Thursday, December 27, 2007

New Year's Resolutions

Goal 1: I mentioned in a previous post that one of my New Year's Resolutions is to pay off my car much more quickly than the current payment schedule calls for. To quantify this goal, I found a calculator that allows you to plug in different additional monthly payment amounts. It then tells you how much money you'll save in interest and how many fewer months it will take. The one drawback is that I recently sent in a large-ish check to reduce the principal, so I had to do some rough calculations to factor that in.

Using the calculator, I aim to pay my car off in 18 months (current schedule calls for approx 28), and save myself approximately $141 in interest.

Goal 2: To learn more about personal finance and investing. This one is a bit harder to quantify. However, quantify I will. To meet this goal, I will read at least 2 finance books this year (fivecentnickel has some suggestions here and here) and keep up with the personal finance blogs I subscribe to (see the Finance section).

What are your New Year's Resolutions?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Sexier than a librarian? Ha!

Saw this ad (or one very similar) for Sony's E-Reader in DC. Certainly not sexier than this librarian.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Personal Finance

I am on a huge personal finance kick. I've subscribed to a number of blogs. I'll probably keep subscribing to more and slowly ween them down to the ones that are most applicable to me.

They always say it's never too soon to start working on your personal finance. I am lucky to work at jobs with pretty great retirement packages, so I already have that. However, there is certainly far more that I can do to manage and improve my personal finances.

Some great advice I've discovered includes the following:

1. Get a credit card that pays. I absolutely adore my Discover Card. I have never carried a balance on it, never paid them a cent of interest, and I have made tons of money, which I redeem most commonly in the form of Borders gift cards. More recently it has occurred to me that I should be using some of the other gift cards as gifts. What a great way to save money and still give a good gift. Apparently my other credit card has a version that pays as well. I might have to see what I can do to upgrade to that.

2. Find the discounts and use coupons! There are some great websites that I'm only just learning about: RetailMeNot has all sorts of great online shopping coupon codes and user submitted success rates. Ebates is another one I've seen but haven't really looked into yet.

3. Here's a post about 25 Ways to Save Money. I'd just like to point out number 17, thank you. Using the library saves you money!

My early New Year's goal is to pay off the money I still owe on my car far more quickly than the current schedule. One thing about goals is that you should probably quantify them. I will have to look at how much I still owe and determine an appropriate, reasonable monthly amount to pay.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Librarians at Work

A great video (approx 2 mins) to show you just what exactly it is that we librarians do all day.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Yet More Copyright Control

Attributor is a new company that scans the web for a publisher's content. For example, it can track how many times and where people have put up content from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

While Attributor seems interested in helping publishers with marketing and sales (if someone is posting book content somewhere, it's possible that the people who are reading it may want to buy the book, especially if only part of it is posted). However, publishers seized on the idea of using the application for copyright compliance reasons. Big surprise there.

According to the article in Publishers Weekly, tests have been done to track unauthorized copying of recipes and song lyrics as well.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Now that's Branding

While glancing through our newly added books, I came across two whose covers amuse me. Apparently, The Ohio State University has to decided to make it exceptionally clear which books they have published.

Check out the cover of Middle Passages and the Healing Place of History


or Victorian Sensations: Essays on a Scandalous Genre


Gotta love the upper lefthand corner (and also the top of the spine and upper right hand corner on the back - it wraps around). It's not uncommon for the publisher to be on the cover, this is just a very eye-catching version.

Monday, November 26, 2007

It's not easy being green

This isn't really a library related post (although I can try to tie it in), but lately I've become more and more interested in being as "green" as I can be. I keep checking out books or putting ones on hold that deal with being environmentally friendly. Some of the advice is too much effort, not applicable, or just silly (take your own towel to the gym and a huge amount of water will be saved? Why? It's not as if we won't wash the towel when we take it home), but there are some great ideas out there:
  • Use canvas bags. Finally! A use for all those dang bags they give out at library conferences (I have at least 4!). Take them to the grocery store, use them when you pick up your library books (see, I can tie it in to the library), and more.
  • Reuse gift bags, ribbon, and even wrapping paper. I've always done this, but now I can claim it's because I'm "green" instead of cheap. :)
  • Buy LED Xmas Lights. They are expensive but LEDs last forever. I've been told that it is likely that the wiring will go bad long before the LEDs die. Plus, they are pretty cool looking. I haven't yet bought these, but am planning to.
I subscribe to two green blogs that are pretty good:

Little Known Librarian Duties

I am a librarian. Most of you think of librarians as book, and perhaps video and CD, dispensers, but I also dispense many other things:
  • Highlighters
  • Scotch Tape
  • Post-it Notes
  • Paper Clips
  • Pens
  • Pencils
  • White-out
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Change for $1.00 for laundry
I don't know why I find it so amusing that students ask me for these things. Perhaps because when one shows up at the library with a huge poster board, you'd think that person would also bring stuff with which to stick things onto said poster board. And other items with which to cut out pictures for the poster board. Etc.

But I loan these things out. I have yet to have something not returned (well, minus the items that would naturally not be returned). If, some day, we become known as the cheap way to get as many paper clips as you could possibly need, then I might re-evaluate. But for now, I'll dispense away.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Personalize it!

Show Your Faculty Some Love #2: Individualize and personalize, part 2.

I simply cannot emphasize the whole personalization thing enough. Today I attended the beginning of a meeting in one of the departments to which I am a liaison. I created a handout specific to their discipline detailing library resources for that discipline, and library services available to faculty. I put each of their names on the cover sheet. [This is something we did at my previous institution, so I should give credit to Andrew.]

The first one I handed out was met with "Wow. A woman after my own heart. Personalized!" (okay, I might be slightly off on the exact quote but that was close). I also received several other comments, including that I am very organized.

A little personalization goes a very long way. It can be surprising just how well-received these efforts are.

Also, as a note, I made guides for all the adjuncts. They weren't at the meeting, but I left them in their boxes and will send emails soon. Adjuncts often get missed, so they are great candidates for guides to library resources.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Library + Hotel = Good idea?

I am not sure what to think about this, other than, why not? The NYT ran an article detailing plans of the Donnell branch of the New York Public Library to sell their current space to a hotel company for oodles of money - with the stipulation that the library gets the first floor and two floors below ground.

They need money, their branch needs remodeled desperately, why not take the $59 million? Plus, being in a hotel might increase traffic, although I wonder what sorts of issues will come up with regards to travelers wanting to borrow books. Of course, "The two operations will have separate entrances and be divided by a wall."

