The Unclassifiable Library Remix

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Mysterious Paper Sculptures

The mysterious paper sculptures showing up in Scottish locales are truly amazing works of art. Even though the librarian in me shivers a little at the mutilation of any book, I think these are fitting literary tributes and absolutely stunning. More information and pictures can be found on the blog below or through my Pinterest.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

A Veteran's Tribute

It's a little early for Veteran's Day, but I wanted to share this poem for several reasons.

First - Veteran's Day is coming up, and I believe in honoring our troops. Even when I don't agree with the politics of the this nation, I will always support the men and women that put themselves in harm's way to protect others. Sadly, Veteran's Day I think is becoming more of a day for car sales and getting out of work rather than honoring our nation's heros.

Secondly - In honor of the men of my family that have fought in ever war in this nation, saving the current generation. My father was in the Navy for close to 30 years - fighting through Desert Storm and the Cold War. His father was Army during Vietnam. My mother's father ran away to join the Marines at 16 and fought in the South Pacific during WWII, during which time my grandmother served as an airplane spotter. Mom's stepfather was in the Air Force during WWII. Our family tree contains many more Patriots that have supported this country in times of trouble.

Thirdly - to raise awareness as an archivist of the need to preserve history. So much of what we have learned about the past has come from documents, stories, ephemera, relia, and other means. Sadly, today with so much being digital in origin, we are losing a vital part of our historical record. How much of our history is being deleted? Some may laugh at my email archive going back to the early 90s - but who knows. Maybe one day it will provide insight for someone studying our time in history. I hope others will join me in preserving our digital information for posterity - ensuring our voices continue to tell our stories to those that come after.
Amplify’d from
Warriors (a poem)
Oct 29, 2011 8:47:00 PM
by Dan Doyle, Vietnam Veteran
     In those halcyon days of our youth
     When we donned our armor
     And went off to war, singing,
     We felt ourselves heroes,
     Brave enough to vie with gods.
     We believed ourselves men
     Whose names would live
     Long after our noble victories.
     But such dreams never last.
     Soon the day comes when fear,
     Or some crushing defeat,
     Or craven death claims a comrade
     And we are changed forever.
     War, then, is no longer a game,
     Or some fancified dream.
     Then the warrior cannot doubt
     War’s terrible reality—
     And it is very hard
     To be bravely borne,
     For it enfolds death
     And makes the going on,
     Seem unendurable.
      If we survive war’s reality
     And come home again
     To live among friends,
     To wander again the familiar environs,
     We no longer feel at home,
     For we who left can not return.
     Our spirits have been touched.
     Though our bodies are still young,
     They are scarred and broken.
     They have grown old
     And those who loved who we had been
     May no longer recognize us,
     May not understand our nightmares,
     Our impatience with the mundane.
     We who have gone to wars
     Walk with death at our side.
     We know what you do not yet see.
     But we can teach you much
     About life and death,
     Comradeship and duty,
     If you listen…

Friday, October 14, 2011

Funny Friday Freaks

Ahhhh...Fall Break.  Though we are still here and open, it is so lovely and quiet today.  A day to catch up and not stress.

Or so I thought.

But it seems the closeness to Halloween is bringing some of the crazies out of the closet.  These anecdotes highlight the typical type of patron interactions that always seem to come my way.  As a supervisor and manager, I try to minimize the amount of time my front line staff have to deal with such issues.  Which tends to make my days interesting, to say the least.

Freaky Crazy #1

Patron loses her glasses in early summer.  She was called immediately and the glasses were placed in lost and found.  She comes in this week and complains because now, many months later, the glasses cannot be found.  We do not inventory our lost and found and regularly send items over to the main lost and found on campus.  We try to make sure that expensive things like phones or personal items like wallets are put in our safe, but the remaining misc. items get dumped in our lost and found bin and are often forgotten until disposed of.  She was rather upset that after so many months she could not find her glasses.  So upset she has gone to the Dean about it.  However, despite the fact that this lady is on a pointless crusade, it has led us to decide to add a specific lost and found policy to the library's policies and procedures just for CYA purposes.  We'll be citing the University policy that says after 30 days the items are disposed of, or after two weeks if the individual has been notified.  

