The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

Perhaps in your attic or basement there is a box of papers — letters, photographs, cards, maybe even journals — inherited from a grandparent or other relative who's passed on. Authors, archivists and researchers have long considered these treasures. The right box might contain a wealth of information about a key historical period or place or person.

But what if that box isn't a box at all? What if it's an ancient laptop? And if we are starting to leave behind an increasingly digital inheritance, will it die as soon as the hard drive does?

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

There's one state highway running through Myrtle, Mo. It's a sleepy town in the Ozarks, population about 300. There's no bank or restaurant here, but enormous oak and persimmon trees loom over a small stone building right next to the road. Half of it is a post office; the other half, a one-room public library.

Rachel Reynolds Luster took over this branch four months ago with the goal of creating a learning hub. She calls herself a curator, not just a librarian.

Her first task? Filtering out some of the favorites of the previous librarian.

Is it their love of ink?

There seems to be something about tattoos that appeals to quite a few librarians.

Back in 2009 there was the Texas Library Association's "Tattooed Ladies of TLA" calendar that raised money for libraries damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Book News: Man Booker Prize To Be Opened To Americans

Sep 16, 2013

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

An all-digital public library is opening today, as officials in Bexar County, Texas, celebrate the opening of the BiblioTech library. The facility offers about 10,000 free e-books for the 1.7 million residents of the county, which includes San Antonio.

On its website, the Bexar County BiblioTech library explains how its patrons can access free eBooks and audio books. To read an eBook on their own device, users must have the 3M Cloud Library app, which they can link to their library card.

It's not exactly a building boom, but several public libraries around the country are getting makeovers. The Central Library in Austin, Texas just broke ground on a new building that promises such new features as outdoor reading porches and a cafe. In Madison, Wis., they're about to open a newly remodeled library that has, among other improvements, more natural light and a new auditorium. Historic libraries in Boston and New York City are looking at significant renovations.

More than 90 percent of Americans say public libraries are important to their communities, according to the Pew Research Center. But the way that love translates into actual financial support varies hugely from state to state.

Vermont, for instance, brags that it has more libraries per capita than any other U.S. state. Some of them are remarkably quaint. In Ludlow, one library is a white clapboard Victorian, slightly frayed, ringed by lilies and sitting by the side of a brook.

At Libraries Across America, It's Game On

Aug 12, 2013

There's a battle going down at the Sollers Point Branch of the Baltimore County Public Library system. It's a one-point game in the fourth quarter with only seconds left on the game clock. Huddled around a big screen in a small room, 10 or so teenagers cheer on their joystick-wielding buddies. The ball is snapped, the kick is up ... no good. It's wide right, and the crowd goes wild, trash talk flying.

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, libraries in New York helped the storm's victims turn a new page. Librarians helped thousands of people fill out relief forms, connect to the Internet and make plans to rebuild.

The New Dorp branch of the New York Public Library in Staten Island wasn't damaged during Sandy. But just a few blocks away, houses were inundated with as much as 16 feet of water. And days after the storm, many of the library's patrons still lacked the most basic services.

By the loading dock of Seattle's downtown library, librarian Jared Mills checks his tire pressure, secures his iPads and locks down about 100 books to an aluminum trailer the size of a steamer trunk. The scene is reminiscent of something you'd see in an action movie, when the hero is gearing up for a big fight, but Mills is gearing up for something very different.

"If you're not prepared and don't have a lot of experience hauling a trailer, it can be kind of dangerous," Mills says, especially when you're going downhill. "The trailer can hold up to 500 pounds."

When I was 9, I spent a lot of time at a public library just down the street; I was already a theater nerd, and it had a well-stocked theater section. Not just books, but original cast albums for Broadway shows old and new. One day, an addition: The Music Man, about a salesman who was crazy about a girl named, as one song put it, "Marrrrrrrion, madam librarian."

Book News: Barnes & Noble's CEO Quits

Jul 9, 2013
  • Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch Jr. resigned Monday following several grim earnings reports and the company's recent announcement that it would stop manufacturing its own Nook tablets. A new chief executive wasn't named, but Michael P. Huseby has been named president of Barnes & Noble and chief executive of the Nook division.
Photo courtesy of Oregon State Library.

A man who nearly became Oregon's State Librarian will now spend the next two years on probation for forgery. He pled guilty Thursday to going beyond just padding his resume. He forged documents showing that he had a degree from the University of Washington.

Last winter, Robert Hulshof-Schmidt was just weeks away from an internal promotion to the top spot at Oregon's State Library in Salem. Then, he suddenly withdrew his application and stopped showing up for work at the agency where he'd been employed for nearly seven years.

Library officials were mum on the about-face. Eventually someone else was named to the job.

The Washington Supreme Court ruled Thursday that public libraries may put Internet filters on their computers. Some librarians are cheering the ruling and say it could lead more libraries around the state to limit access to porn and other controversial material.