What kind of library user are you?

An information omnivore? A print traditionalist?  Young and restless?  Off the grid?

The Pew Research Center recently released its latest report on library engagement.  The research examined the ways in which libraries were used, how often people used a library and what people thought a library’s role was in their community.  Some of the results were surprising.  Good news for those who worry that libraries may be made obsolete because of technology.  The data shows that most highly-engaged library users are also big technology users, as well as supporters of the idea that libraries make communities better.  You can read the full report and take the quiz.

Love food, hate waste: more than a slogan

One-third of all food that is produced is thrown away without ever reaching peoples stomachs.*

For every malnourished person there are two overweight individuals.*

Nearly one-third of all crop production is dedicated to feeding livestock or fueling cars, not feeding people.*

With the balance between environmental sustainability, agriculture, nutrition, health and food production so obviously incorrect, what can be done to improve the situation?

Civil society organisations have started lobbying policy makers in the build up to the 2015 Milan Expo, “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life,” where political leaders will draft a framework for addressing these challenges. Goals include reducing food waste by 50 per cent by 2020.


*Statistics from Food Tank

Forbes publishes latest list of world’s most powerful women

Ranked by money, media momentum, spheres of influence and impact, the list encompasses a broad range of careers, ages and countries.  The methodology used to compile the list is available here, and the full list is here.

The accomplishments and figures represented by and representing these women are stunning.  For example, the 2014 list features:

  • Nine heads of state who run nations with a combined GDP of $11.1 trillion with 641 million citizens — including the No. 1 Power Woman, German Chancellor Angela Merkel
  • 28 corporate CEOs who control $1.7 trillion in annual revenues, and include 18 women who founded their own companies or foundations, including the youngest self-made billionaire, Sara Blakely, 43
  • 13 billionaires valued in excess of $81 billion
  • A total social media footprint of all 100 Power Women that exceeds 812 million followers/fans

Women are described as pushy twice as frequently as men

Following the dismissal of two high-profile women in media, Jill Abramson, the executive editor of the New York Times newspaper, and Natalie Nougayrède, editor-in-chief of the French title Le Monde, Nic Subtirelu, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Applied Linguistics and ESL at Georgia State University, used the Corpus of Contemporary American English, a database of more than 450 million words of text taken from two decades of fiction, newspapers, magazines and academic texts, to examine the frequency of descriptive words used for each gender.  He found that the word “pushy” was used to decribe women twice as often as it was used to describe men.  The HuffPost put together a very interesting image showing the words often used in public to describe powerful women.  Denigrating women’s power makes the users of those words sound scared.  Unfortunately, the users of those words are the ones wielding the overall power advantage in society.

Research says: Treat homelessness first, everything else later

Hamilton, Ontario’s Transitions to Home program is designed to quickly find permanent housing for men who are frequent users of the city’s emergency shelter system.  Researchers from the local hospital and university found that providing prompt, permanent shelter to the city’s homeless is cheaper and more effective than trying to treat underlying conditions such as mental health or addictions first.

“Before all else, housing should be seen as a basic human right,” explained Dr. Julia Woodhall-Melnik, author of the report and a researcher at the Centre for Research on Inner City Health of St. Michael’s Hospital and post-doctoral fellow at McMaster University. “Transitions to Home rightly offers affordable, stable housing at the outset with no conditions attached. With housing in place first, people can better cope with and then resolve mental health and addiction issues and work towards achieving other personal goals.”

I decide my future

The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) launched its latest campaign, “I decide my future,” as world leaders began debating the replacement(s) for the Millenium Development Goals.  IPPF’s goal is to gather at least one million signatures and present the petition to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in the summer of 2015.  The campaign asks, “Do you decide what you do with your own body? Whether to get pregnant? Who you love and how? Shockingly, many women and men around the world are denied these basic rights by governments and by tradition.”

At present we know only that the imagination, like certain wild animals, will not breed in captivity. George Orwell