Monday, January 31, 2011

Teen Spaces in Libraries

Kelly Czarnecki summarizes the teen areas of five different libraries for School Library Journal.

And huzzah! Libraries with teen sections for gaming lead to teens using other, more traditional library services.

Kaitlin Hoke, teen services coordinator at the East Library, a branch of the Pikes Peak Library District in Colorado, also finds that teens at her library take advantage of other library services as well as gaming. She says she’ll never forget the day that one of their notorious gamers asked a librarian to help him with a school assignment. This is exactly what librarians hope for—kids come to the teen center to play a game and then are comfortable enough to ask for homework help or check out a book.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Better Book Titles

Also nabbed from Miss Kathleen at Mentalfloss: Better Book Titles!

This blog is for people who do not have thousands of hours to read book reviews or blurbs or first sentences. I will cut through all the cryptic crap, and give you the meat of the story in one condensed image. Now you can read the greatest literary works of all time in mere seconds!

Some of my favourites:

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Bestsellers On the Day You Were Born

From Miss Kathleen at MentalFloss: find out what books were on the New York Times bestseller list on the day you were born! (Or any other day, really.)

Mine, fiction only:
  1. THE COVENANT, James A. Michener
  2. FIRESTARTER, Stephen King
  3. THE KEY TO REBECCA, Ken Follett
  4. THE FIFTH HORSEMAN, Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre
  5. LOON LAKE, E.L. Doctorow
  6. RAGE OF ANGELS, Sidney Sheldon
  7. THE TENTH COMMANDMENT, Lawrence Sanders
  8. THE ORIGIN, Irving Stone
  9. COME POUR THE WINE, Cynthia Freeman
  10. THE SECOND LADY, Irving Wallace
  11. FANNY, Erica Jong
  12. THE SPIKE, Arnaud de Borchgrave and Robert Moss
  13. THE RING, Danielle Steel
  14. KANE & ABEL, Jeffrey Archer
  15. RANDOM WINDS, Belva Plain

Friday, January 28, 2011

Ray Bradbury Helps a Library

Ray Bradbury helps a library and really likes Bo Derek. He also hates the internet:

“Yahoo called me eight weeks ago,” he said, voice rising. “They wanted to put a book of mine on Yahoo! You know what I told them? ‘To hell with you. To hell with you and to hell with the Internet.’

Does he know he can look up pictures of Bo Derek on the internet? Someone should tell him.

Tangent aside, Mr. Bradbury has high praise for the library:

Fiscal threats to libraries deeply unnerve Mr. Bradbury, who spends as much time as he can talking to children in libraries and encouraging them to read.

“Libraries raised me,” Mr. Bradbury said. “I don’t believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don’t have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn’t go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.”

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Digital Lending 101

From the Dear Author blog, Digital Lending: How it works and who allows it. An exceptionally good guide of interest to anyone owning or considering owning an e-reader.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

E-book Piracy

Jenn Webb has written an article called Book Piracy: Less DRM, More Data for the O'Reilly Radar. She interviewed Brian O'Leary on the subject.

Some highlights:

First, the method for counting downloads of pirated books is clunky at best. Second, you can't say that every download is equivalent to a lost sale. Some are, but there's at least some likelihood that the pirated titles either spurred sales or represented a download that never would have resulted in a sale anyway.

The other thing, too, is you've got to look at where the downloads occur. If it's a North American title and the downloads occurred in Romania, I'm not that worried about it if I'm a publisher. It actually, if anything, says to me I should be moving my English language rights and my translation rights faster.

It's not that piracy is not a problem, it's just that it's not demonstratively a problem until you know what's actually happening.

Some companies are focused on applying fairly strict DRM software to their digital books. I'm pretty adamant on DRM: It has no impact whatsoever on piracy. Any good pirate can strip DRM in a matter of seconds to minutes. A pirate can scan a print copy easily as well. DRM is really only useful for keeping people who otherwise might have shared a copy of a book from doing so.

Absolutely agreed. Any code can be broken.

