Librarian's Book Club

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.

Help Nancy Pearl Name a New Genre

Nancy Pearl requests her listeners assistance on her most recent edition of NPR Pearl's Picks "Under the Radar"...

"I only recently realized that many of the works of fiction that I most enjoy are those that push genre boundaries. I especially like fiction that is mostly realistic, but every once in a while zigs confidently into fantasy. We tend to call such works "magical realism" when they're written by South American or Indian or Latin American writers — think Jorge Luis Borges' short stories, Isabel Allende's The House of the Spirits, or Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children. But in fact, these great works are being written by authors of all countries. Since the books themselves can be mainstream fiction, mysteries, Westerns or fantasy (or any mixture thereof), I'd love to come up with a one- or two- or possibly three-word label for such works that captures their essence (something other than "unclassifiable"), but so far I've drawn a blank. Anyone care to help? Have at it — I'll give you some examples of books that fit what I have in mind — Miss Hargreaves by Frank Baker, Under Heaven or The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay, and Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke — and you find the best descriptor. Okay? You can send me your suggestions at [email protected]."

Reluctant Capitalists: Bookselling and the Culture of Consumption

Several months back I suggested a book for discussion for the LISNEWS Librarian's Book Club. The book was: Reluctant Capitalists: Bookselling and the Culture of Consumption. At that time the book was only available in hardcover and was held by under a 100 libraries. Currently the book is out in hardback and paperback and over 300 libraries have the book according to WorldCat. Previously several people were interested in discussing the book but wanted to wait until it was more available.

Here are the chapters of the book.

Chapter 1 Commercial Culture and Its Discontents

Chapter 2 From Dry Goods Merchants to Internet mogul: Bookselling through American History

Chapter 3 Providing for the Sovereign Consumer: Selecting and Recommending Books

Chapter 4 Designing the Bookstore for the Standardized Consumer

Chapter 5 Serving the Entertained Consumer: The Multifunction Bookstore

Chapter 6 Bargaining with the Rational Consumer: Selling the Low-Cost Book

Chapter 7 The Revolt of the Retailers: Independent Bookseller Activism

Chapter 8 Pursuing the Citizen-Consumer: Consumption as Politics

Appendix Ownership Histories of Major American Chain Bookstores

Discussion of the book will begin on August 6th to allow people that would like to participate in the discussion
time to get a copy of the book.

Free audiobooks by people you've heard of

mdoneil writes "(That headline was painful to write. Free audiobooks from people of whom you have heard would not fit. )

Simply Audibooks, a vendor, has some free audiobooks to download. Free is good.

Off to download The Art of War."

New Book: Casanova was a Librarian

Ruth Kneale writes "A new book has recently been published on image and librarians — called "Casanova was a Librarian", it touches on the "lighthearted, humorous, sexy and intriguing side of librarians." Check it out at"

Mooch it!

Molly K writes "Boing-boing reports on a new website called BookMooch, where users can "give away your old books, get others". Salient points: it's free (the only cost involved is shipping your book to it's new owner), it works on a point system (you have to give away books to receive them) and you can donate your unused points to charities (like hospitals or a library fund). Nice site design too."

Library/Internet debate and Scrolling Forward

The discussion of the book Scrolling Forward: Making Sense of Documents in the Digital Age is going to be very interesting. Recently Blake posted an article called 10 Reasons Why The Web Is Almost A Substitute For Libraries which was a counter piece to an older article called 10 Reasons Why the Internet Is No Substitute for a Library. Scrolling Forward deals with this debate. Chapter 7 of the book is titled Libraries and the Anxiety of Order. We will cover this entire chapter later but I want to give a few tidbits from the chapter to demonstrate why this is an excellent book to discuss.

Here is one paragraph from Chapter 7:

Of course it isn't just stores or shopping malls that need to be constantly maintained. Everything does. Gardens go to seed, bridges fall down, clothes become frayed and stained, The same is true for documents. Without proper care they decay, lose their intelligility and intellectual currency, and become inaccessible. And this isn't just true of paper documents. We are quickly discovering that digital materials, too, need to be properly tended. Web pages disappear and links break. Digital media - floppy disks, CD-ROMs, and so on - degrade after a matter of years, and the files stored on them have to be copied to new media if they are to be preserved.

