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:

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:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

And Now, Good News from England

There's been quite the uproar about the closing of libraries in the UK. Good news - eight got saved. Northamptonshire responded to pro-library campaigning and adjusted their budget to allow the libraries to stay open, and libraries in a handful of other places have been spared, too.

St James resident Graham Croucher, who has been campaigning to save St James Library, which was one of those earmarked for the chop, said: “We’re absolutely delighted that common sense has prevailed.

“But the work starts now to protect the libraries in the future, because these proposals will come back then, I’m sure.”

Digital Magazines Take Too Long

I could pretend I didn't post yesterday because I was off doing romantic Valentine's Day things, but really, I wasn't. My Valentine's Day take totaled one Pokemon Valentine from a classmate ("You're fun!"). And some free chocolate from a certain teacher passed around in a really adorable bag. But anyway!

This article from the New York Times amused me: Nick Bilton decides to hold a bit of a race - which can he get faster, a digital copy of a magazine or the print version. The winner may surprise you, but I have to wonder about how crummy his internet connection is. (I guess that was a spoiler, but then, so is the title of this post.)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Lisa Simpson Book Club

And now for something silly:

The Lisa Simpson Book Club, a tumblr dedicated to all things read by Lisa Simpson.

This one was always a favourite, but Lisa's reading list is generally much more impressive.

Bonus: three Coreys! I almost used the 'good clean fun' tag until I remembered this thing is on tumblr. WATCH OUT FOR TUMBLR, PEOPLE.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Silent Movies Rediscovered

Apparently Boris Yeltsin's Presidential Library had some old silent films presumed lost to history. They sent them along as a gift to the Library of Congress, which was pretty stellar of them.

The Library of Congress was also recently given a huge donation of recordings from the vaults of the Universal Music Group.

Busy times at the LIC!

Neil Gaiman Interview Involving Copyright

Neil Gaiman on how his views on copyright and piracy changed.

"That's really all this is; it's people lending books."

I discovered Gaiman through a book a friend lent to me at a particularly cruddy time in my life; Good Omens, which he co-authored with a favourite author of mine at the time, Terry Pratchett. And after I read that, I decided I wanted to read more by him, and proceeded to be a big fan of Neil's for years and years after that, even breaking my 'no hardcovers' rule for him. I have borrowed Neil Gaiman's books, I have lent Neil Gaiman's books, but I have never pirated Neil Gaiman's books.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Building Digital Libraries to Contain the Data Deluge

The full article is at IEEE Spectrum, but you might want to dip your toe in with the PSFK article first.

The Coming Data Deluge talks about how digital libraries will be needed to store, filter, and organize the massive amounts of data from scientific projects. This makes me happy, because a) I love science, and b) I would really like to have a job when I graduate, and information management is right up my alley.

In the past, most scientific disciplines could be described as small data, or even data poor. Most experiments or studies had to contend with just a few hundred or a few thousand data points. Now, thanks to massively complex new instruments and simulators, many disciplines are generating correspondingly massive data sets that are described as big data, or data rich. Consider the Large Hadron Collider, which will eventually generate about 15 petabytes of data per year. A petabyte is about a million gigabytes, so that qualifies as a full-fledged data deluge.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


If you backdate a post, it's like you didn't miss a day on your daily blog! No one will notice. Right?

I think I snagged this from Only Connect again. I used it as a reference in a censorship paper for school and I quite like it. (The article, not the censorship paper. I'm pretty tired of writing about censorship. Sorry!)

Anyway! A Dirty Little Secret: Self-Censorship by Debra Lau Whelan for School Library Journal.

Self-censorship. It’s a dirty secret that no one in the profession wants to talk about or admit practicing. Yet everyone knows some librarians bypass good books—those with literary merit or that fill a need in their collections. The reasons range from a book’s sexual content and gay themes to its language and violence—and it happens in more public and K–12 libraries than you think.

It's true. Not just for censorship, but there are a lot of times in daily life when I just don't get into an argument simply because I don't want to deal with it.

