Thursday, August 26, 2010

GLBT Book Removed, Deemed 'Child Pornography'

From School Library Journal:

A New Jersey public library has removed Revolutionary Voices: A Multicultural Queer Youth Anthology (Alyson, 2000) from its collection. Nobody challenged the book; library director Gail Sweet pulled it regardless.

Edited by Amy Sonnie of the Banned Librarian, Revolutionary Voices was named by School Library Journal in 2001 as one of the best adult books for high school students and was celebrated by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) as "the first creative resource by and for queer and questioning youth of every color, class, religion, gender and ability."

Way to make the gay kids feel unwelcome and ostracized, Burlington County Library System. As if it isn't hard enough for teens; now a good resource gets taken away. And it's not just gay kids, either; it's kids with a gay parent or a gay friend who want to understand more. There is not nearly enough good literature on this subject, and by pulling this book the library is doing a disservice to its patrons.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Librianship vs. Technological Advisory

A good article from Library Juice - Our Niche and How to Get Back Into It. Rory Litwin proposes that librarians need to be less concerned with technical knowledge than general knowledge and the real specialization of librarians: communities and their information needs.

Where I feel that greater knowledge would help me to be a better librarian is across the board – within my assigned subject areas, yes, but in all subjects, and particularly about things like scholarly communities, the research into reading behavior, learning theory, media studies, and all of those fields that are connected to what we do. I think that improving my general knowledge and working to improve my insight into people are the most effective ways I can work to become a better librarian.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Old Spice Library Ad

I'll admit I'm a sucker for these. A funny mock-up of an Old Spice ad:

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Choose Your Own Horrible Death

NPR ran a bit about the return of Choose Your Own Adventure books, called U-Ventures, in an iPhone/Pad app. They will be updated with sounds, lights, and special effects.

I have plenty of fond memories of reading those books. Sometimes they were a pain, though - I kept my fingers tucked between pages with decisions, sometimes two or three steps back, just in case I got a horrible death. There were a lot of horrible deaths, usually with no warning. Take sled dogs across the lake! The ice breaks, you are dead. Climb down through the crevice! You fall and die. It was all very random.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Literacy On It's Way Out

Hey look, more doomsaying. This time it's Ben Bova, an author, commenting on how with voice recognition software and audiobooks the need to be able to read and write is slowly being phased out. Then he rags on graphic novels.

Take the idea of graphic novels. Essentially, these are comic books for adults. Some of the works are quite striking and even powerful. But War and Peace they’re not. They’re not even Valley of the Dolls.

It’s impossible to reproduce a novel’s deep characterizations and nuances of plot development in a comic book format. I’ve had a couple of my short stories done in graphic style and, while I’m pleased with the results, I don’t see how a novel could be done that way — except by boiling down the novel to a few incidents and characters and tossing away almost all of the depth and plot development.

 There's room for all of it. Voice recognition software and audiobooks help facilitate communication and storytelling for people who would otherwise have a hard time. And again, not everyone can afford the technology. Maybe one day that'll happen. Like Star Trek! But it's not in any danger of happening soon.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Book Garden

Snitched from Living Garden of Knowledge Made From 40,000 books.

At the moment you have to view a few pictures before you get to see any of the mushrooms, but I suppose as time goes on they'll take over. A cool idea for recycling books touted as 'bringing books back home to nature'.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Handy Google Search Tips

Mostly I skimmed this article on Huffington Post from Catharine Smith and David Vines, but toward the end there were things I hadn't heard about before. Here's the full list in the article:

  • Weather: Typing weather and a zip code will show you the weather for that zip code.
  • Music: Searching an artist will allow you to listen to some of their songs.
  • Calculator: Put in simple math problems and Google will solve 'em. Use * for multiplication, / to divide, and + and - to, well... you know.
  • Convert Measurements: What's 5 litres in gallons (1.32086026), how far is 56 miles in kilometres (90.123264), that sort of thing.
  • Dictionary: Define works like a dictionary. (Like define: lagomorph)
  • Specific Site Search: You can get Google to only search a certain site by including after your search terms.
  • Directions: Not just driving! Also walking, public transportation, and biking.
  • Time: Time in places you aren't at. Just type time: city, country-province-state-whatever .
  • Area Codes: Type in any three-digit area code and Google will tell you where it's from.
  • Feeling Lucky: Go immediately to the first result of your search, skipping the result list. I consider this one vaguely dangerous. There are things you cannot unsee.
  • Convert Currency: Dollars to Euros! US dollars to Canadian dollars!
  • Sports Stats: Search new york mets and get the stats for the Mets.
  • Search with exclusions: Perhaps you want information on oil spills, but not the BP oil spill. Type oil spill -bp.
  • Numerical Ranges: Now we're getting into stuff I didn't know about. Use like: canadian prime ministers 1934..1956.
  • Document Types: PowerPoint presentations on whales? Search whales filetype:ppt. Neat!
  • Stocks: Type in the stock's name, like GOOG for Google or AAPL for Apple, get stock information.
  • Cached Pages: Google often has cached versions of pages stored when you look at your result list - older versions. Apparently helpful to get around employer-blocked sites and times when a site's current contents may not be available.
  • Addresses: Don't bother going to Google Maps, just type the address into your search bar.
  • Related Terms: A tilde (~). This shows you things related to the word you're searching, like ~scissors will call up results for the word scissors, but also the words clippers and shears.
  • Traffic Forecast: You must go to the live traffic page, where you can change the traffic from current to forecast, complete with day and time (like Monday 8AM).
  • Phrase Search: Put a phrase in double quotes and the results will be for the exact words in that order. Like looking for "upon the gears and upon the levers" will bring up the rest of that famous speech I couldn't remember last night. This is also helpful when you need to ID a song - I will try to remember a line or two from the song to look it up later. That works best by attaching the term lyrics to the "quoted search".
  • Tracking Packages: UPS, FedEx, and USPS. Just put in the tracking number.
  • Translation: allows you to translate cut and pasted text, upload documents, or put in a web page URL.
  • News Archives: There's a timeline option to narrow your news results.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Most Highlighted Passages on Kindle

I stole this link from Richard MacManus' article on Five Ways eBooks Are Better Than Paper Books a few posts down. What can I say, I can be cheap when it comes to post counts, especially when I've been slacking for a month. Here are the Amazon Kindle's Most Highlighted Passages of All Time.

I'm a little surprised by the inclusion of a quote from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice - "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." Oh really? Ha ha, no.

And what's with all the Dan Brown?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

5 Ways Paper Books Are Better Then eBooks

Richard MacManus on ReadWriteWeb got some indignation from supporters of paper books for his article about five ways he prefers ebooks to paper books. The next day he came out with Five Ways That Paper Books Are Better Than eBooks:

  1. Feel (thank goodness smell wasn't mentioned again)
  2. Packaging
  3. Sharing
  4. Keeping
  5. Second hand books

I can't say I'd thought of packaging as a bonus, but now I do; missing images that were there is a little sad. On the other hand, sometimes it's good that people can't tell what book you're reading on an ebook reader if you don't particularly want people to know you like vampire romance novels or something.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

5 Ways eBooks Are Better Than Paper Books

ReadWriteWeb's Richard MacManus recently started buying eBooks and discovered he likes eBooks better for five things:

  1. Social highlighting
  2. Taking notes
  3. Looking up words as he reads
  4. Sending quotes to Twitter and Facebook
  5. Searching

I think for me at least looking up words in a big dictionary is part of remembering what that word means later. Maybe it's the ritual aspect of it.