Missing Comments

I’ve been having some bandwidth and storage issues with this site and in my efforts to clean it up, I think I might have accidentally deleted some legitimate comments. If your legitimate comment was deleted, I am so sorry. It was not intentional.

“Just use the library internet”

A favorite theme of mine is the utter cluelessness of the privileged when it comes to the way the rest of us live. I keep seeing a common theme when it comes to whether people who are struggling on their current incomes should have internet and phones. One person posted that she got along fine without a cell phone in 1999, so poor people now should also be able to get along fine without cell phones. Considering that cell phones are cheaper than landlines, I’m not sure if this person is saying poor people should have no phones at all, or if she is oblivious to the expense of a landline compared to a burner phone.

As for the internet issue, we in the US now live in a society where internet access is essential for many basic functions. “Sure,” say the Marie Antoinettes. “Just go to the public library! The internet is free!” Let’s ignore that these are often the same people who think that we don’t need libraries any more because we have the internet and these are often the same people who will vote against more funding for the libraries, and look at the practical issues of what these people are suggesting. I often wonder if these people have ever been to the computer area of their local public library. Have they seen the waiting list? Are they aware of the half-hour time limit?

If the person they’re judging needs to fill out a job application, she will need longer than half an hour. Using my computer at home with high-speed internet and all my data on hand, it takes between 45 minutes and an hour to fill out a typical online job application. I am college educated and know my way around forms. How long would a person have to stay in the library in order to be able to fill out one job application? And what of using social networking to get a job? It is apparently a trend of the future, but it takes time and access to update a Linked In profile, and it takes time to maintain the social network. Should people be denied access because of bad luck, bad health, or bad decisions?

If the person they’re judging is trying to improve her education level so she can apply for better jobs, I wonder if they’re aware that many traditional universities have unavoidable online classes. I have personal knowledge of programs that require applicants and students to have high-speed internet access at their homes in order to take classes. Perhaps the Marie Antoinettes believe these people deserve to be denied opportunities to improve their lot since they lacked the good sense to be born rich.

If the person they’re judging has small children, she gets to figure out how to wrangle the children while using her precious thirty-minute allotment on the computer. (“Then she shouldn’t have had children she couldn’t care for. But we don’t believe in comprehensive sex education. And we shouldn’t have to fund her birth control.”)

If the person they’re judging works fast food or retail, it’s likely she is working during the hours the library is open.

Most libraries are doing the best they can with the limited resources the public allows them to have. This is not a critique of libraries. It is a critique of people who do not know what they are talking about when they say a person needing assistance should get rid of at home internet and “just use the library internet.”

Integrity

Anyone who knows me knows I don’t like book awards. (Someday, I might write a post about that, but not today.) Therefore, I usually don’t follow book awards except those which I am obligated to know about because of my job. That’s why I pretty much missed the drama last week over the accidental shortlisting of Lauren Myracle’s Shine
for the National Book Award. I do know that if I had heard her name being announced, I would have been pleased. I’ve met her in person and she is a wonderful, charming, generous person, in addition to being a person who writes about and FOR young people in an original, daring way.

Today, the news broke that she had been pressured to withdraw to preserve the “integrity” of the award and the judges’ work. On one hand, I understand that the judges did not select the book, but on the other hand, this is both a worthy book and a real human being that they have humiliated and hurt to preserve the “integrity” of their work. Also, what does it say about their “integrity” that they first said they would consider the book in addition to the other five and then changed their mind and tried to privately shame her into withdrawing from consideration? Did they think that would make things better? Why didn’t they just say last week, “oops, we made a mistake and named the wrong book and forgot to fact-check before making the announcement.” (Let’s not even go into why phones are terrible media for important things.) I think that would have been easier to stomach than this.

My heart aches for Lauren. I can imagine how horrible it feels to have something like this dangled in front of you and then snatched away. I hope that she gets lots of sales out of this and her book gets the attention it deserves. As for the award itself, I will continue to ignore it and read books based on their own merits.

Publisher’s Weekly article

This semester

This semester, I’m teaching Teen Lit, Children’s Lit, and Cataloging. I am going to try to get back into the blogging habit to see if I still have anything to say. I have a lot to say, but I try to answer the three questions: is this true, is this kind, is this necessary? Will it improve the world? I don’t want to add to the noise– there are a lot more blogs out there than there were when I first started blogging 12 years ago.

Book Meme

I have a lot of half-finished posts sitting in my drafts folder. I’ve been busy with school, Scouts, conferences, and various other things. I saw I got tagged for a meme, though, and since I’m currently procrastinating on a paper, I decided to go ahead and do it.

Book Meme Rules
1. Pick up the nearest book ( of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people

All places of public resort require the restraint of a police, and places of this kind peculiarly, because offenses against society are especially apt to originate there.

The next three sentences take up about a page: it’s John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty.

Consider yourself tagged… but I think I’m the last person to do this meme.

MoLib 2006: Using Your Body

“Using Your Body to Reach Their Mind”
Presented by Jennifer Martin, PhD, UMKC
2:15-3:45, Wednesday, October 4, 2006

We did not stay for the whole presentation because it conflicted with another presentation we wanted to go to. Dr. Martin talked about using three in-take modes (hearing/verbal, facial/emotional, and kinesthetic/action) to communicate with library users. She is a drama professor, though, and did not have a great deal of library-specific examples. This session was a great idea, but was not exactly what I was expecting.

Trouble-Shooting

I’m putting these solutions here in case someone else is searching for the same problem.

1. I couldn’t send IMAP email using Outlook 2003. Uninstalled McAfee Spamkiller, and now it works just fine.

2. I couldn’t see .pdf files in Firefox after I bought the Adobe suite. Turns out, I had an old Acrobat Reader lurking around. Once I uninstalled that, I was able to view .pdfs again.

Library Borrows Bookstore Display Ideas

The Central Library in Des Moines borrows some ideas for displays from Barnes & Noble. 

The article mentions the coffee-book link.  Which is interesting to me, because back in the 80s, when I was designing my ideal bookstore, it included a cafe.  Books and coffee go together in my mind.

I’m still mulling over the idea of libraries taking ideas from retail.  A lot of the question boils down to what is a library?  What is the library’s goal?  It seems obvious at first, but then when you start talking to people, you start to realize that everyone who’s interested in libraries has a deeply personal, individual idea of what a library actually is.

The article includes this quote: “Libraries are no different than bookstores,” said Des Moines City Councilwoman Christine Hensley. “It’ll have the coffee shop, meeting rooms, study rooms.”  Libraries are very different from bookstores.  Bookstores don’t have meeting rooms and study rooms.  Browsing in bookstores is for paying customers only– or, at least, customers who look like they have the ability to pay.  The information is for paying customers only.

Another major difference is the availability of old, out of print, obscure works.  Tax laws and the realities of business force bookstores to keep only the newest, best-selling works.  There’s little there for the “long tail,” the niche readers.   

Sometimes I worry that we will lose sight of the idea that the library is for all.  I think libraries can use a few marketing tips, but we need to carefully consider the impact of what we do.  (And frankly, I would rather see us making design and marketing decisions from a solid knowledge of marketing, public relations, and the social effects of architectural/ interior design, rather than from the knowledge of “It works for Barnes & Noble.”  I hope we understand WHY we are doing things.)