Friday, October 23, 2009

Information Take-Out

The internet is chock-full of information. You can find everything under the sun: online diaries, satellite maps, the latest sports scores, celebrity mug shots, patent information, IRS forms, and oh-so-much more. Not only can you get information about any subject, you can also make it so you don't have to hunt through lots of other information to find what interests you. No, you can go to a site like Bloglines or use tools like Google Alerts to get the information you want gathered in one place and even delivered to your email or mobile device. No hunting necessary - set it up once and you're done!

So for the last few days I've been taking advantage of this information take-out and delivery service and set myself up with a few RSS feeds through Bloglines relating to my new academic field: Library Science. I got a lot of information about a lot of different things regarding libraries, librarians, and library technology. Some of it was interesting (see posts below about two such articles), some over my head, some dull, and some dead (as in dead links). Still, it was nice to get all of this information sent to me. I'm still new to this library stuff (ironically, that was the name of one of the feeds I followed: Library Stuff), so getting constant updates on current and topical information has helped me learn a lot.

Gotta love technology!

Simmer Down

There's a story hitting the internet (among other media, of course) about a librarian in Cheshire, CT defending the inclusion of a book in their collection. This particular book is drawing fire from the area because of its subject matter - it's a true crime book about a triple murder that occurred in Cheshire. The librarian added two copies of the book to the collection because patrons were requesting it, but that lit a fire under some community members who think that book should never have been printed, let alone have a place in the library.

I'm not going to comment one way or another about this story - about whether or not the librarian should have added this book to the collection or whether or not the book should be removed - primarily because there was a gag order on the case, so I don't know about the legality involved in printing the book in the first place. But what struck me more than anything about this article were the comments added after the article ended. A large number of the commenters are downright nasty in their words. They don't counter their arguments with rational reasoning; instead, many use name calling and threatening language to get their point across. One person wrote, "To all the jerks defending their rights to read this book, I hope something as horrific as this ever[sic] happens to you or someone you know!" Another warned readers to be careful that they don't spill on the book or drop it in the toilet before returning it to the library, in a tone that blatantly meant the contrary. A person on the side of the library wrote, "If you want to live in a society where the government limits your freedom by denying you choices, then I suggest you move to Iran or North Korea. Otherwise, stay away from the library and mind your own business."

I read things like this and it makes me twitchy. It's the same reason why I try to stay away from political debates. People fight dirty. They let their emotions, their anger, their determination to make their side be heard override their ability to state their opinion in a calm and reasoned matter. The people who want the book off the shelves are allowed to be upset. And the people who agree with the library's decision to put the book on the shelves have the right to want to keep it there. But name calling and nastiness aren't going to convince someone to join your side. Rather, you should just simmer down and discuss this like grownups.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Traveling Librarian?

I have always longed to travel, and I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out how I can incorporate travel into my career - either by going from place to place with my home base in the US or moving away to a job in another country. When I decided that I wanted to become a librarian, I figured my travel opportunities would rely strictly on vacations, conferences, and volunteering.

So when I came across this article from the Library Journal, I got a tingle of that old wanderlust. The title of the article is Going International! and was written by a librarian who had worked internationally for 11 years. One thing that really impressed me about this article was that it was more than a simple "You should be an international librarian; it's great!" article - the kind that you read with high hopes but come away with no useful information. This article had it all: personal stories, suggestions for what type of person should go, the areas of librarianship hiring internationally, where to look for jobs, contract suggestions, what you should consider if you have a family or pets traveling with you, and the knowledge that you're hearing from someone who has first-hand experience with all of these issues and knows what they're talking about. To top it off, the article, which was considerable in length, was followed by a list of resources as long as the article itself.

One thing I really liked in the article is that she addressed the idea of fear as a motive keeping people from pursuing international work - fear of travel in hostile times, fear of living in hostile environments, and fear of the unknown. One thing that holds me back is fear of change - if I take this big step, will it have been the right decision? What if I take a giant leap - move far away, leave everything behind - and it was a great big mistake? But if you let that fear affect your decisions, you'll miss out on a lot of fantastic opportunities, like working as a librarian in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, one of the places the author worked.

The moral of this story? If you're interested in international librarianship (as a career or as a volunteer) this is a great article. And don't let fear keep you from doing something amazing.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


No, your eyes do not deceive you, nor are you lost. My blog just got remodeled!

In honor of the new look, here's a little poem:

Books to the ceiling
Books to the sky
My pile of books is a mile high
How I love them
How I need them
I'll grow a long beard by the time I read them
-Arnold Lobel

Everything but the beard bit is true! (I hope!)

Small Towns

I've been enamored of small towns since I first started watching Gilmore Girls (fabulous show, you should check it out. Lauren Graham should have won an Emmy for it). I wanted to live in my own Stars Hollow, even with the locals who know all your business. I'll take a Taylor Dosie or Human Kirk (as opposed to Cat Kirk) any day to have the ambiance and charm and color of a beautiful little community.

However, I feared that cool small towns like that only existed in TV and movies (Stars Hollow is now Eastwick, and it gives me warm fuzzies to see that beautiful set again).
But in a new article by Budget Travel, apparently cool small towns really do exist! I'd take just about any town from this list, but my heart is now set on Cayucos, California, population 3000.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

It's been a long time...

I know it's been a while since I last will do that to you, I guess! I meant to blog about my first grad school experiences as they happened. Alas, the time has gotten away from me. As it stands, I'm writing this as I wait for library databases to load so I can do my homework (they are SLOWWWW).

Since I didn't get to write about my first experiences (they were good - I really dig my classes!), I'm just going to write and link some interesting things I've learned so far...

If you join the ALA and some of it's sub-organizations, like YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Associations), and you join their committees, it's possible that you can eventually join in choosing the best books of the year for that organization and get TONS OF FREE BOOKS to read and rate. I found my new calling...

The ALA's (by the way, the ALA is the American Library Association) Freedom to Read statement makes me want to wave my flag and lead the revolution, it's that inspiring!

While this blog is no longer updated, it's a humorous look at the daily life of a public library reference librarian.

While the internet and digital readers are swell, they will never take away my love for a real book.

Books in this country are challenged or banned due to a variety of reasons, the majority of which is sexuality in Young Adults books. Some, though, are challenged for rather ridiculous reasons. For example, a book by Louise Rennison (of the Georgia Nicolson series, a personal favorite) titled On the Bright Side, I’m Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God: Further Confessions of Georgia Nicolson was challenged because "an unstable person seeing a girl reading the book might think from the title that the girl is promiscuous and stalk her." Yeah, seriously. I wonder how they'd feel about other books from that series - one is titled Knocked Out by My Nunga-Nungas. The book in question was retained by the library. Source: Newsletter of Intellectual Freedom, Mar. 2005, p. 74.

Ok, that's all for now, homework beckons. For those of you who don't have homework, go read a book!