Sunday, February 28, 2010

Daily Thoughts 2/28/2010

Illustration from the children's book A Book of Nursery Rhymes by Clara E. Atwood, 1901

Daily Thoughts 2/28/2010

Taking the day off to relax and think a bit.

I read some more of The Marketplace of Ideas by Louis Menand. He does not mention libraries in the index. He makes a brief mention of libraries as a kind of mine for knowledge. Then he makes a comment about Wikipedia making a lot of the knowledge previously held only in universities available to the public.

Right now, pretty much all of the Western cannon in literature, philosophy, and art should be available as images or texts on the internet. It is only a matter of when they will be scanned in if they are not already there. Most of it is material that is well past copyright. Most photographic images from museums are derivative copies of original works. What is copyrighted is the criticism produced by universities and other places on the work.

This opens up a whole new idea. If anyone can see the work freely, how well will academic criticism hold up to free public scrutiny. It should be very interesting. This scrutiny will be world wide and available to most people with an internet connection. I am not sure that the classics are generally censored in most places.

What will make it even more interesting is that an internet connection does not have to be a computer anymore. Anywhere there is an internet enabled cell phone, will be a place where people can read classic literature which is not under copyright. Because most of it is free, it may enliven the reading of the classics and the literature and images of the humanities; philosophy and art all over the world.

There is a lot of creative potential here, because people will be free to do with it what they want to. I am waiting to see what will happen.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Daily Thoughts 2/27/2010

Besuch in der Bibliothek, 1741, Pietro Longhi

Daily Thoughts 2/27/2010

If you get a chance read With A Little Help The Price is Right by Cory Doctorow in the February 15, 2010 Publishers Weekly, Pp. 18-19. It is an excellent article on ebook pricing and the issues surrounding it. I also saw a book which looks interesting: Playing With books: The Art of Upcycling, Deconstructing, and Reimagining the Book by Jason Thompson.

Today was another quiet day. I did more weeding in the mezzanine and a bit more checking through the 800s today. It is moving along steadily. I also checked on having security strips put in books.

I am thinking about the flyers, bookmarks, and other marketing materials in the library. I checked out another book today, The Market Place of Ideas Reform and Resistance in the American University by Louis Menand.

I started reading The Marketplace of Ideas on the way home. The first line of the introduction reads, "Knowledge is our most important business." I rather like that statement. It fights right in with my profesion. I also found out that the series editor for this book is Henry Louis Gates, Jr. from Harvard University. This indicates the book has quite a bit of thought in it. I've noticed that a lot more professors are writing books for the general public these days. It seems ideas are escaping from the "ivory towers."

The first chapter of the book is on the concept of a general education. I got a humanities focused education so I can relate to this. My undergraduate degree was in anthropology. There is not a whole lot of practical application for an undergraduate degree in cultural anthropology focused on modern culture. It was a step towards my professional masters degree in library science.

A public library is of course a public marketplace for ideas. Our job as a librarian is partially to select which ideas which people will partake of. It is considered a place for self education. There are questions right now whether our library is part of the city, or part of the school district. Is self education a form of formal education? or an adjunct to it? It is an interesting question.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Daily Thoughts 2/26/2010

Archibald Macleish, Poet, Writer, Librarian of Congress

Daily Thoughts 2/26/2010

During last afternoons discussion for Fundamentals of Collection Development and Management, someone asked about Record Books Transparent Language USB sticks. They are very popular and easy to use. We have Mandarin Chinese, French, and Spanish. It is another way to manage software for languages. I find them easier to use than cd-roms. They are also easier to copy protect. This may be a better way to distribute software for libraries.

I have been reading more of The Responsive Public Library How to Develop and Market a Winning Collection by Sharon L. Baker and & Karen L. Wallace. It combines a perspective of marketing with collection development. There is quite a bit of interesting material in this book. It tells us that if a book is displayed face out on a shelf instead of sideways, it is seven times more likely that the book will be checked out. This is why book displays are so effective in circulating books. Bibliographies of books are not quite as effective. A book or other item on a bibliography is four times more likely to be checked out than a book which is simply left on a shelf. This is why bookmarks and recommendation lists increase circulation. It reminds me that we need to make our list of African American authors more presentable, print up some more bookmarks, and maybe create a few more suggestion lists.

They also talk about labeling in this book. One of the most effective ways to increase circulation with labels is to simply add the label award to an item that has won any kind of award. There are a lot of well thought out ideas in this book. Unlike other books on marketing in libraries, this book has numbers and statistics to back up many of their ideas.

The writing is well done for a textbook. I found the presentation of ideas to be quite absorbing. There are charts, diagrams, extensive notes, and an index at the back of the book.

I find myself in agreement with the style of collection development which combines with marketing in this book. It is a style which I could easily adapt as my own. In fact, there is so much in this book that could be potentially used, that I will have to pick and choose the best parts.

There is an excellent section which describes how to choose parts of a collection to merchandise while still maintaining the overall dewey category system. I am not a fan of going completely to the Book Industry Standard and Classification scheme. I rather like the idea of using some of the subject headings to do merchandising while still keeping the dewey numbers.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Daily Thoughts 2/25/2010 (Bookweb)

Virginia Haviland, Founder of the Children's Book Section at the Library of Congress; Author, Librarian ca 1935

Daily Thoughts 2/25/2010

I found a rather entertaining title by a science fiction writer and scientist, The Science Behind The Secret by Travis S. Taylor. He writers military science fiction. This amuses me the same way that the book, The Physics of Star Trek by Lawrence M. Krauss amuses me.

Something that bothers me a little bit is that Bookweb has stopped publishing its media guide. I found it rather useful The only thing which I know that is similar is the Books on the Air guide from New York Public Library

I did another chat for Fundamentals of Collection Development and Management. It was interesting listening to college librarians talking about purchasing ebooks and journals for online courses. There has been an increase in distance learning. Part of that increase in distance learning is providing ebooks and ejournals for students who are online. It also makes sense in an online course to have an electronic textbook. I know that there are a number of colleges which offer masters in library sciences online. It sounds very different than when I went to school.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Daily Thoughts 2/24/2010

Original scan of The Library 2nd edition by Andrew Lang

Daily Thoughts 2/24/2010

The New York Library Association is running a campaign to support New York Libraries. It includes material to support libraries as well as ways to contact your reprentatives and petition government. . It is part of a campaign to support New York libraries. Please take a few minutes to tell people why you think New York lirbaries are essential by clicking on the link.

Today, I did more weeding in the mezzanine, worked a little bit more with the 800s, and spent a little bit of time looking at the displays. We have been getting a lot of obituary requests for our ereference, that and a lot of local history requests, especially about people who live in our community. I also looked throught the bookmobile request list. There were a lot of things which people have been requesting.

I also finished pulling books that needed to be added from the gifts. The shifting project on the main floor is moving along steadily.

On the way home, I read some more of The Responsive Public Library. One subject which I found particular interesting was the idea that 16% of bestselling books are award winning titles or have high literary merit.

It is not uncommon for prominent people to recommend quality titles and those books to become bestsellers. In a way, I am not surprised by this. There are a number of readers choice and viewers choice awards for different subjects. The Hugo Awards in science fiction are based on a popular ballot, and many people wait eagerly to get the Edgar Award winning books for mysteries. The Pulitzer Prize books and the Nobel Prize books have become a byword in what is good. This is also true of films. If a film wins an Academy Award it is almost guaranteed to have a burst in popularity.

I often think there is a narrow corridor where popularity and quality intertwine. This is a place where library collections can be at their best. Having Caldecott and Newberry Books in childrens collections is an almost guaranteed draw for usage. Even genres like romance will have titles which are well written. The RITA awards list the best romance titles. Virtually every category of material has awards. Finding which of these combine with popularity is a good point to start from.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Daily Thoughts 2/23/2010

High life java & mocha coffee. Digital ID: 1541668. New York Public Library

High life java & mocha coffee. ([1895-1917])

Daily Thoughts 2/23/2010

I am looking at small press distributors which libraries use. The two main distributors are (Quality Books) and (Unique Books). I found out about them from my online class, Fundamentals of Collection Development and Management. I also have been talking to BWI (Book Wholesalers Inc.).

Today, I spent some time in the mezzanine working on weeding. I am almost done going through the 800s as well.

At 5:00 p.m. in the fiction room, we are meeting for the graphic novels club. This time I have a variety of shojo manga, Beauty Pop, Rosario and Vampire, Oh My Goddess, Absolute Boyfriend, Black Bird, Maison Ikkoku, and Fruits Basket. Fruits Basket and Beauty Pop are very popular at our library.

On the train home, I read some of The Responsive Public Library How To Develop and Market a Winning Collection by Sharon L. Baker and Karen L. Wallace, Second Edition. This describes practical ways to combines collection development with marketing to create a high amount of circulation.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Daily Thoughts 2/22/2010

Die Mutter des Künstlers im Stübchen, 1871, Museum Oskar Reinhart am Stadtgarten

Daily Thoughts 2/22/2010

Today has been a nice quiet day. I went around and refilled some of the displays. I also set dates for some programs that I am planning to do. Tomorrow is the Graphic Novels club which should be interesting. The theme is girls comics. I also talked about the shifting project with some people.

I have a few books waiting for me to read, John Scalzi, The God Engines as well as some professional books, The Responsive Public Library, How To Develop and Market a Winning Collection by Sharon L. Baker & Karen L. Wallace and Making The Case For Your Library by Sally Gardner Reed.

If you are in New York on March 2nd, there is a really fantastic looking read at the Soho Gallery for Digital Art. L.A. Banks and Tobias Buckell will be reading. John Ordover who owns the gallery, was an editor for Star Trek novels at Pocket Books.

I just read The God Engines by John Scalzi. This is very hard to write as a traditional review. It is not a traditional book at all. The author is trying to break new grounds. I would call the book a novella, inbetween a novel and a short story. It is printed by a smaller quality press, Subterranean Press. Subterranean Press publishes horror, weird tales, science fiction, and fantasy.

This is science fantasy with an element of horror in it. The thing which powers the main characters spaceship is a god or alien being. It has hints of evil in it. The creature is controlled by iron which is traditionally what is used to drive away bad spirits and demons. It might fit better in a horror novel than fantasy.

This melding of science fantasy and horror was a bit uncomfortable, because it was not what I expected. It is a story of faith. The control of the beings which they call gods is through belief, faith, and symbols. Captain Tephe is not afraid to use pain and cruelty to direct the being powering his ship. There are layers and riddles to his faith which seem obscure and often puzzling.

Ultimately, the ship and crew with their militant, cruel faith gets a deserving end. It is not a comfortable end, but a deserving one. The writing is beautiful, but it is writing about cruelty, faith, power, and love which touches the emotions in unusual ways.

I am not so sure it is good, it is more different and unusual than good. It would not have been publishable by a main stream press. People will either like or very much dislike this story. It touches on fantasy, science fiction, science fantasy, and horror.

I was looking at Google Webmaster Tools this evening. It tells me that I need to go through and change my title lines. I should spice them up a little bit. I am thinking on this one. Add something more than just daily thoughts.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Daily Thoughts 2/21/2010

This is the cover for the Weird Tales, August 1928 issues. It contains Tennessee Williams first published story sent in when he was 16 years old, The Vengeance of Nitocris, a historical fiction piece for which he was paid $35. The cover is a picture from Robert E. Howard's story Red Shadows which introduced the character , Solomon Kane.

Daily Thoughts 2/21/2010

This morning I relaxed and read a few comics. I read several issues of The Cartoon History of the Universe by Larry Gonick which was kind of interesting.

Web Bits

Is Google Building a Library of Babel? by Anne O'Sullivan (Article From LISNews, February 20, 2010)

You could make another interesting statement. Gordon R. Dickson, a Canadian science fiction writer wrote a book called The Final Encyclopedia where all the knowledge of man was stored in a single place in a satellite orbiting the earth. The person who controlled the satellite, controlled the future. Although it is not a satellite, you might call Wikipedia an attempt to create a kind of summary of all human knowledge. It is far from there yet, but people are certainly attempting at the beginnings of this with some of the social media sites focusing on knowledge management.

There are many interesting fragmentary memes floating around the internet and through culture about books and libraries. One of my favorite is "The Cemetery of Forgotten Books." This is described in Carlos Ruiz Zafon's book, The Shadow of the Wind. It is where the last copy of every forgotten book goes in a labyrinthine structure underground. The keepers of the place have to choose one book which no one else remembers and read it for themselves.

This very much reminds me of the idea of every single book having a reader. No matter how strange or apparently useless or unorthodox, somewhere out there, there is a reader who wishes to read it. Alberto Manguel in his book, The Library At Night, argues that we should do everything possible to keep every book that ever existed because some day, somewhere someone might want to read it.

This brings out another point, if every book deserves to find a reader, why should it not be scanned into a database of every book in existence in the hopes somehow it will be easier for that one person who needs that particular book to find it somehow no matter how obscure it is.

This brings up a counter argument which I heard that a book is a "cultural object"-- a physical object made for cultural or spiritual purposes. Thus, it has value outside of being part of ephemeral code in a machine. Removing the physicality of the object makes the experience different. Scanning it for reference may be of use in finding the book, but the actual experience of reading the book as an object is different from reading it on a screen.

These are some philosophical, but often impractical digressions from memes about books and reading that I have seen recently. Of course more fragments will come into play turning into memes, because social networking is by nature fragmentary and often fails to provide complete coherent thoughts about anything at all.

I did not read a book today. Instead, I purchased the Sunday New York Times for $5 which is a lot of money for a newspaper. Now, I can understand why some people are turning to reading the news on the internet. It is far easier to filter and focus on what you are interested. The main thing which held my attention was the front section of the paper which contained a number of exclusive articles which were not plastered all over the internet.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sleepless by Charlie Huston

Sleepless by Charlie Huston

This book is a noirish police procedural set in a dystopian near future. Parker Haas the main character is an undercover narcotics detective. His job is to track down illegal traffic of a drug called dreamer.

This drug is the only relief for a plague that causes permanent insomnia and slow death. The descriptions are quite frightening. It is based on a real disease that causes fatal familial insomnia. In the story, Parker's wife, Rose has the disease. In the story, 10% of the population has it everywhere on earth.

This creates a kind of hell on earth where civil disorder is slowly coming apart at the seems. The setting is in a near future Los Angeles broken into enclaves of the rich, squatter towns, and neighborhoods rife with gang warfare and crime.

The story gets even weirder as Parker gets pulled into a murder investigation involving club kids. The clubs of the future are a potent mix of online games, drugs, electronic music,, and wild dancing. The online games of the future are far stranger than the drugs in this story.

The investigation slowly turns into an unsolvable conspiracy with corporate assassins, swat teams, and mercenaries chasing Parker. There can be no good end for the lead character which makes the story even more compelling. An excellent take on a world spiraling into chaos.

The Talented Miss Highsmith The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith by Joan Schenkar

The Talented Miss Highsmith The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith by Joan Schenkar

This is a very in depth biography of Patricia Highsmith. Joan Schenkar draws from interviews, books, and the 38 Cahiers (spiral bound notebooks) and 18 Diaries of Patricia Highsmith kept at the Swiss Literary Archives. The book itself is 683 pages long with notes, bibliography, index, a map of where she went in Manhattan, diagrams, a timeline of her life, and two extensive sections of black and white photography. It has a feeling of completeness to it.

Patricia Highsmith is best known for her suspense novels and short stories. The most prominent of these is The Talented Mr. Ripley. She also had many of her books turned into films. The most famous film based on her stories is Stranger on a Train directed by Alfred Hitchcock. She won numerous awards both in the United States and internationally.

This book exposes many parts of her life that are not that well known. Patricia Highsmith also wrote the lesbian novel, A Taste of Salt. This book describe Highsmith's many affairs with women both married and unmarried. She was quite passionate and ended up moving from one relationship to the next in short order. Joan Schenkar describes Patricia Highsmith as a driven woman with a predilection for strong drink, younger women, tight control of her money, cats, and odd habits.

One of my favorites parts of the book is the description of Patricia Highsmith as a comic book script writer. Patricia Highsmith tried to hide this all her life. She wanted to be a writer for Vogue and other fashion magazines, or literary magazines like the New Yorker. What she ended up following was the classic path of the mystery writer. First she started by writing comics like The Destroyer, Fighting Yank, and Black Terror. Then she started writing for the pulps (in her case, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine), then she started writing mystery novels. This is the same pattern which Mickey Spillane followed whom she met and did not like.

There are points where this book feels a little bit too revealing. Her family life is one of constant fighting with her mother, Patricia Highsmith has strong prejudices and outright hatreds, and her personal habits can be quite unsettling. She keeps snails, loves cats, hates dogs enough to describe them being killed in her novels, and has a strange sense of humor which is often macabre.

Even when Joan Schenkar describes Patricia Highsmith's success it is not one to be envied. Patricia Highsmith is described as having left the United State having traveled and lived throughout the United States, France, England, Germany, Mexico, and Algeria. She has left her native country, the United States and dies in Switzerland. Her travels have a brooding up and down feeling to them.

Even her professional life is fraught with intrigue and arguing. She jumps from agent to agent always trying to get the best money possible, eventually moving her rights to Europe. She seems to often not like the films made from her books as well.

I cannot say I liked all the parts of the book. There were points where the descriptions became a little unsettling. However, the majority of the book was well written and quite intriguing. This is a very complete and very dark biography of a quirky, talented, and interesting writer with a unique view of the world.

Daily Thoughts 2/20/2010

Henrik Johan Ibsen -- Caricatu... Digital ID: 1264394. New York Public Library

Henrik Johann Ibsen, Poet and Playwright, Caricature.

Daily Thoughts 2/20/2010

I finished reading Charlie Huston, Sleepless. There is a lot on insomnia in this book. I am thinking about it right now. Charlie Huston has a website at

Friday, February 19, 2010

Viral Loop From Facebook to Twitter How Today's Smartest Businesses Grow Themselves by Adam Penenberg

Viral Loop From Facebook to Twitter How Today's Smartest Businesses Grow Themselves by Adam Penenberg

This book is about the network effect. The idea is that for every person that is added to a communication platform like email, telephones, and the internet, the number of potential connections increases exponentially. In its earliest form, it was used by Tupperware to sell products, or people creating chain letters. The book basically says that the network effect is good. I disagree with the idea that popularity is necessarily good. It may be good for business, but not so good for society.

Because I am not a huge fan of advertising, I did not find some of the effects he was describing to be beneficial. It is just as easy to spread spam, unwanted popups, and products that have questionable effects at best, like pornography, online games, and fast food with viral marketing and networks. The tools are neutral; the content is not.

The best part of this book was the technical part. I liked the descriptions of how Facebook, Paypal, and Ning were created to scale based on people inviting others into a network. I also liked his description of how viral networks were challenging newspapers, and now film with their popular methodologies.

Whether or not this is beneficial remains to be seen. I see both positives and negatives with the new technologies. This book very much evangelizes for the point of view that new media is the best thing that is happening today. Things are changing very fast. Lots of people are losing their jobs without training to move with the changes. The digital divide between the technically capable and the not so capable is increasing, not decreasing

The descriptions of the growth of Ebay, Netscape, and tupperware are fascinating. Also the description on how to create a movie using a $10,000 digital videocamera was interesting. If you like web video or pictures, the story of the creation of Youtube and Flickr is written into this book.

The book is divided into three sections; Viral Business, Viral Marketing, and Viral Networks. If you want to learn how a social media company scales quickly, this book will help you tremendously.

This is an excellent overview of the process of building a viral business with a gushing, evangelizing web 2.0 viewpoint. There is a list of the companies which Adam Penenberg covers at the back of the book as well as notes and an index.

Daily Thoughts 2/19/2010

Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川国芳) (1797-1861), Tokyo, Edo, Japan

Daily Thoughts 2/19/2010

I have started reading Sleepless by Charlie Huston. He also writes vampire and crime novels. This is a bit different. It is a near future where large parts of the population can no longer sleep and wander around like zombies doing nothing. This causes all sorts of civil unrest and tragedy. It is told from the point of a police officer. There is a noirish quality to it.

I visited Manhattan today. I went to The Time Machine Memorabilia, Comics, and Collectibles on 207 West 14th street, 2nd floor. I like to call it Roger's comics, many people do. It has a nostalgic feel to it. Roger reminded me that I used to price his old paperbacks for him. I have not done this in a while. The store had a lot of people in it. Many comics dealers buy from Rogers.

This is a great old store. It is full of old comics, movie posters, graphic novels, manga, and other collectibles. I also have some lobby cards and stills which I got from him a while ago including a framed playbill for 2001: a space odyssey which is on my wall next to my computer. People come from all over the world to visit this shop because of its old school atmosphere. It is on the second floor. You have to go up a flight of stairs to get there, but it is well worth it.

