Thursday, January 31, 2008

BAM Jan 08: Time Traveler's Wife

I have been wanting to read this book forever, and now I can return it to the person I borrowed it from (in 2004!).

Time travel is an interesting concept, one that always grabs my attention as it requires a keen eye on physics, space and time, and cool things like wormholes, quantum mechanics. Just sounds complicated. Henry has the ability to travel in time, and meets his wife when she is quite young. I found myself to be incredibly jealous of Henry and his ability to time travel, especially to see his parents before he was born. Such a great treasure to see parents before they became parents. I was terribly weepy at the end of the book as Henry was dying and in the letter he wrote to Clare. Though, I found the whole Clare and Henry dynamic a bit tiring, and would have liked some conflict between them. Their love story just seemed to good to be true, too amazing and wonderful.

And I suppose that is the point as well, Henry does time travel and one can't really do that. I appreciated the way Niffenegger let us know who was narrating, and the way she would paint a scene over many years and through the experiences of many people. I wouldn't say that I loved the book, but I am glad that I read it. From a science standout, I appreciated that Henry wasn't allowed to impact the future and change the outcome of things. How sad to carry that burden with him, but allowed the story to have a cohesive narrative as well as be a bit more believable. Though in the beginning I found the narrative a bit hard to follow. I was confused for about the first 50 pages, but was drawn to the characters. Perhaps an index to all the dates would have been helpful.

Overall, I enjoyed the escapism into a fantastic love story, sad and beautiful.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I heart Library 2.0 Tee Shirt: One Size Fits All

One size fits all clothing bothers me. It might fit, but its not always going to look pretty.

Recent activity in the biblio-blogsphere has been discussing the cultural context of Library 2.0, and I have found these discussions to be quite helpful when considering the needs of one of the populations I interact with. As an anthropology undergrad, I appreciate the acknowledgment that we should be aware of the community that uses a particular web 2.0 tool and why. What are they doing there, what are the social norms and accepted behaviors, and what do the users look like, what is the benefit of belonging to this website or social network. In other words, before slapping a MySpace logo onto your library's homepage, take your time to do the fieldwork and learn about that particular information climate.

As one of the tech savvy people at my library, I have a leg up on the emerging technologies. Through our own Learning 2.0 program, I think more of our staff members are up on what exactly tagging is or how a social network works. The program definitely generated interest around creating podcasts of our programs and other tools to use internally. Though as they discovered various tools and applications, I maintained a steady reminder that Library 2.0 is about what our users want, and the ways we learn about what they want is by asking them. But as Kate Sheehan described the "slap a wiki on it and call me in the morning" mentality isn't going to automatically create an outstanding nor innovative service for our patrons unless we fully understand what their needs are, then understand the tools to meet those needs. It is going to look hurried and sloppy, with seams coming undone. Tim Gunn would not approve.

So, through this program I’ve turned on my Library 2.0 thinking cap, and in a way started to understand the culture and users of my library, at least the ones that I interact with on a daily basis. I teach Basic Computer and Basic Internet classes, and find myself developing strategies for double clicking and multi-class series, programming about applying for jobs online, and how to set up an email address. It is the most basic level of technology, something most librarians mastered years ago. And on the surface, developing programming around these skills is not sexy and not hip. Yet, the on-the-job reality is that many of our users have not had the opportunities to develop technology skills and they turn to us to help them when they are in need. Our mission is to address the informational needs to the community, and if I can call reference librarianship fieldwork, overwhelming I would categorically describe those needs as basic computer literacy skills. And perhaps what I am doing isn’t innovative and ground breaking, it is personal and local, it is serving the real needs of a community. It will be a customized piece of programming for a specific community, tailored and beautiful.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

requiem for an ipod

The first signs of an imminent death appeared as we sped along the BQE towards Brooklyn. I was with a friend, and her English friend who just had a jelly doughnut from Dunkin' Donuts for the first time. EVER. We were having a sing along to Mika, when the ipod stopped working. After a few attempts to restart it and hold it in positions only a yogi could master, we turned to hot 97 for the duration of the trip. Upon arriving at my friend's apartment, I immediately consulted the Apple Support pages. Repeatedly pressing the menu and select buttons to restore, as if I was on Grey's and trying frantically to get a heart beating again. Oh, she just kept redlining, with the sad ipod face.

The next morning, I attempted to squeeze a bit of life out of her. While navigating my way back to Connecticut, I willed her to work. "Please, some Journey or even the Bangles! How about a This American Life podcast!! JUST PLAY SOMETHING!!!" On my lunch break, I went to the Genius Bar and asked him to call it. He looked at my quizzically, and I handed over my ipod. "Just call it," I said, defeated. He took one look at it and smiled sympathetically at me. He tried a few things, and handed it back saying "It's gone". I looked down at my ipod, the first to have the click wheel and sighed. I walked back to the library, with my new paperweight nestled in my pocket.

Oh, my dear sweet sweet ipod. We certainly had some good times together. You arrived all shiny and new from China in the Fall of 2004 just as I was starting library school. We went everywhere together, and you were a most perfect and agreeable companion. Always there with the perfect song whenever I needed it most. These were the days of the early majority, and we'd have ipod parties. "Have you listened to Thrice? Oh man, you'll love them!" and "These Darkness B-sides are killer!"

