Officials at the Museum of Chinese in America in New York City said perhaps 85,000 historic and artistic items it had carefully collected for the past 40 years were most likely lost after a fire tore through a Chinatown building where its archives were stored on the evening of January 23. Museum President Nancy Yao Maasbach said that the collection, stored in the building at 70 Mulberry Street, was one of a kind and represented the single most important repository of New York’s Chinese community. While about 40,000 items in the archives were digitized, many physical items are irreplaceable. No one will be able to enter and retrieve items for at least three weeks.
Visiting the library remains the most common cultural activity Americans engage in, by far. The average of 10.5 trips to the library that US adults report taking in 2019 exceeds their participation in eight other common leisure activities. Americans attend live music or theatrical events and visit national or historic parks roughly 4 times a year on average and visit museums and gambling casinos 2.5 times annually. Trips to amusement or theme parks (1.5) and zoos (0.9) are the least common activities on this list. Women report visiting the library nearly twice as frequently as men, and adults aged 18–29 visit the library much more than all older age groups.
The Cleveland Public Library and the union representing library workers said January 23 they reached a tentative deal to resolve their simmering labor dispute, avoiding a potential strike that would have shut down some library branches and services. About 400 librarians, library assistants, clerks, maintenance workers, and custodians have been without a contract since December 2019. Contract talks between the library system and the union, the Service Employees International Union District 1199, have been ongoing since September, but broke down around the new year. Workers will vote on the contract on January 29.
Natasha Lomas writes: “Did you notice a recent change to how Google search results are displayed on the desktop? I noticed something last week—thinking there must be some kind of weird bug messing up the browser’s page rendering because suddenly everything looked similar: a homogenous sea of blue text links and favicons that, on such a large expanse of screen, come across as one block of background noise. I found myself clicking on an ad link rather than the organic search result I was looking for. This is Google’s latest dark pattern: The adtech giant has made organic results even more closely resemble the ads it serves against keyword searches.”
Katie Quirin Manwiller writes: “For those of us who face mental and physical exhaustion as part of daily life, attending conferences can be a battle. It takes me a lot of extra effort to manage my health during professional events. Having navigated various national and regional conferences, I’ve developed a few tricks that make it possible for me to conference while chronically ill. Best of all, my experience at the ACRL conference in 2019 led me to a community of other librarians with illness and disability for which I am deeply grateful.”
ACRL has announced the recipients of its 2020 Excellence in Academic Libraries Award: Nevada State College Marydean Martin Library in Henderson, Nevada; Santa Rosa (Calif.) Junior College Libraries; and University of Maryland Libraries, College Park, Maryland. Sponsored by GOBI Library Solutions from EBSCO, the award recognizes the staff of a college, community college, and university library for programs that deliver exemplary services and resources to further the educational mission of the institution. Each library will receive $3,000 and a plaque, to be presented at an award ceremony held on each recipient’s campus.
Kelly Jensen writes: “It’s been making the rounds in every single library publication and social media outlet: Reese Witherspoon is looking for a librarian-in-residence and as long as you’ve worked in a library, that could be you. Sounds great, right? How fun to work with Reese and her team at Hello Sunshine to talk about and promote books and stories by and about women. You just need to submit a 90-second video. To say it’s surprising how quickly this story spread without any critical examination is an understatement. This is a contest—not any sort of job, internship, or position. The winner will receive nothing financial in exchange.”
Michael Crider writes: “There’s a lot to be excited about if you’re looking for something new in the world of smartphones. And if you happen to be in the market for a new phone this year, you’re probably wondering what’s on the horizon. Likely features include folding phones, sorta-folding phones, crazy camera arrays, high refresh rate displays, facial recognition, and 5G expansion.”
Jessica Booth writes: “You’ve probably heard your electronic devices—especially your phone and laptop—are disgusting.Studies have found over 25,000 bacteria per square inch on the average cell phone, and your laptop is 20,000 times dirtier than a toilet seat. It’s time to clean both thoroughly. Merely running a damp cloth over your phone and laptop isn’t going to cut it. Actually, that could damage the screen or other small parts. Here are some tips to keep all the dirt and grime away.”
Rebecca Hill writes: “Getting to the truth today takes more effort. Finding it with a barrage of information on social media and 24-hour news cycles, is exhausting. According to Lee McIntyre, research fellow at the Boston University Center for Philosophy and History, we are now living in a post-truth society. McIntyre believes that post-truth is an attempt to compel someone to believe in something, whether evidence exists for it or not. Recently, McIntyre published Post-Truth for MIT Press’s Essential Knowledge series. I talked to McIntyre and here is what he shared with me.”
An Illinois bill would allow public libraries to get a cut of the taxes on recreational cannabis sales, but it would come at the expense of county-level taxes. House Bill 4135 would allow the state’s more than 600 public libraries to impose a 1% tax on recreational cannabis sales in their jurisdictions. State Rep. Dan Didech (D-Buffalo Grove) said the idea for his legislation came from a conversation with a local librarian. In exchange, the county the library is in would be limited to taxing cannabis sales in the library district at up to 2%. Under existing law, counties can tax local cannabis sales up to 3%. Didech’s bill would essentially redirect 1% of that to libraries.
Patrons of the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Public Library will soon have access to tools and resources toward living a healthier lifestyle as part of a new pilot program. A $50,000 grant to the Iowa Department of Health from Telligen Community Initiative is funding a “Harnessing the Power of Iowa Libraries” program. Cedar Rapids is one of the first libraries where it will be tested. Library Director Dara Schmidt said they are looking at integrating a social or community health worker into library hours, offering cooking and nutrition classes, and lending wellness equipment.