Law and Legal

Friends of the Library: Libraries’ Secret Weapon

BookRiot: “You might have seen bookmarks advertising their existence stacked neatly on the circulation desk at the library. Maybe they were included in the acknowledgements of a local literary event’s brochure. Perhaps their name was noted as a supporter of a float in the town’s parade. Or, it’s possible you even attended one of their book sales. They are the Friends of the Library. If you have a public library in your area, it’s very likely that the library exists, in part, thanks to the Friends of the Library. From the heart of a librarian with a bit of explanation, this is a love and thank you letter to the Friends, wherever they may be. Friends of the Library typically have one main function: raising money for the library. Sometimes this is as simple as encouraging individuals to sign up to be a Friend of the Library which typically involves an annual membership fee. The money collected from membership goes toward the operation of the group and, more significantly, the library. Those funds might be used to help support library programs like supplying materials or paying speakers’ fees, to provide refreshments at programs, or, in some cases, to boost the spending budget for books, DVDs, and other materials….” [Be a Friend Please]

Categories: Law and Legal

How the N.Y. Public Library Fills Its Shelves (and Why Some Books Don’t Make the Cut)

The New York Times – Every book has to earn its spot in one of the world’s leading public library collections. Here’s what it takes: “…Every book is handpicked by a seasoned corps of 16 selectors and helpers who are the gatekeepers to the library’s circulating collection of nearly 5 million books, 1.7 million e-books and 177,000 audiobooks. These selectors have, at minimum, a master’s degree in library science and a love of reading. They scour thousands of titles so borrowers don’t have to. From inside a squat, brick building in Long Island City, Queens, they are “fighting for good books,” said Michael Santangelo, the deputy director of collection management. The selectors do not read every book they pick. There is simply not enough time. Besides, it is about more than just what they like to read when they are picking for the entire city — last year they added more than 476,000 books, 75,000 e-books and 18,000 audiobooks. Every title and author is carefully researched. The goal is to create a well-rounded collection with a wide range of voices and viewpoints. They want to give everyone an excuse to pick up a book at the 88 neighborhood branches in Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island (Brooklyn and Queens have separate library systems)….”

Categories: Law and Legal

Shaking the Chrome habit is getting easier – try Brave

The Verge – Vlad Savov: “Readers of this august website may recall that a year ago, I lauded Firefox and its progress toward becoming a genuine alternative to Google’s dominant Chrome browser. As much as I liked where Firefox was going, however, I couldn’t stick with it over the long term. It wasn’t compatible with everything the way Chrome was, its extensions were different, and, for my way of using a browser, it was slower and less responsive. So I returned to Chrome after a few weeks of Firefox, but the urge to decouple my browsing habits from Google remained.

This year, I’m pretty sure I’ve found the ideal Chrome alternative in the Brave browser. If your reasons for sticking with Chrome have been (a) extensions, (b) compatibility, (c) syncing across devices, or (d, unlikely) speed, Brave checks all of those boxes. What’s more, it’s just one of a growing number of really good options that aren’t made by Google.. a word on why I’m trying to escape Google’s browser…I’m growing less and less comfortable with having Google know more and more about me. As an Android phone user, I’m already informing Google about my location (even with location history off, Google periodically pings my device’s location), my mobile gaming and app usage, my YouTube-watching habits, and my chronic failure to get off Twitter. Given that I do a large proportion of my job in a browser, Chrome fills in the rest of my daily activities for Google in a manner so comprehensive as to be disturbing. If I wouldn’t want a single person to know what I do every day down to the finest detail, I shouldn’t want a single corporation to have that information, either…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Code hidden in Stone Age art may be the root of human writing

NewScientist – A painstaking investigation of Europe\u2019s cave art has revealed 32 shapes and lines that crop up again and again and could be the world’s oldest: “A painstaking investigation of Europe’s cave art has revealed 32 shapes and lines that crop up again and again and could be the world’s oldest code: “…Von Petzinger, a palaeoanthropologist from the University of Victoria in Canada, is spearheading an unusual study of cave art. Her interest lies not in the breathtaking paintings of bulls, horses and bison that usually spring to mind, but in the smaller, geometric symbols frequently found alongside them. Her work has convinced her that far from being random doodles, the simple shapes represent a fundamental shift in our ancestors’ mental skills. The first formal writing system that we know of is the 5000-year-old cuneiform script of the ancient city of Uruk in what is now Iraq. But it and other systems like it – such as Egyptian hieroglyphs – are complex and didn’t emerge from a vacuum. There must have been an earlier time when people first started playing with simple abstract signs. For years, von Petzinger has wondered if the circles, triangles and squiggles that humans began leaving on cave walls 40,000 years ago represent that special time in our history – the creation of the first human code. Between 2013 and 2014, von Petzinger visited 52 caves in France, Spain, Italy and Portugal. The symbols she found ranged from dots, lines, triangles, squares and zigzags to more complex forms like ladder shapes, hand stencils, something called a tectiform that looks a bit like a post with a roof, and feather shapes called penniforms. In some places, the signs were part of bigger paintings. Elsewhere, they were on their own, like the row of bell shapes found in El Castillo in northern Spain or the panel of 15 penniforms in Santian, also in Spain.

Perhaps the most startling finding was how few signs there were – just 32 in all of Europe. For tens of thousands of years, our ancestors seem to have been curiously consistent with the symbols they used. This, if nothing else, suggests that the markings had some sort of significance. “Of course they mean something,” says French prehistorian Jean Clottes. “They didn’t do it for fun.” The multiple repetitions of the P-shaped claviform sign in France’s Niaux cave “can’t be a coincidence”, he argues…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Digital Hoarders Who Collect Tumblrs, Medieval Manuscripts, and Terabytes of Text Files

Gizmodo: “When it comes to their stuff, people often have a hard time letting go. When the object of their obsession are rooms full of old clothes or newspapers, it can be unhealthy—even dangerous. But what about a stash that fits on 10 5-inch hard drives? Online, you’ll find people who use hashtags like “#digitalhoarder” and hang out in the 120,000-subscriber Reddit forum called /r/datahoarder, where they trade tips on building home data servers, share collections of rare files from video game manuals to ambient audio records, and discuss the best cloud services for backing up files The often stereotyped hoarders letting heaps of physical items of questionable utility dominate their homes and lives often suffer social stigma and anxiety as a result. By contrast, many self-proclaimed digital hoarders say they enjoy their collections, can keep them contained in a relatively small amount of physical space, and often take pleasure in sharing them with other hobbyists or anyone who wants access to the same public data. “Data hoarder means to me simply someone who collects and curates digital data,” said the user -Archivist, one of the moderators of /r/datahoarder, in a private message on Reddit. “It’s a little removed from the disorder we usually see from traditional hoarders.”…

What users seem to prefer to see are discussions of unusual and intricate storage setups, guides to using complex archive software and, of course, interesting datasets, from public-domain collections of vintage scientific papers to old BBC sound effect samples. Public archives, naturally, are a plus…”

Categories: Law and Legal


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