I wouldn't say all self-censorship is cowardly or that not fighting it is cowardly; I think you need to choose your battles wisely. There are times when tactical retreats are necessary, at least if you want to keep putting food on the table.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Bad Reviews and Typewriter ASCII Art

The sad world of bad book reviews and responding to bad book reviews. (Perhaps that last one is a cautionary tale against Twitter?)

And then, just because I couldn't quite bring myself to use an entire post for this:

Monday, February 7, 2011

Alan Moore On Libraries

Alan Moore, one of the scariest guys in the comic book industry (unless you're afraid of pouches, tiny feet, and big veins in illustrated format, in which case Rob Liefeld's the scariest guy), speaks out on why libraries are important.

You may recall Alan Moore as the author of The Black Dossier, mentioned way back in the day in the whole League of Extraordinary Porn* kerfuffle.

In any case, agree that libruries are important or I swear he'll stab someone.

* I was being cheeky.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Another One About Books vs. E-Books

Another article about books vs. e-books.

More of the same, though some newish points:
  • Losing a hardcover isn't as bad as losing an e-reader, cost-wise
  • E-books don't have everything, like esoteric stuff and newly published stuff by young writers
  • Most readers will probably use e-readers to augment, rather than replace, their libraries

Overall, the sky doesn't appear to be falling from this article's viewpoint.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Are Libraries Finished?

An article from BBC News, which I take a little more seriously than one from a country that isn't reporting massive libraries closures: Are libraries finished? Five arguments for and against.

The basics -

Only at the library:
  1. Specialist research
  2. Environment to learn
  3. Expert staff
  4. Free internet access
  5. Engage in social democracy
Only online:
  1. Searchability
  2. Digital books
  3. Comfort in numbers
  4. Brings niches together
  5. Self-publishing

Just read the full article anyway.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Your Favourite Book in Four Panels

Sadly, the contest is closed now, but CBC Canada's All in a Day radio show asked for people to send in summaries of their favourite books in four panels in honour of Jeff Lemire, one of five finalists in the Canada Reads contest. His novel, Essex County, is the first graphic novel to make the finals. The article shows a few entries; I wish they'd had more. My favourite was The Great Gatsby as rendered by Ian Martin, 17.

The facial expressions are awesome. I love the panel where Gatsby demands Daisy look at the money he earned so as to win her love: "LOOK AT IT". The hand drawing and (lack of) punctuation remind me of Kate Beaton, whom I apparently pimp out at every opportunity.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

E-Readers in Ghana

Hey, it's my favourite bugaboo about the digital divide turned on its ear! is sending e-readers to students in Ghana and it seems to be going well so far. They also have a project in Florida. One thing both projects have in common: kids are great hackers. There are some differences, too:

One of the differences is in motivation. If a teacher in Florida doesn't want to bother with the training or believes the technology is a distraction, it is probably because they already have access to the paper books the texts are from. In Ghana, that is not so. In Ghana, the e-reader program has made the difference not between one type of book or another but books or none.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Chocolate Library, Library of Alexandria, and Condiment Crime Updates

Those upset that the Chocolate Library store was asked to shut down can rejoice: Chocolate Library is go. The shop will also be adding books to its wares... books about chocolate. Everybody wins!

In other good news, the Library of Alexandria (the new one opened in 2002) has thus far been kept safe - people have actually been guarding it.

...When unrest broke out on Friday, a cordon of young people rushed to surround the Library complex (which includes conference halls and a planetarium) and protect it from vandalism.

...The move to protect the Library—as with similar efforts by protesters in Cairo to protect the Egyptian Museum after a group of looters smashed display cases and destroyed two mummies—is not only a matter of guarding the books and other splendid collections housed beneath its circular roof: it is a matter of guarding an idea.

(Read more about the vandalism of the Egyptian Museum.)

In other news, the woman accused of condiment crimes has plead guilty to the charges. The reason for dropping condiments in the book drop? Past conflicts with library patrons and staff. Way to ruin it for the rest of the people, lady. But then, what made her want to ruin the library for others in the first place?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Writing in Margins Again

Another piece on writing in margins. Still can't not shudder. Haven't read it all; I mean to go back, but now it's my bedtime. That's right, 9PM. Wild times.