Friday, November 02, 2007

It's all about Individualization

Show Your Faculty Some Love #1: Individualize and personalize.

I'm a bit peeved at myself, because I lost my list of ideas for blog posts in the "Show Your Faculty Some Love" series at some point in my recent move (it must be around here somewhere, honestly!). Oh well, I remember most of it.

Today's tip for connecting with faculty deals with the importance of individualization. I can't emphasize this one enough. Just a little extra effort goes a very long way.

For example, I recently sent emails to the faculty members in the areas for which I am the library liaison. Instead of composing one email and sending it to a distribution list, I wrote the email and sent it to each faculty member individually. I personalized each email by using their name in the greeting, and changing the department in the subject of the email, and the body. "I am the new library liaison to ....". It definitely took more time, but it was worth it. Of the approximately 38 emails I sent out, I received responses to about 11. Which is pretty good. The emails didn't need responses, they were simply introductory. I even received a list of books recommendations already from a professor from whom other library staff say they never hear.

Not bad. And it's only the beginning. More tips to come soon! :)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Work Out Video for Librarians

I have had a blog post about this video saved in my reader for, well, a very long time. I finally watched it, and I recommend you do too. It's under 5 minutes in length and quite amusing.

And, of course, it's on YouTube.

I also need to work at Yale

Because there they have crazy drunken revelries complete with kettle corn, chants of "We love books!", streakers, and a midnight countdown for the opening of a new library. With over 1,000 students in attendance. And "several elbows were thrown as students tried to angle for best position in line to enter the library"!

Additionally, "Students around campus threw parties to celebrate the opening, including one in Swing Space that was publicized on an e-mail panlist."

A most excellent quote:
Said one visibly intoxicated girl as she arrived on Cross Campus, “I wish that our children were here to tell them that we were here, drunk as no other when the library opened. It’s too bad there’s no books, but we feel great.”
Talk about supporting your library.

I need to live in Australia

Because then I could watch The Librarians, a TV series (6 episodes) devoted to librarians and crazy library patrons. Of course, they are playing up the stereotype, but I bet it's funny! Read more about it here.

Update: Thank you to TB-) who has informed me that I can watch the episodes at ABC Australia's site for the show. Yay! I will have to do that soon!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Espresso Book Machine

Wow, this is pretty freaking cool! A NYT article discusses a machine that will print you out a book in less than 15 minutes. I really like that it's a way for people to get access to "those books that are out of print or for which there is so little demand that it would be too costly to print a few hundred copies, let alone one."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Library Arcade

Carnegie Mellon has created two games for research - one deals more with research questions, the other with organizing books by call number. I played the research game - not bad! Definitely worth a look! Read about the games here.

Fairfield Beach

I like this idea: using a movie to teach students some basics about the library. I also like that Fairfield Beach is a choose your own adventure type thing. Librarians wrote the script and had a student cast and film it.

I only wish I could see more of it. Watch a clip of Fairfield Beach on YouTube.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Political Wiki

Finally, just what I've been looking for: the Political Base wiki. Its aim is to collect all sorts of unbiased political information which anyone can add to. However, unlike Wikipedia, all submitted information must first go through a staff editor.

I've only taken a brief look so far, but I really like the fantastic chart for comparing the candidates. It makes it really easy to find out who supports which issues!

I have often felt I do not keep up with politics thoroughly enough to be a competent, well-informed voter. This web site looks like it will be quite helpful in that area.

Read the CNet review here.
Found in American Libraries Direct.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Search Engine for Free Full-text E-Journals

I have moved and started my new job! I didn't post for a while because, well, moving and starting a new job keeps one quite busy. But never fear, I'm back. :)

More about my new job later, but for now, I wanted to point out that I've been monkeying around with a new Google Custom Search Engine (see below in this post and also in the right-hand column of this blog). I'm now at a college that has access to far fewer electronic journals than I am used to in the wonderful land of Ohio Library Utopia. Therefore, I thought it would be a great idea to create a search engine that searches only those sites that contain full-text online journals.

I easily added all the Public Library of Science Journals. Google can search those without any problem. However, I'm having quite a bit of difficulty with Cornell's and the University of Michigan's Making of American Journals. I'm not sure if Google is just unable to search them because of the way the site is formatted, or if I'm just not picking the right URLs. With Cornell, I tried several to no avail.

Anyone have any suggestions?

Also, if you know of any online free full-text journals, send me an email and I'll add them to my search engine!

Search Free Full-Text E-Journals







Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ugh, I'm moving!

I have put off posting about this, but since my move is now looming in the very near future (2 days - ACK!), I suppose I should write about it.

I have a new job in Pittsburgh. My last day at my current position is tomorrow. I have one week off during which I get to move all my stuff (and I have accumulated a lot more than I realized in the last two years!). Then, on October 1st, I start my new job.

Change is always a challenge. There are things I will miss, and things I will not miss. I will not miss living in Southeast Ohio. That is one of the main reasons I always hoped to spend only 2-3 years at my current position. I will not miss the half hour commute to work.

But there is much I will miss (and not necessarily in this order):

1. Ohio. This will be my first time living outside of Ohio, and I'm sure it's good for me and all, but Ohio is "library utopia", as a Kent SLIS prof once said. I will miss the very open public library system, but even more so I will miss the amazing OhioLINK. All states should copy Ohio and establish such a fantastic consortium. I am not sure how I will live without it (okay okay, that's slightly melodramatic, but ask anyone in OhioLINK and they'll rave about it too). I will also miss the various OhioLINK people I have had the chance to work with - there are some great librarians in Ohio.

2. My coworkers. I have fabulous coworkers, and I will really miss them. My boss is very supportive of the library staff, of our various endeavors, of professional development - which has been truly wonderful. Over the past two years, I have had a fantastic time working very closely with one of my coworkers. He is a jack-of-all-trades librarian, knowledgeable about pretty much anything, including random pop culture tidbits. I knew another such librarian at Kent, and it's something I aspire to be (well, except perhaps the part about pop culture tidbits - if it weren't for my coworker, I'd be completely out of the loop on most of that stuff). We are also a small staff, so I can just pop in to anyone's office with a question. Basically, after 2 years of working with the same great people 5 days a week, I cannot imagine how I would not miss them.

3. The professors. I work at the same institution where I did my undergrad. So 4 years of undergrad coupled with 2 years of being a member of the staff have allowed me to get to know all the faculty here. I think I can finally say, after 2 years, that I know all of them by sight and name, and most of them I know much better than that. I've really enjoyed working with them and their students over the past two years.

