I'm not a library professional. I just play one in real life.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Offline for now

Well, as I suggested earlier, work has been pretty frustrating lately. Being positive just hasn't kept me motivated. So, for now, this blog will go silent.

Keeping up with the Jones's

In a matter of speaking, that is. Joy, in Wanderings of a Student Librarian, offers TV as a means of professional development.

I have to admit that I see some wisdom in this, especially in public libraries. There have been many times--especially with younger patrons--where I honestly can't help them. For example, yesterday I was asked for cd's by a musician named Babyface. While I would have been able to search easily for a more academic subject, this one proved most difficult because I was not familiar with this music.

Could being more familiar with shows like Lost enable me to be a better research librarian? I can see where it might. Someone who likes this show might like x books, whatever those might be. I guess my next question would be how do we keep up with all of this information and still have a life? Is there a way to be well-rounded in our knowledge and not have to drudge through tv series or movies that we despise?

Also, could popular culture be better used in library programs? Could we bring in various fan groups and put those groups into a larger perspective?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Camel Toads?

Found this on LIS News. It was just too good not to post. I've handled quite a few odd questions at the library, but never one like this!

http://www.snopes.com/risque/tattled/cameltoad.asp

A Happy Library

After another frustrating day at work, I decided to google "happy library" to see the results. This is one of the links listed:

http://www.alia.org.au/groups/aliasa/interalia/2003.3/happy.html

A lot of common sense, but some nice ideas too for building a happy library, and a happy workplace in general.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

A Feeling of Goodness

Often it is nice to be reminded why we do this thing called library work. Here is one blog that helps us remember that:

http://feelgoodlibrarian.typepad.com/

Before I moved to my current job, I took a call from an elderly patron asking for the phone number of an aquarium company out of state. A simple question to me, and easily answered. After I had given her the number, she responded ecstatically, thanking me and saying, "That's the first good thing that's happened today!"

That's why I do this job.

Public Library Offering Free Online Tutoring

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/education/2002561778_homeworkhelp.html

Original Roger Williams' Work Discovered by Librarian

http://news.bostonherald.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=107187

Talkr

I only recently discovered Talkr, a free program online that converts blogs into an audiofile. Personally, I think this is a great idea. It attracts the younger crowd who have all of the newest gadgets and such, along with those busy folk who want their news on the go.

I think, though, that its real power could be in its use for providing access to the blind, to the reading disabled, or to the ESL patrons. I have read in a few blogs ideas about how to use Talkr and Podcasts in libraries and other places of education. Here is one:

http://edu.blogs.com/edublogs/2005/08/talkr_letting_b.html

Another (I honestly forget the source now) suggested using podcasts during story times for bilingual patrons to allow them access to library programs. And, as a former worker in a Talking Books branch, I believe that podcasts and programs like Talkr would be a wonderful addition to a library in order to bring blind patrons into the regular library programs and resources.

However, I still haven't found any good solution to the problem of cost. I know very few people who own ipods, and many of the people I know do not own home computers, much less have internet access at home. How do you utilize technology to serve patrons while considering the costs involved for the library? While some libraries could afford to provide patrons temporary use of ipods, I doubt that ours would be able to do so. Is there any solution to this?

Friday, October 14, 2005

OCLC Reaches Pact With Book Distributor

A pretty interesting agreement, at least to a former copy cataloger. Baker & Taylor has agreed to place the OCLC numbers on all of their products, making it easier to catalog them and place them online.

http://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/stories/2005/10/10/daily22.html

Thursday, October 13, 2005

James Joyce Resource

Useful in the extreme for those studying literature, Robot Wisdom's James Joyce portal provides several online versions of Joyce's various works, along with notes, annotations, and links. I only wish that I had had this resource when I was studying Joyce in college.

http://www.robotwisdom.com/jaj/portal.html

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Something to Ponder Tonight

I myself have been guilty of some of the errors described in this article. The adulation of Google and the failure to look elsewhere. Often there is that pressure to bring the information quickly to the patron who is either on the phone or standing in front of you. So Google usually wins the day. I believe he is correct in that we should question the Googles and Wikis on the web, perhaps seeing them as starting points for research and not the giver of all knowledge.

Here's the article that I found through the Library Stuff blog:

http://www2.hawaii.edu/~jacso/extra/egyeb/underinformed.htm

Monday, October 10, 2005

Inservice Day at our library

Along with the usual team-building aspects of an inservice day, there was one speech today that held some interesting ideas, even if they were a bit "high-falutin'," as my grandmother would have said.

I agreed with his discussion of technology and the many opportunities available to libraries in its usage. For example, the use of podcasts by blogs such as The Shifted Librarian (http://theshiftedlibrarian.com/) and others could be of use to libraries to attract younger audiences. In addition, Johnson County's libraries have instituted self-checkout lines just like in the larger grocery stores, thus freeing up staff to work on other projects. E-Books and E-Journals also hold an attraction in that they could increase collection size without larger facilities. These electronic sources are also searchable, unlike printed versions. Society in general seems to be moving toward a more electronic culture, one in which people read their newspapers online and look for emails in their inbox rather than postal mail in their mailbox.

In addition, I think he was correct in his belief that public libraries should take every advantage of cooperating with other organizations and businesses. He cited one library in which they archived the stories of Hispanic-Americans living in that city in order to preserve that part of their history. This sort of self-preservation and participation in the community has some exciting prospects. It seems as if this sort of project would be easy if one enlisted the help of college students to do a study that would not only further their career but be of interest to the greater community. Many of the library workers that I have encountered hold great creativity if they were allowed to express that through their work.

