Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Pimp My Bookcart

Pimp My Bookcart

X to tha Z....

Xzibit! I bet rapper Xzibit never thought his MTV show "Pimp my Ride" would inspire a bunch of librarians who all read the same comic strip ("Unshelved") to pimp their own vehicles... their bookcarts. First I will explain that the word "pimp" here has nothing to do with pandering of any sort.

Pimp (verb)- to embellish, augment, decorate, and/or otherwise improve.

On "Pimp my Ride," Mr. Xzibit pimps various and sundry junky cars. Every library employee knows a junky bookcart. (I have an ongoing battle with one in particular which has an issue with a wheel which completely falls off at inopportune times. Not cool.) Thus, the premise of this comic strip. This inspired two contests, one which took place in June 2007 and another in November of the same year. June 2007's winner was "Pink Cadillac" and November 2007's was "What Can Brown Do For You?" Never far behind on the library bandwagon, Norman, Oklahoma's Public Library is featuring appropriately "pimped" bookcarts in this year's Christmas parade. The parade will include an elf, Santa Claus, and fancy schmancy bookcarts. Merry Christmas!

This video will explain the pimping of bookcarts better than I ever could...

Monday, November 26, 2007

There's a Wiki for Everything...

I was playing around today and ran across WikiHow. It's really useful, it tells you how to do everything. Here are some really detailed instructions on how to fix a book's binding.

There are all sorts of awesome how-to's on this wiki. My favorite, though is How to be a Rodeo Queen. Who knew it was important that the soles of your boots be black? Maybe that's why I've never been a rodeo queen.


RFID and Me

I made this video about RFID technology in the library for my class on Web-Based Information Systems. Looking back on it, I had a good time doing it, but it sure has stressed me out this semester! My friend Laura is the lovely actress. Check out her Oscar-worthy performance:


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Day is the official kick-off of the holiday season. It's actually cold now, and the stores can legitimately play Christmas carols, even though they have been for weeks. During the holidays, people make it a point to be more charitable to and mindful of those less fortunate. Hunger is an especially popular cause during this season. Kelly Clarkson sang in front of two giant Salvation Army shields during halftime the Dallas Cowboys' Thanksgiving Day Game against the New York Jets. The library where I work even conducted a creative canned food drive last week: bring in cans and we'll erase your fines. I found a website which is the perfect marriage of my being somewhat of a logophile and my desire to help those less fortunate:

For each correctly answered vocabulary question, the site's advertisers purchase 10 grains of rice to be distributed by the United Nations. Impress your friends with your brilliant vocabulary and help stop world hunger. Now that's fun. I'm going to go play now.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Patron vs. Customer

This blog's title reminds me of that movie Alien vs. Predator, or maybe something from MTV's Celebrity Deathmatch. Unfortunately, neither one of those things are what I'm going to ramble about today, but I will try and make this as interesting as possible.

The driving force of any library is its users. An institution exists solely to serve and educate the people who avail themselves of it. This is a known fact in the library world. So, why do information professionals have such difficulty agreeing on what to call the people who make use of library services? Should they be patrons or customers? In order to discern whether library users should be referred to as patrons or customers, we turn to the always helpful dictionary.com for the precise definitions of the word customer and the word patron.

Customer- A person who purchases goods or services from one another; buyer; patron.

Ah-ha, the word "purchase" is included in the definition. This clearly implies a monetary exchange. I know I feel a twinge of sadness when someone asks me how much it costs to get a library card. The sadness is quickly replaced by a warm fuzzy feeling when I get to tell the person that "Library cards are FREE!" We do not want anyone thinking library services cost anything, right? So, why would we call them "customers," when clearly a "customer" is a "buyer." But wait, dictionary.com also says that patron and customer are synonymous. This will be harder than I thought.

Patron- 1.) a person who is a customer, client, or paying guest, especially a regular one, of a store, hotel, or the like.

Oh dear, this definition doesn't only imply monetary exchage, it explicitly says "paying guest." In addition, a library is in no way analogous to a "store" or a "hotel." Maybe patron isn't the way to go after all. There are more definitions to look at before we conclude, though.

2.) a person who supports with money, gifts, efforts, or endorsements and artist, writer, museum, cause, charity, special event, or the like.

By this definition, library users would not be patrons at all, but Friends of the Library members and volunteers would be. Also, library donors would be patrons, but we certainly don't want to imply that a donation is required to use the library.

3.) a person whose support or protection is solicited or acknowledged by the dedication of a book or other work.

That definition is no help at all in this case.

When I began to write this, I was convinced that patron was the correct way to refer to those who use library services for the simple reason that it did not insinuate that any charges applied to the use of the library. However, now I am pretty sure that neither one is very good for the reasons previously stated. I am still partial to patron, though, because I think it sounds more old-fashioned and just plain nicer than customer. Perhaps "user" would be the best way to go, though, since it is neutral. The only thing I am still sure of is that the library exists for the people who use it, no matter how we refer to them.

Monday, November 5, 2007


In my reference course, we just completed our (brief) overview of the portion of the practice of librarianship which is known as Readers' Advisory. This seems fairly simple, you just tell people what's good to read, right? Wrong. It involves a rather intricate interview, and is a sort of trial and error discipline. After all, you aren't recommending books to your best friend (that's easy!), you're dealing with a total stranger.

I was thinking today about the daunting prospect of someday practicing Readers' Advisory myself, and my thoughts led me to America's most recognizable readers' advisor, Oprah Winfrey. I have been reading books selected by Oprah's Book Club since middle school, and I have never read one that wasn't phenomenal. I have never begun one of her selections, only to put it down because I found something better to read. How does she do it? Of course she doesn't do it herself, she has countless drones (I mean, Harpo employees) reading round the clock to find novels with the perfect balance of readable high-brow literature, emotional intelligence, and timely social issues that will appeal to the entire country. On her website, there is no list of the criteria they use to pick the books or even a mention of how they go about it, only a list of darn good books. (However they do it, I'm sure it's a fantastic job, one that I would love to have!) If you need something to read, go herefor ideas:

It seems to me that libraries don't use the resource they have in Oprah enough. I'm sure that library sponsored book groups read her books frequently, but I have never heard of a library printing her selections on a bookmark or flyer for people to take along while browsing. Or what about pulling all of her recommendations for a display. That would boost the circ stats, because people love Oprah, whether they admit it or not.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Red Boots and Cake Forks

In my career as a reader, I have sampled many different genres and types of fiction. Charles Bukowski's gin-soaked poetry, Cormac McCarthy's bloody westerns, and Richard Brautigan's deceptively simple stories have been my favorites. However, I have never ventured into the (usually pink) books labeled "chick lit," until I stumbled upon Rosie Little. I suspect, though, that Ms. Little is a character a bit more to my taste than the personality known as "Shopaholic," for she is a quirky, bookish young career woman who presides, along with her keen wit, over Danielle Wood's collection of short stories entitled "Rosie Little's Cautionary Tales for Girls." Also, I suspect that perhaps "chick lit" is not an apt classification for this delightful book, since (I think, though I'm not entirely sure) it would imply that Wood's stories are the sort of fluff intended to pass the time for those logging tedious hours working on their tans.

All of the "cautionary tales" in this book are not about Rosie Little herself, though she moderates them, occasionally interjecting a "word from Rosie Little" which is sure to be an intelligent and intuitive musing on some aspect of what it means to be a gutsy, smart young woman of the type to get a Brazilian bikini wax or board a plane dressed in full bridal regalia. Rosie Little is a spunky version of Little Red Riding Hood for 2007, if Little Red Riding Hood had constantly harped on the importance of nominitave determinism, the overuse of the word "eclectic," or spouted off the Latin translation of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" while dodging not just one wolf but many assorted dangerous and dicey situations involving someone or something not to be trusted. She is full of good advice not intended for "good and well-behaved girls who always stick to the path when they go to Grandma's." "Know when to use the cake fork" is my favorite bit of wisdom from Rosie, who does a much better job than I ever could of explaining it.

Every female over the driving age (Rosie is deliciously risquet at times) will identify with some aspect of the character of Rosie Little on a deep level. For example, a courageous, sixteen year old Rosie ventures abroad alone at which time she purchases a pair of knee-high, cherry red Doc Martens which stay with her through the rest of the book, her allies through thick and thin. Every woman has a favorite accessory or article of clothing which stand to her as a symbol of power and comfort, if only due to mere familiarity. Rosie Little's red boots remind me of my own battered black Doc Martens, which have been with me for eight years through countless good and bad experiences and are doubtless "boots as stout as [my own] heart." Danielle Wood's "Rosie Little's Cautionary Tales for Girls" is a book which will undoubtedly stay with me just as long as my ten eyelet jump boots have.

Wood, Daniel. Rosie Little's Cautionary Tales for Girls. MacAdam Cage, San Francisco, 2007.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

My Wiki Edit Assignment...

For my wiki edit assignment, I plan to write a review and add it to Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki at http://http://libsuccess.org/index.php?title+Main_Page

This is what the page I will be editing looks like now http://http://libsuccess.org/index.php?title=The_Practicing_Librarians%27_Book_Reviews and I will be posting a link after I edit it later in the month.

I will likely review a teen book, but I may choose a work of historical fiction, horror, or a non-fiction book dealing with ancient history or language.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Another way to celebrate... "Howl Against Censorship"

Check this out. The fiftieth anniversary of the decision that Allen Ginsberg's poem Howl is a work of artistic value and is not obscene is marked with the poem's being censored yet again. The New York radio station was merely intimidated by the threat of massive fines imposed by the FCC, and thus agreed to broadcast it in a program to air only online. Read the article, and then listen to Ginsberg himself read the poem. It will be good for you.


"Heather Has Two Mommies..."


I guess there really isn't any such thing as a politically innocent children's book! This video, although it's somewhat in jest, is a good one for Banned Books Week. This is a time when we are supposed to be reflecting on the freedom of us all to read, create, and disseminate whatever information we want. This video from Jon Stewart's The Daily Show reminds us of that.


This is ALA's information on their annual Banned Books Week, which takes place each autumn to raise awareness about intellectual freedom in America. It explains the difference between a ban and a challenge, how to celebrate BBW virtually, and answers frequently asked questions. I think the most interesting portion of the site is the lists of past challenged books and authors. So many of them are my favorites (Of Mice and Men, To Kill a Mockingbird, James and the Giant Peach) and it makes me a little sad that someone would want to deprive people of these wonderful texts. I'm also really curious as to what on earth was "inappropriate" about Where's Waldo? Come on...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

"I see," said the blind man.

So, it's the third week of class, and I just realized that Web 2.0 isn't just something I have to learn about so that I get a decent grade, it's actually something that is useful and convenient for me in my personal life. (I'm a little slow, I know. Reading this blog too much might turn you into an airhead too, be careful.) It was one of these adorable, cleverly done videos which helped me understand RSS a whole lot better than I did before. Now I see how it can save me time in getting the information I need/want from the web. The video on social bookmarking points out the usefulness of sites like del.icio.us for educators (including teacher librarians!) The wiki explanation is entertaining as well as simple and easy to understand.


Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Ramble, Ramble, Ramble

By now, you all know that I have begun my blogging career as an assignment for a course in web based information services. I have just completed this week's set of readings, which were focused on issues of authorship associated with collaboratively edited, researched, and compiled information sites such as, of course, Wikipedia.
My whole life, I have been one of those people who constantly has knowledge gaps that I feel need to be rectified immediately. My dad used to respond to "Why...?" with "So little girls will ask questions" because my queries were so frequent and often far out of the realm of his expertise. Now that I'm a big girl, I can answer my own questions. Enter Wikipedia. I love it. I use it everyday. Just today, I desperately needed to know the difference between black tie and white tie dress codes. This morning, I used it to determine the nutritional value of cucumbers. I've been using Wikipedia to answer my random questions since about my junior year of undergrad, and it has worked famously. I've always known that its entries should be taken with a grain of salt, as anyone who wants to can change/add/remove information from the entries with incredible ease. I would never use Wikipedia for a source in a formal paper (duh!) but I think perusing it (with a critical eye) for background information prior to beginning research is perfectly acceptable.
However, after completing this week's reading for my class, I am more than a little bit confused about collaboratively edited compilations of information such as Wikipedia. One of the articles was a scathing indictment of Web 2.0 in general written by Michael Gorman, former president of ALA, who was blogging for Encycolpedia Britannica. I couldn't help but think of Steven Colbert's coining of the term "truthiness," to describe something that one knows intuitively, without any formal research from some boring old book. Gorman's blog post warns specifically against what he clearly perceives to be the "truthiness" of Web 2.0. With the advent of Web 2.0 comes the potential for people to post whatever they think they know and pass it off as the truth. To me, it would seem that every text, print or not, must be read critically. The reader is half the text, in other words, the perception of its contents is, in large part, the essence of the text.
I fear I have been rambling, and since I don't really want to stop, I am going to relay a story which has very little to do with the subject at hand. It is fairly amusing though, and does tie in in some way, though I'm not sure how. A couple of years ago, a good friend of mine completed her doctoral work in History of Science and got a job teaching an intro level course in her field to undergraduate juniors and seniors at the state school from which she had just graduated. She got through the fall semester just fine. Her students, thought mostly math and science majors, seemed to grasp the material and had passable writing skills. They all made acceptable grades, and so my friend, a very sweet, bright, academic genius who has some mousy qualities, embarked on the spring semester considerably emboldened by the success of her previous students. This batch of students, however, weren't the scholars that their predecessors had been. When their professor began to grade their final exams, several essays which she had allowed to be completed "take home," she noticed almost immediately that something was rotten in Denmark with this bunch of papers. Not only were huge chunks of text identical from paper to paper, there were obvious font and size differences within the same paper, and (get ready) in many of the papers, the text seemed strangely familiar to the professor. That's right, not only were the papers blatantly plagiarized, but they were taken verbatim from a Wikipedia article on which the professor herself had done an extensive edit. Nineteen of thirty-six final exams were not the student's own work, and most of them had used at least a portion of this Wikipedia article, which caused them not only to be guilty of plagiarism, but of plagiarizing directly from the person grading their work. The material I recently finished reading for my class dealt mainly with the anonymity of Wikipedia as a negative thing. Although the students would have still been caught plagiarizing had it not been the teacher's own work from which they copied, the fact that they were completely unaware of whose ideas and information they were stealing due to the anonymity of Wikipedia, sure makes for a good story.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Here goes nothin...

Greetings Interweb! I suppose I will begin my first ever blog entry by telling you all a little bit about myself. I am twenty-four years old and a second year graduate student in the Library and Information Science program at the University of Oklahoma. I clerk part time at a public library and bartend on Friday nights. I have never blogged before, mainly because I have been in school for the past nineteen straight years, and that leaves little time for anything else. Also, my confidence in my ability to think of anything of substance to post for all the world to see is minimal. However, this semester I am enrolled in a course entitled "Design and Implementation of Web Based Systems." To say that this is out of my comfort zone would be an understatement, although I am willing to give it a try. I like learning new things. Other things I like are old country music, words, good conversation, clothes and shoes, cooking, dogs, Oklahoma history, movies, humor, the band Ween, and my friends and family. I promise that there are more interesting posts to follow, which will deal mainly with the information profession, but will also inevitably include my random musings on other unrelated things...