4. Teaching. I have taught a 2 credit hour Library Research Methods class twice now and loved almost every minute of it (I have to say "almost" - there are always frustrations). My new place of work does not have this option, and I will miss it.

5. Too much more to mention.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Happy Anniversary to Me!

I've been writing this blog for 2 years, as of today. My dedication to keeping up with it wanes at times, but always seems to bounce back.

And now I've finally found some original content to contribute, instead of just commenting on what everyone else blogs about. The current series is Teaching Techniques, and the Show Your Faculty Some Love series (perhaps to be renamed, perhaps not) is coming soon. I have plans for a series dealing with reaching students as well.

Variety is the spice of... class!

Teaching Technique #4: Switch up your Teaching Style

I have read this in a number of books and articles, so it must be an important one.

Students get bored with the same old lecture format every class. It is a good idea to switch it up a bit and try some new techniques. We actually make our Library Research Methods class very hands-on, which is a good start, but not nearly enough. If the students get used to walking into class each day, receiving a mini-lecture, and then completing a hands-on assignment, they'll get bored.

So try to use as many of these as possible:
  1. Discussion - I assigned two reaction papers during the semester and then we would take class time to discuss them (more on this in a later post).
  2. Use PowerPoint (but not every time!) - I used it twice last semester. Once when teaching citations - I put up examples of bad citations and asked them to find the author, the title, etc. When they struggled, I told them this is why we need to cite things properly (I stole this idea from someone and I apologize, but I cannot remember who).
  3. Group work versus individual work - Use both!
  4. Presentations - One assignment I gave asked them to work in pairs to research a database of their choosing. They then presented it to the class. I only did this the second time I taught and it could use some refining. However, I think working in a presentation is a good idea.
There are many other possibilities, but those are the ones I've used with some (or a lot of) success. Variety really is the way to go.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Addy Will Know

Today is just post-tastic, I guess. :)

Here's a fun new librarian song: Addy Will Know by SNMNMNM. Lyrics are here. Even better, they are asking librarians to send in videos of themselves singing the song, and they'll make a video out of those. The only way I'd even consider participating was if it were a silent video, though.

It's a pretty catchy tune. I give my coworker permission to go around singing this one, if only he will lay off Chocolate Rain. :)

Can't we all just share? For free?

I am getting really fed up with the astronomical costs of journal subscriptions. But then again, what librarian isn't?

Marc Meola has a very interesting post about the issue of open access for journals on ACRLog. Apparently, there is a group called PRISM who has created a PR campaign to oppose open access. They link open access "with lack of peer review, government censorship, and theft of intellectual property."

Where do they come up with this stuff?!

1. I do not see this causing a lack of peer review. There can still be peer review. Peer reviewers aren't paid in the first place. So what costs are really involved (and we all know these are all financial issues, so why not talk cost). A good example of this would be the world of computer science. I know a computer scientist or two, and they can get just about everything they want for free over the web. Sounds like open access to me! And it is still high quality stuff (well, I am told it is, I certainly don't understand any of it).

2. Government censorship? Wow, I'm lost. HOW is this government censorship. If anything it's the exact opposite of censorship - opening it up to a much wider audience.

3. Theft of intellectual property. Okay, that's just ridiculous. The researchers who write this stuff aren't even paid for it in the first place (okay okay, with the exception of grants). They certainly aren't paid for it's publication. Let's ask them if they want their stuff to be sold for extremely high prices. I think they'd want more open access. The more people their research reaches, the better, right?

I am also curious to know the extent to which library journals are open access. I'm sure this info is out there, but I do not have it. Are they just as bad as the rest of them?

Journalicious!

Teaching Technique #3: Keep a Journal
I found this to be a very helpful tool. It works excellently when you are just starting to teach a class. I do not know if you would need to keep one once you already taught the class for several years.

Each day after class (well, I usually remembered), I wrote a brief journal entry on what we did, what worked, where the students had trouble, what seemed to bore them beyond belief, when class was too short, when I ran out of time, etc. The first time around it was useful as a reflection tool, as well as for some slight venting of frustrations. It also helped me feel less guilty when I "failed" because I recorded it so I could improve the next time around.

Then when I went to teach the class the second year, I used the journal to help me reorder the class topics in my syllabus, and to figure out which ones needed more time and which ones needed less. In addition, during the second year of teaching, I often consulted the journal to see what I had done while teaching a particular topic so I could make changes as necessary. I continued the journal for the second year and have since looked back on it for various information - e.g. what questions I asked during pop quizzes, what ice breaker I used.

Keeping a journal may not work for everyone, but I found it very helpful.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

More E-Readers

According to a New York Times article, Amazon is apparently breaking into the E-Reader market, whatever that market might be. So far, E-Readers have not taken off.

Amazon also intends to make their e-books proprietary - only accessible with Amazon's particular E-Reader. Personally, I think that's a rather stupid marketing decision. Cross-platform usability is a much better idea, and hopefully Amazon will realize that soon.

Also mentioned is that Google is going to start charging users for access to the books under copyright on Google Book Search. While this is a logical next step for Google, I feel rather irritated. I just know students will use that and pay for access to these books, when they could use the library and get the books through the OhioLINK catalog for free in 2-3 business days. Sigh. We already try to warn students against paying for articles they find through Google (the library offers so many of those for free electronically), and now here's another one to counter. Fun.

Break that Ice!

Teaching Technique #2: Ice Breakers
As a student, I usually hated ice breakers. As a teacher, I love them. When used properly, they are an excellent tool for introducing students to each other and for getting to know your students. They also help with remembering names (something I admit I'm bad at doing).

Successful Beginnings for College Teaching lists some fantastic ice breakers. I know I said it in my last post, but if you are teaching, READ THIS BOOK!

Anyway, one great icebreaker I found in this book works like this:

Give each student a 3x5 card. On one side, have them write some basic information about themselves. I asked for their full name (w/preferred first name), preferred email, and major. On the other side, I had them write 2-3 unique things about themselves. I remember trying to do this as a student and never being able to come up with anything, so, as the teacher, I gave personal examples:
1. I've been to China
2. I took nine years of piano lessons and never play anymore, much to my parents' dismay.
3. I went to Muskingum as a student and now I work here.

After they finished filling out their cards, I asked them to go around and introduce themselves to each other - giving their names and their unique things.

Last, I collected the cards, read the unique things to the class as a whole, and had them tell me who it was. The person whose card it was wasn’t allowed to say, of course.

This worked wonderfully. They came up with some pretty funny stuff. We learned interesting things about each other, and they started to get to know each other.

