Washington Post books it!

Outlook from the WashingtonPost April 26, 2015


This post should really be titled YES! that’s what I think. Reading is a life force for me and I suspect many others. Today’s Washington Post Outlook section is entitled: Overbooked: What, and How, to Read – Washington Post (April 26, 2015).

I may pick up The Real Thing: Lessons on Love and Life from a Wedding Reporter’s Notebook by Ellen McCarthy (reviewed by Sara Eckel). Yes, we are looking forward to a wedding in the family soon and I like the tone:

…McCarthy’s pumps-on-the-ground reporting focuses on happy couples, rather than the ones who bicker in therapists’ offices or in front of camera crews. She thus accesses a largely untapped resource: ordinary people who make mistakes but basically know what they’re doing.

She offers hard evidence that success in love is not predicated on being particularly sexy or savvy, but instead grounded in homelier virtues like kindness, courtesy and a willingness to let the other guy win.

Ann Patchett notes in A Discerning Shelf :

Reading is a solitary act, but the transmission of books contains an aspect of joyful sociability.

I, too, give books as gifts to share the pleasure, truth, and  knowledge of the world. I love to talk to anyone about what they are reading. I believe that reading gifts us with the truth that we are not alone; reading allows us to form our own view of the world;  and access to information is a foundation of democracy.

The piece I will reread many times has to do passion and vocation – mine: Do We Still Need Libraries? by Carlos Lozada reviewing the book BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google by John Palfrey. While Lozada reflects on Palfrey’s warning about nostalgia, and his explanations on legal limits to information access; it is Palfrey’s terminology (unfortunately using that overworked phrase “hack the library”) that we need to have a “library revolution” that echoes for me:

Palfrey, the former head of the Harvard Law School Library and the founding chairman of the Digital Public Library of America, wants a library revolution, one that remakes the institution’s technology, goals and training.

Libraries must operate more as “nodes in a larger network” of organizations and must move toward “the digital, networked, mobile, and cloud-based library.” We must “hack” libraries, he urges, meaning we must find ways of distributing their traditional tasks — gathering, sorting and safeguarding physical materials, and helping people access them — among a network of institutions, leaving more time for staffers to focus on helping users access the array of works available throughout these linked institutions. Think of a virtual, turbo-charged interlibrary loan system. (FYI, simply “reforming” or “rethinking” an institution won’t get it done; for lasting change, always be hacking.)

“Libraries must create new nostalgia,” he concludes. “The purpose of renewed investments in libraries should be to establish new services and ways of discovering and accessing knowledge.”

This is a lot to think about as I travel into library conference week attending Computers in Libraries 2015 in Washington, DC. There will be distractions – the new Apple Watch release, no doubt will be front and center. Will people be reading books – or buying books – on their watches? Will they be looking for information on their watches, or will they be “pushed” information that is based on algorithms and pay-per-view?

Library revolution…this is what I will be focusing on this week. Channeling Palfrey again, how relevant are libraries?

Libraries are in peril, he writes, facing budget cuts and a growing perception that technology has rendered them less necessary. All that’s at stake, Palfrey argues, is America’s experiment in self-government. “If we do not have libraries, if we lose the notion of free access to most information, the world of the haves and the have-nots will grow further and further apart. Our economy will suffer, and our democracy will be put at unnecessary risk.”


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Down Time

My perfect daily schedule would consist of a book a day, a walk a day, a nap a day. This holiday season I came really close to this imagined perfect schedule.

A confluence of the forgiving academic calendar and at home holiday celebrations allowed for down time – a full two weeks – between semesters. Our holiday season was a quiet one, early celebrations to allow family members to travel – but luckily not us. We are still recouping from our Thanksgiving odyssey.

While the schedule did allow for healing naps and lovely December walks; it was the comforting, provoking, thoughtful reading that filled the parched cistern of my mind and soul.

My friend reminds me that there are really only two prayers you ever need. Riffing Anne Lamont, Help! Help! Help! And Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I surely used the first one often for my friends facing sickness and my children for safe travels in adulthood. In the days of this past semester I used that first prayer often trying to discern the “why” of my daily work.

