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Librarian Blog

Classic comments

We're having a discussion in the building about whether teens read the "classics," whatever those might be.

When I think of "classic" books, I think of Austen, Dickens, Shakespeare, and even Hemingway and Faulkner. And I think that's what the discussion is about.

It appears some folks believe teens don't read those classical works any more because their teachers don't make them. But, I have also been reading some blog strands elsewhere that suggest that there is a lot of good YA literature out there for kids to read, and they don't really need to be exposed to what I think of as classical literature.

I'm not sure young people have ever read classical literature unless they were required to do so by teachers. I mean, did any teenager ever voluntarily pick up "Great Expectations" or "Wuthering Heights" or even "The Sound and the Fury" just to consume for pleasure?

Making room

Forget the views, I could live in the Baccarat Hotel & Residences on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan just because of those fabulous floor-to-ceiling book casees.

See for yourself: Turn to the inside front cover of yesterday's New York Times Magazine.

Actually, if someone gave me enough money to live at the Baccarat I woiuld also have to make a substantial investment in books.

I have two small bookshelves in our bedroom. And not every shelf has books on it.

It's not always been this way, of course. For years and years I lugged dozens of boxes full of books from one house to another to another. I had huge shelves full of books -- after the boxes were unloaded.

Then as we contemplated a move from Wichita Falls to  Temple in 2007, I wondered why I would want to put all those books back into boxes and put them in a dusty garage, which is where they were going to have to go in our new Temple house because of a lack of wall space.

Now, some of these books were classics I had bought and read in college back in the 1960s. Some were textbooks I had to buy back then, too.

Crazy, I thought. Truly, I told myself, I will never read any of those books again. And truly I would not and will not.

So I gave almost all away to a charitable enterprise and moved a few boxes of stuff I just could not give up.

Just one more reason I won't be moving into the Baccarat with those glorious book shelves.

It's old news, but ...

It's certainly not well-publicized, but there is a growing collection of old newspapers online thanks, in part, to the University of North Texas.

I got curious about the availability of way-back issues of Texas newspapers after reading about the online-archiving project undertaken by the state of Indiana. With assistance from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress, Indiana's state library is putting fully readable copies of very old newspapers online.

I wondered whether the Texas state library and archives commission was doing anything like that. Turns out, they aren't. Instead, UNT is the lead organization in the state to digitize old papers with NEH and LoC aid. UNT's website says it has other partners.

Seems to me (and, yes, I have a vested interested as an old newspaper guy) this would be worthy of state funding.

By the way, right now only a relative handful of Texas newspapers have way-back issues online as part of the UNT program.

Another role

Today I ran across a Tweet forwarded from a guy named Jason Griffey.

I like what he had to say very briefly, as is the Twitter way. He suggested that libraries will become the last place where you can have real privacy, the last place you can have a conversation with another person without fear of a lurking microphone or snooping drone.

How said to think that's what it's coming to.

But, it is.

We're ready to offer that private space.

Pay attention

When my kids were small, there was no such thing as an iPad or smart phone. So, I couldn't be faulted for ignoring them in favor of these gadgets.

Today, there seems to be plenty of fault to go around. NPR had a story this morning about research that shows that too many parents of younger children are dithering with devices when they should be interacting, playing, listening. The kids, naturally, feel unwanted, and they act up.

Ok, but here's the thing: I worked too many hours and I read too many books and I took too many classes when  my children were small. They turned out all right, but I still feel guilty about it.