Showing posts from January, 2014

"No Soup for You!"

I'm going to rant, and it's not library-related this time.

A school in Salt Lake City had a problem - forty or so elementary school kids hadn't settled their lunch debts. The school decided that the best way to deal with this problem was to literally take the food out of the kids' hands and throw it away while their classmates looked on. Now, they didn't want the kids to go completely hungry, so they did replace the meal with milk and fruit - an orange, apparently.

This is wrong on so many levels.
The kids were punished for actions beyond their control. The money was owed, sure, but that was a matter between the school and the parents, not the kids. And parents have complained that they got no notice beforehand - not just that this action was going to be taken, but that they owed anything.The kids were publicly humiliated. They weren't called in and given notice, nor did anyone pull them aside and let them know what was going on. They just had their food taken a…

Librarians are People, Too...

Aw, poor Google...

Seriously, though, you'd be surprised by how many librarians go through this all the time. Librarians doing reference interviews online, via text-a-librarian or chat programs, are constantly approached like they are automated systems. I suppose that's an easy mistake to make, when one becomes used to search engines and automated responses. Back when I did online reference interviews, I would gently let the other person know that I was a living, breathing individual - not that it always made a difference.

It's more confusing when it's on the phone. I don't think I sound like an automated system.

And it's downright rude when it's face-to-face. Robot technology is not that advanced.

That said, I'm ready to go back to work tomorrow. The kids don't listen to me any better than patrons, but with patrons I can pretend it's not personal. (I'm just kidding - patrons listen better.) (No, no, seriously, Swicky and Coconut are great …

Sneauxpocalypse 2014

We are weathering through Sneauxpocalypse 2014, albeit with difficulty. We are running disastrously low on chocolate, but it's too cold to go out and forage for more. Well, too cold for me, anyway, which, frankly, is anything below 70°F. We are surviving on chili and beer.

I'll be sure to let you know tomorrow if and how well we all last.

Seriously, folks, I've talked before about how "cold" in LA is different from cold Up North. It's not a matter of "Hey, I don't like to feel cold!" Southern Louisiana is not in any way designed for ice. No one here buys cars or learns to drive with snow and ice in mind; houses are designed to shed heat and withstand strong winds; heck, the power lines are hung with heat in mind, and now we're worried about them simply snapping! So, All, stay warm, stay safe, and stay off the roads. It doesn't look like much out there - but it's not exactly weather we're ready for.

I wrote a new book review! I t…

Passionately Neutral: On Net Neutrality

Recently, the Court of Appeals killed net neutrality. (It's a good thing we all like zombies. It's only mostly dead. I'll let you continue the reanimation jokes. Then we'll get serious again.) I've talked about it briefly before, but I was asked to give a more thorough explanation of what net neutrality is, and why we should be concerned about its demise.

A quick and dirty definition of net neutrality would be, "equal Internet access for all, to all." We're used to paying for the access, not the content. Access can also be obtained for free from different locations and for different reasons - businesses offer Internet access as a sort of lagniappe for patronage (coffee shops are well-known for this) and libraries are lauded for providing Internet access and computer usage for patrons free of charge because we're sort of geeky about information access. Once you access the Internet, you can locate and enjoy most of the content free of charge and wit…

I Know You're Out There...

I'm writing a post by special request! That's exciting! Because it means somebody is reading my posts! Awesome.

But it's going to be a long-ish post, so you'll have to read it tomorrow. Maybe Monday. Meanwhile, enjoy this pic of me and my new glasses!

Every inch the librarian, hey? It's hard to tell, but they're very purple!

We all know current copyright law looks wrong. What do you think copyright law should look like? Here's a neat crowdsourcing toolHappy birthday, Etta James! My favorite song is "Come Rain or Come Shine."New York State says it is OK to destroy famed library, as long as they take pictures first. I really hope something or someone intervenes. A very odd true story: The Librarian, His 'Stache, and the Most Dangerous Book on Earth.Here are some cool illustrations from a book I have to go track down now: Gorgeous Vintage and Modern Illustrations from Aldous Huxley’s Only Children’s BookThe Death of Expertise: It might ju…

Please Don't Tap on the Glass

Let's take a trip. (We'll have to do some time travelling to do it - all the way back to sometime between 1903-1943.) We'll go to Coney Island and see the attractions. I'm particularly interested in Dr. Couney's collection of really tiny human babies. And you can see them for only 25¢! If we time it just right, we might be able to see his own daughter, who was part of the show for a while!

