The Night Bookmobile - Audrey Niffenegger

This is an extremely disturbing story of a woman who replaces life with books. Alexandra comes across a bookmobile that contains everything she ever read, and she becomes obsessed with this magical collection and the librarian who runs it. The implications and even stated objectives of this moving graphic novel is troubling to me as a person who loves the escapism and virtual experiences of reading and the art of knowledge seeking through books, as well as someone associated with librarianship. Apparently, this is to be part of a larger collection, and while I cannot endorse this book, I certainly plan to examine any sequels. 

Rex Libris (vol 2): Book of Monsters - James Turner

The second collection of the adventures of the titular character. In his never ending mission to protect the books of his library, Rex gets sucked into a book of monsters and has to navigate past (without a proper categorization system!) the various beasts in order to rescue a library patron. There are also other, shorter stories--even one with Cthulhu! The work of a librarian is never dull nor done! This was a fun romp, if not very deep in plot, which might be due to the series ending (low sales and knowing you're being canceled can easily take a creator's energy away). I'm sad to see it go.

Americus - MK Reed

Ok, here's the pitch: This kid--Neil--is growing up in a crappy little town in middle America. Raised by his divorced mom, he struggles to fit in but his best/only friend (who is gay) is sent off to military school because of their interest in a fantasy series. Now this book series starts a controversy and some of the town folks want to ban it, but reading is like the only thing that keeps Neil sane, so what's going to happen?! Yes, it does sound like a great pitch and deals with a lot of controversial issues of book banning and the role of libraries, etc., and Neil growing into himself, but the pitch and the actual story are not the same thing and the heavy handed book banning issue, Neil's outcast status, and the idea that all these young guys are interested in reading a series with a female protagonist (teen girls will read about a boy hero but not the other way around), just isn't very interestingly written despite the interesting idea. Sorry, it should have been up my alley but wasn't. 

LoC or Bust!

Step 1: Get up and get on a 5 hour bus ride (driven my an ex-Soviet tank commander having Afghanistan flashbacks) to Washington DC. Step 2: Talk with librarians about librarian stuff.

Step 3: Back on the bus!

Step 5: Profit!

Awesome day!

LoC_2011

ALA or Bust? Busted! Part II

Once at the ALA conference I thought things would go smoother. To a degree it did. The conference hall itself was certainly nice enough with plenty of venders and events to keep me busy, but, despite how hot it was outside, I really didn't see the need to keep the temperature hovering around -30, something that didn't help keep me awake (I love my roommates but their snoring was like a freight train driven by Fran Drescher) during some of the more vapid presenters', soft spoken, monotone lectures. I realize that not everyone is a good public speaker, but a couple of general rules would be to not speak as if trying to put a baby to bed, don't tell inside joke when you the only insider, and sarcasm is to enhance retoric, not be your normal tone. To be fair there were some amazing presenters, just, sadly, not the majority.

In retrospect, I had approached the event incorrectly. In my futile attempt to take in as much of the conference as possible, I ignored the potential of being in DC and the sights it had to offer.

Better I had made time to take in my surroundings and attend only the select events I really wanted to see (although some of the "eh, I guess I'll go to that one" events were significantly better than ones I "knew" I wanted to attend). Was it a great time? Did I learn a lot? No. Did I have some fun? Make a few new friends and enhance existing relationships? Well, no, that didn't really happen either. Hmm, I could of sworn I was ending the entry on an upbeat note. Ce la ve, there is always next year.

ALA or Bust? Busted! Part I

I should have realized it was a warning. in the week before the trip to Washington DC that I planned for myself and my schoolmates in order to visit the Library of Congress and attend the American Library Association's annual meeting, the following mechanical items broke down: My bank card, my parents computer, and my external hard drive. On the day before the trip it was: my computer, my DVD player, my TV, and my wi-fi access.

Was it any wonder that I got only 3 hours sleep the night before the trip? or that the bus would break down? I suppose it could have, should have been worse considering that the driver would constantly turn around while talking to us. Instead of an accident we merely had a blow out that shredded a tire. Interestingly, I had called my tour guide to say that we were running a little late and hung up with her at the exact moment of the flat.

