Thursday, June 23, 2011

Something New in Scarlet

I'm taking part in 23 Things for Professional Development and seeing if I can relaunch this blog with a different name over here. Changing blog names/sites so often is a terrible idea, but I'd prefer something more memorable than a Desk Set/Bunny Watson joke. Now if I only I hadn't waited so long on the Miss Scarlet from Clue idea...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Making Presentations That Don't Suck (Again)

I just like to post these sorts of things as a sort of bookmark, I suppose. How to make presentations that don't suck! I'm a little disappointed about the hot dog, though.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Internet Site Censorship in France

Sarkozy's latest plan for "civilizing" the Internet: a Great Firewall of France that government agencies to add URLs to without judicial oversight or public scrutiny on the basis of broad, nebulous criteria.

Well, that's pretty troubling.

Field Notes on Science and Nature

Field Notes on Science and Nature would quite possibly be my ultimate coffee table book. And regular reading, too, but look at those pictures.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Tension Scroll Bookshelf


I would like one of these Scroll Bookshelves, please. Bonus: hidden compartments!

Read More


Just a cute tattoo. Certainly a good sentiment! Also, that girl's hair really brings out her eyes. I've thought about getting a tattoo but have never been able to think of something so important/meaningful I'd want it on me forever.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Job Shadow

I got to job shadow at a public library today! My day included:

  • Stamping things
  • Folding pamphlets
  • Talking to schoolkids about a summer reading club
  • Eating pizza and cookies
  • Riding around on the bookmobile

I had crazy amounts of fun. Maybe it's sad, but I like stamping stuff with a real inkpad and folding pamphlets. It's tangible stuff you can finish. Look, accomplishment! Right there! Plus I suspect I have always harboured a desire to stamp things in an official manner. I imagine doing either of these things for very extended periods of time would be less fun, but there's enough to do that you could break it up enough to be good with it.

Seeing the kids was pretty fun. They really do say the damnedest things. And it's great to see them enthusiastic, especially about reading. They seemed to enjoy my modeling swimming trunks for a guessing game, and I'm a sucker for getting a few giggles.

Supposedly library staff do not have pizza every day for lunch but I secretly suspect they do. That must be why they're all so funny and nice.

The bookmobile is a monstrous vehicle crammed full of books. Good books! The people who use it really really use it. The third seat in the back provides a bumpy ride. Sadly, the incinerating toilet does not make a FWOOSH sound when you press the button, but that was the day's only disappointment.

My feet hurt! Sneakers next time.

Working at a public library has a lot going for it, and I am very, very tempted.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Library of Congress Twitter Project Continues

Remember that thing where the Library of Congress decided to archive twitter? They're still at it. While I've warmed up to Twitter since I posted about it last year, part of me still wonders if this is a worthwhile project. Just a small part of me. I'm more on board with Twitter being a reflection of society today (or at least society with ready access to computers).

Also to do with archiving internet junk: The Paleozoic Internet!

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Game of Spoilers

Also from the New York Magazine blog!

Game of Thrones Recap: A Newbie and a Superfan Debate That Huge Thing That Happened.

Game of Thrones (which sounds better than the official title of the series, The Song of Ice and Fire) has been adapted to an HBO show. It's doing rather well, with most of it being pretty spot-on, summarizing what needs summarizing and adding things in order to cut out vast swaths of pages. And if it's confusing, that's okay: the books are confusing, too, and I swear you're getting a simplified version with the show.

The part where Game of Thrones gets good is A Huge Thing That Happens that turns the genre standard on its ear and lets you know you don't know how this particular story goes. It's Huge. Absolutely HUGE, and until last Saturday everyone who'd already read the books were squirming in their seats, waiting for the newbies to the series to finally see that Huge Thing which makes most followers of the books such devoted fans. And it's been awesome to sit back and watch people toss out their theories while knowing what's going to happen.


The best comparison I can come up with is the big reveal at the end of The Empire Strikes Back when Darth Vader revealed he was Luke's father. I didn't see the trilogy until I was about fourteen or fifteen - Lucas had just rereleased VHS tapes with the original movie. My brother had gotten them for Christmas, so that afternoon we were holed up in the basement, spellbound. He'd seen the movies way back in the day. I knew what was going to happen, but I still loved every second.

In the age of the internet, you can get spoiled for just about anything. There's simply too much to keep under wraps: casting calls, scripts, reviews, reports. Writers sometimes put out fake copies of scripts for big finales just to throw people off the trail. It's always out there, being tempting. Sometimes you get tempted and go looking, and other times a random comment on someone's blog or journal just surprises you and you find out who killed Lilly Kane before you can see the damn episode not that I'm bitter or anything. While it would've been better not to know, I think, it was still interesting to watch the last few episodes.

And that's why I reread books, really. Because the second time around you can catch lots of little details you didn't the first time, and if you're the type of person to get emotionally invested in a story, you still get hit hard. (I required Kleenex at the end of episode nine of Game of Thrones. I admit it.) Getting spoiled isn't super awesome, but it's not the end of the world. It makes me sad when people refuse to watch The Usual Suspects just because they know the twist. It's the journey to get there, people!

(Awesome shirt designed by Olly Moss from the Threadless site. I have this t-shirt and I love it.)

Ode to a Four-Letter Word

From the New York Magazine site: Ode to a Four-Letter Word. Starts with F, rhymes with duck.

That word—which appears, like a crude jack-in-the-box, in the last line of every stanza—is why the book works, both creatively and commercially. Yet this popularity was not a foregone conclusion. Like sex, alcohol, nudity, and drugs, swearing sets off the great American seesaw of schoolmarmish horror and schoolyardish glee, and it can be hard to predict whether a writer who curses will wind up exalted or excoriated.

That just seemed like such an apt description. Anyway, food for thought regarding the use of language and the appropriateness of a good cuss word now and again. Words are meant to express concepts, yes?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Captain James T. Librarian

I really just want to go to bed. Behold:



The creepy smile at 0:15 amuses me. Also, Kirk would've been a terrible librarian.

"You can! Find... that book... in section... six! Hundred!"
Hitting on all the lady library patrons.
Throwing styrofoam rocks around.

MADNESS.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Throwing Books Out

There's a pile of books in my bedroom. They are mostly books my mother has already read: we both like thrillers and mysteries. She reads a lot faster than I do (mostly because I got hooked on computers and the internet at age fourteen and now only take time to read actual books before I go to bed, but I swear I used to go through them really fast), so this pile of books is ever-growing. It is a backlog. There are many. They are legion.

On my bookshelf, meticulously custom-built by a very handy neighbour to be so shallow as to only hold paperbacks, there are books I have read more than once. I cleaned out a big batch the last time I rearranged my bedroom to only contain multiple read books, but now there are clingers. There are books adding up, getting wedged onto the shelves. I'm really not sure I'll read The Magicians again, but it's on the shelf, stacked on top of two volumes of the Harry Potter series (have read multiple times, will probably read again). Next to that, Library of the Dead is sandwiched between On Stranger Tides* (will definitely read again) and the short story collection Fragile Things (should read again, don't recall what's in it). I don't think I'll bother reading Library of the Dead again, but it's there, cluttering up the works. I do not want to get rid of it. I do not want to get rid of any of the books. I do not want to donate them. I want to horde them forever.

Not all books, mind you. I finished one called Sizzle that I disliked so much I've been stalling on adding it to the 'books read' sidebar over to the right there. I could drop that sucker into a recycling bin, no problem. But MOST books... they linger.

I am reminded I must weed by a post by someone named Tom O'Hare in Brutish & Short, found while I rummaged about the interwebs for something to post about.