I mainly go to look through his bins of ground level, underground, and independent comics. I found a number of things for a very reasonable price; Star Reach Classics #7 with a story by Walter M. Miller Jr. The Big Hunger, Usagi Yojimbo printed by Fantagraphics, #1, 3, and 4, a comic illustrated by Bernie Wrightson, a Warp Graphics large size edition of A Distant Soil #2 drawn by Colleen Doran, a few issues of Groo the Wanderer, the original Cartoon History of the Universe by Larry Gonick.

After I was done looking, I went to the Donut Pub downstairs, had a large cup of coffee and a croissant and read comics. I sat for two hours reading and looking at comics. It was quite relaxing. I have been going there for many years.

After I was done at Roger's I walked to the Strand Bookstore. The library I work at just opened an account with Strand Books so it was a little more than a just a trip to a bookstore. There are some very good deals you can get on books and other material at the strand. Classic paperbacks can be purchased for half cover price, dvds of classic movies can also be purchased for half price, some cd audiobooks can also be purchased for half price, there are reviewers copies in the basement level which sell for half cover price for both trade paperbacks and hardcovers.

The Strand is a huge bookstore. It has been improving a lot lately. They now have nice bathrooms which is a luxury in Manhattan. I walked around and looked at books. There was a table with The Talented Miss Highsmith The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith by Joan Schenkar on it. Next to it were two new paperback releases, The Short Stories of Patricia Highsmith, and The Talented Mr. Ripley.

I went upstairs to the graphic novels section. I saw a few things that looked quite interesting, Graphic Classics, Louisa May Alcott and The Best American Comics 2009 edited by Charles Burns. I also looked at some of the art books. There was a very nice looking book called Indie Publishing How To Design and Produce Your Own Book edited by Ellen Lupton.

On a more serious level, I looked at the tables on the main floor, The Strand maintains their own bestseller list for titles that are sold in the store including History Bestsellers, Fiction Bestsellers, Nonfiction Bestsellers, and other lists. Some titles that caught my eye were The Making of African America The Four Great Migrations by Ira Berlin, Globalism, Democracy and Terrorism by Eric Hobsbawm, and The Fat Duck Cookbook by Helen Blumenthal.

I bought something from the Strand Bookstore. It was a bag with a cartoon illustration by R. Sikoryak. R. Sikoryak does cartoon portraits to raise money for the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art. He was at the MOCCA New York festival doing this last year.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Daily Thoughts 2/18/2010

Starr Reading Room in Sterling Memorial Library at Yale University Picture by Henry Trotter, 2005.

Daily Thoughts 2/18/2010

I did a little shopping today for basic things. On the bus downtown, I read some more of The Talented Miss Highsmith. There is always no parking downtown. Last time I went, it took me 45 minutes to park, so I take the bus. Patricia Highsmith is living in Switzerland, quite rich now from her movie and book money. She is mostly alone away from the United States which she has an ambivalent relationship with. She is still a United States citizen, but says terrible things about it. At the end there is strong sense of prejudice and bitterness as well as worries about money and food. She barely eats, spending more time drinking whiskey and beer. There is a sense of a person who has traveled many places; Istanbul, France, Germany, England, Mexico and neither likes the people nor the food, but is seeking out the dark things which she can write about them. This has a morose appeal. The whole biography has a kind of pensive shadow over it, meant to express a mood of disaffected contrariness.

Earlier in the morning, I finished reading the last part of Viral Loop which is on Viral Networks; companies like Ebay, Paypal, and Facebook. I have a strong distaste for Paypal, I have had some difficulties with them. I am rather fond of Facebook, it was originally started at Stanford as a network of college students then moved to different college campus. This makes it have some intellectual appeal lacking from networks like Myspace. I am not that interested in photography and wish a modicum of visual privacy so Flickr has some interesting qualities for others, but not myself. Youtube is quite interesting. This book is very much a cheerleading title for new media ventures. I found some if it a bit distasteful. Corporations are not wonderful all the time; some are admirable and others not so admirable.

I also spent some time looking at which I find to be useful tool to see who has been looking at my website.

I just finished reading The Talented Miss Highsmith by Joan Schenkar. It is one of the most in depth biographies I have ever read. It is clear that the author interviewed many people over a number of years, read Patricia Highsmith's diaries in depth, and also read a lot of secondary material. I'll probably write a review tomorrow. This should give me time to think about it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Daily Thoughts 2/17/2010

Printing Press, Mural, Library... Digital ID: 73810. New York Public Library

Printing Press Mural, Library of Congress, United States.

Daily Thoughts 2/17/2010

I did not read a whole lot today. I did another exercise for Fundamentals of Collection Development and Management. I also walked up to my local library and returned a book.

I went to Barnes and Noble and looked at what they had. We are getting many of the titles at Barnes and Noble, plus quite a few things which are more intellectual which they are not getting. As usual, I noted a few titles that seemed interesting. Seth Godin, a prominent writer on advertising and the internet has a new book, Linchpin. There is also a fantasy novel which looks interesting, The Adamantium Palace by Stephen Deas.

I also went to Target today. They have all the bestsellers on the New York Times Bestseller list as well as the Publishers Weekly bestseller lists arrayed for sale. It is kind of interesting. Plus, they have a lot of self help books, romance books, and diet books. Most of it is pretty bland. The library gets most of the bestsellers now. It was interesting looking at the young adult bestsellers. There were a lot of vampire novels. There were a few popular diet and exercise books which looked like they might be worth getting, The Weightwatchers New Complete Cookbook, and Making The Cut by Jillian Michaels which is an exercise book.

I have had a chance to read some more of The Talented Miss Highsmith. Right now, I am reading about the contents of Patricia Highsmith's library in the Swiss literary archive. Most important for the biographer of this book, Joan Schenkar are the 38 cahiers (small notebooks), and 18 diaries which helped in the composition of this book. Some of the titles are catching and appropriate, especially Grimm's Fairytales and The Personality of Cats. Something of a writers resides in the books they keep. There are quite a few mystery novelists that I recognize that are quite good, G.K. Chesterton, Ian Rankin, Chester Himes, and Raymond Carver, I also found it interesting that more than one copy of the Merck Manual and Gray's Anatomy is listed.

I read a bit more of Viral Loop by Adam Penenberg as well. I am reading about viral marketing right now. He describes how hotmail became popular. More importantly, he describes how it is possible to make a feature length movie with a digital videocamera which costs about $10,000. This is going to get even cheaper to do. It is also possible to show a movie very cheaply as well. With a laptop, a projector, and a screen you can show a movie. This will get even cheaper as projectors drop in price. I found some of the subjects a bit off putting. Viral jokes and commercial advertising can be a bit blunt.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Daily Thoughts 2/16/2010

Cory Doctorow holding a Creative Commons notice that says "Reproduction/remix encouraged / Photography, flash, video OK" originally posted to Flickr as Portrait by Jonathan Worth 3, credit Jonathan Worth, link to 10 September 2009(2009-09-10), 14:04:37

Daily Thoughts 2/16/2010

I have been reading some more of the Talented Miss Highsmith. Right now, John Schenkar is writing about Patricia Highsmith doing an article on Raymond Chandler. Raymond Chandler was supposed to have moved 35 times when he was in Los Angeles. Somehow these details are what catches my interest in the biography.