Freaky Crazy #2

Gentleman enters the library and asks my staff person at the front desk, "Do you know anything about cell phones?  Because my phone never works in here.  Don't you know it's a federal violation to block the airwaves?  That you're actions are illegal under the FCC?" Apparently he missed the part of the FCC rulings that say that using cell phone jammers is illegal; however, passive blocking due to construction materials is not covered under the law as it is perfectly legal.  I don't trip every time my phone cuts out at Food Lion.  Walk outside dude, is it that hard?  And by the way, my phone works in here fine so it must be you. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Libraries Aren't Dying, They're Evolving

Libraries are no longer just that place you go to find books - but we are the navigators of the overwhelming overload that this massive information world needs. While google can find you a million answers, librarians can find you the right one. And you can check out a lot more than books at a library - electronics, video games, movies, bikes...hell Yale even has a circulating dog. Patrons need to let us know what they want from us yes, but we also have to do a better job of letting patrons know what we already do that they may not expect. We need to market ourselves as the information gurus that we are. We need to let them know how we can make their hectic lives easier and more convenient, as well as cost efficient. We have to bring our continued meaningfulness to them, and let them rediscover all that a contemporary library can be.

Amplify’d from
“People who talk about libraries dying out are the ones who remember the libraries of their childhood,” says American Library Association (ALA) President, Molly Raphael, from her home in Portland, Ore. “But the library of today is not the library of our childhood, and the library that children see today is not the library we’ll see in 20 years.”
These days, librarians need to not only be tech-savvy, but also play the role of teacher, research guide, electronic-information navigator and employment counselor. As communication and information become increasingly digital, libraries and librarians help people to keep up with what has become the norm.
in economically challenging times such as these, library use increases significantly
While the increase in usage can be attributed to people having less discretionary income for books and magazines, it is also due to libraries’ continued evolution. Offering musical scores, toys, art, CDs and DVDs, radiation detectors, portable smoke detectors, tools, kilowatt-measuring devices, zines, seeds and more, libraries have become lenders of a variety of useful items. Some even offer ways for patrons to contribute to collections through reviews, comments, the transcription of materials into digital format, uploading computer programs of their own design, and more.
Libraries in general are pioneers of the sharing movement. Long before organizations were “going green,” libraries were there, showing us how it’s done. In fact, libraries are a perfect introduction for people who are wary of the whole sharing economy. One can simply say, “It’s like a library, but for cars (or bikes or tools etc.).”
In general, libraries are working diligently to keep up with, and push ahead of, society’s curve. If we hold on to our nostalgic notions of what libraries once were, we deem them relics of a time gone by. However, if we support libraries through their evolutionary process, they remain vital community resources and hubs; unwavering providers of information to all, whatever form that information may take.

What Students Don't Know

This is a philosophical argument that is not new, but is definitely a topic of current discussion. Do you give them the fish or do you teach them how to fish? Are all people meant to be researchers? Do you try to force them to love learning or just give them what they need for the assignment? While I as an individual much prefer to delve into research and revel in my nerdy side, I also have enough common sense to realize that most undergraduates just want to get their degree, finish school, and get a job. They are not necessarily academics by nature. I try, when I do my librarian thing, to assess each patron individually. Some you can tell really do care about the research - and those I teach to fish. But for other students, you can tell they just want to complete the assignment and get on with the million other things they have going on in life. For those students, is it really so bad to just give them the fish?

