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Friday, July 13, 2012

In the aftermath of Foundations this summer


Now that the Foundations course ended, I have some time to explore library and information science and look for new books.  Two contain a series of articles examining the digital world we find ourselves in. How do we conceive of the library in a digital world? Penny Dale, Jill Beard and Matt Holland edited University Libraries and Digital Learning Environments (London: Ashgate, 2011) which prods the reader to examine the library through the eyes of a digital learner. Where do social media, e-learning, digital repositories, and digital collections fit within our hallowed walls? How do we serve the e-learner and distance student with our varied resources? Are reference interviews still effective when helping virtual students? These questions and more are tackled by the practitioners who contributed to this volume of essays.

From Lending to Learning: The Development and Extension of Public Libraries (Chandos Information Professional Series) First (1st) Edition by Ronan O'Beirne, (Chandos Information Professional Series, October 2010) takes on the changing role of public libraries and addresses the question of serving the remote patron, providing outreach to community members, and engaging diverse populations. Read about this challenge and ask yourself, how can I bring in a new group of users over the next few months?

Censorship and Intellectual Freedom were the most popular topics of the semester. Discussion was hot and heavy as you explored the difference between censorship and collection development and the need to build balanced, neutral collections. Based upon the discussion and the curiosity about why certain books are banned or contentious, I’ve changed an assignment for next time which will encourage students to tackle this topic head on. In the meantime, you might read this new compilation of articles edited by Valerie Nye and Kathy Barco, True Stories of Censorship Battles in America's Libraries (Chicago: ALA, 2012).  This slim volume contains essays about censorship in the library instigated by librarians, parents, and organizational bodies alike. “The most important lesson we hear repeated in these essays is a call for each library to have a collection development policy and a materials consideration policy before a challenge occurs”[xix]. What’s in your collection that could be challenged? This slim volume contains examples of how librarians dealt with censorship.

Finally, several people asked for books or articles about the history of cataloging & classification. I asked a few catalogers who agreed the subject seems to be a seldom studied field. When I teach my Rare Book Librarianship course, I’m likely to come across some more articles.  I did find three studies. Martin D. Joachim edited Historical Aspects of Cataloging and Classification. (simultaneously published in the journal Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 35 no. 1 and 2 (2002) and 35 no. 3 and  4 (2003)) Binghamton, NY: The Haworth Press, Inc. 2003. The entire volume is available as a journal through KentLink (EBSCOhost). You’ll need your VPN to access the articles. Quite a number looked interesting, including one on the history of classification for government documents.

The second publication that looked interesting and discussed the history of cataloguing is by Mary Piggott A Topography of Cataloguing showing the most important landmarks, communications, and perilous places. London: The Library Association, 1988. I didn’t find any particular article that struck my fancy, but if you like theoretical articles, this one is for you.

The third book I found about the history of cataloging is by Donald J. Lehnus Milestones in Cataloging: Famous Catalogers and Their Writings 1835-1969. Littleton, CO: Libraries Unlimited, Inc 1974. While this one is older, the articles focus on the theory and development of cataloging in its first 125 years. I might use the first two chapters in an advanced seminar on catalogs and cataloging, otherwise, I’d leave this one for those who are curious about the evolution of the field and terminology.

The world of books beckons. I will continue to post as I find other titles of interest. What have you learned today?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

E-Books for our Readers



Amanda Katz, commentator on NPR, hosted a talk entitled “Will Your Children Inherit Your E-Books?” on June 21, 2012 http://www.npr.org/2012/06/21/155360197/will-your-children-inherit-your-e-books. While this is a story about the future of e-books, it also promotes the beauty and physicality of books made from paper and cloth. This story includes great images of marginalia, bindings, and more that just don’t translate to e-books, at least not easily.

How will e-books be shared with our families, friends, and future acquaintances? Will it be possible to bequeath them to your heirs or your library? What value will these electronic books have for future researchers and readers? Katz raises excellent questions about e-books that are similar to our questions about the future of libraries as a whole! 

What will you do with all those e-books you are acquiring? And with digital audio books and digital movies for that matter? Will they last into the future? The last question drifts into domain of preservation of digital materials, well beyond this class. If you want to know about the sustainability of digital or print materials check out the two SLIS courses on the topic.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Different types of reading experiences for different types of learners



We all learn differently, it’s true. Some of us learn best when we are told, others when we are shown, some when we practice, and others, well, they need a lot of practice, often trial & error.
The same is true of reading. Some of us like to read with our eyes, others with our ears, some of us prefer the movie adaption, and some just don’t’ read much or often.

