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Some welcome refugees

While Syrian refugees in a camp called The Jungle outside Calais, France, have started their own little library, in other places across Europe public libraries are trying to be as responsive as possible to the migrant crisis.

That's according to the European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Association. The association posted an item yesterday quoting officials with the Danis Library Association, for example, declaring that their libraries were open and hoping to serve a safe havens for refugees.

The Danes issued a press release, saying: "We cannot promise that there will be enough books in the language of the refugees in all libraries, but librarians will do their best to ensure that refugees feel welcome..."

Further, the association said, "EBLIDA believes that libraries all over Europe should act as a platform for democratic and open-minded values, and be a safe place where social inclusiveness for all is a priority."

Good for them.

Now, how do they get that message to Hungary and Serbia and Croatia?

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.


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.

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.

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