Friday, January 9, 2009
The people who believe that TV shows and movies and such forms of broadcast content are the be-all, end-all of creative cultural content still don't recognize the true power of the internet as a communications platform, that allows individuals to interact and communicate in ways that simply weren't possible before.
The Meredith Corporation shut one of its magazines, Country Home, and dismissed 7 percent of its employees on Thursday, adding to a long list of closings and downsizings in an industry battered by falling advertising.
Country Home began as an occasional publication from Better Homes and Gardens, became a stand-alone magazine in 1986, and grew to a robust circulation of almost 1.3 million. But like other shelter magazines that closed recently, including O at Home from the Hearst Corporation, and Cottage Living from Time Inc., it suffered as the recession led consumers and advertisers to cut back on spending.
The importance of keeping a street-level presence for Madison's Central Library and locating it on a main city corridor gave one developer a slight edge in public opinion in the competition between two companies to rebuild the aging structure.
More than 50 people came to the city's Library Board meeting Thursday to hear from representatives of T. Wall Properties and the Fiore Cos., both of which are vying to rebuild the city's downtown library, 201 W. Mifflin St.
Though only a fraction of attendees spoke on the two plans, most seemed to favor the Fiore Cos.' plan, which would use an adjacent property already owned by the company on West Washington Avenue to create a six-story, stand-alone library that is part of an "integrated block" with other nearby buildings.
Link to January 8 Wisconsin State Journal article, "Developers pitch competing ideas for Central Library".
A home with no books and a parent who constantly calls you stupid doesn't exactly nurture a writing talent.
Or maybe it does, if you take the experience of Wausau author Sandra Kring [website under construction] into account. Sandra, who moved to Wausau in June, has written three well-received, steady-selling books and is working on a fourth.
Her first published work, "Carry Me Home," is a coming-of-age story set during World War II. It came out in 2005. "Strong characters, a clear community portrait and a memorable protagonist whose poignant fumblings cloak an innocent wisdom demonstrate Kring's promise," wrote Publisher's Weekly.
"The Book of Bright Ideas," Sandra's second book, was a Target Book Selection in 2006, and she said it has been optioned for a film. "Thank You For All Things," her third novel, came out in 2008 and is in its second printing.
It's such a dramatic change of life for Sandra that sometimes even she shakes her head at the improbability of it all.
"I didn't read when I was a kid," she said. "There were no books in our house."
Thursday, January 8, 2009
• An iconic building at a prominent location. A free-standing library with high visibility on a Downtown gateway, double the vehicle traffic counts, and an attractive package for donors.
• Superior design details. The building faces south affording comfort for reading areas, has 18 feet between floors, a sixth-floor outdoor patio, an exterior of stone and glass, and a higher-quality mechanical system.
• Outstanding public experience. The main entry is inviting and has 29,000 square feet of space including a mezzanine, and West Washington Avenue window bays will provide outstanding views.
• Operational control. The new building will have a dedicated, library-appropriate heating and air conditioning system, not one shared by other building occupants.
• No temporary relocation or library down time.
• Price protection. The Fiore price is fixed to April 1, 2010. (Wall has options to adjust prices in 2009).
• A bigger economic impact with an $80 million total cost. (Wall offers a $45 million impact.)
• Comparable total costs.
• A LEED silver building that will deliver long-term savings.
• Efficiency. A larger and more flexible floor plan with floors ranging from 25,000 to 30,000 square feet. That means less supervision is needed and lower staff costs.
• Expansion. The library can lease space and grow into the fifth floor within the existing building.
• Diversity of offerings. The structure offers a glass-encased exhibit space, an elevated urban plaza, teen library and signage opportunities.
• The vibrancy of mixed-use. Libraries that co-locate see an increase in activity. First-floor retail and upper-level offices will generate traffic, and the design supports a broad range of functions.
• Neighborhood revitalization. A public anchor will attract private investment.