The only problem is that the class I teach tends to be one of those "I'll take it and pray I get into the class I really want" classes. So I had 6 students on day 1, 14 on Day 2, and still more changes on Day 3. By Day 3 Add/Drop has ended, so in the future I would do another icebreaker (but a different one, of course) that day if I had a similar change in students.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Teaching Library Research

Twice now I've taught a semester-long 2 credit hour Library Research Methods class. It's been a blast! There are a few techniques I've gleaned from various readings that have proven extraordinarily successful, and I thought I'd start sharing these on this blog.

Teaching Technique # 1: The Pop Quiz
Now, before you all shriek in horror, hear me out. This is used as an assessment of attendance. With approximately 28 total class meetings, I gave 11 pop quizzes, with the 11th being extra credit.

As long as the student takes the quiz, full credit (2 points) is given. If the quiz is given at the beginning of class, and students enter once the quiz is in progress, they are not allowed to take it. Thus - Don't be late!

Questions asked are used to assess student understanding of topics (i.e., what I need to explain better), student opinions of teaching methods, student questions, etc. Here's a list of questions I've asked:

  1. What was the most important thing you learned today? What are you still confused about?
  2. What do you like most about this class? What do you like least?
  3. What is a scholarly journal article?
  4. List as many limiting and advanced search options as you can think of.
  5. What is difficult or confusing about writing annotations?
  6. What questions do you still have based on what you’ve learned in this course?
  7. Which teaching/learning technique in this class has worked best for you? Worst? (getting at discussion, hands-on, group work, etc)
  8. What questions do you have about the final project?
As I said, it worked fantastically! Students love being solicited for input (this works in the library as well - have a comment box or give a survey asking for their comments on what could be done to improve their library experience!). My colleague, Andrew, is trying Pop Quizzes as he teaches the class this semester. While skeptical at first, he's since commented that it really does work well.

[I am no longer 100% sure, but I think this came from the most excellent book, Successful Beginnings for College Teaching. It's one of the best teaching books I've read!]

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

It's a great URL

ilovelibraries.org. For all your library-related needs.

It also has a link to a Public Library Search. Nice! Now you can find a list of every public library in your area.

Definition of Librarian

Well, I don't think anyone can beat the Uncyclopedia's definition of Librarian. The people who wrote and edited that entry really know what a librarian is!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Better World Books Funds Literacy

I got my first Quarterly Better World Books Libary Newsletter today. And yes, that is how they spelled library in the newsletter's name.

Humorous spelling error aside, check out the newsletter and scroll on down to some of the stats. For example, you can see how much they've sold some of the books for and how much they've given to libraries and various literacy initiatives. Those are some nice amounts. They also say they have "Saved over 5,250 Tons of books from landfills." Excellent! :)

Looking to buy a book? Contribute to various literacy programs by buying it through Better World Books.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Leave a book and track its journey

What an interesting idea. The concept behind BookCrossing is that you leave a book you've read in some location. In it, you write its BookCrossing code. Then, you check the site occasionally to see who picked up the book. And you get to track it as it continues on its journey.

This is an international thing. The three biggest user countries are:
1. USA with 14,628 books "in the wild" currently
2. Germany with 6,938
3. UK with 5,068

In the US, the best states for locating these books "in the wild" are California, Colorado, and Washington.

For anyone in Columbus, Ohio, you've currently got 119 books "in the wild". Hmmm, it seems rather rude to release these to Half Price Books where you both make money from taking them there and force the receiver to have to buy the book - at least one of the Columbus people has done this.

Interesting concept. Sadly, no one in my city has participated. Surprise surprise, given that our biggest bookstore is Waldenbooks in the mall.

[Thanks to Brian for mentioning this in a recent post.]

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Better World Books Rocks!

Within the past month, I have set up an account with Better World Books (BWB) for my library. They have this great program where libraries can send them their discards (age doesn't matter, but condition does - see the acceptance guidelines) at absolutely no cost except time. They pay the shipping, provide the boxes, it's incredibly easy!

And it's a great way to get rid of some of those deleted books. They do not take reference books, so we've had to find other homes for those (for those of you who may be curious, furniture stores will often take hardbacks - they use them to fill up the bookshelves that are for sale).

A few more details about what BWB does: they sell your unwanted books and recycle the ones they cannot sell. This is great for us, since book recycling does not seem to be available in our area. If your books are not "picked over" (put out for sale to patrons or offered up to other libraries), 5% of the profit made by BWB goes to a charity of your choice (well, they give you a list and you pick which one) and 15% comes back to your library on a quarterly basis! However, in our case, our books are picked over, so BWB makes all the money.

I first talked with the BWB guys at the ACRL Conference in Baltimore where they swiped my card and commenced contacting me shortly thereafter. They are very friendly and helpful. I have asked about a million questions via phone and email, and they patiently answered them all.

I highly recommend partnering with BWB. It's great to have a better way to get rid of our discards.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Spelling corrections... or not.

So, our online catalog (keeping with the OPAC posts, I guess), has recently added spelling suggestions for what it assumes are misspelled words. I am going through a bunch of Spanish language gift books and since the spellchecker must be limited with its foreign languages, I am getting some great suggestions.

For example, I look for "El Acoso". The OPAC asks me: "Did you mean el tacos?" Why no, I did not. Thank you for asking. Oh, and by the way, it would be "los tacos."

Library Taser Incident Revisited

Well, they finally concluded that the police officers "used excessive force and poor judgment" in the tasering incident I blogged about back in November. Read the Chronicle write up here. Barbara Fister also has a thorough post on the story on ACRLog.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Usability Testing of the OPAC

Recently, the User Services Advisory Committee of OPAL has been deciding on what changes to make to our Innovative Interfaces OPAC (online catalog - for now, the current version is here and the in-progress version is here). It has gotten me thinking about what our users want. Librarians can argue back and forth until they are blue in the face about which link to put where and how visible to make certain options, but our users never do things the way we want them to or the way we think is best.

Judging by a quick search of the library literature, there doesn't seem to be a great deal of usability testing conducted on OPACs. Perhaps this is because we, as libraries, only have a very minimal amount of control over the appearance and options. Most of the control rests in the hands of the companies charging us extraordinary amounts of money for OPACs that are always several steps behind what our users expect.

So maybe it's time to usability test the OPAC. It would be really interesting to see what our users find confusing and what they expect. Then, we can make those changes over which we have control so that they best meet our users' needs.

And actually, that brings up another question. What do the companies that create and maintain these OPACs do in terms of usability testing? Do they do much testing? Any? Because you know the search giants of the world must do an incredible amount, so shouldn't some be done for the catalog, too?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Entertaining Things

1. Apparently you cannot sign up for Facebook with the first name of Zelda. Not sure how that is supposed to fly with people who are really named Zelda.