I think piracy has become more acute with ebooks, not because ebooks are easily pirated but because ebooks are easily visible. So, for example, if I'm living in South Africa and I speak English, but I want to read Nora Roberts, and Nora Roberts is only published in North America, I might have to wait through a four-year cycle to get her latest book. That lead time made sense when it was about ink on paper. But if it's an ebook, as a reader, I want to read it today — I love Nora Roberts, and I'd pay for her latest book, but I can't get it here because there's no service that will sell me an ebook in South Africa. That's when piracy starts to occur. Readers say: "I would have paid for it, but they wouldn't give it to me. They frustrated my demand."

I think this frustrated demand is a big reason for piracy, either of music or movies or books. While new music is pretty available if you want to consent to using iTunes (and some don't), some older things are quite difficult to find. Movies, too; if I go to my local movie rental place, I can find new things alright, but anything older than maybe ten years is quite iffy.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Unruly Tweens

At first I sort of snickered at this article in the Manhattan local news - Librarian Wants Police to Crack Down on Unruly Tweens.

An Upper West Side librarian says unruly tweens have become such a threatening menace to her and her staff that she needs police protection.

"They're 12 and they have no respect for us," said Bloomingdale Library manager Rebecca Donsky at a recent 24th Precinct Community Council meeting, her voice shaking with emotion as she pleaded for help controlling the youngsters.

Come on, twelve year olds?

Then I thought about it a little more and it occurred to me that I have no idea how to handle unruly twelve year olds. What are they into these days? What would I be allowed to say? I imagine I couldn't grab their arms and haul them toward the door or anything. Not to mention I might not be able to! While I'm stronger than I look, I look like what I am - 5'3" if you're being generous. Kids are tall these days, and I'm going to guess I can't put them in a goose neck arm hold. Which I would need to brush up on anyway.

I am, however, pretty sure this won't happen:

"I want to give them a way to channel their energy," Donsky said. "If they're angry, don't call me names, write a poem."

Roses are red
Violets are blue
You are a pushover
I wish daddy loved me?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Kate Beaton News and Transgender Literature for Young Adults

Drawn and Quarterly will be publishing Kate Beaton's Hark! A Vagrant! While I love most of Kate Beaton's work I have a special love of her Nancy Drew comics.

In case that is not libraryish enough for you, check out this awesome list of transgender literature for youth from the University of Illinois, because libraries are for answering questions.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

90-Second Newbery Award Winners

There is a contest for filming 90-Second versions of Newbery Award Winners. If it's at all as wonderful as this version of A Wrinkle In Time, I'm all for it.

"A Wrinkle In Time" In 90 Seconds from James Kennedy on Vimeo.

"I'm Calvin O'Keefe! I'm popular... but sensitive. Only I understand just how special you are, Meg!"

Oh, Calvin O'Keefe.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Lone Wolf Fruit Shop Talk

Stolen from The Proverbial Lone Wolf Librarian:

Oh, British humour. How I love you.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Traitor and His E-Reader

Well, he feels like a traitor, anyway. A little piece about an avid print book reader enjoying his e-reader by Ross Rogers in the Globe and Mail.

To give e-reader proponents some well-deserved points, it’s true that I am less likely to accidentally smear the pages of my electronic book with barbecue sauce. That’s because this shiny tablet costs more than $100. If anybody goes near my e-reader with greasy fingers, I am inclined to attack the offender physically. My paper books, on the other hand, are invariably stained with coffee and chocolate, and I could care less.

One of my classmates has a little e-reader and she's let me poke around with it. I have to admit it's tempting, especially given some Future Shop gift cards I received over the holidays...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Canadians Read A Lot

The Globe and Mail, When it comes to books, Canadians read a lot but also worry a lot. Who came up with that title?

When the first nationwide count of book buying and borrowing weighs in with its numbers Wednesday, Canadians may be surprised by how many books they brought home in just one week: It’s safe to predict the number will be in the millions. Sales figures already show that Canadians buy more than one million a week; urban library systems report weekly print circulation numbers in the tens or even hundreds of thousands.

So why are we so worried about the death of reading?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Canadian History Search Engine

Helpfully snagged from the Blackboard of my college program, this article talks about a Canadian history search engine: As a Canadian, I always feel obliged to pimp out Canadian content like it's going out of style... mostly because it never seems to be in style.

The program has also provided two other great links. It's like having a little blogging weekend in the middle of the week!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Weird Library Requests

Weird library requests!

Personal favourite: "Can you tell me why so many famous Civil War battles were fought on National Park sites?"