 Amplify’d from article of 8/22/11
This is one of the sobering truths these librarians
have learned
students rarely ask librarians for help, even when they need it. The idea of a librarian as an academic expert who is available to talk about assignments and hold their hands through the research process is, in fact, foreign to most students. Those who even have the word “librarian” in their vocabularies often think library staff are only good for pointing to different sections of the stacks.
One thing the librarians now know is that their students' research habits are worse than they thought.
“The majority of students -- of all levels -- exhibited significant difficulties that ranged across nearly every aspect of the search process,”
They tended to overuse Google and misuse scholarly databases. They preferred simple database searches to other methods of discovery, but generally exhibited “a lack of understanding of search logic” that often foiled their attempts to find good sources.
If we quietly hope to convert all students to the liberal ideals of higher education, we may miss opportunities to connect with a pragmatic student body,
“Now more than ever, academic librarians should seek to ‘save time for the reader.’
“the extent to which students appeared to lack even some of the most basic information literacy skills that we assumed they would have mastered in high school.” Even students who were high achievers in high school suffered from these deficiencies
In other words: Today’s college students might have grown up with the language of the information age, but they do not necessarily know the grammar.
Even when students turned to more scholarly resources, that did not necessarily solve the problem. Many seemed confused about where in the constellation of library databases they should turn to locate sources for their particular research topic: Half wound up using databases a librarian “would most likely never recommend for their topic.”
Years of conditioning on Google
instilled them with a stunted understanding of how to finely tune a search in order to home in on usable sources
“Students generally treated all search boxes as the equivalent of a Google search box, and searched ‘Google-style,’ using the ‘any word anywhere’ keyword as a default,” they wrote.
Unsurprisingly, students using this method got either too many search results or too few. Frequently, students would be so discouraged they would change their research topic to something more amenable to a simple search.
not one asked a librarian for help.
students were just as unaware of the extent of their own information illiteracy as everyone else
Another possible reason was that students seek help from sources they know and trust, and they do not know librarians. Many do not even know what the librarians are there for. "I don't think I would see them and say, 'Well, this is my research, how can I do this and that?' " one senior psychology major told the researchers. "I don't see them that way. I see them more like, 'Where's the bathroom?' " Other students imagined librarians to have more research-oriented knowledge of the library but still thought of them as glorified ushers.
Unfortunately, professors are not necessarily any more knowledgeable about library resources than their students are.
And many professors, like many librarians, overestimate the research fluency of their students.
, “One of the professors said, ‘You mean they come to the library without the assignment?’
“Yes. Yes, they do.
In her contribution to the ERIAL tome, called “Pragmatism and Idealism in the Academic Library,” Thill wrote about the tension between library pragmatism -- the desire to satisfy the minimum requirements of a research assignment -- and library idealism, which glorifies the tedious unearthing and meticulous poring-over of texts. Unsurprisingly, most students tacked toward pragmatism, while “librarians and professors [repeatedly] wished that students could invest more time in contemplation and discovery, painting an idealized portrait of students leisurely wandering the stacks or pensively sitting down to await inspiration.”
Teaching efficiency is not a compromise of librarianship,
understanding the limitations of library idealism in practice, and acting pragmatically when necessary.

Monday, September 12, 2011

I Don't Just Read All Day

There is nothing more frustrating for a librarian than to have someone tell us what an awesome job we have since we get to read all day. Real librarians are so busy wearing dozens of different hats, reading is often a luxury.

What People Don't Get About Working in a Library

Aug 9 2011, 5:00 PM ET

The Librarian #1
"We are not mere cart pushers. This job requires a Masters degree for a reason."

The Librarian #2

"I am an aggregator, a citation machine, a curator, a specialist."
The Cataloger

"Even within the library profession my job is very under-appreciated."

The Librarian #3

"I am not your doormat. Make your own copies."

The Librarian #4

"I am not a babysitter for teachers' planning periods."


Thursday, September 08, 2011

I Have No Mercy

"I returned two DVDs two weeks late. They had no educational value and no one missed them for as long as they were gone. I shouldn't be penalized because I already pay too much money to go to this school and don't have the money for bogus fees. I am usually very punctual with returning books because I know of their importance to other students. I can't pay this fee and I need to borrow a book for class. I need your help and mercy..." - Student

“Hmmmmm….maybe you’d get merciful if your attitude were better. Want to rethink that tone?” – Me as I stamp fine appeal denied all over the form.

Seriously, if you are asking someone for something and you are in the wrong, shouldn’t you at least make an effort to be positive and pleasant?

Well at least I got a laugh for the day.

Hooked on Books!

Now that Katy is in kindergarten, reading time is going to be even more important. While I have done reading activities using some of the suggestions below, this article gave me even more ideas to use when reading at home.
Amplify’d from
Originally published: August 23, 2011 11:25 AM

Updated: September 6, 2011 8:41 AM

As a parent, you strive
to help your children succeed in school, and that often means encouraging them to do their homework and study for tests. But one of the most important things you can do for your child's development is to read together.
1. Incorporate technology
2. Share your favorite children's book
3. Be silly
4. Make a game of it
5. Participate in story time
6. Set a good example
7. Get comfy
8. Store books where you store toys
9. Take turns reading
10. Schedule daily family reading time
11. Join a kids book club
12. Start a family book club
13. Let your child run the show
14. Use books as a reward
15. Go for non-fiction books
16. Read a book, watch the movie
17. Don't limit reading to fiction
18. Build a playlist
19. Find topics your kids love
20. Let your child be the author
21. Check it off
22. Choose your own adventure
23. Quiz your kids
24. Act it out
25. Make books easily accessible

Friday, September 02, 2011

Copyright, Fair Use, and Electronic Materials: Three Tips

A constant battle...

