Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Book 41: Advocacy, Outreach & The Nation's Academic Libraries

TITLE: Advocacy, Outreach & the Nation's Academic Libraries: A Call for Action
AUTHOR:William C. Welburn, Janice Welburn, and Beth McNeil (eds.)
STARTED: October 8, 2010
FINISHED: November 16, 2010
PAGES: 210
GENRE: Library Science

FIRST SENTENCE: [From the preface] Accountability.

SUMMARY: [From Amazon.com] In the current fiscal environment, college and university librarians must clearly articulate their value to the teaching, learning and research missions of their institutions. Advocacy, Outreach and the Nation s Academic Libraries provides a framework for opening dialogue and incorporating advocacy by exploring opportunities for advocacy and focusing on the world of civic engagement as well as the role of librarians as advocates on campus.

In twelve insightful chapters, Advocacy, Outreach and the Nation's Academic Libraries highlights the collaborative nature of advocacy and the importance of seeing opportunities for effective advocacy in a variety of areas. The authors focus on scholarly activity and the production of research, outreach and civic engagement, the adoption of new and emerging technologies, information literacy, service to student populations, diversity and organizational development as potential avenues for libraries to assert their value in their communities. Advocacy, Outreach and the Nation s Academic Libraries stresses the importance of all academic librarians embracing advocacy as a core responsibility.

THOUGHTS: Wow. This book was a lot denser than I expected. In some ways, the essays reminded me of all my reading assignments in graduate school. I’m still not sure if that is a good thing or not.

The whole thesis of this book is to show readers that academic libraries need to develop and maintain a strong advocacy and outreach program. This is a relatively new fad in libraries – despite the fact that we’ve struggled to hold onto our budgets and advertise our services for decades.

This book focuses solely on academic libraries; thus, many of the essays were almost too specialized. Every library is different – different patron population, different collections, and different staff. While the general theses and arguments made in these essays can be broadly incorporated, the finer points were harder to imagine working at all libraries.

If a library has never done advocacy and outreach before, then there are valuable lessons to be learned in these essays.

RATING:6/10 [Good]

Friday, November 26, 2010

Book 40: Emma (Volume 3)

Emma, Vol. 3TITLE: Emma (Volume 3)
AUTHOR: Kaoru Mori
STARTED: November 6, 2010
FINISHED: November 6, 2010
PAGES: 192
GENRE: Graphic Novel

FIRST SENTENCE: I returned this to the library before I remembered to grab the first sentence.

SUMMARY: [From Amazon.com] Emma leaves London behind hoping to start anew elsewhere. With only the vaguest intentions of returning to her birthplace, our fair heroine lucks out by finding a progressive trader family to serve. Not only does she surprise the "downstairs" folk, but also the "upstairs" as well, making a favorable impression on just about everyone, from the lowliest chambermaid to the master and mistress of the house themselves.

Meanwhile, with Emma beyond his reach, the Young Master Jones is doing his best to play the dutiful son; working harder, attending social dates, even doing charity work. This, of course, confuses his sister, Grace, and you can feel the tension and mild cognitive dissonance in her whenever she's in panel... that is, when she's not flustered by a trio of hens clucking away in admiration of her.

THOUGHTS: I’m beginning to think that I should have waited for the whole Emma series to be published so that I could read (and review) the whole story in one swoop. There’s not much to say now. I like the story. I like where the plot seems to be going. I really like the art. Yup. That’s that.

Check back to see if I have any massive revelations after reading volume 4.

RATING: 6/10 [Good]

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Variations on a Theme?

I'm off celebrating with my family today. I will post this month's Variations on a Theme next week.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Links and Stuff: November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Useful Things?

There are no useful things to be found!

Just kidding. I was distracted by cheesecake and completely forgot to find something this week. I'll be back soon with your next useful web tool.


Book 39: American Assassin

American Assassin: A ThrillerTITLE: American Assassin 
AUTHOR: Vince Flynn
STARTED: October 25, 2010
FINISHED: November 6, 2010
PAGES: 448
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: Mitch Rapp stared at his reflection in the dusty, cracked mirror and questioned his sanity.

SUMMARY: [From Amazon.com] Before he was considered a CIA superagent, before he was thought of as a terrorist’s worst nightmare, and before he was both loathed and admired by the politicians on Capitol Hill, Mitch Rapp was a gifted college athlete without a care in the world . . . and then tragedy struck.

Two decades of cutthroat, partisan politics has left the CIA and the country in an increasingly vulnerable position. Cold War veteran and CIA Operations Director Thomas Stansfield knows he must prepare his people for the next war. The rise of Islamic terrorism is coming, and it needs to be met abroad before it reaches America’s shores. Stansfield directs his protege, Irene Kennedy, and his old Cold War colleague, Stan Hurley, to form a new group of clandestine operatives who will work outside the normal chain of command—men who do not exist.

What type of man is willing to kill for his country without putting on a uniform? Kennedy finds him in the wake of the Pan Am Lockerbie terrorist attack. Two-hundred and seventy souls perished that cold December night, and thousands of family and friends were left searching for comfort. Mitch Rapp was one of them, but he was not interested in comfort. He wanted retribution.

Six months of intense training has prepared him to bring the war to the enemy’s doorstep, and he does so with brutal efficiency. Rapp starts in Istanbul, where he assassinates the Turkish arms dealer who sold the explosives used in the Pan Am attack. Rapp then moves onto Hamburg with his team and across Europe, leaving a trail of bodies. All roads lead to Beirut, though, and what Rapp doesn’t know is that the enemy is aware of his existence and has prepared a trap. The hunter is about to become the hunted, and Rapp will need every ounce of skill and cunning if he is to survive the war-ravaged city and its various terrorist factions.

THOUGHTS: Gosh darnit, why do I do this to myself?

It’s no secret that I have not been all that thrilled with the recent Vince Flynn books. I thought, wrongly, that because American Assassin was an origin story, Flynn might go back to his former writing style. Why, Flynn, why do you let me down?

So, Mitch Rapp is an action superhero hell bent on keeping Americans from dying in terrorist attacks. Good for him. That’s a kind of hero I can get behind in these modern days. But the man has become impervious. He doesn’t listen, he just does what he wants, and consequences be damned. And I’ll be darned if he doesn’t come out on top every time. You’d think that Flynn would have wanted to write in some human flaws in the younger version of Rapp. Alas, that was not to be. Rapp is still the smartest, strongest, baddest ass man in the room.


No really, Flynn – you had the chance to make Rapp uber-relatedable by showing how he developed into the kick ass he is today. Readers love a hero who had to develop into a person to meet the needs of the day. But no, you had to take the savior since birth route. I kept waiting to see the kid make a mistake because that’s what novices do – but no, that was not to be. You throw Rapp into many scenarios where he could get shot or at least bruised, but you let him waltz through all these scenarios unscathed, killing all the bad guys along the way.

At this point, I’m so frustrated with Rapp’s bulletproofness that it was almost hard to enjoy the rest of the book. Thank god the secondary characters brought a sense of fullness to this book or else I may have torn my hair out.

And curse myself for knowing that I will read the next book in the series. Now, however, I’ll be rooting for Rapp’s demise. He’s gotta die sometime.

RATING: 5/10 [Meh.]

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

YouTube Tuesday: Butterball

Since I'm on vacation celebrating the holidays with my family, this week's YouTube Tuesday is a bit off topic. (But only kind of.)

I love the West Wing. Here is a fantastic scene where President Bartlett calls the Butterball Hotline.

For those of you in need of turkey cooking advice, the Butterball Hotline does exist. You may contact them at 1-800-Butterball.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Book 38: Journey into Mohawk Country

Journey Into Mohawk CountryTITLE: Journey into Mohawk Country
AUTHOR: H.M. van den Bogaert 
STARTED: October 25, 2010
FINISHED: October 25, 2010
PAGES: 144
GENRE: Graphic Novel

FIRST SENTENCE: [From the introduction] There were hundreds and hundreds of miles of wilderness that white men had yet to claim, let alone see.

SUMMARY: [From Amazon.com] O'Connor, writer and illustrator of the entertaining children's book Kapow! puts pictures to the actual diary entries of Dutch trader Van den Bogaert, who set off through New York's Indian territory in 1634, searching for a source of valuable beaver pelts. More than simply illustrating the account, O'Connor fills it with a new life--expanding on ideas only touched upon, creating action and conflict, and casting some welcome humor into the Dutchman's somewhat dry original commentary. While not exactly fast paced, the odyssey is filled with unusual details and insights about the Native Americans--the frequency of bear meat in their diet, their practice of treating certain illness by vomiting on the patient, their attitudes toward the foreigners. O'Connor himself seems well versed on the subject, and his pictures conjure an authentic sense of a sparse and demanding landscape as they offer a glimpse into a lost culture.

THOUGHTS: This was a fun book. The graphic novel is based on the actual diary writings of H.M. van den Bogaert. There is no added dialogue or storytelling. The character, then, comes through in the art. And that art is fun.

The writings of the diary could be rather dull on their own, but the art combined with the writing actually makes for a rather enjoyable final product. The characters are given individual personalities and even characters with just one appearance seem to have their own attitudes and motives. I particular enjoy how the artist was able to instill a sense of comedic timing to the art.

From one panel to the next there was a sense of rhythm and dynamic tension that kept the story from becoming stale. Journey Into Mohawk Country was a simple book and a quick read, but it was a nice bread from the usual graphic novels I read.

RATING: 6/10 [Good]

Monday, November 22, 2010

Book 37: The Devil's Details

The Devil's Details: A History of FootnotesTITLE: The Devil's Details: A History of Footnotes
AUTHOR: Chuck Zerby
STARTED: October 18, 2010
FINISHED: October 25, 2010
PAGES: 150
GENRE: Books about Books

FIRST SENTENCE: The need for an adequate book on footnotes is obvious.

SUMMARY: [From Amazon.com] Beyond their basic function as a source of information and reference at the bottom of a page, can footnotes be a source of excitement, delight, and surprise? Maybe not in the eyes of most, especially students, novice writers, and some publishers. But Zerby, a former columnist and former dean of campus at Goddard, finds a lot to say, and convincingly so, for footnotes that do more than merely cite sources. He traces footnotes back to the 16th century, relating the story of the first genuine footnote and other trivia, such as a footnote that comprised a whole volume and another that served as the clue to a murder mystery. Alas, footnotes lost prestige when they became endnotes and were relegated to the back of books beginning in the 1950s. The author takes note of their unclear status in the new 21st-century electronic environment. Hardly stuffy or trivial, this is a unique book that is also entertaining, factual, and a good read. As if to live up to its title, this lighthearted but factual small volume has footnotes on nearly every page; there is even one on its cover.

THOUGHTS: Aside from learning the Zerby absolutely adores footnotes, I have no idea what transpired in this book. I read a lot of history, learned a lot of trivia, and could possibly have acquired a philosophical understanding of notation…. But really, I was left thinking, “Um, What?” for most of this book.

Zerby seems to have set out to create a work showcasing the glory of the footnote and extolling its need for inclusion in modern citation. What he really created was a morass of disconnected stories that bounced between philosophy, history, and narrative story telling. While I enjoyed Zerby’s writing style (sometimes), more often than not I had no idea what I was supposed to be reading in the book.

I’m a books about books nerd – hence the library degree.  I love reading about all things biblo-whateversuffixworkshere. What I don’t like is when those books are self-indulgent and seem to be written only to get something off the writer’s chest. Zerby needed a thesis. He needed an argument the reader could follow, and he desperately needed to stop loving his own writing so much. What could have been an interesting book turned into a quagmire of useless trivia and personal mental wanderings.

RATING: 3/10 [Poor, Lost Interest]

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Links and Stuff: November 18, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

YouTube Tuesday: Just a Dream?

During Finals week madness, I dream about Library of Congress call numbers. Actually, that's more of a nightmare.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Links and Stuff: November 11, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Useful Things: Merge, Divide, and Conquer

Today's Useful Things includes two websites. These tools are meant to help out with PDF issues. PDF documents are, in my opinion, kind of fantastic. They make saving and printing material easy. Sometimes, however, you find yourself wishing you could alter them just a wee bit. Enter MergePDF and PDF Hammer.

MergePDF allows you to stick PDF documents together. That's it. A simple, downloadable tool to help you combine PDF files into a single document.

Alternatively, PDF Hammer lets you remove items from PDF documents. This internet based tool allows you to upload a document to the service and then remove individual pages. Additionally, PDF Hammer also allows you to rearrange pages to the order of your choosing. PDF Hammer is a great tool for the paper savers among us.

Whatever your style, these tools make research, printing, and whatever your PDF need more customizable.

UPDATE: I was checking out PDF Hammer again and they also allow you to merge PDF documents.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

YouTube Tuesday: Broadly Speaking

Recent studies show that broadband usage is increasing, but "the gap" persists. Libraries work as information nodes, connecting users to broadband access.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Links and Stuff: November 4, 2010

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Book 36: Emma (Volume 2)

Emma, Vol. 2TITLE: Emma (Volume 2)
AUTHOR: Kaoru Mori
STARTED: October 17, 2010
FINISHED: October 17, 2010
PAGES: 195
GENRE: Graphic Novel

FIRST SENTENCE: Stevens... close the curtains will you?

SUMMARY: [From Amazon.com] his volume finally shows William and Emma together at last on their first date, but the ending (after hearing Emma's tragic past and some nasty confrontations with William's stuck-up family) is far more tragic, at least to the readers.

THOUGHTS: I like! This continues to be a fun, graphic novel series. I can't wait to read the rest of the books. Mori continues to have a perfect mix of dialogue and drawn scenes. There was a touch more manga-style than I was used to, but it didn't distract from my enjoyment of the book.

RATING: 6/10 [Good]

YouTube Tuesday: Mosting Interesting

Stay informed, my friends.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Book 35: Pursuit of Honor

A Novel: Pursuit of Honor by Flinn (Hardcover) (Pursuit of Honor: A Novel (Hardcover))TITLE: Pursuit of Honor
AUTHOR: Vince Flynn
STARTED: October 10. 2010
FINISHED: October 16, 2010
PAGES: 431
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: It was nearing ten o'clock in the evening when Mitch Rapp decided it was time to move.

SUMMARY: [From Amazon.com] When Washington, D.C.’s National Counterterrorism Center is struck by a series of devastating explosions, the results are catastrophic—185 killed, including public officials and CIA employees. Such an act of extreme violence calls for extreme measures—and elite counterterrorism operative Mitch Rapp, joining forces with trusted team member Mike Nash, finds himself in the frustrating position of having to illustrate the realities of national security to government officials up in arms over the agents who rushed in to save countless American lives. Meanwhile, with three al Qaeda terrorists still at large and Nash traumatized by the horrors he witnessed during the attack, Rapp must help his friend while threading his way through the naysayers on Capitol Hill—and silently, swiftly, do what he must for the sake of his country and the pursuit of honor.

THOUGHTS: Once, just once, I would like Mitch Rapp to do or say something wrong. Pretty please. Is that too much to ask? At this point, I don't know why I keep reading this series. Flynn has made it so that Rapp can do no wrong. He is a god among men out to save the innocent American people from all the boogey people out there. Page after page, it's Rapp saving the day. Seriously, it's not a good thing when your most interesting, believable, and relatable character is a terrorist.

I enjoy a good thriller, but why I keep reading this series now is beyond me. Maybe I'm holding out for the day when Rapp gets slapped with a shortcoming.

RATING: 6/10 [Good]