Must Read Stories

The Day The Internet Threw A Righteous Hissyfit About Copyright And Pie

Must Read Story

Piece on intellectual property at NPR. Boring? No it is not. This is a must read story. See what the pie in the title is all about.

Full piece here

The Desk Setup: A Look At Librarian Computers

The Desk Setup

Like many technologists, I may have had some vague notion that librarians had something to contribute to discussions about information and metadata and standards and access, but my concept of what librarians did and what they knew probably had more to do with stereotypes and anecdote than on an understanding of reality. Which is a shame. Although in the last few years I think we’ve done a really good job of making clearer connections between libraries and technology, I don’t think anyone is surprised when librarians are omitted from discussions about and between prominent technologists, such as the one facilitated by the Setup. (Note: by “librarians” I mean anyone who works in, with, or for libraries. Hat tip to Eli Neiburger for saying what I’d been thinking, only less clearly, for some time before he said those words out loud.)

Collaboration Beats Smarts In Group Problem Solving

You might think a gathering a group of the smartest minds would make for the smartest team. But a new study says that might not always be right. Groups with more females and groups whose members each contributed equally were most successful at completing given tasks.

Full story on NPR (All Things Considered)

Fight for Libraries As You Do for Freedom

A very powerful op-ed piece by novelist Karin Slaughter in today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

"My father and his eight siblings grew up in the kind of poverty that America doesn’t like to talk about unless something like Katrina happens, and then the conversation only lasts as long as the news cycle. His family squatted in shacks. The children scavenged the forest for food. They put cardboard over empty windowpanes so the cold wouldn’t kill them.

Books did not exist here. When your kids are starving, you can’t point with pride to a book you’ve just spent six hours reading. Picking cotton, sewing flour bags into clothes — those were the skills my father grew up appreciating.

And yet, when he noticed that I, his youngest daughter, showed an interest in reading, he took me to our local Jonesboro library and told me that I could read any book in the building so long as I promised to talk to him about it if I read something I didn’t understand. I think this is the greatest gift my father ever gave me. Though he was not a reader himself, he understood that reading is not just an escape. It is access to a better way of life."

Read more: AJC.

The Medium Is the Medium

Opinion piece by David Brooks

Recently, book publishers got some good news. Researchers gave 852 disadvantaged students 12 books (of their own choosing) to take home at the end of the school year. They did this for three successive years.

Then the researchers, led by Richard Allington of the University of Tennessee, looked at those students’ test scores. They found that the students who brought the books home had significantly higher reading scores than other students. These students were less affected by the “summer slide” — the decline that especially afflicts lower-income students during the vacation months. In fact, just having those 12 books seemed to have as much positive effect as attending summer school.

Full piece

A step stool for bookworms

Story in the Kansas City Star

I totally geeked out when I discovered a few years back that the iconic Cramer Kik-Step stool is made right here in Kansas City. Turns out our town really has had a “stool boom,” but much bigger than the one depicted in the fictional Missouri town in Christopher Guest’s funny 1996 film “Waiting for Guffman.”

Read full article

If you are interested in getting one: CRAMER 50TH ANNIVERSARY SILVERTONE KIK STEP STOOLS/ 1003-01 LIBRARY EDITION

Announcing the LISNews Bulletin

The LISNews Bulletin has just been transmitted to the location of our printing partner closest to the venue of Computers in Libraries 2010. Blake will have 125 copies available to him to distribute at the conference for free. I want to thank our patrons for their generous financial support in allowing the Bulletin to be distributed at no charge.

There will be artwork. We've got an excerpt from a Cleveland-area artist's memoirs about life in India in the 1990s. The owner of Erie Looking Productions offered up a "quick hit" piece from Tech for Techies never heard before on the podcast streams. This issue may be small but it is intended to be a tasty appetizer for a larger serial that might perhaps follow.

If you are not going to be attending the conference, you can still get a copy of the publication. Please contact the publisher, Producer Gloria Kellat, at mrsnicelunchlady@yahoo.com with your physical address so we can determine if our printing partner has an office near you. If there is, it will cost about USD$2.00 to have a special "RetCon" copy printed for you to pick up. If there isn't, we'll discuss options with you.

Ten Stories That Shaped 2009

It's time to take another look back at the notable headlines of the past year. -- Read More

True Stories from a Book Drop Near You

Oct. 25th blog post, www.merrylibrarian.com

Book drops. It seems simple, doesn’t it? A name like “book drop” doesn’t leave much room for mystery…you’d think.

A recent poll of librarians has proven otherwise, however. Across the nation, patrons of public libraries have confused a book drop with trash receptacles, a donation box, urinals, chicken coops… The list goes on and on.

While we may never understand how or why this confusion occurs, we do know that the result of patron confusion–though sometimes disturbing–is frequently amusing. So, until the government provides libraries with several billion dollars to launch an education campaign on proper book drop use, we have taken it upon ourselves to provide you with this useful list of book drop dos and don’ts–all based on the true stories that have been sent in from around the world.

1. Situation: You work at a library in the city of Las Vegas, NV. As you approach the book drop, you hear the sound of squawking and scratching.

Don’t…Assume you’re crazy. You may be miles from the nearest farm, but there actually are chickens in your book drop…complete with food and water. Hey, it happens.

Do… Tell your coworkers to fire up the bar-be-que, baby!

2. Situation: Upon opening the book drop, you are pummeled by the stench of garbage. And on top of the rubbish heap in your book drop? A used maxi pad.

Don’t…Toss your cookies into the book drop. You’d only have to clean that up, too. -- Read More

Lost in Translation--Crazy Reference Questions

The following is another story from The Merry Librarian. Once again, this true story is an example of patron expectations for a librarian’s abilities. As bizarre requests go, this one is definitely a strange need for information. And we’re just curious…why is it that when a patron needs something complicated and bizarre, they always want it within 24 hours? Just curious....

“Here’s a situation I ran into yesterday that I thought you might find amusing…it falls under the “librarians should know everything about everything” assumption that much of the general public seems to have. A man walked into our branch yesterday and asked me the following questions:

“If something were translated from English into Mayan hieroglyphics into Egyptian hieroglyphics, would someone from Iran who speaks Hebrew be able to understand it?”

Umm…I’m thinking not.

“Well, then, could you translate it for me so they could understand it?”

…Why yes, of course I happen to be fluent in ALL those languages. (I am a librarian, after all.)

“Well, do you have a book that translates Mayan hieroglyphics into Egyptian hieroglyphics into Hebrew?”

I’m thinking not…but I’ll check anyway just to appease you…Nope, just as I suspected. Nothing.

“Why don’t you have any books that do that?”

I don’t think there is a book anywhere that does that.

“Well, what can you do? I need it done tonight.” -- Read More

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