Tag Archives: random

A library is like a kitchen

8 May

It’s where the magic happens!

  • There are tools involved, some very specialized, in the form of databases, services like ILL and circulation, and the librarians themselves.
  • The reference section could be like cookbooks, in that there’s a lot of good stuff in there, but it’s pretty standard and safe, with not a lot of wiggle room.
  • The process of searching for information is a lot like a tile backsplash…functional yet pretty, and even if you make a mess it’s easy to clean up.
  • Some really neat, esoteric things can be found in the corners (anyone else have a chinoise?)

And lest we forget, the patron is the cook/chef!  Ultimately in charge of what’s produced there, able to adhere to the tried and true, or free to strike out on his or her own and create something new and exciting.

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“Big money, no Whammy! STOP!”

4 Mar

A follow-up to “You are human”, alternatively titled “Coping with Stress.”  You’ll get why I picked the other one later.

We all have days at work when we just can’t do anything else work-related.  Our heads are about to explode, someone left a…personal mess in the stacks, or you’ve just dealt with the gamut of patrons who are all convinced you DO have the answer they want, even if the question is “What is William Shakespeare’s telephone number?” and don’t like the answer “he doesn’t have one.”  At times like those, there’s a choice to be made: run screaming into the night, or find some way to laugh.

I’m a firm believer that if you can laugh at something, your day instantly gets better.  It lightens your mind and reminds you that not everything has to be serious, or handled with care.  YouTube is a valuable tool for finding something to laugh at.  Maybe your thing is corgis being cute?  Or kittens playing the piano?  Or some other entirely non-threatening to your state of mind fluff?  Go, take 3 minutes, and watch it.  Breathe deeply while you do and laugh out loud.  I promise you’ll come back feeling rejuvenated if you honestly give it a chance to work.

As for me?  If you know where the title-quote came from, you know what I do.  I watch people losing “Press Your Luck” on YouTube; they’re all so serious, and then they get whammied and the little dancing monster shows up and does “Thriller”.  How can you not laugh at that?  Even the people who just lost laugh at it, and that’s saying something.

Surfin’ USA…Amazon

31 Jan

If you’re a regular reader, you know I do collection development and that I love it with an unholy passion.  One of the places I look for inspiration is Amazon.  Don’t judge me.  It can lead to some interesting materials, and here’s a collection of what I found and how I got there.  The first is by far the most bizarre, but all are out of place compared to what I was looking for.

  • I was searching, at the request of a program director, for DVDs on hair cutting techniques.  If you search movies and TV, limit it to super-saver/Prime eligible materials, and make sure you select DVD format, I promise you the 5th result (as of Sept. 12, 2011) is Primal Man Nude Haircut.  Needless to say, this is not what our program director had in mind.
  • Don’t look for “dental” on Amazon unless you have the time to refine your search a lot.  Otherwise, be prepared for dog treats.
  • Sometimes, since we have a medical program, I have to search for books on sexual health.  I guess deer antler is good for that…
  • If you look for “vet tech” as a basic Amazon search, you tend to get good results.  Until number 6.
  • “Internet Technology” is just too general.  Way to go with your targeted marketing, Amazon, at #2 on my results…
  • Even random things catch your eye as you browse.  Like the book Thomas Kinkade: the artist in the mall.  I’m not really sure who would read this, but it’s highly recommended by Choice.  How about that?

What about you?  Do you look for materials for your library?  If so, what strange things have you found?

A reading list for the new year

1 Jan

A personal post!  What can I say, it’s the holidays.  I’ve got some books I’m excited for in 2012, so I thought I’d put a few on the list.  They’re not all new publications, but they’re books I plan to read in the next year.

  1. Changes, by Mercedes Lackey
  2. Under the Vale, and other tales of Valdemar, by Mercedes Lackey
  3. Dare to repair, replace and renovate, by Julie Sussman
  4. You Just Don’t Understand, by Deborah Tannen
  5. The Japanese Tea Garden, by Marc Peter Keane
  6. Beauty and the Werewolf, by Mercedes Lackey
  7. Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked, by Catherine Orenstein
  8. Sex with the King, by Eleanor Herman
  9. City of Golden Shadow, by Tad Williams
  10. The Wise Man’s Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss (and The Name of the Wind, too!)

There’s a lot more, but I’m not in the mood (or state of wakefulness) to cruise Amazon for links.

What are your reading plans for the next year?

It’s Christmas time in the library!

