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Book Cart Drill Teams Battle for Supremacy

The secret lives of librarians took center stage at the American Library Association's annual conference earlier this month. There was dancing, there were costumes, there was music, and, of course, there were book carts. They practice their routines in hallways and parking lots, ready to compete in the 5th annual Library Book Cart Drill Team Championship, sponsored by library supply company DEMCO.

"I thought, my God, what have we done here," said DEMCO's John Ison of the first competition. Teams bring acrobatic splits, book cart headlights, and dry ice effects to the floor in the quest to win first place and the coveted gold book cart trophy that comes with it. "It changes the whole image of librarians," added Ison.

What started out as a creative demonstration has since turned into an all out competition judged on technical ability and artistic impression, with bonus points for unique costumes, dance moves, and other innovations.

After the second place Des Plaines Public Library Cart Wheels team performed to a medley of songs from Grease, Ison remarked, "There was a move towards the beginning--a sort of thrust--worth several points." And with each thrust, the competition also brings team members closer together, building camaraderie. (The winning team had to juggle practices with members from three different library branches.)

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After an especially competitive year that almost ended in a tie, the judges awarded the Oak Park Library Warrior Librarians first prize for their viking-inspired performance, complete with sword play, horned helmets, and war cries.

During the competition, one of the moderators joked to any library school students in the audience, "It's really not too late to change your major." Judging by the applause from the overflowing crowd, if anything, this competition will likely boost library school enrollments, and reduce shushing.

Here are the videos of the top three teams:

First Place: The Oak Park Public Library Warrior Librarians (IL)

Second Place: Cart Wheels, Des Plaines Public Library (IL)

Third Place: Steel City Kings, University of Pittsburgh

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New AI-Driven Music System Analyzes Tracks for Perfect Playlists
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Whether you're planning a bachelorette party or recovering from a breakup, a well-curated playlist makes all the difference. If you don't have time to pick the perfect songs manually, services that use the AI-driven system Sonic Style may be able to figure out exactly what you have in mind based on your request.

According to Fast Company, Sonic Style is the new music-categorizing service from the media and entertainment data provider Gracenote. There are plenty of music algorithms out there already, but Sonic Style works a little differently. Rather than listing the entire discography of a certain artist under a single genre, the AI analyzes individual tracks. It considers factors like the artist's typical genre and the era the song was recorded in, as well as qualities it can only learn through listening, like tempo and mood. Based on nearly 450 descriptors, it creates a super-accurate "style profile" of the track that makes it easier for listeners to find it when searching for the perfect song to fit an occasion.

Playlists that use data from Sonic Style feel like they were made by a person with a deep knowledge of music rather than a machine. That's thanks to the system's advanced neural network. It also recognizes artists that don't fit neatly into one genre, or that have evolved into a completely different music style over their careers. Any service—including music-streaming platforms and voice-activated assistants—that uses Gracenote's data will be able to take advantage of the new technology.

With AI at your disposal, all you have to do as the listener is decide on a style of music. Here are some ideas to get you started if you want a playlist for productivity.

[h/t Fast Company]

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