Saturday, February 28, 2009

Talkin' 'bout my generation

OK, I know that's a lame title. In case you didn't figure it out from my lame blog name, I am not so good with the titles.

Anyway, today my mum sent me this excellent article from the Gazette about generational differences in the workplace. She's going to be using it at work, and I think it's the most balanced article on the subject I've read yet. What do you think?

On a side note, I never got to Revenant last night. Instead, I slept for 12 hours. I think I needed it. Now, I'm off for a swim (and a run, if I feel like pushing my luck....) at the hotel. Hooray!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday: news round-up, then sleeeeep

I've been a bad blogger this week, neglecting you all since last Friday. I wish I could say I was being productive (well, I guess I was... just not here...) or that I was on a fab vacation like refinfo. Alas, no. I had an exhausting weekend, after a really crazy week and after catching a nasty cold. Prescription was: Advil, juice, and bed all day Saturday. I spent this week getting back in gear, and representing my employer with my great colleague BookPusher @ the FIS Job Fair. As always, the job fair rocked, thanks in large part to the amazing job that Meg and her colleagues did putting it together.

Now, my pretties, as a reward for following here, I give you .... a random Friday news round-up:

As promised above, I am now off to score some dinner - I'm thinking cozy bar with wingback chairs - and then sleep. I'll be curling up with this.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Best. Literary. Event. Ever.

I have nothing but praise for Chris Cleave and Priscila Uppal, who I saw last night at the Ottawa Writers Festival. They both read amazing sections of their novels, engaged in a witty, intelligent, fascinating and mutually-respectful conversation about their work, and (here's the best part) I got to go out for a drink with them afterwards.

Long story short. Chris Cleave went to university with my cousin, Sim, so we were catching up on the bizarreness of this, and my husband and I got caught up in the right crowd and were invited out with Chris, Priscila and Sean Wilson from the Festival. It was amazing: it was so inspiring to sit down and have a drink with people who are truly passionate about their work, about literature, about literacy, about politics.... It was a totally rejuvenating experience for me as a librarian, and also just as a person who loves books (can't turn that off when I leave work...). It's also just great to meet truly kind, lovely, funny, real people. There aren't enough out there.

As a sidebar, I would strongly urge you to watch Chris talk about his new book (did I mention it blew me away? Because it BLEW ME AWAY) on YouTube. I can't say it any better.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Book launch tonight in Ottawa!

A free event put on by the Ottawa Writers Festival tonight at St Brigid's! From the Writers Fest website:

Thursday, February 19th @ 7:00 PM
Chris Cleave and Priscila Uppal
Somerset Maugham Award-winner Chris Cleave's latest novel, Little Bee, was shortlisted for the Costa Best Novel Award. The Library Journal says: “Book clubs in search of the next Kite Runner need look no further than this astonishing, flawless novel.” Priscila Uppal's novel To Whom It May Concern is a modern, multicultural re-telling of King Lear, which explores the vulnerability and complexity of family and inheritance.

I can tell you that I read an ARC of Little Bee and it is absolutely amazing.

I'll be there!


So, my obligatory post for this week is about Flickr. Here I am, and I've been using Flickr for almost 3 years now. I started using it as a way to share pics with family members after I moved away from Montreal. I love it, and it's been a great way to connect with other librarians (when I post library-related pics) and extended family members!

Life of Pi: the movie

Variety says director Ang Lee is "considering" working on the proposed film adaptation of Canadian writer Yann Martel's Life of Pi. The movie will use "a mixture of live action and computer generated imagery."

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Insert shameless self-promotion here!

The library association I am involved in is hosting a rockin' Freedom to read week event on the evening of Tuesday, February 24th. Check it out....

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Rutgers's School of Communication, Information and Library Studies, now with less "library"

Yup, Rutgers University’s School of Communication, Information and Library Studies (SCILS) is dropping the word "library" from its name, following many others (including U of T's iSchool, UWashington, Syracuse and Carnegie-Mellon).

I agree that our profession requires much more than library expertise, but I am somewhat incredulous that we are, at times, so full of self-loathing that we must scratch out the "library." I often wonder if we're doing it because we want to divorce ourselves from the librarian stereotype. Are we throwing the baby out with the bathwater?

Don't give me that whole, "we're in the information business, like doctors are in the business of medicine" argument, because that's crap. Many of us are still in the library business, with much more than information being sold: what about a sense of community? Literacy? Lifelong learning? Do you want to cram that in, too? Didn't think so.