There is a lot about Patricia Highsmith drinking a lot, eating very little, and moving a lot. In 1963, she is supposed to have permanently become an ex-patriot. She ended up living in Switzerland in her final days. A lot of the biography is the story of Patricia Highsmith wandering from place to place, in each place she finds a new set of lovers, then moves on when it shatters from her dark personality and addiction to drink. She is in Africa, Mexico, England, France, Switzerland, all over the United States, but especially in Manhattan, always writing, always moving on. It reminds me of the wanderlust of Jack Kerouac of whom she did not approve. This is very much a writers biography. A story about writing driving ones life.

I am on P. 415 of the biography. I read it in little bits then put it down. There are parts that are both disagreeable, quirky, and funny. She likes to kill dogs in her stories, keep cats, and has over 100 snails in her terrarium at one point.

I did my second chat session of Fundamentals of Collection Development and Management online at 11:00 a.m.. The American Library Association offers a number of very inexpensive online classes at . I spent a $100 for four chat sessions and seven online training modules to complete. There is a very nice forum that goes with the class. I think I am learning quite a bit. I may take some other online courses as well.

Today, I downloaded Open Office. I am taking a look at it to see how it works. I wrote a short document in it this afternoon.

This afternoon, I read some more of Viral Loop by Adam Penenberg. It is describing how companies use the network effect. This happened when telephones were first introduced. Each new person added to a network of telephones exponentially increases the number of possible connections between users. The network effect also happened when the first internet browser Mosaic was introduced. Every new user made the web of connections increase dramatically. The network effect is what powers social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and other places.

I find this a bit disquieting. It is interesting to have a crowd of followers, but not a crowd of followers without a common focus. This is what creates a mob. I try to keep my Twitter followers focused on books. The other part that is a bit questionable is how much the monetization of the internet is based on advertising. I am not that fond of many types of advertising. The dark side of viral advertising is of course spam which spreads unwelcome through computer networks. It is as viral as Twitter or Facebook.

This is a business book, so the larger the crowd you have to advertise to, the more money you might be able to make. This is part of what fuels the enthusiasm of companies like Google and Yahoo. Replace the word good with popular and it would make me more comfortable. If you believe a crowd is good, you will be more likely to attract people to advertise to.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Daily Thoughts 2/15/2010

Alfred Hitchcock, 1956, Head and Shoulders Portrait Facing Right. This photograph is a work for hire created prior to 1968 by a staff photographer at New York World-Telegram & Sun. It is part of a collection donated to the Library of Congress. Per the deed of gift, New York World-Telegram & Sun dedicated to the public all rights it held for the photographs in this collection upon its donation to the Library. Thus, there are no known restrictions on the usage of this photograph.

Daily Thoughts 2/15/2010

I am reading more of The Talented Miss Highsmith. There is a feeling that Joan Schenkar, the biographer, is very much trying to present Patricia Highsmith in a way similar to the characters in Patricia's novels; a bit mad, having a dark side, strings of lovers, terrible secrets, and slightly criminal thoughts. I sometimes wonder if Joan Schenkar is exaggerating a bit.

I am finding the best part of reading this biography is the irony it. Although Patricia Highsmith did a lot of work with cartoons and comics, she tries to deny it. Joan Schenker ties the name Ripley to the long running comic strip, Ripley's Believe it or Not. This is in reference to the book, The Talented Mr. Ripley. Patricia Highsmith even drew a book of cartoons with accompanying rhymes, Miranda The Panda is on the Veranda. I find it a bit of a shame that Patricia Highsmith did not acknowledge her part in the comics industry. There is now a very interesting womens comic group, Freinds of Lulu that would have matched her well.

Right now, I am doing a bit more of the exercise on how to identify groups in the community who use the library. I am going through each part of the library and thinking about which people use it, the childrens room-- parenting collection, picture books, storytelling collection, the young adult room-- fiction, nonfiction, classics, assignment titles, adult fiction-- urban fiction, mysteries, african american fiction, ispirational fiction, nonfiction, adult nonfiction-- cookbooks, computer books, and other sections.

I have started reading Adam L. Penenberg Viral Loop From Facebook to Twitter, How Today's Smartest Businesses Grow Themselves. This is the story of how many online businesses took the same word of mouth strategy as Tupperware or Avon and turned them into person to person selling strategies. There is a view that if it is popular it must be good and if it spreads quickly by word of mouth it must be useful. Quite frankly, popular and good are two different things. It opens with the story of Hot or Not, the social site which rates people's appearances and how it made money advertising.

There is something vapid about virally pulling lots of people together around a network and then having them make fragmentary statements. Social networks are quite often advertisement driven. I am not a huge fan of advertising. If they offer a useful service, I can tolerate the advertising. There is also no guarantee that once you have gathered masses of people, that what you are doing won't fade out. Myspace became very popular, but is now running into trouble. I hope Twitter and LinkedIn remain, but, I often think that social sites need more than advertisements and crowds.

A few blogs were suggested from the Fundamentals of Collection Development and Management. They are nice, clean, and orderly, unlike my mishmash of things. I liked looking at the http://stackedblog . I am even going to place a book on hold, Wanderlust A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit which I saw reviewed on the Stacked Blog. I love walking. I find it meditative. I used to sometimes practice walking meditation which is best done in gardens.

You Are Not A Gadget by Jaron Lanier

You Are Not A Gadget A Manifesto by Jaron Lanier

Jaron Lanier is making a statement against the current state of the internet. He was one of the original creators of virtual reality and proponents for creative commons. He is arguing that the internet has become dehumanizing, mob ruled, economically destructive, and poorly designed. This book is an argument for a different kind of internet; a single payer web, a place with less anonymity, a place where authors are acknowledged for their work, and a place where humans are more important than systems and codes.

The book is very much focused on a humanistic view of computing. The computer serves the individual to help them become more creative. It is against many network oriented ideologies. He thinks large computer networks threaten individual freedom and the idea of a singularity or the point where machines become smarter than humans is counterproductive.

There is a very nice reminder to not be fragmentary and try not to be anonymous. I feel that I need a little bit of anonymity to present some of my views. Jaron Lanier wants people to bring back a degree of civility to the computer world. In his view, the point of networks and social networks is to connect with other people. People are more important than networks.

Social networks are a way to connect with people. I am going to be at Book Expo America and the Bookbloggers Convention as part of this. Networks are not just disembodied voices. If you are using networks correctly, you will be invited to events in the real world like the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art receptions, librarian meetups, conventions, or lunches.

Some of the ideas he is talking about are front and center. There is currently a copyright war that is about digital rights. Central to this idea is who is the author. If there is no acknowledged author which people respect for creative works, the author cannot make a living. Very few people can make money selling knick knacks or speaking. He is correct on this. The internet has disenfranchised many authors, newspeople, and musicians. Acknowledge where you get your content from.

This is an excellent counterpoint to authors like Chris Anderson who talk about the wonderful new opportunities on the web. It is a counterargument against the impersonality of Wikipedia, Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, and other new media darlings.

The writing is eclectic. It touches on some surprising subjects; cephalopod intelligence, the circle of empathy, theories of computation, music, virtual reality, the noosphere, and the singularity are just a few of the subjects.

