January 2007

Ancient and Medieval Libraries

Ancient and Medieval Libraries is a set of course notes from a class by Christopher Brown-Syed. What do librarians do? What principles lie behind the profession? Librarians have traditionally gathered, organized, and disseminated information. In some ways, Aristotle can be said to be the father of librarianship in the West. His categories were a scheme for deciding what something was about. They survive today in the rules of journalism. Who, what, when, where, why, by what means, and to what end? This scheme for organizing thought is still viable. Aristotle did not run a library in the modern sense, but he was one of the recorded collectors of books.

‘Terror’ rides the Arctic seas

Like many modern readers, I impatiently demand that an author hook my attention from the very first paragraph. Yet one of my absolute tiptop favorite novels, Lonesome Dove, begins slowly.

Dan Simmons’ brilliant fictional saga, The Terror, requires some patience as well. The problem isn’t the crackling opening. It’s because many Americans are unfamiliar with the ill-fated 1845 British expedition to the Arctic Circle led by Sir John Franklin. The fate of the 129 men became an obsession in Britain because most of their bodies were never found. For Americans, it may take a few pages to grasp the setup and connections. Rest of book review at USA Today is here.

Recently there was an episode of NOVA that dealt with the expedition. The web page for the episode is here.

The expedition took 2400 books with them.
You can see a list of their provisions here.

The title of the book comes from the name of one of the ships on the expedition, the HMS Terror.

Wednesday Profile: She Lives and Breathes Fiction

Marge Trautman has had a long and memorable career as a librarian, and will miss the many patrons to whom she has become a friend and mentor. She was encouraged by a friend to try working at the library when her children were young, and began by driving a converted bakery truck/ bookmobile in Howard County, MD. She went on to get an MLS and worked 28 years at the library; she will retire on Friday. Baltimore Sun has the story.

Michael Gorman Discussion at The Chronicle

alh writes “On Thursday, February 1, Michael Gorman will discuss the Changing Role of Academic Libraries in the Information Age at the The Chronicle of Higher Education Live Discussion forum.

“Academic libraries face some of their greatest challenges, and greatest opportunities, of the generation. While the Internet has been a boon for information distribution, some librarians have considered it a threat to the vitality of traditional library space. Although the latest generation of students is plugged in and connected in ways never imagined years ago, they also seem disconnected from books and other traditional literary resources. Librarians and their academic colleagues must step up to face those challenges, says Michael Gorman, dean of library services at California State University at Fresno. He will share his thoughts on the future of librarians — and take your questions.””

No Howling in the Library Please

stevenj writes “Most librarians are realizing that some chatter in the library can be a good thing, given that those who seek silence have a place where it can be found. But some librarians are just not ready for howling in the library. Seems the students at Utah State University want to be allowed to conduct group howling in the library as a stress reliever. “Students want to vent all that pressure,” said Linda Wolcott, USU vice provost for libraries. “I sympathize with them. I’m just not sure the library is the most appropriate place to do it.” Find this story at: heraldextra.com

New Usability Working Group Website

Suzanne Chapman writes “The Usability Working Group of the University of Michigan University Library is pleased to announce the launch of its new website, Usability in the Library (http://www.lib.umich.edu/usability/). The website is designed to provide open access to our reports and working documents in order to share our findings within the UM libraries as well as the community-at-large.

The new website features:

+ Reports on usability studies conducted from June 2005 — present. A
select group of reports is available now, with more to be added as they are completed.

+ Bibliography of resources for general, library, and digital library
related usability issues, including articles, books, and usability websites.

Active since 2005, the Usability Working Group guides and implements usability testing of the Library’s web resources and services. This includes the Library’s locally generated web pages and DLPS (Digital Library Production Service) resources, as well as customizable vendor supported resources, such as MetaLib (SearchTools), Aleph (Mirlyn) and SFX. This group works with PARC and ERSC to set priorities for usability testing of shared Library websites and services, with a focus on testing interfaces and concepts that are broadly implemented across the Library’s web environment.

We hope that sharing our findings will benefit and inform others in their research.”

A Lending Library, But Not For Books

What do you think a toddler would like to get his or her hands on most? Another kids toy most likely. And that’s exactly the kind of library established by Marcia Murray, 32, in Center City Philadelphia.

Murray opened the library this month in a room of the church house at the Church of the Holy Trinity at 19th and Walnut Streets. She learned about this kind of library from her husband, a native of New Zealand, who told her about toy libraries back home. The concept of toy libraries originated in the 1960s in Sweden, where they are known as lekoteks – Swedish for play libraries. The original lekoteks were created by several mothers searching for ways to play and interact with their disabled children.

The library charges $50 per family per year, and allows any Philadelphia resident to join. More from the AP.

WaPo Issues Correction on Fairfax Library Story

leo writes “The original story that appeared in the Washington Post about Fairfax County's weeding of classics from its collection raised a nationwide "firestorm of outrage". Now WaPo Ombudsman, Deborah Howell, reports that the weeding wasn't perhaps as sweeping as orginally suggested:

The story said that "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and "To Kill a Mockingbird" are among the titles that hadn't been checked out in two years and that could be eliminated. Those books have been checked out; it would have been better to say that some copies of those books may not have been checked out in two years at some branches and could be weeded out. Kirkpatrick and Clay say there was never any intention of weeding out all copies.

Complete article here…