effinglibrarian's blog

If Oprah can't save libraries...

There is another. He's blue. He's furry. And he's hungry.

Join the movement. I think he can help.


yes, this is a link to the corporate behemoth that is facebook, so I apologize in advance.

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The New Inflation.

Everyone knows that inflation has to do with increases in the prices of goods and services and the buying power of the dollar. But there is a new inflation that costs just as much as money without really costing anything. There is no standard for it, or at least not one that can be shared by anyone apart from myself. I decide just how much inflation goes up or down with each online click.

The Federal Communications Commission regulates advertising on television, what commercial content is lawful and the ratio between programming and commercial advertising. That agency controls how much of which type of commercial advertising children are exposed to during specific hours of the day and whether you can sell cigarettes or hard booze or boner pills. And they can do this because television can be controlled through broadcast licenses. But the FCC has almost none of this power on the Internet. I also believe that because of the digital conversion, the FCC will lose its power to control broadcast television, but that will come later when one or more of the major networks decide to scramble their programming and then charge annual fees to descramble. I'll get back to you next year about that one.

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An E-Reader Easy Reader

iPad, Kobo, Kindle and Nook:
On which is best to read a book?

I like my print books
but thoses supposes that we will buy
all that they proposes.
Should we change
and accept what they choses,
and leave behind what's been
right under our noses?

I will decide, but not without asking,
"Which form is best for my multitasking?"

"Can I read an ebook in the can?"
You can, you can, yes, in the can.

"On a jet? On a jet? Can I read it on a jet?"
But to stay aloft, shun the Internet.

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University of Illinois : "Librarians are social workers, DVD clerks,..

and libraries are unemployment offices."

Or so this article seems to say when it reported that the University of Illinois is attempting to merge the Graduate School of Library and Information Science with the College of Media, the School of Labor and Employment Relations, and the School of Social Work.

But librarians have been saying the same for years, that we've become babysitters, video stores and time-wasting centers for the unemployed and the unemployable.

So why shouldn't college reflect the true nature of the work?

The most important factor I can see in favor of the merger is that a report concluded that combining the schools would create "intellectual synergies."

Oh. My. God. Haven't we all been saying this? That we need greater opportunities for intellectual synergy? I have it tattooed right here on my left butt cheek. Oh, crap, the tattoo guy spelled synergy wrong. It looks like it says, Syndy. That's what you get when you go to a guy who tattoos strippers all day.

What amazes me most about this story is that the Illinois law school has 735 students and the library school has 713 students enrolled in the current class. It just surprises me that the classes are about the same size. But of course, the law students are willing to pay out about 3 times more money for their education, so the university prizes them more.

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"Where's the bathroom?" - the digital edition.

Each day I get emails from patrons asking me to do stuff for them, like check our catalog for a book, or tell them how to download something. And I'm amazed. At their perseverance.

You see, to send me an email, it takes a minimum of 8 clicks through different pages and within a form with mandatory fields. They also get a warning that anything they send becomes entered into the public record, accessible by anyone who makes the request. And yet they continue.

But to check our catalog or access our downloadables, it takes only 1 click. To borrow an ebook takes 3-5 additional clicks or fields that need to be filled in.

So it takes about 50% more effort to send me a message than it takes to download an ebook, or check our catalog, or do pretty much anything else on our site.

Librarians often get asked things that are way beneath our training: where's the bathroom? where's the pencil sharpener? do you have a tissue? can I use the tape? can you tie my shoelaces? why are you choking me?

So when I see that someone has emailed me with a request that takes only half the effort that it took to find me and ask a question, my first thought is that this person "is awesome!" They can fill in an online form that requires several sets of information entered into the correct box, including an email address and library card number. So they understand these relatively complex tasks.

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the failure of the digital model

Oddly, it's a failure of modern devices to adapt to electronic content. For books, this means that your reader needs to comply with one or more of these formats: EPUB, Kindle, PDF, Plucker, QiOO Mobile, and Plain Text. (This is based on the file selection for texts from Project Gutenberg.)

