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At the Libraries: Is the "Labrary" the Future?

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Each month, Miss Kathleen provides links to a variety of stories about libraries, authors, and books. If there’s something noteworthy going on in your local library, leave us a comment!

Libraries! Chugging along for another year (at least), as they enter 2013 trying to replace bookstores. Is it possible? I use the library, of course, but do you?

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Or maybe Harvard's "Labrary" is the future of libraries? Oh, that word sounds terrible out loud!

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If one of your New Year's resolutions was to donate money to worthy charities, I've got a good one for you: Talking Book, an audio computer used for oral education for rural villagers. Fascinating and helpful, a great combo!

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I know gift-giving season is over, but if there's a librarian in your life (ahem), save this handy guide to Things Librarians Fancy for all-occasion gift giving. You really can't go wrong with these items!

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Here's something I can't believe I didn't know—William Faulkner wrote a children's book! Definitely sounds ... dark.

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The James Baldwin is my favorite, but all of these pictures of famous authors partying are pretty great. And of course, good old Papa is well represented:

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We've all done it—come on now, 'fess up: Which books did you bail on this past year? I will admit to bailing on Wolf Hall (again!). Third time might be the charm with that one. 

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Librarians, can you drink your way to better librarianship? It kind of is, and kind of isn't, what it sounds like. 

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If you think you might be a hipster, and you are wondering what book to read next, well, this flow chart is for you! 

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Okay, that is more of a joke, I mean, obviously you've read Infinite Jest. But this website is for real, and can actually help you find a great book to read next!

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Find out the best use of blue legos, and other wonderful winners in quirky categories at this great round up of the year in children's literature (which is the most fun, as we all know).

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Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year! As always, let me know the latest and greatest in library news via email or in the comments. I hope you have a great month, and I will see you in February!

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literature
A Limited Edition, Handwritten Manuscript of The Great Gatsby Can Be Yours for $249
SP Books
SP Books

Fans of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic The Great Gatsby need to put this on their holiday wish list: The French manuscript publisher SP Books is releasing a deluxe, limited-edition version of Fitzgerald’s handwritten Gatsby manuscript.

A handwritten manuscript of 'The Great Gatsby' open to a page
SP Books

The 328-page, large-format edition is cloth-bound and features an ornamental, iron-gilded cover. The facsimile of Fitzgerald’s original manuscript shows how the author reworked, rewrote, and otherwise altered the book throughout his writing process, changing character’s names (Nick was named “Dud” at one point), cutting down scenes, and moving around where certain information was introduced to the plot, like where the reader finds out how Gatsby became wealthy, which in the original manuscript wasn’t revealed until the end of the book. For Fitzgerald superfans, it's also signed.

A page of the handwritten manuscript with a pen on it
SP Books

The publisher is only selling 1800 copies of the manuscript, so if you’re a lover of literary history, you’d better act fast.

It’s available from SP Books for $249.

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Pop Culture
An AI Program Wrote Harry Potter Fan Fiction—and the Results Are Hilarious
Andreas Rentz/Getty Images
Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

“The castle ground snarled with a wave of magically magnified wind.”

So begins the 13th chapter of the latest Harry Potter installment, a text called Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash. OK, so it’s not a J.K. Rowling original—it was written by artificial intelligence. As The Verge explains, the computer-science whizzes at Botnik Studios created this three-page work of fan fiction after training an algorithm on the text of all seven Harry Potter books.

The short chapter was made with the help of a predictive text algorithm designed to churn out phrases similar in style and content to what you’d find in one of the Harry Potter novels it "read." The story isn’t totally nonsensical, though. Twenty human editors chose which AI-generated suggestions to put into the chapter, wrangling the predictive text into a linear(ish) tale.

While magnified wind doesn’t seem so crazy for the Harry Potter universe, the text immediately takes a turn for the absurd after that first sentence. Ron starts doing a “frenzied tap dance,” and then he eats Hermione’s family. And that’s just on the first page. Harry and his friends spy on Death Eaters and tussle with Voldemort—all very spot-on Rowling plot points—but then Harry dips Hermione in hot sauce, and “several long pumpkins” fall out of Professor McGonagall.

Some parts are far more simplistic than Rowling would write them, but aren’t exactly wrong with regards to the Harry Potter universe. Like: “Magic: it was something Harry Potter thought was very good.” Indeed he does!

It ends with another bit of prose that’s not exactly Rowling’s style, but it’s certainly an accurate analysis of the main current that runs throughout all the Harry Potter books. It reads: “‘I’m Harry Potter,’ Harry began yelling. ‘The dark arts better be worried, oh boy!’”

Harry Potter isn’t the only work of fiction that Jamie Brew—a former head writer for ClickHole and the creator of Botnik’s predictive keyboard—and other Botnik writers have turned their attention to. Botnik has previously created AI-generated scripts for TV shows like The X-Files and Scrubs, among other ridiculous machine-written parodies.

To delve into all the magical fiction that Botnik users have dreamed up, follow the studio on Twitter.

[h/t The Verge]

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