Copyright, Fair Use, and Electronic Materials: Three Tips

September 1, 2011

Daniel Fusch, Academic Impressions

The recent slew of intellectual property rights lawsuits against institutions of higher education -- such as the lawsuit filed against Georgia State University over e-reserves, or the lawsuit over video streaming at UCLA -- make two things clear: how little is understood on campus about what "fair use" entails, and how critical it is to plan for risk mitigation as your campus community increasingly makes use of digital content.

Smith and McDonald offer three tips for addressing fair use at your institution proactively rather than reactively.

1. Read and Negotiate the License

2. Establish a Campus-Wide Fair Use Policy

3. Educate Your Campus


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Tao of Librarianship

Librarians are typically stereotyped as afraid of change, and change often comes slowly. In today's ever changing world, this model will quickly leave us antiquated and purposeless. We have to find ways of keeping ourselves meaningful to our patrons so that they will continue to see the relevance of libraries in helping them to navigate through the overwhelming wealth of information.

Amplify’d from
There is a wealth of wisdom from the Taoist philosophy that could be applied in librarianship.
Laws Create Lawbreakers
Bend, Don’t Break
Realize When Enough is Enough
Be Like Water

Librarians need the ability to be in touch with reality and not be blind or naive. The job of a librarian does not have to be a struggle against obsolescence or a constant proving of  their value to stakeholders and administrators. Instead librarians can try to understand what is actually of value to our patrons and be leading the parade instead of fighting against it.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Copyright in a Nutshell

Though the University has an attorney, I as the librarian that oversees reserves and interlibrary loan, have become the default copyright guru on campus. When people have a copyright question, they often hit me up, and I also try to educate the community through presentations and such when possible. This article by Jennifer Howard goes over some really good basic facts that I too wish more people knew.

Amplify’d from

What You Don't Know About Copyright, but Should

By Jennifer Howard

If you think you don't own any copyrights, think again.
Know your rights when you sign contracts with publishers or others to distribute your work
Fair use is complicated—but you can also call on the principle of "classroom use."
Don't be ruled by fear.
"A risk-oriented, compliance-oriented mind-set is one of the things that makes fair use smaller and helps us not innovate around copyright law in other ways," Ms. Sims says.
Ask for help. And make a difference.

Reading Project

Though I've read a number of these books, I have not read as many as I would have liked. I'm going to set this as a reading goal for myself. I was going to say it would be my summer project, but I think I may need to allot a bit more time. Let's see how long it takes me to get through the list.

Amplify’d from

The 100 greatest non-fiction books

After keen debate at the Guardian's books desk, this is our list of the very best factual writing, organised by category, and then by date.

See how closely it matches yours and tell us what we've missed

British Museum Reading Room
The greatest non-fiction books live here ... the British Museum Reading Room.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bill Gates v. Ford Motor Company

(From my MIL - I really needed this laugh!)

For those of us who feel only the deepest love and affection for the way computers have enhanced our lives, read on. 

At  a recent computer expo (COMDEX), Bill Gates reportedly compared  the computer industry with the auto industry and stated,   

'If Ford had kept up with technology like the  computer industry has, we would all be driving $25 cars that got  1,000 miles to the  gallon.' 

In response to Bill 's comments, Ford issued a press release stating: 

If Ford had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all  be driving cars with the following characteristics (and I just  love this part): 

1. For no reason  whatsoever, your car would crash.........Twice a  day. 

2.. Every time they repainted the  lines in the road, you would have to buy a new  car.

3...  Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason..  You would have to pull to the side of the road, close all of the  windows, shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows  before you could continue. For some reason you would simply  accept this. 

4. Occasionally,  executing a maneuver such as a left turn would cause your car to  shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to  reinstall the engine.

5.  Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was  reliable, five times as fast and twice as easy to drive - but  would run on only five percent of the  roads. 

6. The oil, water temperature,  and alternator warning lights would all be replaced by a single  'This Car Has Performed An Illegal Operation' warning  light.

I  love the next one!!!  

7.  The airbag system would ask 'Are you sure?' before deploying.   

8. Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your  car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you  simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key and  grabbed hold of the radio antenna.

9.  Every time a new car was introduced car buyers would have to  learn how to drive all over again because none of the controls  would operate in the same manner as the old  car. 

10. You'd have to press the   'Start' button to turn the engine  off.

PS  - I 'd like to add that when all else fails, you could call '  customer service ' in some foreign country and be instructed in  some foreign language how to fix your car  yourself!!!!

