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Don't bet on it

Digital books were going to change the world, rendering paper-style books as dated and useless.
It turns out that even though digital platforms have proliferated, the number of publications printed as ebooks only hasn't to a large degee.
There have been plenty of works made available in both formats, digital and print.
What about in the future, though?
One indicator of what lies ahead comes in the form of a study published this week called "Tracking Trends in Faculty Research, Publishing and Teaching from The Ithaka S+R US Faculty Survey, written by Roger C. Schonfeld.
The survey form asked faculty members across the country if they strongly agreed with this statement: "Within the next five years, the use of ebooks will be so prevalent among faculty and students that it will not be necessary to maintain library collections of hard-copy books."
Across the board, less than 20 percent strongly agreed. Only 10 percent of faculty in the humanities strongly agreed, and about 19 percent in the social sciences and sciences. Oddly, more than 30 percent of medical faculty strongly agreed.
 

Going, going ...

Back in January, we toted 1,000 books about the May 23, 2015, Blanco River flood back to the library from our Austin printer.
At our launch party, we sold about 360 of them.
And now we are down to about 20 here at the library. The Visitors Center is out, and I don't know about the Old Mill Store, but I'm sure they are getting low on numbers, too.
That's one kind of news.
The other kind is that we just ordered a second edition run of 500 books. It will include a few more stories and will fix some mistakes.
The new edition will be here this Friday or Saturday.
The price will remain at $20.
So, if you haven't bought your copy yet, don't worry: We'll have plenty.

Keep them honest

Many years ago when I was a reporter for an Amarillo TV station, I tried to challenge what I saw as a very disturbing trend in the Texas hospital industry. Starting in Amarillo, a very astute senior administrator who yearned to do the business of a publicly funded hospital out of sight of the media and the people paying his bills, found a way to do so. He created a hospital foundation that ran the daily business of the facility and leased the building from the public.

Thus, he had the best of both worlds. He could hide from public view in a public building and perform a publicly funded service.

I thought that was wrong. But, my bosses didn't, so we didn't take it to court, which would have been an expensive remedy.

After the administrator did this successfully in Amarillo, he moved on to Wichita Falls and other cities, converting public hospitals to private ones using publicly funded facilities.

The worm, as they say, may be changing.

Jonathan Peters reports in a recent edition of the Columbia Journalism Review online that two state high courts in Indiana and Ohio have ruled that private entities that perform public functions are subject to state open records laws.

That's a victory for all of us who want our government agencies to be held accountable.

Not making the grade

Two data sets released this week tell us that all is certainly not well in our public education systems.
Early this week, the American-Statesman reported that an ever-increasing number of Texas students who graduate from high school are not ready for college work.
More recently, the Census Bureau released educational attainment statistics. Their data broken down by race is most interesting and shows us where the challenge lies for Texans. Asian students reported the highest percentage of those with a bachelor's degree or higher at 54 percent. Whites were at the 50 percent mark more or less. But Hispanics had a miserable rate of college degree attainment, something between 10 percent and 20 percent depending on where they were born.
Much can probably be discussed about these numbers and others from the dataset, but to me the future is going to be disastrous for Texas unless we do more as a state to lift up the Hispanics, who will be a majority of the population soon.
 

The purpose of art

One of my daughters is a professor of art history, and we have talked many times about this artist or that artist, especially the ones whose work I just don't exactly understand.

She is patient with me.

A question I have never asked her: What is the purpose of art.

I suppose I have not asked that of her because I've actually never really thought about it.

This morning I was reading "Home" by Marilyn Robinson, the sequel to "Gilead." And I came across a passage that stuck with me (among many wonderful pages in this marvelous novel): It is the purpose of art to ward off the demons.

That sounds right to me.

I will have to discuss it with my daughter.

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