Monday, January 28, 2008

33 Reasons

Someone or other forwarded the link to this article to me…Are Librarians Totally Obsolete: 33 Reasons Libraries & Librarians Are Still Extremely Important. It’s worth a read because it’s not only about libraries and librarians, it’s about information and the way we use and find information today. The article points out:

  • Not everything is on the internet
  • There is a difference between online collections vs. internet or web sources
  • It’s going to take a long time to digitize–everything
  • The internet is pretty unorganized and more or less a free for all
  • Contrary to popular belief, not everyone has internet access

We live in a time of information overload and most folks don’t even have a clue what’s out there to access. In any given day, I try to share one site or database to a staff member that might find what I’m suggesting useful. There’s so much more out there and it’s our job to know about resources–good, realiable, useful resources–to help folks find the kind of information they want.

And so the great search for information continues…One small search for the librarian, one small step in the abyss of information for the patron.

Quote of the Day (from a while back...)

This quote sums it up and puts a big smile on my face. Ain’t it true, folks? Ain’t it true?

From American Libraries December 2006 (Yes, I’m a little behind on my professional reading!):

“Supporting your local non-chain bookstore is great, but libraries can use attention, too. And in libraries, you get the same array as in bookstores–or maybe 1000 times more–for free. The only requirement is sending the book back, which shouldn’t really tax the ability of generations trained to rent and return DVDs in 48 hours.” –Rod Davis “Why I (Still) Love the Library.” Southwest Airlines Spirit, October

Why Would a Young Lady Like You Become a Librarian?

I'd started a blog a while back and didn't keep up with it. So I'm re-posting some of the posts here and them I can delete the old one...Just a little housekeeping.

Recently, a friend said to me that if I got bored while waiting at an event, I could just read a book. Excuse me? Did I miss something here? Is that the perception of librarians she and so many people hold? Likewise, while at the MEMO conference in early October (MEMO=Minnesota Educational Media Organization professional org for MN library media specialists and technology people) a vendor just flat out asked me, “Why would a young lady like you become a librarian?”

A recent article from Leslie Berger (President of ALA) discusses the ways we (us library folk) can “transform the way people perceive libraries and librarians.”

Exactly. So hold the phone, folks, because if you think all I do during a day at my job is sit and checkout books you’ve got another thing coming. Sure, a love of books is a big part of it. But it’s not just books. Maybe you missed it, but libraries support intellectual freedom and cringe at the thought of censorship. It’s a love of information and a passion to make it available to each and every person the library serves. It doesn’t matter the library (public, school or academic, you pick), it serves the greater good of the community.

An average day at my library consists of helping students with reader’s advisory (”Mrs. B., I gotta get a book-help!“), teaching! Gasp! Yes, I teach just like every other teacher. I get really excited sharing how to search various search engines, what’s new on the web and helping students find just the right answers for their homework. Did I mention that I set up AV needs at my school, troubleshoot problems with them (”Mrs. B., the LCD projector in our room doesn’t work.”) and help (with the fabulous assistance of 2 techs) technology needs (”Mrs. B, why won’t this load? How do I find…?). Oh, and when there’s time I order materials for my library. I go through student requests, figure out what I need to go shopping for (yes, you can be the Baudelaire children were on my list about two weeks ago), what can be ordered online for later, I figure out what curriculum is changing–did something change grades? If yes, we need lower or higher level materials, what’s new? what’s been dropped?, what projects are teachers are doing and how I can help them by showing them what we’ve already got in the library or what I can order for the next time if the project is a success? I go through that every day! Not to mention, about a million other little odds and ends that don’t typify the stereotype of a librarian.

To go back to Leslie Burger’s article–”we can transform the way people perceive libraries and librarians.” A friend I hadn’t seen in about five years said to me this weekend, “You said you were a what? Media …?” I immediately jumped in and said “librarian or library media specialist” and went on to explain what I did within the middle school where I work. I’d like to hope that I was passionate enough in my explanation that his ideas about the typical librarian were challenged.

Call me a librarian, library media specialist, media specialist, media teacher, teacher-librarian, library lady, book lady, library teacher, Ms. B, Mrs. B. Ms. Braun, Mrs. Braun–but please!–don’t call me “Hey You.” (A favorite of my students which receives the “You know my name” look and one of which I refuse to respond to.)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Reflecting on Library 2.0 (Thing 2)

Sarah Houghton's definition of Library 2.0 as stated on Blyberg's Blog creates an easy to understand definition that all can understand.
"Library 2.0 simply means making your library’s space (virtual and physical) more interactive, collaborative, and driven by community needs. Examples of where to start include blogs, gaming nights for teens, and collaborative photo sites. The basic drive is to get people back into the library by making the library relevant to what they want and need in their daily lives…to make the library a destination and not an afterthought.”
At first glance it appears a simple definition that appears to be the pop culture rally cry of libraries today. Are we just jumping on the bandwagon to join in on the current trend? One of my colleagues in a school library wonders about the use of Library 2.0 tools in academia, especially school libraries. With so many of the sites blocked or restricted, it is hard to embrace these fabulous interactive tools. To many it seems that public libraries are able to make much easier use of such tools.

