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.


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.