Friday, December 31, 2010

New Librarian Blogs to Watch in 2011

From LISNews: Tell Us About Your Favourite New Librarian Blogs.

I can only assume my lack of inclusion on this list is due to this blog not being new. Or the fact that I am not a full-fledged library tech. That's okay. That's fine, it is, my feelings aren't hurt. Much.

I kid.

In any case, welcome to any new readers or pokers or peerers from 2010. Keep reading in 2011, bookmark, tell your friends, and be sure to check out the blogs suggested above, too.

Library Under Fire for Black Ops Tournament

Via LISNews and from The Escapist: California Library Under Fire For Black Ops Tournament.

According to the Sacramento Bee, The Sacramento Public Library is planning to host a Call of Duty: Black Ops tournament as part of its humorously named "Nerd Fest." Even though the library will only allow those 17 and older to play, the tournament is still attracting the ire of activists that likely have nothing better to do than rail on videogame violence... again.

"If they come in there for video game violence, are they ever going to go in there for books?" community television talk show host Jeanie Keltner asked. She, the Sacramento chapter of Veterans for Peace, and other activists are reportedly calling on the Sacramento Public Library to cancel this and any future Black Ops events.

A side note: if you are at all interested in video games or fast-talking Australian guys, The Escapist is also home to Zero Punctuation, game reviews provided by a sarcastic, cussing, fast-talking Australian guy.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

From LISNews: Computers in the Library - Stamp Them Out!

Via LISNews, in full, but here is a link anyway:

Computers In Libraries: Stamp Them Out!
December 13, 2010 - 1:04pm — Blake
"It should be stamped out '...the computer is not for library use; that all the promises offered in its name are completely fraudulent; and that not only is it extremely expensive compared to other methods at this time, but that it will become increasingly expensive in the future; that it has been wrapped so completely in an aura of unreason that fine intelligences are completely uprooted when talking about it; that its use in a library weakens the library as a whole by draining off large sums of money for a small return; and that it should be stamped out."

–Ellsworth Mason, "Along the Academic Way," LJ, May 15, 1971"
(See Also:'The great gas bubble prick't; or, Computers revealed' by a Gentleman of Quality [Ellsworth Mason] in College and Research Libraries, 32 (May 1971): 183-196.)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Shelving in Sims 3

I just realized that when I play The Sims 3 I organize their books into different bookcases based on content: skill books, fishing books, recipes, kid and pregnancy books, and general reads. And when they're all asleep I go over their shelves and reshelve if necessary.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Chocolate Library a No-No

So apparently it's illegal to refer to something as a library if it is not, in fact, a library, such as a chocolate shop.

Around Thanksgiving, a fastidious little artisanal chocolate shop called The Chocolate Library opened in the East Village. We know what you're thinking—won't little schoolchildren get confused and wander in there to borrow a copy of My Pet Goat, only to emerge all jacked up on sugar? The State Education Department’s division of library development was thinking the same thing, and bureaucrats quickly swung into action to choc-block the shop!

The other day I had a chocolate lunch. It was a bad idea. A delicious bad idea.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Fake Film: The Library

I'd watch it!

The Library from openiris on Vimeo.


Digital Pagination

One of the problems I have with ebooks is the lack of page numbers. (Kudos to PDFs there.) The notion of introducing pagination to digital documents intrigues me a little.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Thank You Notes

When I was little, my mother insisted we write thank-you notes after Christmas and birthdays. My brother and sister and I hated doing it, but we did it anyway. I can't remember when we were 'allowed' to stop, but my brother and I did so. Maybe my sister did for a while, but she took it up again. She even went so far as to write thank-you notes from her baby daughter for gifts we gave her, which were hilarious and which I kept. I started thinking that it was sweet of her to do this and wondering if maybe I should take up writing thank-you notes again.

A lawyer named John Kralik decided to write more thank-you notes; one each day. He wrote a book about it called 365 Thank-Yous. Included in the article is a list of thank-you note writing tips. I think I should read this book; it's about time I got back to thanking people via real notes.

After the holidays, it's easy to view thank you note writing as a chore, but Kralik says that sincerity is the best approach — he encourages people to focus on one true, meaningful sentence about the gift or the person. The notes don't have to be long, Kralik explains; sometimes limiting yourself to just a few sentences forces you to distill your sentiments.

A long time ago I went through a very difficult period in my life; I suffered from clinical depression. (I still do. I'm just very well medicated now.) The importance of lots of little things hit me: the small things people do that are thoughtful and kind. Things I should be grateful for. We take a lot of things for granted, including people. When it was hard for me to feel cared for or worth caring for, I decided to try to make sure people who were kind to me or provided some kind of service to me were thanked. I figured maybe if I took a few seconds to be thoughtful, maybe I could make someone's day a little better or at least more tolerable. Little things like that wound up making a big difference to me when I was miserable.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Saddam Hussein Had a Koran Written In His Own Blood

From Huffington Post: Saddam Hussein had a Koran written in his own blood. Whiskey, tango, foxtrot. WTF.

Being born in 1980, Saddam Hussein was like a kind of childhood boogeyman for me, the way I imagine Osame Bin Laden is for younger folks. A boogeyman that was real* and while this news doesn't surprise me it creeps me right the heck out. Good riddance, you crazy mofo*.

* Bin Laden: also real.
** Pardon the language.

Twelve Theses on Libraries and Librarians

From Faith and Theology via LISNews: Twelve Theses on Libraries and Librarians. Worth a read. A couple of things jumped out at me:

When you think of librarians, you may imagine those bespectacled mild-mannered characters with their index cards and carbon paper and obsolete black-and-green computer screens. Librarians often contrive for themselves this Luddite image. But they are in truth the most progressive and visionary figures in the whole university: like bloodhounds, always hot on the trail of the future. Their demure appearance is a cunning disguise which allows them to perpetrate their radicalism all the more effectively. It is a camouflage net thrown over an armoured vehicle.

I'm all for looking like the stereotype. It's probably helpful for library patrons to be able to identify a librarian by sight. That and it's a stereotype for a reason - 'the girl with brown hair and glasses' describes quite a few people in my program at college. I myself am a brunette with glasses, a fondness of cardigans, and pearl earrings.

Myers pours on the flattery, too, describing librarians as 'the most progressive and visionary figures in the whole university'. Really? All of them? Huh. While I am very much for librarians and how awesome they are, sometimes I kind of roll my eyes when they're described as visionaries and guardians of knowledge. I also roll my eyes at the phrase 'information wants to be free'. No, it doesn't. It doesn't want anything. But anyway...

The library is also the safest and friendliest place on earth.

Maybe an academic library? But a public library is open to the public. The public includes violent, crazy, and violent and crazy people.

Look at me and my pooh-poohing. I did like the article, though, especially:

I know a woman who worked as a librarian back in the 1960s, when the novels of D. H. Lawrence were still banned in Australia. The library’s Lawrence holdings were kept in a locked filing cabinet, and my friend – a young woman then – was responsible for the key. So one by one she secreted them away; during her lunch breaks you could find her smoking cigarettes and reading Lady Chatterley’s Lover beneath the shade of wattles and the hum of bees. The moral of the story: the librarian is a sly animal; and if you're nice to them, you might one day get a glimpse of those treasures that lie hid in every library, away from dust and prying eyes, secured by lock and key.

You don't need to yell about how much of a noble visionary gatekeeper you are; that just makes it more difficult for the quiet, necessary subversion. Or at least don't be obnoxious about it.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

LISNews: Ten Stories That Shaped 2010

Back in 2009, LISNews posted their list of the ten stories that shaped that year and this blog covered at least half of them! When it was only three months old!