2. McDonald's has a survey going on for residents of the US and Canada. However, on the receipt survey you get at McDonald's, it says "In order to win, a Canadian resident must correctly answer a skill-testing question". So I had fun envisioning what skills they might test:

Do you want fries with that?!?! ..... No this is not a trick question!
Quick! How many calories in a 6 piece chicken McNugget?
How high can you flip a McDonald's pancake?!
List all the ingredients in the Asian Salad!
How many Big Macs can you eat in 10 minutes?!?!

However, I have since looked up the Official Rules, which say: "If a potential winner is an eligible Canadian resident, such potential Canadian winner will be required by law to correctly answer a mathematical skill-testing question, administered by the Judging Organization, by e-mail, mail, or phone, without assistance of any kind, before he/she can be declared the winner of any prize."

Boy, I really feel sorry for Canadians. They need mad math skillz, and they can't even phone a friend - all just to win a gift certificate to McDonald's!

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Last of HP

Well, I did it. After holding off, not thinking I'd bother, I went ahead and ordered Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. However, unlike so many people I know, I will not be getting it tonight/Saturday morning and reading all weekend.

Since I still intend to read 5 and 6 before reading 7 (or maybe watching 5 and reading 6) it will be a while before I get to the latest and last book of the series. And I'm okay with that. For two reasons: Number 1 - It will drive all my Harry-Potter-addicted friends mad because they cannot discuss it with me (I know, I did the same thing when number 6 came out /evil cackle/). Number 2 - I have no desire to stand in line at midnight. Or even worse - stand in line TWICE! Once to get my number and then again to get the book. Are these people nuts? I love Harry Potter, but I can wait to read it.

Plus, I had a Borders Gift Certificate (thank you, Discover Card - it truly does pay to Discover) so I just used that. HP #7 should arrive between Wednesday and Friday. And that's soon enough for me.

Happy HP Reading, everyone! :)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Hehe

Great comic!

The RIAA Sucks

Warning: Long, ranting post ahead.

I quite enjoy listening to Internet Radio at work, and Pandora is my favorite. However, today I pop on to Pandora, and what do I find? This:
A Day of Silence

Hi, it's Tim from Pandora,

I'm sorry to say that today Pandora, along with most Internet radio sites, is going off the air in observance of a Day Of Silence. We are doing this to bring to your attention a disastrous turn of events that threatens the existence of Pandora and all of internet radio. We need your help.

Ignoring all rationality and responding only to the lobbying of the RIAA, an arbitration committee in Washington DC has drastically increased the licensing fees Internet radio sites must pay to stream songs. Pandora's fees will triple, and are retroactive for eighteen months! Left unchanged by Congress, every day will be like today as internet radio sites start shutting down and the music dies.

A bill called the "Internet Radio Equality Act" has already been introduced in both the Senate (S. 1353) and House of Representatives (H.R. 2060) to fix the problem and save Internet radio--and Pandora--from obliteration.

I'd like to ask you to call your Congressional representatives today and ask them to become co-sponsors of the bill. It will only take a few minutes and you can find your Congresspersons and their phone numbers by entering your zip code here.

Your opinion matters to your representatives - so please take just a minute to call.

Visit www.savenetradio.org to continue following the fight to Save Internet Radio.

As always, and now more than ever, thank you for your support.



-Tim Westergren
(Pandora founder)

Is anyone else really sick of the RIAA and its pitiful attempts to triumph over piracy? Here's what I'd like to say to the RIAA: I don't understand how you haven't yet realized that your methods to counter piracy aren't working. Treating people as guilty until proven innocent just makes them angry and more inclined to circumvent all your attempts. Try treating them with respect and you might actually meet with some success. Tripling internet radio fees and making them retroactive for 18 months? Are you guys out of your minds?! Surely that is not the answer. You are losing money to piracy, I realize this, but gouging internet radio providers to make up for it is a big mistake. They are actually trying to go about providing this service in a legitimate, legal manner, and you punish them for it? In what way does that make any sense? Satellite radio pays a flat percentage of their revenue, why should it be any different for Internet radio? Why should they pay per song, which would be far more expensive.

The RIAA really needs to get its act together. Anyone have better suggestions for them? Maybe since they are already loosing oodles of money to piracy, why not try selling CDs and songs for less? Maybe then people will be more inclined to buy them. Or maybe a Netflix for CDs? Then you could borrow a CD, listen to it on replay until you were sick of it, return it, and get a new one. All for a monthly fee. Or maybe just enjoy the flat percentage of the Internet Radio revenue, just as they get a percentage of satellite radio revenue?

Clearly, I don't have the answers, but it's also blatantly obvious that the RIAA doesn't either.

For more information on the new fees and the proposed Internet Equality Act, click here, here, and here (amen! to the last one, which states: "these services [internet radio] are just beginning to offer the music industry a real alternative to the declining broadcast radio business in terms of exposing listeners to the record companies' products. It looks like the music industry remains unable to overcome its inability to understand and deal effectively with technology.")

Monday, June 18, 2007

Slip'n'Slide @ your Library

Attention Case Alumni (i.e. about half my regular readers - it just occurred to me how many of you are Case grads!)

There's a great Google video of some students having fun with a Slip'n'Slide at the Kelvin Smith Library. There seems to be a great deal about the setup, so if you want to just skip to the part where they are slipping and sliding in the library, jump to about 13:30 of the 18 or so minute long clip.

And please, please comment if you ever had the opportunity to participate in something similar. :)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Stop the Insanity!

People are ridiculous. If you don't like parts of the summer reading programs your library is offering, don't allow your kids to attend them. Sure, make sure your "children [are] being taught the right things", but quit trying to raise everyone else's children. Besides, based on this list of possible ideas for the nationwide summer reading program, I'd say only a fraction of it could be seen as objectionable anyway. Do you really need to threaten to picket over that?

Besides, huge objections over tarot cards and horoscope readings? What teen (or actually, pre-teen - I would argue kids find out about this stuff much earlier) doesn't mess with a Ouija board, try to put their friends into trances, pretend to read tarot cards, or stare into a mirror to summon Bloody Mary at some point? I was raised by pretty strict Presbyterian parents, and I managed to do 3 of the 4 things in the previous sentence (those Ouija boards, they are elusive), and more that I can't remember, all by 3rd grade! So even children in religious families experiment with that stuff. What you should be more concerned about is whether or not you've done a good job raising your teens to know the difference between nonsense and reality.

