Census Visits Begin Tomorrow

As many of our patrons have noticed, every evening this week from 5 until 10 or later, we’ve been hosting three training classes for the Census Bureau in the Haysville Community Library. Beginning tomorrow, the 50 or so Census takers that have been training here, along with 635,000 others nationwide, will begin going door to door to follow up with households that either didn’t mail back their Census form or didn’t receive one. Between May 1st and July 10th, an estimated 48 million addresses will be visited.

For more information, see this post at the Census Bureau website.

Published in: on April 30, 2010 at 11:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Fate of Simon Bolivar

Simon Bolivar (painting by Ricardo Acevedo Bernal)

Was South America’s Simon Bolivar, El Libertador, a victim of arsenic poisoning, perhaps through self-medication?

Published in: on April 29, 2010 at 11:27 am  Leave a Comment  

E-Reader Update

It’s anticipated that sales of various e-reader devices will exceed 5 million this year, after reaching an estimated 2.5 million in 2009. E-books at present account for just 3 to 5% of the market, but rapidly increasingly sales have led some to believe they will eventually constitute as much as 25 to 50% of all books sold.

If you’re curious about this rapidly evolving landscape, here are a handful of recent articles you might review. For MarketWatch, Dan Gallagher asks Can E-Readers Still Compete With the iPad?. (You may also want to consult a more recent Gallagher MarketWatch article on the same topic in Amazon Sees a Future With Many Different Devices.) At Science Daily, Kansas State University’s assistant professor of elementary education Lotta Larson’s work with young readers using the Amazon Kindle is described in Kindle E-Reader Motivates Less-Enthusiastic Readers. And finally, writing in The New Yorker, Ken Auletta wonders whether Publish or Perish: Can the iPad Topple the Kindle, and Save the Book Business?

Published in: on April 28, 2010 at 10:52 pm  Comments (1)  

On Books, #32

“According to the American Booksellers Association, the number of independent booksellers has declined from 3,250 to 1,400 since 1999; independents now represent just ten per cent of store sales. Chains like Barnes & Noble and Borders account for about thirty per cent of the market, and superstores like Target and Wal-Mart, along with clubs like Costco, account for forty-five per cent, though they typically carry far fewer titles. As a result, publishers, like the Hollywood studios, are under enormous pressure to create more hits—more books like Twilight—and fewer quiet domestic novels or worthy books about poverty or trade policy.”

– Ken Auletta, The New Yorker

Published in: on April 28, 2010 at 10:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

Great Scott

Allan Massie considers historical fiction in The Master of Historical Fiction in Standpoint Magazine.

Published in: on April 28, 2010 at 9:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Lousy News

The Human Body Louse (Pediculus humanus var. corporis)

One of the most pervasive of human inventions is clothing. Yet, despite its ubiquity, it has been difficult for anthropologists to pinpoint even an approximate date for its invention. Estimates have ranged from 40,000 to 1 million years ago, with essentially no definitive evidence for one date or another.

Now, through a clever deduction, scientists have attained what appears to be a reasonable guess as to when human beings or their ancestors first devised garments. Using DNA to trace the evolutionary split between human head lice and body lice, researchers have concluded that body lice arose approximately 190,000 years ago. We may conclude, they suggest, that the invention of clothing preceded this split by some relatively brief interval.

For more details see Lice Hang Date on First Clothes in Science News.

Published in: on April 28, 2010 at 12:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Books Presidents Read Shape Perceptions & Policies

“John Adams’s library had more than 3,000 volumes — including Cicero, Plutarch and Thucydides — heavily inscribed with the president’s marginalia. Thomas Jefferson’s massive book collection launched him into debt and later became the backbone for the Library of Congress. ‘I cannot live without books,’ he confessed to Adams.”

“Consider Harry Truman. He was the last American president not to have completed college, but he was a voracious reader and particularly interested in history and biography, once musing that ‘the only thing new in this world is the history that you don’t know.”

The Hudson Institute’s Tevi Troy ponders presidential reading in For Obama and Past Presidents, the Books They Read Shape Policies and Perceptions in the Washington Post.

Published in: on April 28, 2010 at 12:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

On Books, #31

According to the American Library Association, there are 122,356 libraries of all kinds in the United States today. Among these are 9,214 public libraries (not counting branches), 99,180 school libraries, 3,617 academic libraries, 289 Armed Forces libraries, and 1,150 government libraries. (For additional detail, see the American Library Association’s Fact Sheet #1.)

Published in: on April 28, 2010 at 11:24 am  Leave a Comment  

On Books, #30

2010 is the 370th anniversary of the first book printed in North America, the Bay Psalm Book.

The copy depicted above (from the John Carter Brown Library) is one of just 11 known copies remaining in existence, of which only 4 are in perfect condition.

Published in: on April 28, 2010 at 11:04 am  Leave a Comment  

The Publisher

Time, Fortune, Life, Sports Illustrated – all the creations of Henry Luce, the publisher.

“How fortunate we are . . . that Luce is now the subject of a monumental, magisterial biography, the finest ever written about an American journalist, a book that secures Luce’s large if problematic place in history. Those with personal knowledge of the inner workings of Luce’s empire may complain that Alan Brinkley, a historian, captures only part of the flavor of that strange place . . . but he gets the big picture exactly right and does so with even-handedness, a remarkable achievement considering the controversy that swirled around Luce almost from the moment he stepped onto the public stage in February 1923.”

Writing in the Washington Post, Jonathan Yardley reviewsAlan Brinkley’s new biography, The Publisher: Henry Luce and His American Century.

Published in: on April 27, 2010 at 5:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Pulitzer: A Life in Politics, Print, and Power

“By the time he died, in 1911, Pulitzer’s life had gone from American dream to nightmare. If Orson Welles had made Citizen Kane about Pulitzer instead of Hearst, it would have been just as devastating a parable.”

“A century after Pulitzer’s death, the newspaper now promises to join the other great technologies of the Gilded Age—from railroads to coal mining—on the scrap heap of American history.”

Adam Kirsch reviews James McGrath Morris’ biography Pulitzer: A Life of Politics, Print, and Power in No Prize, in Tablet Magazine.

Published in: on April 26, 2010 at 11:06 pm  Leave a Comment  


In Harsh Lesson in the New Republic, Ellen Handler Spitz offers a fascinating review of an intriguing children’s classic, Struwwelpeter.

Published in: on April 26, 2010 at 10:17 pm  Leave a Comment