Please  share this with your friends who love - but sometimes hate -  their computer! 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Common Sense

Over the past few years I seem to sense a decline in basic common sense.  I see it in the ridiculous lawsuits for products resulting in labeling that is even more ridiculous (i.e. do not iron clothes on body), watching people drive (left hand turn from the right hand lane - nice), and a myriad of other examples in every day life.  Has the ability to think for oneself been completely lost?  Not to mention the lack of ability to take responsibility for oneself when consequences arise from such no-brainer incidents. 

Today, I experienced another example of a complete lack of common sense - this time regarding using library materials.  First, let me explain how libraries work for those of you that are unfamiliar.  You borrow materials that belong to other people for a short time and then bring them back so that others may do the same.  Seems a simple premise, yet it seems to be quite difficult for many library patrons to understand.  Due dates, fines, and much more cause substantial consternation among library users who seem to not understand that these materials do not belong to them to use however and for as long as they want. 

Today, I received a complaint from a patron that was being charged a replacement fee for an interlibrary loan book she had decided to highlight.  Not only was it not her book, but it wasn't even our book.  I'd have felt bad enough if it had belonged in our library, but the fact that it was the property of another library made me feel even worse.  Her complaint was that she didn't feel entirely responsible as she had not been informed of a policy stating that patrons could not write in books.  Really????  Seriously????  This is something they have to be told????  Borrowing books that don't belong to you and you need this spelled out????  That's like saying hey you told me I could borrow your car but you didn't say I couldn't wreck it.  Is this not common sense?  I am used to the lack of responsibility exhibited in fine waiver requests (it's not my fault because....fill in the blank) but this goes far beyond that to the complete realm of WTF?!?!  Apparently common sense is becoming less and less common (whoever named it that was definitely an optimist) - maybe the phrase should be changed to the romantic languages translation of the phrase - "good sense." 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Where oh where can my outlet be?

This is a problem for our library as well. I feel the pain myself often searching for a plug or having too many things to plug in and not enough outlets, not to mention the bag of power cords I have to carry around with me. You see people sitting on the floor, cords snaked here and yon waiting for unsuspecting ankles, furniture moved to accommodate outlets - who knew a simple thing like power could be such a big problem. Glad to know we're not the only place dealing with this issue - hell it's even a problem at the Pentagon. The furniture options mentioned is a great alternative for those places that can't magically make a new building or reconstruction happen. I would also love seeing the longer lasting batteries developed. In the meantime, I wonder what other creative solutions are hovering out there.

A Digital Generation Scours the Library for a Plug

By Michael Kelley
Dec 30, 2010
Thirty years ago, the only person in a library looking for an electrical outlet was a blue-smocked cleaning person who had to plug in a vacuum cleaner with a very long cord.
Times have changed.
Universities struggle to keep up
The problem cuts across all library sectors.
"The lack of adequate power is a fairly big issue for [the Dimond Library]," Tracey Lauder, the assistant dean for library administration at the University of New Hampshire, told LJ. "Students frequently move large tables and soft seating closer to walls with outlets, or they bring their own extension cords, which obviously can be a hazard," she said.
"Plugs are popular" was number four on the list, because without them the digital generation cannot power the connection to information or with one another.
"It extends the social network, where students can sit and talk and collaborate," Stephens told UAB Magazine.
To complicate matters, installing new outlets is considered an extra, and Dimond Library has to dip into its operating budget to pay for them. And they aren't cheap. The recent installation of six wall and six floor receptacles would have cost $10,568, but the decision was made to install the wall receptacles only during the library's redesign since the floor outlets would have required drilling.
Redburn also noted that at public libraries it's not so much the collaborative nature of work, as it is at universities, but the hard economic times that drive more people to the library in search of an interface for their media.
"People can't afford Internet service at home anymore, they can't afford a print cartridge, so there's a causal relationship between the economy and the growth of people using the library," she said.
"Consider the need for additional floor electrical outlets at circulation and reference desks, workrooms, offices for staff use, audiovisual areas, and in reading areas for customer use," reads one example in section 3-5.4.
But when a library wants to raise the bar on its electrical infrastructure, the answer is two words: raised floor.
The main benefit with raised floors is that the power distribution does not run in a fixed conduit, so the library can change the configuration of outlets.
Still, the ultimate answer, several sources said, may be longer lasting batteries, a part of the natural evolution of technology and the many curious problems it brings. Down the road, the question may be what to do with all the unused outlets.