I completely agree with Media Specialist Christina Connell when she says the library is “sending the wrong message to teens, who will feel that they are not important enough to fight for, and to the church groups, who will only be empowered to launch further crusades against books.”

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Poor Powerpoint Presentations

Stephen Abram links to this video of a comedian detailing "How NOT to Make a Powerpoint." It's hysterical and yet there is all too much truth in what he says.

The Closing of a College

Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, will close in July 2008 with the intent of reopening in 2012. Antioch is one of my institution's fellow OPAL (Ohio Private Academic Libraries) members. They had already cut library staff (and other staff on campus) but now it seems all library staff and others will be without jobs in a year. Here's hoping they all find employment elsewhere before the year is out.

Read more about it in the Columbus Dispatch and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Google is Cool

Sometimes Google does something really nifty. I got the most recent Google Librarian Newsletter in my email at some point in the not-too-distant past and after reading the very first article, I'm already playing around with a Google tool: Custom Search Engine. I've created a psychology search engine using the high quality psychology websites listed on our Psychology Subject Guide. What a neat tool! We could make a separate customized search engine for each Subject Guide. AND sites could be added to it over time - Google makes that very easy. It's even collaboration friendly! Too bad we are in a content management system that makes adding something like this tricky!

Still, pretty sweet! Try my wonderful psychology search engine below!





Google Custom Search

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Book Cake

The writer of one of my favorite blogs, Kimbooktu, recently got married. She's posted pictures and you really must check out the awesome wedding cake (just scroll down to see it). :)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Reference books really ARE useful!

So it's summer break and essentially that means I've got lots of extra time to weed the reference collection. Right now it's dictionaries of all sorts. I'd like to share a few random, and clearly very useful, facts with you.

1. According to the book, Narcotics Lingo & Lore (1959), "Muggles" are "Marijuana cigarettes." I kid you not. Shame on you, J.K. Rowling.

2. Some terms for smoking marijuana cigarettes, according to the same book, are: "Bounce the goof balls", "Drink Texas Tea", "Lie in state with the girls", and "Twist a giraffe's neck". Honestly, what were they smoking when they came up with those phrases?! Oh wait, I know.....

Lame, sorry.

3. I found a book that answers a question I've had since grad school. Just how do you pronounce Djibouti? Well, folks, look no further than the International Book of Names (1938): je boo te' - all vowels have long marks over them. so Gee-boo-tea, with accent on the last syllable is my best guess.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Library of the Future

This YouTube video, Transformation Lab - Prototyping the Future, is a very interesting look at some possibilities for the library of the future. Some of it seems a bit extreme and maybe more public library-ish, but it really gets at the idea of Library as Place, which seems to be discussed more and more these days.

I gave an informal survey to students where one of the questions asked what we can do to make their library experience better. I received suggestions that included: background music, more comfy couches, quieter work areas, allow food, wireless, best-sellers and pleasure reading, more computers, art throughout building, better computer chairs, "more help", and more signs.

Overall, it seems to be a lot about the library environment and less about library services. I'm looking into best-sellers, more comfy furniture is in our future, wireless is a campus-wide goal (I believe), and snack food will hopefully be allowed soon.

For further reading on this topic, there's a good article called "How to Evaluate Your Library's Physical Environment."

Not that desperate for a new library...

I would absolutely adore a new library building. However, I don't think this would be it.

Innovative Library Marketing

While reading the latest issue of American Libraries Direct, I came across this interesting story. Until the end of May, you can call the City Library of Vienna, Austria and listen to 19th and 20th century erotic readings. Disappointingly, they've got an actress doing the readings, not a librarian.

Of course, the phone number isn't provided in the article, so if you'd like to call, you may have to do some digging.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Pew Survey

Take this survey from the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Where do you fit on their Typology of Information and Communication Technology Users?

I'm "Connected but Hassled" which means I have a lot of technology and communication devices and I use them, but I feel hassled by them. They are intrusive. Supposedly the average age of the people in this group is 49.

I feel old.

What are you?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

A Plant Obsession

Totally unrelated post, but I think this is so cool. A French botanist creates plant walls that never need pruning, although it's unclear what is needed in regards to watering and feeding.

I love plants. Currently, I have about 12-14 potted plants in my apartment, and 2 vases of bamboo, and I am always looking for more fun pots. I do think the concept of a plant wall is a bit much, especially since it mentions that the botanist/artist has mold growing on his ceiling (now there's an experience I have no interest in repeating - mold in one's home), but I love the idea of bringing nature indoors.

Friday, April 27, 2007

ACRL Poster Session: Libraries and Social Networks

The idea of libraries setting up profiles on social networks to meet students where they are is something I have not fully made up my mind about yet. I have profiles on both Facebook and MySpace. However, I joined MySpace because I'm a Millennial and my friends were doing it, not for library reasons. I think I joined Facebook partly to connect with students at my place of employment, but I've ended up connecting more with other friends there, too.

But anyway, a poster session I viewed at ACRL questioned "Do Students want Librarians in Their Turf?" The librarian, Jenny Emanuel from the University of Central Missouri, is a Millennial librarian, too, and is skeptical about libraries invading students' turf.

Here's what she found in the 50 responses to her survey:
  • 80% have social network profiles, which is less than she (and I) expected
  • "Only 34% of students would add a librarian as a friend; 18% would not; and 48% indicated a maybe"
  • Students were asked to indicate what type of library-related information they'd be interested in receiving through a social network - links to resources in their major (68% yes), ability to ask a question of a librarian (63%), search for library materials (62%), links to other resources (59%). 15% did not want any linked content
So the results are mixed. And that's probably why I feel kind of skeptical but not opposed. For me, I think it's important to let them find you and not to seek them out. I have students request to add me on Facebook, but I don't request to add them. I may mention I have an account, but that's it.

I think we can be in the social networks, but I don't think we should force ourselves into their friends list.

Thoughts on Conference Blogging

Sometimes I feel like a sorry excuse for a blogger. I attended the ACRL Conference and also the Ball State Copyright Conference recently, and have I posted about the sessions? Not really - just one so far, and only because a coworker let me know that someone in the blogosphere was really interested in that particular session. And now that I have a little bit of free time and work is slowing down, I'm sure people have already posted about most of the stuff anyway.

Part of it is that, personally, I don't enjoy reading through people's conference session notes. I have no interest in reading a scattered outline'o'stuff. It's not coherent, I don't understand all the bullet points, and I don't get anything from it really. And if written in paragraph form, the summaries are often so long! Am I just an impatient Millennial?

