Olympic Resources

by Emily Hamstra

I can’t get enough of the Olympic Games. Whether you love the Olympics or are already growing weary of the coverage, we all have patrons who will be asking for resources related to the Olympics. I pulled together some resources related to the Olympic Games to help as you put together displays, and answer readers’ advisory and reference questions.

Online resources:

The Olympic Studies Centre has a library of resources related to rules of the Olympic Games, history of the Olympic Games, champion records, and funding opportunities for those interested in Olympic studies, to name a few.

The International Olympic Committee Library (IOC Library) contains Olympic publications. Search for your favorite sport to read about the events at the London Games brochures, and to see brochures from Olympic games of the past.

The LA84 Foundation has made available an interesting collection of journals, bulletins, oral histories with Olympic athletes, and results from Olympic games.

If you’re interested in images, the Guardian has collected some photos of the Opening Ceremonies from 1924-2008. Library as Incubator has a post about images from past Olympic games.

If your library has a subscription to the database SPORTDiscus, search there for more comprehensive coverage of scholarly journals and trade publications related to sports, kinesiology, and fitness.

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Lexiles, Genres and Page Counts, Oh My!

Like most librarians, we at Chasing Reference love to read- just take a look at all our What We’re Reading posts. Reading and sharing books is one of the joys of librarianship, and the art of Reader’s Advisory (RA) is a vital part of nearly every librarian’s position. RA can be a wonderful puzzle, carefully pulling together the threads of a reader’s interest to find just the right book for them.  When you work with children, as I do, RA becomes a fascinating blend of both reference and RA, as children sometimes need help finding a book that meets certain homework and school criteria. Continue reading

The Librarian of MOOC

It seems that everybody is talking about massive open online courses (MOOCs). Steven J. Bell sang their praises during a doom and gloom ACRL/NEC keynote. The Ubiquitous Librarian, Brian Mathews, credited the universities who pioneer(ed) MOOCs with “inventing the future,” in a recent essay for The Chronicle Blog Network. And, the New York Times published a story last week about how the ventures of MOOC companies, like Coursera, are “part of a seismic shift in online learning that is reshaping higher education.” Readers’ reactions were mixed.

Feeling curious, and following an incredibly simple and intellect-affirming admissions process, I registered for a free, six week Coursera class to, hopefully, learn more about US Food Systems through the lens of public health. Though I would have preferred to enroll in an art, theater, or historical topic course, there were almost none. At first the limited selection of Humanities courses discouraged me, but I persevered, knowing that I may skip class, ignore assignments, and withdraw at any point. There are no grades, no pass/fail. Without spending a dime (or thousands of dimes), I’ll be learning for the sake of learning, and from experts in their fields. I like it. What librarian wouldn’t? Continue reading

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!

  • Are you a green librarian? A Providence-based startup called NuLabel wants label consumers–ahem, technical services–to consider the 1.2 million tons of waste created by the nonstick, nonrecyclable liners that we throw away after each use. When linerless labels hit the market, librarians will not only save the planet, they’ll also save money because liners cost more than labels to produce. Good design sticks around (ha ha…ha…).

GIS and Mapping for Reference Librarians: A Short Guide

by Sarah Elichko

open street map of Haiti earthquake damage

Chances are high that you’ve used Google Maps (or Bing Maps or Mapquest) to find your way somewhere.

But there are far more interesting applications of these technologies than finding the nearest coffee shop (essential though that is).  I’ve learned about some of these possibilities from the short online course from RUSA called Spatial Literacy 101, taught by Eva Dodsworth of the University of Waterloo.

I’ll skip professional-level GIS programs (e.g. ArcGIS) and focus on freely available resources that you can explore and share with your library patrons.  Here are a few of the resources we’ve looked at in the course.  (The course goes into these resources and others in much greater depth, so this is just a preview.)

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!

  • Thinking about your future as the Director of Library Services? If so, then The Free Range Librarian has some sage advise.

Come to your census!

by Amy Barlow

In April 2012, the US National Archives released the 1940 census records to the public. Like any massive digitization project, the newly published collection of 3.8 million images is mostly user friendly. While I wouldn’t compare searching for a name to finding a needle in a haystack, I would compare it with hoping to bump into your ex-boyfriend at Coachella. Probing the census feels like stalking, which is probably why the US government mandates that 72 years pass between the collection of data and the publication of household-level details, such as a person’s address, country of origin, age, occupation, education, employment status, weeks worked, salary, etc. The census takers, who’s handwriting skills are highly variable, left no stone unturned.

