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Ok librarians, please, sit down. I have some news for you, and it is so shocking it will knock you right out of your sensible shoes.

People use the computers at public libraries.

I know! Can you believe it? I thought our banks and banks of computers were for decoration. Oh! Hey! Now I know why I’m an expert in queueing software and paper jams. 🙂

But seriously folks. All of us library types KNOW that when the economy takes a dive the library sees an increase in patrons. Add this to the list of things you didn’t learn in library school:

  1. How to find jobs for everyone that walks in the door
  2. How to assist a patron that speaks a language that you don’t with an application that is in a language they don’t speak
  3. How to deal with the heartbreaking and tragic stories of loss people share with you because they often don’t have anyone else that will listen

Yeah, where was that class?
Oh? Over in the Social Work department! Hmm . . .

All kidding aside, this is actually fantastic. Although I have a Gender Studies background and am all about The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research (seriously, it was my thesis bible), I do understand the need for numbers. We qualitative types aren’t against numbers, and any research worth his/her salt knows that mixed methods research is the bee’s knees and the only way to get a comprehensive picture of user behavior. I do have to admit that some of the math they used is stuff I never learned or forgot (sorry Mr. N – your calculus class was great though) – so I get lost a bit, but I love the fact that people found this worthy of time and money. Thanks Bill and Melinda, IMLS, UW, and all those folks that had to make the calls for the phone survey!

Check out the excerpt below, full article available through the Information School at the University of Washington.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and IMLS funded a study on computer usage in public libraries. (U.S. Impact Public Library Study)

Opportunity for All: How the American Public Benefits from Internet Access at U.S. Libraries

About the U.S. IMPACT Public Library Study

Public libraries have provided free access to the Internet and computers since the 1990s. Libraries have also provided access to digital resources, databases, networked and virtual services, training, technical assistance, and technology-trained staff. However, little research has examined the relationship between free access to computers and outcomes that benefit individuals, families, and communities.

To better understand how the provision of free access to the Internet and computers in public libraries is impacting the lives of individuals, families, and communities across the United States, the Institute of Museum and Library Services issued a request for proposals for research targeted at documenting, describing and analyzing the use and results of this use in libraries throughout the nation.

Works mentioned in this post

Becker, Samantha, Michael D. Crandall, Karen E. Fisher, Bo Kinney, Carol Landry, and Anita Rocha. (2010). Opportunity for All: How
the American Public Benefits from Internet Access at U.S. Libraries. (IMLS-2010-RES-01). Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Washington, D.C.

Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (2005). The SAGE handbook of qualitative research. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

(oh, and if you noticed the mismatched citation styles 1) you’re a total nerd 😉 and 2) I used the suggested citation for the study and good ol’ APA for the other)


I’m not sure if everyone feels the need, at some point, to justify their career. Not their career choice, but their career. Not – “Why on Earth did you want to be a DOCTOR?!” but more “Why on Earth do we even HAVE doctors?!” or “Hospitals are obsolete, everyone can just use WebMD and their 24-hour CVS.” Yeah, you don’t really hear much of that, but what I DO hear is “libraries are obsolete,” and once during an instruction session I was conducting and from the instructor that had requested the session – AND in front of a room full of his/her students. Gee, thanks. Just wait until the day I pop into the back of your classroom and tell your students that literary criticism is USELESS in real life.*

I have read so many of these – “Why librarians are important” pieces – and it makes me frustrated that there are people that think we aren’t. I matter, darn it!

Here’s one from the L.A. Times written by a school librarian whose job has been eliminated.

Go ahead. Read it, then we can discuss in the comments.


*This is not really what I think, it's just a fitting parallel. Plus, I would never do this. We educators need to support each other. Woo nerd solidarity!

Saving the Google students: For the Google generation, closing school libraries could be disastrous. Not teaching kids how to sift through sources is like sending them into the world without knowing how to read.

Opinion | March 21, 2010 | By Sara Scribner

(excerpt below – full article available here)

The current generation of kindergartners to 12th graders — those born between 1991 and 2004 — has no memory of a time before Google. But although these students are far more tech savvy than their parents and are perpetually connected to the Internet, they know a lot less than they think. And worse, they don’t know what they don’t know.

As a librarian in the Pasadena Unified School District, I teach students research skills. But I’ve just been pink-slipped, along with five other middle school and high school librarians, and only a parcel tax on the city’s May ballot can save the district’s libraries. Closing libraries is always a bad idea, but for the Google generation, it could be disastrous. In a time when information literacy is increasingly crucial to life and work, not teaching kids how to search for information is like sending them out into the world without knowing how to read.


Nightmare-inducing fun. The best kind.

Creative Commons License
This photo by gfpeck is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License.

*shout out to my fellow campers and camp counselors – trust falls in the woods represent!*

I was on facebook today and saw that one of my fb friends joined the group “People for a library-themed Ben & Jerry’s Flavor“, and I started to think about all of the library-themed things I’ve become aware of since starting library school.

Library-themed wedding – a librarian and an la/library school student plan their nerdy nuptials (her blog, his blog)

Library-themed baby shower – invites: inspired by children’s books, games: inspired by children’s books, cake: book-shaped (the author is certain that a stack of books will be an easier cake than a pacifier-shaped cake) I have to agree. It’s best to stick to book covers and not try anything fancy.

Gifts for librarians – Now, it is highly possible that I own some of these things, and have received them as gifts. Gifts that I appreciate and enjoy, but I still don’t completely understand the urge to fill your home with things that remind you of work. Even if it’s a job you love.

Library-themed tattoos – Do you have one or want one? The folks at 8bitlibrary want to know about it. Check out “Project Brand Yourself a Librarian”. I’ve seen many book-themed tattoos – characters and quotes and such, and the hilarious hipster finger shhh tattoo, but I hadn’t seen the library reading person sign thing tattoo. (That’s its official name, the library reading person sign thing – now you know.) There are a couple of them in the flickr group for the campaign like this simple and understated one and this elaborate and colorful one.

Library-themed playlist:

  • Library – Final Fantasy
  • Quiet Houses – Fleet Foxes
  • Wrapped up in books – Belle & Sebastian
  • Marian the Librarian – The Music Man
  • Pressed in a Book – The Shins
  • Put the Book Back on the Shelf – Belle & Sebastian
    • but, please don’t put the book back on the shelf ’cause we’re keeping statistics, and we love you patrons and all, but you tend to put them just any old place
  • I Better be Quiet Now – Elliott Smith
  • Quiet – Smashing Pumpkins
  • Check Me Out – Chuck Berry

I actually do have a library-themed playlist. I made it for an ice cream social sponsored by our ALA Student Chapter. It included some of the songs above, but I didn’t want to make it too literal and needed songs that were subtly peppy but background-y enough for people to talk over.

Happy link clicking everyone!

I saw this incredibly amazing image while stumbling through the Internet yesterday. It makes all sides of me happy: the music geek, the librarian/information professional who color codes her closet (well first by category, then color), and the avid map reader.

Rock 'N' Roll Metro Map v1.0

Rock ‘N’ Roll Metro Map v1.0 © flickr user “theonlyone” :: Alberto Antoniazzi
See full size image on flickr

This is so beautiful. I really want a poster of it. I have spent most of my time on the alternative and grunge lines, rock out shamelessly on the pop rockstars line, and don’t understand how Death Cab for Cutie is on the punk rock line. I’m sure people can/will argue about who belongs where, but whatever, this guy did a fantastic job.

Check out his website full of other fun visualizations of information and assorted fun, brightly-colored stuff.

I’ve been thinking about audiobooks a lot lately. Probably because I’ve been listening to audiobooks a lot lately.

Now that I’m working full time and have cable again for the first time in almost ten years, I find I have less time for reading. I think the three years of graduate school, with two of those years spent reading everything I could find on gender and technology, wore out my eyes and whatever sends the happy waves from book page to my brain. I’ve also found it to be very difficult to read with a puppy face between your face and the book. I also just really like having people read to me. As much as I love David Sedaris’ and Sarah Vowell’s writing, I always get their books in audiobook format because they are so entertaining, and I love it when authors read their own books.

My first audiobook experience was about ten years ago – The Fountainhead on 26 cassettes. I had tried four times to read The Fountainhead prior to getting it on audiobook. I just could NOT get past Toohey’s first 15-page speech. (Note, if my high school psychology teacher happens to be reading this, I’m sorry, I tried, I read some of it, and wrote a good paper (and I’m pretty sure I got an A on it). Plus, I’ve read it five times since then, so thanks for planting those seeds of learning!) I was hooked on the audiobook after the first side of the first tape. I listened to it on the drive to work, on lunch breaks, and when I got home. I would sit in my room next to my stereo ignoring my roommates. I couldn’t stop listening to it. It was like my very own soap opera, or “my story” as Granny would say.

I’ve continued this trend, I often use audiobooks to help me get through books that I have to read, but can’t force myself through in text form. I recently listened to Freakonomics, I didn’t really WANT to read Freakonomics, but the students I work with are all reading it and choosing research topics based on issues discussed in the book. I figured that as I am supposed to teach them how to use library resources to find information for these projects, then it would be helpful for me to know what they’ve been learning. I didn’t feel like I needed to read the entire book cover to cover and take notes, instead I just wanted to scan it – my solution – distracted audiobooking. By committing to distracted audiobooking I was able to listen to the book while cleaning, walking my dog, eating, driving and surfing the Internet. I don’t know if you’ve tried recently, but it’s really hard to surf the Internet and answer emails while reading a book. Please, don’t try reading and driving! This was a great way for me to get a basic understanding of the students’ work without a lot of effort on my part. Now when a student says they want to write a paper on ‘drug dealers living at home,’ I know what they are talking about and am able to help them tease out the issues that make up this discussion and help them find one to write about.

I don’t listen to all of my audiobooks while distracted. I do often clean or walk the dog, but during the really good parts, I find myself sitting down and holding my breath. Last week I was walking Oliver when a guy with an adorable puppy started talking to me. He was nice and we talked about raising puppies and how great the park is. However, all I kept thinking was “OH MY GOD WE ARE FINALLY LEARNING WHY WILLOUGHBY WAS SUCH A JERK TO MARIANNE! CAN YOU CURB THE PUPPY CHAT, PLEASE?!” Now, I know most of you probably read Sense and Sensibility 15 years ago, but I am new to Jane Austen. I forced myself to read Emma last year, and on the 5th try I actually made it through. This time, I committed to reading it for book club and checked out both the audiobook and the paperback determined to get through. I could not put this down/press pause. Having both formats was amazing. I would read it on the bus in the morning, listen to it on my iPod while walking to my office or to lunch, read on the bus on the way home, then listening while making dinner and dog walking. I was able to engage with the story for hours each day. Fantastic.

One of the things that really struck me is how different the two experiences were. Reading was more slow and less dramatic. I would also get hung up on words or phrases while reading which rarely happened while listening. For example, while listening to the audiobook, this sentence came up in Chapter 38: “And for my part, I was all in a fright for fear your sister should ask us for the huswifes she had given us a day or two before; but, however, nothing was said about them, and I took care to keep mine out of sight.” I had no idea what “huswives” meant, but I didn’t have the text so I didn’t have the footnotes, and I wasn’t near my desk OED or the Internet version I have thanks to my university affiliation. (Seriously, the OED online is reason enough to consider a career in academia.) Since I had no way to look it up, and because the voice actor does not slow down or stop when she reads a word I don’t know, I had to keep going. All I knew is that it was something that they were given as a gift that they didn’t want to give back, and that was enough to understand the meaning, and I don’t feel like I lost anything. Later, I went to my paper copy, located the sentence and saw the word was tagged with an endnote. I flipped through the back of the book and found it after a bit of difficulty, I then learned that a huswive is a needle book. When I stop to read an endnote or a footnote I feel like I am being ripped from the story. This is the primary reason I haven’t been able to read Garrison Kellior’s footnote-laden Lake Wobegon Days. So, for someone like me who gets distracted by footnotes and sees them as a chance to do more research and learn more things RIGHT AT THIS MOMENT – audiobooks are a great way to keep me focused and involved with the story while exercising my ability to decipher meaning from context clues.

(One notable exception is The Annotated Alice, which is amazing and wonderful. Yes, you will go down many many footnotes side roads, but if you like Alice in Wonderland, I bet you’re the type that likes to take the scenic route.)

Works mentioned in this post:

Carroll, L., & Gardner, M. (1960). The annotated Alice: Alice’s adventures in Wonderland & Through the looking glass. New York: C.N. Potter.

Keillor, G. (1985). Lake Wobegon days. New York, N.Y., U.S.A.: Viking.

Rand, A., & Reading, K. The Fountainhead. New York, NY: Random House.

Recent “Reads”:

Austen, J., & Badel, S. (1986). Sense and sensibility. Auburn, CA: Audio Partners.

Levitt, S. D., & Dubner, S. J. (2005). Freakonomics A rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything. New York: HarperAudio.

Next up:

Bazell, J., & Petkoff, R. (2009). Beat the reaper A novel. New York: Hachette Audio. (Recommendation from NPR Reads)

Castle, R., & Heller, J. (2009). Heat wave. [Old Saybrook, Conn.]: Tantor Audio. (A fake book by a fake author played by an adorable actor? Yes, please!)

Gladwell, M. (2005). Blink [the power of thinking without thinking]. New York, NY: Time Warner AudioBooks. (For book club)

Saw this font made of stacked books on Boing Boing when I was doing a search for the blog “Stacked Books“.


by Amandine Alessandra

I’ve mentioned the puppy a few times and used him as an excuse for not posting, but honestly, how could you resist this face?

Ollie Ollie Border Collie

seriously adorable

Post on audiobooks in the next three days . . .

So, apparently I can’t turn the librarianing switch off in my head. Tonight while relishing in the blueberry pancakes I have been craving for three months I overheard a young woman asking her friend if she had to put a page number for a source if she used a quote from it. Inside my head I’m yelling “Yes! Yes you do! mmmmmm pancakes! Author page number and year!” This general discussion went on through my pancakes, the last foamy remnant of whipped cream, the last bite of pleasingly salty bacon, and the last cantaloupe chunk. I paid my bill, finished my water, tucked Sense and Sensibility and my newly-complete grocery list back into my bag. I looked at the table again, where the two were packing up computers and notebooks as their food was just arriving. I thought, well it’s now or never and went over to their table where I explained that you do have to have a page number for a direct quote. She said she thought so, but wasn’t sure how to handle an online non-paginated article. I explained about paragraph numbers and threw in a little tidbit about the “chat with a librarian” feature available through our university library. She seemed a bit confused by the initial information ambush, but overall pleased with obtaining the correct answer.

This has made me think about different ways to do embedded librarianship. If people are studying in IHOP, can I sit at a little table with an “ask a librarian” sign? I don’t think this would really be a great use of my time on a day to day basis, but I must say, this brief encounter has made me think of some fun, gimmicky, potential outreach projects for finals time.

*tweet tweet*