Thursday, December 30, 2010

Links and Stuff: December 30, 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

YouTube Tuesday: Living

The Library from openiris on Vimeo.

If I lived in my library, I would sleep on top of a row of book carts a la Snow White.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Book 46: Doing Social Media So it Matters

Doing Social Media So It Matters: A Librarian's Guide (Ala Editions-Speical Reports)TITLE: Doing Social Media So It Matters: A Librarian's Guide
AUTHOR: Laura Solomon
STARTED: December 20, 2010
FINISHED: December 22, 2010
GENRE: Library Science

FIRST SENTENCE: On June 19, 2009, at approximately 4:00pm, the world changed for public libraries in Ohio.

SUMMARY: [From] Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn: it s difficult enough to keep abreast of social media Web sites, let alone understand how they fit into today s library. This practical resource brings together current information on the topic in a concise format that s easy to digest. Laura Solomon is a librarian with more than a decade of experience in Web development, design, and technology, and her timely guide:
  • Provides context on the social media phenomenon
  • Offers practical advice on how libraries can choose, use, and monitor these tools effectively
  • Identifies additional resources and best practices
Solomon has written a unique, to-the-point guidebook for those ready to jump into the deep end of the pool and commence or improve their library s tweeting, posting, and friending.

THOUGHTS: This is a short book, but it is mighty. I started reading this during my commute, and finished it during the first leg of my train trip home. Now I really really really really want to draft a project proposal to do more social media for my library.

If you are a librarian (or library) who is new to the social media game, this book is the most valuable item you can read. Solomon covers how to start (and possibly end) your presence in social media from every possible angle. The good, the bad, and the ugly are all contained in this slim volume. Solomon even thinks to cover such things as how to win over colleagues, social capital, and return on investment.

The book is laid out in a few simple chapters to help guide n00bs through social media. She includes examples of how to do things right and shows you when things have gone wrong. In addition, there are several charts and graphs that break down the content into quick recaps which serve as helpful reminders to those going back to the book.

Beware, Solomon may cause you to become hyper at the prospect of a library Twitter account.

RATING: 8/10 [Terrific]

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Book 45: The Library PR Handbook

TITLE: The Library PR Handbook: High-Impact Communications
AUTHOR: Mark R. Gould (ed.)
STARTED: December 1, 2010
FINISHED: December 17, 2010
PAGES: 113
GENRE: Library Science

FIRST SENTENCE: [From the Introduction] Forward-thinking communicators have a lot on their minds these days.

SUMMARY: [From] Edited by ALA’s director of the Public Information Office, these 14 chapters provide ideas and inspiration from talented communicators on subjects both traditional (op-eds, reports, public service announcements) and technological (podcasts, gaming, RSS feeds). In addition to familiar topics, such as branding, there are chapters on values-based approaches, building partnerships, and more. Tips, examples, and illustrations help enliven the discussions. Capturing the experience of seasoned PR experts who are familiar with or active in libraries, the book is easy to read and very positive. It will help the reader to take maximum advantage of technology while honing traditional communication skills. The chapters on effective multicultural communications and affordable podcasts in particular should be useful.

THOUGHTS: I really need to find a way to work more library PR, outreach, and advocacy into my current job. This is a great book for librarians seeking ideas and guidance regarding library PR. Public relations is a complex and ongoing activity. Gould has collected a great series of essays that serve to teach the reader basic PR skills as well as give them real world examples of how libraries have successfully employed PR.

My main gripe with this book was the organization; it made no sense – at least to me. I think the “entry level” PR lessons should have been placed in the front with the more advanced and/or detailed real world stories coming later. Instead, what I thought were the two most valuable essays ("Building Public Will for Libraries" and "Building a Community"), bookended the rest of the content.

Organization aside, The Library PR Handbook does a great job of making the reader excited about doing PR, trying some events, and making stronger steps toward outreach.

RATING: 6/10 [Good]

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Holidays!

This time of year
Let's spread some cheer

As we gather together
In all kinds of weather

A chair and a book
(or a Nook)

Can make this season
The number one reason

To share a smile
As you tackle that TBR pile

Happy Holidays!

Picture from: Bookshelf Porn

Friday, December 24, 2010

Book 44: Emma (Volume 4)

Emma, Vol. 4TITLE: Emma (Volume 4)
AUTHOR: Kaoru Mori 
STARTED: December 2, 2010
FINISHED: December 2, 2010
PAGES: 192
GENRE: Graphic Novel


SUMMARY: [From] William's trying his best to be the aristocrat his father and society expect him to be, but behind closed doors, he's spiraling downward because he still can't forget Emma. After his sister Grace suddenly gets feverish, William escorts her very eligible friend Eleanor to the opera. By act two, Eleanor demonstrates how she feels about him in no uncertain terms. Will she make William forget about Emma? Emma, settling in at her new assignment, is shaken by some startling news concerning William.

THOUGHTS: You’re about to get another short review about this series.

I liked the book! I wonder where the series is going to take me.

Have no fear, I have books 5 though 8 (maybe even 9) waiting for me on my nightstand. When I return from my Christmas break, I shall read (and review) them in one chunk.

RATING: 6/10 [Good]

Book 43: First Family

First Family: Abigail and John AdamsTITLE: First Family: Abigail and John Adams
AUTHOR: Joseph J. Ellis
STARTED: November 19, 2010
FINISHED: December 2, 2010
PAGES: 299
GENRE: Non-Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: [From the Preface] My serious interest in the Adams family began twenty, years ago, when I wrote a book about John Adams in retirement, eventually published as Passionate Sage

SUMMARY: [From] Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Ellis (Founding Brothers) gives "the premier husband-wife team in all American history" starring roles in an engrossing romance. His Abigail has an acute intellect, but is not quite a protofeminist heroine: her ambitions are limited to being a mother and helpmeet, and in the iconic correspondence she often strikes the traditional pose of a neglected wife who sacrifices her happiness by giving up her husband to the call of duty. The author's more piquant portrait of John depicts an insecure, mercurial, neurotic man stabilized by Abigail's love and advice. Ellis's implicit argument--that the John/Abigail partnership lies at the foundation of the Adams family's public achievements--is a bit over-played, and not always to the advantage of the partnership: "Her judgment was a victim of her love for John…," Ellis writes of Abigail's support for the Alien and Sedition Acts, the ugliest blot on John's presidency, all of which explains little and excuses less. Still, Ellis's supple prose and keen psychological insight give a vivid sense of the human drama behind history's upheavals.

THOUGHTS: I have an historical crush on Abigail Adams. She rocks. When I heard an NPR interview with Joseph Ellis about First Family I added it to my hold list at the library. As luck would have it, the book was ready for me right before Thanksgiving break. So, I picked up my copy, traveled home, and read chapters in between chatting with my family and stuffing my face with pie (and orange glazed carrots).

Ellis has written books about John Adams in the past, but this work focuses on the relationship the founding father had with his wife. John and Abigail sent hundreds of letters to one another chronicling their life from courtship to death. Ellis uses these letters to create a highly readable narrative about how these two people fit into their time and with each other.

In his writing, Ellis lays out a chronology using the letters to demonstrate his usual historical research. While Ellis admits we can’t know everything about this couple, their letters speak for themselves and, often, need no interpretation. (Side note: I’ve been told the anthology of both Adams’ letters are incredibly interesting but can be difficult to read for long stretches.) I think Ellis takes the best of the letters, places them in context, and lets the reader make their own opinion about the people and their intentions. It’s all a marvelous lesson in history, wedded life, and trails of separation.

John and Abigail were a dynamic couple. They shared incredible highs and lows which alone would make for an interesting tale. The fact that Adams saw himself as a chief architect of a new society and government serves to heighten the drama. Abigail was with him (pushing him, in fact) the whole way. I shall not recount all the new information I learned because the book does a fine job of recreating history for the reader.

First Family is not a perfect book. The text contains several stretches of drawn out facts or explanatory narrative that takes a while to plod through. Along with those instances, Ellis repeats himself several times. The author is a man who loves research and who loves to talk about his research. I would enjoy dinner conversation with Ellis, but I do wish he had kept some of his comments to a minimum. On the whole, however, this is a fantastic work of historical research told as an absorbing story.

My historical crush on Abigail continues. She rocks.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Variations on a Theme: Home

Right now, I am sitting on a couch, drinking mulled cider, watching Harry Potter, and poking my little brother to annoy him. I love being home for the holidays. Here are some books that talk about all the ways we can be home.

At Home: A Short History of Private LifeAt Home: A Short History of Private Life
Bill Bryson

Bryson lives in an old Victorian house. Through his inside journeys, he discovers the world that exists in his home. The book encompasses a "history of the world" without ever leaving the house. What Bryson creates is a narrative about the evolution of private life.

Home: A NovelHome
Marilynne Robinson

For most, home is not a concept of place but the feeling of people - family in particular. In this book, Robinson delivers a meditative novel about family, secrets, and the passing of generations. Home is immersed in spirituality and familial tradition with a heavy dose of sentimentality.

Immoveable Feast: A Paris Christmas (P.S.)
Immoveable Feast: A Paris Christmas
John Baxter

One of the most pervasive aspects of home and family is the sharing and eating of food. Sitting down for family meals, even if only for special occasions, is a global activity. In this book, which I adored, Baxter recreates the meal he makes for his French family. Laden with rich memories, decadently descriptive cuisine, and familiar family stories, Immoveable Feast is a gem of a book.

Walden (Concord Library)Walden
Henry David Thoreau

Walden is a famous work by a great American author about a different concept of home. Thoreau lived for a time in a small house by a lake in Massachusetts. The author wanted to see what it was like to live away from society. The book collects his thoughts and insights on what it means to be home on one's own.

Alex T. Smith

I'm yoinking this description from the website because it's perfect - "Once there was a house, a house that was a home. A warm and humorously illustrated picture book that proves home is where the heart is of five best friends who go there separate ways. But quickly realize there's no place like home."

Holidays on IceHolidays on Ice
David Sedaris

Home is not perfect. Nothing ever is. But home and the family that may come with it, can sometimes be downright aggravating. Sedaris recants some humorous tales of his family's idiosyncrasies that seem to be highlighted around the holidays.

Other Home Titles:
Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours - Dorie Greenspan
Built from Scratch: How a Couple of Regular Guys Grew the Home Depot from Nothing to $30 Billion - Arthur Black and Bernie Marcus
Falling Home - Karen White
Family: The Ties that Bind... and Gag - Erma Bombeck
Goodnight Moon - Margaret Wise Brown
The Home: It's Work and Influence - Charlotte Perkins Gilman
The House in the Night - Susan Marie Swanson
Life Would be Perfect if I Lived in that House - Meghan Daum
The Nature of Home: A Lexicon of Essays - Lisa Knopp
Nest for Celeste: A Story About Art, Inspiration, and the Meaning of Home - Henry Cole
No Place Like Home - Fern Michaels
Through the Children's Gate: A Home in New York - Adam Gopnik
Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love, and the Search for Home - Kim Sunee
Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy - Frances Mayes

Links and Stuff: December 23, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Useful Things: Postponed

Sorry for the short Useful Things today. I am traveling home for the holidays today.

If you're traveling by plane, you can check the FAA's Flight Delay Information website to see the status of your plane. Pick an airport or region and see if you can expect to be on time today.

For more detailed information you can always check a previous Useful Thing - Flight Stats.

Safe travels to all!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Was it bad customer service?

I was reading DCist the other day, and this little gem appeared in the Overheard in DC posting.

If you shush, they win
On the 16J bus from Pentagon to Culmore:
Man 1: "[Name] is not a cool person, man. Librarians are the worst people. The Taliban and Librarians -- in that order."
Man 2: "Daaaaamn!"

I have to wonder what happened to cause this sentiment.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

YouTube Tuesday: Avalanche!

It's an extremely busy time at the library. During exam week (and a few days before and after), all the books that were checked out over the semster are returned in a massive avalanche. In order to maintain my sanity, I amuse myself after work with cute videos.

Ah, library cats.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Links and Stuff: December 9, 2010