LISNews has posted their list for 2010, which includes:

  1. YouTube Sensations
  2. Libraries and DVDs and Netflix, Oh My
  3. Piracy Crackdown
  4. Under New Management
  5. Gizmo of the Year: iPad
  6. I For One Welcome Our New Media Overlords
  7. Web 2.0 Fatigue
  8. Sign of the Times: Libraries = Offices for Unemployed
  9. Google eBookstore Opens
  10. Wikileaks Freakout
While I did not bother posting about the Old Spice Guy bit, I did have a mock version. I also had Gordon Pinsent reads Bieber, which wasn't a sensation but should have been. I will count that as one.

I didn't bother with the story about DVDs and Netflix, mostly because we didn't even have Netflix in Canada until recently. Nothing about the specific piracy concerns mentioned in LISNews, but a bit aboutWarner getting sued for Antipiracy Piracy as well as Confessions of a Book Pirate. Something about calling for new privacy laws as well. Maybe point five?

Outsourcing libraries! That's a solid one!

I made fun of iPads but failed to report on how libraries were using them. Point five. New media, case covered, one point. Web fatigue? The last time I mentioned it was in 2009 in a disparaging manner. I still think there's too much arm-flappy wailing, so no point there.

While I mentioned libraries being important for the unemployed and their job searches in at least one college essay, I failed to mention it here as far as I know - that's another zero. I talk about Google so often I have a 'google again' tag. Believe it or not, I actively try not to constantly blog about Google, so I did not mention this topic. Zero! One mention of WikiLeaks, but nothing on the freakout. No point there.

The total is... 4. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Steve Donoghue's Worst Fiction of 2010

Steve Donoghue did not like these books. Pretty brutal!

Crace has always thought it acceptable to waste the readers’ time (and money) with pointless, meandering digressions on any little subject that happens to be fascinating him at the moment he sat down to his computer. As a result, his stack of tellingly slender novels are as stinky and insubstantial as a rack of farts. This novel, like his previous two, doesn’t even bother to conclude – it just appears, offends, and vaguely dissipates.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Chuck & Beans: Life Before Google

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Amazon Reviews

It's kind of on topic, and it's funny: sometimes Amazon reviews are hilarious. Not mentioned but still my favourite: Three Wolf Moon shirt.

This item has wolves on it which makes it intrinsically sweet and worth 5 stars by itself, but once I tried it on, that's when the magic happened. After checking to ensure that the shirt would properly cover my girth, I walked from my trailer to Wal-mart with the shirt on and was immediately approached by women. The women knew from the wolves on my shirt that I, like a wolf, am a mysterious loner who knows how to 'howl at the moon' from time to time (if you catch my drift!). The women that approached me wanted to know if I would be their boyfriend and/or give them money for something they called mehth. I told them no, because they didn't have enough teeth, and frankly a man with a wolf-shirt shouldn't settle for the first thing that comes to him.

I arrived at Wal-mart, mounted my courtesy-scooter (walking is such a drag!) sitting side saddle so that my wolves would show. While I was browsing tube socks, I could hear aroused asthmatic breathing behind me. I turned around to see a slightly sweaty dream in sweatpants and flip-flops standing there. She told me she liked the wolves on my shirt, I told her I wanted to howl at her moon. She offered me a swig from her mountain dew, and I drove my scooter, with her shuffling along side out the door and into the rest of our lives. Thank you wolf shirt.

Pros: Fits my girthy frame, has wolves on it, attracts women
Cons: Only 3 wolves (could probably use a few more on the 'guns'), cannot see wolves when sitting with arms crossed, wolves would have been better if they glowed in the dark.

And so many more.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The End of the First Semester and Illiterate Babies

Rejoice and make merry, for I am done my first semester of college. One down, three to go and then a library technician diploma will be mine. There's catching up to do, however, so it's time for backdated posting. I can pretend I was here all along!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Nap Time!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Grover In the Library

I stole this from a student presentation in one of my classes:

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sir Patrick Stewart Geeks Out About the Internet

Monday, December 13, 2010

Let's Hope

Snitched from a lovely classmate:

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Seniors and E-Readers

Who says older people don't like new technology?

An October poll of 3,000 U.S. book buyers by the trend-tracking company Bowker found that people over 55 were more likely to find “high benefit” in these e-reader factors: font size (61 percent vs. 45 percent for those under 55), portability (87 to 70 percent) and instant access to books (77 to 66 percent). That helps explain why 66 percent of those over 55 purchased an e-book last month, compared with 5.2 percent of those under 55.

Have baby boomers and seniors caught up with technology, or have the newer electronic devices, especially tablet-like e-readers, caught up with older consumers?

Yes, and yes.

I know what she means, but...

“Being able to read ‘one-handed’ under the covers,” Eighmey said, “is pure joy on Minnesota winter nights.”

Kenilworth Police Move Front Desk Into Library

A police front desk has been moved from the station to the library next door to save money.

On Monday February 28, the force is teaming up with Warwickshire County Council and Warwick District Council to provide the services currently available from the front desk enquiry office at Kenilworth police station, from the Warwickshire Direct facility next door.

There you will be able to report crime, anti-social behaviour incidents and place lost and found property enquiries.

Let's see you get belligerent about your late fees now, suckers!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Never Say Die

Snagged from Climbing the Stacks, Loretta Gharst explains why librarians will always be around even in a technological age.

Also of note on Climbing the Stacks: an account of things learned during the first year of working in the public library system.

Child Librarians

Well, sort of. Since their library assistant position was cut, elementary school kids are volunteering in their school's library to help the librarian by shelving books and doing other tasks. Adorable but kind of sad since the library's services are still cut back.

More On Keith Richards and Libraries

...but this time less awesome. He killed a rare orchid in the office of a library worker in the New York Public Library.

Brooklyn Law School Smut

Apparently Brooklyn Law School let Diesel, a clothing line, do a shoot in their library and they aren't happy with the results. Link NSFW (not safe for work).

Scott Cawelti On the Meaning of 'Elite'

Scott Cawelti on the meaning of the word elite and how it comes with a stigma.

Whenever you want something done well, you seek a member of the elite, meaning a specialist, a board-certified doctor, a recognized, experienced expert, someone who's practiced a craft or art beyond an apprenticeship.

If you don't believe in an elite, you're welcome to take your chances with the quacks, frauds, con artists and all-around amateurs who've learned the talk, but didn't finish, or even start, the walk. Good luck with that.

Sometimes it makes me think of 7331 hax0rs. Oh, internet. What have you done to vocabulary?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Something Wrong With Library Desk Design

Uploaded to with the note 'I think there might be a flaw in the design of our library desks...'

View comments here. I take no responsibility for whether you find them funny or not.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Kids Are Like Ferrets

Friday, December 3, 2010

Overheard in the Library

Cheap Friday post!

Overheard in the Library: just a few little conversations preserved for posterity.

Twinky 1: I like totally use the Library all the time!
Twinky 2: Wow, you must read a lot.
Twinky 1: No… I just come here for the DVDs.

Some Great Book Suggestion Sites

Pilfered from my Reference class today, here are some great sites to go to for book suggestions:

Book Spot is a portal site with links to other sites based on genre.

All Readers has this crazy search function that goes by plot, main character, main adversary, setting, and style. You can also specify how much (percentage-wise) of the book you would like to be violence or feelings or a few other things. You can specify the gender of the main character and whether they have special powers or not, how smart they are, how much violence they use, and a whole host of other options. Seriously, if you just click a few times and play around you'll be amazed.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Literary Tattoos

A piece in the Boston Phoenix about literary tattoos and an upcoming book about them. I like the idea but, like a regular tattoo, I have no idea what I love enough to etch on myself permanently. I assure you it's not Twilight.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Advice for a Potential Librarian

Librarian By Day offers helpful advice to those considering becoming librarians. There's a whole host of links to investigate.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cammie McGovern Talks About Why She Loves Librarians

I thought this was quite sweet. Cammie McGovern explains why she made the protagonist in her book a librarian, which somehow manages to encompass quite a few of the reasons I want to work in libraries.

