The Boston Citgo sign, all 3,600 square LED feet of which has served as the backdrop to Red Sox games since 1965, is now officially a "pending landmark."

Spanish Surrealist Salvador Dalí spent much of the 1940s in the U.S., avoiding World War II and its aftermath. He was a well-known fixture on the art scene in Monterey, Calif. — and that's where the largest collection of Dalí's work on the West Coast is now open to the public.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

The middle of summer is when the surprises in publishing turn up. I'm talking about those quietly commanding books that publishers tend to put out now, because fall and winter are focused on big books by established authors. Which brings us to The Dream Life of Astronauts, by Patrick Ryan, a very funny and touching collection of nine short stories that take place in the 1960s and '70s around Cape Canaveral, Fla.

When the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union last month, the seaside town of Port Talbot in Wales eagerly went along with the move. Brexit was approved by some 57 percent of the town's residents.

Now some of them are wondering if they made the wrong decision.

The June 23 Brexit vote has raised questions about the fate of the troubled Port Talbot Works, Britain's largest surviving steel plant — a huge, steam-belching facility that has long been the town's biggest employer.

Solar Impulse 2 has landed in Cairo, completing the penultimate leg of its attempt to circumnavigate the globe using only the power of the sun.

The trip over the Mediterranean included a breathtaking flyover of the Pyramids. Check it out:

President Obama is challenging Americans to have an honest and open-hearted conversation about race and law enforcement. But even as he sits down at the White House with police and civil rights activists, Obama is mindful of the limits of that approach.

"I've seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change," the president said Tuesday at a memorial service for five law officers killed last week in Dallas. "I've seen how inadequate my own words have been."

Mice watching Orson Welles movies may help scientists explain human consciousness.

At least that's one premise of the Allen Brain Observatory, which launched Wednesday and lets anyone with an Internet connection study a mouse brain as it responds to visual information.

The FBI says it is giving up on the D.B. Cooper investigation, 45 years after the mysterious hijacker parachuted into the night with $200,000 in a briefcase, becoming an instant folk figure.

"Following one of the longest and most exhaustive investigations in our history," the FBI's Ayn Dietrich-Williams said in a statement, "the FBI redirected resources allocated to the D.B. Cooper case in order to focus on other investigative priorities."

This is the first in a series of essays concerning our collective future. The goal is to bring forth some of the main issues humanity faces today, as we move forward to uncertain times. In an effort to be as thorough as possible, we will consider two kinds of threats: those due to natural disasters and those that are man-made. The idea is to expose some of the dangers and possible mechanisms that have been proposed to deal with these issues. My intention is not to offer a detailed analysis for each threat — but to invite reflection and, hopefully, action.


A New Chapter? A Launch Of The Bookless Library

Jan 15, 2013
Originally published on January 16, 2013 10:56 am

If your idea of a library is row upon row of nicely shelved hardcovers, then you'll be in for a surprise when a planned new library in San Antonio opens this fall.

"Think of an Apple store," Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff says while explaining the layout of the new library, BiblioTech.

In keeping with technological advances, the county will house a library of neatly arranged LCD screens and gadgets instead of the traditional banquet of dog-eared print and paper books. The public library will be one of the first digital-only libraries of its kind.

With 50 computer terminals and a stock of laptops and tablets on-site, the building will also offer an array of preloaded e-readers available for the card-carrying customer to take home.

"The library is a chance to expand the scope of opportunities for people to learn technology," Wolff explains. "The world is changing."

He contends that the $1.5 million project will be cost-effective, as it'll be located in an existing county-owned building and available to many underserved communities where residents may not have access to at-home computers.

In fact, improving technological access to lower-income areas of the predominantly Hispanic county is what led to Wolff's bookless endeavor. Many of the unincorporated areas of the county, he says, lack public libraries.

Short-Lived And 'Premature' History Of Bookless Libraries

This replacement of jacket covers for hard drives is a calculated choice that many other libraries and officials around the nation have also considered, yet — in most cases — quickly abandoned.

In 2002, at the Santa Rosa Branch Library in Tucson, Ariz., officials attempted to bridge the digital gap in the community by offering a digital-only library. Years later, however, residents — fatigued by the electronics — requested that actual books be added to the collection, and today, enjoy a full-access library with computers.

In describing the Santa Rosa library's attempt and San Antonio's plan to redefine public libraries, Sarah Houghton, director of the San Rafael Public Library in California, has only one word: "premature."

The primary advantage of bookless arenas, according to Houghton? You can repurpose the saved space for work, study or collaboration areas.

Otherwise, she lists three reasons why they're not such a great idea quite yet.

"First, some people simply prefer physical media — they don't want to read on a device," Houghton says.

Second, she points to the issue of the digital divide. Those who aren't necessarily technologically literate may need extra over-the-shoulder help with the devices in a way that would require a large operation and, consequently, a big budget.

"A huge element is training staff, and that's even presuming that the library can afford enough of these devices to meet the demand," Houghton explains.

And the biggest issue? Most content is simply not available digitally to license and purchase.

"So your selection of best-sellers and popular media just went down the toilet because 99 percent of that is not available to libraries digitally," she says.

Many publishers don't license to libraries, and those willing to do business often have what Houghton considers outlandish terms — too expensive or unrealistic for a library's allowance.

An 'Evolving' Digital Backdrop

The tech-savvy librarian adds that her reluctance to embrace bookless libraries is a bit counterintuitive because she's an advocate for digital media. But the digital landscape, Houghton contends, simply isn't ready to revolutionarily merge with libraries.

"I think it'll be a good 100 to 150 years from now until all libraries are completely digital," she says. "I think in terms of seeing a trend of 10 to 20 percent of libraries becoming bookless, that'll take maybe 10 years or so."

At the forefront of the digital movement — if it's not too early to call it that — are academic libraries. In 2010, the engineering and technology library at the University of Texas, San Antonio pruned all of its print materials for e-books and e-journals. And just last year, Stanford University ditched bookshelves for screens.

Stanford's Terman Engineering Library adds close to 5,000 e-books a year and currently has more than 65,000. Despite expected disadvantages, such as possible student copyright infringements or not all the needed books available in digital format, Helen Josephine, head of the engineering library, heralds the launch as an overall success.

"It's available on our network 24/7, so students can download them locally on their computer, phone, wherever, whenever," Josephine says. "Continuing to make the library info space relevant as the technology improves is definitely where we're moving."

That's the mantra of Judge Nelson Wolff, of Bexar County: Design to fit the digital panorama. While he doesn't necessarily think it's time to open an existential conversation about the state of hardbacks, he makes it clear that the dialogue is certainly shifting.

"A technological evolution is taking place," he says." "And I think we're stepping in at the right time."

If successful, Wolff hopes to clone the model across the county.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit