Hi. One of the things I don't like about aggregated news is its tendency to sort of swim rootless in space and time. I'm adding a date in the title field of my first post of the day. This weekend I will wrestle with getting MT categories to be a way to browse posts on my site. Also, Greg and I went out to a nice dinner at AJ's steakhouse in White River Junction last night. AJ's is a cool 35 minute drive from our house and as such it is the closest steakhouse to where we live. I got a NY strip sirloin and Greg got a tuna steak. We both had dessert which is, of course, crazily profligate in our law-student and half-time librarian lives. Thanks to any and all who clicked through the Powell's link and bought stuff from that nice independent union shop in Portland.
Gates Foundation grants have done a huge amount towards getting libraries online. That said, they have regrettably opened libraries up to a lot of the crappy virii
and browser hijacking
problems that abound which are almost exclusively the result of insecure software, or software that has the potential to be secure but is configured insecurely out of the box. Microsoft makes, and sets default configurations on, most of this software. Librarian Way has a good short bit about the PC vs Mac dichotomy
in the library world. I have been agitating just to get Netscape loaded on our Gates Foundations machines
at my library, just so we can give our patrons a bit of a choice.
The Curmudgeony Librarian
and the Kept-Up Academic Librarian
are being added to my more-frequently-read list. One thing I haven't seen people mention lately about the benefit
of reading content via RSS+aggregators is that it lets you skim
. Now maybe this sounds crass, but I can access more content more quickly and filter out what interests me in order to give it a closer look, if I'm not doing the point-click-wait tango of getting 20 different web pages to load and render.
Another tool that alll those chatty blogging librarians seem to be checking out lately
, a bookmarking tool that is striking for its simplicity, ability to share lists and [best of all] an ability to create your own authority control structures via a keywording system that becomes a set of hotlinked categories. I'm mostly using it presently for my "to add" list of links for librarian.net, and because I enjoy the URL del.icio.us/jessamyn
Hi. A lot going on today. I feel like I've uncovered two separate areas of continuing interest with yesterday's posts. I'm also reading Sixpence House which is another one of those books for bookish people. Powell's Books sent Greg and I a check for "affiliate" money or whatever and it's just enough to take us out to dinner someplace nice [where nice=napkins]. I'll report back since librarian.net readers directly funded this meal.
The Journey to Literacy
[and back again?] tries to answer the question "What Ever Happened to Reading?"
For hundreds of years, people have bemoaned the end of serious (or what is sometimes known as "high") culture -- yet culture survives. Yet at this moment in history, as the mass media and the Internet converge, one thing is clear: the ways we transmit culture are changing. Exactly where does reading fit into this new paradigm? For all Americans, the journey to literacy has taken a new turn.
Ken Wilson is mostly blind but reads via text-to-speech software. He saves copies of the copyright-free books he reads in MP3 format. He offers to make text-to-speech recordings of Gutenberg titles on CD
available to anyone who is blind or partially sighted as an MP3 or a wav file, for low or no cost [with donations gratefully accepted].
The difference between patrons who have been blind since birth and ones who have lost their site in their later years in terms of reading habits is striking. It can be tough for older readers to adapt to books on tape or CD and especailly to get used to the erratic delivery and paucity of choices of audio book delivery
. This article on Braille literacy
discusses how knowledge in and fluency of Braille can affect reading habits, employability and self-sufficiency.
So I've been messing with my RSS aggregator
for the better part of a day now and I have this to say: I enjoy reading sites in the aggregator whose only [or main] function is to provide content. In fact, in some instances reading blogs this way allows me to avoid some very busy pages
and just read all their content as black on white text with nice blue links. This is great for news sites
, pretty good for most blogs
, and downright disturbing for more arty sites where the design is really part of the content, or accentuates the content in some important way. I know the big push in good web design is to separate content from presentation
from structure specifically to enable this sort of approach [and allow people to access content via phones
, browsers, PDAs etc] which think is great. However I also see a lot of sites really designing specifically for syndication which means bland sites, no "flavor text" in the sidebars, very few images, and no extra content that isn't their blog or longer blog entries. No real problem, just that watching the shift happen over the past few years has been interesting, and there has
been a shift. In my role as web content provider, I'm happy to know how this all works and pleased to be able to both read news this way and provide content this way. As my role as a public librarian in rural Vermont where most of our library patrons are still learning to double-click, I'll be on the lookout for RSS's utility.
For example [and sorry for two essentially linkless posts, but it's been a busy week here] yesterday I both learned to use an aggregator and went to a support group meeting for seniors with visual impairments. Most of these people used to be sighted and now can see very little, if at all. They meet once a month at a local library and swap tips, get some socializing in and sometimes have people like me come talk to them. I wanted to get their ideas on making the library more accessible to them and, in my dream world, maybe find someone who was using adaptive software to browse the web so I could have them beta-test the new site I am designing. The feedback they gave me was really interesting -- they are a lively involved bunch who enjoys reading and are trying to find ways to keep reading in their lives even with bad vision -- so I thought I'd drop it in here.
