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Librarian Blog

Space for 'makers'

I just participated in a webinar about "makers' spaces" in public libraries, and there are some exciting things going on around the country.

Part of the discussion focused, for example, on 3D printers, which have dropped in price to an astonishing extent.

Libraries can spend as little as $499 to have a fully functional 3D printer that replicates all kinds of small objects -- from Star Wars figures to game dice to small tools that really work.

There's a device called the Raspberry Pi that is basically a computer. It costs $35.

The library long-range plan has us putting together a makers' space here in Wimberley, so we are heading down that road.

With prices like these, we will get there sooner than later.

Meanwhile, I'm looking for local "makers" who would like to help us map out what to do.

Holler at me at the library -- 847-2188 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

There's privacy and privacy

It's one thing for the NSA to scrape the Internet of private citizens.

That thing would be this: probably wrong but to be expected since we have all of us been cautioned over and over again about not expecting to keep anything private when we go online.

It's quite another for the NSA to spy on heads of government in allied states.

These folks have every right to believe what they say and do will be theirs alone, not plucked from cyberspace by an American agency.

That othr thing is this: clearly wrong and, to put a name on it, stupid.

Stories running today say President Obama did not approve NSA spying on the likes of Angela Merkel and didn't know about it. One would certainly hope not.

But one would also hope heads would roll and that the president would in outspoken language distance himself from what the NSA has been up to.

 

It's just real complicated

I just participated in a webinar sponsored by the American Library Association about e-books and libraries.

If you have tried to borrow books through our Overdrive program on our catalog page, you have undoubtedly concluded that there are not many e-books out there for you to download.

That's because publishers are not wanting to let us buy books to loan to you. I understand that.

But, after listening to an hour's worth of information, I also understand that the issues are far bigger than just the fact that every publisher has its own model for selling to libraries or not doing so.

Just consider what school and college librarians face as they try to buy books for one class for one term, and then multiply that by who knows how much.

I can definitively say the selling-lending situation is not going to improve much any time soon.

And that's bad for all of us.

Quiet!

In this week's New Yorker magazine, Evgeny Morozov has an essay entitled "Only Disconnect: Two cheers for boredom."

In it, he complains about the urgency of now, the imperative to be constantly connected to everything in the world around us, thanks to Twitter, smart phones, etc.

The antidote, he suggests, is to be unplugged and bored.

I would add this: Seeking quiet? Come to the library. We have a quiet zone.

But, even in that space, if you really want quiet, leave your phone, laptop and tablet at home.

Then, pick up a book and connect with just one other person, an author.

Save the brain

The news-brief headline in the October edition of Harvard Health Letter sure caught this librarian's attention:

"Read a book, preserve your memory."

Research published in July and earlier shows that if you're older and you are a regular reader, you can slow ordinary mental decline by a substantial amount.

But while this sounds like a real boost for publishers and authors and libraries, it turns out to be a little less than exciting because the same article notes that other studies have shown that just about any mental stimulation in old age forestalls decline.

Dance, sing, paint, do Sudoku, do a puzzle -- and read. It's all going to help keep you alert and mentally quick.