How can we thank you collectively for all that you’ve done? It would be, for some of us, like trying to thank our parents for a life that contains many periods of quiet happiness. You give us all a place to come and be ourselves for hours at a time. You don’t judge our quirks or the number of hold requests we fill out every month. You honor our questions even when they are as random as the recent one my autistic son, who is now fourteen, asked the librarian who’d once praised his electrical skills. “Do you have any books about orange things?” he apparently asked. I wasn’t listening, I was busy with one of my other sons, but no doubt he was nervous, and not sure how to say what he was looking for. I wasn’t there to help her interpret. I only turned around and saw him about ten minute later grinning wildly with exactly what he wanted: an armful of picture books about pumpkins.

Thank you for giving us all what we need, even when we don’t have the words to say exactly what we’re looking for.

University Libraries Told to Encourage Digital Resources

University librarians have been told that they must change the behaviour of academics to "stop them craving books" as libraries shift their focus to digital resources.

The call was made at a debate about the future of university libraries, hosted by Times Higher Education at the British Library last week.

Pretty typical story here; the comments are a good read. I particularly liked this part of one from kathz:

Digital resources, when they work, are a great complement to books and manuscripts. It's particularly good that they can, if not hidden behind a paywall, be accessed by scholars and readers beyond the academy. But the paraphernalia required to access them is not cheap. The digitisation of culture may, in this age of austerity, become yet another means by which learning is placed beyond the reach of the poor.

I'm particularly concerned that, in an era when public libraries are closing and access to universities is being restricted to the rich and those prepared to gamble on possible profits from their education, digitisation is being advanced as "democratic."

Access to digital resources is not universal. Not everyone has a computer - even some students cannot afford them - and the coming cuts will probably limit access to technology even further. If academics and universities have a responsibility to the wider community - and I believe they do - it is to make sure that learning and culture are, so far as possible, freely available so that intellectual enquiry can flourish at all levels of society. Old-fashioned libraries can achieve this in a way that digital libraries cannot.

Stroke Victim Credits Librarians for Helping Him Read Again

Bruce Searles says librarians helped him read again.

Johnson said that the library's services - including story hours and summer reading programs - are exciting, but working with individual people is also a service to the community.

"It's something like (working with Searles) that can really change somebody's life, or just being here for somebody who's lonely or maybe grief-stricken or just looking for something to read. ... It may not be glamorous, but those are also in their own, quiet way incredibly important," she said.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Librarian Navel Fluff

Because it's Friday: a brief article about a librarian who collected his bellybutton lint for 26 years.

Mr Barker said he had come across a handful of other navel fluff collectors, but none had taken their hobby to such lengths. He explained: "One guy might have persisted, but he got married and his wife ordered him to stop."

Never let a lady stand in the way of your dream.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tossing Books to Turn the Library Into a Coffee Shop? Really?

Just adding a coffee shop to a neighborhood library so people can feel like they're in Starbucks and ultra hip was apparently too passe a trend for Principal James McSwain of Lamar High School.

Finishing up a week ago, McSwain has thrown out nearly all the books and filled the space they were unnecessarily taking up with couches and coffee and food and told his students that they can access the exciting world of reading through e-books! And if they don't have a laptop of their own and Internet access to do so, they can use one of the laptop computers in the library coffeeshop!

I hope this is a joke.

Secret Chamber Found in India's National Library

A secret chamber has been found in India's National Library:

The chamber has lain untouched for over two centuries. Wonder what secrets it holds. The archaeologists who discovered it have no clue either, their theories range from a torture chamber, or a sealed tomb for an unfortunate soul or the most favoured of all a treasure room. Some say they wouldn't be surprised if both skeletons and jewels tumble out of the secret room.

Now I'm terribly curious! Let's hope for more treasure and less torture chambers and skeletons.

Frugal Sisters Leave One Million Dollars to Public Library

In the end — after living long, frugal lives — Elsa and Marjorie Goodyear, of Eugene, wanted to show appreciation for the community organizations that were important to them.

That fondness became public Friday when officials announced that the sisters had left $1 million to the Eugene Public Library and a combined $700,000 to three charities: Goodwill Industries, Eugene Mission and Greenhill Humane Society.

These two sisters pinched pennies (they lived in the same house, rode a three-wheel bicycle around town, and made their own clothes) and lived frugally; they had no living relatives, so they left their money to the library and a few charitable organizations. How nice!

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Kindness of Reddit

I am posting so much stuff from LISNews today. Anyway! Here is an article about the Top 25 Most Awesome Things Reddit Users Have Done. I'm only at item four and I'm already sniffly. I should check Reddit out more often.

All That is Forbidden is Desired

A bookstore in Jordan specializes in banned books. It is very civil.

Censoring books in the age of the Internet may seem like a quaint idea. Even the government official in charge of restricting them recently announced in a newspaper article that "stopping books from reaching the people is a page we've turned."

The censor, Abdullah Abu Roman, occasionally stops by the bookstore to hobnob with Abu Hossein. So do plainclothes security officials. Abu Hossein serves them his Turkish coffee. They very politely ask him for the copies of the forbidden books. He hands them over. It's all very civilized.

"Allah maakon," he bids them farewell. God be with you.

20 Things Learned From Browsers and the Web

A cute little online book* made by the folks at Google called 20 Things I Learned From Browsers and the Web. This site explains internet workings in simple terms and is probably a good starter. It refers to Google a whole lot but the info's still good.

* Not an ebook, more like an actual book. That is online. With pages you turn. Just go see.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Library Reinvention

An LA Times article about libraries reinventing themselves as they struggle to remain relevant in the digital age.

And a rare dissenting opinion, at least in the articles I've come across:
Some traditional librarians worry that experiments aimed at making libraries more accessible could dumb them down.

"If you want to have game rooms and pingpong tables and God knows what — poker parties — fine, do it, but don't pretend it has anything to do with libraries," said Michael Gorman, a former president of the American Library Assn. "The argument that all these young people would turn up to play video games and think, 'Oh by the way, I must borrow that book by Dostoyevsky' — it seems ludicrous to me."

I'm still trying to get my head around organizing bookshelves like book stores, without the Dewey Decimal System and with books organized around topics. Not that Dewey Decimal isn't grouped by topic - that's kind of the whole point. Isn't there maybe a middle ground between strict adherence to the DDC and loose book store arragements?

Note the small mention of Google Books.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Google Generation

Professor David Nicholas talks about how we've all started seeking information differently. People skitter now - they don't stick around or come back.

Really? I skitter some, but there are some old reliables I revisit pretty often. You know, bookmarked. I need to watch all of this sometime when my brain isn't full of studying French.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

And Now a Public Service Announcement for November 17th

Off topic, but important to say:

Clinical depression is a real problem. Clinical depression cannot be fixed by 'mind over matter'; that mind is wired a little weird and doesn't make the proper chemicals to be happy. Yes, there are ways to cope, but serious clinical depression is not an imaginary issue.

If you are feeling alone, if you are making very final plans, if you do not feel you have a place in this world and you are hurting, please take a moment and listen when I tell you you are not alone. It happens to some people. A lot of people, actually - more people than you think, and the more of us who speak out and say we have a problem, the more people out there realize they aren't alone and they can get help. It may not feel like it, but this, too, shall pass. And even if you don't believe that, you might want to stick around just to see if it's actually true. Just one more day. Or one more hour, or one more minute, or one more second if that's what it comes down to.

You are a part of everyone you have met, and your loss would be a huge, terrible tragedy for everyone around you. People care about you more than you might think. They are not better off without you. We're all better with you.