If you want to read a very creative personal manifesto about the way the internet is heading, you will find this different. It is a humanistic and individualistic counter to many of the prevailing ideas. Some of it is a little far fetched, but still worth thinking over. I liked reading it.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Daily Thoughts 2/14/2010

Photo of Jaron Lanier performing at the Garden of Memory Solstice Concert June, 2009 taken by Allan J. Cronin. Original uploader, Gnu Free Documentation License, found on Wikimedia.

This morning, I finished reading You Are Not A Gadget by Jaron Lanier. The writing is very iconoclastic and original. Pieces of it are a little strange and philosophical. For example, he writes about cephalopods and virtual reality as well as computer programming concepts. It is a book worth reading. I will probably write a review of it later today or tomorrow.

I read some more of The Talented Miss Highsmith by Joan Schenkar this afternoon. A colleague recommended it to me. It is a bit of a different experience reading about the authors life. The book is quite different from what I usually read. Taking in reading that is different opens ones horizons a bit. Right now, I am reading about Patricia Highsmith's stay at the Yaddo artists colony. Truman Capote recommended her for the colony. She is writing her novel, Strangers on a Train. The book describes her drinking heavily and reading the bible every day in addition to writing.

Some of the biography is quite hard to read. What lightens it up is Patricia Highsmith's quirkiness; keeping pet snails, her love of cats, reflections on writing, and the constant social climbing and parties in the literary scene of Manhattan. The biography is quite revealing. It writes frankly about Patricia Highsmith's lesbianism and her struggles with the social mores of the 1940s and 1950s.

Right now, I am about half way through reading the book. There is a map of Manhattan which shows where Patricia Highsmith was as well as a year by year summary of her life as appendixes at the back of the book. I still have quite a bit more to read.

I've also been looking at the community of users at my library as part of my Fundamentals of Collection Development and Management course online. It is a bit different doing this. It makes me think hard about what each thing we do at the library serves what population. It is rather interesting.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Daily Thoughts 2/13/2010

Embroidered bookbinding, The Miroir or Glasse of the Synneful Soul, manuscript by the Princess Elizabeth (later Elizabeth I of England) at age 11, 1544, and presented to her stepmother Catherine or Katherine Parr. "...Translated 'out of frenche ryme into english prose, joyning the sentences together as well as the capacitie of my symple witte and small lerning coulde extende themselves.' ...dedicated: 'From Assherige, the last daye of the yeare of our Lord God 1544 ... To our most noble and vertuous Quene Katherin, Elizabeth her humble daughter wisheth perpetuall felicitie and everlasting joye.'

Daily Thoughts 2/13/2010

Last night I read a bit of You Are Not A Gadget by Jaron Lanier. It is a very nice counterpoint to some of the stranger ideas that are coming out of Web 2.0 and the technology field. He takes on the idea of the noosphere (the totality of the web and information) being a superbenevolent thing. He also attempts to counter the rather irrational idea of the Singularity, that not far from now, machines will become smarter than us. Personally, I think if machines become intelligent and free willed they will go in a far different direction than we can imagine because ultimately they will be different than us.

Jaron Lanier focuses on the individual being more important than the mob and decries the focus on massive networks of people instead of unique thought by a single person. He tries to counter the focus on smart mobs and makes statements against the idea of a massive totality of information without identifiable authors. There has been a tendency by many people in the technology industries to discount the importance of authorship and people being identified with a work.

On a personal level, massive impersonal networks can be a bit disconcerting to me. I often ponder Aristotle's statement on Masters and Slaves in his book Politics, " For if every instrument could accomplish its own work, obeying or anticipating the will of others, like the statues of Daedalus, or the tripods of Hephaestus, which, says the poet, of their own accord entered the assembly of the Gods; if, in like manner, the shuttle would weave and the plectrum touch the lyre without a hand to guide them, chief workmen would not want servants, nor masters slaves. " I sometimes think that we have already reached the point where automation can bring greater freedom, but are having problems with society that don't let it happen.

While reading the February 1, 2010 issue of Publishers Weekly, I came across a book which should be quite interesting, The Reader on Reading by Alberto Manguel. He also wrote The Library At Night which is quite entertaining, especially if you are a book person.

In the February 8, 2010 issue of Publishers Weekly, there is an article called The Single Copy Web by Sarah F. Gold on Pp. 17-19. It is a profile and interview of Jaron Lanier focusing on the book You Are Not A Gadget. This book is something worth reading. It challenges a lot of Web 2.0 ideas at just the right time. It reminds us that so many people are losing their livelihoods because of changes in the way information is disseminated, especially artists, musicians, and writers who depend so much on copyright and other creative institutions.

Two things came in for me to read next week, Charlie Huston, Sleepless and Adam L. Penenberg Viral Loop From Facebook to Twitter, How Today's Smartest Businesses Grow Themselves. Also the movie of Ask The Dust came in. It is based on John Fante's novel.

I am on vacation next week. I worked a bit today on my online class, Fundamentals of Collection Development and Management, getting some census data and reading an article on library marketing. I also cleared up my desk and wrote a few emails.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Daily Thoughts 2/12/2010

Bookcases in the library of the University of Leiden: From a print by J.C. Woudanus, dated 1610. The University of Leiden in Holland adopted a modification of this design, for there the shelf is above the desk, and readers could only stand to use the books. Circa: 1600 Source: Libraries in the Medieval and Renaissance Periods The Rede Lecture Delivered June 13, 1894 Author: J. W. Clark Available from Published: 1894

Daily Thoughts 2/11/2010

A thought on Ebooks. I also posted part of this thought to Fundamentals of Collection Development and Management.

I have recommended creative commons titles as part of helping people at the reference desk. -- there are a few books which can be recommended-- Free Culture by Lawrence Lessig and We The Media by Dan Gillmor are quite interesting, but some are not exactly recommendable. There is quite a bit of useful information available for free. I also have located ebooks in the internet archive and as part of helping people at reference. If you do not have certain popular books that are out of copyright, many are available through these services.

I also read and recommend titles from the Baen Free Library which is quite controversial. The only ebook I ever bought was an e-arc from Baen books.

I have recommended the ereader Stanza to a patron who has an iphone . Lexcycle recently has become available for Windows and Mac machines as well. It is free software. To my surprise, I have learned that people regularly download free ebooks to both Kindle and Iphone.

I have checked out ebooks from New York Public Library. I checked out quite a few ebooks about business for a while. These last for a few weeks then automatically delete themselves.

I also subscribe to which allows me to read and review advanced reading copies before they are released.

I don't believe in getting books that are pirated. I stay away from this. Somewhere in the value chain, a person should pay either by providing a service-- reviewing the book, or it should be bought by either an institution like a library or by an individual. Authors do not work for free.

In addition, I follow the social network, which has some 5000 member book blogs.

I sometimes read Publishing 2020 which is a blog about the future of publishing.

I have read a lot of ebooks, but rarely paid for them. But, then I rarely pay for books on a personal level. I usually get them at my library. When I do buy books, it has to be something which I find of considerable value on a personal level. Sometimes, people also send me books because they want me to read them.

