‘Net News: 6th August 2012

1. The Harry Potter Reading Club.

J.K. Rowling, in conjunction with publisher Scholastic, has launched an online book club for younger readers. The club will be hosted by scholastic, but will regularly feature Rowling in global webcast (October to be the first) to interact with her fans. Scholastic hope it will be used by librarians and teachers as a tool to engage new readers with the Harry Potter world, describing it as ‘live virtual author visit to classrooms’.

2. The Soul of the Library in the Digital World.

A fascinating article that talks about what the ebook phenomena is doing with the morality of the librarian. The choices that digital print offer, has created a new set of values and morality that the librarian has to consider. Andromeda Yelton discusses how the digital world affects (what she considers) the core librarianship values: privacy, sharing, preservation and access.

3. Back from the Grave: Queensland Literary Awards.

Formerly the Queensland Premiers Literary Awards, The Courier-Mail People’s Choice Queensland Book of the Year will be announced in September.

4. Book Sculptures.

In one of those feel good life moments, a series of ‘book sculptures’ (objects made completely from a book), anonymously left at a local Scottish library last year, are being taken on the road for a national tour. The anonymous artist wanted to celebrate “libraries, books, words and ideas”. One of the best ode’s to libraries I’ve seen.

5. Underground.

The Underground New York Public Library is a visual library featuring the Reading-Riders of the NYC subways.

It also happens to be my new favourite blog. To see the utter absorption on the face of the readers, to know that the fictional works have transported them from a smelly (I assume), crowded and loud train carriages to literary worlds rife with imagination… well it’s just an absolute delight.

6. Reading for the Visually Impaired.

I had the occasion, during my former life as a bookseller, to come across a lovely woman who was in search for large print books for her visually impaired daughter. Her daughter loved to read, but had a degenerative eye condition that made reading difficult and slow. Desperate to help, I began to research. I found that large-print books were expensive, a Harry Potter book going for around $140 dollars. That would be a single Harry Potter book, mind. There was no abebooks.com at the time, which I highly recommend for cheap, although used, large-print books and no ereaders in sight (it was 4 years ago, which just give you a jolt at how much publishing has changed in such a small amount of time). I found the range of titles for large-print books to be woefully inadequate . I turned my search to audio books, which were only a little less expensive and no greater in range. Braille? nope.

So it saddens me (although doesn’t surprise me) that developing countries are without options for visually impaired people. I am therefore outraged that there are countries out there blocking a treaty to ‘give the world’s blind and visually impaired people – 90 per cent of whom live in the developing world – easier access to published works in formats they can use.’

7. Pinterest.

Someone has made a list of the top 25 library sites on pinterest. Personally my favourite is number 25, Awful Library Books, which introduced me to my favourite title of the year: ‘How to Set and Style Your Own Wig’.

8. The Popularity of Words: Who Wins?

Slovenian physicist Matjaz Perc, studied 500 years of the English language to find out which, over time, words are our most popular. Not too surprisingly connecting words like ‘the’, ‘and’, ‘of’, ‘to’, ‘in’ and ‘a’ found themselves at the top of the table.

It was interesting to discover the longevity of a words popularity. In the 1600s words were changing so quickly that a word could be the number one used word in 1600, only to be out of vogue by 1610. Recent times have seen a longer life to words. Religion has, not surprisingly, played a part in moulding our language.

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