I realize that I use this weekly space to talk about my personal life too much, and I frankly don’t care. Because today, before I disclose the most wonderful things you missed on the blog this week, I would like to discuss books. And I would particularly like to discuss the newfound joy I feel when I throw books the fuck away.

I can't help it, I enjoy a foul-mouthed discussion. It's funny, read it over, think about the books on your shelf (or piled next to your dresser) and remember:

...Books are just words written on paper. They’re not fundamentally different from blogs or newspapers, except for the fact that both of those media lend themselves quite a bit more easily to the process of a) consumption and b) immediate disregard. In other words, you buy a book and you’re expected to keep it. Even after it’s gotten all of the use it’s ever going to get, you’re expected to keep it. Display it. Put it on your bookshelves and watch the gawkers gawk. Even if 90+% of those books will never be touched again, we feel a compulsion to hold onto them. To forefront them. To amass them, even though nobody will ever read them again.



* On Stranger Tides has nothing to do with the Pirates of the Caribbean movie that recently came out. Or, I suppose, very little to do with said movie. They bought the license essentially because the book and the movie shared two plot points: Blackbeard and the fountain of youth, and I guess they were trying to cover their asses or something. But anyway, read On Stranger Tides, because it is a wonderful book and I quite like Tim Powers.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Girl With the Bad Cover of The Immigrant Song

I have a problem with Hollywood's remake of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo movie:




WHY DID YOU MESS WITH THE IMMIGRANT SONG? Karen O, I expected better from you. Insert commentary on Hollywood remaking movies it doesn't need to remake subtitles book adaptations blah blah blah here. Don't mess with Zeppelin.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Diane Duane on Darkness in Teen Literature

From the sounds of it, this whole Wall Street Journal 'teen literature is too dark' thing is really getting talked about, at least in some circles. To the point where people are getting sick of it!

Anyway, Diane Duane (a YA author) has this to say on the subject:

What I found while doing one-to-one therapy with adolescent patients is that to successfully start working through their problems, what they initially needed more than anything else was confirmation and acknowledgement from those around them that the problems existed in the first place – that they weren’t unique or alone in their situation, that other people knew about it and that it was real. Books dealing with the problem in question were and are often a useful tool to help that acknowledgement get started, and even (in some cases) in getting a patient past their own denial that they had any such difficulty at all.

When I was practicing, such books were often painfully dry and didactic, and I wish there’d been more young adult fiction available on such subjects… for fiction (especially when done well) tends to lecture less than nonfiction and is more likely to be successfully internalized because you’re hearing, not a dry recitation of fact, but someone’s voice. Young adult novels that deal honestly with such issues unquestionably have value for teens groping their way toward understanding of how to tackle their problems. They invite them into the dialogue: they make the troubled teen part of the solution. And at the very least, they let their readers know that they’re not alone. There are times when that knowledge is enough to mean the difference between life and death. Here, without any doubt whatever, YA really does save.


What a gigantic quote. She has a lot more to say, too, if you care to follow the link. Again (I feel like I say this every time the subject comes up), the sense of feeling alone is a big problem for kids, or even for grown-ups, and having a book that makes someone feel less alone is often helpful.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Super Databases

Oh my gosh this is exciting: EBSCO and H.W. Wilson will be combined into 'super databases'. Among other features, it will include results for 'use for' and 'see also' terms of keywords, presumably removing a step for the user. I will miss access to the school's databases.

Search Engine and Navel-Gazing

I tried really hard to come up with a post yesterday so I wouldn't break my streak. I combed through a bunch of bookmarks and everything and came up with zilch, but today - today, my friends, I will post twice. I will remain on the wagon.

(I recently read a piece on Walt Crawford's blog about not posting due to obligation, but when you have something to say, and it made me think a little about the goal of this blog, to find something library-related each day. Is that useless? I don't think so. I can't claim my blog is terribly deep; most of my content is picked from other blogs. But really, no one has to read it. It's a useful resource for me. It's incentive to keep up to date on things going on in the library world, even if I don't have anything really meaningful to say about them. And I may not post about them, but I do read the material. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I'm not posting for an audience so much as for myself. If you'd like to come along for the ride, you're more than welcome. Comment if you like!)

Right. Where was I? Oh. Look, a comic!


From Speed Bump.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Wall Street Journal Young Adult Literature Faceoff

Meghan Cox Gurdon wrote an article about how dark young adult (YA) fiction is for the Wall Street Journal. It has some pretty loaded language about censorship/banning:

In the book trade, this is known as "banning." In the parenting trade, however, we call this "judgment" or "taste."

I was chatting with a friend who works as a librarian at a high school.

Me: "While I understand censorship is not fundamentally bad, man, what an asshole way to phrase it."

My friend: "See, there's no objection by anybody to a parent making decisions about what their individual kids read. It's when they try to say what ALL kids should read that the asshole comes out."

The comments section of the article is a pretty interesting read, too, including this bit that just makes me wince:

"Young Adult" fiction is hack-work, ground out to a publisher's guidelines. Read, and give, real literature. It doesn't come in categories. For a 13 year old: Dickens's "A Tale of Two Cities", with character development, good and evil, moral complexity, sentiment and love... There is lot's more, a library-full. Supernatural? The Turn of the Screw. Horror? Poe. She is the right age for Anne Frank's Diary (not some pathetic Judy Blume imitation).

A good rule of thumb: Nothing less than 100 years old (I broke that rule with Anne Frank). Classics are classics because they have passed the test of time. There are more recent works of merit, but you have to separate them from mounds of trash.

Why would teenagers want to read about people their own age experiencing lives they can relate to? CRAZY TALK. It's like forcing everyone to wear hiking boots. Yes, they're very practical and sturdy, but you're not always hiking and sometimes you want a shoe you can dance in. You may not need the shoes, but you enjoy them.

I can't believe I just used shoes as an example. SHOES. I feel like I need to go do kung fu and weld now to make up for it*. Ugh. But first, a response to the Wall Street Journal article: Positive Messages in YA. Also worth reading, Should Young Adult Books Explore Difficult Issues? from Christopher Farley at Speakeasy:

...Books such as “The Catcher in the Rye” which seemed radical in some ways for their times now just seem honest and traditional. Books that some critics once considered pathological or antisocial or worse are now commonly considered classics, such as “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” “The Chocolate War,” “Flowers for Algernon,” “1984,” and “The Lorax.”

Contemporary books such as Walter Dean Myers’ “Monster” (which deals with murder and imprisonment), Marjane Satrapi’s “Persepolis” (religion and revolution), Laurie Halse Anderson’s “Speak” (rape and depression), and the works of M.T. Anderson (racism, consumerism, and too many other things to list) may reap similar acclaim from future readers.

The worst pathological books will fade away with childhood. The best will live on and become permanent parts of the landscape of adolescence. I’m now going to let my son watch all the news he wants (within reason) and to read YA fiction to his heart’s content (as long as my wife agrees too). I’ll just be there to talk it over with him.
* I'm crossing my fingers that I can sub in my welding courses for my general elective. I'd rather have the free time to work on other things, and if the purpose of GenEd courses is to be well rounded, how do you get more well-rounded than a welding librarian? I don't know, if I was in a post-apocalyptic situation I'd want the person who could weld in my bunker, not the one that took the wine-tasting course. But that's just me, I like to justify things by how useful they would be in an apocalypse or zombie outbreak. Best incentive for exercising I've ever found.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Gaga the Librarian

I was trying to think of what to say about Lady Gaga's statement that she is like a librarian of glam, but thankfully The Annoyed Librarian did the work for me, making a list of the top 5 reasons Lady Gaga is not a librarian. Here is the first:

1) She can’t possibly be a librarian because she doesn’t have an ALA-accredited MLS. How dare she make such a claim! We all slogged through tedious courses with lots of group work for an entire year to make that claim, and she thinks she can can make it without that? People without MLSs saying they’re librarians are like people who aren’t God saying they’ve written the “bible” on something. It’s just not right.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Seth Godin On The Future of the Library

A link for personal reference: Seth Godin's blog post on the future of the library. I have a feeling I might quote it for a school project someday. It has some very good points, succinctly written.