Anne Lamont has a new book this season titled Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace. She always reminds me that those small moments of grace are our reason for living. A very good friend sent me the new book in the Fr. Tim (Mitford) saga titled Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good by Jan Karon. I love these thoughtful books and it was of great comfort to me to be reminded that my friend was always the Someone Good when I lived in her neck of the woods. And I have the great gift of finding and living with that Someone Good every day, my husband. Great felicitations ensued this season when one beloved child found his Someone Good and she said YES!

Yes, reading spoke to me.

 It was many years ago, but the question I still struggle with is why. For the living, for those left behind, there is no answer that is good enough. P. 299

“…sometimes you just have to live with the mystery.” P. 303 The Why of Things : a novel by Elizabeth Hartley Winthrop


Because survival is insufficient. P.58 Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel


The world was askew when he came to himself. P. 307

His companions looked to be members of the dark and strangers every one of them. P. 318 Sweetland by Michael Crummey


You had to hope the love you felt would get recorded in the book of time. We Are Not Ourselves by Mathew Thomas

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! For reading. And for more books waiting to be read…

The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Liar Temptress Soldier Spy by Karen Abbott





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Every now and then something will set of the synapses in my brain and things will begin to flow again. Thank you David Brooks – from The Good Order: Routine, Creativity and President Obama’s U.N. Speech Sept. 25, 2014
it was your words that had me laughing at my desk and itching to write about your statement “But life is paradoxical.”

Oh, my, yes it is!

I have had the beginnings of blogs posts written since June; some on #failure from #failedintellectual, the view from the mat, vacation, reading, baseball and starting over; just the normal themes in my life. The phrase “life is paradoxical” sum them all up.

Why do I find this so darn funny? Because we just never see it or say it out loud. This life doesn’t make sense. War, racism, death and disappointment make the news. In my little world, it’s the death of higher education, the woes of commuting, parents and children, and the never-ending search for meaning.

More from David Books:

“It requires toughness of mind and rigid discipline to properly serve your own work.”

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Getting my ducks (…books) in a row

Ducks crossing sign


This post is all about reading!

Reading – close reading, deconstructive reading, symptomatic reading, distant reading, surface reading, just reading, forensic reading, social reading, e-reading, re-reading, digital reading – JUST READ!

This was a great article about reading (and I learned all about forensic reading.) – Ghosts in the Stacks: Finding the Forgotten Books by Christine Smallwood

“The alphabet is great, but there is nothing quite as arbitrary as one’s own past choices. Reading more books begins at home.”

Yes, I have reports and evaluations to finish, but vacation is on my mind. Here is my reading list…soon, soon!


The Summer Guest
0 of 5 stars

Someday, Someday, Maybe
0 of 5 stars

A Philosophy of Walking
0 of 5 stars

The Prodigal Son
0 of 5 stars
to-read and vacation2014

Sins of the Flesh
0 of 5 stars
to-read and vacation2014

0 of 5 stars


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Impact, promotion and press releases

Journal Impact Factor graphic

Summer is Impact Factor (IF) season. Publishers, societies, and journal editors the world over anxiously await the outcome of the latest version of the Thomson Reuters® Journal Citation Reports (JCR). Will their journal IFs have increased or decreased? How will they compare with the competition? Has a new journal made it into the JCR for the first time? Many faculty are equally interested in the JCR rankings – universities and funders use this data to help inform decision-making about tenure, promotion, and appointments, as well as research funding.” From: DORA and the Impact Factor Debate by Iain Craig (July 2013)

The Scholarly Kitchen notes that we are celebrating 50 years of Science Citation Index which lead to the all-powerful Journal Impact Factor.

Making sense of the world often involves making connections between thoughts and ideas. Sometimes those connections are obtuse. This month those connections are hitting me upside the head, let’s call it impact!

