Tuesday, January 9, 2018

What’s up at the library & some last minute contest warnings

What’s strange about the picture illustrating this post? Not that it’s a picture of me in front of my local branch of the Dallas Public Library (one of my favorite hangouts). What’s strange is that the branch was open and it was a MONDAY! 
Yes, after years of penny-pinching, the city of Dallas finally has all 29 of its library branches open at least six days a week. Admittedly, beginning in 2015, 13 of the library’s branches began opening all week, and the central branch has been open perpetually on Sundays (in both cases, assuming the Sundays and Mondays weren’t city holidays). See the site for daily schedules at all those 29 local branches and what they have to offer. 

Dallas libraries serve one and a quarter million people, but for way too long, its libraries have gotten the short end of the city’s budget. Our city council could agree that things like police and fire service, and maybe fixing street potholes were important. But libraries? Aren’t they just full of, you know, books?

Nothing against housing books, but that’s not the only thing modern libraries do. They’re the new community centers, offering free Internet and the computers to access it with. And then there are movies, music, classes, homework help, tax help. And more.

As uber-librarian Josh Hanagarne writes in his memoir, The World’s Strongest Librarian, “A library is a miracle. A place where you can learn just about anything, for free. A place where your mind can come alive. The mind that asks and experiments and evaluates will die one day, but will provide a richer life for its owner. The mind that does nothing but rest inside the brain doesn’t sidestep the puddle. It’s sitting in it.”

As a way to celebrate Dallas’s seven days a week library openings, what could be more appropriate than reading? The winter reading challenge from the Dallas Mavericks’ team that I blogged about last month has been updated. Way updated. Team owner Mark Cuban has added a challenge to young readers across the country to read at least 1.3 million minutes and 55,000 books during the month of January.

If 100 libraries in the United States meet the goal, Cuban vows to donate $25,000 to First Book, a nonprofit organization that provides new books, learning materials, and other essentials to children in need, including for Dallas Public Library’s Mayor’s Summer Reading Challenge. So, log in at dallaslibrary.beanstack.org, and read like the wind! 

Speaking of challenges – here’s a list of imminent upcoming deadlines for winter contests and other literary events, mostly in Texas:
  •  Writer’s Digest has extended the deadline for its short-short story contest to January 15. That’s next Monday. See the site for details.
  • The Writers’ League of Texas manuscript contest deadline is a little more generous – January 31. No completed manuscript needed – only a synopsis and first pages, not to exceed 2,750 words. See the site for details and new sweeteners this year for the winners. Writers do not need to be Texas residents to enter.
  • Already published a book in 2017? Check out the Writers’ League Book Awards contest, with a February 28 deadline. (Sorry, only Texas authors are eligible for this one.)
  • Lonestar INK’s inaugural writing workshop kicks off February 8-10 at (where better?) the Dallas Central Library. See the site for details.
  • The ConDFW science fiction and fantasy convention welcomes special guest Charlaine Harris and more, February 16-18, at the Radisson Hotel Fort Worth Fossil Creek. Information and entertainment, plus a charity book swap. See the site for details
  • That’s all for now, but I promise more details about upcoming stuff – Arts & Letters Live, Authors LIVE!, NaNoWriMo updates, the return of DL Hammons’ WRiTE CLUB readers’ choice contest, and more, in future posts!

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