The library is no longer a warehouse for dead books. Just in time for the information economy, the library ought to be the local nerve center for information. (Please don't say I'm anti-book! I think through my actions and career choices, I've demonstrated my pro-book chops. I'm not saying I want paper to go away, I'm merely describing what's inevitably occurring). We all love the vision of the underprivileged kid bootstrapping himself out of poverty with books, but now (most of the time), the insight and leverage is going to come from being fast and smart with online resources, not from hiding in the stacks.

The next library is a house for the librarian with the guts to invite kids in to teach them how to get better grades while doing less grunt work. And to teach them how to use a soldering iron or take apart something with no user serviceable parts inside. And even to challenge them to teach classes on their passions, merely because it's fun. This librarian takes responsibility/blame for any kid who manages to graduate from school without being a first-rate data shark.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

That is Exactly How Books Work

As seen on Closed Stacks:



Though it's sort of weird that the file name categorizes it as a demotivational poster, when it's anything but.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Lesbrarians, Censorship, and Equality

An article at Bitch Magazine that I thought was wonderful: Revenge of the Feminerd: Libraries, Lesbrarians, Censorship, and Equality. A good general post about some of the issues surrounding the profession and gays; I especially liked the bit about cataloguing:

Even today, “male nurses” and “women engineers” exist as subject headings. This is obviously problematic and an example of how classification systems sometimes lag way behind the times. The words we use are powerful, and the words that are used to define and locate people are often problematic and offensive.

Sandy Berman is a radical cataloger who was responsible for introducing subject headings like: two-spirit people (to replace berdache), intersexuality (to replace hermaphrodite), and transgender people. He also advocated for subject headings were less archaic: toilet (instead of water closet) and light bulb (electric light, incandescent). Until last year if you were looking for a book on how to make an Indian curry, the correct subject heading was Cookery--Indic.

Subject headings that Berman suggested that haven’t been adopted include: anal fisting, drag queens, feminist zines, erotic graphic novels, butch femme (lesbianism) and genderqueers.

Gender and sexuality often get mixed up by catalogers. I reckon this is partly because for many people these concepts are not different and partly because good subject headings don’t exist. The subject heading of "lesbian--identity" isn’t really appropriate for the new book Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme, but currently there isn’t a better option. Catalogers need to create one.

This is an especially conspicuous blind spot, because I have searched the Library of Congress Subject Heading books (five very thick, heavy volumes) and there is some strangely specific stuff in there. I wish I had written some of them down. It was not unusual for us to find something odd and immediately share it with others in our immediate vicinity. Huge oversight, glaring omission, things we need to change, pronto.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Buttersafe: How Not to Use a Thesaurus



Oh, Buttersafe. You so crazy.

Smelling Books, Part 47

From the folks over at Green Apple Books, another note about my old semi-nemesis, "old book smell":

"Lignin, the stuff that prevents all trees from adopting the weeping habit, is a polymer made up of units that are closely related to vanillin. When made into paper and stored for years, it breaks down and smells good. Which is how divine providence has arranged for secondhand bookstores to smell like good quality vanilla absolute, subliminally stoking a hunger for knowledge in all of us."

- From Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez's Perfumes: the guide.

Go check out the rest of the blog, too. It is a source of good things. Alex, you might enjoy Dog Ear. I really want to get my hands on Press Here, a kid's book that sounds pretty ingenious.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Partying at the Library

Three local libraries are experimenting with something new this summer: birthday parties for kids.

Price: $20 per kid, includes dynamic story time, one hour in one of the private rooms, a craft - four available themes: Digging for Dinos, Fun with Furry Friends, Under the Sea and Everything Princess.

How that compares to other paid party options:
  • Cosmic Adventures - $24.99 per kid for the standard 8-kid package, includes food and cake
  • Movie Theatre - $17 per kid assuming 8 kids, movie, snacks, party room for 1 hour (no cake)
  • Ray's Reptiles - $23.33 per person (that applies to adults as well), 45 minutes in zoo with feeding demonstrations, 45 minutes in party room - pizza, cake, drinks, zoo themed loot bags for the kids, 1 Ray's Reptiles t-shirt for the birthday kid for the all inclusive birthday deal
Pretty decent and competitive, but competitive enough? I'm really curious as to how well this works out.

Maybe you want links to the other party options. You aren't getting them! I have to support the library above all else! You can use Google.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

#ilibcause

The easiest way to explain ilibcause is probably to just read what's on the 'About' page:

About #ilibcause
#ilibcause - why are you a librarian?

It occurred to me that some of the best conversations I’ve had lately revolve around the question - why are you a librarian?

I thought it would be fun to collect these stories in a central place so that we’d have a snapshot of all the different reasons people join the information science profession but more importantly, why we’ve stayed in libraries.

I’m collecting anecdotes from Twitter (tweet with hash tag #ilibcause), via email (ilibcause@gmail.com) and via a submission form on the website ilibcause.com/submit.

Your answer(s) can be short, long, serious, cheeky (“I look good in pencil skirts”) and anonymous! I’m using Tumblr as the platform, so you can upload videos, photos, chat logs, text, quotes, etc.

My hope is that doing this exercise will accomplish a few things: connect us as a profession, show us ways that we can redefine our image, and perhaps even help recruit new talent into the field.

The forum is open to current library science students and faculty, library paraprofessionals, catalogers, systems folk, and even traditional reference librarians! I am hoping to have representation from all library sectors so be sure to pass this along to anyone you know.

Thanks for your time and I look forward to reading your submission!

So lazy of me! Less lazy of me: trying to figure out what my answer to this question is. It took me a while to decide on a career to pursue. (My backup plan is actually welding; I've taken some courses but the brutal apprenticeship, carcinogens, noise, and general danger have made me shy away.)

I have yet to come up with a solid answer. Mostly, it's little things, some of which seem pretty common:
  • I have always loved reading and the comfort/solace it provides
  • I love books
  • I love helping people - I don't think I'd make it as a full-time teacher, but it makes me very happy to help someone learn something
  • I want to know everything about almost everything
  • I have always liked librarians
  • I like how libraries are adapting and changing and the prevalence of technology suits my skill set
  • I love the stereotypical librarian look (how shallow, but true)
  • The world of communication nowadays is exciting and astonishing - I still geek out over how awesome the internet can be
  • I like putting things in order so that they're easier to use/more organized/can help other people

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Windsor-Essex Librarian Layoff

This is pretty awful: the Catholic School Board system in Windsor has decided to lay off most of their librarians despite heated protest.

The decision was explained last month as a way to address an $8 million to $10 million deficit caused by a forecasted enrolment drop of 800 to 1,000 students in the fall. Most parents and students only found out about it once librarians cleaned out their desks, some libraries were shut and elementary schools were emptied of books.

“What communication was there?” asked Brennan student Shaun Steven. “We are all desperate to tell you how much we need the libraries and librarians, so why weren’t we asked?”

The decision ignores the needs of students in favour of buzzwords like “21st century learning,” he said. “Regardless of what century we’re in, a school needs a library.”

Parent Diane Westenberg accused the board of showing a blatant disregard for parents and students. She and other speakers urged trustees to cut administration costs instead.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Joe and Rika Mansueto Library

A very cool library being built at the University of Chicago.



The robotic arms sound great. I hope they're easy to maintain and they have a lot of backup power. I also hope all that glass doesn't make the library into an oven on sunny days.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

How Much Can a Professional Degree Teach?

Via Closed Stacks, how much can a professional degree teach?

The biggest complaint lobbed at the MLIS by myself and others is that it’s too theory-driven, too abstract, it doesn’t actually teach us how to do what we will do as librarians. You graduate, having read a bajillion articles about privacy, building a balanced collection or library 2.0; but if you haven’t worked in a library, that first day on the job can be a shocking experience.

I'm still happy with choosing a college library tech program after my first year of classes. From what I've heard talking to classmates about their summer job placements, our courses really are very practical and come in handy out in the real world (one person mentioning acquisitions specifically).

Monday, May 9, 2011

My First Dictionary

Today's loosely library related link is My First Dictionary, which makes me laugh because I am just that kind of person. It looks a lot like the simple dictionary I had as a kid which had illustrations demonstrating the meaning of words. The format is similar, but the content is not.


As you can see, the font on the images is pretty large, so maybe don't look at the site with someone looking over your shoulder who might be offended by terms like 'dead hookers'.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Anyone in New York Wanna Do Me a Favour?

The New York Public Library's 100th anniversary is coming up, so they're giving out a free book with pieces from '100 icons' from New York and around the world's favourite part of the NYPL's collection. It's just such a wonderful building, and while I don't care what Johnathan Franzen thinks (nor do I think he is an icon), I am curious as to what the Trinity Killer* has to say. You can read more about it on the library's website. Free is very affordable.


* John Lithgow is no longer the silly alien from 3rd Rock from the Sun. He is now the Trinity Killer in my mind.


If anyone looks at you funny for having this on your screen, just tell them the Trinity Killer kills... jam. Yes, jam.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Happy Foot, Sad Foot

From From Salon: How a podiatrist sign became a literary icon.

F. Scott Fitzgerald's generation had its green light at the end of the dock in "The Great Gatsby," that symbol of unattainable dreams, and today's young literati have -- a podiatrist's sign?




The sign for the Sunset Foot Clinic on West Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles is known to some locals as a kind of fortuneteller. On one side is depicted a foot with a woeful face, a bandaged big toe and crutches, while the other side shows an ecstatic foot in gloves and sneakers giving the thumbs-up sign. (Yes, these feet have both arms and legs.) When the sign is working, it rotates, and several residents of the nearby Silver Lake and Echo Park neighborhoods believe that whichever side they see first indicates what sort of day awaits them. Others use the sign as a guide: If they see the Happy Foot, they get to do something fun, while the Sad Foot condemns them to an afternoon of chores.

Just kind of funny. Though thinking of The Great Gatsby and signs, I make an mental link to the blue and gigantic eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleberg and their yard-high retinas and of some mistake involving use of the word 'retinas' I read about when I was studying the book in high school, which was over a decade ago. I imagine I can be excused for my memory lapse. Fun fact.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Publisher's Postbag in Pictures

From guardian.co.uk:

During his 30-year career as a children's book publisher, Klaus Flugge received almost 100 beautifully illustrated envelopes by artists including Posy Simmonds, Tony Ross and Axel Scheffler. Here he introduces some of his favourites.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Shelf Reader App

Snagged from librarian.net:


Very cool. I wonder how well it deals with the really freakishly similar long call numbers. I also wonder if one day I'm going to be carefully sticking little squares with the scanning IDs on book spines in the future. Hold on to your stomachs, the video has lots of shaky bits.



Not really on topic, save that it involves paper and paper is in books, which are in libraries: Simon Schubert is a German artist who uses paper as his medium. Just paper and folding. The results are pretty fantastic.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

I Return With Porn

...Not really. I mean I don't personally have porn, but I do have an article about libraries deciding not to filter out pornography that I figured was a perfect way to get back into the groove.

I have been neglecting the blog, which is sad, but I have been doing so because I have been finishing up my first year of my library technician program. My last presentation (French, about kung fu) was yesterday and I am now free as a bird, or at least until my security clearance for my summer job goes through.

The thing about the porn is probably less exciting than you think, but hey, let's get some search results from sensationalism, shall we? From the Salon article:

If you found this article while searching for porn that fetishizes bookish bespectacled women, you're going to be sorely disappointed. In this rare case, we're talking about porn in libraries, not librarians in porn. That's because earlier this week, the Los Angeles City Council voted against filtering out all porn on library computers. Just the day before, the Brooklyn Public Library publicly defended patrons' right to watch any legal adult content of their choosing. The first case was prompted by an incident in which kids were exposed to pornography being watched by an adult on a library computer; and the second followed a physical altercation between a man watching porn on a library computer and another man waiting to use said computer.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Rosetta Disk

The Rosetta Disk is the physical companion of the Rosetta Digital Language Archive, and a prototype of one facet of The Long Now Foundation's 10,000-Year Library. The Rosetta Disk is intended to be a durable archive of human languages, as well as an aesthetic object that suggests a journey of the imagination across culture and history. We have attempted to create a unique physical artifact which evokes the great diversity of human experience as well as the incredible variety of symbolic systems we have constructed to understand and communicate that experience.



News from the Rosetta Project of interest to archivists and others! I like how it's not platform-dependent.

For the extreme longevity version of the Rosetta database, we have selected a new high density analog storage device as an alternative to the quick obsolescence and fast material decay rate of typical digital storage systems. This technology, developed by Los Alamos Laboratories and Norsam Technologies, can be thought of as a kind of next generation microfiche. However, as an analog storage system, it is far superior. A 2.8 inch diameter nickel disk can be etched at densities of 200,000 page images per disk, and the result is immune to water damage, able to withstand high temperatures, and unaffected by electromagnetic radiation. This makes it an ideal backup for a long-term text image archive. Also, since the encoding is a physical image (no 1's or 0's), there is no platform or format dependency, guaranteeing readability despite changes in digital operating systems, applications, and compression algorithms.

Also, it looks really cool.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Reading the Cereal Box

Puffin has had a brilliant idea: publishing excerpts from Roald Dahl books on cereal boxes. Just good bits to draw them into the story! Maybe that'll get kids to want to read. And maybe it'll sell more books for Puffin, but let's concentrate on that 'kids reading' aspect, shall we?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Page 99 Test

Via The High Definite, the Page 99 Test. Based on the Ford Madox Ford quote, "Open the book to page ninety-nine and read, and the quality of the whole will be revealed to you," this website provides the 99th pages of various published and unpublished authors.

Until today I had never heard of neither the 99th page rule nor Ford Madox Ford, who has an awesome name.

The Hobbit vs. Where the Wild Things Are

Once upon a time, back when the 30th anniversary edition of The Hobbit was planned, Maurice Sendak of Where the Wild Things Are fame was asked to illustrate Tolkien's work. It did not work out due to a couple of bits of bad luck.

I wish it had happened; the illustration shown in the article looks wonderful.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

"Vote for the Internet"

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for widespread, cheap internet usage. But I can't say I'm for the "Vote for the Internet" movement, because really, I think there are maybe some more important issues. I guess if that's the only concern you have, go to it?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mr. Edison's Kindle

Apparently Thomas Edison had an idea for metal-paged books that had 40,000 pages and weighed about a pound, sort of like a forerunner for e-readers if you squint and tilt your head funny. Still, an interesting read. Included are summaries of such forward-thinking projects as wireless automobile telephones (1913), telenewspapers and electric writers (1928), watch-case phonographs (1936), "magic lantern talkies" (1937), Colorfax (1947), neck-strap TVs (1965), and a bunch of others.

Public Libraries Take on E-Books

From Peter Osnos at The Atlantic: Public Libraries Take On E-books. More of the same; I was hoping for some update on HarperCollins' stance, but no such luck. The article mentions HarperCollins being willing to work with librarians, mind you. Another good quote about circulation:

For example, the New York system now has 125 copies of Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but in three years it may only need a handful, and the revenue impact of pay-per-use could turn out to be small. Moreover, "dog-eared printed books" as one senior librarian explained to me, have always been replaced, and e-books significantly reduce the time, trouble, and expense of returning books back onto shelves.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Get Off My Lawn and Blog

Verne G. Kopytoff write for the The New York Times: Blogs Wane as the Young Drift to Sites like Twitter.

Fewer kids are blogging now and instead turning to Twitter and Facebook to express themselves, which seems kind of sad. Twitter's 140 character cap on posts is just too small. Facebook's limits are better, but I suppose I'm still sad to see blogging on the decline.

Former bloggers said they were too busy to write lengthy posts and were uninspired by a lack of readers. Others said they had no interest in creating a blog because social networking did a good enough job keeping them in touch with friends and family.

The article goes on to make some interesting points about Facebook and Twitter being used in a complementary manner with Blogs to advertise and get word of mouth out as well as stating older folks don't tend to defect as much.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Superman in Four Panels

Superman in Four Panels by Ty Templeton. My favourite part is the bit about the monkey (not anymore).

Scurrilous Amazon Reviews

Back to another of my favourite topics, online book reviews! Some Amazon reviews get attacked by paid hackers.

It all started when Rosie Alison’s novel The Very Thought Of You, was nominated for the Orange Prize, a prestigious award given to women authors in the united Kingdom whose books are passed over for other prizes. Alison’s book had not only been passed over for prizes but for any attention at all. But all that changed when the nominee list was announced: suddenly The Very Thought Of You was assailed by a barrage of nasty reader reviews on Amazon. “I feel cheated!” “One of the worst books I’ve ever, ever read.” “This book is so irredeemably awful that I didn’t get past page 58.”

HarperCollins, Big Tent Librarianship, Annoyed Librarian and Agnostic, Maybe

Now that you're familiar with the term 'big tent librarianship', here is an article by Andy from Agnostic Maybe entitled HarperCollins and Big-Tent Librarianship in which he discusses an Annoyed Librarian post about Public Library Privilege. Compare and contrast!

'Big Tent' Librarianship

'Big Tent' librarianship was mentioned in another article I found interesting and will shortly post, and since I had to look up what it was, I thought I'd share.

Under this big tent philosophy, I believe it is time for librarians to reach out and get to know the issues that face other types of libraries. It is time to bring down the misconception of professional separation and remember the core beliefs that are shared across the occupation. The mindset I propose strives for nothing less than unity of vision and sense of greater purpose within the profession. While we all attend to our own niche in the overall library picture, as peers we should work together toward the bigger picture for the continued vibrancy of all of the various roles of libraries of all types.

The theory is that our motivations for joining this career path are similar and we should unify and build from there. Stronger together than a lone, that sort of thing.

More on Amanda Hocking

More news concerning Amanda Hocking, discussed in the blog post Ebook Millionaire: she has signed with St. Martin's Press.

“I’ve done as much with self-publishing as any person can do,” Ms. Hocking said in an interview on Thursday. “People have bad things to say about publishers, but I think they still have services, and I want to see what they are. And if they end up not being any good, I don’t have to keep using them. But I do think they have something to offer.”

Michael Geist: How to Vote for the Internet

Of interest to Canadians: Michael Geist explains How to Vote for the Internet by asking a few questions of the candidates on subjects including affordable broadband, usage billing, and copyright legislation.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Movie Streaming Run-Around

Oh, blog. I have not forgotten you. Either I have been unintrigued by library news or hammered by schoolwork, but I can change. I promise.

Of interest: a new streaming-movie service allows you to rent remote access to a DVD player, thus sidestepping some copyright stuff.

Zediva has set up hundreds of DVD players. They’re automated, jukebox-style. You’re not just renting a movie; you’re actually taking control of the player that contains the movie you want. The DVD is simply sending you the audio and video signals, as if it were connected to your home with a really, really long cable.

It’s kind of hilarious to think that this arrangement is the solution to the future of online movies: data centers stacked to the ceiling with DVD players... Zediva is just buying dozens of copies of each popular movie on the day it comes out, and presto, it’s yours to rent by long distance.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Are Book Genres Being Replaced by Tags?

From io9: Are book genres being replaced by tags? Eric Rosenfield debates whether or not standard genres like 'fantasy' and 'sci fi' (and, one assumes, 'romance') can still be used to classify books when books have been splintered into tiny little niches that potentially cross over into multiple designations. Have an excerpt:

The thing is though, the handful of categories that fiction is still sold under-as classified on Barnes and Noble.com, "Fiction & Literature", "Mystery & Crime", "Science Fiction & Fantasy", "Teens", "Romance", "Horror", "Thrillers", "Westerns" (and lumped in is Poetry which is not fiction, and Graphic Novels which are another medium altogether)-are accidents of history and technology, and even these clear demarkations are of recent vintage; bookstores did not even have separate science fiction, mystery or romance sections until the 1980s or so, and books specifically marketed to niche groups were relegated primarily to book clubs, mail order, specialty stores, and if one was lucky, newsstands, all except the latter being where the modern genre categories really emerged after the implosion of the pulp magazine markets in the 1940s and of the bulk of the science fiction magazines in the 50s. And yet we now take these categories for granted and talk about "transcending" them as if they had such impenetrable physical form that they can only be passed over metaphysically.

The world that gave rise to these categories is fading rapidly into nonexistence. The new bookstores are not circumscribed by retail space, they're the limitless possibilities of a search box. We live in a world in which most any book you can think of can be downloaded to your home, and where anyone with an Internet connection can fill a blog with reviews, interviews, news items, and free-form ramblings about whatever she thinks is important. That is a paradigm shift on a level we don't fully understand yet.

I no longer believe we should stop using terms like science fiction and fantasy and so on; those terms can be useful in describing certain things, certain ways of reading. But their status as hard-and-fast slots into which we plug in all of our books is already starting to fade, as the once nebulous megacategory of science fiction and fantasy splinters into steampunk, urban fantasy, paranormal romance and so on, subcategories that once upon a time might have been merely commented on but which because of the 'Net have blossomed into subcultures all their own, distinct and often non-communicating with the groups reading the space opera or sword and sorcery that since Star Wars and the Lord of the Rings have dominated science fiction and fantasy respectively.

It is a big excerpt.

Twitter Lands New Author a Book Deal

More odd publishing news: Adam Christopher was discovered by publisher Angry Robot Books via Twitter. While perhaps not the most established publisher, Angry Robot Books does seem to publish books I would be interested in reading based on premises alone.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Reddit Post: Buy a Book from Borders With Coupon, Help a School Library

From Reddit: If you buy a book on March 19 or 20 at Borders (and use this coupon), money goes to help build a school library!

Since we're about to have a big book-centered Secret Santa, I thought it made sense to share this. :)

A nonprofit I volunteer with is doing its 3rd annual book drive, and this year we are doing something special! We're building an entire school library at a new elementary school in Brooklyn, NY. Seriously, the library is currently a big empty room.

Borders has generously teamed up with us and on March 19 and 20, if you use this coupon ONLINE or IN STORE, $ will be donated to get shelving for the library. It does not save you money, but it is a free way to donate to a good cause! And it can be combined with other coupons you might have.
Note: The coupon doesn't work with pre-orders and I'm not sure if Borders stores that are closing will take it.

