create the statue.
It used 3,000 pounds of sand (not plastic) and 24 hours to print. The head, though, does have plastic and 5,400 cubic centimeters of it. The head took 225 hours to print.
Not as cool as a 3D printed car. Still pretty cool, though.

Before you check out

Before you check out, in the most literal of senses, make sure you have your life story in order.
Last Thursday's edition of The Wall Street Journal had an excellent story about an old guy up in Massachusetts who is teaching people how to write their obituaries -- before they die and publication becomes necessary.
This is a great idea.
I've probably written more than 1,000 obituaries in my lifetime, 45 years of which I spent as a journalist. I know the form backwards and forwards.
So, I plan to teach a class this fall on how to write your own obituary.
My thought right now is to limit the class size to about a dozen people. We'll convene in the morning on a Saturday and highlight what's interesting about our various lives, and then come back after lunch and figure out how to put that down on paper and what to do next.
I have learned from my own life that not even my children who care most about me know about what I consider the highlights of my life, the kinds of events I'd want to have mentioned in an obituary. Still, I don't have anything written down.
Yes, some people aren't going to worry about it because who cares what people think after they're dead and gone?
But, as someone who has tried to track down distant relatives to pull together a decent genealogical record, I have come to appreciate the very few people who left a trace of themselves after they passed from this veil of tears.

Very slow progress

You'd think that when it comes to early adoption some of the very first in line to engage new technologies would be college students.
But it's interesting to note that just may not be the case when it comes to course materials.
The National Association of College Bookstores' most recent survey has found that fully 40 percent of students still prefer a printed textbook.
That's surprising given two things: the cost to print a textbook as opposed to posting one online, and the physical baggage printed materials represent.
Maybe, though, college students prefer printed texts because they are responding to what's available. In other words, maybe college professors are requiring them to buy printed texts.
Regardless, the bookstore group's survey shows that these days college students are spending less on text materials than they did two  years ago.
And that's a good thing.

No surprise on audiobooks

The latest sales statistics show that audiobooks are becoming more popular than ever before, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The format is so popular that some authors are writing specifically to go straight to audio, bypassing print altogether.
While audiobooks are gaining in popularitiy at the national level, they have actually always been pretty popular here in Wimberley.
Last year, more than 4,000 checkouts were recorded.
That seems counter-intuitive, actually, because Wimberley is a retirement community, for the most part.
But, we still have a substantial number of people who do commute to Austin on a regular basis, and they like to listen to books when they drive.
Remarkably, I have met quite a number of people who drive in to Houston two or three days every week, and they love to hear their books as they go those three or so hours.
I am guessing here, but I think that most audiobooks are enjoyed while people drive.
I can't imagine someone sitting around the house listening to a Stephen King thriller.
Except that, isn't that exactly what my dad and his family did back before and during World War II when they gathered around the radio?

Czech it out

Several months ago, I think, my wife called me into her office to look at a new Facebook post about libraries around the world. The item was a series of photos of the world's most beautiful libraries, and one of them was in Prague.
I was a little startled. I have been to Prague and I have walked all over the city, and I just never saw anything I thought was a library. I certainly never went into one.
Of course, I don't read or speak Czech so I hadn't a clue what 90 percent of the buildings were. (The guy on the corner selling sausages -- I didn't need to read his sign.)
I confess now to having been pretty dumb about the Czech Republic and its books.
Just how dumb came home again today as I was reading The New York Times. In the A section is a story about the library in the Strahov monastery in Prague. I'd seen that picture before -- in that Facebook post my wife showed me.
Wow. I wish I had known about that building back when I was in Prague.
It turns out that you have to be almost willfully stupid not to see libraries in the Czech Republic. There is one library for every 1,971 citizens, according to the Times article. In the U.S., there is one for every 19,583 people. Libraries are everywhere there!
Why? one wonders. Because, the Times reports, every community is required by law to have one. This law was passed early in the last century because the ruling class thought books would help create an educated public.
In this country, we would do well to create more libraries and fewer dumb adults.
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