You'd accompany me on road trips to Maine, and those long drives to Boston for Business Reference. You were there when Llama and drove cross country, when the first song we listened to every morning was Siouxie And The Banshees' "Hong Kong Garden". You were there through the relationship woes, as I sat on the rocks at the beach, melancholy listening to "When Doves Cry" and The Cure. After an early spring trip to Europe, I added Joni Mitchell, Amy Winehouse and Arcade Fire and rediscovered that part of me absolutely loved music, and discovering new music. This was a part of me I neglected for so long! You provided all the embarrassing hip hop music I love to listen to while working out, with more than 130 beats per minute, helping me through that final mile, and letting me walk it off the hour run to Queens "We are the Champions."

Ahh, yes, true sweet first ipod. You have been a great friend and companion, and have been with me through good times and bad times. It is with great sadness that I say goodbye. My life has been revolutionized by having the perfect personalized soundtrack with me at all times. Now when I strut down the street, I can strut to KT Tunstall's "Suddenly I See" a la The Devil Wears Prada or Tori Amos' "Siren". And thanks to iTunes and the crazy 80s mixes I was obsessed with making in college, I have all the one hit wonders I could ever want. The perfect song to jump start a party (Baby Got Back anyone?), or listen to in the subdued lighting while drinking a glass of wine (how about a little Belle and Sebastian?).

Dear sweet third generation ipod, you will be missed. I am sorry I took you running so many times, as I think that was the cause of your life sustaining injuries. Oh why did you have a hard drive?! Why wasn't there the foresight for flash memory!!!?? Though, as you are resting in ipod heaven, I think you'd be happy to know that I have two ipods now. I bought a bright hot pink shuffle for running, something to wear on my person. She is great at providing the hip hop and rock jams when I am running, and podcasts while on the train to New York. So tiny and just enough of space. And just this past week, I welcomed the ipod touch into my home. She is sleek and oh so sexy, with an elegant touch screen, room for photographs, and best of all a wifi browser. I know that my ipods and I will be very happy, and I will always remember you, my first.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Space for everyone at the library!

Confession: I am a jealous person.

Over the weekend, the object of my jealousy was the Muhlenberg Branch of NYPL in my favorite neighborhood, Chelsea where my pal Jenny works.

Ahh.. Chelsea, home of Pinkberry, Big Booty Cafe and the worst experience I have ever had at a New York restaurant. That's right Mister Mexican restaurant, just because I am white doesn't mean I didn't understand the nasty things you said about me when I asked for a FORK!!!

But right, my insane jealousy. A teen space. A teen space. I work at a medium sized urban library, at the downtown branch where we have no real teen space, and I would argue till the cows came home that this is a space we need. Teens have different needs, different habits, activities, and teens today are certainly different from when I was a teen. I recall going to my hometown library, and slowing outgrowing the Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley High series. I loved that the YA section was upstairs in the gorgeous adult section of the library. I felt so special and grownup, selecting books to read among the adult books! To me, setting aside precious square footage for a population says, "hey, we are about you and your needs!"

Also: Jenny is at MW ALA as she is an Emerging Leader in ALA! Woo!!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Just doing my part to be a part of the percentage of people who Google themselves on a regular basis.

Confession: I Google myself (and other people I know) on a fairly regular basis.

I Google new people I meet, colleagues, friends, and yes even ex-boyfriends. I Google myself so I know what others would see if they Google me, and in an interest of privacy as well. What kind of information is available about me? The other night, I had a great conversation about the process of Googling yourself and the role of information combed from the internet used in interviews. A friend of mine recently obtained a position at a financial institution. During one of her many interviews, it was brought up that the interviewer had viewed her blog. My friend was taken aback at the forwardness of this question, and inquired as to what her impressions were. One of our companions chimed in that he just interviewed an amazing woman for a position at his firm, and was considering looking her up on social networking sites as well. I inquired as to what he would do with that information, say if she displayed photographs of her in a social setting with alcoholic beverages. The woman is of age, and does it matter to an employer what an employee partakes in between business hours? The conversation quickly moved to the idea of managing one's internet profile, through various sites. The lines between professional and personal are blurring, as I network with librarians on Facebook. Once a space exclusively for friends, it is now in someways an online resume with details of who I know, jobs I have had, educational background, as well as a tool to communicate with family scattered around. There is also the element of what content is missing from the profile, and in today's world among savvy internet users could arguably speak volumes.

Carl Sagan said, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" (and which a Google search reveals that Rumsfeld co-opted this in regards to Iraq's WMD.) As a student of anthropology and astronomy, I would often mull this over in my head. So how much can we know about someone through a Google search? Part of what I like about having a web presense is that it can give a personal aspect to oneself, outside of professional duties, experiences and accomplishments. Part of who I am outside the reference desk. But, I am increasingly becoming aware of the need to mediate that and establish a bit of authority control on what is out there. Registering a domain, having a central location for writing and blogging, about libraries, about running, about my hobbies and interests and professional activities which bleed into each other.