And at least half of you are horrified.

But it's actually a really cool story. Dr. Couney set up the attraction in order to provide necessary medical care for premature infants whose parents couldn't afford it, using incubators, which weren't used in American hospitals yet. (He learned about them when he studied in France and brought them in from there.) He had wet nurses, registered nurses, and medical technicians attending, and managed to save 6,500 infants out of the 8,000 he treated - a staggeringly high percentage for the day. That number includes his daughter, …

It's a Very Special Day for Supernatural Fans

Of all the wonderful pseudo-holidays we celebrate today, the most important is National Pie Day - at least for those of us who love Supernatural. (The TV show, anyway.) And it's especially awesome for the few of us who's OTP is Dean and Pie.

I shall celebrate by making and eating that most awesome of things, a deep dish Dutch apple pie.

There are lots of ways and reasons to celebrate National Pie Day. Whether you're celebrating the tasty treat with a group or punning away mathematically, I wish you a happy Pie Day!

Holy Cow, THIS SOUNDS AWESOME: releases the first Buy-to-Unglue eBook.What constitutes the "Best Library?" Is it possible to pinpoint one library and say, "Yep, that's it!" I don't think so - I think the "best library" is a bit like the "best book." It depends on who you ask, and no one's wrong. (Unless they say Fifty Shades of Grey, because - NO.)I don't understand people who challenge boo…

It's a Rare Day...

I have nothing to say today. Let me think...nope. Nothing.

We'll just go straight to:

Links! The Decline of the American Book Lover - it's not all bad news, guys. In fact, it might be pretty hopeful!There was an interesting-at-first-glance survey about writers' incomes, but it seems to be a deeply flawed survey, as Chuck Wendig makes clear (as well as making fun of it - multitasking is cool). Two birthdays deserve mention today! First up: Happy birthday, Lord Byron! Most will remember "She Walks in Beauty," but, with my background in Biblical Studies, I'm partial to "The Destruction of Sennacherib." Of course, the Byronic Hero is alive and well in modern literature (and movies); if you don't know what a Byronic Hero is, you should go find out.Also: Happy birthday, John Hurt! Most recently famous as the War Doctor, he was also Ollivander in the Harry Potter movies and Kane in Alien. Remember Kane? He's this poor guy... Going back to Doctor Who…

The Big Picture

Michael and I were talking today about how much our newly six-years-old son Coconut's reading has improved. A year ago, he could barely read simple words; now, he's moving on to chapter books.

One of the things we've noticed is that he's lost his fear of Big Books. It's a hard jump for a little guy to make - from thin, colorful picture books to thick books with lots of words and few, if any, pictures. Even when you assure your little dude that he doesn't have to finish the whole book at one go - that he can stop and read the rest later - the sheer weight of the thing just seems to drag his little heart down. It's intimidating!

We had similar problems with Swicky, when she moved to chapter books, too, even though reading came naturally to her in a way that it hasn't with Coconut. She was a born reader, easily immersing herself into the story - Coconut has been a reluctant reader from the start. But those big books...terrifying.

Recently, though, he's…

Don't Be Evil

Today is, of course, Martin Luther King Jr. Day! Google's doodle is really beautiful. Although there are those who think Google doodles are really horrible marketing tools, I have to agree with Chris Matyszczyk, who points out that the doodles link to really great information that might have been missed in other venues. They're not simply pictures to make Google look like it cares - they are tools that can be used to learn more about great people and important events. (Although, if we're being completely honest, I don't know that this is the motivation behind why Google does doodles. I'm looking just at the outcome, and I happen to like the outcome and its possibilities for good use.)

I was talking to a friend recently about how a company whose stated ideals we love and who we have integrated ubiquitously into our lives has developed some short-comings. I don't know what to do if I have to leave Google for being evil - what do I replace it with? So, I hope Goo…

That's the Way I Link It

I have been out of it - partly because of headaches, partly because I've been trying to finish this book (you can go read my review), and partly because I just felt like disconnecting for a while. So, there's an extra long list of links for you today - but they're all cool, I promise. I also have nothing to rant about today. So, we'll just skip straight to:

Happy birthday, Edgar Allan Poe! "The Cask of Amontillado" was always my favorite short story.E-books surge as devices multiply —  but print holds fast. I think it's pretty safe to say both formats are great, for different reasons, and that both will be around for a good long while.For those who like history, particularly WWI era history: WW1 soldier diaries placed online by National ArchivesDo you like comedy? Then you should probably check out The Ultimate Comedy Library: 57 Books Every Comedy Fan Should Read. I have not read them all, but the ones I have read are awesome. I own a copy of Col…

Rare Chemicals, Indeed...

