Travel Reading

Back in my very first post, Public Librarian: Day in the Life, I mentioned that my public library has two branches, and I often work and travel between the two. Doing so necessitates the art of traveling light, and therefore, as much as I love my review journals (oh, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, Horn Book, Library Journal, and the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, I do love you!), I often have to leave them behind in my office while I am traveling.  What, then, is a librarian to do in order to stay current on all things book and library related? I found the answer in my trusty blog reader, Google Reader. It has become my preferred traveling resource for all things library and book news related. All I need to access it is a computer with internet access (AKA: a reference desk!) to read some of my favorite blogs and stay well informed of what’s going on in the library-world.

Although I follow many different blogs, there are some that have risen to become my favorites, and I consider vital to staying well informed. To begin with, many of ALA’s associations have wonderful informative blogs. ALSC’s blog is a must-read for any librarian working with children. From inventive programs and storytime ideas,  thought-provoking articles on library practices, to fantastic book recommendations, they cover it all. If you are a librarian working with young adults, YALSA’s blog  is full of informative articles on YA services and interesting tech insights and trends.

School Library Journal hosts a variety of blogs, all of them interesting and insightful, but I find myself again and again turning to Elizabeth Bird of the New York Public Library’s blog, A Fuse 8 production. Written with wit and grace, A Fuse 8 covers new books and library news.

100 Scope Notes, written by school librarian Travis Jonker, contains a wealth of interesting reviews and insights into children’s literature. The feature, Morning Notes, collects fascinating news and links of all things book and library related, and is a feature not to be missed.

A fantastic resource, one not to be missed, is Cynsations. Written by author Cynthia Leitich Smith, this blog extensively covers all things in the publishing world regarding children’s and YA literature, focuses on free speech advocacy, provides inspiring author interviews and much more.

With the help of these blogs, and others like them, I am able to stay well-informed and up-to-date, while still traveling light between locations. Yet the wonderful thing about blog readers is that there is always room for one more blog. So tell me, dear readers, what blogs are on your must follow list?


Curiouser and Curiouser: What caught our eyes online this week

“Curiouser and Curiouser!” cried Alice…
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Welcome to Chasing Reference’s weekly roundup of the curious articles and links that have caught our eye this week!

  • Want to get one new tech term a day in your inbox, complete with a “Cocktail Party Fact” for relaying this information to your friends?  Skillcrush has you covered. Recent examples: pseudocode, HTTPS, and AJAX.
  • Canadian federal libraries and archives are being seriously threatened by budget cuts.  Learn more and join the fight to  Save Library & Archives Canada.
  • Behold: the You Tube Time Machine. Pick a year, from 1860 to the present, and select categories, including movies, music, sports, commercials, current events, commercials, tv, and video games. Then you sit back, relax and marvel at how these things once captivated us.
  • Maurice Sendak passed away this week. Watch his uncanny interview with Stephen Colbert and listen to his reflective interview with Terry Gross.
  • “Your 2-year-old can play with an iPad. But the technology behind such marvels is complex and invisible, abstracted away from the human controlling it. Nor do these technologies offer us many ready chances to do basic programming on them. For nearly all of us, code, the language that controls these objects and in a way controls our world, is mysterious and indecipherable.”  A fascinating Slate article on learning to program, Ruby, and _why (not a typo).

Of Mentors and Mentoring

This past week, I had the pleasure of speaking to a group of MLIS students about life as a librarian, what it was like to be out in the field and active in the profession. It was a fantastic experience, and something I love to do. The chance to help future librarians as they set off on their own paths is uniquely rewarding, and offers as much insight for myself as it does for them. As I shared with them what I love and am passionate about in this field, I was reminding myself once more why I chose this profession.

Speaking to the class reminded me as well of when I was the MLIS student, listening to real life librarians talk about their work. Their comments and insights helped to guide me as I found my way to my own library passions. As a MLIS student, I relied on those conversations and talks to help guide me as I made my own path. When I graduated and began working in the field myself, I found that there was still much to learn from those with more experience than me, and I was grateful to all the kind souls who offered help and wisdom as I continued, and continue, to find my way.

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Getting started with research data management

by Sarah Elichko

There’s a lot of buzz around research data.  A recent blog post in the Chronicle of Higher Education asks who will pay for the organization, maintenance, and storage of “Big Data”?  The whole post is worth reading, but to summarize:  libraries are at the top of the list.  A small ethnographic study from the UK recently concluded that data management skills are in high demand and low supply.  And as more funders like the National Science Foundation require data-sharing plans from grant recipients, the demand for assistance with data planning and management seems likely to increase.

