Ask A Librarian: What is the deal with “free” ebook sites?

screenshot of a page from the bookshowing two girls looking at a computer screen which says WIN PRIZES

It’s been an odd set of months. I got busy with Drop-In Time and then very un-busy. I’ve been keeping up with my newsletter a little, and doing email Drop-in Time, public awareness stuff on various mailing lists, keeping my ear to the ground. Still acting as a Qualifying Authority for the Internet Archive’s print-disabled program which got a LOT more visible thanks to the National Emergency Library. And so it was natural that someone would ask me about this. Got any questions, feel free to drop me a note. This question was a little longer, but a brief summary is a librarian question: “patrons who were asking about “free” ebook sites, ranging from OpenLibrary to ZLibrary. Are they safe? Legal? Should we even mention them to our patrons?” My response, which comes from my very particular place…

Hey there — thanks for asking. I do know a lot of these sites and I used to work for Open Library. My feelings on this topic are kind of complex, so I’ll just outline what I know. Sorry this is long!

So there are outright “We pirate stuff’ sites like Mobilism and ZLibrary. These are places that are basically set up to pirate things and have no veneer of legality to them. I have personally used them on rare occasions but I don’t think I’d point a patron to them. They often point people to sketchy download sites where it it incredibly easy to pick up viruses and etc. Though I must note the sites themselves do not have viruses or malware to the best of my knowledge. Continue reading “Ask A Librarian: What is the deal with “free” ebook sites?”

Our Library Associations

a bunch of women in victorian era dresses standing around some travelling libraries

I’ve been spending some of the wintertime outlasting the blues and making sure that Wikipedia’s got entries for every state library association. It mostly didn’t, now it mostly does. I really should have been writing this post as I went, but blogging is different from making little stubs from templates. My process was straightforward:

  • Start with a bare-bones template
  • Check library association website for an “Our History” section
  • Check old Library Journals on the Internet Archive (keyword searchable)
  • Check Hathi Trust for publications BY the association
  • Check Guidestar for incorporation information
  • Read a few newsletters
  • Upload a small version of the logo
  • Add some fun details if there are any
  • PUBLISH

I am lucky that at some point I got “auto-patrolled” status, so my Wikipedia articles don’t have to get cleared by someone before they go live. If I can use this to help you, do let me know. A few things I’ve learned along the way… Continue reading “Our Library Associations”

2019 reading list and commentary

double pile of books on my kitchen table, some of which were there this time last year.

I started 132 books this year and finished 127. New this year: a twitter thread of everything I read in 2019. I read a lot this year but that was partly because I wasn’t feeling great, so it’s a new high number, but not necessarily a cause for celebration. I try not to become too competitive with myself and my reading. However, I did really work on reading more female authors this year and I think, even though I read a lot of S. A. Corey’s Expanse series, it paid off. That said, my non-Western/POC reading is down and that needs work, I’ll be referring to this list to get some good ideas for 2020.

A few books hit my best list this year: The Library Book (of course), The Ten Thousand Doors of January, a surprise fave, and Underland, a look at the things that take place under the ground, told in a great rich style. Haven’t yet gotten to the point where I can easily track pages read, but I’d sort of like to. The booklist tweeting was a fun addition and I’ll keep that up for 2020.

Here are stats for the books that I finished.

average read per month: 10.6
average read per week: 2.4
number read in worst month: 7 (June)
number read in best month: 17 (March)
number unfinished: 5
percentage by male authors: 32%
percentage by female authors: 68%
percentage of authors of color/non-Western: 19%
fiction as percentage of total:  72%
non-fiction as percentage of total: 28%
percentage of total liked: 94%
percentage of total ambivalent: 4%
percentage of total disliked: 1%

Previous librarian.net summaries: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004. The always-updated booklist, going back to 1997, lives at jessamyn.info/booklist and it has its own RSS feed.

2019 in Libraries

special collections cube inside the Dartmouth Library

 

Visiting libraries is great. Neat things to learn about communities, comfy places to sit, clean bathrooms. I went to fewer libraries this year, but made more visits overall. Not chipping away at my VT 183 Project that quickly. This year I went to 27 libraries in six states. One hundred and eleven visits total.

Previous years: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and some reviews from 2003.

Libraries I went to a lot

  • Kimball (VT) – my local
  • Rochester (VT) – another almost-local where I did drop-in time
  • Hartness/VTC (VT) – my local academic
  • Westport (MA) – summer local, wasn’t there as much this year
  • Tiverton (RI) – summer better local
  • Windsor (VT) – did some library shifts here

The rest

  • Howe/Hanover (NH) – always a fave wen I’m in Hanover
  • Peacham (VT) – cool taxidermy and nice people
  • Dorchester County PL (MD) – functional and a lovely building
  • Grafton (VT) – big book sale upstairs, lots of comfy chairs
  • Howe/UVM (VT) – renamed and still great, better possibly
  • Carney/Dartmouth (MA)- summer fave
  • Wicomico PL (MD) – simple and sturdy, a lot of great exhibits
  • Norwich U (VT) – aggravating meeting, lovely library
  • Shelburne (VT) – checking on the new reno, it’s great!
  • Lamont/Harvard (MA) – rainy day, cozy library
  • Montpelier (VT) – good place to met people
  • Dartmouth/Baker-Berry (NH) – good place to hide from the rain, hoppin
  • Dartmouth/Rauner (NH) – great art and wifi
  • Houghton/Harvard (MA) – space exhibit and good friends
  • Fall River (MA) – always impressed with what they can do in this space
  • Norwich (VT)
  • Hancock (VT) – so tiny, so cute
  • UVM Spec Coll (VT) – great tour of the new place
  • Seminole Heights (FL) – good place to chill out after a long walk
  • Saunders PL (FL) – gave a talk here
  • Widener/Harvard (MA) – hiding in the stacks here is one of my happy places

Ask A Librarian: Graphic Novels for Boomers?

cover of WOman Rebel which features Margaret Sanger tied to a chair

I was wondering if you might give my little women’s (boomers) some guidance as to a beginning graphic novel for us to read.

Hi! It sort of depends what you’re into. The big favorite was the Vermont Reads book for last year which was John Lewis’s March (about civil rights and the struggle for them especially in the south). It’s first person, can get a little violent at times but I found it pretty engaging. There are a lot of graphic novels at the library that are a little kid-oriented but still have storytelling and pacing that works for adults. A few classics include

  • El Deafo – about a child with a hearing impairment learning to manage it as well as just being a kid
  • Ghosts by Raine Telgemeier which is about families and, sort of, the Day of the Dead
  • Pashmina – a story about a “two culture” kid who encounters a magic shawl and uses it to get information on family secrets

One that I liked but it’s a little challenging in terms of material (some graphic stuff) is Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story which is a history of Sanger. Super interesting but obviously she was living in a difficult time and working with people who were living in a more difficult time.

All of these are, I think, available at the Kimball Library and Courtney Bowen there I’m sure would have other suggestions since she manages the collection.