If you are feeling depressed, take a moment to read. Even if you're not depressed, you probably know or will know someone who will go through this, so take a moment to read, too. One good thing about the internet is that we can find information and connect to people who have been through what we have been through or know how to help even if we're far away. Take advantage of that.

Speaking of Bad Student Research Skills...

...Here we have an article wherein a guy who writes student papers for money talks about his job.

I live well on the desperation, misery, and incompetence that your educational system has created. Granted, as a writer, I could earn more; certainly there are ways to earn less. But I never struggle to find work. And as my peers trudge through thankless office jobs that seem more intolerable with every passing month of our sustained recession, I am on pace for my best year yet. I will make roughly $66,000 this year. Not a king's ransom, but higher than what many actual educators are paid.

I can barely imagine dropping two grand on a paper. That's nuts.

Students Lack Research Skills

I suppose I'm not surprised by this article from the Chronicle about how students don't have good researching skills.

Pedophilia Guide on Amazon

I thought for a while about whether to make a post about this issue or not; it very much relates to books, but I didn't want to give it any further attention, like by linking it I was somehow doing what whoever decided to put that book on Amazon wanted. In any case, here goes:

Some asshat* decided to sell a guide to pedophilia on Amazon. They stopped selling it. Amazon has had issues with 'offensive material' before:

This isn't the first time Amazon has sold material that promotes illegal activity. It is currently accepting pre-orders for the hardcover version of I Am the Market: How to Smuggle Cocaine by the Ton, in Five Easy Lessons by Luca Rastello.

Nor is it the first time Amazon has come under attack for selling objectionable content in its store. In 2002, the United States Justice Foundation, a conservative group, threatened to sue Amazon for selling Understanding Loved Boys and Boylovers. That title is still available through Amazon.

In 2009, Amazon stopped selling RapeLay, a first-person video game in which the protagonist stalks and then rapes a mother and her daughters, after it was widely condemned in the media and by various interest groups.

I guess this is one of those 'buts' regarding censorship. Censorship is wrong, but I don't want anyone making money off a how-to guide to pedophilia. Is this a valid argument because of money changing hands, or am I just making excuses?

* Pardon my French.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

When the Libraries Die

And another Chicken Little article about the library failing with the advent of ebooks. You know what? I'm pretty tired of blogging this. It was either this or a story about a naked man wrecking bookshelves. I am posting the first article solely so I can introduce a new post tag: the sky is falling.Oh no!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Little Librarian

Little Librarian is a kid's kit to aid budding librarians. Just add books! I'm kind of tempted to label and organize all my books, except I think I'll refrain because that might be ever so slightly crazy and also my bookshelf holds other things, like pictures and wedding favours. And I have to stack books of weird sizes, which is why I always ask that books on my wish lists be paperback if possible. Trade paperbacks kind of mess it up, too, but somehow I get by.

Twain 100 Years Later

Mark Twain decided his autobiography would only be published one hundred years after his death. Guess what time it is? Awwwyeah. Also, that is one of the best ideas ever and if I were more important I'd copy him, except I'd add a year or two just to one-up him.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Remembrance Day

November 11th is Remembrance Day in Canada, when the sacrifices of fallen soldiers are remembered. As I rode the bus on my way to college I passed by streams of people wearing red poppy pins on their coats; a bright colour for a solemn sight, but good to see nonetheless. Even if we don't agree with wars being fought, we need to take some time to honour the brave men and women who volunteer to protect us. 

The Memory Project is dedicated to hearing the stories of veterans.

To the left is a poem written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae of the Canadian Army in May 1915. I have always found this poem particularly touching.

Thank you to all the veterans out there.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

National Gaming Day in Libraries

Libraries in the United States, Argentina, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Pakistan and Puerto Rico will be celebrating National Gaming Day.

Libraries will offer a variety of activities throughout the day, including modern board games, traditional games (such as chess and checkers) and two national video game tournaments that will pit players at dozens of libraries against each other for bragging rights to the ultimate Rock Band and Super Smash Bros. Brawl crowns.

Why is this good for libraries?

Lots of kids play games at home – alone, with siblings or with friends. At the library, kids socialize with their friends and play board and video games while surrounded by books, librarians and knowledge. Gaming at the library encourages patrons to interact with diverse peers, share their expertise with others (including adults) and develop new strategies for gaming and learning. Families can join others in making time to play together at their library while meeting new people and trying out new games in a safe and friendly atmosphere.

There's even one in my city! I am tempted to go.

More information (and a map of participating libraries) can be found at


E-readers are now aiming for the kid market. Houghton Mifflin and a start-up company called Isabella have teamed up to make a kid-friendly device.

Next summer, Isabella will introduce the Fable, a combination tablet computer and e-book reader aimed at children. Unlike the black-and-white screen found on’s popular Kindle e-reader, the Fable will feature a full-color, 7-inch touchscreen that can display the colorful illustrations found in most children’s titles.

Sounds like titles will be cheap, between one to four dollars. These days I tend to think about children's toys and devices in terms of what my niece, who's over a year old, would like. She already loves 'DDs' (her way of saying 'DVDs*') and has a pretty good idea of the location of the buttons that work the portable DVD player her parents bought. She also loves reading. I can see this being a big hit with her. I wonder how much opportunity there will be for the e-reader to 'grow' with the child - will older titles (maybe up to pre-teen) be available? Would a pre-teen kid want to read a book on a Fable?

* Of the few kid's DVDs I've been subjected to during her visits here, I quite like Justine Clarke, though her DVDs have region issues.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Power of the Single Story

A TED talk from Chimamanda Adichie about how limiting a single story of a place or person can be and the importance of noting similarities between people instead of just presenting the negative differences. There's a super awesome part about reading 'American Psycho'.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Fight for Copyright

Of interest to fellow Canadians at least:

All three opposition parties shot down the Conservative government's proposal to make copying CDs, games, DVDs, music, or whatever else for personal use illegal.

The federal government's proposal to make consumers liable for legal damages of up to $5,000 if they break digital locks to copy movies, video games and electronic books for their own personal use appears dead on arrival — with all three opposition parties on Tuesday speaking out against this key provision of the Conservative's copyright bill.

The controversial legislation to modernize Canada's copyright law is expected to clear a key parliamentary hurdle as early as this week when MPs vote to send it to a House of Commons committee for closer scrutiny. Critics for the Liberals, the Bloc Quebecois and the New Democrats all stood up in the House of Commons Tuesday to support updating the law, but said they will be proposing amendments to the digital encryption provisions before a final vote.

Unless the Conservatives win over at least one opposition party, the bill cannot pass the House of Commons.

Citing "concerns" over the bill's technological protection measures, Liberal industry critic Marc Garneau said any copyright law "must allow Canadians who have legitimately purchased a CD or a DVD or other product, the ability to transfer their purchase onto personal devices such as an iPod, or make a personal backup copy on their computer, so long as they are not doing so for the purposes of sale or transfer to others. We do not believe (the bill) achieves this principle," Garneau told the House of Commons.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Bookshelf Stairs

I want some.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Teen Book Generator

To be honest, I'd read most of these.

Post-Apocalyptic wraith murder mystery! Were-jaguar in feudal Japan falling out with friends! (How did he even get there? Clearly this one is a series.) Maybe he timejumps to Word War III and becomes famous! Post-apocalyptic werewolves overcoming tragedy! Angel/demon murder mystery in Detroit! Dragons in Feudal Japan solve a murder mystery! World War III zombie roadtrip! Shape-shifter World War I romance! Zombies in space coming of age! Wait. Does that last one work? Sea monsters in space and the big dance! WE COULD MAKE IT WORK!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The History of Books and New Library Technologies Dispensing With Librarians

The history of the book! A very short history ("nice hat"). I wish it was longer; it was dynamic and entertaining. Found this in Conor Dougherty's Wall Street Journal article, New Library Technologies Dispense With Librarians, which is also interesting and talks about good ol' book vending machine stuff.

