To Lure Young Readers, Nonfiction Writers Sanitize and Simplify: [New York Times]
"Inspired by the booming market for young adult novels, a growing number of biographers and historians are retrofitting their works to make them palatable for younger readers."
If you have a good cat and you don't want to lose it, you must rub its nose and four legs with butter for three days, and it will never leave the house. [more inside]
A day in the life of New York City's public libraries: Traveling from borough to borough, this short documentary by Julie Dressner and Jesse Hicks reveals just how important the modern library is for millions of people. Why Libraries Matter.
The American Historical Association just released a statement that "strongly encourages graduate programs and university libraries to adopt a policy that allows the embargoing of completed history PhD dissertations in digital form for as many as six years." The statement is aimed at publishers who are disinclined to consider books based on dissertations that have been made freely available in open access databases. Some responses cite a 2011 survey, "Do Open Access Electronic Theses and Dissertations Diminish Publishing Opportunities in the Social Sciences and Humanities?," that found most publishers self-reported they would indeed consider publishing such dissertations, but also suggested university libraries are refusing to buy books based on dissertations that have previously been available online. "The Road From Dissertation to Book Has a New Pothole: the Internet," a 2011 article from the Chronicle of Higher Education, quotes editors who are wary of publishing such books, and discusses the process by which students can restrict access to their work at companies like ProQuest, "the electronic publisher with which the vast majority of U.S. universities contract to house digital copies of dissertations." [more inside]
Citizen science refers to science conducted by average persons, e.g., people who are not full- or part-time professional scientists but nevertheless have a keen interest in scientific inquiry. Citizen Science Center is a resource for books, papers, discussions, and project listings related to citizen science that aims to convince you to get your hands dirty and do science now.
Our Universities: Why Are They Failing? The New York Review of Books has a lengthy review of several books about problems in higher education, pulling together the various causes that ultimately lead to universities failing to educate students. [more inside]
Larry Gonick is a veteran American cartoonist best known for his delightful comic-book guides to science and history, many of which have previews online. Chief among them is his long-running Cartoon History of the Universe (later The Cartoon History of the Modern World), a sprawling multi-volume opus documenting everything from the Big Bang to the Bush administration. Published over the course of three decades, it takes a truly global view -- its time-traveling Professor thoroughly explores not only familiar topics like Rome and World War II but the oft-neglected stories of Asia and Africa, blending caricature and myth with careful scholarship (cited by fun illustrated bibliographies) and tackling even the most obscure events with intelligence and wit. This savvy satire carried over to Gonick's Zinn-by-way-of-Pogo chronicle The Cartoon History of the United States, along with a bevy of Cartoon Guides to other topics, including Genetics, Computer Science, Chemistry, Physics, Statistics, The Environment, and (yes!) Sex. Gonick has also maintained a few sideprojects, such as a webcomic look at Chinese invention, assorted math comics (previously), the Muse magazine mainstay Kokopelli & Co. (featuring the shenanigans of his "New Muses"), and more. See also these lengthy interview snippets, linked previously. Want more? Amazon links to the complete oeuvre inside! [more inside]
The Guardian has a new series of webchats with various people in the publishing industry starting with literary agent Karolina Sutton. Also various writers are asked: Can you teach creative writing?
‘Everyone is a worker.’ That is a powerful statement, if you think about it. Richard Scarry wasn’t afraid to paint contemporary American society in such bold strokes. Nor was he afraid to explain commerce and capitalism to children. - What Do People Do All Day.
