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Why libraries matter

A large group of refugees has set up a camp commonly called The Jungle near Calais, France.

They are, of course, homeless, and utterly without modern resources.

Pamela Druckerman writes of their plight in Sunday's New York Times.

Many of the refugees have iPhones and iPads, apparently.

But, they have set up a library with real books, set up by a woman who recognzed that many of these Syrians were educated people who wanted to read and learn things, like French, and not just sit around and wait for something to happen.

Books are mainly castoffs from Britain.

However, Druckerman makes mention of a French organizatoin called Libraries Without Borders that helps set up libraries in refugee camps, including a WiFi link.

But even if they could get access to the Internet at The Jungle, it seems likely they would still hunger for books in the traditional format.

And this is on the very far edge of civilization, a sad reality.

I wonder how we could get books to them.

 

Still pretty slow

We send faxes for patrons several times a week, and every time we send one I cringe.

The fax machine still makes that scratchy-blackboard sound that is so evocative of the sound our computers made when we tried to dial up Internet service.

That helps to keep me grounded when I complain about slow access speeds here or at home. And there are websites out there that take long, long seconds to load, which in my world today seems like way too long a period of time.

(I'm thinking of one in particular that is just maddening: the site for Time tech news. It's got so much stuff going on you almost can't get to read or see anything.)

The New York Times reported last Saturday that Google is working with magazine and book publishers to try to increase download speeds, particularly for mobile devices, which is where the action is digitally these days.

They are running into difficulties that I'm certain they will overcome.

Maybe if Google stopped putting time and energy and money into what I consider a fool's chase after autonomous cars they could focus on improving the speed of things.

 

Banning even more

New Zealand has banned an award-winning novel aimed at a youth audience.

Ho-hum, right?

Well, it's just in time for Banned Books Week here in the States. Good timing.

The book is "Into the River" by Ted Dawe.

Something called the Film and Literature Board of Review is the entity doing the actual banning, which means that the book cannot be sold or distributed or exhibited, period. Anywhere. To anybody.

Wow. This smacks of Fascism if anything does.

Why was the book banned? The group that objected to it, called Family First, said it had sexually explicit content, drug use and the use of a slang term for female genitalia.

I wonder if Nobokov has an audence in New Zealand.

Maybe there's more to this story than what I have read.

I hope so. New Zealand is a little backwater place already. It doesn't need to retrench further from modern life.

Recipe booklet

For a couple of years now I have been offering a cooking class on the first Monday of the month.

I've collected quite a number of recipes introduced during those sessions.

Because I am also involved in the development of a book about the Memorial Day flood in Wimberley, I know that a lot of individuals and families lost all their cookbooks and recipe boxes to the water.

So, I have put together a small booklet that contains some of those recipes and others. If you would like to have one, come by. Better yet, call in advance so I can make sure I have a copy for you.

Number is 512-847-2188.

So, it's come to this

When the Austin American-Statesman announced last summer that it would no longer be printed in Austin, but in San Antonio, I braced for the inevitable.

The A-S promised no dimunition of quality, and the print quality is fine as it's ever been.

What's not fine is the effect this change has had on the quality of the newspaper as a news product, which it still purports to be.

I am scratching my head over the fact that you will not find scores or stories from Friday night football games in Saturday's paper, and you won't find scores or stories from evening games played by university teams in the Sunday paper. Instead, Friday night games are covered on Sunday, and university games are covered on Monday.

In TEXAS?

Wow. If you can't give same-day coverage to high-school and college football, what in the world were you thinking back when it sounded like a good idea to go to San Antonio for print services?

What might a Texas newspaper editor give up before giving up the weekend sports franchise?

To pour salt into the wound, the A-S wrapped the front section with a four-page ad section the other day touting how much more they were providing to Austin-area news consumers.

That is what you call ballsy.

It's all very sad.

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