You can also donate books if you feel so inclined. It's a K-5 school and they need every kind of book a school library needs, including non-fiction and reference books. (They are also learning Latin! So maybe a few easy Latin books would also be awesome.) Used are fine if it is in good shape and not hugely out of date. You can read more on the campaign and find the address here: http://thehpalliance.org/action/campaigns/deathly-hallows/horcrux-5/.

Thank you everyone! And I'm happy to answer any questions. :)

Closed Stacks on Library Dating and Curriculum Suggestions for Library School

Closed Stacks is on an awesome run right now, with a post about a New York Times article about a library-based dating scheme and another with suggested courses for library school curriculum.

I suppose I would bring John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany, since it is legitimately my favourite book. On the other hand, maybe I should try to game the system with something like Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game or Ender's Shadow, which would be more along the lines of truth in advertising.

My favourite curriculum suggestions include:
  • LIS710 – Introduction to Library Perverts
  • LIS738 – Mechanics of Photocopier Machine Repair
  • LIS770 – Internship with Passive-Aggressive Note Leavers

If there was a training course for photocopier repair, I would probably take it to make my resume more appealing. Also, I like fixing things.

The CMO's Guide to the Social Media Landscape

Stolen directly from The Proverbial Lone Wolf Librarian's Weblog: The CMO's Guide to the Social Media Landscape.



Tumblr's ratio of useful to crud is pretty low in my opinion. I wouldn't get too hopeful about that one.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Book Smelling

So now smelling books and keeping track of what they smell like is art. (The New York Magazine goes into more detail.)

I would like to propose that is not art but rather a hobby. See, it's funny if you consider it a hobby, but it's just annoying if you consider it art.

I was amused by one of the comments on the LISNews post:
this is completely unscientific. she omits all types of metadata that a librarian would include.
how long did she sniff each book?
did she sniff a random page or the inside cover or page 23? and "paper-y" in place of "paper"??? is that like saying a book has "around 200 pages"?

How would you even decide which page to sniff in a scientific manner? Page 23? Halfway through the book plus one page?

Libraries vs. HarperCollins

HarperCollins is making big waves in the library world by limiting ebooks to 26 loans before requiring libraries to buy the ebook again.

Our prior e-book policy for libraries dates back almost 10 years to a time when the number of e-readers was too small to measure. It is projected that the installed base of e-reading devices domestically will reach nearly 40 million this year. We have serious concerns that our previous e-book policy, selling e-books to libraries in perpetuity, if left unchanged, would undermine the emerging e-book eco-system, hurt the growing e-book channel, place additional pressure on physical bookstores, and in the end lead to a decrease in book sales and royalties paid to authors.

Alright, it is an outdated policy. On the other hand, I'm still in the camp that format and file changes make ebooks less permanent than hardcopy books. (Then again, I haven't actually been at a circulation desk and seen how damaged books get, nor do I know how many loans they go through before they're written off.) Twenty-six times seems pretty low, however. Maybe if they upped the limit a considerable amount?

The article also points out that Macmillan and Simon&Schuster don't yet offer libraries ebook versions of their books at all.

HarperCollins announced it was doing this in late February; it's starting to come into affect now, so it's not exactly new. Maybe people thought they wouldn't go through with it.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Google vs. the Content Farms

Google says it has tweaked the formulas steering its Internet search engine to take the rubbish out of its results. The overhaul is designed to lower the rankings of what Google deems “low-quality” sites. That could be a veiled reference to so-called online “content farms” such as Demand Media's eHow.com.
- Google tweaks search to punish ‘low-quality' sites, Globe and Mail

Google doesn't like content farms. They updated their algorithms. But did it work?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

10 Myths From Usage-Based Billing Supporters Debunked

Peter Nowak posts 10 myths from usage-based billing supporters. (There is an ongoing debate in Canada about usage-based billing, by the way.)

  1. Data is not a utility.
  2. Delivery cost is paying for expansion.
  3. Congestion has not been proven.
  4. Investment is not making big ISPs poor.
  5. Heavy users are not all pirates.
  6. Pirates are not necessarily bad.
  7. Not all opponents of UBB are hogs.
  8. Market forces won’t take care of problems.
  9. Facilities-based competition is not the holy grail.
  10. Everyone else makes it work.
My favourites are probably the first and last:
Data is not a utility. There have been many attempts, including by the CRTC, to equate internet usage to a utility such as electricity or gas. Very simply put: it is not. The electrons that make up the data that passes to and fro over the internet are limitless and are not consumed and destroyed every time a YouTube video is watched. The “pipes” and other equipment over which these electrons flow are, of course, finite and therefore need to be continually expanded as the amount of traffic grows. These are two very different things, however. In electric-bill parlance, we’re talking about delivery and usage – the nice people at the hydro company bill us for both and the big ISPs would like to do the same. The difference is, the actual kilowatts that go over the hydro company’s pipes ARE finite and ARE destroyed once they are used. If you want to talk about fairness, then yes, it is okay to charge internet users for delivery, but how is it fair to charge for consuming a non-consumable?

Everyone else makes it work. I love pointing out how unlimited or practically unlimited internet usage is common in just about every other country because this disproves every argument there is in support of UBB. If ISPs in every OECD country except Canada, Australia and New Zealand can make it economical to give customers big or non-existent usage limits, why can’t we? ...The price of bandwidth continues to fall globally, so those countries aren’t having conversations about whether the internet is like electricity or whether it’s fair to charge heavy users extra, they’re talking about how to make all of their citizens heavy users. The reason we’re not having that conversation is because all those other countries have something we don’t: competition and consumer choice between providers, which keeps prices reasonable and usage limits high.

Think Finland.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Book Surgeon


Brian Dettmer carves up books and it's art!

Brian Dettmyer says this of his work:

"My work is a collaboration with the existing material and its past creators and the completed pieces expose new relationships of the book’s internal elements exactly where they have been since their original conception," he says.

"The richness and depth of the book is universally respected yet often undiscovered as the monopoly of the form and relevance of the information fades over time. The book’s intended function has decreased and the form remains linear in a non-linear world. By altering physical forms of information and shifting preconceived functions, new and unexpected roles emerge."

Those statements up there are art school talking. Sometimes I stop to take a moment to be glad I never went to art school and thus never had to try to sell my own art by saying things like that. Granted, the last time I picked up a pencil and seriously went about trying to draw something was during the Bush administration, so maybe I shouldn't be too self-congratulatory.

(The more recent Bush administration. I was still drawin' up a storm when his daddy was in office.)

Please note the article says the books are out of date, so slicing them up is OK!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Ebook Millionaire

Amanda Hocking, 26, is making millions from publishing ebooks through the Kindle store.

Hocking, a self-proclaimed unicorn enthusiast and Muppet activist, writes about vampires, zombies, and yes, romance. According to reports, just one year ago, the Minnesota-based writer was "impoverished," "living paycheck to paycheck," and the manuscripts she sent out were rejected by publishers all over New York. Like many authors, Hocking turned to self-publishing, creating a store on Amazon. She set the prices of her work relatively low — 99¢ to $2.99 — and for every $2.99 book she sells, she keeps 70%. Hocking tells USA Today: "To me, that was a price point that made sense for what I would be willing to spend on an e-book… I use iTunes a lot, and it's 99 cents and $1.29 a song."

That's so crazy! Naturally, because she's self-published, she's getting a lot of flak for it. The Jezebel writer makes an interesting point, one that reminds me of last month's post about loving 'bad' writing:

...It's strange that just because she's a popular writer, folks are expecting her to be an excellent writer. Is Britney Spears an excellent singer? Is Jersey Shore an excellent show? It doesn't matter. People like what they like...

