Monday, February 27, 2006

Booknote: Ultimate X-Men vol. 5: Ultimate War

Title: Ultimate X-Men, vol. 5: Ultimate War
Authors: Mark Millar, et. al. Illustrated by Chris Bachalo
Publication Information: New York: Marvel Comics, 2003
ISBN: 0-7851-1129-8
Genre: Fiction
Subgenre: Comics, graphic novels, fantasy, adventure

This volume collects the series Ultimate War #1-4. It features great art that makes good use of shadows and panel sizes. It was appealing visually. In brief, the mutants are targeted by the American government as terrorists. Mutants are required to be registered or else. Magneto's Brotherhood believes mutants are the next superior human evolution, so they want control of the world by any means necessary. The X-Men led by Charles Xavier stand in their way. However, when the X-Men are accused of joining forces with Magneto, they become fugitives as well. The U.S. has its own superhuman team, led by Captain America, and sends it to hunt the mutants down. The war is on.

What I find fascinating about X-Men is the strong social and political commentary in the series. I think it has a good overall message about difference and society, and in this instance, it makes the parallels to certain contemporary conditions seem very close. Of course, it's got the action and adventure of a great superhero comic, and it also has a good story. I will definitely look for other volumes in this series. Definitely recommended for public libraries as well as readers of the genre. I think fantasy and science fiction fans who may not usually read comics might like giving this one a try.

Friday, February 24, 2006

The World Prepares to Celebrate 20 Years of Borges' Death

The world is preparing to celebrate the life and work of one of Argentina's greatest writers: Jorge Luis Borges. Argentina's daily newspaper La Nación for February 13, 2006 reports that the world is preparing to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Borges' death. Please note that the article is in Spanish; the Spanish title is "El mundo prepara homenajes a Borges." The article reports that cities like Geneva, Lisbon, Madrid, Paris, New York, Buenos Aires as well as Puerto Rico will be hosting and/or organizing various commemorative activities starting next month. Among the activities will be conferences and exhibits. For instance, Argentinian sculptor Federico Brook, who currently resides in Italy, will be unveiling a sculpture in front of the Argentinian embassy in Lisbon; the project is sponsored by the governments of Argentina and Portugal. The Fundación Internacional Jorge Luis Borges (the International Jorge Luis Borges Foundation) in Argentina will coordinate various activities including a haiku contest for children. In the article, the president of the Foundation, Ms. Maria Kodama, discusses Borges' work and legacy. She points out that to this day many graduate students choose to complete theses and dissertations on Borges.

I know I will be pulling my copies of Ficciones and El Aleph off my shelves sometime this year to celebrate. In Puerto Rico, the works of Borges are part of the high school Spanish curriculum. The man wrote poetry, prose, and criticism, and his works are some of my favorites. In the United States, the University of Virginia has a Borges collection.

Some of his sayings (in Spanish, with my translation):

  • "Dicen que soy un gran escritor. Agradezco esa curiosa opinión, pero no la comparto. El día de mañana, algunos lúcidos la refutarán fácilmente y me tildarán de impostor o chapucero o de ambas cosas a la vez." ("They say that I am a great writer. I am grateful for that strange opinion. Some day, someone will easily refute it, and I will be branded as an impostor or a slob, or both.")
  • "La belleza es ese misterio hermoso que no descifran ni la psicología ni la retórica." ("Beauty is that gorgeous mystery that cannot be deciphered by either psychology or rhetoric.")
And of course, the quote I am sure many out there think about:
  • "Siempre imaginé el Paraíso como una especie de biblioteca." ("I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library").
I can only dream that it were true. So, if you have not read any of Borges' work, go to your local library and find some of his works. They have been widely translated into English, and in many other languages, for our friends who don't read in Spanish.

Article Note: On Libraries and Online Learning

Citation for the article:

Lippincott, Joan K. "Where Learners Go: How to Strengthen the Library Role in Online Learning." Library Journal (October 1, 2005): 35-37.

Read the article in print.

This is an old article, well, relatively old in the scheme of things, but I just got the print issue through the internal routing. I had seen other articles on this issue online already, but this one caught my eye. It actually caught my attention as I started reading into it because it sparked all sorts of ideas in my mind. It was the kind of little article that makes you say, "why are we not doing such and such here?" and "what can we do to get to it down the road?" This quote from the article I thought was particularly cool:

"It is crucial that librarians who are committed to maintaining and expanding their role and the role of libraries in the new learning process via the Internet ensure that their web presence engages those learners. They must develop content and services that have more affinity with the style of people who work in a multimedia world and spend much of their communication and work time online. Librarians must experiment with new ways to connect the library and the Internet for learning" (35-36).