I disagreed with his speech, however, when he stated that the internet usage in libraries would be outdated in 5 years or so. He believed that handhelds would take the place of desktop computers and internet. While handhelds such as Blackberries may have amazing capabilities, I do not believe that they have all of the capabilities that a full-fledged computer does. Part of his assumption too was that everyone already has a computer along with an internet connection at home. Most of the patrons who use the internet at the library cannot afford a computer, much less the monthly charge of an ISP.

I think it is more telling that more and more of the patrons come in to the library to work on the internet, not to check out a book. While handhelds hold promise and their capabilities should be utilized, I think that libraries can also provide more electronic services without leaving those behind who cannot afford more advanced technologies at home. We could provide more computer and technology related classes, more interactive media such as blogs and wikis and message boards, and more online source materials. These--along with probably many more ideas--could provide patrons with the "faster is better" information while still making sure that everyone has access to the information, even those who cannot afford a Blackberry.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Conk Search

Apparently launched just this month, Conk seems to be an interesting little search engine. In addition to the usual search features, it also has an index of musical artists and local restaurants by region with reviews. While the search results for even large groups such as "library" are smaller than the big engines, Conk is worth taking a look at.

http://conk.com/

LibSuccess Wiki

Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki

http://www.libsuccess.org/index.php?title=Main_Page

While I only just discovered this site, this looks like it could be a good source of information for libraries. In addition to the usual management and grant proposal questions, there's also a section on technology and its implementation in libraries. I like how they focus on ideas and successes, rather than problems. I think their focus is an interesting and positive one. We often get bogged down in work problems; it's good to see what others are doing and how they're utilizing their available resources.

One section that I find particularly interesting is that on collaborative tools such as wikis, blogs, and rss. I believe that online communications such as these formats could greatly improve communication among the different shifts, levels, departments, and branches of a library system. They have many different possibilities, including sharing favorite sources, asking for help with research problems, etc. Rather than struggle through a particularly tough research question alone, why not enlist the help of everyone in the library system? There's also the practical part of the internet: while we may not always have access to inter-office communications, one could always post from home onto a blog or a wiki.

I believe that these formats hold a lot of potential for valuing everyone's knowledge and making our jobs easier and more enjoyable.

Libraries lose appeal of Patriot Act gag

Supreme Court justice refuses to intervene

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Connecticut libraries lost an emergency Supreme Court appeal on Friday in their effort to be freed from a gag order and participate in a congressional debate over the Patriot Act.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg denied the appeal and offered an unusually detailed explanation of her decision.

Ginsburg said the American Civil Liberties Union had made reasonable arguments on behalf of its client, identified in a filing as the Library Connection, an association of libraries in Connecticut.

However, Ginsburg said that the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals should be given time to consider whether the Patriot Act, and its requirement of secrecy in records demands, is unconstitutional as applied to the libraries.

"A decision of that moment warrants cautious review," she said.

The ACLU, with backing from the American Library Association, argued that a gag order prevents its client from taking part in debate on Capitol Hill about the Patriot Act, which was passed shortly after the 2001 terror attacks. Some key provisions expire at the end of the year.

A federal judge said that the gag order on the libraries had silenced people "whose voices are particularly important in an ongoing national debate about the intrusion of governmental authority into individual lives."

The 2nd circuit put the decision on hold, and Ginsburg was asked to intervene.

Turning down that request, Ginsburg said she expected the appeals court to hear arguments in the government's appeal and rule "with appropriate care and dispatch." Arguments are Nov. 2.

The case could still return to the Supreme Court.

The Patriot Act authorized expanded surveillance of terror suspects, increased use of material witness warrants to hold suspects incommunicado and secret proceedings in immigration cases.

Much of the Supreme Court appeal, filed earlier this week, was classified and blacked out. The Bush administration's published response consisted of blank pages.

A filing by the American Library Association and other groups included some details, as did Ginsburg's seven-page opinion. She said that the library association member received an FBI demand for records but was told that it would be illegal to tell anyone about it.

The group sued on free-speech grounds so that it could take part "in the current debate -- both in Congress and among the public -- regarding proposed revisions to the Patriot Act," according to Ginsburg.

Federal prosecutors have maintained that secrecy about records demands is necessary to keep from alerting suspects and jeopardizing terrorism investigations.

Ann Beeson, the ACLU lawyer handling the case, said Friday that they would continue their legal fight.

"Ultimately, we believe that this broad power, which allows the government to seize library and Internet records without judicial authorization, is unconstitutional and offensive to American democracy," she said.

The emergency appeal was filed with Ginsburg because she handles cases from the 2nd Circuit.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/10/08/library.gag.ap

Open Access Search

I only wish that we had sources like this when I was in college. One good thing about these "open access" sources is that even those who do not have access to a college's resources can do research. I have done just a few searches through OAIster, but I think there are some "pearls" to be found as they say.

OAIster

http://oaister.umdl.umich.edu/o/oaister/

Libdex

This is a directory of publishers, libraries, library blogs, etc. I've really only recently discovered this site, but I think it's worth taking a look around its resources. It has a searchable index of libraries by location, publishers by genre, and music labels by type. There's also a list of library-related weblogs and library journals. In addition, if you look in the reference section, you'll find a huge list of articles related to every aspect of research, including technology, information management, and the like.

http://libdex.com/