Silicon Valley Reads 2014 Books Focus on Technology

"...there are concerns that the hours spent scanning the Internet are negatively impacting our ability to read deeply and thoughtfully.”

These are the two books picked for Silicon Valley Reads 2014. (Photo: Santa Clara Valley Library System)
These are the two books picked for Silicon Valley Reads 2014. (Photo: Santa Clara Valley Library System)
[The following was submitted by the Palo Alto Library]

Read, think about and discuss the same book. That is the goal of Silicon Valley Reads 2014, the annual community engagement program that provides a welcoming forum where our diverse community can come together to share different perspectives. 

This year’s theme “Books & Technology: Friends or Foes?” focuses on the love-hate relationship between traditional books and technological innovations. 

Two books have been selected for 2014: 
·         The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, by Nicholas Carr,
·         Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. 

The library will offer a variety of free programs for adults, youth and families that will help to foster a community conversation around the theme of books and technology. 

“The definition of ‘book’ is being redefined because of new inventions and new technologies,” said Laurie Hastings, Senior Librarian and Coordinator of Silicon Valley Reads at the Palo Alto City Library. 

“Digital devices are making books more accessible, but there are concerns that the hours spent scanning the Internet are negatively impacting our ability to read deeply and thoughtfully,” added Hastings.  “Are these changes affecting how authors write?  Are shorter attention spans making it more difficult to learn?  Are books and technology complementary or at odds?”

Carr’s nonfiction book, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, is an exploration of the Internet’s intellectual and cultural consequences.  Sloan’s novel, centered in a San Francisco bookstore and Silicon Valley is an adventure where friends share their technology skills in order to solve a mystery.

Library Director Monique le Conge Ziesenhenne said, “These issues are not inconsequential for the library as it thinks through its three year plan, which we are revising this year. We are always eager to have a conversation with our community about books and technology and these programs provide a fantastic way to spark that dialogue.” 

In addition to opening two new physical libraries in 2014, the Palo Alto City Library will also open an ebranch to expand its customer service reach into the virtual realm and to create new content. The library is also responding quickly to a growing demand for e-books by significantly increasing its collection of e-books and by offering free courses on how to download them.

Customers without their own e-reader still have the opportunity to read e-books by checking out Chromebooks from the library.  The library will present the following free programs in support of the theme of Silicon Valley Reads.  Registration is requested for all programs.  To register, use the library’s online calendar at www.cityofpaloalto.org/library or call 650-329-2436.

Events Honoring Silicon Reads 2014:
(For a full list of free events at the library including courses on how to download Carr’s The Shallows and Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s on to your e-reader, visit our events calendar.)

·         Tuesday, January 28, 7 p.m., Downtown Library, 270 Forest Ave., Palo Alto
Film Screening: Out of Print
Narrated by Meryl Streep, the documentary “Out of Print” draws us into the topsy-turvy world of words, illuminating the turbulent and exciting journey from the book through the digital revolution.  

·         Tuesday, February 4, 7 p.m., Downtown Library, 270 Forest Ave., Palo Alto
Book Discussion: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
Come and discuss the book that has been described as a gleeful and exhilarating tale of global conspiracy, complex code-breaking, high-tech data visualization, young love, rollicking adventure, and the secret to eternal life—mostly set in a hole-in-the-wall San Francisco bookstore.

·         Sunday, February 9, 4 p.m. Cubberley Center Theater, 4000 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto
Robin Sloan: Meet the Author 
Meet Robin Sloan, author of the best-selling, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.  Copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing by Mr. Sloan.

·         Wednesday, February 19, 7 p.m., Downtown Library, 270 Forest Ave., Palo Alto
Panel Discussion: “Sea Change - The ePublishing Transformation”
How does ePublishing fit into the traditional publishing world?  What new potential can be imagined in a digital environment?  This panel discussion will provide a range of perspectives, introducing us to the new landscape for authors and readers.  Panelists include: Holly Brady, Self-publishing Advisor/former Director of Stanford Publishing Courses; Mark Coker, Founder, CEO and Chief Author Advocate, Smashwords; Jerry Fan, Founder of JukePop Serials; Rama Sadasivin, Director of Content Acquisition, Scribd; Paula MacKinnon, Information Systems Project Manager, Contra Costa County Library; Keith Raffel, Author; Elliot Warren, Collection Development/Technical Services Manager, Contra Costa County Library

·         Sunday, March 9, 3:30 p.m., Children’s Library, 1276 Harriet St., Palo Alto      
Todd Parr: Meet the Author - Family Program 
Todd Parr is the New York Times bestselling author and illustrator of more than three dozen children’s books.  His book, Reading Makes You Feel Good, inspires and encourages young children to delight in the experience of reading.

·         Wednesday, March 12, 3:30 p.m., Children’s Library, 1276 Harriet St., Palo Alto
Chris Grabenstein: Meet the Author - Family Program
In his NY Times bestseller for young readers, ‘Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library’, Grabenstein created a technological marvel of a library -- all in the service of books and the sharing of knowledge.  As Mr. Lemoncello says, "Knowledge not shared remains unknown."  Get to know Chris at this family event!

·         Tuesday, March 25, 7 p.m., Downtown Library, 270 Forest Ave., Palo Alto      
Book Discussion: The Shallows: What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains by Nicholas Carr 
Is Google making us stupid?  This Pulitzer Prize finalist crystalizes one of the most important debates of our time: As we enjoy the Net’s bounties, are we sacrificing our ability to read and think deeply?  Read it and come share your thoughts. Silicon Valley Reads is co-sponsored by the Santa Clara County Office of Education, the Santa Clara County Library and the San Jose Public Library Foundation.  Please visit www.siliconvalleyreads.org for further information about Silicon Valley Reads programs.  Programs presented by the Palo Alto City Library have been funded through a grant from the Friends of the Palo Alto Library. 


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