In March, a group of New York library officials released a statement declaring that a “staggering infrastructure crisis” has crept up on the city’s public library system. In Brownsville, Brooklyn, one branch is “routinely forced to close on hot days” due to problems with air conditioning. Others are plagued with water-damaged books and facilities that are too small to accommodate everyone in their community.
General interest public libraries are no less necessary than they were in 1901, when Andrew Carnegie donated the equivalent of $147 million to construct 65 of them across New York City, but their focus is increasingly shifting away from books and toward things like English classes, job training workshops, community meeting spaces, or just places to read the news online for those without internet access.
While the public must continue to fight for these more practical resources, a number of oddball independent libraries cropping up around the North American continent offer an experience that can’t be found in their traditional counterparts. These boutique libraries are working to stretch our very idea about the word “library,” creating a real living community around the often very lonely act of reading.
Digital music might not have the same allure as sitting down to listen to a record on your turntable, but what it lacks in atmosphere, it makes up for in convenience — especially when you aren’t home with your collection.
It’s been five years since Spotify publicly launched and shifted the music industry’s focus toward streaming as a way to combat illegal downloading. While the streaming business model is far from perfect, even the most casual music fan should test out streaming while it’s still growing.
If you’re just dipping your toe into the stream, follow our beginner’s guide and soon you’ll be listening to Spotify’s massive library without the worry of losing precious hard drive space.
A little more than a month after launching an iPhone app in invitation-only beta, Oyster is making its e-book subscription service available to all users and expanding to iPad.
Oyster charges $9.95 a month for access to more than 100,000 books from big and small publishers, but it now offers users one free month with the hope of getting more people to try the app experience. The startup declined to provide data on the number of users or books read during the beta period, but noted that 1 million pages were read in the first 10 days the app was available and another million pages were read in the following six days.
HarperCollins has partnered with document-sharing website Scribd on a new ebook subscription service.
Dubbed “Netflix for ebooks,” subscribers pay $8.99 a month for the ability to check out an unlimited number of ebooks – up to 10 titles at time – from the Scribd catalogue, which includes backlists from HarperCollins and several small U.S. presses. The service allows readers to switch between browsers, Android, and Apple devices without losing their place.
HarperCollins CEO Brian Murray told the Associated Press that the partnership will provide the publisher with valuable data about Scribd readers. “This is going to help us make even better publishing and marketing decisions for our authors,” he says.
The international service is now available in Canada, although not all titles are accessible for download.