I know everyone missed me yesterday. Sorry - couldn't blog, massive migraine. It's mostly better now.

Swicky did win the Most Interesting Comment of the Day Award:

[Coconut] thinks love comes from the heart. I think it's a very rare chemical that your body produces when you meet someone who is just right for you.
Michael and I were stunned for a moment, and then we laughed - because what 8 year old comes out with hormonal theories of emotional states? Unfortunately, Swick thought we were laughing at her, and ran away crying, and we had to bring her back and explain that we weren't laughing at her, etc.  Then we had a good, long discussion about the nature of love, both as a chemically-induced emotional state and as a chosen commitment to another individual, and all that good stuff.

If you're still on the fence about that whole "net neutrality" thing, here is a great article from NPR's All Tech Considered - Feds Can't Enforce Net Neutrality: What Th…

Net Neutrality is Dead (But We Can Bring It Back...)

I told you yesterday that it was too early to celebrate.

If you've known me for longer than five minutes, you know I care a great deal about intellectual freedom and information access, and that includes Internet freedoms and access. Net neutrality is a huge deal for me.

So, first you need to know what net neutrality is. You can watch a video, if you like. I highly recommend it - it's very thorough in its explanation, and the graphics help visualize the concepts well. If you'd rather read about it, Common Cause has a great fact sheet; Greenlining Institute's 2012 booklet is longer, but excellent. There is also an infographic that gets to the heart of it all well, and provides links to more information.

Great, now you know what net neutrality is, and - if you're a) sane and b) not an ISP, you want to keep the Internet free. Well, that's not looking good right now. A federal appeals court has struck down key elements of the FCC's "open Internet" (ne…

Retreating to the Tumblr Caves

After three marvelous episodes, the Sherlock fandom must now retreat into hibernation for, what, two-three years? (I'm already dying to see season 4, and season 3 hasn't even aired in the U.S. yet. I don't think I can handle it.)

I have nothing particular to rant about today. I'm sure something will turn up tomorrow.

But one probably good piece of news: Fast Track Dead on Arrival? It looks like TPP won't get fast tracked, and "[t]here is no way the treaty survives in Congress without the expedited procedure." It's still too early to celebrate, but there's light at the end of the tunnel!

I Read You Loud and Clear: Author Kevin Baker decided to drop in on a book club reading his book. Oh, dear...Do you want to work for The National Department of Poetry? I'm part of the E.E. Cummings Society. Ever wonder what exactly happened to me when I was a child, that I ended up so strange? Well, my mother read me Stephen King at bedtime and sang me to…

How Do You Like Them Apples?

"Texas has seen the future of the public library, and it looks a lot like an Apple Store..." [Source]

Oh, Lord, here we go again. Bexar County, Texas's BiblioTech is being hailed as "the nation's only bookless public library" in a recent article by Paul Weber. For a moment, let's lay aside the ridiculous claim that BiblioTech is "bookless." (I'll get back to it, I promise.) Let's look instead at what it means that this particular library is digital-only. The main reasons for the shift away from mixed format resources, as is common in most public libraries today, to a digital-only environment were...well, less than convincing, at least to me. Let's check them out.

Resources are limited, unless you make this shift: At least, that seems to be the implication Laura Cole makes when she notes the area's economic depression and lack of Wi-Fi for most families. Still, you are bound to run into some serious problems with this viewpoint. …


Computer program predicts best sellersTherefore, we are doomed
The headline caught my eye first, of course. "Oh, crap," I thought. We already have issues with publishers who won't consider a book unless they recognize the name of the author - those who have already published and sold lots of copies, or famous celebrities who will sell well just because their names are on the cover. Heck, publishers today are likely to drop awesome authors who never manage to produce blockbusters. Just as Mary Doria Russell, author of the amazing sci-fi novels The Sparrow and Children of God. She even considered letting The Sparrow be made into a movie, knowing it would probably be a terrible idea, just for the exposure. The decision to retain the integrity of her work likely lost her her publisher:

So even if the credits had read, "Based on a title by Mary Doria Russell," a Brad Pitt movie would have made a difference in my visibility and in publishers' interest in my next…