I think another part of it is that I tend to prefer to research whatever I'm interested in at the moment. Excessively research it. So when I really want to know about a topic, I go out and find the information. Although I do stumble on a lot of interesting stuff in the blogs I read too.

So I'm torn about conference blogging.

However, I intend to start slowly going through all the handouts and such - to see what information I can apply to my library. I've already implemented a few things. I finally surveyed the students on a few things albeit very informally. And also created a student art wall - or rather, asked my student worker to display her beautiful photography on a wall of the library.

Maybe I'll just concentrate on the stuff I think is useful, as opposed to all the sessions I attended - there were so many!

Friday, April 20, 2007

RIP Kurt Vonnegut

Okay, so I realize this happened over a week ago. But I'm just now going through my backlog of emails. I remember seeing the email when it first arrived and thinking, I need to post about that. Ooops.

But anyway, Kurt Vonnegut has passed away. Very sad. :( I've quite enjoyed several of his books - Cat's Cradle is my favorite and one of those books you get forced to read in school that I actually enjoyed, and still enjoy. I also read Breakfast of Champions and listened to Slaughter-House Five on tape, and have probably consumed more over the years.

If, for some bizarre reason, you've never read Cat's Cradle, I highly recommend it. It's such a fascinating book and an easy read. Hmmm, perhaps I should revisit it yet again...

Humorous Library Questions

I am not a public librarian and do not get nearly as many humorous questions from library patrons as the public libraries do, but I have greatly enjoyed a recent thread from a listserv I am on (LIBREF - archives here), asking for funny reference questions. The Star Beacon in Ashtabula, Ohio recently published a story that included some of these questions. It's definitely worth a read.

And some other humorous anecdotes can be found in the main story about the job of a reference librarian at Ashtabula County District Library here.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Muckrakers at ACRL

ACRL Session: Muckrakers: Engaging Students in the Research Process Through an Online Game.
Presenters: Paola Ceccarini, Ann Brown, and Cathy Eisenhower of George Washington University

This is one of the last sessions I attended but interest has been expressed so I'm writing it up now. The only handout was a bibliography, so hopefully I'm deciphering my notes properly.

The goal of this project - the creation of an online game to teach research skills - was to "develop virtual instruction that encourages collaborative learning, peer evaluation, exploration, and critical thinking." They wanted to incorporate 3 teaching methods: Collaborative learning, peer teaching, and exploration and discovery.

The idea is that MMORGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games), such as World of Warcraft, have clear goals, clear and relevant feedback, and keep challenges in balance with user skills (the tasks are doable - you may have to try a few times, but eventually you'll learn enough to get past it). These things all help to maintain attention. I once heard that the test of a truly good MMORG (or probably any game) is how much time you lose track of while playing it.

Some details about the game George Washington University is developing:
1. Research skills are a BY PRODUCT - if you conduct research, you gain more points.
2. Students can leave text messages in the game for their friends
3. They can talk to each other during the game.
4. The characters have PDAs for taking notes and other tasks.

The game is set up so that each player is working for one of three newspapers which each have different political slants. The players are expected to keep a log of their research. They come up with individual topics, research them, and then pitch them to their teammates. The teammates then pick one of those topics - the one that sounds the best - and pitch that to the whole newspaper staff.

I think scoring is done through how users rate each other's work? So if someone's topic is chosen, he or she gets more points. I think...

The cost to the librarians so far is 2 years, and at least 10% of their work time. And it's not done. The programming has been done entirely by one graduate student which can be problematic, because research shows that it's best to have at least 3 programmers to get the different perspectives needed. Plus, it really is too much work for one grad student. One example of this is that they had to go with 2D instead of 3D.

We were shown an excerpt from the game, and it looks pretty good. They included both text and audio for different learning styles. The dialogue was quite humorous and not cheesy (at least, as far as I can remember). However, they still don't have a working version to test due to technical difficulties.

Overall, what I got out of this session was this: It's just not really doable. They are two years into it and still going. The shared value of games is not very good because it's not cost-effective to customize it to your own institution. And it takes a lot of work and a lot of time. Libraries just can't compare to game companies which can afford to hire many programmers to design these things.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Stats about Internet Use

Well, I'm back from the ACRL Conference and will hopefully be posting about that soon, but for now, I'm reading a very interesting summary of the 2007 Digital Future Report from Center For The Digital Future. They survey more than 2,000 individuals in the U.S. and have interviewed the same people over 6 years in order to collect longitudinal data.

Some interesting statistics:
  • 37% of those polled still access the Internet through a dial-up telephone modem. Yuck!
  • 50% access it through broadband
  • 51.1% are buying online
  • 86.8% of those 16 and over express at least some concern about providing their personal info when buying online
  • 69.7% of all Americans use email
  • Users who use the internet for work say they are actively doing so for an average of 7.8 hours per week (that's it!?)
However, the statistic that completely horrified me, quoted directly from the summary [bolding mine], is:
Information on the Internet: is it reliable and accurate? -- The number of users who believe that most or all of the information on the Internet is reliable and accurate grew sharply over 2005, reversing a three-year decline. Well over half of users (55.2 percent) say that most or all of the information online is reliable and accurate – up from 48.8 percent in 2005, but still below the peak in 2001 (58 percent).
YIKES!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Blight of the Modern Novel

According to a New York Times Sunday Book Review Essay by Erica Wagner [thanks Elizabeth!], the cell phone is the bane of the modern novel's existence and the reason that historical fiction is so popular.

How does one write a great mystery novel in the age of the cell phone? These days you can call the police from anywhere, track down a missing person by calling their cell, or speed up your sleuthing by searching for clues while making phone calls at the same time. It's tragic!

And it goes beyond just the novel. Our lives are too traceable and well-documented anymore (take Twitter for example - ack!) So let's add some mystery! Leave your cell phone at home while walking through dark alleys, let the battery run dead before you find yourself with an urgent need to call 9-1-1, and don't answer your phone when you know people are wondering where on earth you are. :)

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Gmail's Delete Shortcut

I have been complaining for a while that Gmail has just about every keyboard shortcut under the sun except the shortcut to delete email. Well, Andrew recently forwarded me a Lifehacker post that says otherwise. There actually is one, but it seems to be kept secret.

So for anyone who may care, the keyboard shortcut is shift + 3 (or the # key).

Hooray!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Social Networks for Bibliophiles

Newsweek has a list of websites where book lovers can discuss the latest books they've read, connect to other people who've read the same books they have, swap books, and more.

The only one listed that I've tinkered with is LibraryThing, which is fun but not something I've invested much time into yet.

I suspect some of my friends over at Rage in the Page might be interested in a few of these.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Are machines too smart?

