|Weekly News Digest
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Library of Congress Shares Interviews With African Writers in May for Africa Month
To celebrate Africa Month, throughout May 2022, the Library of Congress (LC) is hosting a three-part series of interviews with award-winning African writers: Nigerian-born author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, South African novelist and playwright Damon Galgut, and Tanzanian-born novelist and academic Abdulrazak Gurnah.
The LC notes, “The interviews are part of the “Conversations with African Poets and Writers Series” produced by the Library’s African and Middle Eastern Division since 2008 to promote a greater cross-cultural understanding and dialogue. The series offers a window onto African writers, from the continent and the diaspora, and features their works in fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama and literary criticism.”
Each interview will be available on the LC’s YouTube channel and the African and Middle Eastern Division’s webpage at 7 p.m. on May 5 (Adichie), May 12 (Galgut), and May 25 (Gurnah).
For more information, read the news item.
EveryLibrary Starts a Banned Book Store
EveryLibrary’s executive director, John Chrastka, announced via email that EveryLibrary launched an online marketplace—the Banned Book Store—which he calls “the most comprehensive store of currently banned and challenged books in the United States.” The funds it raises will help in EveryLibrary’s fight against book banning and its advocacy for libraries.
The books in the store are fulfilled via Ingram’s Aerio platform, and the title list comes from a range of sources, such as PEN America’s report on book banning, Dr. Tasslyn Magnusson’s banned-book spreadsheet, lists from ALA, and historically banned or challenged book lists.
Many of the book challenges come from individuals who have never read the books and who have been encouraged by national extremist organizations to present excerpts out of context to villainize and demonize librarians while building a case for horrific legislation that allows the government to bans books that don't agree with their current political ideologies.
According to [the] report by PEN America, book bans have targeted 1,145 unique book titles by 874 different authors, 198 illustrators, and 9 translators, impacting the literary, scholarly, and creative work of 1,081 people altogether.
These titles tend to have protagonists or prominent secondary characters who are people of color (41% of the titles), directly address race and racism (22%), and cover LGBTQ+ themes and/or have LGBTQ+ characters (33%). Children’s versions of biographies of prominent activists have been censored, including those of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez, Sonia Sotomayor, Nelson Mandela, and Malala Yousafzai.
Chrastka affirms that “exposure to a wide range of developmentally appropriate reading materials has significant benefits on the health, livelihood, and well-being of our nation’s children. Books help develop empathy for others. They help children imagine lives and experiences that are new to them or different than their own. In fact, a 2014 study found that children became more empathetic toward LGBTQ+ folks, immigrants, and refugees after reading Harry Potter, a story of a child who is different than his peers.”
Kudos, Impact Science, and Publishers Unveil COVID and Beyond: Living With Pandemics
Kudos and Impact Science announced publisher partners for COVID and Beyond: Living With Pandemics, a new initiative based on their knowledge cooperative model in which information from multiple sources is gathered in one place and is explained in a consistent, easy-to-understand way. This curated showcase of plain-language summaries is designed to help researchers, policymakers, the media, and the public gain trustworthy information about infectious diseases. Its sponsors (in addition to Kudos and Impact Science) are the American Chemical Society, AIP Publishing, De Gruyter, Hindawi, SAGE, the University of Toronto Press, and Wolters Kluwer Health.
For more information, read the blog post.
The ALA Ukraine Library Relief Fund Is Collecting Donations
ALA teamed up with the Ukraine Library Association to create the ALA Ukraine Library Relief Fund, which will “gather donations for the Ukrainian library community as they face the challenges of war.” The money will go toward purchasing computers and software, fixing immediate issues such as glazing windows and repairing bomb-damaged roofs of libraries, and helping support library workers who are in danger, wounded, or displaced.
The press release notes, “In cities and towns throughout Ukraine, dozens of libraries have been severely damaged or destroyed. Librarians have kept libraries open for as long as possible and are improvising to bring services to people. … In addition to the destruction and damage of libraries in the war zones, there are significant challenges serving people displaced by the fighting. Libraries do not have enough computers for displaced people to use to communicate with relatives or for job seeking, online learning and more.”
For more information, read the press release.
APA Announces Research Findings on Loneliness During the Pandemic
The American Psychological Association (APA) shared the results of a study led by Johannes Gutenberg University–Mainz’s Mareike Ernst finding that “[p]eople around the world experienced an increase in loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic, which, although small, could have implications for people’s long-term mental and physical health, longevity and well-being. …”
“The pandemic does appear to have increased loneliness,” says Ernst. “Given the small effect sizes, dire warnings about a ‘loneliness pandemic’ may be overblown. However, as loneliness constitutes a risk for premature mortality and mental and physical health, it should be closely monitored. We think that loneliness should be made a priority in large-scale research projects aimed at investigating the health outcomes of the pandemic.”
For more information, read the press release.
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