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If at first…

Having had a few weeks to reflect on the things I learned at ALA, I’ve come to see that many sessions I attended focused on initiatives that, at first, seemed unsuccessful or didn’t get the reception that was hoped for.  Yet many of these seemingly underwhelming initiatives grew into successful programs due to the persistence of the librarians and staff involved.  This dynamic has made me think about how to judge potential programs and assess the likelihood that they will succeed.  Given scarce resources (staff time and energy, money, patron time and energy), we can’t do it all.  And obviously we can’t peer into a crystal ball and know for a fact what will work.  So how can we identify what projects are worth putting energy into, and which to set aside?     Continue reading

What We’re Reading: July 2012

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

I just finished Ami McKay’s mesmerizing second novel The Virgin Cure, which tells the fascinating story of Moth, a 12-year-old girl in New York City in 1871. Moth and her mother live on the lowest rungs of poverty, and Moth’s mother sells her into servitude. What follows is a heartbreaking story of a life of poverty, and it’s historical fiction at its best. It’s a story I wish weren’t part of our shared history, but it’s a reminder of why I love historical fiction: when done right, it opens us up to worlds we should not forget. Up next: Close Case, the third novel in Alafair Burke’s Samantha Kincaid series. Kincaid is a district attorney in Portland, Oregon, as Burke herself was. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the first two legal thrillers in the series and am looking forward to being swept away by this one too. — Carrie

I was delighted this month to return to the thought-provoking world of Lois Lowry’s The Giver with her  newest book Son, due out on October 2nd. Son is the fourth and final book in The Giver quartet (The Giver, Gathering Blue, and The Messenger) and offers new insight and perspectives into the world that Lowry created. Once more, the readers finds themselves in the oppressive and strange world that Jonas lived in in The Giver, this time from the perspective of Claire, a young woman designated as a Birthmother during her Ceremony of Twelve. As a Birthmother, Claire delivers only one “product” in a procedure that goes horribly wrong. In the aftermath she is told, despite the complications, that her “product” was a boy, Number 36. Armed with this knowledge, Claire begins a desperate search to find her son, taken from her as is the society’s way. This search takes her far beyond the closed confines of her society–it takes her from the wilds of the sea, to a small village, and, lastly, to the very town that Jonas and Gab from The Giver and Keira from Gathering Blue live in. It is a story of awakening, strength, and love.  Once more, with Son, Lowry sweeps readers away into a powerful story, one that remains with you long after you turn the final page. Truly, The Giver quartet is one series that is not to be missed, with Son being a heart-felt and evocative conclusion to the story. — Heather

This week I’m reading Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto. The acclaimed novel is more than ten years old at this point, but, despite its inability to capture my interest at the moment of its publication (it failed Nancy Pearl’s Rule of 50), I decided to give it another shot, after loving State of Wonder. Thank you, silly early-twentysomething self, for casting the novel aside because I get to enjoy it now, as a grown-up. Patchett’s writing talent is like her fictional soprano’s musical talent: it has the power to transport its audience completely, from one surrounding to another. Her stories are captivating. — Amy

I started reading Dean Spade’s Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics, and the Limits of Law while on the plane to Anaheim. Spade critiques the legal rights-based approach of mainstream LGBT organizations like the Human Rights Campaign, arguing instead for an organized grassroots effort focusing on a far-reaching goal of justice rather than simply inclusion. He points out that while the HRC-style approach has been successful in many cases (legalizing gay marriage in some states, ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell), these victories have benefited only a fraction of people who fall under the GLBT umbrella. He also talks about how mainstream GLBT campaigns have ignored issues like gender status on state-issued identification (drivers licenses, passports, etc.) that have a significant impact on trans people’s lives. I’ve found the book fairly accessible given its focus on legal issues. Instead of just discussing his theories, Spade includes examples from his work at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, which he founded in 2002.  Not only do these specific stories enliven the sometimes dense prose, they also help the reader to envision the kind of goals Spade has for the trans political movement. — Sarah

When I saw Leanne Shapton’s latest book, Swimming Studies, in the Penguin Booth at ALA I nearly fell over. The book is a memoir of Shapton’s life as a competitive and recreational swimmer, and includes paintings and a catalog of her lovely swimsuit collection. As someone who adores swimming, I found a kindred spirit in Shapton. She reflects on what it takes to become really good at something, and what it means when that something still appeals to you but no longer holds the value it once did. This is nostalgic reading for swimmers and anyone who has ever been a teen on a team. — Emily

Now tell us: what are you reading this week?