These articles had impact! Scholarship, impact measurement, and genre by  Alex Reid (May 1, 2013) is thoughtful from a humanities perspective; and from the library realm Promotional Considerations  by Barbara Fister (May 1, 2014).

“Attention is not the same thing as impact, and impact is not the same thing as insight.” B. Fister

“Nor is knowledge a commodity to be sold or to be used for personal gain. That’s not just a moral harrumph, there are practical reasons to resist the commodification of knowledge. When we insist that it have measurable impact, we tend to work with too short a timeline. Some ideas are depth charges that don’t go off for decades.” B. Fister

While Librarians are good at promoting reading, knowledge and public good – we are not not good at promotion. Librarians are also having some fun (NOT!) trying to measure ROI.

Librarians are happy when they can provide the right resource at the right time and now in multiple formats. My collection development librarian is so very happy that we provide the right title at the right time: case-in-point Capital in the Twenty-First Century.

Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century has already sold 80,000 copies in less than two months, and is currently sold out.

Notation from New York Times Book review Thomas Pilketty book at No.  15 on Apr. 27, 2014

How very serendipitous – reputation, promotion, and impact reflected as academics Benjamin Page and co-author Martin Gilens sent a press release about their new academic paper that got them a gig on The Daily Show. They went on to promote an academic journal article about wealth and political influence—not exactly your typical Comedy Central fare. Read about their appearances here:  A Northwestern Political Scientist Does a Star Turn on The Daily Show  by Whet Moser (May 1, 2014); Frightening Policy Research Suggests that America Might Not Be a Democratic Society by: Sarah Jones  (April, 16th, 2014.)

What would a librarian press release look like?

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Droodiana (?) as literary data

My first musical – actually on Broadway – was a mystery to me for the first half of the show. What were we watching? The tickets were a gift,  a treat, as family watched our young children. We ventured into the Big Apple from NJ environs to attend a matinee performance of The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

I hadn’t done my homework. I didn’t know what the musical was about. It was enough that I finally was going to see a show on Broadway! My first clue that the afternoon had gotten away from me was just before the show began, the characters showed up in the audience – and as we were in the first row of the balcony on the aisle – right next to us. We were wooed (with very loud singing) to believe that this character was NOT the murderer. Of course, all the main characters were also in the aisles and on laps singing at the top of their lungs that they were also NOT the murderer. Chaos, confusion, cacaphony – and the show had not even begun.

The Writing on the Wall – Betty Buckley as Edwin Drood

To further confuse the issue – I love Broadway! – Betty Buckley played the main male lead Edwin Drood. Did he die? As Charles Dickens died halfway through writing this book, we may never know. But the fun of the choose-your-own-ending musical – and now the fun of  using data visualization analyzing the  different texts of the story from 1870 on, keeps the story alive and interesting to Broadway fans and scholars alike.

See these blog posts by Beth Seltzer

Edwin Drood and the Mystery of the Unfinished Novel

Measuring Edwin Drood: Experiments with Literary Data, Gephi

I like when my worlds collide!

Is it clear?
If you hear my voice, then you’re alive.
What a bloody marvel we survive,
When you think of every risk we face
In our mad human race!

I have read the writing on the wall!
Try to live forever
And give up never
The fight – you’ll need the wherewithal!
Can’t you heed the lightning
As I plead.
Inciting you to read the writing on the wall!

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Tactical Librarianism: CiL2014 Day 3

#TacticalLibrarianism was coined today by Librarian Adam Traub from RIT paraphrasing Mike Lydon author of Tactical Urbanism and this morning’s keynote presentation by the same name.

City planners remind us of the power of Short Term Action |Long Term change. City planners and librarians know the power of marrying offline|online actions. I loved the idea of Phase 0 implementation: prototype.

Librarians – Build, Measure, Learn!

Book recommendations:

The Lean Start Up by Eric Reis

Small Change: about the art of practice and the limits of planning in cities by Nabeel Hamdi

Content Computers in Libraries 2014 Day 3:

Jen Waller’s presentation was realistic and hopeful about Google Glass. [Update: and now available on her institutional repository at Miami University!]

