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Archive for the ‘Good reads’ Category

Broadcast Collaboration, from Brian Mathews, in AL’s Next Steps

Posted by Editor on October 25, 2011

Fri, 09/16/2011 – 13:55, by Brian Mathews

A look inside the NPR library

“Remind me how to pronounce Eyjafjallajökull?” “What music should I play for a piece about polar bears?” “David Hasselhoff—singing at the fall of the Berlin Wall. Can you find tape?”

Welcome to a typical day at the National Public Radio library in Washington, D.C., where over 10,000 such requests come in each year from staff, producers, and correspondents in the United States and around the globe. From fact-checking and pronunciation to background music, audio clips, and transcripts, the library helps deliver the news.

NPR’s collections are unique. While there are some print books, serials, and access to numerous commercial databases, the bulk of the collection consists of the audio archive of NPR news programs. Over 40 years of audio is stored on reel-to-reel tapes and CDs. Additionally, the library is digitizing thousands of tracks of musical recordings in preparation to move to the new NPR building in 2013. The archive also contains spoken-word materials: speeches, commercials, television show clips, and other historical and pop-culture references.

Laura Soto-Barra is the senior librarian, overseeing a staff of 17 plus interns. Embarking on this challenge six years ago, she helped to create a cohesive identity for the library by blending together the previously separate reference services and broadcast library, and by forming a team of researchers, digital and broadcast technologists, project managers, taxonomists, indexers, editors, trainers, and strategists. Read the rest of this entry »

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Libraries are More Important Than Ever & Stats Confirm It

Posted by Editor on August 8, 2011

August 5, 2011 – 1:18pm — birdie in LIS News

Downey, CA Patriot: If you thought libraries were going the way of the dinosaur, think again. Recently, on a sunny Thursday morning at 9:50, there was a group of about 20 people anxiously waiting for the Downey City Library to open its doors. At 10 a.m., the pacing hordes darted inside, many claiming computers in the computer lab, while the rest headed for the adult and children’s sections.

Libraries have long been considered an essential part of having an educated and literate population and while library budgets continue to get slashed, it could be argued that they are more essential now than ever before. Many assume that the digital age we’re living in will soon render libraries obsolete, but library attendance says otherwise.

Last year, 416,605 visits were made to the Downey City Library, which is an increase from 2009. The checkout of library materials also increased by 4 percent, with 491,355 items being loaned out. It’s more than a numbers game, however. The services that the library provides to the community are irreplaceable and so are its librarians.

Senior librarian Jan Palen has been with the Downey City Library for 16 years and as California’s economic climate becomes more volatile, the free programs that Palen and her team provide to the city become all the more crucial. One has to wonder, however: How much importance does the city place on books and reading?

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Earning the Right to Give Advice (from Stephan Abram)

Posted by Editor on June 29, 2011

Monday, 20 June 2011 Category Leadership in Ken Haycock’s Blog

I am honoured that Ken asked me to write a guest post. I decided that I’d leave the post’s focusing on authentic governance, leadership, strategic human resources management and research from a CEO and senior management perspective to Ken, and I’d share my perspectives on an issue I’ve been thinking about for a while now: the role of giving professional advice in librarianship.

As information professionals we are often asked to give advice and our professional opinion on a number of issues and projects. We recommend sources and databases. We advise on research processes. We comment on the quality and veracity of authors, serials, brands, websites, e-readers, and blogs. If we’re doing it right, we are sought out and asked for our considered opinions. . If we’re not sought after, we should identify opportunities to contribute our advice and opinions from an informed perspective. What we know and do matters a lot in this emerging knowledge economy.

The right to give advice starts with a well informed perspective. Professionals are asked for their opinions the first time because people assume their education and experience makes for better and informed judgments. Professionals are asked for their opinions subsequent times because their previous advice has been thoughtful, authoritative, respected and trusted. People earn the right to advise others because they have earned that trust.

