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Archive for October, 2007

I only have fifteen minutes on this borrowed computer so I’ll make it quick. I’m writing this post from the Oral History Association conference in Oakland, California. The convention center is located in downtown Oakland, a core of high-rise glass towers nestled side-by-side with well-preserved Victorian buildings. Fabulous restaurants surround us and, as a self-appointed visiting food inspector, it is my duty to visit and taste-test all of them. Or at least as many as possible. I’ve finished my presentations so I can devote full-time to infusing money into Oakland’s economy and making Californians shudder by describing Arnorian snow and ice conditions. All in a day’s work …… 🙂

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Check out this interesting report on young people’s perceptions of Idaho’s public libraries. The report, prepared by Corona Research for the Idaho Commission for Libraries in August 2007, compiled the results of six focus groups conducted with “digital natives”–young people between the ages of 12 and 25 regarding what they thought of and how they used their public libraries.

Some of the findings are perhaps not surprising. Public libraries are seen as providing programs for little kids and adults, but not for teens. Libraries are serious places to do research, but not to read for enjoyment. Libraries that are open, well-lit, and have comfortable seating are perceived as more user-friendly. Because libraries are seen–and enforced as–quiet places, they are not viewed as being good places for young people to socialize at (and amen to that, say I). Any library’s teen section should be sound-proofed to the nth degree–but I digress.

Of course, to make some of the changes suggested by the participants such as staying open later at night or adding a teen section, libraries would need to have funding. A lot more funding. Most of the libraries I know of are short-staffed and are kept from adding services because they lack the people. Still, the report is a good read especially if you are interested in bringing more young people into your library.

Here’s a selection of quotes from the participants:

 

  • “A library needs to say, ‘Come read, stay here, have a nice day.'”
  • “When you’re little, they have programs where they’ll read to you and stuff… but they don’t really do anything for older kids.”
  • “I’m not sure how to say it without it sounding so cliche, but I think books, just paper books, kind of transcend time.”
  • “I think a library has to have a building to call itself a library, or else it’s just a website.”
  • “You can’t talk in there, really; you get in trouble, so we don’t go there anymore.”
  • “The library I like has coffee, and it’s open (has more space)… and you can find stuff easier than the one that’s closest to me.”
  • “It’s no fun. You can’t talk to your friends in a place where it’s supposed to be quiet.”
  • “Our library has a lot of activities… they have the community involved, and it’s a good library.”
  • “When you put a book on hold, it takes forever to get there, a week and a half or two, and by that time, you don’t want to read it anymore!”
  • “And there’s only an adult and a little kid section; I think there should be a pre-teen and teen section.”
  • “For me, it’s hard to… find the books by yourself. It’s hard to find them without a librarian.”
  • “I love learning. It makes me feel smarter, more knowledgeable, and more powerful.”
  • “As far as a purpose for the community, I would think more of the younger kids, for the summer or something.”
  • “It’s a community source of information.”
  • “I always think of Hastings (Bookstores) as like the ideal library.”
  • “It’s hard to search for books unless you know an actual title.”
  • “Their advertising isn’t very good; the only advertising you ever see is when you’re at the library.”
  • “I like the bookstore myself; you can see the covers, just to hang out and scan the books and stuff like that.”
  • “Libraries right now look so boring. (I)n Salt Lake, that library is an experience to go to. It’s big, it looks good, it’s appealing to your eye.”
  • “I always want new release books, and they’re never there. I think also, that might be another generational thing, instant gratification.”
  • “I think the public libraries would have a hard time with having the resources to accomplish a full online library like the universities do.”
  • “Even though I have a laptop, I still use the library because they have free wi-fi.”
  • “Coffee and books, that’s just the best thing, relaxing with a book and drinking a coffee… I don’t know, the coffee’s just nice.”

 

And my favorite:

Regarding librarians: “They’re the easy way, the shortcut. They’re like the Google of the library.”

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My name is Captain Kidd, as I sailed, as I sailed
My name is Captain Kidd as I sailed.
My name is Captain Kidd and God’s laws I did forbid
And most wickedly I did as I sailed.