Hacking Faculty (what?) Learning Management Systems

Dealing With Data: From Research to Visualization

Digital Stewardship








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Librarians off the path: CiL2014 Day 2

My thanks to JD Thomas @techfun for these great quotes graphics!

Correction added – Giving credit where credit is due by Chad Boeninger @cfbeoninger

Computers in Libraries 2014 Day 2

I have been very impressed with the work of Chad Boeninger at Ohio University. I have heard him speak twice at CiL2014, about using WordPress and about using blog entries for reference. It is the best idea I have heard at CiL this year. He uses his Business Blog at OU to answer reference questions. He goes further and so should I – see Chad Boeninger’s YouTube channel.

Chad Boeninger book recommendation:

Trust Agents by Chris Brogan

Someone asked Mr. Boeninger if this means pathfinders are dead – and he was kind in answering – basically, yes. It isn’t enough to teach the database, or put the links on a LibGuide anymore.  We need to model and teach a research process using the ever changing tools and database platforms.

So, if pathfinders – those library tools of old – are no longer viable; why have I heard more than once now about librarians not following the path (another way of hacking the library?) David Weinberger kindly suggested at the end of his keynote that we get off of the yellow brick road and into the poppies; and today, during Using the Cloud & Google Apps for Better Staff UX, librarians from Gwinnett County Public Library reminded us to not rely on following the path, but to make connections in the space between – between the apps, between the databases, between the tools.

Other very good content #cildc today:

Human and Computer Interfaces: How to Maximize Usability & Findability by Shari Thurow

Her book recommendation:

Mobile Speech and Advanced Natural Language Solutions


Online Collaboration tools by Sharon Yang

David Lee King  Face2Face: using Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools to create great customer connections



I have been “hiding out” in many geek sessions this year – it is COMPUTERS in Libraries and I need my fix. But if hacking the library is the theme this year, the word in every session and in every conversation is CHANGE. Today, I did hear the most positive take on change that I can cope with: constant purposeful iterative change is not falling off the cliff. Paraphrased from Julian Aiken, Access Services Librarian, Yale Law School and his On Demand presentation. He also had the best slide ever – which I will put here when I can find it!

I bought this book:

Teach beyond your reach : an instructor’s guide to developing and running successful distance learning classes, workshops, training sessions, and more by Robin Neidorf



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Librarians un-desked: CiL2014 Day 1

It is so good to get away from the job for just a short time to see the bigger library-in-the-world picture at Computers In Libraries 2014. I wasn’t a fan of the theme of this conference – Hack the Library – but  thanks to Dr. David Weinberger for letting me envision hacking as a tool for change.  [For me – as the keynote goes, so goes the conference – well done Dr. Weinberger!] His “Hack the Library” keynote – reminding us to white-hat hack, NOT black-hat hack NOR Bozo-hack –  hit just the go-forth-and-do-good tone.

We need to 1) think of libraries as portals and platforms and 2) further linked open data and 3) incorporate visual tools like Graph Search. According to Weinberger, if we hack the libraries we hack the future. If we do it with transparency, collaboration, relationships, and community – then we provide an infrastructure and empower the building of knowledge. Curation becomes an integral part of the knowledge process and not a separate activity.

Check the tools from Harvard Library Innovation Lab like StackLife and AwesomeBox. Well done tools and platforms should facilitate community engagement and continued enhancements.

There are a number of sessions about Discovery tools and redesigning library web sites this year. I caught Jacob Berg‘s (Trinity University Library website) CyberTour of his hack of the EDS Discovery system. Great use of OA tab and DPLA search widget (which I have added to this blog!)

I spent most of my time in Track B – Transforming Web Presence and now am practicing some of those good WordPress practices.

Search tips I need:

(Thanks to Marie Kaddell  @libraryfocus for her professional tweets of Mary Ellen Bates Super Searching tips and more of the conference!)



 Librarian reading to add to Pocket:


Need to check this out tomorrow #cildc Day 2:





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