Hocking is fairly thoughtful about the situation and reflects on it in her own blog with candor and insight.

For further reading, Jezebel also links to The Book Deal Blog's Book bloggers can help sell your book: Tips for authors.

Friday, March 4, 2011

David Lee King's 10 Presentation Tips

As I continue with my library science program, I'm finding that presentations are being stressed as important. I wasn't expecting that when I entered the program! Librarians - all kinds - have to learn how to make good presentations. They have to learn how to make people believe something they didn't believe yesterday; it's a survival technique to make sure libraries and librarians (and information specialists) keep getting funding and keep getting acknowledged as important.

Some people in my program are better at presentations that others. They tend to be the ones who volunteer to present for group projects, and you can see their skills improve with each presentation. Those presentations help them stand out from the crowd, give them practice with selling their ideas, or ideas in general. It's like being a wallflower at a dance - sure, you might be more comfortable, but you're more likely to be overlooked.

I don't like presenting. I'm not afraid of it and I am willing to do it and I make myself volunteer to do it, but I can't say I find it fun very often (Children's Readership Advisory book presentations are an exception). I'm not all that outgoing a person, either; I'm pretty shy. (Yes, a shy librarian. Who'd've thought?) I guess my tip would be to treat presentations of any sort as a performance: you are acting, you are pretending to be a presenter, and your acting can trick people into thinking you're comfortable.

David Lee King is a much more accomplished presenter than I am, and he has a whole list of tips for presenting.

10 Tips to Do Presentations Like Me:

  1. Don't Use Templates
  2. Use Presenter Notes
  3. Use Presenter View
  4. Learn Your PC
  5. Use Screenshots
  6. Do What You Said You'd Do
  7. Tidy up Those Transitions
  8. Rehearse
  9. Interact with the Audience
  10. It's a Performance

Oh hey, look at that last one.

The Beauty of Data Visualization

Another post taken from my Database Searching class, here is David Candless on the beauty of data visualization:

Shh! Sound Health in 8 Steps

Look, a tangent! Sort of. Anything with the word 'shh' in the title attracts my proto-librarian interest.



Another talk by Julian Treasure: The 4 Ways Sound Affects Us.

As much as libraries are moving toward being active, non-silent areas, we should still appreciate silence - it allows us to be more productive. Sometimes - like yesterday - I'll find myself weirdly sensitive to sound and it quite honestly makes me feel awful. Chatty classroom environments are terrible for it. Sadly, moving away from the sound isn't so much an option in a classroom, unless I want to duck in and out of the door as the instructor speaks. It only happens every so often, but I do feel physically ill when it does. I wonder how common that is.

The eBook is Not the Enemy

From a friend of my Database Searching instructor: The ebook is not the enemy, so who is? by Trudi Stafford.

Here’s the thing: public libraries are in a unique position to promote and support reading and publishers should want to be our friends, not try to cut us off at the legs. That approach just doesn’t make sense and it smacks too much of out-and-out greed. Remember Gaiman’s point: if anything, sharing leads to more buying, not less – publishers need to recognize the symbiotic relationship they’ve always shared with libraries, who act as promoters and advertisers. Libraries get us hooked on books, and eBooks are going to help libraries do that even more. Why then are publishers feeling the need to punish an ally like the public library, or the consumer for that matter?

The article is full of good points like this, and also has The Ebook User's Bill of Rights, which I had not yet seen before:

The eBook User’s Bill of Rights


Every eBook user should have the following rights:

the right to use eBooks under guidelines that favor access over proprietary limitations
the right to access eBooks on any technological platform, including the hardware and software the user chooses
the right to annotate, quote passages, print, and share eBook content within the spirit of fair use and copyright
the right of the first-sale doctrine extended to digital content, allowing the eBook owner the right to retain, archive, share, and re-sell purchased eBooks
I believe in the free market of information and ideas.

I believe that authors, writers, and publishers can flourish when their works are readily available on the widest range of media. I believe that authors, writers, and publishers can thrive when readers are given the maximum amount of freedom to access, annotate, and share with other readers, helping this content find new audiences and markets. I believe that eBook purchasers should enjoy the rights of the first-sale doctrine because eBooks are part of the greater cultural cornerstone of literacy, education, and information access.

Digital Rights Management (DRM), like a tariff, acts as a mechanism to inhibit this free exchange of ideas, literature, and information. Likewise, the current licensing arrangements mean that readers never possess ultimate control over their own personal reading material. These are not acceptable conditions for eBooks.

I am a reader. As a customer, I am entitled to be treated with respect and not as a potential criminal. As a consumer, I am entitled to make my own decisions about the eBooks that I buy or borrow.

I am concerned about the future of access to literature and information in eBooks. I ask readers, authors, publishers, retailers, librarians, software developers, and device manufacturers to support these eBook users’ rights.

These rights are yours. Now it is your turn to take a stand. To help spread the word, copy this entire post, add your own comments, remix it, and distribute it to others. Blog it, Tweet it (#ebookrights), Facebook it, email it, and post it on a telephone pole.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Good Night Reading Quilt


Snagged from the Facebook feed of a delightful classmate, The Geeky Goodnight Reading Quilt. I meant to post this earlier with a 'witty' comment about how it's Monday and we all wish we were back in bed, but man, it's past nine and I should really be in bed.

Anyway, this looks neato but the thing where you can turn pages and read sounds like a lot more bedding for me to twist up crazily during my madcap dream adventures.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Keyloggers in Public Libraries

A keylogger is a program that logs what's typed on a computer. Hardware keyloggers are wee portable devices that hold keylogging software.

The devices - which look similar to USB drives - capture all keyboard activity, meaning that if everything you type (such as when you log into your email, book a holiday, check your bank account or make an online purchase) can be gathered by a returning criminal for later exploitation.

They've shown up in libraries in England. Be careful! Hopefully this won't lead to a rash of concerned patrons looking askance at anything attached to their computer. ("That is not a keylogger. That is a mouse.")

The Konomark Project

If you happen to see a little pineapple in a circle on a site, it might be a konomark. The gist of the thing is that a konomark on digital content is an invitation to ask permission to use that content, which is pretty interesting copyright-wise.

What is the konomark philosophy?
The konomark philosophy is that it’s often a good idea to share copyrighted content for free, even though there are many circumstances under which even extremely generous people understandably deny permission. For example, if someone wants to use your snapshot from your trip to London to illustrate a blog post, you’re probably fine with that. But if some high-end fashion magazine wanted to use your photo, you’d probably want them to pay you for it.

Yes, there is a reason it's a pineapple.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Blind Search

Also snitched from Closed Stacks, Blind Search!

Welcome to BlindSearch, the search engine taste test.

Type in a search query above, hit search then vote for the column which you believe best matches your query. The columns are randomised with every query.

The goal of this site is simple, we want to see what happens when you remove the branding from search engines. How differently will you perceive the results?

...I keep picking Google.

How to Dissuade

A piece over at Closed Stacks about the necessity of tech programs in library schools:

We talked a little bit more, and I learned that she wants to do something with information literacy instruction, but she was very unimpressed with the required technology course.

“It is very basic.” I agreed.

“No, it’s not that, it’s good that it’s basic.” She insisted, “I’m technologically illiterate and the kind of librarian I’m going to be doesn’t really need to know all that stuff. I don’t think it should be a requirement for everyone. Plus, they don’t do anything for the people who don’t already know all about computers, we’re just left to flounder.”