I didn't blame Megabus for this, even if it was a chartered bus rather than he wi-fi carrying one we booked tickets on. I do blame them for the ridiculously long wait for a repair man. By this time a realized that I would miss all of the four special tours I set up at the LoC. No sooner then the tire was fixed, but the jack slipped and punctured the transmission fluid rendering us, once more immobile.

In total, the 4 hour trip took some 8.5 hours. Perhaps I would have been better off walking.

The Desk Set

Desk_SetI think it's a rule that all would be librarians eventually have to see this movie (that and get a librarian action figure as a present). Yes, the story is a clever, if dated, romantic comedy wherein a brilliant head research corporate librarian finds her match with a dumpy, older, but just as brilliant in his own field, computer consultant (Really Hepburn? Tracy was the actually love of your life? I don't get it), yet all I care about is the idea that a supercomputer is poised to replace a group of librarians as it can access information at lightning speed. If this isn't where the idea of Google et al came from then I don't know what is. What I found most important is that while, yes, the computer is faster and more exact with its facts, but it is completely useless if the users don't enter the proper information and it has no ability to make judgments between information. That's why, folks, we need librarians as much as ever.

ACRL/NY Symposium: Emerging Leadership in Academic Libraries, 12/4/09

The Association of College and Research Libraries/Greater New York Metropolitan Area Chapter held a conference the other day on the topic of leadership in academic libraries. Queens College sent me as their student representative and I want to thank both Dr. Blake and ACRL/NY for the honor and opportunity (especially since I was going to pay to go and instead got in free and a $50 B&N gift card (already spent it)).Originally, there was a problem as it seems that Queens never confirmed my coming or something got lost. Either way, after a brief moment of sweating (especially since I confirmed with QC the evening before), everything was worked out. By the way, why do I always bring a folder, paper, and pen to these meetings? They always provide those items. The setting was delightful at Baruch college and there was plenty to eat (always a plus). I met some very interesting people and saw some peers (one of whom ignored me, perhaps angered over my free pass), and generally had a very good time as well as learning a great deal. My only complaint is that I disagree with the speakers' view of "leadership." To me, leadership in an academic library is referring to someone who oversees the institution, recognizes the trends of the future and guides the institution toward it, all the while focusing on the purpose of serving the students. The speakers, while both acknowledging and somewhat dismissing the distinction, spoke of "management." I see management as they saw leadership: someone who works with/for a group and gets that team of people motivated to be their best and accomplish specific tasks. Perhaps the problem was that the speakers were relatively young and worked as managers, thus seeing what they did as leadership (as in they were leading a group to a goal) as opposed to a larger picture of the term. Who can blame them though, they believed what they were saying and it was a great advancement opportunity for them.

I also want to compliment ACRL/NY for including a 'zine about their event. Well done!

Texting librarians!

I went to a METRO lecture today on New York University's library program where you can text a question to a librarian at 646-265-1342. They don't ask if you are an NYU student and provide quality reference service for free. OR you can send a text question to KGB and pay them to have a trained monkey do a Google search for you. kgb

Bookhunter - Jason Shiga

bookhunt

A rare 19th century Bible has been stolen from the Oakland public library. Sounds dull? Well not if you place the story in a suspense filled noir style, added John Woo actions, anime illustrations, and, yes, have the top book police detective hot on the trail of the stolen item. Truly awesome; makes Rex Libris look wimpy.

Birds of Prey, Vol. 1: Of Like Minds - Gail Simone

birdsI really like the idea of having a woman writer focusing on some of the female characters (Oracle, Black Canary, and Huntress) of the DC universe and show how they can be every bit as butt-kicking as their male counterparts. Maybe it will draw in female readership and add respect to the heroes of that gender. Then again, maybe it will show how a bunch of girls get beat by a looney guy and sidekick, and one of the heroes is captured and all tied up--yum--, and they all wear outfits and have the body type to shame any Victoria Secrets model. I still can't decide if I like this title or Simone's work, but this is the second trade paperback I've gotten, so go figure. PS what ever happened to the TV show of the same name that I never got around to watching?

