What I’m reading this week: “Dark Matter,” by Blake Crouch

What I’m reading this week: “Dark Matter,” by Blake Crouch 😀📚

Nothing is real, but nothing to get hung about, goes the classic song. Who among us hasn’t wished to travel back in time and try the door not opened? I’m halfway through this sci-fi / suspense mashup that uses pop science as a vehicle to explore this notion— with a twist, naturally. And I’m hooked. Plenty of dialogue and screen-ready descriptions (the author has written several television series) render this book a quick and engaging read. Perfect for a wet winter Sunday by the fire.🔥🌧

What I’m reading this week

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What I’m reading this week: Darwin Comes to Town: How the Urban Jungle Drives Evolution, by Menno Schilthuizen 📖

Nature adapts and evolves in response to changes in the environment. Cities have their own ecosystems, and many species have developed unique adaptions to survive and thrive in the urban environment. From sewers to the rooftops and everything in between, this book explores the many urban worlds where nature unexpectedly thrives.

What I’m reading this week 😀📚 “World without mind: the existential threat of big tech”

What I’m reading this week 😀📚 *World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech* by Franklin Foer.

I’m bracing myself for a deep dive into this book, which is billed as an unflinching look at the dangers tech leviathans Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon pose to human freedom and self-determination. Author Franklin Foer is the former editor of the liberal New Republic magazine. He was hired in that role shortly after the magazine was bought by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes in 2012. It was a time when clickbait was ascendant and few people understood (or cared about) the extent of personal data collection taking place. The book has its defenders and detractors. Bouncing around the various reviews of the book, pro and con, is not unlike wading through a contentious Facebook comment thread. I’m looking forward to reading it myself so I can form my own opinion 🤔📖

Libraries without borders?

📚🌎✈️ Here’s an interesting vignette from my day at the library. Recently, a library user in Argentina sent a message to our Facebook page asking us for help with a book she had checked out from us. She had been in the US on a student visa, presumably to pursue her studies at the university. Over the holiday break, she flew back home to Argentina to be with her family. Before she left, she borrowed a library book to read while she traveled. She planned to return to the US before the book came due. But after arriving in Argentina, she learned that her student visa would not be renewed and she wouldn’t be able to return to the US as planned.

She messaged us and asked for advice how she could resolve the issue of the library book she’d borrowed, because she couldn’t bear the thought of not returning her library books. She offered to pay for the book. We said, can you simply mail it back to us? She traveled to the nearest city and inquired about shipping rates, and was told it would cost over $200 USD to ship the book back to the US. Hearing this, she sent us another message offering again to pay for the book, but she also mentioned that her American host family would be meeting with her during spring break, and suggested that her host family could bring the book back with them. We told her that we did not want her to pay so much for shipping, and we would rather have the book back than make her pay for it, so we happily agreed to extend the due date of her book until after spring break when her host family visits her. There are many things about this vignette that provoke thought, but I won’t offer analysis here. I will just say that this young woman’s conscientiousness and sincerity is extraordinary and I hope she is able to resume her studies here soon. 😀📚 #library#books#borders

Downtown Hayward

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I love working in downtown Hayward. I feel very fortunate and thankful to be a part of my hometown’s progress and future. The new library is being built right across the street from my office in the old library. I can look out my window and see the construction proceeding nicely. (I even get a chance to go inside from time to time.) Library staff and city coworkers often drop by my office with questions or business that needs my attention. Just this morning, a respected local community member dropped in unannounced to let me know that his organization would be making a generous donation toward books for the new library. I was very happy to receive his message, as you can imagine. The kindness and generosity of people in the Hayward community truly knows no bounds. I take a walk for lunch. The world’s best hot dogs are one block away at Casper’s on C Street. The world’s best little bookstore is right around the corner at Books on B. Best of all, it’s Friday, the sun is shining, and the holidays are right around the corner. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Front row seat

Hayward’s new library is taking shape. Crews have begun installing massive glass panels for the three story front window. Primarily built of steel, concrete, glass, and terracotta and powered by solar energy produced onsite, the 21st Century Library is the most environmentally sustainable public building ever to begin construction in Hayward. I feel incredibly fortunate to have a front row seat to its construction – from the window of my office in the old library across the street.

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The construction of the new library is progressing nicely. Crews have begun to install the massive glass panels that will make up the building’s three story front window. The building was designed using sophisticated computer lighting models to maximize the amount of natural light that flows into the building.

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The windows are important features that will help the building achieve its Net Zero Energy goal by reducing the need for artificial light. (They should provide some pretty cool views, too.)

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Some have asked me, what is that blue-green paint we see being applied to the new library under construction? Great question! That is a weatherproofing treatment to seal the concrete supporting walls and keep moisture out of the concrete. After the weatherproofing is complete, the next step will be to attach terracotta panels, which will further protect the structure and give the building a beautiful brick-like appearance.

Good news for public libraries

With polling numbers like this, maybe public libraries should run for office! 🙂

Good news for public libraries

“This graphic highlights results from the Pew Internet & American Life Project survey, released December 2013. More than 6,000 Americans ages 16 and older were asked about their views of public libraries and the role these institutions serve in their communities. The results show that an overwhelming majority of Americans value libraries.”

View the full report (PDF):

[Graphic: American Libraries Magazine]

The republic of letters

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Image: Weekes Branch Library, Hayward, Calif.

“There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration.” ― Andrew Carnegie