"Why DRM Doesn't Work"

A comic from The Brads:

Monday, November 1, 2010

Stephen King on E-Books

Another quickie - an interview with Stephen King in which he talks about e-books. Apparently he wrote something exclusively for Kindle readers, which annoys me (I don't like 'exclusive' anything when it comes to books). I expect it has been transferred to other formats by now, though, so I'm okay with that.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Books in Browsers Conference

And now that I've sung the praises of book-based social media sites, here is an excerpt from this article about the Books in Browsers conference.

Nicole Ozer of the Northern California ACLU spoke eloquently on the dangers of gathering data on what people read. “If you build it, someone will come calling, asking for information.” Other speakers, though, argued that many readers will trade some amount of privacy in exchange for more features and greater possibilities. If a website helps you find the next book you want to read, perhaps giving it your reading history or some portion thereof is a price worth paying.

Nicole Ozer also writes Bytes and Pieces, which seems to be all about technology and civil liberties and will probably be incredibly useful for one project or another.

More Book Social Media Sites

Along the same lines as SPINEBREAKERS, a few more book-related social media sites are popping up. Scholastic's 'You Are What You Read' site sounds particularly promising, though SPINEBREAKERS is still the best named site.

The site is free to anyone, and people can log in via Facebook or create a Scholastic account. Features include an interactive web that shows how users’ Bookprints are connected and a tool that lets people compare their Bookprints to participating celebrities—on the site, they’re called “Names You Know”--and find out if they share any books in common. Among the celebrity profiles are ones by Taylor Swift (whose books include Eat, Pray, Love and Big Bird’s Day on the Farm), Al Roker (Green Eggs and Ham, The Bonfire of the Vanities), Sir James Dyson, Scarlett Johansson, Venus Williams, Jodi Picoult, Malcolm Gladwell, Judy Blume, and President George H.W. Bush.

I'm still liking this idea.

Friday, October 29, 2010

All Hallow's Read

Blah blah blah Neil Gaiman blah blah blah All Hallow's Read blah blah blah give a scary book this Halloween. Post complete! Now it's time to cowboy up a Halloween event.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Penguin Books' Spinebreakers

First off, kudos for coming up with a badass name about reading. I almost want to join just to say I am a member of SPINEBREAKERS. Instant street cred! Sadly, I am too old. The site is for teenagers 13-18.

Inspired (?) by Facebook, Penguin Books has introduced a social site dedicated to reading. Site founder Anna Raffery, managing director of Penguin Digital, said:

"There are too many distractions out there for teenagers which pushes reading down the list of hobbies. Even other social networks are a major distraction for teens, which is why I hope giving reading its own social network, which is written and edited by teenagers, will help keep reading relevant in the digital age."

Though not intended to be commercial, the site does feature brand-related promotions, but does not have any commercial advertising (and more kudos are given for that).

I know I would've been all over this site as a teenager aged 13-18. I love talking about books but never had the opportunity to do so in high school. One reason why I enjoy my library technician program is that finally I have a large group of associates who like to read.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rebecca Serle's Top Ten Classic Children's Books

Here is Rebecca Serle from the Huffington Post's Top Ten Classic Children's Books. This is partially for reference for myself in the future, wherein I will procure books for my niece, who, though not yet two years old, is sensible enough to love books.

Red and the Comic Book Movie

On Monday night, partially to celebrate two midterms completed in one day, I went to see Red with some friends. Great movie, very funny, good action, I quite liked it.

Red was a brief comic book series by Warren Ellis and Cully Hammer. There's this retired CIA agent named Frank Moses (or Paul Moses in the comics) who suddenly finds himself pursued by the government - he's been reclassified to retired and dangerous, meaning he needs to be gotten rid of. He gathers his old team together and saves a girl he's interested in along the way.

At the end of the movie I turned to my friend and asked, "Is it just me, or have movies been a lot more fun since comic book movies started getting made?" He agreed. Movies made from comics do indeed seem fun, with a few exceptions (From Hell, I'm looking at you).

Much like the popularity of (or perhaps partly because of the popularity of) graphic novels, all of a sudden it seems like people are realizing that comic books have a lot of really entertaining stories to tell. And since they're already partially visual media, they've got that going for them in the transition to film. Comic book artists started borrowing 'camera shots' from movies, and now those angles and shots are being translated back to film, which is pretty cool.

(In a somewhat related aside, The Ultimates is an alternate version of Marvel comics where familiar faces follow different paths or are re-imagined. One such case of re-imagining came from changing Nick Fury, head of SHIELD, from a white guy with an eye patch to a Samuel Jackson in an eye patch. That was who they decided Nick Fury would look like. This paid off when Ironman was made and Sam Jackson signed on to be Fury. If you missed it in the first movie, it was after the credits and it was awesome.)

Warren Ellis commented about Red on his site. Also, take a gander at Comic Book Movies, a site devoted to comic book movies. (How surprising.)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Gordon Pinsent Reads Bieber

"Ahh, the girls... the grilled cheese... I wish I was you."

Sunday, October 24, 2010

20 Librarians Who Save the World

From io9 via LISNews: Twenty Heroic Librarians Who Save the World. My personal favourite is Rupert Giles from Buffy. And I gotta say, if I could only wear a bikini while phasing through matter, I would have to do a lot more situps. There are a few things on this list I think I need to read! (I had no idea there was a librarian X-Man!)

And now back to studying for midterms.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Too Much Demand for Too Few Computers

It's a problem in Canada, too: the need for computers is greater than the computers available. In rough economic times, more people cancel their internet subscription and return to the library to go online. There are a lot of job applications to be done online, for example. Computers fully loaded with software are expensive for libraries. And then there's the creepy guy in the corner who just uses them to look at porn.

Outsourcing Libraries II - Private Information

More on Library Systems and Services in Santa Clarita. There are concerns about patron's privacy.

Nevertheless, [Donald] Ricketts stressed that what a Santa Clarita citizen should worry about is the potential access an outside company will have to some of his or her most valuable information.

"That’s the point that somehow hasn’t gotten across," he said. "Somebody who has that information has got a big leg up if they want to do identity theft."

Ooh, good point.

Secret New York Library

Tucked away in the subway system, Terence Cardinal Cooke-Cathedral branch of the public library is a semi-secret. Few people who don't take the train know it exists. At first I thought it sounded kind of dim and even dangerous (wouldn't it be kind of deserted at night?) but the library's webpage makes it look more inviting than I envisioned. They are tailored to their patrons, specializing in business books and popular novels... and subway maps for the tourists that stumble across the library.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

On Teaching the Graphic Novel

Because I've been up to my ears in this stuff for various minor school projects, here is some more stuff about graphic novels: Alexander Chee talks about teaching the graphic novel.

For me, Marjane Satrapi explained “why comics” best, when she said, at an appearance at Smith College, “I write what I can’t draw, and I draw what I can’t write.” This struck me as an important way to think about the artist-writer creator (a clumsy way to say “someone who can do both”). Most of the texts I taught were written by people of this category, but there are writers for the form, like Frank Miller and Alan Moore, who do not do their own drawings and it would be disingenuous at best not to include their cooperative works with artists, in terms of their cultural impact, but the distinction does ask important questions.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Adding Library Catalogue Results to Google Searches

From LISNews to Musings on librarianship: adding your library catalogue results to Google searches.

The Google instinct is very strong indeed. The danger here is students might be just happy with what they get in Google (Wikipedia I'm looking at you) and be done with it. What if a plugin could be installed such that whenever the student did a search in Google/Yahoo etc and it would automatically overlay library catalogue results next to it? This leverages the user's strong "Google instinct" and without any additional effort he can see the library catalogue results together with Google's.