But paper adapts fantastically. We have paperback, hardcover, oversize books, pamphlets, large print books, tiny pocket books, spiral bound books, weird font books, picture and board books, smooth glossy photographs, textured pages, braille, deckle edges, ... pretty much any form that paper can take can be used to display print and images.

Can I fit a large format world atlas in your iPad? Not without losing the entire perspective of the area. Sure, you can zoom in with any level of detail or scale or at any angle, but does a 30" map really work better on a 6" x 9" screen?

Digital is restrictive. Ironically, when it comes to sharing, electrons are rigid and paper is fluid.

Dirty Books.

On page 86 of the November Redbook (yes, I'm an avid reader of lady publications), there is a short road test for "Reading as Foreplay."

For the article, two M/F couples read a sexy book and reported on how much it turned them on by scoring the hotness factor of the exercise with tiny flame icons. The general feeling was that reading erotica (for men, "porn") in bed, is a turn-on.

And in the accompanying photo, a young couple is in bed with a couple of hardcover books and appearing as if they are about to laugh at another clever euphemism for "penis." I prefer "shmuckalowitz," which I think Buddy Hackett used to describe one "as big as a bus."

And that had me wonder about the effectiveness of sexual foreplay between readers of printed books and of devices like ebook readers.

I mean, what happens to a print book when the sexual participants get too frisky? Does it get torn? Sticky? How difficult is it to read a book when your hands are coated with Astroglide?

And what about electronic devices? (No, not those.) Like ereaders? Like an iPad or a Kindle... how would they fare when exposed in this type of environment? And for the sake of argument, let's just say that neither the books nor the devices enter the actual sexplay, neither for spanking and especially not if there's a next-gen iPad that vibrates; they are simply the delivery system for the erotic texts.

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Why Facebook's success is bad for us.

You probably see people using Facebook at your library and wonder why they aren't out looking for jobs. The answer is, unfortunately, that Facebook is their job.

Facebook's success is a symptom of the poor world economy. When people have no money to spend on actual products, they find other ways to spend their time.

And Facebook is current destination for time-wasting. Everyone laughed when Betty White hosted SNL and said that Facebook was a huge waste of time, but nobody made that connection to the economy and said, "Hey, Facebook is really popular because people are out of work." Everyone just laughed at Betty's funny. And no one even wondered at how bad the economy must be that an 88-year-old woman still needs to work to pay for food.

And our free time is what makes Facebook worth any money at all. The company produces nothing. We see ads and that is what generates the most revenue. But the users produce 99.9% the content.

As long as Facebook succeeds, the recession will continue. So long as we are wasting time on it, we are not being paid to work. We give our labors away for free. To make Facebook rich.

I think someone should demand a salary for all this time spent making Facebook look good.

I don't know how many employees Facebook has on its books, officially, but there are 500 million names that need entering. And paid at least $8.50 an hour. And given health insurance. And dental.

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Follow a Library Day.

I had a library patron ask me today for a book on what qualities leaders look for in their followers... and I thought, huh?

I thought it was the followers who had requirements for their leaders.

How much say should leaders have in who chooses to follow them? I mean other than in the movie Tommy when Roger Daltrey sings, "If you want to follow me, You've got to play pinball."

So what should a Library demand from its followers? Do libraries deserve to be followed?

In the case of Follow a Library day, these leading libraries only ask for support. For a few moments out of one day.

So is that enough?

Like so many of us in this post-post-modern world, we question the very definitions of each established belief or ideal. What do libraries mean to us today? How can we say we are followers when so many of us don't even know what makes our libraries great?

The simple answer is that libraries are buildings and that libraries are people. Great libraries can be great in one or the other area or both.

But great libraries also need great followers.

About a week ago, I was talking to someone about an audiobook that I got from the library and I felt awesome that I was trying to sell the library and make it sound cool and useful. I got this from the library; the library has this stuff, check it out, I practically shouted.

So one quality of a great library follower is someone who will proselytize.

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At the E-book Burning.

There was an e-book burning held.

There was a speech about the evils of the book. And the crowd cheered because they believed what they had been told about evil.

