Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Daily Thoughts 3/31/2010

John Hancock's Signature from The Declaration of Independence, United States, 1776

Daily Thoughts 3/31/2010

I am reading the chapter in A Better Pencil on handwriting. Schools are removing handwriting from the curriculum and going from printing to writing on a keyboard. I am a bit disappointed. I think of handwriting as an art form. It teaches that words are a form of art to be respected. I think the quality of the language will degrade when handwriting is removed from the curriculum. It is not that necesary in practical terms, but not everything is about being practical. Handwriting teaches focus and admiration for language.

I am vacation right now. I took a little break from reading and watched some Battlestar Galactica Season 4.0 on my computer. I have my new earbuds plugged in right now. It is a nice break from reading.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Crucible of Empire by Eric Flint and K.D. Wentworth

The Crucible of Empire by Eric Flint and K.D. Wentworth

This is the sequel to The Course of Empire. During The Course of Empire, the Jao conquered earth. Partly this was because of human disunity. Now, the Jao have drafted humanity into fighting their ancient enemies the Ekhat. They have adapted both human and Jao technology to create a massive new spaceship the size of an aircraft carrier, the Lexington.

This story is partially about how technology changes when two cultures meet to make something far more deadly than the single culture can produce by itself. The Lexington with its combined kinetic and energy weapon technology, energy shielding and heavy armored plate easily destroys the Ekhat ships.

In The Crucible of Empire, the new human Jao alliance have to rescue a third alien race, the Lleix from the Ekhat. I liked how the different aliens were described with their strengths and weaknesses. The Lleix had a very interesting artistic flair to them. The Jao and the Lleix were described as being very different.

This book does an excellent job of worldbuilding and describing how alien worlds interact. It also does not assume human superiority which is refreshing. Humans are not the center of the universe. I am looking forward to the next book in the series. I hope they add a few more alien cultures to the mix.

Gardens of the Sun by Paul McAuley

Gardens of the Sun by Paul McAuley

This book is a sequel to the science fiction novel, The Quiet War. The three powers led by Greater Brazil have successfully conquered the Outers colonies on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Supposedly they have stopped the democratic and transhuman changes occurring to the colonists.

However, the aftermath of the conquest leads to some unexpected changes. Some of the outers have fled to the moons of Titan. My favorite character is Macy Minnot one of the outers who is on Titan. There is also a transhuman colony on Titan. This makes for an interesting story.

Also the ideas of democracy and technology from the Outer colonies are starting to seep into the cultures of the Pacific Community and Greater Brazil. This causes revolutionary change. It is a case of a less advanced society taking over a more advanced society.

There is a lot of interesting technology in the story. The author is a botanist and is very interested in technological change. He writes a lot about building ecologies for survival in space as well as using genetically engineered plants to harvest sunlight, minerals, and produce air. He also has some very interesting descriptions of people being genetically engineered as spies, to live in space, or to live extremely long lives.

I enjoyed the politics and technology in the story. There were some problems with the continuity of the story. The author broke the book into six sections which are slightly broken up in time. The last section called Everything Rises Must Converge felt more like an epilogue than a section.

This book would have been better as a trilogy. There were parts of the story which did not seem fleshed out well enough. The change which Sri Hong Owen the gene wizard uses to make her become transhuman as well as create the habitats orbiting the sun are not very clearly described.

I liked reading the book. I thought the continuity could have been done better, and that duology would have been better as a trilogy. It is worth reading for the ideas.

Daily Thoughts 3/30/2010

The Bookman, Thompson, Ruth Plumly: "The Gnome King of Oz." (1927)

Daily Thoughts 3/30/2010

I went to my local library this morning, but did not find anything which I wanted to read. I also took a bit of time to go to Target. I noticed that Target has a book club section. Publishers are starting to produce books specifically for reading groups. These usually include a set of questions after each chapter about what people are reading.

Almost everything there is bestsellers with some new authors. They have some cookbooks, pregnancy books, diet books, a self help section, and teen bestsellers as well. It is a way to see what popular titles people are reading. A few titles that looked interesting are Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith and Nefertiti by Michelle Moran.

I learned that Thoreau designed pencils while reading A Better Pencil. The pencil is the premiere writing instrument. It is cheap, ubiquitous, easy to distribute and used all over the world. I prefer pens personally, but if you are looking for the most prevalent writing technology, it is the pencil.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Daily Thoughts 3/29/2010

American science fiction author, Eric Flint GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

Daily Thoughts 3/29/2010

I watched a film on dvd called Wordplay today. It was about crossword puzzles. It featured Will Shortz who is the editor for the New York Times crossword puzzle. He arranges for puzzles from about 110 different people every single year. Will Shortz has a degree in Enigmatology which is puzzles. It was a quite enjoyable film.

There were cameos by Bill Clinton, Mike Mussina, Jon Stewart, the Indigo Girls, and many other famous people. They talked about why they did the crossword puzzle. It was very interesting to listen to.

The film also covered the National Crossword Championship which runs for seven days. There is a crossword for every single day. It was interesting watching champion crossword puzzle people prepare for the event.

If you like words and thinking about words, this film is well worth seeing.

The dvd case includes a booklet with five crossword puzzles fromt the New York Times.

I have started reading A Better Pencil, Readers, Writers, and the Digital Revolution by Dennis Baron.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Daily Thoughts 3/28/2010

[Fox writing with a quill pen.... Digital ID: 822655. New York Public Library

Fox Writing With A Quill Pen, J. Mason, 1852

Daily Thoughts 3/28/2010

I went to Barnes and Noble this morning. I looked at an advertisement for a Nook. It asks if you would like to carry Barnes and Noble in your hand wherever you want to go. I am looking forward to when there are less dedicated ebook machines. I would like to be able to download from whichever bookstore I want. I think a laptop would be the best choice for me because I think you can download the Kindle software to a laptop as well as the Nook software and other bookstore sites.

There were a few interesting books worth looking at. I do not order a whole lot of science fiction and fantasy series books. I am thinking of getting a few World of Warcraft paperbacks, as well as a few paperbacks from the Forgotten Realms series and the Warhammer 40,000 series. I also saw a few novel that seemed interesting, Frank Delaney, Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show as well as a new humorous fantasy book by A. Lee Martinez, Divine Misfortune.

I read another science fiction book today, The Crucible of Empire by Eric Flint and K.D. Wentworth. It is a military science fiction novel. What is different about this story is that humans have been conquered by an alien race, the Jao. However, they are not enslaved. Earth has become a kind of partner in a larger interstellar war against an aggressive species called the Ehkat. This is the second book in a series started with The Course of Empire. There is another humanoid species added to the story in this novel, the Lleix who convinced the Jao to separate from the Ehkat. I am finding it quite entertaining.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Daily Thoughts 3/27/2010

The Geographer 1668-69 oil on canvas; 53×47 cm Steadelsches Kunstinstitut Frankfurt, Germany, Jan Vandermeer. This makes me think of the atlas stand where I work. We do not have a large map collection. Many libraries do.

Daily Thoughts 3/27/2010

Today has been a relatively quiet day. They are working on shifting books in the storage area to make more room. I finished weeding the fiction in the storage area. Now, it is more of a job of moving things around. I still have weeding to do in the oversize books on the main floor.

I am also planning days to do collection development meetings. One of the days, I would like to focus on special areas like government documents, maps, the job information center, different areas of genre fiction: urban fiction, mysteries, romance, inspirational fiction, science fiction, and other categories.

I learned from one of our library patrons there is a Kids Comiccon on April 10, at Bronx Community College. Bronx Community College holds a kids comic con free for kids under 18 -- April 10 in Bronx, New York It looks kind of interesting.

I finished reading Gardens of the Sun by Paul McAuley tonight. It is the sequel to The Quiet War. Like most very interesting science fiction or literature there will be very mixed reactions to the story in this book. It is very much a book about biology, ecology, and society in the terms of hard science fiction; not so much physics. This makes it a different kind of hard science fiction.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Daily Thoughts 3/26/2010

Desk of german author Hermann Hesse in Hermann Hesse Höri Museum in Gaienhofen Creative Commons Attributions Share Alike Attribution 3.0, Photo taken by Dierk Andresen , 2004

Daily Thoughts 3/26/2010

Today has been a quiet day. I have a number of books waiting for me to look at, The Value of Nothing by Raj Patel, How Philosophy Can Save Your Life 10 Ideas That Matter Most by Marietta McCarthy, Gardens of the Sun by Paul McAuley, A Better Pencil Readers Writers and the Digital Revolution by Dennis Baron, The Crucible of Empire by Eric Flint and K.D. Wenthworth, and Other Lands by David Anthony Durham.

We got our first shipment from BWI. There were a few interesting titles including R. Crumb's The Book of Genesis Illustrated, and Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks edited by John Curran. On the cover it says the book contains two previously unpublished Hercule Poirot stories which is intriguing.

I went around and checked the displays, putting a few new books in a display of folklore books from storage, and making sure the new books were in order. I picked out several books for the book mobile. Mainly, they were biography titles, large print, and popular fiction which many older readers like.

I read the first chapter of How Philosophy Can Change Your Life. It is on the concept of simplicity in life. The author describes how Epictetus believed the simplest pleasures are the lasting pleasures. She draws a parallel between zen and stoicism which both focus on simplifying ones life to the point where the simple pleasures become profound. It is a philosophical counter to excessive materialism. She gives numerous examples at the end of the chapter on how to simplify ones life.

I also started reading Gardens of the Sun by Paul McAuley. It is the sequel to The Quiet War which is about war between two branches of humanity, the outers who are on the moons of Titan and the earth triumvirate led by the Alliance of Greater Brazil.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Daily Thoughts 3/25/2010

Illustration of "A Mad Tea Party" in chapter in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in which Alice meets the Mad Hatter, the March Hare and the Dormouse. Text on Hatter's hat reads "In this style 10/6. Illustration by John Tenniel.

Daily Thoughts 3/25/2010

I mostly relaxed today. I am becoming fond of lemon ginger tea. I returned a few books to my local library. Today is a quiet day.

A Reader on Reading by Alberto Manguel

A Reader on Reading by Alberto Manguel

This is a collection of short essays by Alberto Manguel. Alberto Manguel wrote The Dictionary of Imaginary Places and was an editor for many years. He muses on his own identity as a reader by talking about many personal issues on reading. He has an essay of the Legend of the Wandering Jew as a reader as well as comments on Jorge Luis Borges defense of Jewish culture. The author is Argentinian and pulls from the South American literary tradition.

He opens many of the essays with a quote from Alice in Wonderland or Through the Looking Glass and a picture from one of these books. This adds an inquisitive quality to the essays. I like many of his quotes and thoughts from Borges because Borges was a librarian and a fantasist in the tradition of magical realism. The essays remind me of thoughts that might have come out of The Phantom Tollbooth or Un Lun Dun.

Most of the essays are about the the experience of reading and being a reader. I especially liked the essay on Don Quixote, entitled Time and The Doleful Knight on Pp. 182-186. I can relate to Cervantes even though I have not read him..

Alberto Manguel attempts to list the qualities of the ideal reader and the ideal writer in two separate essays. They are quite delightful, even though I would not agree with many of them. Alberto Manguel has a deep relationship with books. He has a personal library of some 30,000 books. He wrote about this in an earlier book, The Library At Night.

There is also some discussion of technology in this book. The essay, Saint Augustine's Computer on Pp. 187-198 describes the differences between the printed word and the word on the screen. They are quite significant. He claims the printed word is less ephemeral and easier to subject to deep analysis than what appears on a computer screen.

Some of the issues in the book are quite political. Alberto Manguel grew up under Peron's government. He describes many of the problems with literature, writing, and reading that occur under repressive regimes. He also discusses Che Guevara and his impact on literature. This makes for some interesting, if a bit pointed commentary.

There is a lot to recommend in this book. It has a well done index, a very extensive bibliography, and a nice feel to the book. The book is set in Fourier Type and is quite easy to read. It is printed by Yale University Press. It is an excellent book that is well worth reading.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Daily Thoughts 3/24/2010

Rudyard Kipling, 1899

Daily Thoughts 3/24/2010

I finished reading A Reader on Reading by Alberto Manguel. I was thinking about Borges today and I tried looking up The Library of Babel. In an odd coincidence, I found out that the nickname for the Ellis Island library in its early days was nicknamed the "Tower of Babel". There are some images with these words in the New York Public Library Digital Gallery.

The Tower of Babel in the Corr... Digital ID: 94682. New York Public Library

Please excuse me for not writing as much today. I am resting right now, drinking tea. I really enjoyed reading Alberto Manguel. He reminds me what it means to devotes ones life to books.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Daily Thoughts 3/23/2010

Imaginary Picture of Aristophanes who was bald, 1896

Daily Thoughts 3/23/2010

I am going to read How Philosophy Can Save Your Life: 10 Ideas That Matter Most by Marietta McCarty. It caught my attention when I was going through the new books. It also has some very nice reviews. It is a book of practical philosophy, or philosophy put into every day use.

I read some more of Alberto Manguel A Reader on Reading. Each chapter is a separate essay on reading. In one of the essays he describes a variation on Borges infinite library. It is a single volume with infinitely thin pages which comprise all knowledge. Alberto Manguel makes the observation that is very similar to an ebook. I thought this was interesting.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Daily Thoughts 3/22/2010

Beatus Rhenanus author and editor. Albert Manguel used this image in A History of Reading.

Daily Thoughts 3/22/2010

I skipped a day to get some extra rest. Right now, I am reading Alberto Manguel, A Reader on Reading. Alberto Manguel is famous for having written The Dictionary of Imaginary Places which is quite entertaining. The opening chapter is on Alice In Wonderland which is one of the best fantasy books ever written.

I am reading about Callimachus who was the first bibliographer and cataloger for the Library of Alexandria. He invented the first subject headings in his Pinakes. . It is a nice reminder that there were great libraries before our time. Supposedly, the Library of Alexandria had some 500,000 volumes.

While reading Library Journal, I came across this article. It is about Opencourseware and the need for libraries in a virtual university. It seems people providing information to students in the online environment is being pushed aside. Libraries are being removed from the equation. It is quite interesting, and in some ways disappointing. MIT Opencourseware are classes designed to be taken for free over the internet.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

the New How Creating Business Solutions through Collaborative Strategy

the New How Creating Business Solutions through Collaborative Strategy by Nilofer Merchant.

This is very different than most business books I have ever read. Nilofer Merchant focuses on a collaborative style of management which is designed to involve the whole organization. The focus is not on creating strategy, but how you systematically implement strategy across an organization. In this book, the author describes how every level of an organization becomes involved in strategy. It also describes how to make everyone in an organization understand a companies strategy.

The book is published by O'Relly publishing. The book has a new media feel to it. If you go to the recommended reading list in the back, many of the books and recommendations are from new media. For example, she recommends the book, Everything is Miscellaneous The Power of the New Digital Disorder by David Weinberger.

Sometimes it is hard to follow what she is saying. Some of the ideas seem far fetched. I think this is partially because many of the ideas she is drawing from are fairly new. Think of collaboration in terms of large projects like Wikipedia which is run in a collaborative manner or Cisco Systems which relies heavily on team work. There is a nice reminder that with knowledge work, the problem is not having enough ideas, it is implementing the ideas that are already available.

People are viewed as co-creators in this book and the management is not supposed to have all the answers. It is more focused on facilitating change. The author calls her methodology, QuEST; Question, Envision, Select, and Take. Question what you are supposed to be doing, envision the best way to do things, select the results which will work best, and take action.

This is a very different way to run a companies decisionmaking. It describes ways to attack basic assumptions, seek out real answers, and work in teams to select the best strategies.

I did not understand a lot of it, but because there were so many new ideas, I think that I will have gained some new insights on how to work with other people. A lot of this book is about managing and coordinating with people without having to control them. It is also about eliminating the "air sandwich" between management and line workers. It is a very much roll up your sleeves and work with other people style.

The book is very qualitative in orientation, so that there are not a whole lot of numbers and statistics. There are some simple diagrams. The author includes notes, index, and a list of recommended books to read. Many of the recommended books are about collaboration in business and leading teams. Nilofer Merchant is the CEO of Rubicon Consulting.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Daily Thoughts 3/19/2010

William Thomas Beckford (1 October 1760 – 2 May 1844), usually known as William Beckford, was an English novelist, art critic, travel writer and politician. He was Member of Parliament for Wells from 1784 to 1790, for Hindon from 1790 to 1795 and again from 1806 to 1820. William Thomas Beckford is the author of the Gothic novel Vathek and brainchild of the remarkable Fonthill Abbey.

Daily Thoughts 3/19/2010

I was looking at the February 15, 2010 issue of Kirkus Reviews. It has in big letters on the cover, Kirkus Lives. Today has been a quiet day. I spent some time cleaning off my desk and looking at order catalogs for different publishers. I especially like Dalkie Archive Press, it has a nice mix of literature, poetry, and criticism. They print a lot of very high quality literature. I also distributed some lists which I requested from Unique Books to colleagues to see if there was any interest in the distributor.

I spent some time looking through mystery reviews with a colleague. It was interesting. Right now, I am looking at the Booklist March 15, 2010 issue with a spotlight on graphic novels.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Daily Thoughts 3/18/2010

The library of Christ Church, Oxford from Rudolph Ackermann's History of Oxford (1813) by an unknown artist.

Daily Thoughts 3/18/2010

Today is another quiet day. I went through and marked items missing from the storage area this morning. I am also checking the labels on the paperback to make sure they are all consistent and the same. I also plan on checking the fiction mass market paperbacks and the trade paperbacks for African American fiction that needs to be relocated. I'll probably be working with one of my colleagues on this.

Sometimes when you are talking to people at the reference desk, you learn about things which stand out. This is a creative commons ebook by Lev Manovich called Software Takes Command. It looked quite interesting to me. Someone was asking for a book about digital art by Lev Manovich and it led to this book. I am convinced that there will be many more textbooks coming out as creative commons.

Sometimes, there are repetitive things which need to get done. I have to look at the shifting in the storage area tomorrow. I got my confirmation for my first order through BWI. I am going to work with someone who is ordering CDs tomorrow to help them place their order. Today was more predictable than usual.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Daily Thoughts 3/17/2010

Colm Tóibín at the Texas Book Festival, Austin, Texas, United States., 28 October, 2006Photograph created by Larry D. Moore , Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

Happy St. Patrick's Day. We had green bagels in the staff room. Anyways, today has not been that bad. I finished going through the shelves checking for discards in the storage area for fiction. Now, I have to go back through and mark the items missing which I did not find. I also am looking at the arrangement of the relocated paperbacks.

We had an ordering meeting today. It went quite well. I had a chance to try the BWI ordering system. So far, it seems like it works well. I am going to be looking at it a little more tomorrow.

While I was going through the web, I noticed another interesting title, The Vanished Library by Luciano Canfora. It is about the ancient library at Alexandria. I also put in a request for the fantasy book, The Other Lands by David Anthony Durham.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Daily Thoughts 3/16/2010

Stamp of USSR, 13th Definitive Issue. Symbols of art and literature, 1988-1989

Today has been a relatively quiet day. I checked the displays and did some weeding this morning. I am going to finish weeding the storage fiction this week. Try and do are two different concepts. When you try to finish something, it puts in mind that you might not finish it. I am almost done. I also spent some time reading Publishers Weekly this morning.

Brandon Sanderson has a new book coming out called The Way of Kings. I like the cover art. It is done by Michael Whelan. Hopefully it should be a very enjoyable fantasy title. I also just put Gardens of the Sun by Paul McAuley on hold. It is the sequel to The Quiet War which I enjoyed a lot.

I was reading the Oxford University Press blog which had interesting book suggestion; A Better Pencil Readers Writers and the Digital Revolution by Dennis Baron. It makes the argument that people are already becoming writers because of computers, so it is almost a moot point on whether or not it is particularly wonderful writing.

I spent some time talking to people about a poetry program I am working on for April 10, 2010. I am going to try a Saturday afternoon this time. I also think that I will have more local people interested in this kind of program now.

On the way home, I read some more of The New How. It is describing how there is more than enough information out there for strategy, it is easy to get information. Now, it is more important to get people to act on ideas than create new ones. Basically to collaborate and work together. Nilofer Merchant describes something called an "Air Sandwich" where there is a giant fluffy disconnect between people who manage and people who work. The management is on top, air is in the middle, and the line workers are on the bottom. In the middle is a lot of hot air.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Daily Thoughts 3/15/2010

Art and Literature, William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1867)

Daily Thoughts 3/15/2010

Today has been a steady day. We just finished moving the paperbacks and trade paperbacks out of the Fiction room to a new location. It is much easier to use. We have to look at it and make sure that the arrangement is right. I am still doing a little more weeding in the paperbacks.

I am also doing some more weeding in the storage area. I have quite a bit more to do. They are also shifting near this area.

I put in a hold for The Crucible of Empire by K.D. Wentworth and Eric Flint. It is a sequel to The Course of Empire. I rather liked the premise to the first book in the series; earth is conquered by more advanced cat like aliens. I am rather fond of Baen books and their military science fiction.

An article from Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore about how having a social media presence increases walk ins from the public.,0,5002932.story . I think this is quite true. There is a direct link between combining social media and meeting people in person.

From Boing Boing article by Cory Doctorow-- The Most Beautiful Bookstore.

On the train home, I read some more of The New How. It focuses on how to strategically combine what people should be doing with why they should be doing it and how they should be doing their work. The goal is to get people to work together to create strategy and goals. The book is not about winning, it is more about working together.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Daily Thoughts 3/14/2010

Still frame from the animated cartoon "Falling Hare" (1943). This short film did not have its copyright renewed by mistake and has fallen in the public domain.

Daily Thoughts 3/14/2010

I read some of the The New How, Creating Business Solutions through Collaborative Strategy by Nilofer Merchant. It is about how to implement strategy. It takes strategy from the concept stage and describes different ways of "how" to implement strategies.

The Time Paradox The New Psychology of Time That Will Change Your Life by Philip Zimbardo and John Boyd

The Time Paradox The New Psychology of Time That Will Change Your Life
by Philip Zimbardo and John Boyd

This book is about changing your perspective on time. It focuses on different views of the past, present, and future. The basic views discussed are Past-negative, Past-positive, Present-fatalistic, Present-hedonistic, Future, and Transcendental future. This is an organization schema which I find interesting, but a bit contrived.

The authors claim that having an overly present view of time can lead to hedonism and low impulse control, having a negative view of the past can create depression and stress, having an overly future orientation can limit your enjoyment of the present. Their goal is to help a person have a more balanced view of time. They claim that time is your most valuable asset because it cannot be recovered.

I liked the idea of a Transcendental future viewpoint, a view that there is more to this world than our current life time, either in the religious or philosophical sense leads to greater happiness. People who believe in god, religion, or have a clear positive philosophy tend to live better lives. This includes ideas like environmentalism, ethics, and a world view embracing hope.

This book does not tell you how to manage your time. It helps you think about and unveil what your own viewpoints on time are. The authors give several questionnaires and exercises to make you think about planning for the future, how you see your place in time, creating goals, and have an inventory on time to complete; the ZPTI (Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory).

This book is written for a general audience. It is a popular psychology title. There is an extensive bibliography and index. I enjoyed reading it. There was quite a bit to think about.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Daily Thoughts 3/12/2010

Portrait of Palmer Cox : Frontispiece Frontier Humor, Chicago: Donohue, Henneberry, c.1900

Daily Thoughts 3/12/2010

Today has been extra busy. We had an extra group of people show up which required a little extra work, but it went well. I checked the displays and read two copies of the New York Times book review. We are buying most of the material in the book review. I also showed a film today. Today was quite busy.

I finished reading The Time Paradox today. The book is mainly about how we view time focusing on the past, present, and future. It reminds us not to be too hedonistic in the present, lose track of what is important by focusing too much on the future, and hold extremely negative views about the past. This is not about how to manage time, but how to view and reflect on time and what it means to you.

I am about to start reading the New How Creating Business Solutions Through Collaborative Strategy by Nilofer Merchant. It is published by O'Reilly books. I rather like the way O'Reilly formats their books. They have an excellent grasp of layout and graphics in their books.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Daily Thoughts 3/11/2010

La Grammaire (1892) by Paul Serusier, 71.5 x 92 cm, Musée d'Orsay

Daily Thoughts 3/11/2010

It is quiet and rainy outside. I mostly relaxed today. I read some more of the Time Paradox. It has been a quiet day.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Daily Thoughts 3/11/2010

The Reader, plaster statuette by Jules Dalou, circa 1871- 1879. Petit Palais Museum Collection, Paris. Photographed between 1902 and 1904.

Daily Thoughts 3/11/2010

We had a person over from the system to explain Overdrive for us which provides a variety of ebooks and downloads. They also showed us the itouch which is a internet only version of an apple device, a sony reader, a mp3 player, and a toshiba netbook. The netbook seemed to be the most complete of the inexpensive internet devices. It ran around $300. It is a little smaller than a laptop.

We looked at a variety of formats of ebooks, varying from Adobe epub, to the propietary apple download format. We should be getting a link to ebooks fairly soon. I am looking forward to it. I might take a look and see if there is anything which is worth downloading. We are also going to do a session on Microsoft Publisher.

The one thing which impressed me most about digital rights management part of Overdrive for libraries is the amount of software which people had to download to use the ebooks as well as all the extensive agreements which you have to click accept before using a digital book. It seemed quite long and complicated. Hopefully, they will streamline this in the future. It is much easier to just download a book for free from Creative Commons or Project Gutenberg.

Today has been fairly quiet. I checked the displays and checked on the shifting of the paperbacks. They probably will be done with the paperbacks in the next couple of days. I also spent some time going over how the projector works for a film on Saturday.

There are a couple more books on my desk, The New How Creating Business Solutions Through Collaborative Strategy by Nilofer Merchant and A Reader on Reading by Alberto Manguel. I am particular fond of Alberto Manguel's writing. I enjoyed reading his last book, The Library At Night.

I read some more of The Time Paradox. They are writing about the different advantages and disadvantages of having a future orientation, present orientation, and past focused orientation. Sometimes, I find it enjoyable to just relax and be in the present. The Time Paradox was Library Journal best book of the year in 2008.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Daily Thoughts 3/10/2010

Statue of Aesop, Art Collection of Villa Albani, Roma I-V Century A.D. Aesop was considered a philosopher by the Greeks and Romans.

Daily Thoughts 3/10/2010

Today has been another quiet day. I checked the displays and looked at the shifting project. They moved the romance paperbacks today. It is moving along nicely.

The public catalogs are down today. This puts some limits on what we can do. I am waiting for my certificate of completion for my collection development class.

There is a movie, Bright Star coming out on dvd about the short life of the poet John Keats and his love Fanny Brawne which we are getting. It looks like something worth watching.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Daily Thoughts 3/9/2010

2002 Tunisian stamp picturing a mosaic of Publius Vergilius Maro (Virgil). This mosaic is over 1700 years old. It is in a Roman villa in Tunisia.

Daily Thoughts 3/9/2010

Today, I checked the displays to make sure they were in order. I also made sure we had a sign up sheet for the poetry program. The shifting of the fiction collection is moving along nicely. Our computers are being worked on toady.

I made a few adjustments to my orders for tomorrow and read the latest issue of Booklist.

Last night, I finished reading Jack Campbell, The Lost Fleet Relentless. It was engrossing towards the end. It starts out slow then builds quickly. Right now, I am reading The Time Paradox The New Psychology of Time That Will Change Your Life by Philip Zimbardo and John Boyd. It is a book about different ways to view time and orientations towards time.

I have another book which looks quite interesting sitting in front of me, Reading in the Brain by Stanislas Dehaene. This book is about the neuroscience and invention of reading. I am hoping it gives some interesting insights.

On the train home I read some of The Time Paradox. I learned a few things, I am future oriented with a focus on transcendence after death. I don't view past experience in a positive light and I am not fatalistic or deterministic in my outlook. I believe in choice and free will. This is pretty much true. The name of the inventory was called the ZTPI ( Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory). I find psychological inventories entertaining and sometimes useful.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Daily Thoughts 3/8/2010

Paul Alexis Reading a Manuscript to Zola, 1869, Paul Cezanne, Oil On Canvas, Sao Paolo Museum of Art

Daily Thoughts 3/8/2010

Today has been a quiet day. I did some weeding in the mezzanine. We had a service meeting to discuss how our collection is going. I also made sure that the displays were updated and read the latest copy of the New York Times Book Review.

The Web 2.0 Libraries conference I planned to attend was cancelled for March 16, 2010. It was a bit disappointing. I am going to see if I can go to a workshop at the New York Librarians Meetup instead.

I am reading more of The Lost Fleet, Relentless by Jack Campbell. Captain Geary has come back from a hundred years of cold sleep to find the battle between the republic and the syndics rages on interminably. The syndics are corporate syndicate controlled worlds. I am enjoying it so far. There are losses, intrigue, and ruthless warfare.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Daily Thoughts 3/7/2010

Shakespeare's funerary monument (part), Holy Trinity Church, Stratford Upon Avon, England.

Daily Thoughts 3/7/2010

I took a break today. Sometimes you have to do it.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Daily Thoughts 3/6/2010

Mark Twain's De Lotgevallen van Tom Sawyer, Nederlandse Vertaling 1920

Daily Thoughts 3/6/2010

I went to my local library today and picked up a copy of Jack Campbell, The Lost Fleet: Relentless. It is military space opera. Hopefully, it will be entertaining. It is nice to take a break from intellectual pursuits sometimes.

I also picked up a copy of Measuring Your Library's Value How To Do A Cost Benefit Analysis for Your Public Library by Donald S. Elliott, Glen E. Holt, Sterling W. Hayden, and Leslie Edmond's Holt. Something I've noticed is that in our library system, most of the branches keep books on librarianship in reference or as part of a special collection in the library. In both Queens Library and Manhattan they allow books on librarianship to circulate.

The Mindful Path to Self Compassion Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions by Christopher K. Germer, Ph.D.

The Mindful Path to Self Compassion Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions by Christopher K. Germer, Ph.D.

Christopher Germer is writing a book that combines buddhism, meditation, and psychology. While it includes buddhist practices, there is little preaching. In some ways, the book mirrors the concept of a higher power in alcoholics anonymous where the practitioner is asked to believe in a higher power, but not necessarily a religious one.

Librarians often run into issues surrounding this material. Sometimes we are asked to find books on meditation for example, but not religious meditation, or yoga, but not with a religious element.

The meditation exercises are focused on accepting emotions, self compassion, and "loving kindness." This is not a self help book in the traditional sense. It is more focused on self acceptance than self improvement.

I read the book much faster than the author would have wanted me to. This book is meant to be used over a length of time. The meditative exercises in this book take time to do. Some of them are not easy. Because this is a book of practices, the person using it will get as much out of it as they put into it.

Some of the types of exercises are walking meditation, breathing exercises, repeated phrases, and keeping a journal of your emotions. Christopher K. Germer combines meditation with emotions.

In addition to exercises, the author includes psychological research and neuroscience. You could call this book a book of complementary psychology, much like complementary medicine combines traditional medicine with alternative practices. Some of the concepts I liked were the "hedonic treadmill", and changes in brain function associated with long term meditative or religious practices.

The author is a Clinical Instructor of Psychology at Harvard and a founding member of the Institute for Meditation and Psychology.

There are several appendixes, extensive notes with citations from prominent journals, and an index.

The Marketplace of Ideas Reform and Resistance in the American University by Louis Menand

The Marketplace of Ideas Reform and Resistance in the American University by Louis Menand Louis Menand is critiquing the concept of a liberal education in todays world. He is doing this from the point of view of a professor inside the university system. The book is focused on what happened in fairly recent history.

There is a lot on the production and dissemination of knowledge. This is focused on teaching and research. Libraries are not that well covered in this book. There is more about the creative process of selecting what will be taught inside a university. A liberal education is often thought of as a way to teach people how to learn and grow on their own.

Louis Menand covers recent ideas; interdisciplinary education, the focus and creation of humanities degrees, and common beliefs of professors. Some of it is quite topical: the liberal bias in the professorship and how students are chosen based on the needs of the university are gone over.

This book is a quality title. It is a professor writing for a more general audience. The book is part of a larger series called Issues of Our Time edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Daily Thoughts 3/5/2010

"La Liseuse" - Pastel drawing of painter's second daughter, Louise, aged 19. Charles Louis Gratia (1815-1911), Photograph by Herve Piraud.

Daily Thoughts 3/5/2010

Good morning. Today is another quiet day. I designed a few flyers for programs I am planning on doing; a poetry program, a film, and the graphic novels club. These are programs which I like doing and are not that hard to do. I also designed a larger 11" x 17" flyer for Women's History month which is March. I am looking at the graphic novels bookmark which was just printed up for me.

This afternoon, I did some more weeding in the mezzanine. Things are moving steadily along. Pretty soon, the paperbacks are going to be moved as well. This has been a very large project. There is still a lot to think about.

On the way home, I read some more of The Mindful Path to Self Compassion. It reminds us that the self help movement is often based on the concept of self perfectionism. There never seems to be a point where you are good enough, happy enough, or healthy enough in many self help books. I like to think it is alright to sometimes just relax and be yourself. I am almost finished reading the book.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Daily Thoughts 3/4/2010

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, directed by Tim Burton and starring Mia Wasikowska as Alice and Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, opens this Friday, March 5.

Daily Thoughts 3/4/2010

Today has been quiet and steady. I have had a chance to print up my suggested orders for the meeting today. I also checked on the shifting. They moved the African American fiction and the urban fiction to a new location today. Things are moving along. I did some more weeding in the mezzanine and worked a bit on the a Women's History month display. I'll finish working on a flyer tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I think they are going to send a pdf certificate for the completion of my online course, Fundamentals of Collection Development and Management. If you are not a member of ALA Connect and are a member of the American Library Association, I recommend you should join the social network. We used it for the class and many committees of the American Library Association use it for committee work.

On the way home, I read some more of The Mindful Path to Self Compassion. I am a rather driven person. Some of the concepts in the book are new to me. I learned that there is another reaction to stress other than the fight or flight response; it is the tend and befriend response. Some people when stressed look for allies or tend to their family. I rather liked this idea. Also, there is quite a bit on how to take care of your own emotions; basically how to like yourself better and be less hard on yourself. There is quite a bit on both loving kindness meditation, a form of buddhist meditation focusing on being compassionate to other people, and mindfulness meditation. The author combines with psychology.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Daily Thoughts 3/3/2010

Interior view of Appleton’s Bo... Digital ID: 809788. New York Public Library

Interior View of Appleton's Bookstore, 346 & 348 Broadway, New York, 1856

Daily Thoughts 3/3/2010

Tonight is the final chat for Fundamentals of Collection Development and Management on the ALA Connect site. I am looking forward to finishing the course.

Today I spent time trying out the ordering system for Book Wholesalers Inc.. I am finding Title Tales to be quite convenient and easy to use. Right now, I am preparing for tomorrows ordering meeting. I have quite a bit to discuss. I'll probably have to make some adjustments to the process. I had time to read an issue of Publishers Weekly, but not a whole lot else.

I learned that some university libraries are lending out pre-loaded kindles. They are quite popular. They do go out of the building. I just am surprised because of the value of the item in question. It would be like letting a laptop circulate outside of a library. I learned that the patron makes requests for what books will be loaded onto the kindle before it is circulated. It is a very interesting idea.

Our final discussion in the Fundamentals of Collection Development and Management was on displays and marketing. I learned that some libraries are able to pull images from their catalog of the new books which they have recently added.

Apparently this is done with SIRSI which is the system we are currently using. These images are being displayed on library web pages. This makes sense. All of the books in the public catalog include an image with them. We should be able to pull these for display on a web page.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Daily Thoughts 3/2/2010

Thomas Mann [1875 - 1955], Deutscher Schriftsteller, 1904

Daily Thoughts 3/2/2010

On the way to work, I read some of The Mindful Path to Self Compassion. There is a little bit of neuroscience and psychology in the book. There is a place in the brain called the "default network" which is a state of the mind being at rest. It is supposed to be more active in those people who meditate. I also like that it covers the concept of the "hedonic treadmill." This is the idea that when you reach a goal you will most likely want more continuously. The book includes short summaries of different ideas from psychology that can impact us directly.

Today, I did some more weeding in the 800s as well as weeding in the storage section. I also checked on how shifting is going. It is moving along. I also checked the displays to see that they are in order.

We are going to be ordering books on Thursday. I am also gathering information for the bimonthly report. I also had a few minutes to read the bulletin boards from the online class Fundamentals of Collection Development and Management. Most of the libraries in the class do an annual usage survey for collection development.

I took some time and went through the Purchase Alerts which we get a list of titles which are requested for holds, our patron request sheet which we keep at the reference desk, and a request sheet for items which we send to the book mobile once a month. We got a request for music that was only available online in the mp3 format, it was jazz by Stephen Ehret.

On the train home, I read some more of The Mindful Path to Self Compassion. A lot of the book is specific meditation techniques that are focused on emotions and how to accept them. I rather liked the description of walking meditation. Appendix A can be found online, It is a list of some 800 different words for emotions.

There is something which I do not discuss that often. There is separation between church and state and the public library is very much a public institution. This means we are not supposed to promote a specific religion or a specific political cause like a political party at the library. This makes it rather interesting writing about a book which has it roots in buddhist meditation practices.

However, we are at the same time, supposed to buy books on religion, politics, and philosophy. This means in practice we are inclusive in our selection of materials, trying not to exclude different viewpoints. It can be very interesting. How does one judge the quality of one of these types of books without judging the particular viewpoint. Do we rely on the quality of the writing? Are we supposed to focus on members of the religion or philosophy writing about it from their own viewpoint? Do we look for someone who writes in a neutral purely factual tone?

For a while I worked in the central division of a large public library ordering a lot of material on non western religion and mysticism. I don't read it as much as I used to. You settle into your own ideas after a while.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Daily Thoughts 3/1/2010 (The Marketplace of Ideas)

This set of images was gathered by User:Dcoetzee from the National Portrait Gallery, London website using a special tool. All images in this batch have been evaluated manually for evidence that the artist probably died before 1939, or that the work is anonymous or pseudonymous and was probably published before 1923. Pseudonymous, circa 1900.

Daily Thoughts 3/1/2010

I finished reading Louis Menand, The Marketplace of Ideas. Another interesting concept came up reading this book, the idea of academic freedom in universities. Academic freedom tends to protect the individual professors beliefs. In contrast in libraries, there is intellectual freedom. The American Library Association focuses on the freedom to read which is focused on texts. It tends to protect the work more than the individual providing the work. This is partially because librarians usually don't create the works they are providing.

This work creates a nice contrast in my understanding of the creation of ideas. Libraries are storehouses of knowledge. Universities tend to focus more on creating and producing knowledge than storing knowledge. This book has made me think.

On the way home from the dentist, I read some of The Mindful Path to Self Compassion Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions. This is a book which combines meditation with psychology. The author, Christopher K. Germer, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and a founding member of the institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy. There are often religious or spiritual aspects which combine with psychology.

Last night, I took a break from deep thought and watched Scooby Doo and The Samurai Sword. It is a new release. I rather liked the older version of Scooby Doo better. It reminds me of when I was a kid. Shaggy and Scooby seem to me to a bit like Abbot and Costello. It is a way to stop thinking too much. We get a lot of people who come in and check out dvds to just relax and not think too much.