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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Death of Brick and Mortar Libraries?

When was the last time I went physically into a library? Every week, but then I am a tactile person and live two blocks from one. They have special collections and a certain feeling that cannot be obtained anywhere, at least easily. A place to contemplate, explore the book next to the one you are interested in on the shelf, just think and sort as you walk the shelves scanning related subjects or articles. And they have trained professional librarians.

Library means collection, which goes well beyond books. The loss of libraries would mean the loss of the art galleries, performing arts centers, meeting rooms, viewing room, expertise and other resources they bring, well beyond a collection of physical books.

Public libraries have value in our society. They provide all of what I listed above and more. They are a wall against creeping illiteracy, ignorance and the dumbing down of our overall society. Parents who do use libraries never bring their kids to the library. What strata of society do they come from? What will happen if this trend continues? I am with Ray Bradbury, who grew up practically living in the library. It opens the mind, imagination and intellect.

So, yes, traditional libraries hold great value to our society and its future.

As to virtual libraries, they have their place and their value is increasing. However consider these thoughts:

What if there is a war or natural disaster involving magnetic pulse and electronics stop working? Not science fiction as there are natural causes for such pulses and it is very much both a military weapon and a side impact of nuclear weaponry.

Access to virtual libraries required technology that cost money and takes service? What of the poor, or those who live in a society where a government or a corporation keeps people from having access to information?

Tactile paper and ink libraries can be hidden, transported, displayed and stored in homes or collections.

The building and its contents reminds the community that it is a real flesh and blood community, with resources and identity. Often libraries hold local history, writing, art, culture and identity.

There is a physical feeling and pleasure to reading a tactile book. Its touch, smell, the reality that others have read it, the wear and tears that add character and value.

Virtual has its place, but we need both buildings and on-line in the Ethernet.

Besides the best place for those who do not have funds, or those whose technology is aging, or those who just want to be away from home, school or work, to access what is in the ether-world is at their local or campus library.

Art Lynch

Bing Crosby - White Christmas

Melissa Gilbert is helping Kids stay off drugs

Melissa Gilbert Helps Parents 

Fight Kids' Addictions

By any account, Melissa Gilbert has had a successful show business career, from the time she played Laura on "Little House on the Prairie," to many successful TV movies to her two term stint as president of the Screen Actor's Guild.

However, her most personal job may now become her most rewarding: As the official spokeswoman for The Partnership at, a nonprofit that helps parents prevent, intervene in and find treatment for drug and alcohol use by their children.

Gilbert wants to eradicate the stigma that surrounds addiction especially because of her own battles with addiction.

Former 'Little House on the Prairie' star Melissa Gilbert, here with her son, Michael, is now the spokeswoman for The Partnership at, a nonprofit that helps parents prevent, intervene in and find treatment for drug and alcohol use by their children. (Theo & Juliet)
Theo & Juliet
Former 'Little House on the Prairie' star Melissa Gilbert, here with her son, Michael, is now the spokeswoman for The Partnership at, a nonprofit that helps parents prevent, intervene in and find treatment for drug and alcohol use by their children. (Theo & Juliet)
It's a daunting task for anyone, but one that Gilbert feels she had to take because of the ways drug addiction and alcohol abuse have affected both her and members of her family over the years.

"Our family has been through it with one of our kids pretty intensely," Gilbert said. "He got arrested, this quadruple-parented boy, my stepson, and we walked him through this process. I was really amazed. As a sober alcoholic and someone who definitely did drugs, we, as parents, can't say to our kids we never tried it or did it; that would be totally hypocritical.

Christmas Cards

Click above for a White Christmas video card...

A critical Christmas for changing times

Destination retail has taken on a new definition.

Where once it meant shopping at Best Buy or other larger retailers, today it means specific products, and with free shipping, on-line. Sales are down of "similar" products nation wide while up on specific target products. Revenue at Best Buy and other stores down, while and on line retailers are up. Walmart is up in both sectors, but the fastest growth is ordering from Walmart on-line.

iPhones and iPads are the fastest moving electronic products, outpacing lesser branded alternatives, laptops and high end smart phones. Middle to low end "Internet enabled" phones are also selling strong, as those who cannot afford iPhones or who do not want to switch to AT&T. Often these phones have lower resolution screens, limited applications or slower speeds. Meanwhile, the higher end phones are benefiting form iPhone sales and the advertising dollars spent to counter the iPhone and AT&T, but at no where near the rate of iPhones.

iPad, Kindle and other "reading" pads are all selling well, mostly on-line, with the Kindle taking the position of Amazon's top selling product of the holiday season. e-books are outselling hard covers, and creeping up quickly on paperback sales. While not introducing a "reader", Google has entered the race with a book selling and even free library platform that can be read on most competitive book readers, computers and smart phones.

iPads are now the most profitable gaming platform for game developers, surpassing X-Box and Playstation. The key word is profit. Estimates put games played at thirty percent more than the most used of the two platforms.

Malls are full, but suffering in sales. "Box" retailers are advertising the added value and savings of single store shopping, while the neighborhoods or parking lot crime rates of the remaining urban malls keep customers from making the once all-powerful mall their first choice.

The real impact is the loss of much need revenue for local retailers, who pay local property, business and sales tax and employ local workers. Without these companies, or at least branches of national or international retailers, the fundamental fabric of society will shift.

How will we pay for schools, roads, police, fire and others financed through traditional retail, employment an property taxes?

Are we no longer geared to the social atmosphere of physical stores and shopping experiences? Will Americans "evolve" into cyber-shoppers, social networking an telecommuters.

And if we shop on-line, learn to read on iPads, and Skype each other what will happen to the costly migrations that help keep transportation, hotels and other aspects of our increasingly geographically family structures physically close.

One Christmas does not indicate a permanent change.

But what will America look like in five, ten, twenty years?

What can be done to bring us together and keep the local economies rolling in retail?

Non-toon talent brings life to animation

 "There's already such crossover now, and in 20 or 30 years, it's all going to be the same thing."

-Roger Deakins


"The Brain Trust" has popularly described the core creative group at Pixar Animation -- a group that notably expanded beyond animation veterans when the studio tapped Michael Arndt (pre-"Little Miss Sunshine") to pen "Toy Story 3."
But Pixar isn't alone in tapping live-action talent to punch up their toons. DreamWorks Animation hired "Being John Malkovich" scribe Charlie Kaufman to do a polish on "Kung Fu Panda 2," and the studio counts "Greenberg" scribe Noah Baumbach (who is writing "Madagascar 3"), director Anand Tucker and d.p. Guillermo Navarro among its collaborators.
DreamWorks Animation recently announced a production deal with Guillermo Del Toro, who's been spending a couple days a week on the lot since late summer, developing "Trollhunters" for the studio and offering notes on "Megamind" and "Kung Fu Panda 2."
A particularly notable example of a live-action crossover artist is d.p. Roger Deakins, who shot both "True Grit" and "The Company Men" this year, but also consulted on Pixar's "Wall-E" and DreamWorks' "How to Train Your Dragon."