Later in the chapter the author provides the opening paragraph from a 1909 Library Bureau Catalog. Library Bureau was the company founded by Dewey to sell library supplies.

The paragraph reads:

The development of library science during the last quarter century has made it evident that a library in the true sense is not merely a certain number of books, but rather a collection of books so arranged that they may be conveniently used for reading or reference. Five thousand well-choosen volumes classified and administered according to modern methods may better deserve the name of library than four times the number carelessly or erratically arranged, even though the larger collection might contain every volume to be found in the smaller group.

I think these paragraphs are enlightening in regards to the discussion of the two articles discussing why or why not the web may be a substitute for the library. Chapter 7 in it's entirety is wrestling with this debate.

If you would like to join in the discussion all you need to do is obtain a copy of the book Scrolling Forward: Making Sense of Documents in the Digital Age by David Levy. You then are welcome to post replies to any of the LBC posts. If you would like to create your own post on any aspect of the book you choose just submit it as a story to LISNEWS and one of the LISNEWS authors will approve your posting. Note: If you don't have access to the book your are still welcome to comment in the discussion. This is an open forum.

Suggested Books for LBC

One person suggested the book Scrolling Forward: Making Sense of Documents in the Digital Age by David Levy to be the current LBC selection. The author is going to be a participant in the presidents program for ALCTS at ALA next month. Lots of libraries have this book and you can buy a copy online for under $5 and that includes shipping. There were no other book suggestions so I say we go ahead and make this the book to read. Comments anyone?

Reluctant Capitalists: Bookselling And the Culture of Consumption

The Librarian's Book Club at LISNEWS has been inactive for awhile. I think it is time to give another book a try. A LISNEWS story suggested a book that I think has lots of promise. The book is Reluctant Capitalists: Bookselling and the Culture of Consumption. Do we have a few people that would be interested in discussing this book? I think librarians should have a good understanding of the book trade. Especially in a world where libraries are asked to be more like Borders or Barnes and Nobles. (coffee shop, etc...)

Here is one review of the book from a UK source. You can read an excerpt from the book here.

Ambient Findability : What We Find Changes Who We Become

The LBC book selection for January and February 2006 is Ambient Findability : What We Find Changes Who We Become. The book is currently number 900 on's bestseller list. It looks like there is a lot to discuss in this book so please start your comments. Website for the book.

Some Comments on "The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transforme

An LISNEWS reader sent these comments on the book, The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture

I have read through chapter 10 in the book. Battelle has definitely written a fascinating glimpse of Google and a few of its rivals. Some things that have stood out to me:

The majority of the quotes from Google executives come from Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt; there are hardly any from Larry Page. However, Page has a self-confessed reticent nature (p. 68) so that probably is enough explanation.

It is interesting to read about how hit levels in Google effect businesses, small ones in particular (Chapter 7: “The Search Economyâ€). It makes sense that there is such a strong correlation, but I had never quite realized the impact before reading the story of Neil Moncreif’s specialty shoe business.

The controversy of Google Print and publisher’s concerns is barely covered, but give the recent and evolving nature of the issue, that is probably understandable. Unless I missed it, there is also not a direct reference to librarians’ concerns over Google and Print.

I did find an interesting reference to libraries and privacy on page 193 and 194. Battelle mentions a book by sci-fi author Piers Anthony. The book is entitled Chthon and was originally published in 1967. The apparently undated future is a “dictatorial future†where all knowledge is stored on computers. The protagonist who is “tracking down a mysteryâ€, decides to do all of his research in libraries where he know that his trails won’t be found and that he won’t “alert the authoritiesâ€. Interesting twentieth century speculation of our present day online privacy concerns.

In Chapter 10: “Google Today: Google Tomorrowâ€, Battelle offers an interesting comparison of Google and Yahoo’s cultures and practices. How their intended end results are the same yet their approaches to those have been quite different. Yahoo has made no bones about equating search results with commerce and media delivery. At least in the past, Google’s Page and Brin have been reluctant to tie search and commerce so intimately. However, that has been changing over the last couple of years and is sure to continue to change. Battelle makes the point that Google is looking to be an all-purpose content delivery company.


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