Archive for July, 2009

I didn’t think I would miss work but I find that I do miss it. It will be pleasant to be back in my two very different libraries. I have some new ideas to try out, and current projects to continue.

These last two weeks taking concentrated classes at SU have been crazy and fun and a lot of effort. I’ve met many future librarians and some current librarians that I would be happy to see again. It still amazes me how encouraging and helpful librarians are to library students. Someday I’ll get a chance to pass on the favor.


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I saw some amazing books in the special collections area of the Syracuse University Library yesterday. It made me wonder about the future of books. I’m not one of the crowd that declares that books will be extinct, but there’s no denying that bookmaking as a craft has dwindling. What does it mean for the future of books when the majority of books are made for mass market out of cheap materials that fall apart. How will these books be preserved? Who will want to preserve them?

And then there’s the digital collections to consider. Will they last like paper lasts? Digital collections may not necessarily be more durable than a book, the world has had the technology for a short span of time. What’s 30 years compared to the lifespan of a book from the 1400’s?

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Wake-up in searching

It was good to have a reminder about the inner workings of web search engines. Although experience and the experts tell people otherwise, it’s still easy to trust in the relevance of results. Scott’s recounting of his class exercise of dividing the content of different search engine results between their advertising and legit results demonstrated effectively the heavy influence and presence of advertising on search engines. Another related topic to think about is the information overload caused by these advertisements.

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Clinical Reader, an aggregater type site that collects medical-related resources and social media on the web,  upset the wrong medical librarian. Nicole Dettmar noticed the website unscrupulously using NLM and other logos to create creditability, posted this info on her blog, and received threatening tweets from the company.  See Steve Lawson’s post for commentary. Or for greater detail, see here.

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Just finished seven straight days of classes, most days with classes from 9 to 5 . That’s a lot of information, it feels like I’m swimming in bits and pieces of library stuff. Questions, Google Images, adapting to change, standards, EAD, new technology, digital libraries, Contentdm, creativity, Mets object, teamwork, they’re all in the mix. It will be a sweet sleep when I get home, but that’s a week from now. Now I think about tomorrow when I start my next class. I’ll let the themes surface on their own.

A few thoughts taken from the gateway class I’ve attended the past two days:

Creativity comes with a lot of tries and many failures. Note to self: punish inactivity, not failure or success (courtesy of David Sutton’s article, “The weird rules of creativity” ) I sometimes think that I, and others as well, routinely punish even the possibility or hint of failure, and that is such a barrier to personal growth and innovation. To modify what my Saturday friend Garrison Keiller says,  “the children have to be above average.” If Edison saw failure as an act of improving and making an invention better, I, and others often see it as personal. Which comes to a silly existential question, but that I’ll leave for another time…

Remember your audience. When you present a proposal or solution, ask yourself,  “What would motivate my audience (insert Director, Board of Trustees, etc here) to support this proposal?” Don’t assume that they share the same priorities. After all, their job has a different title.

Encouragement costs little and gains much.

Maybe I like teamwork after all.

Library people love talking about libraries.

I’m happy with the practicality of classes so far. Don’t get me wrong, they’ve contained plenty of theory, but have plenty of applications in real life time. For the Mondays of life, here’s looking at you, kid, cheers!

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I once had a teacher who told me that you never truly read something until you read it at least two times, which was sage advice, if not always practical. With this in mind, I’ve been continuing my reading for IST 511, rereading chapters when time permits. Right now we’re reading selections from The Portable MLIS At the first reading, Chapter One felt light and a bit flighty. The second read gave me a better appreciation for the Richard Rubin’s voice as an author. In the end, it was the section on values in libraries and librarians today (p. 9-13) that really resonated with me. All of the library values that Rubin mentioned are values that I treasure and they are integral to my desire for a career in library science. (And no, it’s not the salary : ) ) In particular, Rubin’s take on the value of education in libraries sparked my interest.

When Rubin (2008) talks about education in libraries, he points out that education, a value adopted by the ALA, is also a major reason for “continued public support of libraries” (p. 12) Periodically I meet people who think that the library is rendered obsolete by the advent of computers and the Internet. My observation, which comes from watching the microcosm of a small town public library, is that rather than rendering the library obsolete, the Internet has spawned a new need for community education. This need is for computer experience and computer learning,  or “computer literacy”, and has been seen and voiced by others in the library community. The public library’s provision of  opportunities for computer experience is an important rebuttal to thoughts that the time for libraries is past. In the last few years at my public library I have seen use of our public computers increase steadily.

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The Liminal Librarian gives a picture tour of this gem of a library in Idaho.

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