Whichever way you like to read or learn, there’s a type of reading experience out there for you.
Books in covers, hard & soft, are a pleasure to read. They stimulate the physical sense of touch while tantalizing the reader with their typefaces, page layout, and pictures or illustrations. These books fill your hand or your lap, grow heavy over time, and, if really excellent, are devoured in a long lazy afternoon.

E-books provide a similar experience to physical books if you let them. The reader has weight as it rests in your hand or lap. You can vary the typeface, the size of the print, the color, and even the number of pages. Illustrations appear if your device permits. While you can mark your place, and highlight ideas, the marginalia isn’t the same as that in a physical book, unless you “share” it.

Audio books are ear candy, at least I think so. I love reading with my ears. If the narrator is skilled, his or her voice disappears into the background and the story moves forward behind your eyes. You can get so wrapped up in the story that you miss your exit on the interstate, or, as is my usual experience, my weekly 2 ½ hour commute (each way) evaporates as I experience the adventure I’m reading. Audio books come in all flavors, from dramatized to dramatic, from single voices to many, in every genre and for every age group. If you want to experience a YA audio book, check out http://www.audiobooksync.com/ this summer for classic novels paired with Teen fiction.

For all year round, there are movie adaptations (pairing books and movies or TV shows together) such as “Game of Ice & Snow” “Pillars of the Earth”, even the Chronicles of Narnia or Harry Potter. Each movie adaptation is a chance to turn on a new reader to the joys of reading. Which was better, the book or the movie? Does it really matter?

Maybe your choice of reading material depends upon your mood. Take time to read a little bit every day. If you cannot find the energy to read with your eyes, read with your ears. Listen to a good book, a poem, a short story. Expose yourself to new ways of reading and enjoying literature. 

I try to read for pleasure for 10 minutes every morning and every evening. It's important and it keeps you in touch with what your patrons are exploring and enjoying. If you cannot read books, read book reviews, listen to NPR's book podcasts http://www.npr.org/templates/rss/podlayer.php?id=1032  , or audiopolis http://audiofilemagazineaudiopolis.blogspot.com/, audiobook reviews from Audiofile magazine http://www.audiofilemagazine.com/ . You'd be surprised how much fun it is to disconnect from school and explore.

How do you engage your senses when you read?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Copyright - who controls digital rights?



On Thursday (June 6, 2012), TOR publishers of Science Fiction made a bold move in the world of publishing. They are releasing books without DRM (Digital Rights Management). That’s correct. In an age of copyright protection that seems too tight, this publisher is releasing e-books that won’t inhibit loaning and copying e-books. Of course, you have to purchase the books, but after that, you can lend them to your friends  http://www.tor.com/blogs/2012/06/tor-books-announces-e-book-store-doctorow-scalzi-a-stross-talk-drm-free Stross said “Going DRM-free changes this business perspective and makes e-books more similar to their physical counterparts.” I have to agree with his statement.

Does this change the role of lending libraries when it comes to e-books? Will TOR partner with libraries to make their titles available for unlimited loans? This is certainly a big step for the e-book industry. It will be interesting to see if other publishers follow suit.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Library catalogs



Since we read about the cataloging, classification, and library catalogues this week, I thought you’d enjoy these three articles. My Alma Mater, The University of Wisconsin at Madison, is finally mothballing their card catalog. “Farewell Cards” On Wisconsin (Summer2012):31-35, 62 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/features/farewell-cards/

I have very fond memories of the time I spent there looking up books and exploring topics for research papers. When you read the article, you’ll discover that their catalogue took up the entire floor of the building. It was huge and contains so much information. Can you imagine such a large catalogue? New York Public Library had a huge card catalogue as well. It also filled the entrance to the reading room. Oh, the hours I spent lost in subject headings.

Today, librarians, researchers, and our other patrons use the catalogue from home, or terminals scattered around the building. Finding great titles accidentally is more difficult. It’s a different type of learning and exploring because you have to follow subject headings or browse the shelf. American Libraries e-extra for June contains an article that examines how cataloging itself has changed. “Cataloging Then, Now, & Tomorrow” American Libraries (May/June 2012): 52-54 http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/b0fcde2b#/b0fcde2b/54 .