This afternoon I read some more of The Talented Miss Highsmith by Joan Schenkar. At this point in the biography she is in Mexico sending in outlines for comics and writing short stories. This is during the height of World War II. It describes her making character sketches of the different people she meets. A lot of the book is about her passionate love affairs with women and her detached observations of men. She is described as being very attractive in her early life. She often writes her male leads in her stories as violent criminals who succeed in their goals.

There is a strong sense of disappointment in the biography as well. Patricia Highsmith sets her goals as writing for fashion magazines like Vogue, or literary magazines like the New Yorker. She ends up writing mystery novels, suspense, and comics. I am enjoying reading about the literary scene in New York. This is a bit of a different perspective on it. Literary pretensions are not something which I have a lot of. I rather enjoy the "lower" arts of the comics, beat artists, pulps, mysteries, and science fiction.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Daily Thoughts 2/11/2010

Interior photo of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria, Egypt.
Photo taken by Hajor, December 2002. Released under GFDL (Gnu Free Documentation License).

Daily Thoughts 2/11/2010

Today, I spent some time reading some more of the material for Fundamentals of Collection Development and Management. I found the famous quote by Frank K. Drury in the course material. "The high purpose of book selection is to provide the right book for the right reader at the right time." They also went over micro (selecting individual titles) vs. (macro) placing standing orders and continuation plans in collection development.

I also checked to make sure the chat session was working for me with the social network for the American Library Association, ALA Connect.

For good measure, I am including a link to the Top 10 Most banned books in 2008 in libraries.

I have been reading some more of The Talented Miss Highsmith. I am reading about her days as a comic book writer which she kept quiet about. It describes her in the office drinking coffee and chain smoking while writing Black Terror, Spysmasher, Pyroman, Golden Arrow and other golden age comics. Then it mentions her sending stories to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. This seems like a natural progression from comic book writer to pulp writer to mystery novel writer. There are other mystery writers who wrote comics. Dashiell Hammett started the newspaper comic serial, Secret Agent X-9. This is a fun comic to read. It is not uncommon for writers to cover comics, pulps, and novels. Stephen King after writing for both films and novels, had his Dark Tower books adapted for the comics. There is something classic about being a comic writer by day and a novelist by night. Max Allan Collins also followed a similar pattern with his writing novels, films, and comics. I especially liked the Road to Perdition comic and the Ms. Tree comics by Max Allan Collins.

Today I did my first chat session for Fundamentals of Collection Development and Management. It was quite interesting. There are eleven people in the class. One thing I learned about was the Charleston Conference on Issues in Book and Serials Acquisition. It is supposed to be very informal. It is a place where many collection development librarians meet as well as vendors gather. I have heard of it, but have never gone. It makes me think I should plan on going in the future. There was also mention that some libraries maintain a long term collection development plan that is part of a strategic plan over several years. It was a very interesting chat which lasted for about an hour. Another idea was to focus on genealogy resources if you have a local history room, it brings in people.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Daily Thoughts 2/10/2010

The lion statues at the New York Public Library, with a mantle of snow during the record December 1948 snowfall. It is snowing heavily outside. I was excused from work because of the snowfall. I can see the whiteness outside the window covering everything. I think this is the first time I have used an image more than once.

Daily Thoughts 2/10/2010

This morning, I did some more of the Fundamentals of Collection Development and Management course online from the American Library Association. I had to turn cookies on in my browser to do my assignment. This time it was about budgets. I like reading the forums. Someone mentioned Better World Books which takes discarded library books selling them for charitable purposes. A percentage of the proceeds goes back to the library. They are a social business venture.

I also have been reading more of The Talented Miss Highsmith. Apparently she used to read abnormal psychology books at the Queens Public Library when she was ten. Maybe it was good practice for her writing dark suspense stories. Her childhood was supposed to have been very dark.

While at Barnard College, she is quoted as saying, "I am four people: the Jewish intellectual, the success, the failure, and the fascist snob. These shall be my novel characters." Joan Schenkar, the biographer leaves none of the negative characteristics of Patricia Highsmith out of this biography. There is hatred, vitriol, and angst against a variety of different peoples. The author is trying to present a complete picture of Patricia Highsmith as a person. I especially liked learning that Patricia Highsmith's first job out of college was writing the comic Fighting Yank. There is a certain literary irony in this.

The Talented Miss Highsmith will take me some time to read, it is 684 pages long including notes, photographs, diagrams, selected bibliography, and index.

I am also reading, You Are Not A Gadget A Manifesto by Jaron Lanier. Jaron Lanier is famous for his early work in virtual reality. He is writing about the relation between people and machines. He decries what he calls lock in or how certain programs like Unix or the music program MIDI become very inflexible standards. One idea which he makes clear is that with things like Web 2.0, he views the people in the network as more important than the network itself. He is not a fan of some of the new media ideas.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Daily Thoughts 2/9/2010

"Lev Tolstoy in Yasnaya Polyana", 1908, the first color photo portrait in Russia

Daily Thoughts 2/9/2010

This morning, I printed flyers for my programs. A gentleman who is helping me with the poetry program came by and picked up some flyers to distribute to different places, mainly the local churches. I also checked on the shelving projects and did some weeding of fiction. In addition, I did a bit of weeding in the 800s. I am almost done with the initial pass through this.

On the train in I read some more of The Talented Miss Highsmith by Joan Schenkar. There is a wonderful line on P. 56 which reads "These are the props of her creative life and she is never without them: a notebook, a fountain pen, a lit cigarette, a bottle-- and her tenebrious imagination." The writing very much has this feel.

I put another book on hold, Sleepers by Charlie Huston. It is a near future science fiction novel. This usually combines a strong suspense element with hard near future science fiction. It is a new genre. Spook Country by William Gibson is an example of this genre.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Daily Thoughts 2/8/2010

Outing Digital ID: 1258790. New York Public Library

Outing March, 1896

Daily Thoughts 2/8/2010

One book came in for me to read today, The Talented Miss Highsmith The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith by Joan Schenkar. I have been waiting for this for some time. I also am going to read You Are Not a Gadget by Jaron Lanier.

Today has been another quiet, steady day. I spent a bit of time checking the displays and checked on my fliers for programs today. I also talked a little bit about the ordering process for books with accounting. Things are moving along. I still have to do some more weeding. I did not get to weeding today, but I did get to read through the New York Times Book Review and part of Kirkus Reviews. We seem to be getting most of the books in the New York Times Book Review before they are reviewed. I have also been noticing that if you read blog reviews many reviews occur before the trade review publications.

I have started the online course from ALCTS on Fundamentals of Collection Development and Management. It is a review course from the American Library Association online. One of the questions was to write four things down which you think you would like to learn about. Here are my four: 1) Better understanding of budgetary management. 2) How to write grants specifically to get material for library collections. 3) Tools to evaluate the collection so it more closely matches the local community. 4) More understanding of the publishing industry.