OK. Deep breath. Calm now. I'm sorry - I may be the last person standing who wants that word in there, but I think it's a part of our profession and it belongs there, even if not everyone works in a library. The library is not a physical place but an idea, a concept.

The best part of the above article is the fact that, after changing names (note the inclusion of the word "communication"), there was a big snafu about the dean circulating a letter that claimed, incorrectly, that he had the support of the New Jersey Library Association (he didn't). He's calling it a typo; the president of NJLA gets the last word: "For a communication school, there was very poor communication."

Centrally-heated knickers... coming to an English school near you!

Now, that got your attention.

British Children's Laureate Michael Rosen (of the fab The Sad Book, and many, many others) is on a campaign to improve the drab reading choices in schools in England. Down with Kipper! And Biff (I have not made Biff's acquaintance yet, but I sense I'm not missing much).

And hello to "a touch of irreverence and imagination." Rosen's "own books and poems, which children love, celebrate chaos and creativity: in one, a three-year-old is put on the naughty chair for saying “baa baa moo moo” when singing Baa Baa Black Sheep, in another, a teacher is so strict her class is forbidden from breathing. With titles such as Centrally Heated Knickers, or Mustard, Custard, Grumble Belly and Gravy they might not all make strict “sense”, but they make great reads."

I also just saw Rosen wrote a version of Little Rabbit Foo Foo. Best. Song. Ever.

Excuse me while I go off and hum that for awhile.

School media specialist self-censoring their acquisitions

Just when I felt there might be some good in the world this week, the forces at School Library Journal (well, I suppose it's not their fault) make me want to put my head back down on my desk for awhile.

The study is here; the interpretation and discussion is here.

Apparently we're chopping ourselves off at the knees. Fabulous.

Freedom to read week, anyone?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

This week's assignment: blog about Facebook

OK, I never thought I would sign up for Facebook, and then I was coerced, and now I've come to terms with it. I appreciate that I am able to stay in closer touch with some friends who live in other cities via FB, since I see their status updates and read (voyeuristically) what's on their wall, etc. I love looking at all the pictures, especially of people's trips, at my own pace (i.e quickly!)

I don't enjoy the random people I was never friends with in elementary and high school who friended me, though. I don't care about their status updates, annoying baby pics, etc. The first person from my high school to friend me, ironically, was a kid who bullied me. Nice. Strange, strange world we live in...

I also enjoy that the FB world is expanding with apps and different groups and pages: there is the Visual Bookshelf app, which I love. I even talked about it in my RA 2.0 presentation at OLA recently, because I totally do read the reviews, and I also like to check out what my FB friends are reading....

OPL, TPL, Library Journal, LibraryThing, and AskON all have pages, as does Tundra Books, Drawn and Quarterly, and House of Anansi. IFLA, CAPL, OLA, LANCR, CLA Montreal, Coach House Books, CBC Canada Reads, Quill and Quire, and ALA's SRRT all have groups (whew!). I really appreciate getting updates from these pages and groups.

I can also announce that very, very soon, ABQLA will have a Facebook group. Watch for it!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Himglish and Femalese

My friend Jean has a book coming out! Check it out here and in the meantime, read more of Jean's work at The Guardian.

Hemingway biopic, to focus on last years of his life

I'm wary of this little news item, but we'll see. The film will be based on Hotchner's memoir of his time with Hemingway towards the end of H's life. "It is rare that we have such intimate, truthful knowledge about the life and, ultimately, demise of a true American icon," said one of the producers of this new project, Ellen Goldsmith-Vein. She and Peter McHugh of Gotham Group will produce along with Kevin Fortuna (re. Kevin, I can't hate anyone who owns a production company called Dedalus Enterprises...).

When I checked out Gotham Group to link above, I also noticed via IMDB that they're working on a film version of A Great and Terrible Beauty, the first in a series that was one of my fav. reads of the past few years. Better not suck. That's all I have to say.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Newsflash: I'm responsible, hardworking, and, um, reluctant to take risks...

So I tried this little tool out today. It assesses the writing style of your blog and assigns you a personality. Basically, it's the Myers-Briggs Type of your blog. I came out as one of "The Duty Fulfillers!" Yup, sounds about right.

I saw this via Stephen Abram's blog.

Monday, February 2, 2009


We now interrupt your regularly-scheduled programming for:

Alex's cousin's online wedding plans! Whee!

I'm not a wedding person (even my own) but I am psyched.

