Links of interest: October 29, 2010

Learning outcomes : Iris Jastram talks about an insight she had about using learning outcomes to do better user instruction, and Jenica Rogers has some more ideas about applying that to the work of the library as a whole.

Technology and the librarian : Michael Stephens, on the MLIS faculty at Dominican University, has begun writing a new column for Library Journal. His first column talks about the need for library students (and librarians) to be comfortable using (and use) online communication, beyond the closed systems of classes and workplaces. Various people, including Angel Rivera have commented about it. (I’ve got more thoughts about this one, but they’re still gelling.)

Steampunk considerations: Nisi Shawl has a great article at Tor.com on some of the issues of steampunk in terms of reflecting the experiences of people of color in that reimagined world. She talks about what she’s writing to explore that, and also links to a bunch of other fascinating resources.

When the library’s not handy: Hugo, Minnesota (a suburb of St. Paul) which has no town library has instituted a Library Express program: programmed lockers outside of City Hall which allow residents to pick up books they’ve reserved. A Wall Street Journal article talks about this and some other similar programs in other places, which also talks about the complications of shorter library hours due to funding cutbacks, and library patrons who still want to use resources.

Conference notes: Sarah Houghton-Jan of Librarian in Black went to the Internet Librarian 2010 conference and made lots of useful posts on presentations – everything on learning from failure to the community as center of the community, to great free tools for cash-strapped libraries.

Time-consuming reference: Brian Herzog talks about doing triage on reference questions in a public library setting. Not only having circulation staff handle some things, and then refer to reference librarians for more detailed needs (common if the reference desk is not obvious or as available as the circ desk) but also how to handle the much more complex questions that take 15 or 30 minutes to handle.

How much management is just right? Jenica Rogers has a great post on what she’s learned in her first 17 months as Director of Libraries. She focuses on the problems of micromanaging – or more specifically, how she doesn’t want to, but other people want her to give more direct guidance and direction on a day to day basis, and how that needs to be balanced against her own work.

Interesting resources:

  • Two additional ways to search Flickr: FlickrStorm goes beyond your initial search by finding other items that might fit and Compfight makes it easier to find creative commons items and original images.
  • OpenFolklore is a project of the American Folklore Society to make materials more widely available for study and learning.
  • The Wisebaden Codex of Hildegard von Bingen’s work is now available digitally. Click the manuscript page image to get into the document reader. (Things that make the medievalist bits of my brain happy!)

Ask This Librarian: Reading suggestions

Next question is a great one – and I hope will fill many people’s reading lists for a good time to come:

I really want to read more sci-fi by writers who are queer and/or PoC and/or feminist besides Nalo Hopkinson, in particular more recently published stuff (i.e. definitely not the scifi canon – yet). Not picky about sci-fi subgenre. Open to multiple genres and formats: novels, anthologies, sci-fi magazines, online repositories …

May I slightly amend it to additionally specify whatever magazines or other serial publications tend to have the latest work in sci-fi? I want to be able to keep up to date with the latest developments, since the kind of fiction I want to write is more or less sci-fi. I hope that’s not too much of a separate question.

This is a huge question, but also a great one, so I’m going to take an initial stab at it, and I know that readers on my personal blog will have more comments, so I’ll come back here with a few more additions in a couple of days.

Continue reading Ask This Librarian: Reading suggestions

Recommended reads

One of the things about finishing work for the school year is that people ask you what you’re reading and looking forward to reading over the summer – so here are a few recent reads I recommend (and a couple I’m looking forward to…)

Recent reads that made me think:

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
This is about the life, death, and lasting influence of Henrietta Lacks, who died of cancer in Baltimore in the 1950s. Her cells were used to create the HeLa cell culture, which has gone on to be amazingly prolific and of huge scientific benefit (among other things, it was the cell culture used to grow the polio vaccine for distribution). However, Henrietta herself – and her family – didn’t understand what was being done, and this book is both a provoking and sensitive look at the issues of medical ethics, historical legacies, and issues of race, class, and education and their intersection with ‘informed consent’. It’s also very readable, and has some truly great moments of beauty and compassion.

(read more at Rebecca’s site over here , and there’s a great brief story from the magazine Popular Science about Five Reasons Henrietta Lacks Is The Most Important Woman In History).

A Conspiracy of Kings : Megan Whalen Turner
This would be a series where I keep going “Why did I not discover this sooner?” Set in a pseduo-Ancient-Greece, this is a fantastic four book series dealing with the relationships between the powers of neighboring realms, who are at the same time very human and able to fail at doing the best thing all the time. It’s hard to talk about the books beyond that without giving spoilers (and if you go browse the earlier editions, even the cover blurbs and information give spoilers), but I highly recommend these for a thoughtful but fast read.

(Megan’s site is over here.)

Soulless by Gail Carriger
Ok, this one is a little less recent – I read it this spring – but delightful. It’s a Victorian-era steampunk vampires and werewolves romance novel. If you enjoy dramatic moments, wonderful culture and clothing descriptions, and one of the best on-screen Queen Victoria moments I’ve ever seen in a work of fiction, you’ll probably like this. (And this did make me think about the assumptions we have in interacting with others, among other things.)

(Check out Gail’s website and play with the dress-up doll and videos of the cover design.)

Books I’m looking forward to reading:

(These are, of course, only some, but they’re ones I anticipate getting to in the next couple of weeks…)

I’m currently reading The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines, which I picked up in part because I was impressed by a range of blog posts he’s made over the last couple of months. (I’m enjoying it so far, and expect to finish it in the next day or two, when I’ve got the sequel waiting.)

  • The Perfect Summer: England 1911, Just Before the Storm by Juliet Nicholson
  • Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
  • Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay
  • Candor by Pam Bachorz

Hi, I’m Jen

Librarian, infovore, and general geek, likely to write comments about books, link collections, and other thoughts related to how we find, use, and take joy in information.

I'm the Information Technology Librarian at the University of Maine at Farmington, the small liberal arts college model campus in the University of Maine system.

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