13 Dec

Or really close to it, at least.  I love this time of year because it’s Christmas and Christmas rocks my world, and it’s the longest break we have in a calendar year.  The students will be gone for nearly a month, so it’s when we can get a lot of things done without feeling hectic and switch-tasking like crazy.  It makes us a more effective library team when we can take care of “housekeeping” activities without fielding questions, circulating materials and processing patrons.

And it’s a nice, quiet atmosphere that’s kept from feeling deserted by the students that come in over the break.  We’re still open to the public for limited hours, and a few do take advantage of that.  But mostly, it’s quiet and cozy, and I like it that way.

I love the local library programming for Christmas, too: making puppets, wreaths or ornaments in a crafting workshop, story time in the children’s room (and teens sneaking in), parents bringing in their little ones trying to find the best story for the trip home to see the rest of the family.  It’s a community time of year, when libraries of all walks can shine.

In the spirit of the holiday, I am taking a brief break from regular posting.  You might see something quick and less relevant than usual, but I too want to enjoy the time of year with my family.  Regular posting will resume the first of the year.

What does Christmas mean for your library?

A picture, worth a thousand words?

7 Nov

You know what always sound like an awesome idea?  Infographics.  I love them.

Infographics tend to take a current trend and break it down into an easily-digestible, visual bite.  Or it might cover a topic.  Either way, they’re fun to look at and “reader” engagement is the biggest step you can take as far as publicizing new services and performing outreach.  They don’t even have to be 100% hard fact based…what if you’re publicizing a library event?  You can make an infographic about where it measures up on fun factor, from “washing your hair”, to “winning the lottery”.

But are they always a good thing?  I can think of times when they’re not appropriate; maybe you’ve seen one that was made on a topic that didn’t make sense (rocket science, for a hyperbolic example), or one that was too overdone or too detailed.  Knowing your audience is key, too.  If the people to whom you’re conveying information are unlikely to read posters, check email, look at flyers, or whatever your distribution of the infographic is, you can’t expect it to succeed.

One of the things I struggle with is putting expectations on things like this, where you can invest a lot of time, and then being frustrated when patrons don’t consume the information that’s already out there.  I don’t mind answering reference questions, but I do mind answering the same question from the same person 6 days in a row.  At some point, I wonder why you bother to ask, since you’re not interested in the answer.  Infographics are like that – people have to really want the information in order to be motivated to read it.

What has your experience been with infographics?  Do you use them?  How?

Why I’ll never buy a Kindle

5 Sep

I admit it: I’m slacking this week because I’m working on a series of posts for LISNPN, so you get something that’s been in my head for a while but is not high-minded at all.

I have a prejudice.  I honestly don’t like ebooks.  I’ve tried them, I like the idea of getting public domain works for free, but I’m just not that into them.  I don’t necessarily hate them, so please don’t think that.  It’s that I can’t find any reason to spend over $100, so I can spend more money rebuying books I’ve already purchased, or barring that option, dealing with the division between print and non-print books.

Maybe this is a cardinal librarian sin, this prejudice against non-print books, but if so, it’s one I only have in my personal life.  In libraries, they serve a very valuable purpose and I’ll be happy to disagree with HarperCollins regarding their ebook licensing policies anytime you want to talk about it.  Personally, though, I like the feel of a paper book.

I’ve always known that if I were a millionaire, billionaire, or Melinda Gates, I would collect rare books and incunabula.  It’s amazing and awe-inspiring to realize the level of craftsmanship that went into books when they were young.  We have books from 1550 we can still read, but a paperback from 40 years ago is falling apart.  Books are art, even the cheap ones, and I love them for their weaknesses as well as their strengths and information.  Ebooks (leaving aside DRM…) remove a lot of the weakness from a print book, leaving something less charming in its place.

What would it take for me to get on board with ebooks for my personal use?  Barring the possibility of all print books no longer being printed, probably a free Kindle/eReader/Nook.  If I could somehow lower the investment cost to something I’d spend on a paperback I’m not sure I’ll like, then I’d give it a shot.  But I’d need to  live with it, since playing with it in a store won’t be enough exposure to overcome my initial negativity.  I can find complaints galore playing with Nooks in the store, and the sales people aren’t very convincing spokespeople when dealing with prejudiced persons like myself.

Maybe I need to go on a few more dates with a Kindle/eReader/Nook…maybe our first date was one of those really bad, leaves-you-with-an-awful-impression encounters because I showed up in a cocktail dress and the ebook came in pajamas.  I just can’t bring myself to call them back and go out again.