- large print isn't really large enough for these folks -- many can read using a CCTV [which we have] and a large print book, with the CCTV set to reverse text, but not otherwise
- Some said they'd like to be able to "read" books on tape/CD in the library at some sort of listening station
- many are somewhat isolated and just having a book discussion group where the people can all read or listen to books on tape or, even better they said, having someone read to them a chapter or two a week, would be lovely
- none of these people had a computer or were interested in computers too terribly much, though some said they'd like to be able to get some tutoring if it were available, one on one
- all the nifty features of our OPAC were not worth much to them, though they said they'd like to be able to call [which they can] and ask people to put books on hold for them. They said they'd like to be able to get a list of new books on CD/tape via a phone message since even a print newsletter is a hassle for them
- none of them read Braille
- accessibility of the library keeps them out of the library. We are well located by car, but parking is erratic and on-street and the book drop is a few steps from even the closest parking space which still requires parallel parking to get to. Public transportation stops two blocks away but two blocks is way too far in the Winter.
Hi. I updated the page about the book. If anyone knows any other reviews of the book online [good or bad] please send them on. Also, if anyone else would like to write an informal review for Amazon.com, we'd sure appreciate it. There's been only one review there for forever. Thank you.
On a timely note, three of the Democratic nominees have listed -- at one time or another -- their favorite books. LISNews has collated those links
and combined them with George W's list as well.
I don't often think of law libraries as having really fancy virtual collections, but the Tarlton Law Library [at UT Austin] has a great set of pages about The Law in Popular Culture
If you have realaudio and you haven't already heard it, Chicago Public Radio did a neat little bit on the library in American life
featuring Louise Robbins and Matthew Battles. [thanks raizel]
It's hard not to describe the One New Thing blog without directly quoting the blog's sidebar itself, but here goes: one Australian librarian vows to learn one new thing each day. This is her blog
Hi. I just finished a 3,000 word article about the ibiblio digital library project that should be appearing in OCLC Sytems & Services, assuming it passes the peer review process. Many of today's weird links are from my research.
Slightly off-topic, but I really think you will enjoy this article: Cooking pot markets: an economic model for the trade in free goods and services on the Internet
. From the always wonderful people at First Monday.
[Linus] Torvalds remained in the University out of choice, not necessity. Linux has paid back, because the reputation it's earned him is a convertible commodity. "Yes, you can trade in your reputation for money," says Torvalds, " [so] I don't exactly expect to go hungry if I decide to leave the University. 'Resume: Linux' looks pretty good in many places."
Hi. I'm working on an article for OCLC Systems & Services and I found a bunch of weird library links while doing research on ibiblio, the wonderful people who host this site for free. These links are the detritus from my work today.
I added Eli's page
to my links page, even though her entry today has very little to do with libraries.
I came across this lovely article
from DLib showing some examples of digital libraries that use Greenstone
, open source software for creating digital libraries.
Hi. I have just had another paid holiday. This job is the first time I have ever had a paid holiday. I even got a wee bit of time off to go to ALA. I like being employed.
ALA unveiled the new shorter URLs
today. You know what? They really are shorter. They're not short
, but they are shorter and that's a really big step in the right direction. See what you think, send feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org. They will not know it's broken if you don't tell them, the website is too big for daily brokenness-checking.
Embarassingly, I was 30 minutes late to a Council meeting at the conference, missing two votes, because I had paid attention to one of the many schedules
on the website, and it was wrong. I wrote a pointed letter, got a sincere apology, and I guess I get to cross my fingers for next time.
How book people are different from movie people
, one person's view, including some follow-up
In the world of books, trash and art still don't ride in the same section of the bus; the books mindset -- at least the respectable-publishing mindset -- is still segregationist. If the movie-world view is all about the vital connections between art and trash, and about how each is the lifeblood of the other, the book person's imagination is taken up with the neverending struggle of art, talent and brains to triumph over the forces of money, hustle and fame. [thanks steve]
"Phantom teachers" unable to be fired because they're tenured, silently haunt New York's libraries
. While I can't quite see working in a library as being in exile, it is a far cry from being a schoolteacher. [thakns brandon]
I found this nifty little poem
linked off of my pal Laura's staff page. I stayed with her when I was in San Diego.
PATRIOT Watch: Want to give your patrons absolute privacy when they surf? Try ECM Stealth
, patrons leave no trace. I got this link in email and I know nothing else about this product, except the larger website
it is on seems sort of empty. Anyone else know anything else about it?
Hi. I'll be tossing a lot of links up here over the rest of today and I'll try to include some information on what went down at ALA over the past four or five days. The conference was tiring but really informative. The book signing was fun [and McFarland says we've sold more than 800 books already!], and the travelling wasn't as rough as I thought it would be. Thanks to all the new folks who took the time to say hi or introduce themselves.
While I don't feel like dragging my jet lagged fingers through the search engine on ALA's site today to link to what went on, Karen had some daily updates
that can give you a rough idea. Turns out that the wireless that we thought was going to cost us $25/day wound up being completely free. And I left my laptop at home.
