May 7, 2014 archive

The Lions Sleep Tonight

New York Public Library abandons controversial renovation plans

Jason Farago, The Guardian

Wednesday 7 May 2014 15.31 EDT

The move is a substantial and unexpected U-turn for the country’s second-largest library system, which for two years faced concerted protests from employees, library patrons, and architectural preservationists but insisted that its proposals were the only way forward. The Central Library Plan, as it was called, would have blasted open the stacks underneath the research branch’s upper reading room and exiled 1.5m books to a warehouse in New Jersey. Tony Marx, the library’s chief executive officer, had described the plan as one that would “replace books with people.” But many of the city’s researchers and writers, including Junot Diaz, Lydia Davis and Art Spiegelman, demonstrated against the plans – which they called everything from plutocratic to barbarous.

Four different lawsuits had been filed against the project, accusing the library both of endangering its purpose as a research institution and of damaging the architectural integrity of the central branch. In the landmark building, which opened in 1911 and was designed by the eminent architectural firm Carrère and Hastings, the reading room sits unusually at the top of the building, above massive stacks of books that are ferried to readers via a system of centralized elevators. The Central Library Plan would have broken open the stacks to create a lending library, designed by the British firm Foster & Partners, that would have featured sofas and computer banks but would have exiled most of the books to an underground storage facility or an offsite warehouse. (While the library published several schematic renderings, Foster’s full designs have never been revealed to the public.)

“I had no idea this was coming, but I never believed it wasn’t possible,” said Caleb Crain, author of the novel Necessary Errors and one of New York’s most consistent critics of the Central Library Plan. In 2012, Crain had advocated for a revised plan that would have retained the central branch as a research library and upgraded the sicklier Mid-Manhattan branch into a major lending institution. The NYPL, at the time, called that idea impossible. It now plans to do almost precisely what Crain proposed.

Much of the angry rhetoric surrounding the Central Library Plan concerned the possibilities of e-books and the supposed eclipse of printed volumes by digital media. But legal, rather than technological, obstacles would have made much of the NYPL’s collection inaccessible. “The vast majority of books were printed between 1923 and today, and every one of those remains in copyright,” said Crain. “For many we can’t make digital copies even if we wanted to. And the fact is that people absorb information better from printed paper than they do from screens. If you’re a researcher, the NYPL and the Library of Congress are the only two major libraries where you can work if you’re not a professor or a student.”


On This Day In History May 7

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

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May 7 is the 127th day of the year (128th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 238 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1824, the world premiere of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in Vienna, Austria. The performance is conducted by Michael Umlauf under the deaf composer’s supervision. It was Beethoven’s first appearance on stage in 12 years. Over the years the symphony has been performed for both political and non-political from the eve of Hitler’s birthday, to the celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, to the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. The Ode to Joy was used as the anthem by Kosovo when it declared it’s independence in 2008.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

I’ve been in my mind

Late Night Karaoke

The Breakfast Club 5-7-2014 by LaEscapee

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Everyone’s welcome here, no special handshake required. Just check your meta at the door.

Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

TDS/TCR (The Rose)


Challenge from the Right

My Name Is Roger Murdock

What Happened to Obama’s Promised Net Neutrality?

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Net Neutrality may shortly become another broken promise made by Barack Obama during is campaign for the presidency. His appointment of telecommunications lobbyist, Thomas Wheeler, may well be the nail in its coffin. Bill Moyers and his guests, David Carr of the New York Times and Susan Crawford, a visiting professor at Harvard Law School think is still time to stop it death if the public takes action.

“For most Americans, they have no choice for all the information, data, entertainment coming through their house, other than their local cable monopoly.  And here, we have a situation where that monopoly potentially can pick and choose winners and losers, decide what you see,” Crawford tells Moyers.

Carr adds: “People have a close, intimate relationship with the web in a way they don’t other technologies … they have the precious propriety feelings about it.  And I’m not sure if the FCC really knows what they’re getting into.”

TRanscript can be read here

The problem, Bill Moyers says, is that “business and government are now so intertwined that public officials and corporate retainers are interchangeable parts of what Chief Justice John Roberts might call ‘the gratitude machine.'” FCC officials, including Wheeler, transit back and forth through the revolving door between public service and lucrative private commerce, losing sight of the greater good. But there’s still time to speak up and make your voices heard.

Transcript can be read here

Don’t Let Net Neutrality Become Another Broken Promise

by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship

Barack Obama told us there would be no compromise on Net neutrality. We heard him say it back in 2007, when he first was running for president. [..]

He said it many more times. And defenders of Net neutrality believed him, that he would preserve Internet access for all, without selling out to providers like Verizon and Comcast who want to charge higher fees for speedier access – hustling more cash from those who can afford to buy a place at the front of the line. On this issue so important to democracy, they believed he would keep his word, would see to it that when private interests set upon the Internet like sharks to blood in the water, its fate would be in the hands of honest brokers who would listen politely to the pleas of the greedy, and then show them the door.

Unfortunately, it turned out to be Washington’s infamous revolving door. Last May, President Obama named Tom Wheeler to be FCC chairman. He had other choices, men or women whose loyalty was to the public, not to rich and powerful corporations. But Tom Wheeler had been one of Obama’s top bundlers of campaign cash – both in 2008 and again in 2012, when he raised at least half a million dollars for the president’s re-election. Like his proposed new rules for the Web, that put him at the front of the line.

Take Action Now

   » Save the Internet has a sample script, an email petition and instructions on how to call Wheeler and request that the chairman abandon his proposal.

   » Using’s We the People site, critics of the new proposal have also launched a petition, calling for “nothing less than complete neutrality in our communication channels.” It already has over 40,000 signatures.

   » A second petition asks the FCC to reclassify broadband as a regulated common-carrier service, which means it would have to be open to all, and serve all customers without discrimination. Currently broadband is classified as an information service, a category that gives the FCC a fairly limited set of regulatory options.

   » There are a number of other organizations that are working on maintaining Net neutrality, including: Access, CREDO Action, Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, Free Press, Open Technology Institute, Public Knowledge, Voices for Internet Freedom

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