Karen Ruzycki, RIP

Karen Ruzycki died on Saturday, July 25. She was Queens College’s MLS administrative assistant for years and, whether students were aware of it or not, she made every their time there infinitely easier. We all owed her a debt of gratitude we couldn’t possible repay. The void left by her passing will profoundly affect all who knew her and she will be sorely missed. Her wake and service are on Wednesday, July 29. The wake is scheduled from 2:00-5:00 PM, and the service, both at the funeral home, from 7:00-9:00 PM. The funeral home address is: The Harden Funeral Home 208-17 Northern Blvd. Bayside, New York, 11361 Phone No. (718) 229-3055 If you would like to send a condolence letter to Karen's sister, Linda Robbins and her family, please do: Ms. Linda Robbins 516 Nichols Road Hauppauge, New York 11788

ALA/Chicago or Bust

I was selected to participate in the ALA student-to-staff program, which meant I got to go to Chicago for their annual meeting. I had never been to either ALA or Illinois, but going really livened up my summer. I arrived on Thursday afternoon and thought I'd do the tourist thing until I was to meet up with the other s-to-s members. Chicago is a lot like NYC except smaller, cleaner, and cares about architecture and I enjoyed walking about. Of course I went to the tower-formerly-known-as-Sears, which had just opened these platforms so you could look straight down. Toronto has a small, clear floor in their Space Needle so you can stare straight down 1400 feet, and I had to overcome billions of years of evolution to get myself to stand on what instinct felt was walking off a cliff. This was suppose to be cooler; the guard told me the wait was twenty-five minutes. It was... to get to the ticket line. Every time we turned a corner or went up/down an escalator/elevator  there was another line. Over TWO HOURS later I made it to the observations deck, ready to pass out from dehydration, starvation, and sheer boredom as I had nothing to listen to or read while waiting. The platforms were packed and I really didn't get the true experience. Naturally, I missed the s-to-s meet-up.

The following day Chess and I walked to the Field Museum--which was a lot farther away than we thought--and loved the dinosaur exhibit and the trip through Earth's evolution (complete with six mass extinctions). When it was time to leave, Chess needed an umbrella due to the downpour. It took forever to find the specific gift-shop that carried a very cool, very girly,  very expensive umbrella just in time for the sky to clear.

The rest of the conference didn't lend itself to anymore sight seeing and perhaps I should have made plans to stay longer (just not in the very swanky hotel ALA put me up in). I spent most of my time with YALSA as that was the section I was assigned to as my s-to-s obligation. Depending on your point of view it was either good or bad that their were so many people volunteering for YALSA as there was next to nothing for me to do. I suppose I could have spent more of my downtime going to other events, but, I confess, I was seduced by the prospect of free books in the Expo Center (I would have to send three boxes home by mail). The events I did attend were all good, yet they were really more award receptions and author talks and I don't feel I caught the true feel of an ALA event. Next year is in DC and I'm going to make sure my Queens' MLS program's Library of Congress trip is at the same time.

I don't regret going to Queens College, but I wish we had more people like I met and hung with in Chicago. We're New Yorkers, damn it, why aren't we the coolest? Why is it always pulling teeth to get more than a handful to hangout and simply have a good time? For the love of Vishnu some of these ALA people are from Kansas, KANSAS! Every evening groups of us would get together to socialize and joke around. Do you realize that we never even once talked about library science?! We were too busy just having fun palling around.

*sigh* Since I'm busy wishing, let me give shout-outs to my plethora of secret, unrequited loves (no names here). To Disney's Muscles who knew darn well that every time she touched my arm my knees would buckle, and that's why she did it. To SyFy from Alabama, why can't there be more like you? To Blue-eyes in the Comic Aisle, I'm going to ComicCon just for the chance to swim in the  crystal waters of your Irish eyes. And, of course, to Special K--perfect in every way--you're the woman of my dreams...except for being 15 hundred miles away. Thanks a lot, Shiva.

I want to give thanks to the people who made this trip a blast. Chess, you rock my world and can castle my king any day. Denise, who is as perpetually fun as she is sleep deprived, for being my partner in Expo center crime. Miranda, for being generally awesome. James, you're as cool as your mohawk is blue (yes, James, that's a simile but not a metaphor, remember?). Mandy and Sandy for generally rocking.  Nicole and Don, we couldn't have done anything without your hard work. M. T. Anderson, for being such a good sport towards us student-to-staff drunkards and making us feel great about what we do. And let me not forget all the authors that played along with my joke of having them sign books to me as if we had some long, poignant history together.

