Unexpectedly finding a skeleton lounging in her office doesn’t rattle Beth M. Lander, college librarian at the Historical Medical Library of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. “That’s an excellent example of what it is like to work here,” she says. “You never know what might happen next.” The college shares its library with the Mütter Museum, an institution known for its macabre medical materials, which span centuries. The library holds more than 146,000 journals, monographs, photos, manuscripts, and other medical ephemera documenting more than 1,000 years of medical history. It also has five books bound in human skin.
American Libraries Bookend, Jan./Feb.
The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, the world’s preeminent center for the study of the Yiddish language, culture, and history, has laid off all of its librarians. Four people were let go in the move, which was announced internally last week and confirmed by Executive Director Jonathan Brent in a statement on January 20. The four librarians were among 39 total employees of the 95-year-old organization, which reported $5.1 million in spending in its 2018 annual report. YIVO had a $550,000 revenue shortfall in 2019, Brent said, so the board and professional leadership decided to remove the librarians in order to “seek efficiencies in the organization.”
Forward, Jan. 20
The Digital Public Library of America has released a new ebook, The Impeachment Papers, a compendium of 38 documents related to the impeachment of Donald J. Trump. The EPUB-format ebook consists of witness testimony, subpoenas, and other publicly available material in an easy-to-read format. Additions to the preliminary version of this ebook, originally released in December, include the report from the House Judiciary Committee, report from the House Intelligence Committee, and the review of four FISA applications and other aspects of the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation, all of which were released to the public in December. A browser version is also available.
Digital Public Library of America, Jan. 21
Clark Drieshen writes: “The British Library invites you to explore some of the wildlife that can be found in its heraldic manuscripts. Medieval and early modern coats of arms—visual designs symbolizing the heritage of individuals and families—are teeming with animal life. These animals are depicted according to heraldic conventions, but sometimes they also display fabulous features originating from medieval illustrated bestiaries. It can sometimes be difficult to understand what these borrowings from the bestiary tradition represent. Luckily, we have a guidebook at our disposal, namely the 15th-century Middle Scots Deidis of Armorie.”
British Library: Medieval Manuscripts Blog, Jan. 21
Elisa Shoenberger writes: “In October 2019, InsideHook reported that Philip Roth, author of Portnoy’s Complaint, gave a bequest of more than $2 million to his hometown library in New Jersey. That’s in addition to his personal collection that he donated. As someone who works in philanthropy in my day job, I got really excited. I decided to look into what other authors have made bequests, whether cash or gifts in kind, to their beloved libraries.”
Book Riot, Jan. 21
The North America Scholastic Esports Federation and the University of California, Irvine on January 15 released data that documents significant positive learning outcomes for high school students because of their participation in NASEF’s scholastic e-sports program. Researchers at UC Irvine found that students improved in nearly every outcome variable measured, including STEM career interest, school engagement, and critical thinking. In year one, UCI found emergent, natural ties between student activities in NASEF and important educational standards in science, math, and English language arts.
North America Scholastic Esports Federation, Jan. 15
If you’re a patron of Bubbles 3 Laundromat in Jersey City, New Jersey, you don’t need a library card to get your reading fix. Thanks to students, parents, and teachers from Hamilton Park Montessori School, visitors to the laundromat will be able to read, play with toys, or even put on a puppet show. On January 20, school volunteers installed a “Family Read, Play, and Learn” space in the laundromat, complete with a table, chairs, and couch. The space will also house about 50 books, toys, puppets, and a whiteboard with movable letters. The books will be replenished by volunteers on a regular basis.
Secaucus Jersey Journal, Jan. 20
In the basement of the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Parkway Central branch are shelves upon shelves of manga, lucite cases full of Marvel and DC comics, tables covered in puzzles, a 75-inch flat-screen TV for anime and games, paper-covered tables and markers for doodling, a maker space with a 3D printer and a sewing machine, and cozy chairs in hues of bright red and orange. It is the Field Teen Center, which opened in April 2019. On a typical weekday, about 30 teens are hanging out at any given time, bonding with staff and partaking in parties, video games, poetry practice, and fun contests.
Philadelphia Citizen, Jan. 15
A “cyber intrusion” knocked 600 public-access computers offline at Volusia County (Fla.) Public Library. Patrons can still check out materials and use Wi-Fi on personal devices. The computers have been down since January 9 and will likely remain so the rest of this week. “The county’s technology staff were immediately notified and coordinated recovery efforts with library staff,” county spokesman Kevin Captain said January 17. “Approximately 50 computers are back online, enabling library staff to perform patron business, such as checking books in and out, and making reservations.”
Daytona Beach (Fla.) News-Journal, Jan. 20
Penguin Random House has just pulled all of their English and Spanish ebook titles from online unlimited services. This includes Bookbeat, Nextory and Storytel. The publisher confirmed the change with Good e-Reader, “at this point in time, Penguin Random House has decided that we will not participate in subscription models with unlimited access. Our decision was made jointly by the company’s international management team to protect a variety of content on the market and the actual and perceived long-term value of our authors’ intellectual property rights.” News agencies are speculating that the company will launch its own unlimited subscription platform.
Good e-Reader, Jan. 20
Philadelphia leaders and innovators will share their visions for the future at three Libraries Transform sessions during the Symposium on the Future of Libraries at the 2020 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia. Libraries Transform: Civic Innovation, on January 25, considers the future of place. Libraries Transform: Social Innovation, on January 26, explores the societal changes required to create more just and equitable communities. Libraries Transform: Education Innovation, on January 27, explores the future of education access.
Center for the Future of Libraries, Jan. 20
Concepción de León writes: “As is often the case with those who die young, Martin Luther King Jr. has become more symbol than man: pacifist, beacon of nonviolent racial reform. But over the last 50 years since his assassination, that view has been complicated. His ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, taught in schools and exalted for its vision of a racial utopia, has been reexamined, showing how King’s views evolved in his final years, recognizing how much work remained to be done to achieve true equality. These seven books paint a complete picture of King, including biographies, novels, and King’s final written work.”
New York Times, Jan. 20