Monday, January 17, 2011

Weird Libraries

I just want to go to bed but I still have to make a library post and make tomorrow's lunch. So here goes: Huffington Post's Weird Libraries!

Of special interest: Conan the Librarian, the Silent Library game show, and one bit about how crazy it is that librarians have piercings and tattoos and are cool. We were always cool! At least our moms thought so, anyway.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Library Empties Shelves

I try not to steal things from Only Connect, but this was the first I'd heard of UK library troubles and this story was pretty amazing - people took out all the books from a library in an attempt to save it.

"I went home, put it on Facebook and emailed everyone I could think of and it's just gone absolutely mad."

They planned to start the campaign on Wednesday, but keen supporters of the library started taking books out the week before.

And in just over a week, the shelves were emptied, with the final books withdrawn yesterday.

"People were going in last night to get books and there weren't any left, "she said.

"I think it's a very simple but clever idea and it's given something that people can act on and make their voice heard.

Witness the freaky powers of social networking harnessed for good!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Students and Textbooks, Print vs. Digital

A short piece on studies showing students prefer print text books to e-books.

Still, some college students do prefer e-texts. About 12% of the students surveyed--mostly males, and often MBA-seeking or distance learners--said they liked the lower cost, convenience, and portability of e-texts. The majority of survey respondents (60%) said they place high value on core textbooks--whether printed or electronic--most of which continue to be purchased at the college bookstore (65%). One-fifth of students said they purchased textbooks from And 11% of students said they preferred renting textbooks to buying them.

The idea of reading a textbook on a screen is not a pleasant one for me. I like bookmarking, too - the old fashioned kind, with scraps of paper.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Canadian National Book Count

Hockey teams and Hollywood moviemakers measure success by head counts and ticket sales. So if you’re trying to prove that books still matter in an increasingly post-print society, then maybe you have to join the ratings game.

Which is why, when Canadians buy and check out their books this week, the numbers will be counted as part of a campaign to turn the solitary act of reading into a more public display of solidarity for books and the bookish.

Read more at the Globe and Mail!

If you are not from Canada, just go ahead and buy and borrow books anyway. It's okay. I said so.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

More About Huck Finn

Huffington Post contributor Trey Ellis has written an article explaining why censoring Huckleberry Finn is complicated.

Look, I write grown-up novels and movies and pack them with as much challenging material as possible. I'm a proud progressive, but my entire career has been spent poking the incurably PC in the eye. There's nothing I like better than calling a spade a spade whenever some well-intentioned person has a niggardly attitude toward the freedom of artistic expression.

And yet... this summer when I read Huck Finn aloud to my then eight- and eleven-year-olds before tucking them in for the night, I too made the exact same edits. This fall I read them Ernest Gaines' classic, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pitman and censored that text as well.

While I in no way condone publicly censoring anyone's work for any reason whatsoever, in my home, before putting my kids to bed, I make the rules. At the time, even my oldest wasn't quite ready to appreciate either book on her own. Nevertheless, I wanted to share those two great pieces of literature with them without having to try to explain the confusion and pain and nuance surrounding the repeated use of the "n-word."

Not that he lets Gribben off the hook:

Professor Gribben is a respected Twain scholar; however, this is not a respectable version of perhaps the single most important American book ever. If your intended reader isn't mature enough to understand the context of the entirety of this magnificent work then searching and replacing a few nouns won't enlighten them. A truly child-friendly version should probably clock in at under a hundred pages and be clearly marked as only a tool to whet young literary appetites for the complicated wonders that lie ahead.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Covering Book Covers

For some people, a personal library is a collection of works they find valuable or meaningful. For others, books are meant primarily to match the decor. It isn't quite as horrible as it sounds; some of the designers and customers really do take taste and subject matter into account, including biographies of artists with works the customer owns, regional history guides, and other smart people content. And then there's the fun stuff:

The designers of the new Bowlmor, on West 43rd Street in Manhattan, envisioned the place as a TriBeCa loft — minimal and modern — and asked for a collection “that was young, fun and hip.” Ms. McKibben said she procured “100 feet of brightly colored books on music, film, cars, games, retro-themed fun and, of course, bowling,” though the blizzard last month interfered with installation.

