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Bill Clinton & James Patterson

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Former President William Jefferson Clinton and well-established mass-production author James Patterson have collaborated on a novel titled The President is Missing. The book is a political cyber-thriller of sorts, the second such book from a member of the Clinton family—that is, if you count Hillary Clinton’s What Happened as one. And just as with with Ms. Clinton’s book, The President is Missing gives shout outs to Russian hacking groups, mentioning Fancy Bear by name.

The President is Missing is, however, a work of fiction. At 513 pages in hardcover. The prose is largely marked by Patterson’s hand as well, but there are places where Clinton’s voice pushes through. The plots about a Democratic president from a southern state is on the verge of facing an impeachment (sound familiar?) in the midst of a national security crisis. A terrorist mastermind has managed to plant “wiper” malware in every computer in the United States. Racing against time, the president disguises himself, exits the White House through a secret tunnel, and meets in person with the hacker who helped distribute the malware while a crack mercenary hit squad led by a pregnant Bosnian sniper attempts to take the hacker and President Duncan out.

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Free Mini Library @ New York City’s Subway System

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Free Books Now Available at Tiny Library in NYC Subway Station
NYPD Officer Damieon Frey unveils the new Free Little Library at the 145th Street and St. Nicholas Ave subway station.

Free mini-library was unveiled this week in a New York underground subway station — @ 145th Street & St Nicholas Avenue station right next to NYPD’s Transit District 3 Precincth allows for constant supervision

The little library stands about five-feet tall. Open the door and anyone can take a book. All the organizers ask it that readers leave a book behind, to fill the gap. The non-profit organization started the initiative in the hopes it would get more people reading.

Little Free Library has outlets all over the world. There are over 10 in the city already, but this is the first in an underground station. NYPD Transit plans to place a Little Free Library in each transit precinct eventually.

Little Free Library founder Todd H. Bol said there will be books for all age ranges and many that will appeal to young children.

“We did this partnership with Marvel, and Marvel is going to give an ongoing supply of books… Disney will send two years supply of Marvel books and comics.

Readers aged 13-18 would act as mentors to the younger children, reading with them after school at the Little Free Library outside the precinct, as part of the NYPD Explorers Program.

 
 
 

A child approaches a Biblioburro, a donkey carrying books.Biblioburro, a traveling library in Colombia. Photo by Acción Visual/Diana Arias, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA

Today,  you’ll find libraries doing more to serve their communities these days than ever. All over the world, libraries are becoming one of the last holdouts of the commons and the source of an amazing array of things you can borrow.

While adults and little kids have their approved spaces in public. Libraries are doing more to cater to teenagers, like the libraries in New York City, Austin (TX), Billings (MT), and Dayton (OH), are finding that giving teens some say in design choices and providing rooms where they can meet, study, listen to music, play video games and even eat, means that libraries are becoming more than relevant to young people again.

Being the neighborhood commons has a darker side, as well. In one year alone, 12% of Pennsylvania’s public libraries found themselves dealing with people overdosing on drugs. Libraries around the country have similar stories. As a result, there are libraries doing more to help combat the opioid crisis by stocking and dispensing Naloxone, an overdose reversal medication. Even in conservative Salt Lake City (UT), anyone can obtain Naloxone, “no questions asked.”

Libraries are hosting Maker spaces, providing free lunches for kids on summer vacation, and even (as an aside) improving public literacy.

Public Libraries Are Rocking This Summer

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U.S. Public Schools Lost Approximately 20% Of Their Librarians Since 2000

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According to a new analysis of federal data, The United States can’t afford librarians. Between 1999-2000 and 2015-16, U.S. public schools lost 19% of full-time equivalent school librarians, according to a School Library Journal article by researcher Keith Curry Lance that examined National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) data.

The shortage in public school librarian employment  has not recovered since 2008. Districts serving minorities have been hit the hardest. Among all the districts that have retained all their librarians since 2005, 75% are white, Education Week reports. On the other end of the scale, student populations in the 20 districts that lost the most librarians in the same time comprised 78% students of color.

In essence, while U.S. employment rates are back up in the wake of the Great Recession, the public school librarian sector has not rebounded, and the nation’s collective failure to rebuild its public information infrastructure and minorities have been hit the hardest.

