Radical Reference @ ALA

Radical Reference is doing a bunch of things at ALA in Chicago. The Boston events that I went to were fun and low key and very welcoming to newcomers. If you’re interested in the work they do, swing by and say hello. I’ll be doing a short skillshare called “Oh No He Didn’t! Rumor Control As an Essential Part of Event Based Radical Reference” Monday the 27th at 2:30.

late to the book meme bandwagon

I’m late to this meme but I always think it’s important to not only stress our librarian skills with computers, and our facility with people, but also the fact that many of us read, a lot, an awful lot. So with that in mind:

Total number of books I’ve owned: My books are spread out over three houses and two states. While I try to get rid of books I’m done reading, I don’t always do this. I also have some encyclopedia/dictionary sets [is the OED 20 volume set one book, or 20? do bound periodicals count?] that I feel like I need for reference purposes. My ballpark estimate is somewhere between 500 and a thousand, but I haven’t visited a lot of them lately.

Last book I bought: We went to the five college book sale in Hanover and I came home with a bagful of books for about $8. One of them was called How to Shit in the Woods. One was a nature guide to trees. One was Moving Mars. One was a John Grisham somethingorother. I find that with good libraries and a strong network of book-loaning friends and family, I almost never have to buy books. I can’t remember the last full price book I bought, I think it’s been years.

Last book I read: As if this writing it’s The Secret Life of Bees. By the end of the day it will probably be American Gods. This page is the final arbiter.

Last book I finished: I’m not sure why this is different than the above question, there are very very few books that I read but do not finish. The last book I didn’t finish was a book about the Slow Food movement, I think it may have lost something in translation.

Five books that mean a lot to me: this is a static respresentation of a shifting list
The Gold Bug Variations by Richard Powers [librarian love story written for smart people]
Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder [Tom West is my dad]
Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin [my intro to magical realism]
Uncle Shelby’s ABZ Book by Shel Silverstein [an early book I enjoyed when I may have been too young to fully appreciate it, with some delightful subversive humor]
Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins [whimsical and poetic, gave me the strength to go on and get out of high school and the wretched suburbs and live the way I wanted to live. I use some parts of this book in my technology instruction to this day]

Five people I’d like to see do this as well: Greg, Dawn, Kate, Peter and Maryellen, Cathy

redefining relevance

Everyone has their own ideas about when the overpopulation of the Internet started resulting in a noticable lack of quality. Generally this point is somewhere along the lines of “A year or two after I got here….” For me it was when I started noticing that FAQs were being used for marketing purposes and no longer had the “just the facts” helpfulness that I had grown to expect from anything called a FAQ. Plus, I had to walk two miles in the snow just to get to the Internet and even then we had to use a hand crank to get it started.

This is all an elaborate lead-up to say that I spent some time in library school learning about the concept of relevance and now do-no-evil Google is trying to tell me their ads are relevant? Feh.