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Librarian Blog

Field of dreams in Austin

In Austin, they have built one monumental and beautiful new library, and this weekend they shall see if people come.
I'm betting they do.
The new downtown library is almost 200,000 square feet. It's steel and wood and stone and light and air.
I love it almost as much as I love the new library in Seguin, a few miles east of New Braunfels.
There's just one hitch:
It cost about $630 per square foot to build and furnish.
When you look at library construction costs across the nation in the last two years, that amount puts the Austin library right up there with libraries on the West Coast in terms of price.
Wonder what Jeff Bezos thinks about that?

Whata sale!

Join the Friends of the Library for a nominal annual dues fee, and head over to the humongous book sale that's going on at Chapel in the Hills until 6 p.m. today.
Or, head over there all day tomorrow without a Friends membership.
There must be 10,000 books for sale over there, and not a single item is more than $1. (Wait until close to closing time tomorrow afternoon, which is 3 p.m., and you can probably make any deal you want.)
The proceeds come back to the library to help us with programs and activities, and new materials.

Can you read this?

I have what may be a stupid question: Can you read this?
Specifically, I'm wondering if you can see this website from your home here in the Hill Country?
Or do you have to go someplace to access the internet?
I'm asking because we may have the opportunity to provide some wi-fi hotspots for our patrons to use periodically so they can get the internet access they need at their homes.
The idea would be for us to loan out the hotspots for a few days at a time -- enough time for you to download information you might not otherwise get through a slow connection or a nonexistent one.
If this is you, let me know!

Premature demise

The conventional wisdom is that traditional printed books are on the way out, and ebooks are on the way in.
Maybe that was the case 10 years ago. But no more.
The Wall Street Journal's Zeke Turner reports this week from Frankfurt, Germany, that ebook sales last year were off 17 percent from the year before, and that is a trend, not just a one-year blip.
Publishers, meeting in Frankfurt, were thus enthusiastic about the prospects, and are upping their press runs and also concentrating on quality of the physical books they publish (not necessarily the quality of the ideas between the covers). 
We shall get a somewhat limited gauge of the interest in real books this weekend at our annual Friends of the Library sale over at the Chapel in the Hills. Thousands of books will be on sale ove there at bare-bones prices. Will people buy them?
Two observations: In the past, books have sold very well at the annual event. But, we seem to have more books available this year than ever before, and that means people with the books gave more away so they could be sold.
So, we shall have to wait and see.

Keillor would be proud

Remember Lake Woebegon?
That's Garrison Keillor's imaginary village where, among many other things, all the kids were above average.
Can you imagine such a place?
Well, look around. It seems that we all increasingly live in a Lake Woebegon. All kids everywhere are above average.
They are so above average that in some communities a quarter to a third of the graduating seniors are valedictorians!
The Wall Street Journal's Tawnell D. Hobbs reported on this strange phenomenon this past weekend in an article with this headline: "You're All No. 1! High Schools Say 'Vale' to the Valedictorian."
It seems that many high schools have done away with the valedictorian competitive run because it's all gotten, well, too competitive. The implicit idea seems to be the competition is a bad thing. I'm not sure why. After all, many high schools have football teams, right? They compete, right? What's the difference?
I don't know.
On the other hand, is it possible that there are so many valedictorians in one school because the coursework is too easy?
I don't know about that, either.
I actually regard this as just another trendy happening in public education. I suspect that it, too, shall pass.
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