It may surprise you to discover that not all libraries and librarians love classification systems. Some think it’s time to get rid of them. Here’s an article supplied by one of your fellow students Oder, Norman. “Rangeview Library District, CO, First System To Fully Drop Dewey.” Library Journal (June 5, 2009): http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6663145.html . A group of libraries decided to drop DDC and create use a simplified subject heading system.

I find this fascinating, especially since I teach about genealogy & local history collections, which often arrange their materials geographically and then by topic. After all, what good is a library where all the call numbers are the same? I’m a strong advocate for classification schema, subject headings, and fixed or controlled vocabulary. They make our jobs easier and allow us to group like topics and things together. Natural language, tags, and key word searching is great. Natural language is how search engines like Google use. For me, personally, there’s a little too much fuzziness to searching when you don’t know someone else’s terminology.

What do you think about the usability of catalogues? Do you think it is time to
stop using the Dewey Decimal Classification System or Library of Congress Classification schema? 

(For earlier comments about catalogs, see late Feb, early March 2012.)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The influence of books


Books, stories, poems, myths, plays, lectures, TV, and the other forms of entertainment and edification influence our careers, our decisions, and even our perspectives on life. Some amuse us; others teach us about life, morals, and ethics; and still others help us understand how to do our jobs well. Neil Postman writes in “Amusing Ourselves to Death” about the influence of television and its dominance over reading. Written in 1985, he did not and could not include the influence the internet and digital technology has had upon our lives. Nevertheless, books in their many formats and manifestations continue to influence individuals and are essential for the survival of libraries

At the 12th annual National Book Festival http://www.loc.gov/bookfest/ on Thursday June 21st, the Librarian of Congress James Billington just announced a new celebration of the book entitled “Books That Shaped America”
The Library of Congress, the world’s largest repository of knowledge and information, began a multiyear “Celebration of the Book” with an exhibition on “Books That Shaped America.” The initial books in the exhibition are displayed below.
“This list is a starting point,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. “It is not a register of the ‘best’ American books – although many of them fit that description. Rather, the list is intended to spark a national conversation on books written by Americans that have influenced our lives, whether they appear on this initial list or not.” http://www.loc.gov/bookfest/books-that-shaped-america/

A Washington Post editorial discusses the various books and even asks why academic ‘classics’ don’t make the list http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/library-of-congress-issues-list-of-books-that-shaped-america/2012/06/21/gJQACDMxtV_story.html.  In addition, the Washington Post created a slide show of the title pages from 23 of the books in the Library of Congress exhibition displaying unusual title pages, frontispieces, and binding http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/books-that-shaped-america/2012/06/21/gJQA4KdxtV_gallery.html

Watch the short video, read the list of books, and add your own influential books to their list.
What’s the book that shaped your life?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Promoting Reading and Libraries



As I read through Parade Magazine this weekend, I came across Nathan Fillion’s interview about books, print and digital http://www.parade.com/celebrity/celebrity-parade/2012/06/10-nathan-fillion.html He says he hooked and has been since he was a kid, reading everywhere and constantly.  What’s better than an actor who plays a writer who promotes books in both his persona.

When Nathan Fillion said he reads books everywhere, it reminded me of life after college when I lived in NYC, well, Brooklyn then Queens, and read all the time. The subway was the perfect place to read, to zone out with all the white noise, and catch up on the classics or a trashy novel. Mostly I remember studying for classes in library science and in history. These days I read in the car, with my ears of course, and savor every minute of my road time. Each new audio book is an adventure.

Librarians, archivists, and information scientists promote reading and listening by example. If we read, so will others. That’s what the READ posters from ALA are all about. Get caught reading, get caught listening, or fiddling with your MP3 player. Start a reading group, chat about your favorite author, and learn something new.

How does this blog entry tie into the readings this week? Let me ask you “How many people ask you for a reading suggestion?” They could go to the book reviews, AMAZON, Barnes & Noble, or the library website. Most people ask their friends first, just as Weigand’s mother asked her friends for car suggestions. In the end, it doesn’t matter whether your book and movie suggestions come from friends or the library, but that people immerse themselves in reading and expand their knowledge.

What are you reading today?