A few things about GIFs

So the creator of the GIF, computer scientist Steve Wilhite, passed away last month, according to an article quoted in American Libraries Direct. GIF (pronounced jif) stands for Graphic Interchange Format, and the first version of one was created by a team from CompuServe, headed by Wilhite, in 1987, predating the Web. Explained in an article in October of that year in Online Today, a GIF is flexible enough to overcome any basic hardware compatibility issues, and stores and transmits graphic data in compressed form. It was initially developed to allow color images to load quickly for stock tickers and other interfaces. According to the Daily Dot, an online newsletter, the GIF enabled “lossless, compressed graphics”, in color. Apparently it was quite a breakthrough back then, since black & white image files were not compressed and thus much slower to load. [I just happened to be scanning articles in Direct for one to blog about, this one caught my eye, and I was sucked into trying to understand just what it meant exactly.] Just some tech history tidbits for today…

Give Unto Others

It’s hard to believe that Donna Leon’s latest mystery is #31 in her series about Commissario Guido Brunetti. I think I have read most of them, and this one is just as intriguing. A woman whom Brunetti knew growing up, comes to see him about a personal matter. Brunetti has a few of his associates look into the matter, and before he realizes it, they all become embroiled in a complicated case of tax fraud. For anyone who has been to Venice, it feels like you are back there, with Leon’s descriptive tone and Venetian characters. Her fans will be happy to see this latest offering in libraries…

On A Night of a Thousand Stars

When Santiago Larrea, a wealthy Argentine diplomat, is appointed Argentina’s ambassador to the United Nations, he travels to Buenos Aires with his wife, Lila and daughter Paloma. But just before they leave, a conversation between Santiago and an old university friend stirs up Paloma’s interest in her father’s younger years in Argentina during the military dictatorship in the 1970’s, a taboo subject in their house. After they arrive, Paloma meets Franco, a young man, whose parents were desaparecidos, men and women forcibly disappeared by the state and killed during the dictatorship. As Paloma investigates her father’s years as a student, she discovers troubling facts about her parentage, and places herself in danger. This is not an easy book to read, as the author reveals the tragedies, including torture, endured by several of the characters. This is a debut novel by Ms. Clark, who grew up in Argentina during the turbulent times addressed in the novel, and interviewed sons and daughters of the “disappeared” to learn their stories. It’s a very compelling read…

The House in the Cerulean Sea

A friend recommended this novel to me, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Even though it was published in 2020, it is very timely, as it deals with accepting others just as they are. It’s a fantasy, about a caseworker, Linus Baker, who works for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. Linus is assigned by Extremely Upper Management to an island where six exceptional magical youth are living. Talia is a dwarf; Theodore, a wyvern; Chauncy, a jellyfish; Sal, a boy who can shift into a pomeranian; Phee, a forest sprite and finally Lucy, the son of the devil. As scary as the children seem at first, Linus becomes their protector as the some town members voices their disapproval of the children and call them abominations. It’s a tear jerker at times, but well worth the read.

Ten ideas for building “Libraries of Things”

According to an recent article indexed in American Libraries Direct, libraries have been circulating many non-traditional materials in the past few years. Here are the top ten items being circulated successfully:
Games and puzzles; toys and STEM kits; seeds and gardening supplies; tools; sewing and craft supplies; baking and kitchen supplies; musical instruments; sports equipment; camping and outdoor gear and electronics and technology, such as hotspots, tablets and laptops. So check out your local library before you head to the mall to go shopping – you may be able to borrow instead of buy…