• Ready to go. No future subsidy required. (Fiore is seeking tax incremental financing for phase II of its project). Available capital and tenant interest.
• The right price. The Wall project is less expensive than Fiore, and has options to add features sought in the city's request for proposals.
• Lease flexibility. If the city can't immediately buy the entire library upon delivery, it has the option to lease space until fundraising can cover a purchase.
• Cost sharing. The rents generated by commercial space help with economies of scale for the overall project.
• Revenue opportunities. The library can open a library store, lease atrium space and use less staff due to larger floors.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
New educational uses of cell phones are challenging the "turned off and out of sight" rules that many districts have adopted for student cell phones on campus.
A growing number of teachers, carefully navigating district policies and addressing their own concerns, are having students use their personal cell phones to make podcasts, take field notes, and organize their schedules and homework.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
It used to be impossible to find the film music of Max Steiner, Erich Wolfgang Korngold or Bernard Herrmann on records. The soundtrack business didn't exist until the late 1950s, so most of their classic scores -- even some of their Oscar-winning ones -- were never issued on disc.
That's all changed now, thanks to three enterprising San Fernando Valley musicians who have spent the last 15 years finding, restoring and rerecording dozens of classic scores -- everything from "Cat People" to "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" -- for major labels like Naxos and RCA/BMG.
Tribute Film Classics.
A great movie soundtrack, such as Vertigo, can stand on its own merits. Lucky for us, though, that it sets a perfect mood for one of Alfred Hitchcock's best films.
Monday, January 5, 2009
For those in the magazine business, a weight loss is not pretty.
Here are some January 2008-January 2009 ad pages comparisons for Conde Nast titles.
Wired (down 47%)
Architectural Digest (down 46%)
Vogue (down 44%)
Lucky (down 44%)
The average decline for all monthly magazines was 17%.
Watch CBS Videos Online
Americans are saving money, and keeping the looming recession at bay, by going to their local libraries to rent books, CD's, and DVD's. Katie Couric reports. (Summary cut-and-pasted from CBS News Vidos website. Note the incorrect verb.)
To her credit, Couric uses the word "borrowing" twice, with emphasis, at the beginning of her report. She never says "rent".
Ever since Google began scanning printed books four years ago, scholars and others with specialized interests have been able to tap a trove of information that had been locked away on the dusty shelves of libraries and in antiquarian bookstores.
According to Dan Clancy, the engineering director for Google book search, every month users view at least 10 pages of more than half of the one million out-of-copyright books that Google has scanned into its servers.
Direction #1 (the nay-sayers). “The Blu-ray format is in jeopardy simply because the advent of downloadable HD movies is so close,” said Roger L. Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies Associates. a research and consulting company. “Streaming video from the Internet and other means of direct digital delivery are going to put optical formats out of business entirely over the next few years.”
Direction #2 (the supporters). Blu-ray’s supporters have another view. They say the technology had a breakout year, crowned by the holiday success of “The Dark Knight,” which sold 600,000 Blu-ray copies in one day. They also say that Blu-ray players are selling faster than DVD players did at a comparable time in their emergence.
What's your take?
Link to January 4 Racine Journal Times article.
RACINE — As the economy worsens, library use goes up.At least that’s how it looks to Jessica MacPhail, director of the Racine Public Library.“We’ve always been busy, but we noticed an increase, especially in August, September and October,” MacPhail said. “I’m relating it directly to the economy. Why pay for a book at Barnes and Noble when I can get it free? Why pay for a DVD at Blockbuster when I can get it for free?”Circulation at the Racine Public Library is up, though the library does not have official numbers for 2008.
“I know it’s tied directly to the economy,” said MacPhail, who since 1976 also has served as a librarian in Illinois, North Carolina and Ohio. “I’ve been around long enough to see it. Every time there’s a dip in the economic cycle, people turn to us.”Racine isn’t alone. Other communities throughout the state and country appear to be showing the same kind of cycle.