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Archive for July, 2008

Two weekends ago I attended PodCamp Boston 3, with some general sense that I might learn something useful, but an increasing uncertainty about what that might be. The first few sessions I attended had a pretty strong focus on using social media for marketing purposes (blech), increasing your “followers,” and, well, podcasting. Which I don’t really do. I sat through each session trying to find the places where I could connect what these social media peoples were talking about to the place of social media in a library, and an academic library, at that.

Overall, librarians are pretty excited about social media, but we don’t yet seem to have any solid ideas about how to use it. What purpose would a library Facebook page serve? What can a podcast really do for the library community, and would anyone listen to it? Do people even use all the cool rating and tagging and discussion features that are being built into new social OPACs? I suspect librarians jump in without having a clear sense of the needs that they might be trying to meet with all of these technologies.

I finally started to get some sense of how academic librarians can start to answer these questions when I sat in on Kabren Levinson’s discussion of how he implemented a Technology Program in his high school as a senior project. I mean, I’m not even going to get into how impressive this kid is, all just out of high school and completely self-possessed and talented. I will talk instead about how it felt like a smack on the head to suddenly realize that if we want to know how our students want to use technology in the library, we should ask them.

We talk and talk about how current students are the leaders of the future, and about how they know so much more about technology, especially social technology, than we ever will. And yet, when we sit down to build the systems we want them to use in our schools, libraries, and communities, we never think to ask them how they want to use them.

It’s worth considering: Why not set up a group in your university or college library, to get input from students about how you can serve them better online? What tools do they want? Where do they think you might be able to serve them in Facebook or MySpace, if at all? What can you build that they will actually use?

It seems so obvious. Why try to guess where our patrons want us to be on the interwebs when we can just ask them?

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The Library Day in the Life project, inspired by blogger Bobbi Newman, is definitely worth checking out for all the aspiring librarian students out there: A growing number of librarians are signing up, and writing about a day in their work life on their blogs. The project is reminiscent of a book I’ve been reading: A Day in the Life: Career Options in Library and Information Science (yes, I am a huge dork). It’s actually quite interesting to get these kinds of inside glimpses of what working as a librarian is really like, and reading about all the varieties of library work is giving me some new ideas about what I might want to get into when I graduate.

If you’re a librarian and a blogger, sign up and share what your work is like for all of us newbies out there.

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I just came across this nifty website that offers a simple slider to determine copyright status of a work. I wouldn’t necessarily claim the information provided is food proof, but it sure does offer a good starting point for navigating the ever more complicated realms of copyright and permissions. This would have been super handy when I was working as an editorial assistant, trying to determine copyright information for something like 500 literary works. And I think it would certainly be a useful resource for librarians teaching information literacy workshops. I’ll be adding it to my resource arsenal, fo sho.

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The Urban Library Journal’s Spring 2008 issue is dedicated to creativity in the library. There are some really terrific articles in here, on library transformation, using technologies in new ways in the library, and promoting work and leisure in libraries. I’ve never read this journal before, but I want to sit down and read this cover to cover (or, uh, html tag to html tag?).

Urban Library Journal is an open access (free!) journal published by City University of New York. Well worth checking out.

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I have always been envious of those people who can read four or five books at once, keeping up a good pace in all of them, never getting distracted and leaving one to languish bedside until even the main characters have been pretty well forgotten. I mean, I have a hard time with two books at once. Yes, despite the fact that I am reading ALL THE TIME, I try, at least, to stick to one book at a time, because when I get overzealous, things get neglected, and I end up distracted, with the constant nagging feeling that I left the stove on or the door unlocked.

That’s not to say I don’t make the mistake and attempt it every now and then. Right now, I have bookmarks holding places scattered all over my room: I’ve been in the middle of The Intuitionist for weeks, and while it’s very good, I suspect I will have to start all over with this one next year, because I’m just not getting into it. I started A Short History of Nearly Everything awhile ago, but much like Richard Dawkins’s The Ancestor’s Tale, I’m having a hard time paying attention. I recently got back into research about children and commerce, and I’m reading Born to Buy, but finding it not nearly as interesting as Raising Consumers, so I’m thinking of returning it and looking for something more useful.

Then, of course, I’m reading something related to information science, so my brain doesn’t get all mushy over summer break: Ambient Findability is right up my alley and I’m sure very useful for my studies, but what with all the other stuff, it’s languishing in a pile next to my desk. And there always has to be some fiction in there, right? That would be Mysteries of Pittsburgh (read almost the whole thing in a weekend, but put it aside to finish the children and commerce research), and I read I Am America (And So Can You) over the weekend (that’s fiction, right?).

Even just reiterating this list here is making my head spin. I need a new mantra (well, if I ever had an old one): “Repeat after me, Laura, one at a time.”

Are you a juggling reader, or do you like to focus on one thing at a time? Any hints for making that juggling a little easier?

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Podcamp Boston

Is anyone else going to Podcamp Boston this weekend? Billed as “the new media community unConference,” it’s taking place in the Longwood Medical Area this Saturday and Sunday, and we’re going. It should be pretty interesting, although I’m not always so awesome about that networking stuff. I’m shy.

Registration closes tomorrow (Wednesday, July 16), so if you are interested, get to it. It’s about $50 to register, and if the low, low price doesn’t make you jump on that bandwagon, I’m sure the networking party at Tequila Rain on Saturday night will! (Seriously, why Tequila Rain?)

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I found this list on a friend’s blog: It is a list created by the National Endowment for the Arts, and she writes that they claim most American adults have read only six of these hundred books. SIX! That is almost nothing. I tried to find evidence for this claim on the internets, but my librarian skills aren’t working very well this morning. I’ll update when I find something. Anyway, someone has turned it into a fun bloggy game.

Here’s what you do:
1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.
4) Reprint this list on your own blog.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible (um, how many people have actually sat down to read the Bible? Like, straight through?)
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (the COMPLETE works? Really? No, but I’ve read a significant number of the plays.)
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden-
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown (Um, why is this on the list? My confidence in the NEA is faltering.)
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding (Again: Really? Bridget Jones get on here?)
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola (Hmm, not this one, but I’ve read tons of other Zola.)
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – A. S. Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom (Yeah, I concur with Katy: I’m not reading this, ever.)
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad (Many, many times.)
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery-en francais, too
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare (Didn’t we cover this one in the Complete Works? I’m starting to have my doubts about this list…)
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Am I a snob because I’m surprised I’ve only read 49 of these?

Whatever, I have my doubts about the reputability of this list anyway. But I do love lists. And I have been reminded of some more books I really want to read.

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