I started reading The Talented Miss Highsmith on the train home. This is definitely a book which would be written after the authors death. It describes her many love affairs with both women (married and otherwise) and men. It also acknowledges her career as a prolific writer of comic books which has mostly been expunged from her literary life. She is best known for her thrillers. I have not read them. I have seen Stranger On A Train which was an Alfred Hitchcock film which she wrote. Patricia Highsmith refused to meet Alfred Hitchcock. It is very interesting reading. Very dark, moody and compelling.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

This Book Is Overdue How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson

This Book Is Overdue How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson

This book is a feel good book about librarians. It celebrates what is wonderful about libraries. The book is very entertaining. Marilyn Johnson introduces the reader to many interesting facets of librarianship including blogging, book cart racing, zines, second life, boxing archives and other quirky, geeky, and artistic facets of librarianship.

There is a very strong future orientation to this book. It celebrates the new web 2.0 librarianship and the more participatory style of providing people what they want. The section on the move away from research in libraries was sad. I lament the passing of the old style New York librarian, especially the librarians described like David Smith who supported authors and writers, and John Lundquist who ran the Middle East and Asian studies branch of the research library.

Quite a bit is written on the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act gave access for the federal government to search library records. Marilyn Johnson wrote about a court case on seizing patron library records. There is also a section on librarians protesting a Republican convention in New York. Sometimes, there is a sense that librarians are very left leaning.

The entries on technology were very interesting. I found the section on blogging useful. Tame the Web and Free Range Librarian are both excellent blogs she mentions . The section on Second Life was not what I expected. Like many librarians, I view Second Life as a kind of Alice in Wonderland place. It does generate a lot of new ideas. However, in my experience, I get easily hypnotized by virtual worlds and cannot spend a lot of time in them.

There was a little bit on the problems in the library catalogs in Westchester county, New York. I can relate to this where I work. Technology is always an interesting challenge in the library setting.

There is a realization that libraries are becoming more like media centers. There is a shift from answering peoples questions to finding material which people want. This is partially due to the idea that circulation and head counts is the primary source of state funding.

The focus on circulation and crowds misses something. For example with New York Public Library it does not get more funding because of circulation, it gets more funding because of its prestige which I think comes from its special collections. Queens Library has much higher circulation and head counts than New York Public Library, but it does not get more money.

I am not sure the general public or politicians pay that much much attention to statistics or head counts as many librarians think. The public and politicians want to know how it affects them; can I get my resume done, can I use a computer, will I find the latest test book, can I get a computer class, where is the audiobook which will help me learn chinese, where is the drivers safety course, where is the latest action film or bestseller. In my, opinion finding out what people want and then providing it to them is what matters. Translating this into statistics may be more important than head count.

But, I digress, thoughts on prestige and funding are a separate topic. This book made me think. It showed how wonderfully quirky and entertaining librarians can be. It surprised me. The section on the boxing archivist and person cataloging zines was a bit of a novel experience to read about.

If I wrote about everything in the book, it would spoil your reading it. If you are a librarian or book person you should read this. For book people, you will definitely learn something new. It is clear that the author also has editing experience, she writes about it briefly in this book.

The structure of the writing is also excellent. There is a decent amount of dialogue, the paragraph lengths vary considerably, she also occassionally adds an extra line between paragraphs to indicate the finish of an idea, and Marilyn Johnson occassionally throws in questions to catch the readers attention and make them think.

The book is very well laid out and follows very smoothly from chapter to chapter. There are both notes about each chapter and a bibliography. The notes are worth reading. They include information about classes like "Five Weeks to a Social Library" or the journal of librarianship in Second Life,

The acknowledgements include many names I recognize from people I have met. If you are a librarian in Westchester county, New York you will want to read this. It gives many names of people who are active in the library community.

The author has a website . This is an excellent read.

Daily Thoughts 2/7/2010

Pagoda at the Temple of Literature Hanoi. The Temple of Literature was built in 1070 and became Vietnam's first university and a centre of learning. 22 December 2008(2008-12-22), 15:50:45, Taken by McKay Savage, Creative Commons Share Alike Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Daily Thoughts 2/7/2010

Today, I finished reading This Book is Overdue. Like always, I read some of it at the laundromate with a cup of coffee. I like reading in the laundromat.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Book of Dead Philosophers by Simon Critchley

The Book of Dead Philosophers by Simon Critchley

Simon Critchley taught a course at the New School For Social Research called "To Philosophize is to Learn to Die" in 2007. The summarizes of the philosophy and deaths of some 200 different philosophers speaks to this theme. The book begins with the Greeks and ends in the modern day

Each summary runs from a paragraph to a couple of pages depending on the importance of the philosophical figures. The book covers from the period of the early Greeks to modern day philosophers. It includes some Chinese, medieval arabic, medieval jewish, and women philosophers. The main divisions that are obvious are the pagan Greeks and Romans, the christians, and modern philosophers.

This book is not written for an academic audience. It is written to be enjoyed by the lay reader. There are no footnotes. There is a bibliography at the end. The writing is of ironic and funny. Some of the endings of important philosophers are quite perplexing. For example, according to legend, Pythagoras was killed because he refused to cross a bean field while being chased by his enemies.

We also learn that many were regarded more highly when they were dead than when they were alive. Nietzsche was one of these people. This is also true of many writers of what we call classic fiction.

Also, many philosophers choose to die for their beliefs, both christian and pagan. Plato died by drinking hemlock, and the Roman Emperor Nero killed three of the philosophers in the book. Maimonides was constantly on the run for his life.

Also, some refuse to give up their vices because they enjoyed them too much. Hannah Arendt would not stop drinking, nor would Freud stop smoking. There was a sense that many tried to live their life in the fullest possible way.

This is an enjoyable survey of what it means to live and die as a philosopher. It shows that death is not such a fearful thing. It also shows how unpredictable, capricious, funny, and ironic life can be.

Starship: Flagship by Mike Resnick

Starship: Flagship
by Mike Resnick

This is the fifth book in the Starship series by Mike Resnick. The book is set in the Birthright Universe which Mike Resnick writes most of his stories in. He even includes a summary of the setting at the end of the book. It is at the end of the period of the Republic as it is moving towards a Democracy in the setting.

Captain Cole is one of those prominent figures who makes history in Mike Resnick's setting. You can tell this because his small actions have big impacts. You can also read it in the ship which he is flying, The Teddy Roosevelt.

I think this is the final book in the series. The characters make this book enjoyable to read: the Platinum Duke, a cyborg who owns a casino, Val short for Valkyrie who is a buff and beautiful pirate captain, David Copperfield, the alien who believes he is a Dickens character, and others make this quite memorable. Mike Resnick successfully takes many genre characters and makes fun of them.

The character of Captain Cole is written to turn the idea of the six guns blazing hero on its head. He does not consider himself a hero; instead he uses strategy, tactics, trickery, and political acumen to reach his goals. He bombs abandoned planetary cities to show his destroying the Republic, he breaks people out of jail, boards and takes enemy ships, and spreads wild rumors about his whereabouts and what he is doing.

Ultimately, Captain Cole reaches his goal with his wits and reforms the Republic into a democracy. He does it by being able to make quick thinking leadership decisions.

Mike Resnick successfully shows how thinking on your feet wins the day in a very entertaining manner. He also makes fun of a lot of the silly ideas in military science fiction and space opera that don't work very well.