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Political espionage author and journalist Henry Porter solemnly points out: "To begin to write a book these days seems more than the average folly. Publishing appears to have been hit by a storm similar to the one that tore through the music industry a few years ago and is now causing unprecedented pain in newspapers We are told that fewer people are reading, that book sales are down, that the supermarkets which sell one in five copies of all books care more about their cucumber sales, that the book is shortly to be replaced by the ebook and electronic readers sold by, among others, Amazon, which seems bent on reducing publishers to an archipelago of editorial sweatshops and the writer to the little guy stitching trainers in an airless room.
Publishing seems to be one of the great mysteries of commerce. Despite the large numbers involved – a total of £1.752bn was spent on 235.7m books in 2009 in the UK, that's nearly four books for every man woman and child – the business today is a testament to self-deprecation, with only a few people willing to assert the unique value of books and their content."
More from the Guardian Observer.
Police captured fugitive former Guatemalan President Alfonso Portillo in the northern part of the country on Tuesday, a day after U.S. prosecutors indicted him on charges of laundering money stolen from foreign donations meant to buy children's library books. NPR
After the earthquake that struck the Port-au-Prince region on Tuesday, January 12, Libraries Without Borders affirms its solidarity with the people of Haiti. LWB and its French affiliate, Bibliothèques Sans Frontières, are involved in a number of projects in the capital and throughout the country. A new container of academic books was scheduled to make its way from France to the Université d'Etat d'Haïti in mid-January.
Many buildings have been destroyed. The Ecole Normale Supérieure, a main partner of Bibliothèques Sans Frontières, is reported to have collapsed. After the relief deployed by various countries and humanitarian organizations reaches Haiti, the country's need to rebuild its educational and cultural structures will be enormous. Libraries Without Borders is prepared to support the reconstruction effort.
More information about their partnership programs and events at the website.
The Washington Post has an interesting article about rescued Jewish books and other materials from Iraq. "Iraq reclaims a Jewish history it once shunned." By REBECCA SANTANA, Sunday, January 17, 2010; 12:16 AM
BAGHDAD -- It was seized from Jewish families and wound up soaking in sewage water in the basement of a secret police building. Rescued from the chaos that engulfed Baghdad as Saddam Hussein was toppled, it now sits in safekeeping in an office near Washington, D.C.
Like this country's once great Jewish community, the Iraqi Jewish Archive of books, manuscripts, records and other materials has gone through turbulent times. Now another twist may be in store: Iraq wants it back.
Iraqi officials say they will go to the U.S., possibly next month, to assess the materials found by U.S. troops and plan for their return after an absence of nearly seven years.
Some Jewish authorities are skeptical, arguing that since most estimates put the number of Jews in Iraq at less than 10, the archive no longer belongs here. But to Saad Eskander, the director of the Iraq National Library and Archives, it is part of a larger effort to rescue the cultural history Iraq lost during the invasion, and to put Iraqis on a tentative path to coming to grips with their past.
Read more about it at:
From the embattled frontline of the Anglo-American books world there seems to be nothing but bad news. Borders has fallen. Waterstone's, once a mighty citadel, is beseiged. Well-known literary agents are scurrying round town in search of life-saving mergers. Advances have hit rock bottom. The celebrity memoir is going the way of the dodo. The ebook is the future. Libraries, comprehensively digitised by Google, have become mausoleums of an ossifying tradition.
But in his column in Guardian UK, columnist Robert McCrum finds the upside of publishing in 2010. He tells us that all is not lost; that the magic of the English language has gone beyond all those locations where the sun never sets and has completely encircled and embraced the globe. The emergence of English as a global communications phenomenon with a supra-national momentum that gives it an independence from its Anglo-American roots is at once thrilling and decisive.
The aim of ROAR is to promote the development of open access by providing timely information about the growth and status of repositories throughout the world. Open access to research maximises research access and thereby also research impact, making research more productive and effective.
Source: Learn About the Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR), It Was Just Upgraded posted in Resourceshelf web site.
Enter exhibition here. Enjoy the elaborate virtual reality exhibition, and follow Yeats development as a poet, a playwright and writer of prose. The National Library of Ireland has the largest collection of Yeats manuscripts in the world, many contributed over the years by his widow and by his son.
The Gates Foundation will help the University of Illinois train librarians from around the world. The two-year $484,000 contract with the Mortenson Center for International Library Programs from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will support a training program for public librarians in other countries.
The Mortenson Center has already worked with librarians from more than 80 countries, and the money will expand that work to two more nations selected by the foundation, said Barbara Ford, director of the Mortenson Center. Report from The News Gazette.
The Global Libraries initiative works with countries that demonstrate a need and a readiness to help public libraries provide free access to computers and the Internet, and training on how to make use of these tools.
For the current project, the foundation is looking at Poland, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Chile, Mexico and Botswana.
The Mortenson Center for International Library Programs is the only one of its kind in the world and was established in 1991. It is a nondegree program that seeks to strengthen international ties among libraries and librarians, regardless of geographic location or access to technology.
The Times has an interesting article today on British soldiers in Afghanistan who read stories to their children back home. December 15, 2009. "In Afghanistan, our boys are reading from the front;
Fighting overseas doesn’t stop British soldiers telling their children bedtime stories." by Helen Rumbelow.
Andi Gray is married to the commanding officer of the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards. Before he left, Lieutenant-Colonel Toby Gray recorded one CD for the youngest of their four children, five-year-old Johnny, and the eldest, 15-year-old Madeleine. The nine-year-old twins are getting theirs soon, as soon as Toby gets enough time in between combat to record a story in the Afghanistan mountains.
Access: Digital Library of India http://dli.iiit.ac.in/index.html
The MBP when completed will produce approximately 250 million pages or 500 billion characters of information. The storage requirements for the image files will be approximately 50 terabytes an order of magnitude larger than any publicly available information base. Creating and managing such a vast information base poses many technological challenges and provides a fertile test bed for innovative research in many areas (described below). The MBP is a multi-agency, multi-national effort that will require the database to be globally distributed. For location independent access, this globally distributed database should appear to be a virtual central database from any place around the world. Mirroring the database in several countries will ensure security and availability. The network speeds at the various nodes would be different. Research in distributed caching and active networks would be needed to ensure that the look and feel of the database is the same from any location.
See: Million Book Project http://dli.iiit.ac.in/