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.)