Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Short But Sweet

In one of my first posts, Poor Man's Netflix, I describe my love for checking out DVD's from my local library.

Today, I found an article describing how the OCLC just published a study stating that Americans get more DVDs from Public Libraries compared to Netflix, Redbox or Blockbuster. Reading the study makes me feel all warm inside.

Today, I checked out 2 DVDs - David Lynch's Dune (I feel that today's librarians are the equivalent of Frank Herbert's Mentats) and United States of Tara (Diablo Cody, Stephen Spielberg and Toni Collette? I have high expectations).

Why spend money when you can get it for free? Seriously, why?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cupcakes and E-books (How NPR is rocking my world)

Some great content from NPR has not only caught my attention today, but has gotten my mind thinking about information and librarianship (which shouldn't be too surprising, it doesn't take a whole lot to get me thinking about either topic).

First there is this article: At Amazon, E-Book Sales Outpace Hardcover. As I read it, I imagined bibliophiles around the globe FLIPPING OUT. I think there are a lot of implications to the fact that e-books are selling more than hardbacks on Amazons website, and I think there is some reading-between-the-lines that also needs to be taken into consideration.

There are multiple reasons why E-books appear so popular. First are the apparent reasons:

Aside from the cost of the reading devise, they're cheaper than most real books ($10 for an e-book versus $12 for a quality paperback, or $25 for a hardback).

We're a society who loves toys. With the proliferation of Kindles, iPads, iPhones, Nooks and what ever sad attempt Borders has at breaking into the market, there are more and more opportunities to read E-Books.

But on the other hand:

Reading the article, we have to realize that this information is specific for Amazon's website. People who buy things online are going to be way more tech savvy (and have more money) than people who don't. As a perpetually broke grad student, I refuse to give up the pleasure of reading just because I don't have the dough (or time). I do utilize the library more often than not - but when I want a "new" book to put on my shelf I head to Goodwill, where paperbacks are $.99 and I have yet to find a hardcover for more that $4. So while it may seem that more people are utilizing e-books, it's just that more of Amazon's customer's are.

While e-books are more and more common, no one is taking away actually books. Well, yet.

And, while amused at this story, I'm not too freaked out about it. Living in a digital age, digital content is becoming more and more familiar to people. People who constantly look at a screen for information are going to find comfort and convenience at looking at a screen for entertainment as well. When I ride public transportation to work, instead or reading the New York Times over someone's shoulder, I'm reading the New York Times over someone's shoulder on their iPhone. This is just the way things are going and I think folks are starting to get used to it...

And the other bit that caught my eye was a post on the the Monkey See blog: Why The Next Big Pop-Culture Wave After Cupcakes Might Be Libraries.

There's not a whole lot of analysis that needs to happen here. Blogger Linda Holmes just does a phenomenal job at describing the awesomeness of libraries and librarians. Between Gaga dance videos and The Old Spice Dude (and his Mormon knockoff, which I think is better than the real thing), the cultural presence of libraries is building some serious momentum, and there will be a culmination of society remembering how important they are as a democratic institution. And I'm looking forward to riding that wave.

Special thanks to Flickr user weir thru a lens for use of the cupcake photo.

Friday, July 16, 2010

A perfect example of community centeredness...

I should be working on my research proposal that is due in a week, but had to share this quick post with all of you:

My local public library, Multnomah County Library, just announced via Facebook their new ecoroof.



I'm kind of geeking out over it.

I think this is a perfect example of what a library is: a center of community.

Let me break this down a bit.

Yes, a library is a center of information sharing, and for the most part this means checking out books and accessing the internet. But in 21st century, sharing information means so much more. In an age where ecological consciousness is so important, a library has the potential of being a leader and an example of sustainability, and the ecoroof is an amazing example of sustainable living.

The benefits of the new roof include:

- Reducing rainwater runoff into an already stressed sewer system
- Reducing energy costs
- Increasing vegetation and wildlife habitat
- Reducing air pollution
- Filtering the air
- Improving fish habitat, again by absorbing the water before it enters the sewer system.

Because community members (individuals, families, school groups, etc.) can tour and learn about the roof, the ecoroof is an example of information as a thing. You could log on to websites or check out books about ecoroofs, and you can actually experience it.

This is also an example of community colaboration. The roof was designed and monitored by employees of the City of Portland and a Portland State University Professor. The roof was funded by community organizations including various environmental offices from the City of Portland and the Energy Trust of Oregon, Inc. By involving members of the community from outside the library to support, create and maintain the project, more stakeholders are involved, thus creating opportunities to disseminate the information even further into the community!

I give Multnomah County Library two big thumbs up for their new ecoroof, and I can't wait for my summer term to be over so I can get up there and check it out for myself!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

I think I have a problem

Dear Concerned readers,

Please call an interventionist - I think I am addicted to my Google reader.

For most folks out there who utilize their reader, this post may not be new, but I just can't contain myself any more. I love it, and I cannot remember what my life was like before I added my first subscription.

As someone who is entering an industry where information is a key commodity, it is such an ingenious tool, to have pertinent/relevant/entertaining information collected in one convenient location.

However, with any addiction, their seems to be dark side associated with the reader. First, the anxiety. I have so many subscriptions, that if I don't check them at least once every day they pile up fast. And I have this weird neurosis about leaving items unread in my reader. I feel like I have to at least scroll through all of them, so when I'm done with my reader, there are no unread items. Maybe I'm afraid of missing something, or maybe it's a way to leave things neat and tidy (which I have trouble enough with in real life).

Trying to stay on top of the reader leads to the second aspect of the dark side - time suckage. I'll sit down at my computer with the intention of being productive, and the next thing I know two hours have gone by and I haven't even stared on my homework. It's a procrastinator's dream: You feel like you are being productive, without having to really do anything.

Dark side aside, I still love my reader. I get my local, national and international news there, I know what is happening in and around Portland, I subscribe to some great library blogs and I have a few comic strips come my way.

I think it's a great tool to share with library patrons, too. I know some major databases out there have RSS options, so if you are involved in major research on a particular subject, instead of searching out the information, you can have the information come to you. Or, if a patron is interested in general information on a subject, you can help set up subscriptions with relevant blogs and websites for them.

Here is a list of some of my favorite subscriptions:

http://www.mcsweeneys.net
http://www.oregonlive.com/
http://blogtown.portlandmercury.com/blogs/BlogtownPDX/
http://www.postsecret.com/
http://www.swissarmylibrarian.net/
http://blog.libraryjournal.com/annoyedlibrarian/
http://www.normfeuticartoons.com/retail/
http://willmanley.com/

So, dear readers, for those of you who indulge in a "Reader," what are some of your favorite subscriptions? And if you don't use Google Reader, what service do you use?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A few tidbits that piqued my interest...

School's getting intense, so I don't have time for a long post. But here are some interesting tidbits that I've stumbled across and would like to share with you:

One. As I've mentioned in previous posts, I believe that there are some amazing opportunities for activism within the occupation of librarian. Here is a perfect example:

The library at University of Southern Florida have created a Gulf Oil Spill Information Center.

After spending just a few minutes navigating the site, I'm pretty impressed with the resources they have gathered into one space. Having gotten my undergrad degree in Environmental Sociology, I find this website not only vital, but inspiring as well. It gets to the route of what librarians do - putting essential information into the hands of individuals.

Two. Apparently, Prince seems to thinks "The Internet is completely over." Oh, Prince...

While I could agree with his sentiment that forms of mass communication ebb and flow in popularity, I would disagree with his comparison of MTV to the internet. True, MTV no longer shows music videos (at least last I checked), but MTV is a smaller element of the larger concept of television. MTV is to television broadcasting as iTunes is to Internet Broadcasting. I could see iTunes losing popularity (not any time soon) but I have the feeling that the internet is here to stay.

Three. And in an interesting twist in the current library-funding saga, the city council of Wheaton, Ill. has come up with an interesting tactic to ensure libraries remain open: by passing a city ordinance. The ordinance would require that libraries remain open for at least four hours a day, six days a week during summer and seven days a week during the school year.

I imagine, if the city council is able to pass the ordinance, that if more cities followed this example, citizens across the country would be able to send a loud message to people in power just how important libraries are. Something to think about, anyways...