August 2018 Library Tech Newsbytes

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What's new in library tech? Library tech newsbytes is a collection of fun news items from pretty much anywhere we find them. For some reason, most of them this time come from the great state of Kansas. We hope you enjoy our batch for this month!

How Libraries Are Helping to Address the Affordable Housing Crisis

The New York Times reported recently that as the affordable housing crisis grows across the country, U.S. federal policy currently is to sit on the sidelines. Who are you gonna call? The nonprofit online publication Next City reports that the city of San Francisco called its local library.

San Francisco District One Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer asked acting city librarian Michael Lambert whether future library renovations could incorporate an affordable housing component. Branch libraries tend to be low-density construction. Why not build on top of them and address one of the nation's worst housing crises?

It's a question coming up beyond San Francisco. Across the U.S., there are 9,057 library systems, with nearly 17,000 locations adding up to more than 209 million square feet. According to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), Chicago broke ground on an affordable housing–library combo earlier this year. And New York City is planning one of its own.

Why Rural Libraries Are Struggling to Decide Whether or Not to Turn Off Wi-Fi After Hours

Nearly 40 percent of people in rural America still have no access to broadband at home. The library is the place to go for broadband in much of country. KCUR Public Radio in Kansas City reports that's why Ashley Leal parks in front of the Plains, Kansas, Community Library.

It's about to close, but she doesn't care. She pulls out her blue laptop. "I'm … using the Wi-Fi," Ashley says with a laugh. Her home Internet was so slow, she came to the library parking lot.

Cars often idle there in the evening. "I'm just thankful that we have somewhere to go," she says. It's the only free Internet in this small western Kansas town. For many people, it's the only Internet, period.

That's why multiple rural librarians I've spoken are struggling to decide whether or not to turn off Wi-Fi after hours like their police departments recommend. Too many people are congregating after hours to watch Netflix.

How Does Your City Rank in Internet Connectivity?

On a related topic, the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) does surveys each year on how good (or bad) broadband Internet connectivity is in cities with more than 50,000 households. They cover 186 cities in all. Find out how your city ranks in the U.S. Thanks to David Lee King for the tip on this story. He is is the digital services director at Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library.

Reading to Children Fosters Good Behavior

WIBW TV in Topeka reports that Dr. Saeedeh Salmanzadeh of Cotton O'Neil Pediatric Care in Topeka, Kansas, says new studies reinforce findings that children who are read to get multiple benefits. They have less trouble with aggression, hyperactivity, and concentration. Plus, early reading sets the stage for lifelong learning. But you already knew that, right?

Laura Ingalls Wilder's Name Stripped from Children's Book Award Over "Little House" Depictions of Native Americans

The controversy about Laura Ingalls Wilder and her iconic book, Little House on the Prairie, dates back to 1952. In that year, a reader complained to the publisher, Harper's, about a deeply offensive passage about Native Americans. The 1935 book opens with a character named Pa, who tells of his desire to go "where the wild animals lived without being afraid." He wants to go where "the land was level, and there were no trees" and where "there were no people. Only Indians lived there."

The Washington Post reports that after years of complaints, the ALA's Association for Library Service to Children voted earlier this summer to strip Wilder's name from the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award. This award is for authors or illustrators who have made "significant and lasting contribution to children's literature." It is now the Children's Literature Legacy Award.

Do you have a fun library tech newsbyte? Tell us about it in the comments section below.