Then the reading device was raised high so that all could see, but not very much because the print was so small on the screen even though they had chosen the largest font available. Someone in the crowd commented that they would have been able to see the cover image so much better on his iPad.

The Leader opened the Content Manager from the Menu. The buttons were small, so it was a little difficult.

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What is the point of the public library?

I'm listening to a BBC Radio broadcast on the history and purpose of the public libraries of Britain. These are some of my thoughts:

So taxes where once levied with a dual purpose: one to pay for the establishment of a public library; and two, to encourage people to use what they have already paid for to better themselves through this communal opportunity for self-education.

Part of this history was that lost requirement of the individual to prove his worthiness to join the community of the library. Now, we just ask for some identification, but originally, there were many more hurdles to overcome before one could qualify for membership in a public library. Residents used to beg to be let in, but now it's the libraries that seem to be begging people to join: what happened?

Modern libraries seem to be in constant motion chasing relevance. "Stay relevant!" is the current mantra. But what is relevant? Is literacy relevant? Are job skills relevant? Are DVDs and streaming video relevant?

Libraries never used to compete with the local book, music and video stores. We bought classics and educational materials. We bought new books, but only after they had been on the bestseller list for a few weeks.

I'm confused.. No essays for the contest?

I just checked the lisnews.org/essays link, but I don't see any new essays for this month's contest... are their submissions but I'm checking the wrong link?

I just can believe that with all the discussions we've had about so many issues, not one person has had the time to put 250 words together on something... pedophiles, gay book bans, ebooks, the death of print, monkeys wearing people clothes, the ümlaut, overripe fruit in the book drop,...

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I'm in Heaven.. or is it Hell?

I just read something that made wonder if it was a joke:
"Hands off our public libraries"

"In North Yorkshire (UK), a pub called The George and Dragon is 'delivering a library service and a pint' to the community."

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Books Suck.

So there was this story last week about Stanford University's "bookless" library.

This whole bookless argument has escalated since Amazon showed that ebooks kick regular books' asses when they deleted copies of 1984 remotely from a bunch of Kindles. Tell me the last time Mr. Houghton or Mr. Mifflin kicked in your front door to take back a paperback copy of Animal Farm...

But my guess is that since most people still read paper books, they aren't aware this battle even exists.

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Marilyn Johnson is awesome because she thinks librarians are awesome.

Marilyn Johnson, author of This Book is Overdue, is awesome because she thinks librarians are awesome. And given her background as an an obituary writer, I imagine she can't wait for each of us to die (in a good way).

I just saw her presentation at the 2010 Florida Library Association conference in Orlando. Marilyn is awesome because as much as she loves libraries, she also loves librarians. I've heard so many pep talks about how communities love their libraries or how everyone needs libraries, but not so much about the people who devote much of their lives to making sure that libraries are useful tools. I've heard many pro-library talks, but not so many that are so overwhelmingly pro-librarian.

Through Marilyn's book and her presentations (no, she did not give me a shiny penny to plug her site), she praises librarians for their uniqueness and their expertise. To listen to Marilyn is to learn that a librarian can literally do anything. A library without a librarian is just a Barnes & Noble. And I can never find anything in that place.

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Who needs a library?

Why do you need the library?

Why does anyone need the library?

Why do we need anything?

If we, librarians, could define the role of the library, then we, library users, could decide if we really need them. As it is, we are letting technology define the role of the library. Whereas I think that our service to people should define it.

I think it's a matter of ego. And Homo NOVUS, the superior iPhone-clutching human, can be a huge ahole. Whatever he needs, he gets, with a simple tap of his as-yet-to-be-determined-rightful-ownership-through-patent-litigation futuristic touch-screen. He (and She, the ladies can be aholes, too) is multi-tooled, unlike his club-wielding and single-minded predecessors.

It truly is ego. The new library is about who owns the authority. In the old library, the librarian was the authority. But things change.