And a comment on LISNews' post:

Things to come

Sahil here, from the WebMynd Team. Thank you for your comprehensive post around our new Content Concierge Platform!

I would love to share a few clarifications and upcoming features that we are excited to get out of the door:

- We are excited to announce that as of next week we now allow users/publishers to add an unlimited number of advanced widgets (as opposed to last week's constraint of just 1 advanced and unlimited simple).

- We do work with sources that require logins such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Gmail etc. - In general, if a user can get to a source and search it manually, we can create an advanced widget for that source. In the next week we will allow anyone to create widgets that require users to log in to an authentication server.

- Also in the next week or two we will complete our revamp of the "User Control Panel" allowing registered users to actually go back and edit/remove any sidebars created using our Content Concierge Platform. We also pushed a build this morning that will generate your search sidebar in <1 minute! - These sidebars are already fully compatible with all other major search engines...Yahoo!, Bing, Google, YouTube - across your major browsers, IE, FireFox, Chrome and soon, Safari. - We are working on a solution that will add more comprehensive logic as to how your verticals appear (in which order) in the sidebar. Currently, we place the vertical/widget that loads first at the top. Soon you will see your widgets that you have added will be locked in the order you enter them in the creation process! - Finally, we are looking to introduce a Content Concierge Gallery that will allow users to browse other generated sidebars - look out for this in November! We are very excited to have you and all your readers taking a look at our product. Any additional feedback is monumental in creating a platform that will serve as an incredibly useful utility for a wide range of publishers/users. Keep an eye out for a few more exciting additions like a full redesign of the sidebar and redesigned customized user landing pages! We are always interested in gathering feedback and helping anyone create a perfect search sidebar for their content consumption needs. Feel free to reach out to to the WebMynd team at with any feedback or questions/help requests around the creation process and we will get back to you ASAP. For all of you who do not wish to create a sidebar of your own, please feel free to visit our website:, scroll down and download our latest WebMynd Search Sidebar - Turbocharge & personalize your searches with the sites you care about most! Regards, WebMynd Team

Very cool. But WebMynd? Didn't the 'adding Y for I' craze die down in the late nineties? No? Damn.

Lagomorph Watson
Through the Stacks and Down the Rabbyt Hole With a Wannabe Lybrary Technycyan


Monday, October 18, 2010

I Told You Farmville Was Bad!

Your privacy and Facebook apps.

"Apps" are pieces of software that let Facebook's 500 million users play games or share common interests with one another. The Journal found that all of the 10 most popular apps on Facebook were transmitting users' IDs to outside companies.

The apps, ranked by research company Inside Network Inc. (based on monthly users), include Zynga Game Network Inc.'s FarmVille, with 59 million users, and Texas HoldEm Poker and FrontierVille. Three of the top 10 apps, including FarmVille, also have been transmitting personal information about a user's friends to outside companies.

I can't decide whether this requires the funny ha-ha tag or not. I really hated hearing about people's crops and crud.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Interview With Thomas Mann

Snicked from, Joshua Kitlas interviews Thomas Mann.

"I would like to see [reference] change in the way it’s taught. My impression is that the way it’s taught is how to think critically about websites. There’ a lost more to it than that. For one thing, we need to do a lot better job in telling people about the amazing range of sources that aren’t on the open Internet to begin with.

It usually involves looking in so many more places than one. Library of Congress Subject Headings are critical ñ what are the terms that are best suited for searching the source you’re ñ controlled headings and descriptors, or uncontrolled keywords? There’s an enormous difference between subject and keyword search–and citation searches or browsing the stacks or using bibliographies or talking to people. Each will show you something different. Changing the search technique
changes what you see in the results."

"The profession is radically getting dumbed down. There is so much more to search than Google or OCLC. You need to see relationships between subjects and their headings. Tags by users are simply no substitute. They’re okay as supplements to
controlled vocabularies but not substitutes. There’s a need to go beyond the internet and look at the systems librarians and publishers have developed that are not accessible by Google or the other engines."

Agreed. Every Friday in my reference class, we have an exercise which involves answering a series of questions using books the teacher has selected for us - Ulrich's Guide, Encyclopedia indexes, directories, whatever's useful for whatever type of reference question we're looking up - and you can only get so far with the internet, even including the e-journals and other resources we students get access to from the Learning Resource Center's site. (I was so happy to discover full-text New York Times articles I could look up at any time without registering and paying!) Some things you can look up; it's also useful for filling in little blanks in information to guide you to which print resources you need to look into.

Just this Friday, a group of students were passing reference books around and looking up our reference questions and one said, "I didn't even know any of these books existed." Most of us didn't. We're new! And most people never will, since they're not taking librarian courses, so it's up to librarians to help them. And that is pretty cool. I geek out just thinking of how much information I have access to now that I'm learning where to look, and how wonderful libraries are, and and and... neat!

In any case, I think Mann would approve of the methods taught by my reference instructor. I intend to read more stuff from this guy.

Etsy Madness

Hooray for consumerism!

I admit I have a small Etsy addiction. Things are mostly handmade there. They have some pretty awesome selections, and I tend to get compliments on necklaces and things I buy there. Anyway! Here are a couple of good shops:

  • Barrel of Monkeys: It has buttons. Some library types might be interested in are 'Turn Off Your TV and Read', 'Reading is Sexy', 'Coffee and a Good Book', 'Talk Nerdy to Me', 'Don't Judge a Book by Its Movie', and 'Geek Girl'. There are a lot more with various geeky pop culture references ('Han Shot First!') and some that are just cute. 
  • The Empty Nest: Jewelery featuring vintage typewriter keys, Scrabble tiles, computer keyboard keys, LEGO, maps, crosswords, dictionary definitions, Sudoku, and more.

Both sellers are friendly and lovely to work with.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Facebook Stalkers in Contemporary Fiction

Joanne McNeil at the Huffington Post asks Where Are the iPhone Addicts and Facebook 'Stalkers' in Contemporary Fiction?

Hey, it's true. Stalkers and killers and all those fun people in books would be using social media to track people down, right? It'd make their jobs easier.

My guess would be that writers don't want to make their work dated. Are people going to know what Facebook was twenty years from now? Thirty? Fifty? It's not so much of a problem for most books, but you never know what's going to turn into a classic, cult or otherwise.

Cell phones became a problem in horror movies, too. Why couldn't the people just phone for help? So movies started having to write in reasons why cell phones wouldn't work or have the protagonist lose theirs or run out of battery power. They also use all those excuses in books now.

Let's not even start on the portrayal of the internet.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Annoyed Librarian On Outsourcing Libraries

Back at the beginning of October I made a post about an article on outsourcing public libraries.

The Annoyed Librarian has a pro-outsourcing take on this subject, or at least a take that's not immediately OH NO DISASTER. It's kind of unusual for me to post about Annoyed Librarian. I suspect I'm one of the namby-pamby people she seems to dislike so much.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tips for New Library Employees

Stolen from The Swiss Army Librarian: Tips For New Library Employees.

It also has a Monty Python sketch at the bottom. BONUS!

Would It Kill You to Put On Pants?

Admit it, it was distracting and you wouldn't want to hang out with him. Pun sort of unintentional but left in anyway.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

5 More Reasons to Buy an E-Reader

Look! It's the same story about e-readers again! This time from geeksugar:

  1. You'll read more.
  2. Lots of freebies.
  3. You'll expand your horizons.
  4. They're ultra portable.
  5. Never get bored.
In my case? I still have a pile of books to read, so I wouldn't read more. Lots of freebies I'll give, though I kind of wonder at the quality of some of them and the time it takes to sift through all the crap. Expanding horizons, okay. If it's cheap (or free) I might download it on a whim - that's more likely than going to a library and picking something randomly. Ultra portable, yes. I just carried eleven books home from a book sale at the college and that filled my backpack and then some. (I also had school stuff in there.) Never get bored? Okaaaaaay. Mostly I get bored on bus rides, but unfortunately I can't read in the car or on the bus. Makes me queasy.