But no, it's not all great. This is pretty much what I was expecting:

Not all of Mr. Wine’s clients, who include hotel designers and high-end builders, are so fastidious about content. For the spa in Philippe Starck’s Icon Brickell, the icy glass condo tower in Miami, he was asked to wrap 1,500 books in blank white paper, without titles, to provide a “textural accent” to the space. He chose mass-market hardcovers that flood the used book outlets — titles by John Grisham and Danielle Steel, or biographies of Michael Jackson, he said — because they are cheap, clean and a nice, generous size.

Why did that have to happen?

It hadn't occurred to me to view my own collection of books as a real collection until recently, during my new Acquisitions class, when I found out some people indicate they want their books donated to a certain library when they die. Often these book collections are moldy or stained or falling apart. Looking at my bookshelves, I can see a lot of bent and creased spines, some from the second hand store (half my Roger Zelazny books smell a little funny from the second hand bookstore and have spines that are maybe two-thirds white from cracks), but there are a few decent volumes. I'm not sure how wanted they'd be in even ten years time, though.

I'll admit to having one specification about the appearance of my books: I don't much like hardcovers. My bookcase was custom-made by a handy neighbour and it was built to house as many paperbacks as possible while making use of a small space. The oversized paperbacks aren't much better. It gets a little annoying at times: I still haven't read Stieg Larsson's The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest because it's not out in paperback yet.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Buy India a Library

Buy India a Library is an appeal from four librarians on Twitter. We want to raise enough money via PayPal donations, to buy a mobile library in India, or even a permanent library with books, furniture and staff!

Please get involved, give as much as you can, and spread the word to as many people as possible. Let's make this happen!

They have a site which includes an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions). I'm going to guess this isn't going to involve e-readers.

The library in India will come from the Rural Literacy and Health Programme (RLHP), set up in 1984. To quote the organisation’s website, the RLHP “…operates in 56 slums and 25 villages in Mysore, Mandya & Chamarajanagar districts of Karnataka State in South India covering a population of 50,000.”

The donkey drawn libraries are delivered by the African Educational Trust a UK registered charity formed more than 50 years ago, dedicated to support education in Africa. The mobile libraries are aimed at kids, and contain around 100 fiction, non-fiction and reference books – the libraries travel to schools in Somalia, Sudan and Uganda (all of which are low on supplies of books, due to being former war zones).

Donkeys. See: not everyone can afford technology.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Adventures of Huck Fixed

It is not often I get to steal an entire post from a webcomic, but here it is:

so in case you haven’t heard, there’s a new edition of the adventures of huckleberry finn that removes the n-word and the word “injun” and replaces them with “slave” and “indigenous, valuable american we will always honor” respectively

a lot of people are mad that this totally guts a lot of the punch of the original; after all that’s what the language was and it’s a painful reminder of how we used to think about other cultures

but what does mark twain care, he’s dead and no longer with us, his opinion has every little impact on today’s america oh wait what’s this

Publisher's Weekly also has an article. Them and just about every other book-related site out there.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Librarian Wants to Be a Millionaire

Erhard Konerding is a librarian with an awesome moustache. He will also be appearing on Who Wants to Be Millionaire. BUT LOOK AT HIS MOUSTACHE.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Book Crimes

From the New Yorker: Book 'Em: Library Bandits by Ian Crouch.

And how can we pick on libraries, which despite their rules and fines, are like over-indulgent grandparents, always eager to forgive us our mistakes. Take the Park City Library, in Utah, which this year is offering amnesty to patrons owing fines, allowing them to donate non-perishable food instead of money. We’re sorry libraries; we promise to be better.

An odd story about a woman who stole books from the library, a couple of mentions of vandalism, including the weird one with Harvard University and the bottle of pee. (But why was there a bottle of pee there in the first place?)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Protective Literature

If you can't spend under three minutes watching, you were best off with 'Witz', though one commenter pointed out the books 'would be constricted under a coat' while the books in the video just flew open. Another stated they should have tried Mark Twain's autobiography, too. Me, I was sold with the jaunty declaration, "Let's shoot some books!"

Maybe that's not the best thing for a wannabe librarian to be amused by, but really, it's for protection, folks.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Free Computers!

