Friday, January 4, 2013

Daily Thoughts 01/04/2013

Illustration of the Sherlock Holmes short story The Blue Carbuncle, which appeared in The Strand Magazine in January, 1892. Original caption was "JUST READ IT OUT TO ME."

Daily Thoughts 01/04/2013

This morning, I read a little bit more of How To Create A Mind.  Ray Kurzweil is writing about the Blue Brain Project which is an attempt to reverse engineer the brain by simulating it as a computer model.  There is a prediction that there will be a complete map of the neurons in the human brain by 2023.

I also checked the displays and the gift books.  I am checking the social media right now.  We got some promotional material from Freegal which is a download service for MP3 music.

I spent some time on creating a display of books on tea.  There are quite a few mysteries with tea in the title.  I also looked through the New York Times Book Review.  I prefer that people are able to check out books from displays.

I have been following the city on their process of adopting the budget.  I noticed that the meetings on  January 3, and 4 were canceled for the city on adopting the tax.  This is another article from the Journal News.  Apparently on Wednesday, on January 3, 2012,  when the budget was adopted, $250,000 was cut from the library.  This is not surprising, it is politics.

When I looked at the January 2, 2013 article from the Mount Vernon Daily Voice, it lists $249,000 in cuts, but the library was not listed as part of the cuts.  I am hoping that as things move forward people are clear about what is happening with the library.

This reminds of what happened last year.  The libraries budget was cut last year and people were laid off.  It has gotten to the point where the library is not open on Saturdays except for once a month.  We are also down to a single person on the reference desk. It is discouraging to read about the differences between the city, the library administration, and the union.  Public discussion of layoffs and budget cuts are not encouraging to a positive service environment.

The people who will lose the most will be the patrons of the library.  The people who come to the library seem to be the ones who are left out of this discussion the most.  Patrons want computer classes, more computer time, new books, and books for their school assignments.  Almost three years ago, I wrote a patron survey for the library which over 430 people answered on the web and in person which was tabulated.   Many of the answers were paragraph length. It was never released to the public.  I still think about it sometimes.

It would be interesting to see what would happen if people were elected to the board of trustees.  It might change the relationship with the city.  There is a different dynamic between being elected and being appointed.

On the way home, I read some more of How To Create A Mind. I am reading about the Turing test to determine if a machine is intelligent.  Alan Turing believed that the most important aspect of artificial intelligence is language.  There is quite a bit on language in this book including material on speech recognition.  I don't understand some of the material, but it is still thought provoking.

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