And the users too dumb?

Creating Passionate Users is one of those blogs I rarely read because her posts are so long and really, who has time for that with 80 feeds vying for attention? But this particular post, Are our tools making us dumber?, is pretty dang interesting.

My impatience with balancing a checkbook without the use of a calculator would indicate so. As frightening as it is to admit, my math skills have definitely declined because a calculator is so much more convenient.

I also really wish I'd learned HTML before trying to use Dreamweaver instead of vice versa. It really would have helped with all those insane urges to tear out my hair.

I think this is also part of the reason I try to explain "why" to library users. Of course, my explanation isn't the most brilliant - "okay, the library catalog is dumb. Unlike Google, it doesn't think to insert 'and' between all your words, and it also doesn't eliminate all those extra words you don't need, like 'a', 'an, 'the', etc." Before one can really understand something, I think the "why" behind it is important, even if it's not exact. Don't just use the tool, get a basic understanding of it first.

I wonder how else this can apply to libraries...

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Closing Oregon Libraries

According to this article from SFGate.com, Oregon's Jackson County Public Libraries are going to have to close due to a $7 million cut in federal funding.

The imminent closure or threatened reduction in services and hours has happened in other libraries lately, but they are always saved in the nick of time. Here's hoping that these libraries won't have to close their doors either!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Skimming Books is Just As Good?

I disagree. But perhaps that is because I cannot skim. That isn't to say that I am incapable of mastering the skill, but I just find it difficult. I feel I owe it to the writer and to myself to read every word. I do occasionally skim through work-related books though (there are so many good ones that I could never get through them all).

A friend of mine [thanks Elizabeth!] sent this NYT article to me. The author, a literature professor, argues that reading an entire book isn't necessary. Skimming it, reading reviews, or scanning the index provides enough information to discuss the book. He even says:
“To be able to talk with finesse about something one does not know is worth more than the universe of books,” he writes.
I've tried several times to read Moby Dick but I never get past "Call me Ishmael".

Perhaps that is enough?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Those book things, they are tricky!

A very amusing YouTube video shows an individual struggling to learn how to use that oh-so-befuddling device: the book. Pretty funny stuff!

Can you use a book? :)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Cheap Batteries and more!

Okay, so this is more or less a blogvertisement or whatever you want to call it but I like this company so far. EMTC is a great place to find cheap cell phone batteries, headsets, camcorder accessories, and more. I bought a new battery for my cell phone for only $10, and no shipping! And I've been using it for quite a while (several weeks anyway...) and it's functioning fine.

I just now ordered a new headset for my phone since my other one died recently. We'll see if it's any good....

Friday, February 16, 2007

March of the Librarians

Well, I've been berated by one of my... two? readers for not posting in such a long time (apparently she needs a means for procrastination...). I can't believe it's been a month. The beginning of the semester is always crazy. I'm teaching Library Research Methods again and that takes a lot of my free time.

Anyway, there is a most amusing mocumentary of the librarians at ALA Midwinter in Seattle. I don't know about the whole "mating" thing, but the lines for essential things like coffee and email are pretty funny. :)

I have not yet attended a large conference, but am registered for the ACRL Conference in Baltimore, which is quite exciting. I'm also contemplating the ALA Annual Conference in Washington DC, since I have friends (victims?) in the area who I can perhaps stay with. :)

Monday, January 15, 2007

Librarians not so dangerous afterall

Two posts ago, I wrote about a librarian in Montana who supposedly received a letter informing her that she'd been added to a "Watch List" for ordering two books through Interlibrary Loan.

Apparently that story was not quite true. The writer of the blog who originally told the story has a new post about it.

Unless of course the librarian was "shushed" by the government! heh heh heh. Okay, I'll stop with the silly conspiracy theories now.

Give your employees a librarian.

Stephen Abram links to this article in a recent blog post. Amongst all the other wonderful office gift ideas to give is:
A librarian. Yes, I know, much of what you need is available online and your staff Googles with the best of them. Still, corporate librarians operate with a level of nuance and finesse that technology can't match. They can uncover sources so obscure as to be practically nonexistent. And they know what's what--they not only tell people what is known but also warn them what isn't.
Excellent.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Librarians are DANGEROUS!

I am forever posting about articles and blog posts that my friends send me. But that's because they send me such fascinating things, like this blog post [thanks Paul!] about a librarian in a tiny little library in Montana.

To sum up the story: Said dangerous librarian orders obviously sketchy books written by Joel C. Rosenberg, receives books along with a note that she's been added to a "Watch List" for ordering them, and is told she needs to go into the big city before she can order more books.

I'll remember that, since I'm the librarian at my institution who is in charge of ordering books and articles from other libraries.... Hope none of our students go requesting anything crazy!

Gotta watch out for those librarians! As Michael Moore said, librarians "are subversive. You think they're just sitting there at the desk, all quiet and everything. They're like plotting the revolution, man. I wouldn't mess with them. You know, they've had their budgets cut. They're paid nothing. Books are falling apart...."

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Never Too Late to Return a Book?

Really? I'm not so sure. 47 years late?

Actually, it's a pretty cute story. I want to know how he came up with the amount of fines that he did.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

New Drugs from OLD Books

This is just so cool. The Arizona Daily Star has an article about a grad student reading about an herbal remedy for diarrhea in a 17th century book, testing it, and finding that it does in fact work. They are hoping someone will develop it into a drug.

I wonder how many other great herbal remedies (and possible future medications) are buried in historical texts.

[Found in American Libraries Direct newsletter, 1-3-07]

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Everytime We Touch... in the library

Wow, a friend [thanks reyn!] sent me this link to a YouTube video of "Everytime We Touch" by Cascada. That definitely happens in my library. Daily.

Excellent.

BookSwim

Apparently books will soon be swimming around the U.S.!

BookSwim claims to be the "Netflix for books". According to the site, it plans to launch the service on February 14th - Happy Valentine's Day, book lovers!

Not sure what I really think about this. The website is certainly unimpressive, and they are soliciting for investors on the homepage (not that there are any other pages to the site) . Who's behind this? What will it cost?

I will be very curious to see if it sinks or "swims".

Miscreants in the Library

A friend [thanks Elizabeth!] forwarded me this article: Lock the Library! Rowdy Students Are Taking Over

I work at an academic institution, so we don't encounter this problem. However, I remember it all too well from my days at a public library. They had to hire a separate employee to work in the afternoons JUST to watch the teenagers who arrived after school. It was insane.

Closing the library for a few hours after school doesn't seem like the answer, but many things have been tried and few, if any, work.