The Breakroom: Library Fees, Recess, And Substitute Teachers

Feb 17, 2017

Since we did our show live from Savannah for the Savannah Book Festival, we organized a special edition of The Breakroom featuring all authors. The panel included Alejandro Danois, Karin Slaughter, Nicki Salcedo, and Mike Lowery.


1) More libraries are easing up by eliminating some or all late fines. We're seeing this in states like Illinois, Massachusetts, California, and Ohio. A few years ago, the American Library Association issued a policy brief on services for the poor. It vowed to promote the removal of fees and fines. Should all libraries get rid of late fees?

2) Our emotional reaction to fiction may have a mathematical basis, according to researchers at the University of Vermont. They diagnosed 1300 selections, and say almost all provide one of 6 emotional experiences. Sentences were found to form fractal patterns. Their conclusion is understanding the mathematical underpinnings of fiction can help us learn more about great art. Do you buy that? Do you even understand it?

3) We like to think our children are unique and special, their personalities their own. Maybe not, according to a Michigan State University study. It found preschoolers who play together tend to take on each others' personalities. Is this good news or bad?

Credit Rebecca McCorkindale

4) More librarians are becoming politically active in response to President Trump’s suspended temporary travel ban. An assistant library director in Nebraska created graphics that say "libraries are for everyone," which refers to immigrants and refugees. Now, libraries across the country are putting up the images. Do you think librarians should keep their noses in their books?

5) There appears to be a major shortage of substitute teachers. One startup company called Parachute Teachers thinks people don’t want the job because substitutes are treated badly, and they don’t really get to do that much in the classroom. The company hopes to change that dynamic by creating a marketplace of experts who can fill in as teachers. What do you think could attract more people to substitute teaching?

6) There’s a bill in the Georgia state legislature that could change the way both fulltime and substitute teachers do their jobs. The legislation in Georgia would require schools give kids recess  -- and not take it away as punishment. Do you support that approach?

7) Have you ever come up short in the checkout line? Amazon has an answer for that: their new concept Amazon Go stores. Shoppers can add items to their digital cart in a brick and mortar building, and be charged as they walk out. Goodbye checkout line. Like this idea?

8) Last weekend, Beyonce won the Grammy for Best Urban Contemporary Album for "Lemonade." She gave a moving acceptance speech about the importance of diverse representations in the media:

Singer and songwriter Sufjan Stevens had some critical things to say about the category Beyonce won. On his Tumblr page, Stevens called the Urban Contemporary Grammy a racist award. Is it?