–Great Big Sea, “The Hard and the Easy”

Soooo, the library gives me a gift certificate to Amazon for completing the Learning 2.0 training so I at once send away for this lovely CD of Newfoundland folk songs by a band of Canadian folk singers, the Great Big Sea. A CD of folk songs, by the way, that are all about flouting authority and convention and hauling horses out of ponds (the 19th century equivalent of your snowmachine falling through the ice). Yeah, I’m a rebel 🙂

I’ll eat when I am hungry and I’ll drink when I am dry
Get drunk whenever I’m ready
Get sober by and by …….

Inspirational, no? Today the library, tomorrow the world! Drink up, me hearties, yo ho!

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I’m back from my week off and just in time to witness another episode of Vermin in the Library.

About a week ago, mouse droppings were noticed in the stacks of the Archives. A suspicious dust bunny was located, but no actual voles were sighted. Since the Archives is just chockfull of papery things that voles love to shred, the staff was alarmed. Food of any kind was banned from the staff break area.

Many were the questions that nibbled at our thoughts. Fall is the time of year where rogue rodents like to come indoors. Had one or two–or many–taken up residence in our stacks? Had the offending creatures ridden in in a box of donated materials perhaps? Was this a case of droppings but no vole or were there voles even now nesting in vital historical documents? Could we get them to eat the more boring collections?

Yesterday when Peg was going around checking the fly traps, she discovered a vole carcass. Currently, the body of the deceased rodent is residing in the staff fridge awaiting species identification from the Museum. (Yes, the same staff fridge in which we keep our lunches. Check your lunch sack carefully for a little extra “protein”).

Now the fly traps that lined the edges of the Archives have been replaced with mouse traps. Perhaps we can petition for a library cat ….

P.S. I discovered that the vole carcass is actually being kept in the miniscule freezer section of the staff fridge in a discreet carton that says “Dead Rodent” with a sad face emoticon on it. Never let it be said that we don’t give our Vole (demorts) a proper send off.

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Captain’s log, stardate 100107: These are the voyages of the Starship Method. Our mission: to explore new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.

Feel free to start humming the Star Trek theme song now. No, not this one.

Learning 2.0 has a sequel–Learning 2. 1 (check it out here)–so I’ve been working my way through the lessons and thought I’d give a short recap of where I am so far.

First off, a big thumbs up for #24 Zamzar. This application rocks! If you have a file on your hard drive or on another website and you need to have it converted to a different format, you simply upload the file (or type in the URL), indicate what you want it converted to, and input your e-mail address. Zamzar converts the file on its site. They then e-mail you and voila! you can download your reformated file. I converted YouTube video into mpg (a format you can play in PowerPoint) and it works like charm.

Thumbs down for the following:

#25 Letterpop. This site allows users to create full-color newsletters and announcements on-line. To print out any of your creations and get the benefit of the colorful layouts, you would need to have a color printer. If you were going to send the newsletter or announcement as an attachment, then that wouldn’t be a problem. “Why do this when you could just send an e-mail, plain and simple?” was the question that went through my head when I was looking at this site.

#26 YourMinis: To be fair, this isn’t a bad site. It’s just that after looking through all the widgets in their galleries, I still couldn’t find one I thought would be worthwhile to download.

#27 Photobucket: Not as impressive as Flickr.

#28 Magazine cover fun: More magazine cover image generators. If you played with the one at Big Huge Labs, you know how they work. Again, no bad sites. It’s just that I’ve already done this.

Skipping ahead a lesson, you should be able to tell by now how much I like #30 LOLCats.

librarycatlolz.gif

I have also discovered that there are other, much smaller sites dedicated to themed captioned photos such as LOLBuffy (Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off, Angel):

angel-lol.jpg

And one for librarians. [Note: there is some use of the f-word on this site]:

swag-librarian.jpg

I was impressed by LOLTrek which is less of a collection of captioned Star Trek pictures and more of a photo story. If you liked “Trouble with Tribbles” (the original series episode and Deep Space Nine’s homage to it), you’ll enjoy this bit of comedy from fan and physicist Stephen Granade. Stephen, by the way, aptly describes LOLCat pictures as “‘Hang in there, baby’ posters gone feral”.

James T. Kirk really says it best, though:

kirk.jpg

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