I've sat on this post for a long while, too. (I've been going through my article bookmarks from the top down to try to salvage things that aren't entirely outdated for blog posts.) This is generally what I think of when people talk about how digital will completely replace print and I get all uppity about not every household in North America, much less the entire world, having access to computers.

But what about computers that are donated? Sadly, sometimes they are used for metal salvage instead of all that educational stuff. Which is not to say computers shouldn't be donated, but rather illustrate that the world is not ready to go entirely digital yet.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Fiat Lux, Fiat Latebra: A Celebration of Historical Library Functions

I have no idea where I found this but it's been sitting in my bookmarks folder for a long time. I confess I still haven't read it all, but here you go: D.W. Krummel's Fiat Lux, Fiat Latebra: A Celebration of Historical Library Functions. At least take a look at the seven ages of librarianship nearish the beginning.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Writing in Margins

I'm not sure whether I think this man's resolution to write in the margins of books is sweet or horrible. The comment section seems to swing slightly in favour of writing in margins at this point of time (there being only nine). One pro-margin writing comment was pretty sweet:

Posted by: julierbutler | 01/2/11 | 10:03 am |
My mother wrote notes in the margins of some of her books, and, being a smart woman, I learned to value what she took note of. She passed away over twenty years ago from cancer, so finding those little moments of her life, in her distinctive handwriting, has been a great joy for me. I especially value the little paperback book of quotes by Thomas Jefferson that she read carefully and made notes about, which has caused me to hold a special place in my heart for this founding father.
Call it “defacing” if you will – I call it “connecting.”

Monday, January 3, 2011

Not Lost in Translation

As I am right in the middle of reading Carlos Ruis Zafon's Shadow of the Wind, this article about translating work caught my attention. I am enjoying the book very much and recommend it.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

5 Myths About Google

Why not get the first Google entry of the new year out of the way quick? How Stuff Works presents The Top 5 Myths About Google:

5 - Google Doesn't Make Any Money
4 - Google Is Making You Dumber
3 - Google Knows Everything About You
2 - Google Earth is Spying On You
1 - Google Wants to Own the Internet

I'll admit part of number four irks me:
Defenders of the Internet make the opposite argument: Google has made us infinitely more intelligent by giving us instant access to all the world's collective knowledge. They argue that Google is the smart solution to a technologically "dumb" and outdated library system. With Google, we can gather up-to-the-minute information from myriad sources with blazing speed.

You can't find everything on Google!

In Praise of Unlikable Characters

Happy New Year!

With that out of the way, let's try to get back on schedule. Here is an article from The Millions by Emily St. John Mandel in praise of unlikable characters. It's from back in October, but I've been keeping the bookmark around to post about it here.

I can’t get behind this statement in its entirety, because the implication is that the practice of dividing people into “nice” or “mean”, or “kind” or “unkind”, or “friendly” or “unfriendly”, or whichever set of labels you wish to use, belongs exclusively to the world of grammar school. We’re all flawed, of course, all of us both nice and mean, but I’m only really interested in spending time with people who manage to remain consistently kind. There was a time in my life when I was impressed by sheer genius, sheer talent, and would seek out people based on this alone, but that was a while ago. At this point I find myself uninterested in spending extended periods of time with interesting people if they aren’t also somewhat nice, if they don’t also comport themselves with some measure of honor.

I think there is a lot of room these days for unlikable characters. Take television and movies for example - when I was little, the good guys in cartoons were unfailingly good, the bad guys always evil. There was very little black and white involved. Today, particularly with the popularity of anime, the anti-hero gets introduced to kids at a younger age, and they love it.

I think the first anti-hero I really liked in modern media was Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He was a vampire, he was evil and toyed with people to amuse himself. And that was really, really interesting to watch. He became a favourite character, added to the main cast after numerous successful guest spots on the show. He was funny and, in an odd way, charming - he was a rake. And also evil.

People seem fascinated by the dark hero; take Batman, arguably more popular than Superman. Superman is boring. Batman broods over a tragic past and can be viewed as a psychotic vigilante. We can't get enough of gritty Batman. Maybe the days where we wanted our heroes to be pure and good are gone; maybe we like them better when they're at least a little bit bad. It makes them seem more human, or at least more... attainable isn't the word I'm looking for. Like their bouts of heroism are more believable or inspire us to achieve more because they are flawed like us. Who doesn't want to be a little bad sometimes?