Librarian's Book Club

New Book: Our Bodies Our Shelves by Roz Warren

Today, April 16th is National Librarian Day and what better way to celebrate than with the release of her book OUR BODIES,OUR SHELVES: A COLLECTION OF LIBRARY HUMOR (HOPress, 2015). In addition to her library duties at the Bala Cynwyd Library right outside Philadelphia, Roz Warren writes forThe New York Times, The Funny Times, The Christian Science Monitor, The Jewish Forward and The Huffington Post. And she‘s been featured on the Today Show. (Twice!) And she frequents publisher Humor Outcasts as well. Our Bodies, Our Shelves is her thirteenth humor book. Years ago, Roz left the practice of law to take a job at her local public library “because I was tired of making so damn much money.” She has no regrets. CLICK here to hear the interview!

Librarians: Sexy and They Know It

Though there is still tension about what the library and librarians of today should be, the connection between librarians and sex is surprisingly persistent.

One of the frustrations of being a librarian is the occupational stereotyping. Librarians tend to be depicted in books and movies as elderly spinsters, rigid and frigid. More recently, in a predictable attempt to subvert convention, the slutty librarian trope has emerged: young, hot-blooded, yet not exempt from the cats-eye glasses.

From The Millions, librarian Elisabeth Cohen reviews a few books on the sexy librarian phenomena that you might have missed.

Library World Records is back online

The website for Library World Records, the Guinness Book of World Records for libraries and books is now back online. Library World Records is fascinating book first published in 2004 after research work began on the book in 2002. The book was further extensively updated in a second edition in December 2009. Library World Records provides hundreds of intriguing and comprehensive facts about ancient and modern books, manuscripts and libraries around the world.

Librarian's Book Club - The Shallows - Some additional thoughts

Hi readers, Bearkat here, I apologize for the almost two month delay in submitting any thoughts about The Shallows but here are some quotes and points that stood out to me.

111 - Clay Shriky, a digital media scholar at New York University, suggested in a 2008 blog post that we shouldn't waste our time morning the death of deep reading - it was overated all along"

178 - Umberto Eco: our fear of new things replacing old.

181 - Don Tapscott memorization is a "waste of time".

217 - James Evans: journal research study - less diverse citations in articles as journals have moved online.

218 - "The easy way may not always be the best way, but the easy way is the way our computers and search engines encourage us to take." (when using Google, Netflix, Facebook, etc.) We are "following a script"

And some questions:

* Do you agree with Clay Shirky that we shouldn't waste our time morning the death of deep reading (p. 111), and/or Don Tapscott's opinion that with the storehouse of computer databases and the Web that memorization is a "waste of time" (p. 181)? What are we forsaking by relying too much on the Web as a memory tool? All of us probably use it as a memory aid but should we stop memorizing things altogether?

* In chapter 9 Carr seems to imply that Google is the main constructor of how we use the Web. Is this true? If so, what are the implications? If is true will be so in 5 years?

The Shallows -- Chapter 5

In chapter five Carr summarizes the transition and migration of the written word and other communication media from physical to digital. Obviously, printed books, magazines, and newspapers are still being produced and haven't been completely replaced by digital equivalents. However, Carr strongly states that even if old and new techologies exist side by side, ..."the old technologies lose their economic and cultural force..."And then quoting Marshall McLuhan in his seminal work "Understanding Media" "..nor does it leave the old one in peace. It never ceases to oppress the older media until it finds new shapes and positions for them". Carr also points to studies and stats of dwindling print periodical use and stats.

1. What makes a book a book - is it its package or the contents?

2. Do you agree with Carr that reading an online text is significantly different than reading the paper version?

3. Does it matter on what type of device or site you read the text on, e.g. a plain text site vs a more media and hyperlinked text?, Or a dedicated ebook reader vs. a desktop (with multiple programs open, minimized, etc.)

a. Are online texts inherently connected with the distraction factors of the Net?

B. Can any distraction factors of the Internet be lessened or eliminated by concentrated effort, i.e., is there a digital quivalent of "hunkering down" in the library?