The Independent (UK) proposes a list of fifty books that every eleven-year-old should read. [more inside]
Stephen Biesty is an award-winning British illustrator famous for his bestselling "Incredible" series of engineering art books: Incredible Cross-Sections, Incredible Explosions, Incredible Body, and many more. A master draftsman, Biesty does not use computers or even rulers in composing his intricate and imaginative drawings, relying on nothing more than pen and ink, watercolor, and a steady hand. Over the years, he's adapted his work to many other mediums, including pop-up books, educational games (video), interactive history sites, and animation. You can view much of his work in the zoomable galleries on his professional page, or click inside for a full listing of direct links to high-resolution, desktop-quality copies from his and other sites, including several with written commentary from collaborator Richard Platt [site, .mp3 chat]. [more inside]
Vanishing Act. Paul Collins tells the story of Barbara Newhall Follett. The daughter of authors Wilson Follett and Helen Follett, Barbara began writing at the age of 4. As she grew older, she developed a private language of her own, evolved from her view of the world of nature. Her first book, The House Without Windows, was published when she was twelve. In December 1939 Barbara walked out of her apartment and was never seen again. "Some prodigies flourish, some disappear. But Barbara did leave one last comment to the world about writing—a brief piece in a 1933 issue of Horn Book that earnestly recommends that parents give their own children typewriters. 'Perhaps there would simply be a terrific wholesale destruction of typewriters,' she admits. 'An effort would have to be made to impress upon children that a typewriter is magic.'" The entirety of her known writings now resides in six boxes at the Columbia University Rare Book & Manuscript Library. (via longreads)
Every day, our world gets a little bit smaller and a lot more complex. So much so that even minor decisions can have major consequences. Not just for trees or frogs or polar bears, but for human lives, and livelihoods. At its core, sustainability is about people. The Living Principles for Design aim to guide purposeful action. It is a place to co-create, share and showcase best practices, tools, stories and ideas for enabling sustainable action across all design disciplines. [more inside]
A gallery of scanned German children's books from the 18th and 19th centuries. Sounds dry, but the plates are high-resolution and gorgeous. Fans of old-school engraving, illustration, and Bibliodyssey-esque curiosities will not be disappointed. Highly extensive and bandwidth-intensive.
The autodidact course catalog. Twenty-two professors at Johns Hopkins propose reading lists for courses of self-study, from "Society Can Be Dangerous To Your Health" to "Higher Mathematics in Nouns and Verbs" to "Biochemistry and Human Evolution (with Rather a Lot about Mitochondria.)" If you're not going back to school this week, why not take on one of these syllabi instead?
EduChoices offers some good free stuff online: 25 Places to Read Free Books Online l 50 Online Writing Websites for New Writers l Ranking of 20 Universities that Offer Free Courses Online (with links to the free courses), as well as information about university courses etc. l Great Reference Sites Other Than Wikipedia l Free Linux Tutorials for Beginners l Useful Online Calculators For Almost Every Educational and Life Need. [more inside]
Book of Short Stories :: Short stories written by New York State 5th graders in 1931. (Be sure to read the About page to get a sense of the setting of the times.) (via Thingamababy)
Speaking of speeches, David Eggers delivers one at TED on grassroots community tutoring for kids who need help with their English homework: "There's something about the kids finishing their homework in a given day, working one on one, getting all this attention. They finish their homework, they go home -- they're finished. They don't stall. They don't do their homework in front of the TV. They're allowed to go home 5:30, enjoy their family, enjoy other hobbies, get outside, play and that makes a happy family. A bunch of happy families in a neighborhood is a happy community. A bunch of happy communities tied together is a happy city and a happy world, right? So, the key to it all is homework." Love him or hate him (mefi consensus) it's a great example of
nervous energy microphilanthropy, social entrepreneurship and, if I may make the connection, machines of loving grace. [previously]
19th Century Schoolbooks, over 140 examples online. Browse the collection and find digital images of such gems as: School melodies : containing a choice collection of popular airs (1852), The American drawing-book (1847), Slate and black board exercises (1857), and of course we got your McGuffey's. [more inside]
Gay Princes defeat NC Parents. Parents object to library book about two gay princes, concerned because being gay "is not part of their beliefs." Presumably books which discuss other things not part of their beliefs could also be an issue. Is this a basic confusion about the purpose of a library, or is any temptation just too much temptation?
Libraries? Sports? Music Programs? Guidance Counselors? Not on my bill, buddy! That crap is for nerds and jocks. It's all good here in sunny California.
In Philadelphia, the ratio of students to librarians has increased dramatically. Schools are not only cutting the jobs of librarians, but they are failing to hire those who are qualified to perform the task. Some people, including principals, seem to have the notion that school libraries are a nonessential facet of high school education or are adopting idiosynchratic measures to keep school libraries in existence. The Toronto District School Board, for example, has decided that it will only offer a full-time librarian to schools with more than 710 pupils, leaving school libraries that are closed half the time or that remain substantially inaccessible to students. Laura Bush's Foundation for America's Libraries is an admirable idea, but will merely talking about the importance of libraries hammer the point home? What does it take to convince administrative types of the importance of school libraries? Where did the idea of the school library go astray? And what can we do to ensure that a reasonably accessible school library is there for any student who needs it?
Mortimer Adler Dies at the age of 98. He founded the Great Books programs that many colleges adopted and believed that ones education never stops.