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 ilovelibraries.org.


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 Amazon.com’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.