unshelved, library, dewey

My other job

This summer, I actually have two jobs (well, three I suppose. But two of them are at the same place). I'm also serving as the research assistant for the University Librarian (aka, the head honcho). Despite his title, he is not, in fact, a librarian; he's an economist. Needless to say, this has caused some grumbling among the ranks. Personally, I think it's actually a good thing, as he's questioning some business-as-usual stuff that really needs to be questioned such as, for instance, why our database search system Search Tools sucks so much. Or, asked differently, why do libraries put up with Ex Libris et al.'s shitty products? Sometimes, I think librarians need more of an economist and/or public manager's mindset.

Anyhoo, he's been having me look into how one can place a value on the invaluable: recorded heritage, archives, libraries, etc. Wrapped up in this whole debate is the value of publicly-accessible information (and a way of defending the University's liberal copyright stance with Google Book Search). I found one study from Florida that claims that, for every $6,488 invested in libraries, one job is created in the economy.

Now, I'm just as much of a promoter of libraries as the next librarian, but this just sounds patently false to me. Making grandiose claims like that may hurt our cause more than help it. As a politician looking at funding libraries, I would look at a study like this and think that the numbers were padded (the authors seem to use some pretty liberal assumptions).

On another topic, one of the paths down which Paul sent me was to find out about the quote "You should think of free as in free speech, not free beer. Interestingly enough, there's something that satisfies both conceptions of the term: FREE BEER!

Anyway, those are my ramblings for tonight. In case you're interested, here are some further thoughts on the topic of destroying books:

unshelved, library, dewey

My job: tearing up books

So my job at the public library gives me ample opportunity to work with "real people." I really do feel like I'm more in touch with reality there, even if the questions aren't stimulating, although I can't say that answering questions for clueless undergraduates is really that stimulating, either. Case in point:

Undergraduate: Do you have any articles on, like, sociology? [Yes, she actually said "like"]

Me: Yes, I can show you how to access LOTS of articles about sociology. Is there a specific topic you're interested in researching?

Undergraduate: No, I really just need articles on sociology. My paper's due tomorrow.

Anyway, one interesting feature of my public library job has to do with collection maintenance. I'm in charge of the adult fiction, mystery, DVD, and CD collections. Unfortunately, I don't get to purchase new stuff or anything cool like that. Instead, I scour the collections to spot duplicates, damaged books, things that smell, DVDs people have used as coasters, and other such nonsense.

What this means is that I destroy books. Yes, it's true. Members of that vaunted profession, librarians, tear of books on a regular basis. I really only do this for damaged books, however: broken spines, coffee stains, etc. Unfortunately, you can't really sell such items and it's not really worth the time and effort to repair them, particularly not if it's your 80th copy of the latest Janet Evanovich. Good stuff does get sold, though.

Even though tearing up the books is for the better (we're recycling the paper), I still feel somewhat queasy about the process. It's strange, in a profession whose underlying value is the proper stewardship of information, to be destroying it. In my stack of items to read is a book called Double fold: libraries and the assault on paper, written by a rabble-rouser of the profession, about more nefarious and/or unfortunate destruction of information. I wonder where the line should be drawn.

Anyway, on to cheerier things. Have I mentioned before how much I love Unshelved? Well, I do.

unshelved, library, dewey

Summer o' libraries

This summer, I have two jobs, one at the Ann Arbor District Library (AADL) and one at the University of Michigan Library. I've had a hiatus from the public library realm for a while, paying ye olde tuition bill by being a TA.

My return to a public library has made me realize how much I love working in them. I feel closer to real people. Well, maybe "real people" is the wrong term. I feel like I'm helping make the world a better place. At times, this even seems odd to me, since much of what I seem to do is place holds on DVDS for people. Nonetheless, I feel like I'm closer to helping solve people's problems than I do at the Graduate Library. Being back at a public library, despite my misgivings with AADL itself, really confirmed my desire to go into public librarianship.