However, I would argue with her to a small point and consider what Joyce Valenza and her work at her school library. Joyce regularly used Wikis with her high school classes to enable their class research and projects. She's got audio and video files as pathfinder tutorials. Could not a book review blog be useful in a school setting? I am excited to discover new ideas to use these tools throughout the learning process of 23 Things on a Stick.

I am excited about 23 Things on a Stick because it urges the library community (all library communities) to learn about our society and current social and technology trends. These are not bandwagons to jump on and ride for the time. I truly believe that our culture is shifting and we need to understand these changes. To relate to, to adapt to and to change our ideas of what library service is will enable us to stay relevant in the culture of America for decades to come.

La Vida es Hermosa

A warm heating vent blowing on bare feet in the kitchen at 6am. Happy Thought, indeed.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Avatar Mayhem (Thing 1, Part 2)

I created my avatar this evening and I whittled away much of 2 hours! There are so many choices to pick from. It's easy to get lost in the world of creating an online self. I was a bit peeved since I'd saved some choices for my avatar to my favorites and they didn't save, so it took a bit longer because of that.

I was a bit disappointed that I couldn't find anything that really matched the Regency time period of JA. I did find one good outfit and hairstyle that I might change to at some point, but until then I'll stay with the READ library lady that I am.

Northanger Abbey on PBS

The new adaptation of Northanger Abbey aired on PBS last night. The screenplay was written by Andrew Davies, who also wrote the screnplay for the '95 P&P, and he got it right for this one! While some JA fans don't like Northanger, I count it as one of my favorites. (Ok, so it gets the rank of #3 in my ranking of JA novels.) Davies got the flavor of the novel right and even in 90 minutes the story was done justice and we weren't left wondering about bits of left out plot and how characters were related. The two lead actors, Feleicty Jones and JJ Feilds, portrayed the Catherine Morland and Henry Tilney winningly. Jones was innocent but genuine. Feilds was quirky and charming. Hoepfully, we will see more of JJ Feilds, as he is a great leading man. The Gothic dream sequences fit better than the earlier adaptation from 1986--which took the Gothic novel thing a bit too literally. Here we tasted the Gothic flavor in the dreams without going overboard into a full Gothic farce. Whereas the '86 version all out poked fun of them throughout the entire film.

One small flaw --at the beginning of the film, the narrator says that Catherine is 15 and there is no distinct time lapse from when the main plotline begins. Then at the end the narrator distinctly says that Catherine is 18.

Overall, highly recommended. This adaptation deserves 5 bonnets due to a brilliant screenplay for an often overlooked JA novel.. (Even without Colin Firth. Perhaps Feilds can suffice?)

Persuasion Again

I have had a chance to watch the 1995 version again this last week. This version of Persuasion is by far the better version. The writing struck me as quite powerful this time around. There are several scenes between Anne & Captain Wentworth that show dual meanings--they discuss Bath and their likes or dislikes of the place, but the true meaning behind the discussion is meant to show their true feelings toward one another. The scenes are acted & filmed in such a way that one takes the meaning immediately. They are well done indeed! Compare these scenes to the newer PBS version and one finds that the newer version does not have such deep, well constructed levels of meaning. The actors simply lack chemistry in the new version and without it, the film lacks in interest for this Jane Austen addict.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Just finished The Book Thief today. Liesel, an orphaned girl, moves in with Hans and Rosa Huberman. With them she finds love, learns to read and makes friends amidst WWII backdrop. The sign of a truly good book is one that can still make you cry even if you've read it before or peaked at the ending and it still makes you cry. Over and over again. The BT for me was a hard one to start. I'd just been through several other WWII/Holocaust fiction stories and wasn't so sure about starting another. Once I finally got into the story, it was truly hard to stop reading. The narrator proves unique--have you ever read a book that Death narrated before? You fall in love with the characters before you realize that you care and are in love with them. And by the end, I'd reread (some by choice, others by interruption) the same few chapters again and again and it was the same--tears for a beautiful story.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Persuasion on PBS

Masterpiece on PBS started Jane Austen month this last Sunday. It started with a new adaptation of Persuasion. It was pretty good. I think that the earlier version with Amanda Root & Ciaran Hinds from 1995 was better. But give me a couple of viewings and I might change my mind. Both actors playing Anne and Captain Wentworth were good, and the depiction of the story was decent. It felt flat when dealing with Sir Elliot, Lady Russell and their interactions with Anne and the rest of the story. I was a bit disappointed with the ending--most of the wording for Wentworth's letter was the original, but changing the locale to the street didn't work for me. Overall 3 of 5 bonnets (that's my newly invented JA rating system) because the lead actors satisfied me and it was Persuasion after all. Give me a chance to watch it again and I'll let report back.

Blog Created (Thing 1, Part 1)

Today I created a blog for the 23 Things on a Stick activity sponsored by Metronet. I've been meaning to do this for some time since I no longer use my other blog. Blogger is easy to use, just like the front page says--1, 2, 3. The hardest part is naming the blog. Trying to be clever and cute is not the easiest thing in the world.