Library News

Lovely Volcanoes and Horrible Dams

I have always had an absurd and unnatural love for volcanoes. There is something very mystic about them, especially extinct ones, whose insides are still scarred from millions of years of eruptions. In the middle of chaos and fire, volcanoes persist, even thrive. And even though they are slowly contributing noxious gases to the air I breathe, I can’t help but feel that they and I have some unique spiritual bond… if volcanoes can really have a spiritual anything. It is for this reason that I cradle close to me the idea of Iceland, the enigmatic, romantic concept of an island both fire and ice, that stands so far from everything else, on the edge of the arctic, in a world all its own. I dream of going there like I dreamt of one day playing Scrabble with Kurt Vonnegut, or of seeing The Dismemberment Plan live. It now appears that all three of them may be out of the question. Just when I thought that Iceland may have slipped past the radar of the greed and industrialization of the Rest Of The World, this horrific little event occurs, one that left me sprawled in panicked horror on my living room floor for no less than an hour, clutching my heart and moaning to no one in particular. National Geographic’s March issue contains an article ( discussing the conflicts behind Iceland’s latest industrial progress, namely a dam called Kárahnjúkar, which required an enormous amount of flooding and will provide energy to a massive American-company-owned aluminum smelter. The smelter will provide much-needed jobs and foreign capital. however, and while it’s impossible to ignore the social aspect, it’s also impossible for me not to be enormously depressed about this: in my mind it will always be a tragedy, akin to the Truth About Santa Claus, birthdays after fifteen, and the last book of Narnia.

Relive the magic

Meet the Author programs : If you want to see what you missed out on, or just relive the magic, go to the library’s flickr account. Unfortunately, the photos cannot be organized into folders by event because that feature isn’t available on the free account (the max number allowed is three). But I tagged every photo for easy searching. Since I don’t think this is linked to flickr, don’t hesitate to add any of those photos to the gallery

Hello from Wellesley!

I’m here at a great workshop at Wellesley College today, learning some tips about how to write for the web. Also here with me is the famous Emily Sabo! In addition to the fun workshop, we had a great lunch over at the student center. Shrimp risotto. Yum.

Miss a Meet the Author talk?

The Library’s Programming and Communications Committee has been working to get our Meet the Author talks recorded and available for viewing online. On February 12, Pulitzer Prize Winner Geraldine Brooks discussed her latest novel, People of the Book. Watch along here. (And you’ll see a small cameo by me in the first minute :-))

The latest book, coming to a hand-held device near you

A few weeks ago, when Northeastern was on Spring Break, I stayed with a friend in Northern New Jersey for the last two nights of break. He lives in a beautiful area, with gorgeous lakes, mostly composed of weekend homes for those who work in the City during the week. Coincidentally, there is no cell phone service, and few places offer Wi-Fi connections. So despite my laptop, cell phone and multiple email accounts, I was cut off from the rest of the world.

And it felt great.

But, by the last day, both Joe (my friend) and I were ready to get on the Internet. After all, our Facebooks had gone untended to for days! As Joe checked his email and other online forms of communication, I looked around his father’s handsome computer/ TV room. Being the fidgetting/nosy/curious guy that I am, I couldn’t help but wonder what electronic device (I saw a charging cord snaking out the back) would be around the size of a medium-sized paperback book.

Opening the leather case, I saw a blank screen. But it wasn’t black, it was white. And when I turned it on, it opened to the page of a book.

Electronic books have come a long way since the first text files exchanged over slow networks. The newest and most promising development is the electronic reader.

The screens use a different technology than your average LCD, and do not require additional energy once an image is on-screen. Which works perfectly for reading a book, where you might spend 5 minutes reading an especially difficult passage.

For some reason, this new display also makes the words clearer – instead of pixellation around the edges of letters, each looked just like it had been printed on paper.

So let’s think about this: its energy efficient, more portable (especially because with expandable memory, you can have hundreds of books with you at all times), and reads just as well as a real book.

With a high price for electronic book readers of this vein, the future has not quite arrived for all. But I expect that cheaper versions, as well as other products that use these technologies will eventually render paper obsolete.

At least for books.