Lib_Afterhours

Mark! ranting on the promise of promises and why librarians are their own enemies

Ok, I know I've been saying to ya'll that I'll get this blog updated, post some comics, and basically do all the stuff that makes a blog a blog. Well, this isn't the start of that promise, but it is the promise of a start. I've promised myself a month off when I return from ALA in Chicago to decompress and catch up on some stuff I've wanted to do i.e. this blog. I think I realized I need some down time during Queens College's MLS graduation party. No, not my graduation, I set up the party (as part of being President of the Student Association (Pratt pays those people BTW)), but it was all for people who rarely or don't acknowledge my existence. The realization came when I asked this stupid &@%^$ named Danelle (or maybe that's a pseudonym, you don't know) if she would sign a petition to help her now alma mater's Student Association get more funds, and she blew up screaming "You know, I don't have time for this!" Well, I should of mentioned to that fat %$&*@ that I didn't have time to throw that party or write her a graduation card, but I did it anyway. Funny, her and her giggling cabal of nutters would probably get along quit well with me--very similar twisted sense of humor--if they stopped being so cliquish. I guess that's why I'm writing this (no it's not just because I want to sabotage my career by badmouthing fellow librarians, that's only the subconscious part), but to remind any librarian peers who might read this--all potential one of you--that there is a reason no one respects our profession: we tend to be either loners or cliquish, socially inept, and show no desire to help ourselves out. Why do you think our budgets always get cut? Because we're swimming in $$? Maybe part of it is because we can't take two seconds to write our names down on a piece of paper. Maybe part of it is how we present and promote ourselves even to each other. Do you know that Mark Beta constantly laughs every time I mention some class or skill a librarian needs? And he just got a degree in Theatre Theory! What the *&%(@ is that? (No offense Mark, but we both know it's true.) Is self preservation so hard that we can't get our heads out of our butts, asks this bridge burning, antagonizing author? Oh, for the return of the Grey Lady calling us hipster librarians.

Save Brooklyn Public Library

Our friends at "Take Action: Save Brooklyn Public Library" just sent us the following message: "There will be a hearing on the impact of the Executive Budget reductions on New York City libraries that begins tomorrow, May 28th, at 12:45pm. There is a public session, which begins at 3:30pm, wherein members of the community may address the council directly (for two minutes) with their concerns. (http://council.nyc.gov/html/calendar/directions.shtml)

***We invite you to come out and voice your support for libraries. We want to fill the Council Chamber with library supporters and ensure that our customers have the opportunity to publicly voice how much BPL means to them.***"

So if you're in the NYC area and not doing anything tomorrow afternoon, why not fill up City Hall with librarians and library supporters.  Let's send a clear message to Mayor Bloomberg and the Council that libraries are part of what makes a community strong, vibrant, and well-informed.

LexisNexis of the Universe

I attended a workshop on how to use LexisNexis for legal research. The database is as impressive and chock full of information as it is complicated and expensive to use. Considering that we only when over law research, it was fascinating to learn how much is available. I suggest that you never get so much as a jaywalking ticket because it will be in there and searchable by your name.

Life in the Clouds

METRO and SLA sponsored this viewing of "Ten Trends & Technologies for 2009" a webinar by Michael Stephens. I and at least several others had mistakingly believed that it was a discussion of the webinar, and not simply a viewing of something we could have easily watched at home. I made the most of the situation by grabbing a half dozen people I knew to go out for hot chocolate afterwards (I tried to get more but one had to return to work and one disappeared in an seemingly angry huff) because if people are going to needlessly get together they might as well party. Stephens explains that the latest trends in Library Science are towards technology (duh) especially that known as "clouds" (basically applications that don't reside on your computer, but on a remote server (think Facebook, Google Documents, etc.). There are a lot of incredible things about clouds: location becomes irrelevant, they are easily accessible, cheap, simple to use, and you don't really need IT support. But Stephen largely ignored the risks: security is out the window; your organization has almost no control over anything such as set-up, management, etc.; many clouds are fads; privacy is a thing of the past; and the line between personal, social applications and professional work seems to blur. I also found it ironic the the system used of the discussion froze up on two occasions.