This relationship with others is something that builds over the arc of a career or series of interactions with individuals and groups. All of these qualities can be lost in an instant with our users if we play loose with our opinions or they are not informed. That’s the quandary we face. There is a measure of risk in giving advice; risk aversion and lack of confidence inhibits developing trusted relationships quickly. Some librarians and information professionals seem to struggle with having the confidence of our opinions. That’s a problem. We must take a few risks and be informed to confidently position ourselves better in the knowledge-based economy. Also, the ‘library’ brand is not sufficient. Your personal reputation as an information professional matters equally. Read the rest of this entry »

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What is “Social Reading” and why should Libraries care? – A TTW Guest Post by Allison Mennella

Posted by Editor on June 14, 2011

From Michael Stephens’ Tame the Web

Part 1: Defining “Social Reading”

“Social reading,” as a concept,is actually quite simple: people want to share what they have read with other people and receive feedback about their thoughts and ideas.  Technology is the great enabler for social reading,and the natural place for this activity to cultivate.  Social reading has several key characteristics.  First,social reading is an extremely public activity.  Gone are the days of “selfish,” private reading:reading alone in the bathtub,alone under the covers,alone on the couch,alone in the park,etc.  Social reading exists because of the interactions between two or more persons and the text,whether in-person or digitally.  Second,social reading extends the reader’s experience.  It takes the reader out of the book and encourages the reader to make connections,draw conclusions,summarize thoughts,and ask questions in conversation with others.  Social reading helps a book become memorable;it can be a conversation starter between two new friends,or a way to develop online skills like reviewing,recommending,communicating via social media platforms,and exploring what it means to be part of a community of shared interests (both on and off line).  

In that sense,it is important to point out that user-added content is also a crucial aspect of social reading.  Readers must be willing to express their points of view and leave a lasting “impression” on the work whether it is by posting comments on a review board,or leaving notes in the margins of a text,then loaning that book to a friend to read.  Social reading also leads to shared writing and shared thoughts which fosters better idea formation and explanation,than solitary,deep-focus reading (Johnson,et. al,2011,p. 8).  Finally,social reading “[allows] journeys through worlds real and imagined,undertaken not alone,but in the company with other readers” (Johnson,et. al,2011,p. 8).  In short,social reading is a way to connect with others and explore thoughts and ideas that might have gone unnoticed in a solitary reading of the text.

Part 2: Describing “Social Reading” in its various forms

It is now time to examine the various forms of social reading.  The first is the traditional book club.  A traditional book club consists of a group of readers who meet in person,typically once per month,to discuss a specific book in-depth (Book-Clubs-Resource.com,2007).  The demographics of book club members do vary,but typically club members tend to be almost exclusively females and a majority of book club goers are either over sixty-five years old and retired,or mid thirties and forties,and stay-at-home-moms (AuYeung,Dalton,&Gornall,2007,p. 1-2).

There are numerous reasons why people join traditional book clubs.  Perhaps the main motivation is for the social interaction between group members over a common interest (AuYeung,Dalton,&Gornall,2007,p. 3).  People are constantly looking for ways to connect with one another,and the traditional book club setting offers a chance to be part of a real “community” of people who share similar hobbies (Hoffert,2006,p. 37).  Social reading in a traditional book club has a number of other advantages such as the ability to meet new and interesting people,the opportunity to read things outside of one’s typical repertoire of works,and to receive recommendations and reviews from other avid readers (Lloyd,2010) Read the rest of this entry »

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Serendipity is Not Quantifiable, by Rochelle Hartman

Posted by Editor on June 7, 2011

By Rochelle Hartman, on Tinfoil Raccoon here.

On the back of our statistics sheet, we jot down a few reference questions every few days. We’ve been doing this for about two years for a couple of reasons. For awhile, it felt like all we were doing was looking up phone numbers and logging people on to computers, and frankly, that was kind of depressing. Thankfully, we’ve fixed the computer issue with technology and friendlier policy. We also wanted to be able to present our board with a more narrative version of our work, should they need or want it. I’ve poked through enough literature, lists and discussions to know that few people are convinced that their statistics are truly reflective of the work they do. We’ve talked, as a team, about changing our stats, but those discussions have never gotten traction. Instead, we’ve enhanced them with narrative.