With so much discussion about data and libraries, I’ve collected a few of my favorite resources in one place.

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What We’re Reading: May 2012

On the first Friday of each month, we’ll share what we’re reading, which may include everything from magazines and blogs to novels and books for work or pleasure.

This week I finished Toni Morrison’s remarkable new novella Home, which will be published on Tuesday, May 8. It’s the story of a black Korean War veteran and his reacclimation into a racist, divided society.  I read it in a single sitting, and its structure was so perfect, I started it over as soon as I finished it and gained better appreciation for the literary journey she takes her readers on. Her talent is extraordinary. I’m still reading my way  through the twenty titles on this year’s Orange Prize longlist. I’m nearly done with Esi Edugyan’s Half Blood Blues, the story of a black jazz band in Paris in 1940, and it’s exquisite. This novel has already one the Scotiabank Giller Prize and was shortlisted for last year’s Man Booker Prize. My only regret is waiting for it to make the Orange Prize shortlist to read it. I have six titles left to read. The winner will be announced May 30th in London. – Carrie

This month, I have been enjoying Christopher Moore’s Sacre Blue: A Comedy D’art. It is a wonderfully rich, imaginative and funny exploration of the late French Impressionist movement, infused with magic and mystery. It focuses on the death of Vincent van Gogh, the investigation into that death by his friends baker-turned-painter Lucien Lessard and painter Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, and the strange and exotic world of color- paint color- especially the ever enigmatic blue.  Moore’s novel is rich with historical information and exquisite descriptions, and his characters, both real and imagined, are achingly human.  Moore did extensive research in creating this novel and has provided, both  online and as an app ,a reading guide, filled with all the fascinating information and details regarding the history of the French art movement- including pictures and paintings- that he couldn’t fit within the confines of his book. A truly remarkable read. -Heather

I’m raiding the oversize stacks this week. Katy Grannan captures portraits of strangers, bathed in the unforgiving light of California at high noon, in Boulevard. Find Grannan’s book, or take a peek at the online exhibit. Japanese photographer, Rinko Kawauchi, published her twelfth book, Illuminance, in a binding so beautiful that it will remind you why you love real books. James Casebere: Works 1975-2010 presents a mid-career survey of this playful and important artist-photographer. -Amy

I just started reading From the Folks Who Brought You the Weekend. This book gives an illustrated overview of the history of labor in the US. I’m only a few pages in but am already intrigued by Priscilla Murolo and A.B. Chitty’s framing of the changing relationship between organized labor organizations, individual workers, and the US government. And it seems like an appropriate reading choice for Mayday!  My Instapaper queue is full of articles on the French election and a Lifehacker article promising a method to learn languages remarkably quickly.  -Sarah

I recently finished reading Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon. The book was nearly impossible to put down. The novel is three interconnected stories; a high school history teacher runs away with one of his students, a man searches for his missing twin, and a college dropout discovers that his criminal uncle is really his father and goes to work for him. As the novel progresses, the stories start to collide in strange and unexpected ways. It’s fabulous.- Emily

Now tell us: what are you reading this month?

The impact of books prizes and out of print books on collection development policy

by Carrie Dunham-LaGree

On Monday, I stumbled across an interesting post on The Guardian‘s book blog, “Third of Australia’s top prize-winning books out of print.” In it, Alison Flood pondered if the plight of novels who won Australia’s top book prize, the Miles Franklin Award, going out of print could happen to winners of the Booker Prize, Britain’s top book prize. She quickly discovered all of the Booker Prize winners are still in print, except for one that will be re-issued soon. As someone who reads more library books than books I purchase, I immediately thought of the implications for libraries. Instead of worrying if a title is in print, I worry if my library has a copy (and how long the wait is to get it.) The Booker Prize only dates back to 1969, while the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction was first awarded in 1918. I wondered: if I wanted to check out a copy of every Pulitzer winner, could I?

Even though the Pulitzer folks don’t necessarily hand out an award every year, in the interest of time, I decided to not check for every title. Instead, I opted to pick two titles from each decade of the prize: one that is not terribly well known and one that is well known. I searched the titles in WorldCat, an online union catalog that allows users to search library catalogs from around the world, to see three things: how many total copies were held by libraries, if Drake’s library has a copy, and if my local public library (DMPL) has a copy.  Here’s what I found:

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