(there should be a table here, but I don't think we can use tables)

ANTIQUUS (old library) --- NOVUS (new library)
Librarian-centric --- User-centric
Fixed Authority --- Dynamic Authority
Repeated shushing --- Constant bleeping

So clearly there's a power struggle. But it's not between librarians and library patrons, but between librarians and inanimate devices. NOVUS totes the device around, searching for signals, or wireless connectivity, and follows. So who is the master? the human or the device?

the essay arriving too late to be entered in the contest: Libraries and the Decline of Civilization.

I don't know how one would define civilization, but I would guess that it includes relationships, pairings, groupings or collections of people. Hell, Charlton Heston needed Nova before he could ride off down the beach to curse the maniacs who blew up the Earth. You can't start a civilization with just a shirtless guy named Chuck on the back of a horse. At least not one we can show on TV.

And these relationships need some permanence. They can't keep forming and dissolving every ten minutes. Relationships need to endure long enough for shelters to rise and children to grow.

So what does this have to do with libraries? Don't libraries preserve culture? Aren't they centers for communities to gather and leave horrible messes in the toilets?

Traditionally, yes. But recently, libraries have begun contributing to civilization's decline, collapse and total failure.

What is the length of a good relationship? I know teen girls claim they are "bff"s with just about any other girl wearing a "Team Jacob" charm bracelet around her wrist, but how long is that relationship going to last? Best Friends Forever only means "until I change my mind and hate you forever."

So let's say a proper relationship lasts 3 months. And a good relationship lasts several years. Where does that leave libraries?

Libraries used to loan books for a month. You checked out a book and got a card stamped with a date at least 30 days in the future. And for those 30 days, that book was yours to read and reread to your heart's content. You formed a relationship with that book.

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Library User Privacy in the Age of Social Networking Fanaticism

There are some librarians who want to empower library users by giving them the freedom to expose all of their library borrowing records to the world. Or they want readers to share their book selections and DVD rentals with complete strangers. And I have very mixed feelings about this.

I love getting comments on my blog. And I think library patrons would enjoy being able to link their borrowing records to some social networking widget that lists all (or some) of their books on our library site or embedded within the online catalog or launched out into cyberspace and posted on Twitter or Facebook or LibraryThing or wherever and to comment on what everyone else reads or watches. So on this, I agree with the empowering librarians; I think it would be a fun thing to do.

I would love for my patrons to share their thoughts and ideas with others who may despise them and use those thoughts and ideas as weapons to wage personal attacks, and possibly combine those attacks with the minimal research needed to attack my patrons at their homes or at their places of business. Because I love freedom.

As you can see, I have no faith in mankind to behave with civility. So my role as a protector of borrower privacy is pretty much set in this framework: "I will protect your privacy because you don't understand the dangers associated with losing it."

lOO Book Challenge

I don't understand trademarks. From what I know, a trademark is applied to product or service with some exclusivity and can't be used by a different product or service which conflicts with the original trademark. Conversely, if I own the trademark for Bean Shoes, "the shoe made entirely from beans," I can't keep you from selling Bean Caps, "the cap to cover your bean." Or at least, that how it seems to me.

So it seems odd that the American Reading Company sent a cease and desist letter to LibraryThing because they proposed a 100 Book Challenge for 2010 whereby everyone would strive to read 100 books. Apparently the American Reading Company sells products under the brand, "100 Book Challenge" and they don't want to share their ownership of those three (or four; does "100" count as one word or two words hyphenated?) words.

My only response is that the American Reading Company misread the LibraryThing name. It's not the 100 Book Challenge, but the lOO Book Challenge.

Forgive the spelling, but the word is "loo" as in the slang term for lavatory in Britain. The real LibraryThing challenge for 2010 is for everyone to read books in the loo.

I understand that the American Reading Company is concerned about their trademark, but really, these are two entirely different things. I realize that lOO looks similar to 100 to the naked eye, but a computer can see the difference.

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Psychic librarian reads with her nose

In Victoria (AU), "Maura the clairvoyant librarian will check your aura, look deep into your eyes and see if you’re more Dan Brown than Salman Rushdie."

Her powers tell her that a good sniff of her customers reveals lots: for instance travel readers often wear "... no deodorant, so in many ways you can tell."

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