The types of questions we write down tend to be the type that showcase our mad skillz as reference pros–the type that will make the board think, “by golly, they’re earning their keep!” The questions probably aren’t any big deal to you reference types or to Google-fu brown-belters, but I think they show our value to the community beyond logging people onto computers or looking up phone numbers. Here’s a selection from the first half of this year:

  • Information and pictures of hotel decor in 1970s
  • I am giving a workshop on travel for older people. What resources do you have?
  • What is the American Dietetic Association’s position on white mushrooms as far as functional foods are concerned?
  • How much does a family of four spend of food in a week in La Crosse?
  • Wisconsin rule & law for juveniles who are living in residential institutions
  • Strange things are happening in a home in XXXXXXX.  Can you tell me if anything happened here that make it haunted? (This is actually a pretty common question that our Archives Department fields.)
  • Current books on how to approach venture capitalists. Read the rest of this entry »

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5 Myths About the ‘Information Age’

Posted by Editor on April 18, 2011

By Robert Darnton in the CHE

Confusion about the nature of the so-called information age has led to a state of collective false consciousness. It’s no one’s fault but everyone’s problem, because in trying to get our bearings in cyberspace, we often get things wrong, and the misconceptions spread so rapidly that they go unchallenged. Taken together, they constitute a font of proverbial nonwisdom. Five stand out:

1. “The book is dead.” Wrong: More books are produced in print each year than in the previous year. One million new titles will appear worldwide in 2011. In one day in Britain—”Super Thursday,” last October 1—800 new works were published. The latest figures for the United States cover only 2009, and they do not distinguish between new books and new editions of old books. But the total number, 288,355, suggests a healthy market, and the growth in 2010 and 2011 is likely to be much greater. Moreover, these figures, furnished by Bowker, do not include the explosion in the output of “nontraditional” books—a further 764,448 titles produced by self-publishing authors and “micro-niche” print-on-demand enterprises. And the book business is booming in developing countries like China and Brazil. However it is measured, the population of books is increasing, not decreasing, and certainly not dying.

2. “We have entered the information age.” This announcement is usually intoned solemnly, as if information did not exist in other ages. But every age is an age of information, each in its own way and according to the media available at the time. No one would deny that the modes of communication are changing rapidly, perhaps as rapidly as in Gutenberg’s day, but it is misleading to construe that change as unprecedented.

3. “All information is now available online.” The absurdity of this claim is obvious to anyone who has ever done research in archives. Only a tiny fraction of archival material has ever been read, much less digitized. Most judicial decisions and legislation, both state and federal, have never appeared on the Web. The vast output of regulations and reports by public bodies remains largely inaccessible to the citizens it affects. Google estimates that 129,864,880 different books exist in the world, and it claims to have digitized 15 million of them—or about 12 percent. How will it close the gap while production continues to expand at a rate of a million new works a year? And how will information in nonprint formats make it online en masse? Half of all films made before 1940 have vanished. What percentage of current audiovisual ma­terial will survive, even in just a fleeting appearance on the Web? Despite the efforts to preserve the millions of messages exchanged by means of blogs, e-mail, and handheld devices, most of the daily flow of information disappears. Digital texts degrade far more easily than words printed on paper. Brewster Kahle, creator of the Internet Archive, calculated in 1997 that the average life of a URL was 44 days. Not only does most information not appear online, but most of the information that once did appear has probably been lost.

