Update: HB 516

A few weeks ago I shared my thoughts on Virginia HB 516, which would require schools to label works as sexually explicit and inform parents if a title is on a child’s required reading list. In my discussion of the bill, I mentioned the slippery slope labeling entails, citing the opposition of the Virginia Library Association, although the Virginia Association of Teachers of English later issued a similar statement. With exactly a week to go before Governor McAuliffe would have been forced to make a decision on whether to veto or sign the bill into law, the Governor has vetoed the bill. Continue reading

Library Links: Grab bag time

While reading The Productivity Project, I learned that our obsession with media and screens is sneakily reducing our productivity, even while it makes us feel more productive. It all has to do with the limbic system, which is extra-stimulated by our devices, and how engaging that portion of the brain tends to reduce our focus while releasing hormones that make us feel satisfyingly productive even though we’re really not. I have two words for that:


And despite efforts to reduce my own screen time as part of my personal productivity project, I still find myself hungrily devouring bits and pieces of information gleaned from a variety of scrollable sources. The good news is that I now have plenty to share with you. So without further ado, a grab bag of library- (and not-so-library-) related links: Continue reading

Fictional libraries and bookstores I want to visit


The Sunnydale High School Library, featured in the first three seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is on my list of fictional libraries and bookstores I would love to visit.

As I was listening to The Waste Lands by Stephen King (the third book in The Dark Tower series), I  suddenly found myself wanting to visit a particular shop described in the series: The Manhattan Restaurant of the Mind. It occurred to me that there are a number of libraries and book stores described in literature (and television), that I would love to visit. So, here is my list:

  • Sunnydale High School Library: Hellmouth? Check. Ancient tomes on magic and vampires and demons? Check. Cute British librarian with a secret mission? Check. Who wouldn’t want to visit Giles in this West Coast landmark? I’ll need fair warning not to visit when the next big bad is attempting to open that nasty Hellmouth, though. (Featured in Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
  • Manhattan Restaurant of the Mind: Stephen King’s the Dark Tower features some strange sights, but this quirky neighborhood bookstore is easy to miss among the other outlandish settings. But Calvin Tower (Tower! Get the connection?) runs a fun themed bookstore that feeds the mind with hard-boiled detective works, southern-fried Faulkner and many more. (Featured in The Waste Lands, Book 3 of The Dark Tower series)
  • The Book Apothecary: Imagine a bookstore where you go to discover books to heal your soul. Nina George did, in The Little Paris Bookshop, which introduces us to Jean Perdu, the bookseller who retrofitted a barge to serve as his bookshop. One conversation with him and he can recommend the best book for solving your inner pain. For example, Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series is prescribed “for the world-weary and the dangerously naïve.” Get your own recommendations from Penguin House’s companion site to the novel. (Featured in The Little Paris Bookshop)
  • Hogwarts Library: You know I had to include a location from Harry Potter. What better one than Hermione’s favorite hangout, which deserved a mention for its intriguing “Restricted Section.” And, you have to respect the librarian’s reaction to Harry’s copy of Advanced Potion Making. (Featured the Harry Potter series)

Virginia’s HB 516 and a slippery slope

Every year libraries across the country celebrate Banned Books Week, a chance for us to remember the dangers inherent in limiting a person’s ability to consume information due to a single person’s objection. But like all specially named weeks and months that benefit good causes – Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October and American Heart Month in February, to name two – it becomes easy to only focus on those issues during that timeframe. But intellectual freedom is threatened all year round, including this year in Virginia. VASeal

In early March, HB 516 passed both the House of Delegates and the Virginia Senate. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the bill “would allow parents to opt out of reading assignments deemed ‘sexually explicit’ by the Virginia Board of Education.” Why is this a problem? Continue reading

First Sale


The Owners’ Rights Initiative , which ALA is a part of, brings together a diverse group to espouse the belief that “if you bought it, you own it, and should have the right to sell, lend or give away your personal property.” The First Sale Doctrine underpins this view.

As I was writing my post on Understanding Fair Use, I realized that not only do few people understand it, it often gets confused with First Sale, an entirely different but even more essential component of copyright law, especially for libraries. I say this because that’s what my brain did. I mushed the two together. So, I thought it only prudent to clarify, if only for myself, the finer points of the First Sale Doctrine and why it is so important to libraries, not to mention used booksellers, both physical stores and digital providers (think Amazon Marketplace or eBay). But this post will just focus on libraries.

Continue reading