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Showing posts from January, 2008

On Book Reviewing

There is an article in the December 17th issue of Publisher's Weekly on the ethics of book reviewing. 34.4% of survey respondents "claimed they thought it is acceptable for a reviewer to back out of a review to avoid negative criticism of a book," (though the same percentage of editors find it unacceptable to back out of writing a review for that reason). This all comes from page 8 of that issue, for those of you who are interested in other statistics they garnered. Someone also recently (within the past 2 months) blogged about this, but I cannot for the life of me find the post. (If someone would be so kind as to send it, I'll link to it.)
I decided to write on this because I review quite a few books a month - I usually have one item to review for Choice, one for ,Tennessee Libraries, two for Library Journal, and occasionally I review for Journal of Web librarianship. I consider it my job to read the book (or examine the online resource, in some cases) with an eye as…

Librarian as Old-Fashioned Teacher

I taught three sections of the second-semester English students this morning, and I have to admit, despite my now-froggy voice, that this is why I became a librarian. Answering questions also nurtures the nerd in my soul, but teaching people how they can find what they need is my true love.
There are very few ways to make database searching interesting for students, no matter how much I love the Thesaurus or RSS alert options. I am left wondering if this is the spot where the 2.0 folks are relying too much on technology. Tutorials and podcasts are useful for introductory topics and basic training, but eventually, you need to get the students hands-on, with a librarian available for help. An electronic lesson is fine, but having a live person help you brainstorm keywords and re-framing your topic so that you can get the most out of your resources should be a personal experience.
This, of course, helps me keep my job. But it should also inform our practices - before we outsource all of ou…

Librarianship as a Career

I have to admit, I don't expect to become famous in my first two (or even three, or four) years of librarianship. (I do hope my boss doesn't mind.) Mind you, this doesn't mean I'm not working hard. I am working on coauthoring an article on something practical with my dean (I know, practicality and publication don't necessarily go together), I'm still learning the ropes and such at my position since I've been here all of five-and-a-half months in my first professional position. I'm learning more about areas outside my subject expertise, because we're a smaller university and haven't an abundance of separate libraries or subject specialists - we're all happy know-it-alls (or at least, know-most-of-its). I'm reviewing regularly (6 book reviews published since August, one chapter reviewed), and just getting on the ball with creating tutorials. I enjoy my reference desk work, and I love, love, LOVE teaching library instruction, because I'…

J.K. Rowling and Copyright: A Librarian's Take

Apparently J.K. Rowling claims that fan-fiction, or compendium volumes are violating her copyright. Tim Wu has an excellent article here with all of the gory details, but I'm going to put my two cents in anyway.
Fan guides are a perfectly non-offensive (and, IMHO, non-copyright violating) pursuit. It's not a substitute for the actual books, and it's not an adaptation to a different media - it is, in fact, a completely new work. There are many examples of these - The Lord of the Rings has a number of intricately crafted fan guides. Even Diana Gabaldon's Outlander romance series has two companion guides (though Gabaldon is listed as the author). If Rowling wanted to ride the cash cow a little longer, she should have thought of this herself. Frankly, I am surprised she didn't, given how she wants total control over her characters, even once they've left her hands. When she announced that Dumbeldore is gay, she made it onto my "top Authors not to Like in perso…

A Librarian Begins 2008 with Dick Clark...and a Crisis

Well, 2007 ended with a suddenly corrupted flash drive, which ate my 27-page MFA packet, due for emailing on January 9th. Despite a slight moment of panic, I decided that if Dick Clark could show up for his Rockin' Eve and be as excellent as he always is, then I, as a librarian, had a duty to help myself restore my data.
Now, an aside. I know that backing things up is key. And I believe I actually have this document on my work computer, even if it is a version that's a few days older. I had gotten into the habit of carrying the flash drive with me, and neglected my own sage advice - save it everywhere, keep copious printed copies on hand in case of technology failure, and always, ALWAYS save to both the hard drive and the portable memory whenever working on something.
Back to the crisis. I found some software online that would attempt to recover the file, which I saved in multiple places and emailed to myself (make a note of that email part, it'll be important later ~G) - co…