 

Some states suffered a more dramatic loss than the average. The number of librarians employed across Florida’s 67 school districts has dropped by 27% since just 2005, according to a 2017 Herald Tribune article, leaving several districts without any librarians at all. In replacement, the Herald Tribune argues, paraprofessionals run libraries as media aides — a position that requires just a high school diploma and a certification, and which starts at $14.60 an hour. Librarians with masters’ degrees, however, are often the first to go when budgets need to be cut.

Education Week’s articles also argues that librarian’s roles are being replaced by other, less qualified job titles: As public school librarians dwindled by 20%, schools saw an 11% rise in counselors, 19% boost in instructional aides, and a full 28% more school administrators.

 

Several recent studies have indicated that students suffer academically as a result: One nationwide study published in 2011 found signs that states’ 4th grade reading scores dropped in correlation with their loss of librarians. A 2012 Colorado-specific study from the same researchers then followed up, finding a similar correlation in the opposite direction: “Schools that either maintained or gained an endorsed librarian between 2005 and 2011 tended to have more students scoring advanced in reading in 2011 and to have increased their performance more than schools that either lost their librarians or never had one,” that study holds.

 

Librarians Are Baffled By Signed Truman Memoir

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Truman book

Truman book

Staff Photo Rod Aydelotte

A Waco High School librarian was weeding out old, little-read books from the stacks on Thursday when she paused at an autobiography of Harry S. Truman.

The librarian, Carri Nowak, opened to the title page of “Mr. Citizen” and saw the publication date: 1960. And under the title was an autograph that appeared to be from the former president himself.

She called the school district’s library specialist, Lisa Monthie, who at first thought she was saying a student had signed the book.

The librarian first thought was to weed the book.

That discovery led to a bit of sleuthing by Waco Independent School District officials. Monthie called Waco ISD social studies content specialist Robert Glinski, who contacted the director of the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri. The museum confirmed the signature appeared to be written by hand, not mass-produced.

 

Signed memoirs by Truman are not exceedingly rare, though they are not commonplace either. Copies start at about $200 at online booksellers.

What was baffling was that such a prize book ended up in a high school library, with the front card showing it was being checked out as early as 1962.

 

The front card shows it was part of the collection of Richfield High School, which opened in 1961 at the current Waco High School campus at 2020 N. 42nd St. The schools merged in 1986.

The last few checkout dates do not include the year, but it appears that the book has not been checked out in more than 30 years.

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Harry S. Truman (left) was in Waco on October 12, 1960, with Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn, center. At top right is Waco Congressman Bob Poage. Truman gave a stump speech for John F. Kennedy and denounced anti-Catholic sentiment.Truman Staff photo — John Bennett, file

Glinski is trying to discover if Truman signed the book when he visited Waco in October 1960, soon after the book was published.

In town for a tour supporting presidential candidate John F. Kennedy, Truman delivered a barn-burning speech against religious bigotry.

 

After spending the night at the downtown Roosevelt Hotel and having a steak dinner at the Masonic Grand Lodge of Texas, Truman headed to the Heart O’ Texas Coliseum for a speech in front of 5,000, the Tribune-Herald reported at the time. Along the way, he reminisced fondly of his previous visit to Waco as a sitting president in 1947, when he received an honorary doctorate from Baylor University.

 

At the coliseum, Truman chided Protestant preachers for telling their flocks not to vote for a Catholic candidate. He said he would have “exploded” if a Catholic priest “had stood up in church and said I ought not to be elected because I was a Baptist.” He said “religious bigotry is a regular earmark of a dictatorship.”

 

Meanwhile, the Waco Baptist Association met to pass a resolution reprimanding Truman for “his conduct and his manner of speech as a Christian, a Baptist and a guest in our midst.” The association also resolved to “encourage our churches and people consider seriously the men nominated for the presidency as to their allegiances other than to the Constitution of the United States.”

 

The Aesthetics of Russian Libraries Is Causing Their Visitors To Dwindle

Nuneaton Library

 Councillor Pete Gilbert, Conservative county councillor for Bedworth West, says libraries that look like car parks are not helping halt the slump in visitor numbers across Warwickshire.  He continues to say” the biggest damage that we’ve caused ourselves is the knocking or pulling down of beautiful buildings that lived and breathed books and building these Soviet-looking flat roofed things that don’t inspire anybody.”

On the other hand in contrast to that, the county was among the best when it came to digital visits with eBook and eAudio downloads at an all-time high. 

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