But then I've been questioning even this of late. Last week, I was at a workshop/session on library 2.0, i.e. using web 2.0 applications in delivering library services, and I had this epiphany. Here we were, talking about exciting our patrons with tagging and high-level browse and reaching out to them on Facebook. And I began thinking about all those people who have to clue what Facebook or del.icio.us are, because they lack the information access with which we're blessed. Africa, Southeast Asia, South America. Maybe, I started thinking, I should try to promote information access internationally.

And to throw yet another wrench into the gears, I'm still thinking about going into state libraries, thank to my internship last summer at the Oregon State Library.

In sum, I don't know what kind of librarian I want to be. I just know I don't want to be holed up in a university library somewhere. I'm tired of being a student. I'm tired of working with academics (important though they are to our society). People have suggested that I go on to get a Ph.D. in library science, and I cringe at the thought. This is going to could terminally cheesy, but as a librarian, I hope to make a positive impact on the world. Hopefully, I'll find the right path to make that happen.
janus, game, chrono trigger

(no subject)

So I finished Living among headstones: life in a country cemetery by Shannon Applegate a few days ago, and it naturally fed right into my somewhat morbid personality and affinity for cemeteries. It actually inspired me to visit a an old cemetery here in Salem, the Salem Pioneer Cemetery, which is right next to the Cityview Cemetery and Mt. Crest Abbey Mausoleum, as it so happens.

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Current book: Avatars of the word: from papyrus to cyberspace by James J. O'Donnell. This book is for class (ugh!). I'm only about a chapter and a half into it. The guy rambles a bit, and I'm skeptical of his interpretations of Socrates, but I'm keeping an open mind.
lucien, sandman

Philosophical ramblings on gender

All right, so I know I haven't posted in, well, forever. But for the time being, I'm not going to update on what I've actually been doing and instead comment on a great book I've just read.

This weekend, I finished Sheri S. Tepper's The gate to Women's Country, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi novel about a society run by women.

As one would expect with such a subject, the story naturally asks the question, "How would society develop if women were in power?" This question has always fascinated me. And Tepper's answer, of sorts, proves even more intriguing.

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Anyway, that's my philosophical dilemma for the week. I hope that y'all are doing well.

Current Book: Living among headstones: life in a country cemetery by Shannon Applegate. A fascinating book about a woman (a friend of my mother's and an ex-babysitter of mine, actually) who inherits a family cemetery.
bucky, cat, get fuzzy, monkeys

Willie Nelson > everyone

Willie Nelson is so cool.

Who else could pull off a song like this?

I realize that the original is by Pansy Division, Willie's managing to bring the song to an audience that nobody else could.

Like I said: Willie Nelson is the man.
  • Current Music
    Willie Nelson - Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly (Fond of Eac
unshelved, library, dewey

I got tagged! - My quirky habits

Ground Rules: The first player of this "game" starts with the topic "5 weird habits of yours" and people who get tagged need to write an LJ entry about their 5 quirky habits as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose the next 5 people to be tagged and list their names

1. One of my fidgety habits is to continually tear a piece of paper into smaller and smaller pieces.

2. When I'm thinking, I often subconsciously make a craoaking sound by pushing air into my cheek.

3. I actually read the discussion and revision history in Wikipedia articles.

4. I like eating raw potatoes, when given the chance.

5. I am orderly to a fault in the context of my library jobs, yet my desk at home is always piled with unordered papers and whatnot.

Tagging: cymric, johnnylemonhead, kaeruneko, madamanada, and saffron_ree
  • Current Music
    People typing
  • Tags
crazy, angry, Zell Miller, policy

Ah, economists!

Quote from microeconomics textbook:

"As income rises, households satisfy progressively less pressing needs.  When income is low, it is devoted to the necessities of life - food, clothing, shelter, and television sets.  As income rises, more is spent on luxury goods such as theater tickets and textbooks."

Current Book: A guide to benefit-cost analysis, 2nd ed., by Edward M. Gramlich
  • Current Music
    Ryan Shupe and The Rubberband - Rain Falls Down