Mostly, every time I think having an e-reader would be neat, I think of a bunch of other things I could spend that money on - winter boots, maybe. Christmas presents. Jewelery from Etsy (my horrible secret weakness). A new laptop or desktop, someday, somehow. Maybe some clothes... new blades for my razor... music... Lots and lots of all those things. Anyone got an e-reader they're just giving away? No? Oh, well.

Mike Shatzkin on "How Quickly Things Change"

Mike Shatzkin at the Idea Logical Blog:

A month ago I was helping my sister clean out some of the old files of my father’s (now gone over eight years, but it takes a while to get around to this stuff.) Among his papers, I found the hard copy of a speech I had delivered at a VISTA Conference (VISTA is now a company called Publishing Technology) in November of 1995. As I started to read it, I realized I hadn’t seen it in a long time. I checked and it wasn’t on my web site. I checked further and it wasn’t in my hard drive.

So if Dad hadn’t saved this printed copy, I wouldn’t have had it to show you. I’m glad he did. Ironically, the speech was titled “How Quickly Things Change”.

It is pretty awesome. He didn't predict iPods, but he got a lot of other things right.

Ancient Tweets Were Made in Stone and Clay

Time to play some catchup after Thanksgiving!

Let's make science interesting by comparing it to Twitter!

It was interesting anyway!

When ancient scribes invented the world's first systems of writing by cutting symbols into stone and clay, they unleashed an anxiety the Facebook generation can relate to: worry about how the new technology might upend their culture.

As the technology caught on in Egypt and Mesopotamia, ancient writers recorded the anxiety of some in Pharaonic Egypt that the written word would impair memory and turn humans into ignorant fools.

Maybe Amun had something, though:

...Amun predicted trouble for readers and writers.

He said it would cause forgetfulness in writers because they would not use their memory. Moreover, he predicted, readers would give only the appearance of knowing things while remaining "ignorant and hard to get along with, since they are not wise but only appear wise."

Friday, October 8, 2010

Bodleian Mega-Library


Viewed from the outside, it could be any old warehouse in the country.

Inside, though, it has the equivalent of 153 miles of storage space to store more than eight million books which form the bulk of the stock of arguably the country's most famous library.

Welcome to the new home for books owned by Oxford University's Bodleian Library, which has found that its historic entitlement to a copy of every volume published in the UK had led to it running out of storage space.

I hope they have little scooters to drive around in or something! It's a warehouse, it's not like they have to worry about ruining the carpet!

Goodyear Reading

Though Elizabeth Goodyear passed away, you can still read about her in this New York Times article from 2008: In Strangers, Centenarian Finds Literary Lifeline. The story goes that a yoga instructor befriended her elderly, blind neighbour. She eventually put up signs at various yoga studios downtown (New York, believe it or not) and sent emails asking for people to come read to Goodyear. And people answered, and it brought them together in a wonderful way, and hooray for reading, etc.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Social Media and Death

From Mignon Fogarty, aka Grammar Girl: Social Media and Death. Excellent discussion in the comments.

I think the internet in general (including Facebook) has affected the way I react to news, yes. I know more about the personal triumphs (and tragedies) of people I know or once knew. I've been active online for over half my life now and I've 'met' a lot of people over the years, some of whom have passed or knew someone who passed. 'News' has become more real now, as I found last week when my brother's friend's grandfather disappeared, his body found days later in the woods. The family used Facebook to spread the word and keep people updated on the situation. Facebook allowed me to give my condolences as well.

It's hard, sometimes, when someone far away has died and there's no way to attend a funeral. My brother experienced that earlier this year when his Guildmaster in Warcraft was killed by a drunk driver. He organized a memorial meeting online and that helped people with their grieving process. At least I think it helped with his grieving process. Maybe it seems silly - a Warcraft funeral, really? - but these connections we make with people happen in all kinds of ways nowadays. As unlimited as we are now forming new connections, we are still limited in some ways.

I for one am glad to have met as many wonderful people as I have, even if I haven't met all of them face-to-face.

[Related to the blog post: I also read Where is Raed? back in 2003. Read more about it on Wikipedia. One entry I recall vividly is the one where a guest blogger and Salam were talking about the best ways to duct tape windows and lavendar scented candles. They didn't duct tape the candles, it was just mentioned that... oh, go read it.]

"One day, like in Afghanistan, those journalists will get bored and go write about Syria or Iran; Iraq will be off your media radar. Out of sight, out of mind. Lucky you, you have that option. I have to live it."

Merriam-Webster's Top 10 Words from Trademarks

Just a little article about word origins. Heroin: it used to be a trademarked name.

The product was marketed as a cough remedy made from a supposedly non-addictive morphine derivative. It was also used as a cure for morphine addiction – which unfortunately caused large numbers of users to become heroin addicts.

There are nine more amusing words! Go look!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Risha Mullins - Censorship at its Finest: Remembering

A long, moving story about one English teacher's struggle against censorship.

After that email, my curriculum coach told me—in the principal’s office, with him present—that she had to beg the superintendent not to shut down the Moo Moo Book Club, and that she quoted him when she said, “one more problem with books and the club is gone.” I remember asking if he could do that. And I remember her laughing. Then on October 10, 2008, I received the edict—on signed letterhead: “After investigating the situation and discussing it with Ms. X, I have decided that all books in question in your classroom library and on the Moo Moo Club reading list will be pulled and reviewed…” Every book. Class and club. And yet not a single official challenge had been filed, as board policy required for a book to be suspended.

Update: You will no longer find the post mentioned above on Risha Mullins' blog, for reasons she explains in this post. She will eventually put the story back up. (February 5, 2011)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

E-Books, Money, and Authors

From the Wall Street Journal's site: the effect of e-books on the income of authors.

Priced much lower than hardcovers, many e-books generate less income for publishers. And big retailers are buying fewer titles. As a result, the publishers who nurtured generations of America's top literary-fiction writers are approving fewer book deals and signing fewer new writers. Most of those getting published are receiving smaller advances.

Kind of brutal!

Outsourcing Public Libraries

Here is a news story I think I need clarification on! Apparently, there is a private company called Library Systems and Services that runs libraries. They've worked with smaller, faltering libraries, but have just been contracted $4 million dollars to run three 'healthy' libraries in Santa Clarita, California.

My first instinct is to say that whatever keeps a library open is good, even if it's a private company. It's better than nothing, right? On the other hand, does allowing a private company to manage a library mean the library's priorities are no longer right - provide service to customers and a wide range of material? Does having an outsourced company mean that choices like which books to add/keep to the collection will be made to follow the company's agenda?

My only familiarity with companies taking over management of public services admittedly comes from science fiction books and movies, particularly Gibson ones. Pepsi Library, say, where everything is adorned with the red, white, and blue logo and the books all promote Pepsi and you can never learn anything about Coke in them. Companies like Sony essentially owning countries. We're told this is bad.

Companies exist to make money. Libraries do not make money. They lose money; it's part of deal of providing mostly free services to patrons. Books get damaged, destroyed, lost. Fines don't cover the costs. What changes will a company make to reduce money loss?

Don't some public libraries have bias? Aren't books banned and removed from shelves even in public-run libraries? There are constant discussions and arguments over the censorship of books even in public library settings. Will it be much different with a company running the show? Aren't books - free books - still being provided to the community? Isn't that a good thing? I'm unsure how to feel about this.

Canada Post's Library Book Rate

Good news! Bill C-509, an Act to amend the Canada Post Corporation Act, is steadily becoming a reality.

“As the Minister responsible for Canada Post, I am keenly aware of the benefits of the Library Book Rate and its history,” said Minister Merrifield. “I am here today to proudly state that our Government is proud to support literacy and our libraries across the country, both urban and rural, and that our government will strongly support Mr. Tweed’s Bill.”