This may have made the rounds while I was away, but it's amusing nonetheless. many jokes were made at council meetings about this dorky almanac business: Reference Sources of Terror
. [thanks jonathan]
Denver Public -- probably my favorite Big Beautiful Library besides Vancover -- is asking the mayor to form a special tax district
to keep the library regularly funded.
"If you want to read 'The Da Vinci Code' in your lifetime, the Denver Public Library is probably not a good bet for you," [city librarian] Ashton said. That's because there are still more than 800 names on the waiting list for the recent best-selling novel
Mostly not in English [like most of the rest of the world] the CEBI website
is for encouraging and disseminating social responsibility among Spanish speaking librarians and library professionals.
Romances for the ambitious. Jen Wolfe has compiled an annotated list of library career romances
that boggles the mind.
Featured here are 13 examples of the latter, often written by librarian authors, and starring heroines (sorry man librarians—you're left out in the cold as usual) who find love amidst the glamour of card catalogs, microfilm readers, and bookmobiles.
An author's dilemma
-- make your book more palatable to [some] librarians or risk losing sales, lots of sales. [thanks penny]
I had the pleasure of getting to talk some with Trina Magi, ALA Councilor, noted Vermont librarian and, according to Mother Jones
, hellraiser. [thanks liz]
Hi. Wrapping up the last Council meeting. I'll return to freezing Vermont tomorrow and update you all on what has been happening. Serving on Council is, while not always super exciting, very fulfilling in terms of understanding how the association operates and getting to play a part in that operation. More tomorrow, thanks for tuning in.
Hi. Three notes from the keynote speak. Omar from BlackPlanet gave the talk before the "Life Post CIPA" panel discussion. He had several very good points that I wanted to write down before I forgot them. His basic premise [which will be online sometime in the next three weeks according to Carla Hayden] is that CIPA's legacy is less relevant than librarians working to reduce NOT the digital divide, but what he sees as the literacy divide -- people using the Internet as passive consumers rather than as creators. This creation of content was not as possible with TV for example, as it is for the Internet. Or, as he put it, people who are failing to use the Internet because of dispossession, not disposition. The line that I took away from it was "The future of libraries is helping everyone think like a librarian" that is, being critical thinkers and appraisers of information. I'm not sure I totally agree -- he did dodge the "what do we do NOW" issue -- since I see many more hurdles to this sort of access, but it's an appealing perspective.
Hi. I'm at ALA in San Diego. Boy it is weird, but sort of normal-weird, like a conference. Many more people than Toronto. If you're in San Diego, come to my booksigning at the McFarland booth tomorrow from 12-2. Also be sure to read the letter to the editor of American Libraries [no direct link, sorry, you know the ALA website] discussing my lack of props to the Web Advisory Committee in my last letter to the editor. I'm guilty as charged, though my impression was that my letter was about something entirely different. In any case, mad props to the committee, they are doing the best they can with what they have to work with, which is, to be fair, not terribly much.
Hi. I'm on my way to San Diego in a few hours. It is currently below zero outside with promises to be way below zero when I have to leave and catch my flight. I'll be staying with friends in San Diego but please swing by a Council Meeting if you'd like to get together during the conference.
Hi. I changed some of the stylesheets around a bit to make visited links a little easier to read. No progress on archives yet, but I'm working on it.
I am enjoying this website already. In the accidental systems librarian vein, meet The Librarian in Black
. Self-proclaimed techie gamer librarian chick.
This site was born out of my displeasure at having to wade through dozens of websites, blogs, & RSS feeds related to librarianship, technology, webmastery, and current issues to find those few posts that applied to me as a Tech Librarian. [thanks jessica]
Even though I generally dislike the smarmy tone of much of what appears in Mcsweeney's, I have been enjoying the occasional Dispatches from a Public Librarian
. The content isn't really much different from what you find on RefGrunt
, just the tone is somehow much different.
Later that day I received a call from another librarian at the city's main library asking if I had had any problems that day with a patron. I said yes, and asked the librarian why. He said the man had come into the main library and filed a complaint against me. I asked if he mentioned coming back after I got off work to beat me up. He had forgotten to mention that. [thanks rob]
I am presently reading Libraries: An Unquiet History
which should be required reading for all librarians. I am learning all sorts of new things and getting many more quotes to populate the sidebar. Did you know that Melville Dewey originally had the middle names Louis Kossuth
? Kossuth is widely known and the leader of the Hungarian Revolution
. Dewey later dropped the middle names.
Hi and Happy New Year! One of my resolutions is to get archiving and category sorting up and running for librarian.net this month. After I get back from ALA I will likely have my chance. Thanks for bearing with me.
The example URL in the ALA press release entitled "ALA web site will feature short [sic] URLs
" is, itself, this long: http://www.ala.org/ala/oif/statementspols/statementsif/librarybillrights.htm. To be fair, a 75 character URL will not generally break in mailreaders. I'm interested to see what the reception will be to this "improvement".
Walt Crawford's Cites & Insights
[pdf] is out for January. He's got an excerpt from his new book on the process of writing and tips for doing it well as well as a short piece discussing the currency of library weblogs along with some recommendations for good reads. [openstacks]