I love that idea of experimenting. If we could only get more librarians to experiment, and I mean more than just toying around with the latest 2.0 toy. We need to experiment with content, with ways of thinking as well as with ways to present that content in a dynamic way. In one way, you can have the greatest tools, but you need to have a reason for them. If you have a blog, it does not matter how fancy it is if you don't have good and interesting content to go with it. So, we need to experiment, and we need to be bold in doing so. And we also need to help along those who may not be as ready or able to jump right away into the great blue yonder.

I liked the author's idea of bringing in those free resources which can supplement the research and work that students do. But what I found really important was under the ideas of emphasizing community and teaching to learn that the author presents. The emphasizing community is clearly important and evident. If you provide the opportunity for the community to be involved, they will invest in your institution. Service becomes more of a two-way process. The illustration of the one book, one community example with resources as well as blogs for discussions is a good one, but this can take a myriad of forms. Another idea is the promoting of library services in places like the campus writing center. We are lucky that we have a small collaboration going with our local Writing Center, where they have a satellite location in our library. This is something I actively promote in our classes for one. Now, if we could find a couple more ways to promote the library in some of the other Writing Center resources, specifically what we can offer writing students. Something to think about.

Another quote I want to make a note of:

"Posters, bookmarks, or printed guides to Internet resources can be posted and distributed in venues where people go looking for information, such as medical facilities, government offices, and schools. Such guides help market library content and services and advertise the expertise of librarians as selectors of quality Internet information resources. Libraries must actively request placement of links to their homepages from resources where they think members of their constituency are likely to be in cyberspace" (37).

Something else to think about, more involvement with the CMS. Here, we use WebCT. We have participated in some bulletin boards with one of the classes where the students post their research questions, and we answer them. We need to continue this, but we should at least explore expanding this. Making some specific guides available to classes on their assignments, placing maybe information about librarians who can help with a topic, links to our resources (I know we have a link to the library page in there somewhere. And if I sound hesitant is because we barely get access to the CMS as is).

I also thought of the possibility of using some exercise sheets with some classes, maybe have them do some kind of task before they come to task, if I can get the professor to collaborate. I have done things like that in other places I have worked, with some degree of success. This is definitely something to think about.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Brief note on SirsiDynix Conversation on 2.0 Meme

A SirsiDynix Institute Conversation: The 2.0 Meme - Web 2.0, Library 2.0, Librarian 2.0.

Find the link here, which will take you to the archive.

I just did this today. Once I managed to get the Microsoft Meeting going (it took a bit more work, in spite of the fact I had it installed once before), it worked ok. While I found the conversation interesting overall, it seemed to fall into what I often see in the 2.0 Meme dialogues, which is the assumption all libraries will somehow get a robust and substantial IT department and that we will all become coders. I am not against coders, but I personally am not about to become one. It is not because I have an opposition, but it is simply because it is not within my interests. The other assumption I observed is that the presenters seem to assume a lot of prior knowledge from the audience. I would not have thought of this were it not for the moderator constantly telling them to define this or that term for the audience. Of course, it seems to be a given we can give patrons the latest computers with all the toys so they can create their content. A great idea, if you can find the money to do it somehow, which is something that never really seems to get addressed. I am sure the well-funded metropolitan system or Research I University can do this, but I often wonder about the underfunded rural library and the smaller college.

I did find somewhat encouraging when the presenters advocated the need for librarians to be trendspotters. In order to do this, librarians do need to have institutional support to do this, so they can think about what they spot, so they can think about how best to use what they find. The librarians need the time to "play" with various tools in order to understand them so they can use them in their libraries and provide better services to the patrons. This is easier said than done, and I am just saying it from my own experience. I read a broad range of items through Bloglines subscriptions. I have two blogs (a professional one and a personal one), and I have played around with It takes work and time to keep up, work that I am more than glad to do. And yet, I have to admit that I feel somewhat guilty if I need to do some of the playing while I am at work between teaching classes, working the reference desk, and the other things that I am actually supposed to do. I certainly don't think my director would disapprove, but it is not something other colleagues are doing (if they are, they aren't telling me). I guess I am saying it can get a bit lonely at times. But what may irk me at times, and the reason I tend to prefer not to address the 2.0 Meme is that even with all my efforts to keep up, with all my drive to learn new things, with all my love for experimenting, it may never be good enough for the gurus and the powers that be.

My personal concerns aside (I probably sounded a bit more negative than other people), I do believe these type of experiences to be valuable. I have done a couple of the OPAL online seminars, and if SirsiDynix offers another topic, I would certainly attend. These are very easy ways to keep up, to learn a new thing or two, and other than the time you invest, they are free. And very often, you get a few things to think about.

