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Librarian Blog

The fix is (not) in

Want to fix American public education?

Give every child a tablet computer!


Give every child emotional maturity instruction!


Give every child a well-paid teacher!


Well, what, then?

The New York Times Magazine devoted its pages to education on Sunday, and those suggestions stand out from others given by various "experts" in the articles.

None really resonated with me, though, like the comment piece that did not make it into the magazine but that was published on Page 5 in the Editorial section of the regular edition.

James J. Heckman begins with this sentence: "What's missing in the current debate over economic inequality is enough serious discussion about investing in effective early childhood development from birth to age 5." And then he makes his case.

Heckman is right. In another life as a journalist and community volunteer I had the good fortunte to be among a small group of people who got to see brain imaging research on young children that showed the effects of things like being read to, being held, being loved, being talked to. I became and remain convinced that early childhood education is critically important -- more important than anything else we could spend money on.

Instead, though, we are busy cutting Head Start and other programs for poor children.

A guy I knew once left me with a phrase I'll never forget: "It's a poor bird that dirties its own nest."

We are dirty birds indeed.

Save a few bucks

If you haven't checked out the services you can link to at our catalog website, you are leaving money on the table.

You may not be interested in taking classes on various software programs or in searching for a job or reading a free magazine online, but you might be interested in the goodies available via our World Book link.

With your free library card, you get access through World Book to a whole wide world's worth of daily newspapers, including The New York Times digital edition, the American-Statesman digital edition and the Houston Chronicle digital edition. In the physical world, you would pay to have that access.

And that's just one aspect of what World Book online offers.

Do yourself a favor: check it out.

At the top

I'm a sucker for Top 10 lists.

And I guess I'm not alone. The featured article in Sunday's The New York Times Magazine will be one of its best read, I'm betting, just based on the popularity of The Times' best-seller lists themselves.

The story is about popularity and those fleeting factors that go into things that go to the top of whatever list you're making.

It's interesting to note that popularity isn't what it used to be. "That's because we've turned off Top 40 and loaded up Spotify; we've clicked away from NBC and fired up Netflix; we, thanks to the increasingly concierge-style delivery system of the Internet, are each sheltered in our own cultural cocoon," Adam Sternbergh writes.

I knew the world was going to change for the better when I first loaded a tape into a videocassette machine and realized that I could pick my own music or TV show or movie without reliance on the disc jockey or producer.

But, that aside, it's fascinating to see what really is No. 1. Like: Snickers is the No. 1 candy bar. "Duck Dynasty" is the highest-rated reality cable-TV show ever. The most frequently visited national park in 2012 was Great Smoky Mountains National Park. And there's more.

The best-selling book so far this year? Dan Brown's "Inferno." It has sold 1.2 million copies.

Here at the Wimberley Village Library, "Inferno" is not No. 1, however.

That honor belongs to David Baldacci's book entitled "The Hit," which has been checked out 30 times so far this year.

By the way, "Cuckoo's Calling" by J.K. Rowling, writing with a pen name, has been checked out only 9 times. It is No. 1 on The New York Times best-seller hard-back list.

I have no idea what that says about Wimberley.

Out front in San Antonio

Reading about the new Connect area at the San Antonio Public Library just is not going to cut it. The more I read, the more I want to drive down there and see it for myself.

The facility just opened to the public, and everyone in the library business is buzzing about Connect, which is a place where you can access all kinds of technologies -- everything from very high-speed Internet to portable devices.

"Connect is an innovative, sleek 12,800 square foot space located at our Central Library downtown. Connect provides free, faster Wi-Fi that can handle more users; reduces public wait time by providing 114 desktop computers as well as 15 laptops, and 20 Google Nexus tablets for check-out; provides easier access to training opportunities; and educates about emerging technologies through our Technology Test Drive that features the OverDrive Media Stations." That quote comes from a public relations source, but it's not hype.

Sounds like the library of the future.


What's that sound?

It's the world as we know it crashing down around us.

Random House announced this week that classic books by Dr. Seuss will be published as e-books and made available later this month.

Among them: "The Cat in the Hat," "Green Eggs and Ham," "Oh, the Places You'll Go!", "Horton Hears a Who!" and many, many more.

More by Dr. Seuss will come out in that format in October and November.

These are the gateway books for new readers.

And as Kobo noted in a report issued last spring called "The Children's Digital Book Market: The Future Looks Bright," this makes the future look even brighter.

Brighter, that is, if you make e-readers or yearn to see the world head in that direction.

Maybe not tomorrow, and maybe not the day after, but just right on down the line, e-books will be standard.

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