Erm. I meant online "wedding plans", btw, not "online wedding" plans. That would be something entirely different, and weird.

Literacy development in Lesotho

This is an appeal from a friend... Please check out the Help Lesotho website, and particularly their Library project page. A small group of HL people are leading a campaign to raise funds for hiring staff for two small village libraries in Pitseng and Hlotse, Lesotho.

The salary for one library staff member for a year is $2700! During the next few weeks of February 2009, HL volunteers are trying to raise enough money to hire one or two library staff members for 2009.

You can also donate for locally purchased books, bookshelves, chairs, tables, education, and resource posters. Tax receipts will be issued for any donation over $15.

Libraries = recession sanctuary, part 2

As noted previously, the same goes, apparently, in Scotland, where Glasgow's libraries are noting "a steady rise in usage [...], culminating in a 12% rise in December compared with the previous year." Some interesting additional factoids: borrowing of nonfic is up 26% in Glasgow, "with particular interest being shown in literature which improves skills and literacy," and some branches are still facing closure or cut-backs despite the upsurge in usage (*sigh*). Also, I wasn't aware that, overall, while England has been cutting libraries, Scotland, specifically Glasgow, rebuilt and refurbished "10 branches and turning them virtually into hi-tech "learning centres" with more than 600 PCs among them."

There's a fun list of Glasgow's top books of 2008 at the end, too!

Podcasting + self-publishing

Interesting article about scifi novels being published in installments as podcasts by the authors. It would be neat to see more public libraries podcasting events, readings, etc... Wonder how these fields and audiences could be linked?

R.I.P. Daphne Rooke, who "may indeed be the greatest South African writer after J. M. Coetzee"

Amazing story about a South African writer I am ashamed to admit I have never heard of.

Delicious, social bookmarking, etc.

So my task for my learning 2.0 course this week is to blog about my experiences with Delicious and social bookmarking. I have been on Delicious (this is me!) for almost four years now. Actually, I had to look that date up just now, because I had literally no idea, and I am blown away. I've been using Delicious since May 2005?!? Who knew?! (Apparently, not me...). Some of my first adds were sites about library careers abroad, which reminds me of the headspace I was in then, as a newly-minted librarian!

More recently, I've been using Delicious mostly for sites I talk about in presentations, as I did recently with my OLA presentation and related websites. I don't use it quite so much anymore for my own saved sites, mostly because no matter where I save them, I forget they exist (I'm way too young to be this senile...). If a site is that important, I just subscribe to its feed if it has one.

As for other social bookmarking tools, I love LibraryThing (this is me!). In fact, I wrote a little testimonial about my experiences with it here (scroll to page 5 or click on title in TOC).

Archived post: OLA 2008 session with Irshad Manji

Session # 1600: ALL CONFERENCE PLENARY: Taking Opportunity from Oppression – and Courage from Confusion with Irshad Manji
A very moving session in which Irshad Manji talked about her experiences in libraries. She spoke fondly of librarians, and expressed kinship with us (“if we’re not in the business to offend, then what are we?” she joked, referring to librarians’ battles with censorship and her own battles with personal threats). She told us how, when she was kicked out of the madrassa she had been attending on Saturdays as a child, she turned to the public library for information about Islam. There she learned about Islamic inventions (mocha coffee!) and women prophets (including the prophet Mohammed’s wife). She spoke about her decision to write The Trouble with Islam (after receiving an article about a Muslim girl who was sentenced to be whipped for being raped, even after she provided many male witnesses to the crime) and her experiences since writing the book. She mentioned that, just after completing the first edition, she interviewed Salman Rushdie (shortly after he began making public appearances in the late 90s after living under a fatwa for many years) and asked him why he would encourage her to write about Islam, knowing what had happened to him. He told her “a book is more important than a life.” Once something is thought, he added, it cannot be unthought. It can be disagreed with, censored, debated, and so on, but it can’t be unthought. She talked about arranging for Arabic, Urdu and Farsi translations of The Trouble with Islam after receiving an e-mail from a teenage boy in Jordan: he asked her to put the translation up on her website for free (which she did: there have been thousands of downloads of the text). She told us she had dismissed bodyguard protection because having protection made her feel like a hypocrite: if she told young Muslims to speak up, as she had spoken up, and then left them to be subject to violence from their families and communities while she enjoyed security, she felt false. She explained that she dealt with concerns about safety from young people around the world who were seeking to implement real change in Islam by saying to them that “some things are more important than fear.”