“Over 2,000 libraries actively use the Library Book Rate and an estimated one million Canadians benefit from it annually,” added Tweed. “It is clear that many Canadians will benefit from an expanded Library Book Rate and I am happy to acknowledge our government’s support of this Bill.”

(Snitched from my Interlibrary Loan course instructor.)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Most Accurate Science Fiction

From io9 - Six Scientists On The Most Accurate Science Fiction In Their Fields. Firefly gets a nod for not having warp engines, but loses points on artificial gravity. (I personally always liked that space didn't have pew-pew laser noises and explosions, though I half-remember reading something about how there would actually be sounds.) It's mostly compiled from movies and TV shows, but there are a few books mentioned - A Handmaid's Tale, the Dune series, and a mention of Asimov's robot series.

I really need to get around to reading some Asimov someday.

(PS, the first few books of Dune are pretty good, but it gets really weird further in. Really, really weird. Even taking into account Dune should be forgiven a few oddities merely for providing us with the Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear - "I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain." - and walking without rhythm so you won't attract the worm.)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

10 Greatest Archetypal Swords

Time to slap up a quick post to keep up that whole 'daily' requirement. (I am okay with doing multiple posts on some days as long as the little number in brackets next to the month in the archive list over to the right there matches the current date.)

For the fantasy geek: 10 Greatest Archetypal Swords. I'm fond of #7 when lightsabers are unavailable.

Lord Jesus Christ Banned

I'll admit it, I'm a sucker for a gimmicky story sometimes. Like this one about Lord Jesus Christ being banned from the library. I require more info, I don't know which side to be on!

Interviewed in his apartment, which is less than a half-mile away from the town library, Jesus Christ said that all he can conclude is he is being targeted by the library because of who he is.

“I’m black, I’m transsexual and my name is Lord Jesus Christ,” he said.

Library staff say Jesus Christ is 'very rude'.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sir Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett is one of my favourite authors. He's the creator of Discworld, a fantasy series with too many interesting and hilarious characters to count. His books take up the majority of one of my shelves; I own more books by him than I do any other author. And he got knighted! And then he forged himself a sword with meteorite ore! I love that guy.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Waldo Ultimatum

From Neatorama:

"He's at the North Pole, look up, idiot!"
"That's a giant candy cane!"

Also from Neatorama: Waldo on Google Street View.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Library Lovin'

From Jezebel, a short (really short) bit on libraries as nookie spots. I remember my Introduction to Library Science teacher in night school loved the Library of Congress poster pictured at the left. "It's an in-joke for librarians," she explained. "I've caught a few people doing it." (Paraphrased. It was a year ago!)

Here is a longer piece from Blast Magazine, which I had never heard of until now.

Just another thing to look forward to?

Things which are seen cannot be unseen!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Oompa-Loompas Were Black?

Apparently the Oompa-Loompas in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory used to be black pygmies but got turned white in later editions. That is not actually the point of the article linked.

The point of the article is to ask whether censoring a children's book can remove its prejudices and if it's right to do so.

In the case of Willy Wonka's slavery being shifted, I'm going to say I'd side with the changed version. As I understood it when my sister read it to me many, many years ago, Oompa-Loompas liked living in the factory and came from Loompaland in big boxes with holes so they could breathe. And that was okay; that made sense to me as a kid and was still entertaining. I went through most of my life thinking Willy Wonka was, if somewhat callous, at least at the core a decent guy. (It probably helped that I never saw the film version with the psychedelic boat trip, which was downright scary and there was a dead guy, what the heck was with that trauma?) I had plenty of time to learn about racism and slavery when I'd aged up a little more.

See also bowdlerising, named for Thomas Bowdler, 'to expurgate (a written work) by removing or modifying passages considered vulgar or objectionable.'

Happy Blogiversary

This blog turns one year old today!

Over the past year, I have blogged kind of almost sort of every day, with large gaps. I am talking to myself pretty much. The blog has been renamed once and moved once. A Twitter feed has been added, allowing me to talk to myself even more. Awesome!

(Also, hi Natasha if you actually did make good on your threatpromise to drop by.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Heathman Hotel Library

The Heathman Hotel in Portland, Oregon, has a collection of 4000 books, each signed by their author.

The hotel began collecting books in the mid-1980s, Erickson said, and the library opened in 1992.

"We found that many authors who came to Portland for readings and literary events stayed at the Heathman," he said. "We began having them sign a book to mark the occasion."

Five authors a week stay at the Heathman on average, Soprani said, so the collection continues to grow.

The majority of the collection is available to guests to take to their rooms to read.

All Those Years Shopping At Independent Bookstore Wasted

Another article from The Onion: All Those Years Shopping At Independent Bookstore Wasted.

"Countless hours wasted quietly browsing their shelves when I could have just ordered this shit for way cheaper online."

I laughed. Was it so I wouldn't cry? Let's go with that.

Maybe I Should Move to Calgary in a Couple of Years

The University of Alberta is compiling a video game library. It works just like any other library and has enclosed multimedia rooms where students and researchers can rock out with Rock Band or play other games. Which is pretty much awesome and wow now it's more tempting to live in Alberta!

I imagine a lot of technical expertise would be needed, like 'just blow on the cartridge' and identifying the inevitable red rings of death. AND I AM THERE.

Also awesome: Video Games and Young People: Learning, Literacy, and Libraries, a paper by Heather Robinson.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Talk Like a Pirate Day

'Tis a pitiful showin' on the blogs t'day fer Talk Like a Pirate Day! All ye librarrians must be swashin' their buckles an' such to post about it. Here be Matt Stagg's list o' pirate books over on Suvudu!

As fer meself, I be recommendin' 'On Stranger Tides' by Tim Powers fer yer readin' delight, an alternate history involvin' Blackbeard, voodoo magic, an' puppet shows.

Fer yer viewin' pleasure, here be Flickarrr's Talk Like a Pirate Day photostream.

I looted the Pirate Name Generator from Dundee City's library's page. 'Tis not Lagomorph Watson today, lads. 'Tis Gangrenous Evelyn Napier!

Bless the internet fer allowin' us our made-up holidays!


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bookstore Bingo

So apparently there's a hash tag on Twitter called #bookstorebingo. It was inspired by an article written for Shelf Awareness, Notes From An ER Bookseller, wherein the owner of a bookstore's wife was sick and her husband who normally worked in the ER filled in for her and kept notes of his interactions with people in the shop (not necessarily 'customers').

So nice the Huffington Post ran articles about it thrice. Looks like a lot of people ask who the author of Shakespeare is!

Counterpoint at And She Reads: Ramblings on the Book Industry.

I personally believe in the power of venting and also in sharing. Do not roll your eyes at the clients, however.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sweet Valley High Drinking Game

Oh, wow. My sister had a pretty long run of the Sweet Valley High books and I wound up reading them as a kid. They seemed okay at the time, even if they were girly (ewww), but in hindsight some of that stuff was just awful. Erin at Forever Young Adult has been rereading the books and reviewing them. With a drinking game!

I did not remember how crazy this stuff was.

Regina, having never experienced cocaine before even though her mom was a model and her parents are rich and she went to school with rich kids all her life, is all “why are you carrying around powdered sugar?” Everyone makes fun of her ignorance, which leads her to deciding to sample the cocaine. She snorts two lines, and then has a heart attack and dies.

Man, Regina Morrow kicking the bucket. That was maybe the one storyline that I can actually remember! It was sad, because Regina was so pretty. Or something like that. Anyway, if you ever read these books, this is hilarious. It's hilarious even if you just want to see what Young Adult fiction was like in the 80's. Not quite Degrassi crazy, but pretty crazy nonetheless.