This month we offer news about unique gifts for readers in case you're a bit behind in your gift buying. We also cover some intriguing info on the life cycle of books and how to recycle your discards. Then there's what to consider when converting nonlibrary spaces into public libraries. You've got to love that huge converted Walmart in McAllen, Texas. We feature Literary Hub's selection of 18 of the most striking libraries around the world, the zany Jigsaw Sideways Dictionary, New York Public Library's latest stylish library of things offers, and 12 famous authors writing about the libraries they love.
Where else can you find such a warm-hearted collection of library tech news? Here's your library tech newsbytes for December.
50 Unique Gifts for Readers in 2019 That Aren't Books
A little behind in your gift shopping this year? Book Riot has an unusually creative list of affordable literary gifts for the holiday season. Some examples? Take a good-looking discard and hollow it out in 13 steps for stashing treasures. Or how about some Harry Potter Butterbeer Lip Balm? Or upcycling a hardbound book into a clock? Or how about some nice warm Shhhh I'm Reading Socks?
The Life Cycle of a Library Book
Speaking of book discards, the average age of books in the Luria Library collection in Santa Barbara, California, is over 20 years. Of course popular circulating paperbacks are the first to fall apart, but if any circulating book hasn't been checked out in the last five years or so, it's fair game for weeding out and discarding.
Of course it's easiest to throw discards into the dumpster, but it's also possible to recycle discards. Abby Hargreaves in her recent Book Riot piece on the Life Cycle of a Library Book talks about how the Chicago Public Library sends discarded books in fairly good shape to used book sellers for a second life beyond the library. Earth 911.com has a great piece on How to Recycle Books and Magazines, including a handy Recycling Locator for listings of places that recycle books near you.
What to Consider When Converting Nonlibrary Spaces into Public Libraries
American Libraries ran a nice piece called Repurpose with a Purpose on what works and doesn't work when libraries are considering converting existing buildings into libraries. The piece provides insight into experiences libraries have had trying to repurpose big-box stores, banks, schools, strip malls and abandoned government buildings. Even though the price may be right for vacant buildings, some conversions may well come with unacceptable limitations. It's a good quick intro into this tempting aspect of library tech.
18 of the World's Most Striking Libraries
Definitely worth a look is Literary Hub's selection of 18 great colored line drawings of some of the most striking libraries around the world — past and present. Am I overstating the case that the Rampur Raza Library in India looks like the Taj Mahal? Is the Information, Communications, and Media Center at Brandenburg University of Technology in Germany literally the most literate building out there?
The Sideways Dictionary
This is a project of the Washington Post and Jigsaw, which is a technology for good incubator within Alphabet (parent company of Google) that builds technology to tackle some of the toughest global security challenges facing the world today. The Sideways Dictionary is a dictionary of technology that uses analogies to explain complex technologies rather than definitions. Here's an example: "Artificial intelligence — It's like the generations-old secret family recipe but developed in a much shorter time. Everyone agrees it tastes better, but no individual family member knows all the reasons why."
New York Public Library Lends Out Ties and Other Accessories for Job Interviews
In our quest to report on all things "library of things," here's something fun. Mental Floss reports that the New York Public Library's Grow Up Work Fashion Library accessories collection allows library card holders to borrow ties, briefcases, and handbags for three-week periods. The new program was created as part of the NYPL's Innovation Project, which provides grant funding for new proposals by library staff for things like creating library greenhouses or implementing a job search program for the unemployed.
12 Authors Write About the Libraries They Love
The New York Times asked several authors to tell us about their local public library or to share a memory of a library from their past. Reminiscences by Barbara Kingsolver, Curtis Sittenfeld, Neil Gaiman, Amy Tan, Kiese Laymon, Diana Abu-Jaber, Chris Bohjalian, Annie Proulx, Julia Alvarez, Ramona Ausubel, Charles Frazier, and Jerry Pinkney are all detailed and heartfelt. Definitely worth a look.
Happy holidays! We hope you like our feel-good selection of newsbytes this month!