Two-thirds of the classes I've taken so far in my two-year program have involved sitting in front of a computer screen. There are a few where computers don't seem strictly essential, but having them around is useful, mostly courses involving learning cataloguing (a large part of which involves learning MARC coding). Mostly the courses without computers have been language courses.

I find most people in the program know how to use computers, or at least navigate around them enough to be on Facebook, but I've seen a few people get kind of lost when it came to email (even one younger guy fresh out of high school) and especially when dealing with HTML coding. And that's normal, I think, and I also think that knowing what it feels like to be a new, confused user is a good thing to keep in mind when showing other people how to use programs. But I do agree with the post's author that if people are unwilling to learn, libraries are perhaps not the best place for them to work. But then, if people are unwilling to learn at all, maybe school isn't the best place for them to be. Or maybe it will help them be willing to learn. See how wishy-washy I am?

A few of the comments on the post mentioned the idea of having computer skills as a pre-requisite to go to library school. Which sounds sensible, but on the other hand, where are people supposed to learn, anyway? Sometimes I find people proficient with computers can be kind of snotty toward people who don't use them often, especially since many people seem to think computers are so common everyone has one.

I also take exception to the sniffing at people who join library programs because they 'like books'. That's why there are introductory courses, and I'm one of those people who tried it out due to a love of books and reading. Everyone starts somewhere.

One comment I particularly liked:

I have blogged about my experiences with technology before: http://saucurriculumlib.wordpress.com/2010/10/11/technophobia-epidemic

When I went to library school, I was proficient at using the “usual suspect” software (Microsoft products, etc), and had participated in various social media, but was not comfortable with much else. We had a required tech course, but it was very, very basic, and mostly about how computers physically work, with a little self-taught HTML and PHP thrown in. I definitely didn’t think I was going to need it. We also had a rather intensive digital libraries course (not required). I didn’t think I would need much of it. I was very wrong.

Coming in to school, I did have an idea of what librarians did. I’ve worked in libraries since I was sixteen, both public and academic. I could search databases and OPACs like no other. I just didn’t realize exactly how tech-heavy librarianship had become. I learned fast.

My point is that you can’t judge who will make a good librarian from prior technical knowledge or experience. I think a much better indicator is aptitude for and attitudes about learning. People who can and are willing to learn new things will make good librarians. People who know coding, or have lots of technical knowledge, but are not willing to learn new things, may make good librarians for a time, will quickly become dated.

Bad Book Review Leads to Libel Case

Why do I keep coming back to book reviews? And how did I manage to fall behind in posting during Reading Week, which required no reading at all? So it's another three posts on one day, bam bam bam, thank you.

The author of a book about law has charged a reviewer with libel. In France! The author is French but lives in Israel; the reviewer is German but reviewed the book in English. Supposedly the French view of defamation includes 'views attacks on honor as a form of assault.'

Note to self: don't tell 'your mama' jokes in France.

Ms. Calvo-Goller did not respond to two e-mails seeking comment. In her correspondence with Professor Weiler, she said the review he published “may cause harm to my professional reputation and academic promotion.”

So may the prosecution she started.

Brian Leiter, a law professor at the University of Chicago, assessed Ms. Calvo-Goller’s case on his blog on philosophy and academic freedom. “The author has obviously done more damage to her reputation by making this criminal complaint than would have been possible by any book review, let alone the one in question,” he wrote.




Ta mere est si grosse que...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Loving Bad Writing

What constitutes bad writing, anyway? Apparently, cliches. Laura Miller talks about why we love bad writing, prompted by an article by Edward Docx. From reading Miller's article, I was expecting Docx's to sound much more snotty than it actually was. It wasn't very snotty at all.

One unexpected bit from Laura Miller's article: C.S. Lewis wondered why people liked bad writing, too. He even wrote about it.

Until recently, hardly anyone considered why some readers might actually prefer clichés to finely crafted literary prose. A rare critic who pondered this mystery was C.S. Lewis, who -- in a wonderful little book titled "An Experiment in Criticism" -- devoted considerable attention to the appeal of bad writing for what he termed the "unliterary" reader. Such a reader, who is interested solely in the consumption of plot, favors the hackneyed phrase over the original

... because it is immediately recognizable. 'My blood ran cold' is a hieroglyph of fear. Any attempt, such as a great writer might make, to render this fear concrete in its full particularity, is doubly a chokepear to the unliterary reader. For it offers him what he doesn't want, and offers it only on the condition of his giving to the words a kind and degree of attention which he does not intend to give. It is like trying to sell him something he has no use for at a price he does not wish to pay.

A hieroglyph of fear. What a great turn of phrase. Is that the difference between good writing and bad writing? Does it matter, so long as we enjoy it?

Monday, February 21, 2011

John Allison On the Danger of Releasing Librarians Into the Wild

John Allison writes and illustrates some of my favourite webcomics over the years. He started with Bobbins, moved to Scary-Go-Round, and is now working on Bad Machinery. Characters have carried over from one comic to the next, sometimes supporting the new cast or, in the case of Scary-Go-Round, pretty much replacing the new characters. The guy is funny and his art has changed so much over the years. Looking at it makes me wish I'd kept up with drawing, or had one good webcomic idea I could've used to practice drawing characters that always looked the same. Anyway, I love Mr. Allison, and it was like a little Christmas to see he'd made a post in his blog about library troubles in the UK. (Mr. Allison is very British.)


Mr. Allison's art style has changed a lot over the years; I really love how his work looks now. His style is very distinctive.

Now go read Bad Machinery, it's brilliant. I think one of the best things to be in the world would be being one of John Allison's characters (it is a very difficult goal to achieve).

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Forgotten Bookmarks

Another one sneaked from the LISNews 'Blogs to Read in 2011', Forgotten Bookmarks. 'Photos' seems to be the largest section. This is the kind of random book-related stuff I like.

(Once when I was maybe fourteen a boy I liked lent a book to me before the school year ended and I gave it back to him with a square of paper with what I thought was a funny quote he'd like on the pretext that it was a bookmark. I found him playing basketball on his driveway. He seemed puzzled. I was embarrassed.)

Sunday Library Secrets

I read PostSecret just about every Sunday. The site collects secrets mailed in on postcards, posting a few and publishing others in a series of books. It's a glimpse into the not-always-awesome corners of people's minds. Some posts are wonderful; some are disturbing, so read at your own risk. And it's occasionally not safe to be viewed around children or at work, so be warned.

In any case, this Sunday there were some secrets involving libraries:







On the back of the last one it says, "I hope this inspires people to do the same".

Is there a site to look up what sort of book would be categorized under a specific Dewey number? I get that the 150s are Psychology, but the most I can get from that is that the image's file name mentions burnout.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Screwy Decimal: Sometimes It Gets Real

One of the LISNews Blogs to Read in 2011 is Screwy Decimal, a name which I am so sad I didn't come up with first. Now it's lagomorphs when I wanted leporidae and dithering about changing again and there's really a limit on how many times you do that. In any case, I read a few entries - I really thought this one was quite touching - and decided to follow the blog, which I will put on my links list on that sidebar over there sometime when I'm not about to plant my face on the keyboard.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Our Puny Human Brains

Ken Jennings writes about his experience playing against Watson, the IBM computer, in Jeopardy.

One part that made me laugh:

Watson has lots in common with a top-ranked human Jeopardy! player: It's very smart, very fast, speaks in an uneven monotone, and has never known the touch of a woman.

Swinging this back around to libraries, I don't think librarians will be replaced by computers any time soon. I want to know how well Watson would do bibliographic verification is what I'm saying here.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Incidental Comics: The Library

A couple of cute comics over at Incidental Comics: