clearing out the cobwebs

As library cycles go, the Circ department is in its slow phase - not the crazy beginning when professors want everything right away (or better yet yesterday), not the anxiety-ridden final two weeks, when students want everything right away (and realize they should have wanted it yesterday), but the strung-out middle, so I am taking the opportunity to clean out old files, messages, and so forth. One file I stumbled upon was "blog ideas" - promising starts that never got any more attention and inspiring quotes. Here they are, my orphaned children:

“Middle” America
What images does this phrase conjure in your mind? Amber waves of grain. 4th of July parades, a la Norman Rockwell. Red states. Factory workers. TV guide. Soccer moms. Top 40. Or…….Americans who all have quite distinct middles, as in overweight. That’s what the phrase always makes me think of. Sorry to be such a wet blanket, but I’ve lived in places and times where America was a dream, an aspiration. And we are letting everyone down in so many ways. Greed and gluttony seem to be at the bottom of it. I am considering a kitchen remodel. Only one person of all those I have told about it thought it unnecessary. I respect his opinion, but he lives in Argentina and works with needy families. So I put him out of my mind as I look over the set of drawings the architect has given me....

“El éxito no se lo deseo a nadie. Le sucede a uno lo que a los alpinistas, que se matan por llegar a la cumbre y cuando llegan, ¿que hace? Bajar, o tratar de bajar discretamente, con la mayor dignidad posible.” - Gabriel García Márquez, on literary fame in El olor de la guayaba
PQ8180.17.A73 Z47 1982


(this one was half-formed around the end of the library 2.0 summer series)

What does it all mean, Mister Wizard?
I used to think I had too many passwords to remember. Now I KNOW it. And I intend to remedy that right away, by jettisoning accounts I will never use. For many people, the time invested in exploring new sites and tools has paid dividends because they can incorporate those items into their daily work routine. I didn’t spend nearly enough time checking out most of the toy/tools because I didn’t see how they would apply to my job and I spend too much time on the computer already to want to seek out ways to increase that exposure. That means they probably won’t be much help now, but… I know they exist and how to find them, if needed. I alluded to this in an earlier post.
Social networking is not one of my favorite ideas. It is supplanting face to face relationships. I have this over-riding sense that people are moving father and farther apart due largely to the ever-expanding possibilities of electronic communication. Instead of writing a letter, which would be treasured by descendents, most people today grab the phone to dial or text message, or e-mail, IM, or blog – anything but put pen to paper. In the resulting badly written posts, poor grammar is forgiven supposedly because the content is so important. These people go on to produce appalling resumes. But I digress.

“Dios está en el centro. Ahí donde no hay forma alguna, ni sonido, ni movimiento. Cuando te encuentres mareada, siéntate, deja de moverte, quédate en silencio y encontrarás al señor nuestro ahí, en tu centro invisible, el que te une a él. Somos como las cuentas del collar de la creación y estamos unidos unos con otros, cada uno ocupando el lugar y el espacio que le corresponde. Cuando alguno jala más de la cuenta para un lado, altera todo el orden de los cielos y el cielo se abre, la tierra se abre. Cuando una se separa ya no irá a caer donde debería caer, ya no caminará donde debería caminar, ya no irá a morir a donde debía morir porque su lazo se rompió, porque todo forma parte del todo y todo repercute en el todo. Y por eso dios se entristece cuando no lo vemos, cuando no lo conocemos, cuando pasamos la vida de espaldas a él.” from Malinche, by Laura Esquivel
PQ7298.15.S638 M35 2006


Comments on any of the above are hoped for (preposition not withstanding).


wrap up?

When last mentioned in this blog, Scott was in search of a place to spend the night, en route - via bicycle - from Bellingham, WA to Pocatello, ID, to be the best man at his brother's wedding. He made it with days to spare. So did we, only we chose to arrive by airplane. Here are my guys. You'll never see them like this again. Scott, George, and Geofrey (the groom).


Web 3.0


We're just getting used to Web 2.0 and I see this on a link from a link from a link: Web 3.0

Someone defines it as applications that use the web as a platform, but are no longer websites. ...And I feel myself slowly sinking, as the wave I was trying to surf rolls on.......
It's slow times at the Circ Desk, but I still can't figure out some of the stuff from about 10 lessons back. (OK, now that I've admitted that, I guess it's time to leave RSS links behind and forge ahead.)

When this 26 weeks wrap up, what will we have accomplished in the library? Some of us: not much; some of us: much; the library as a whole: aahh, that is the real question. If our purpose is to better serve the patrons, then we had better not be so eager to show what we know about 2.0 as we are to listen to what they want. And that leads to the question, "Do they know what they want?" And to continue in this circular direction...How are they supposed to know when they are asking the right questions? (Do we consider their questions "right" based only on what we currently have/can do?) Should library skills be taught? What skills are appropriate for libraries these days? Should we figure out a way to do what the patron is asking? How much of Library 2.0 will this entail? Am I back where I started yet? There's another wave out there.


Justin is welcome at our house.

I used to know how to calculate square roots sans calculator. I used to know how to use a slide rule. I used to know a lot of things. Most of them are “used to know”s because my need to use these facts/techniques peaked shortly after I learned them – supplanted by more recent discoveries or more modern processes. However, I still know there is that other way and that historic fact. It is comforting to have fall backs.

Just 2 days ago my road-tripping son needed a place to spend the night when “plan A” fell through. I tried to contact a friend on his route, but the phone line was busy. Fall back: I sent her an e-mail. As it turns out, she has a dial-up connection and her phone was not just busy, it was out. She didn’t get my message until it was too late and Scott was on his own. But the point is that there was a plan B. In our headlong rush to library 2.0, are we going to leave behind the plan Bs of information retrieval? I have a hard time imagining no “just in case” collection, as Rick Anderson calls it. When the circulation system goes down, we don't like it, but we can do manual checkouts when patrons bring us the materials.

Another thing: what about our technical “footprint”? These days it is PC to worry about our effect on Gaia in the sense of living small, eating and buying locally, etc. Is it PC (or even OK) to disregard the environmental cost of producing all the computer hardware and software, of digging trenches to bury all the optical cables, of building and erecting all the transmission towers for wireless networks, etc. to enable us to jettison the “just in case” collection? Or even to begin to consider it as a just in case collection? It’s akin to the debate of cloth vs. disposable diapers. We cannot do without. Who is to decide?

Many years ago, as our family was packing for a vacation, my son asked if it was alright to include a particular item in his bag. When I asked why he thought he needed it, he said it was "for Justin. You know, Justin Case."


A spam by any other name...

We’ve lost the critical faculty. It’s as if, upon realizing our ability to pass along information, we lose our filtering capability, and feel that everything we come across must be passed on. Yesterday's - Bellingham Herald had an opinion piece by Leonard Pitts about the final Harry Potter book and the near impossibility of avoiding knowledge of how it ends. (I couldn't find a stable link, so you need to check the archive for 7/22/07.) Well maybe it was two days ago, because today's edition carefully pointed out, in it's front page story about current Rowling readers, that there were no "spoilers."

This leads me back to earlier concerns about blogging "just because we can." Is it bragging and ego unbridled? A lack of manners? Somebody give me a positive spin here, please. We may need to know what blogs are, to be more in touch with our patrons, but we should be very careful we do not encourage them to use blogging and all the other Library 2.0 tools for the wrong reasons.

Separation angst and Scott's road trip

You know it's coming. And you're glad. And yet you still worry. It's a parent's privilege/dilemma. You tried not to be a hovering, stifling presence, but there were so many things you would have done differently -- so many things you would have done. period. But you have taught them for the last 21 years by word and example, and you have to rest on that. You are proud of the person they have become. So cross your fingers, give them your blessing, and hope you meet up at the rendezvous point. And wait for the calls. Or the text messages.


"discrete extravagance"