A key part of National Library Week is the American Library Association's annual release of the top 10 most challenged books. But this year's list, which will be revealed on Monday, April 8, apparently goes to 11. Maybe, as Spinal Tap's Nigel Tufnel once explained, ALA felt this year's list needed that “extra push over the cliff?”
We'll find out Monday, when the 2019 National Library Week celebrations begin. The release kicks off a week of events for this year’s National Library Week, which officially runs from April 7-13, the 61st celebration since ALA debuted the event in 1958.
This year’s honorary chair will be Melinda Gates, who gave an excellent talk at this year’s ALA Midwinter Meeting in Seattle, and who, on April 23, will publish The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World, which PW praised as a "thoughtful and empathetic" memoir that addresses the "thorny issues that hold women down."
Among other highlights to look for next week: on Monday, April 8, The annual State of America's Libraries Report will be released which includes the Top Ten Frequently Challenged Books of 2018 (which this year goes to 11).
Tuesday, April 9 is National Library Workers Day, “a day for library staff, administrators, and Friends groups to recognize the valuable contributions made by all library workers.” #nlwd19.
Wednesday, April 10 is National Bookmobile Day, “a day to recognize the contributions of our nation's bookmobiles…and those who make bookmobile outreach possible in their communities." It is also Library Giving Day, “a one-day fundraising event with the goal of encouraging people who depend on and enjoy public libraries to donate to their individual library system.” #LibraryGivingDay; #BookmobileDay2019.
Thursday, April 11 is Take Action for Libraries Day, “a day to speak up for libraries and share your library story.” #MyLibraryMyStory.
And, Saturday, April 13 is Citizen Science Day. SciStarter has a free guide for how libraries and library workers can get involved.
And, while you’re celebrating libraries next week, ALA officials also remind you to contact your Senators about signing on to this year’s “Dear Appropriator” letters in support of federal library funding. The deadline has been extended to April 11.
As we’ve previously reported, the Trump administration once again is proposing to eliminate all federal funding for libraries.
On the topic of challenged books, The upstart Colorado Sun this week reports that a conservative group called Heritage Defenders is continuing to take aim at what it sees as a conspiracy to give porn to children, a conspiracy that includes the American Library Association. The motive? "Porn is a billion-dollar industry,” Heritage's leader told the Sun. That and "a desire among liberals, gays and Muslims to indoctrinate children that bad sexual behavior is OK." Last Fall, a group of Cherry Creek (Colorado) School District parents sued EBSCO Information Services and the Colorado Library Consortium alleging the database provider was promoting pornography to schoolkids. As the Denver Post reported, the suit was swiftly dismissed in February. But according to the Sun, the fight is not over.
Are books contraband? From the Seattle Times, state corrections officials in Washington have apparently barred prisoners from receiving books through the mail. The policy, which was posted the new policy online last month, says the ban is necessary "to reduce contraband flowing into the prisons." The ban was discovered by a Seattle nonprofit, Books To Prisoners.
Great news for school librarians in Texas. The Austin American Statesman reports that the Texas House has passed a bill that will see all educators get a $5000 raise, including school librarians. Librarians were initially left out of the bill, an oversight that the Texas Library Association quickly sought to rectify. Governor Greg Abbott, a supporter of the bill, praised its passage. This should add a little extra momentum to the Texas Library Association Annual Conference, which convenes in Austin, April 15-18.
And if you're planning to be at TLA, be sure to stop by the Publishers Weekly booth (#2742) to say hello, and to enter to win one of many prizes our sponsors will be giving away at the show. Prizes include a set of ALA award-winning titles; the entire collection of titles from the Rick Riordan imprint; a Fujifilm Instax camera; a collection of highly anticipated ARCs; and a backpack stuffed with surprises including a Kindle Fire 7 loaded with e-books, and more.
On the eve of National Library Week, another reminder of all that libraries do in our communities,via American Libraries: This week ALA President Loida Garcia-Febo spoke at the Census Bureau’s one-year-out national press conference in Washington, D.C., and, the American Library Association (ALA) joined an amicus brief to the US Supreme Court in a case opposing the last-minute addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. The brief argues that the addition of the citizenship question threatens the integrity of census data. “Accurate and reliable census information features in an astonishing array of decisions, from where voters cast their ballots, to where small businesses choose to invest, to how the federal government allocates money, to how emergency responders prepare for natural disasters, among many others,” the brief states. The case will be heard April 23, with the Court expected to rule before census forms are scheduled to go to press, in June.
On a less serious note, while you're visiting American Libraries, check out their roundup of April Fool's pranks...
Remember that old trope about how e-books last forever, and never wear out like paper books? Yeah, not so much. ZDnet this week reports that Microsoft is getting out of the e-book game, with previous customers losing their libraries. Microsoft will offer refunds to customers, who will no longer be able to access their books after July. Unless, of course, they jailbreak them. But that would require some technical ability and would surely be against the terms of service customers were forced to accept when they bought the books, and who would do such a thing? Oh, and if you annotated or marked up your e-book, you get an extra bump in your refund, you know, for the inconvenience. On one hand, it's hard to imagine anyone buying e-books from Microsoft. But that's not really the issue. "That’s one point in favor of physical books," notes The Verge, "which can’t be deleted from a server after you’ve bought them."
This feels like a moment of some kind: Springer Nature announced this week that it has published its first "machine-generated book in chemistry." The book is described as a collaboration between Springer Nature and researchers from Goethe University, in Frankfurt, Germany, using a state-of-the-art algorithm called Beta Writer.
On the Open Access front, more signs that the pace of change in academic publishing is shifting. Cambridge University Press this week announced another "a major Open Access agreement," this one with the Bavarian State Library (BSB) on behalf of higher education and research institutions across Germany, a three year "read and publish" agreement that allows researchers to both access Cambridge journals, and covers Article Processing Charges for authors wishing to publish in Cambridge journals.
The New York Times, meanwhile, has a story on The Federal Trade Commission winning a $50 million judgment against India-based Omics International, a prominent player in the shady world of predatory journal publishing. "
Another week, another controversy involving a Drag Queen Story Time, this one from Atlanta. From AJC.com, Steven Igarashi-Ball, who performs in drag mostly for charity as Miss Terra Cotta Sugarbaker, says "he was invited to perform by the staff at the Alpharetta library branch after they saw how successful the story time was at the Ponce de Leon Avenue branch," but the event has since been removed from the library's events calendar. But in a twist, it seems the library hasn't canceled the event, just stopped promoting it.
Variety reports that Susan Orlean's The Library Book, described as a "love letter to libraries" that tells the story of a fire that devastated Los Angeles' Central Library in 1986, is in development as a TV series.
Queens Library (NY) President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott this week launched the Library’s “Renewed Promise to the Public,” a long-term initiative "to honor and serve the diversity of the Library’s customers and communities that includes changing its name to Queens Public Library." Walcott said the library "added ‘public’ back to our name to reinforce who is at the center of our work and to whom the Library belongs.”
Via The Associated Press, James Patterson is at it again: giving away money (up to $1.25 million this time around!) to support readers. "On Tuesday, the bestselling author announced the fifth installment for his Patterson Partnership, formed in coordination with Scholastic Book Club. Patterson is giving $250 each to 4,000 teachers around the country to help purchase books. He is also distributing $500 each to 500 teachers with three years or less experience. Scholastic will match Patterson with gifts of 250 and 500 bonus points for its book club. Teachers can apply for grants through www.scholastic.com/pattersonpartnership. The deadline is July 31.