The Shallows -- Chapter 4

Continuing discussion of The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains In Chapter 4 Carr discusses the development of the book from the media of Sumerian cuneiform tablets, Egyptian scrolls, and most similar to the design of the book - the wax tablet. Alongside the technology Carr details the development of syntax, most importantly the transition from "scriptura continua" (61) to word separation. Carr quotes John Saenger from his book Space between Words : word separation "freed the intellectual faculties of the reader ... even readers of modest intellectual capacity could read more swiftly, and they could understand an increasing number of inherently more difficult texts ... (63). The following isn't in chapter 4, but I believe basically sums up Carr's thesis: "The Internet doesn't change our intellectual habits against our will. But change them it does" (92). ( the second sentence is kind of Yoda-like isn't it?) * According to Saenger word separation helped free the intellectual faculties of the reader. Can any corollaries by made about the Internet? e.g., does its quick reference nature allows for more brain memory availability for deeper information retention?

The Shallows -- Chapter 3

In chapter 3 Carr refers to the developmental maturation of the mind and our intellectual transformation and correspondingly, the types of technologies which have evolved. The book and the Internet belong to what is termed "...intellectual technologies. These include all the tools we use to extend or support our mental powers - to find and classify information, to formulate and articulate ideas, to share know-how and knowledge, to take measurements and perform calculations, to expand the capacity of our memory" (44). Carr further refers to the instrumentalist and determinist views of technology - essentially the former views that we are in control of our technologies, and the latter views technology as utimately out of our control (46).

* Does the way that we gather information from the Internet (quick reading and scanning) help to expand the capacity of our memory?

* How does our use of the Internet compare to the ancient reliance on verbal information and the latter development and reliance on the written word?

* Are we as a species in control of the transformation of the Internet as an intellectual techology?

The Shallows -- Chapter 2

Continuing our discussion of the book - The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains Carr refers to the advent of the typewriter and how Friedrich Nietzsche and friends noticed “a change in the style of his writing … tighter … there was a new forcefulness to it, too” (18). Carr provides some lengthy discussion about neuroscience, psychology, and concepts of the nature of the brain. The brain is not entirely fixed but not entirely plastic (malleable) either. Our brains have the advantage of adaptability but once connections are made and utilized frequently, as in how multiple areas of the brain are stimulated and utilized during Internet use, it is difficult to revert to previous settings, so to speak. In summary Carr points out that as much as we would like to think otherwise, the brain is not just a monitor of experience but is significantly, perhaps permanently, changed by experience (38). It is probably obvious from the title but Carr seems to be setting the case that changes which occur to the brain may be irreversible and that the Internet active brain may not be able to create or reestablish the previous connections favored for books.

Book discussion: The Shallows - Chapter 1

For background on this discussion see this previous post.

These comments and discussion questions written by LISNEWS member Bearkat.

Chapter 1
Prefacing with the HAL supercomputer “my mind is going” vignette (2001: A Space Odyssey), Carr refers to his mind changing, especially in regards to reading: “my concentration starts to drift after a page or two. I get fidgety, loose the thread, begin looking for something else to do “ (7). Others such as bloggers Scott Karp, Bruce Friedman, and Philp Davis (7-8) also refer to this tendency.

Some questions to help open up discussion:

· Is the lack-of-concentration tendency solely indicative of our connectivity with the Internet and smart phones? How does this relationship compare with other mediums, e.g., magazines, radio, television, etc?

· If you find that you, your friends, or your students experience lack of concentration while reading dense material, how do you/they address it, e.g., filter out background noise, turn the computer or email/messaging off, etc.?

Scott Karp mentions that instead of a reading a book in its entirety, he now prefers to read snippets of text from Blogs, Google Books, etc. and feels that in some ways he is “smarter” – as a hypertext document he is now more aware of connections and relationships (8).

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains

LISNEWS member Bearkat contacted me and said that he would be interested in discussing the book "The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains"

Both CHOICE and Library Journal Review recommended the book. We will be starting the discussion on the book soon. If you would like to join the discussion here are some ways to obtain the book.

Here is the Worldcat record for the book so you can see what libraries have it.

Some of the ebook versions available.
B&N Nook
Google ebookstore

All four of these ebook versions have readers for PC so you do not need to have a dedicated ereader to use the ebook version.


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