4. “Libraries are obsolete.” Everywhere in the country librarians report that they have never had so many patrons. At Harvard, our reading rooms are full. The 85 branch libraries of the New York Public Library system are crammed with people. The libraries supply books, videos, and other materi­al as always, but they also are fulfilling new functions: access to information for small businesses, help with homework and afterschool activities for children, and employment information for job seekers (the disappearance of want ads in printed newspapers makes the library’s online services crucial for the unemployed). Librarians are responding to the needs of their patrons in many new ways, notably by guiding them through the wilderness of cyberspace to relevant and reliable digital material. Libraries never were warehouses of books. While continuing to provide books in the future, they will function as nerve centers for communicating digitized information at the neighborhood level as well as on college campuses.

5. “The future is digital.” True enough, but misleading. In 10, 20, or 50 years, the information environment will be overwhelmingly digital, but the prevalence of electronic communication does not mean that printed material will cease to be important. Research in the relatively new discipline of book history has demonstrated that new modes of communication do not displace old ones, at least not in the short run. Manuscript publishing actually expanded after Gutenberg and continued to thrive for the next three centuries. Radio did not destroy the newspaper; television did not kill radio; and the Internet did not make TV extinct. In each case, the information environment became richer and more complex. That is what we are experiencing in this crucial phase of transition to a dominantly digital ecology. Read the rest of this entry »

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from Stephen’s Lighthouse – Michigan LA Directors Summit on Evolution, Revolution, and Extinction

Posted by Editor on April 11, 2011

Stephen spoke at the Michigan Library Association’s Directors Summit in Grand Rapids today.

He shared his thought-provoking slides here.

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from the Wikiman: Stop BREAKING THE BASIC RULES of presenting!

Posted by Editor on April 11, 2011

Public speaking and giving presentations is becoming more and more important in many career paths. There are nervous public speakers, confident public speakers, and many people who are making the journey from one to the other. But ALL of them could do with avoiding breaking just the most basic rules of presenting – it’s amazing how often one or more of these will crop up at a conference, training day or event.

I hope this is taken in the spirit it is intended.

Stop Breaking The Basic Rules of Presenting
(click through for transcript via Slideshare)


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College & Research Libraries Goes FULLY Open Access

Posted by Editor on March 16, 2011

from the C&RL Editor, Joseph Branin:


“In spite of economic uncertainty, I am pleased that ACRL has endorsed full open access in practice for its primary research journal. The intellectual value of open access, I believe, justifies its cost. Now the content of our journal will be freely available online to all around the world. Those of us involved in the production of College & Research Libraries applaud its move to open access, but we are well aware of the financial challenges we face with our scholarly journal.”

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Egypt’s Jewel Of A Library Reopens, Thanks To Demonstrators

Posted by Editor on February 24, 2011

Demonstrators protect the Library of Alexandria by joining hands as marchers pass by. "What happened was pure magic," says the head of the library.

From NPR Online

When Egypt’s army asserted itself during the When Egypt’s army asserted itself during the country’s recent unrest, a main goal was to protect historical sites. But when it came to the Library of Alexandria, the demonstrators protected the building themselves — by forming a human chain around it.

The legendary library of Alexandria, also known as the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, reopened this week. It was closed for the last few weeks during the demonstrations, both to protect it from vandalism, and to protest the army’s curfew.

And the library’s director, Ismail Serageldin says that in all the protests, not a stone was thrown at the library, and not a pane of glass was broken.

“What happened was pure magic,” he says. “People from within the demonstrations broke out of the demonstrations and simply linked hands, and they said ‘This is our library. Don’t touch it.'”

The ancient library has been destroyed several times by vandals and conquerors — most notably by a fire, several centuries ago.

But, Serageldin says, this time was different.

“This revolution in Egypt was a liberal revolution. People who believe in democracy and freedom of expression, in pluralism, and openness,” he said. “And I’m proud and happy that the Library of Alexandria may have contributed in some small way to supporting the kinds of ideas that have found their expression in the young people who led this revolution.”

Since the huge new library opened a few years ago — at a cost of more than $200 million — it’s been a bastion of intellectual openness, holding conferences on human rights and standing firm against censorship.

The library also hosts hundreds of events, including an annual meeting on Reform in the Arab world — which is scheduled for this weekend. Read the rest of this entry »

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