Some brief notes on OPAL Workshop about Wikis

Here is another set of notes. This is from the Wiki World presentation by Meredith Farkas on January 12, 2006. You can find it in the OPAL Archive, under Special Events. These are just some of my notes. Readers can go over to OPAL and get the presentation recording as well as the link to the wiki Ms. Farkas made for the presentation. My notes then:
  • Wikis allow for collecting the diverse knowledge of many people in one place. They allow people to collaboratively develop a website without any HTML knowledge. Anyone in the wiki community can edit these pages.
  • A problem may be in the format standards, depending on the software used.
  • Wikis are different from blogs. A blog belongs to the author(s), who own the content. Blogs have reverse chronological order of presenting entries, and they are great for disseminating information.
  • Concern over maliciousness. Often the wiki community enforces norms; they watch over the wiki to keep it in good order. Some wiki creators make their wikis fully open; others restrict them to members of a particular community.
  • Some uses for libraries include: community wikis (city guides, a library's page), subject guides, a library teaming with a community wiki to provide content to the larger community.
  • Wikifying the library catalog? Adding this functionality could mean adding reviews and other information of interest to patrons.
  • For information literacy classes or other classes, a wiki could be used in lieu of course management software.
  • A library can have a wiki for internal use (for manuals, guides, for a knowledge base where each subject librarian makes contributions).
  • It is important to remember that a wiki must have a purpose. Some guidance and instruction is needed to get other people involved. Also, a library wiki needs to make a disclaimer that they do not create all of the content, especially if it is a fully open wiki. Also, those who maintain a wiki need to actively prevent spam and have a copyright license.
  • For single users, a wiki is a good way of collecting and presenting information over a period of time.
I got some good ideas out of this workshop. I have been doing some reading on personal portfolios, and I am wondering if a wiki may be a way to go for me on that regard. There are also some other instructional materials I would like to make that may be suited for wiki use. Overall, some good food for thought here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A little bothered, maybe.

I read Karen Schneider's post about the 21st century library over at Free Range Librarian. I wasn't sure what bothered me when I read this post at first. It was kind of like a little something nagging at me while I read it. I had read Mr. Codrescu's speech, and I do agree with his criticisms of ALA and the issue of Cuban libraries. I also happen to agree with a lot of other ideas he expresses about libraries. But that was not it. It was not quite the whole 21st century library message. I am certainly the first to agree that changes are coming and that we need to adapt. I even liked the idea of the 21st century library doing well the things that the library of the 20th century does well. Here is the actual quote:

But the 21st-century library offers services that the 20th-century library did well, too. I love Google, and I use it all day, but Google doesn't know how to read a picture book to a toddler or wipe the tears of a crying child, it doesn't know how to steer a teenager to a good homework topic, and Google can't provide a place where I can sit and read among other members of my community--that "third place" some have written about, the alternative to Codrescu's dystopic reference to the "mindless shopping mall."

And then I saw it. What bothered me was that I found myself reading another one of those "us vs. them" posts. There is the old people who aren't quite retiring fast enough and stand in the way. On the other, the wave of the future, "that might liberate us from our role as curators of dead-tree collections and move us towards the more dynamic, vital, and timeless role of cultural leaders." They are the ones who will take us to the Promised Land, even if not everyone has the same funds or resources to do it, but that is a whole different story. Maybe it's just me, but after reading the post that made a nice argument about what Google does not do well, like tell a child a story, somehow what came after seemed divisive. Why does it always have to boil down to "those folks" and "us who can't wait 'til they get out so we can do what we know is right"?

Are there less enlightened libraries out there? Yes, there are. Is there a lot of deadwood out there? I will certainly grant that. And yes, the so-called leaders of our profession have certainly missed their share of opportunities. Obviously, carpe diem was not their motto. But do we need to draw a line in the sand? Maybe that is what bothers me. Maybe it bothers me because I am not a Millenial. I am a Gen-X, so I remember a time before all the toys we now take for granted. And one of the inspirations I had to become a librarian was on her way to retirement after a long career. She may not have been an ubertech librarian, but she cared for the students and had an open mind. Yet to many out there, they would rush to celebrate that she is out of the way with glee. So maybe that bothers me.

Or maybe being told that the 21st century action plan for libraries is "change or die." I personally don't take very well to ultimatums, and I am willing to bet a lot of people don't either. And yet, this is what is often voiced by the advocates of change. I would prefer to use education and persuasion to bring forth change. Instead of adopting an attitude of waiting for the old to wither away, or just running them over like a steamroller, we should be working with them as we would work with anyone else. True, for change to work you have to embrace it. As an educator, I am the first to embrace the chaos when its time. But I also believe that libraries will survive, even if they do so in somewhat different forms. We'll still have books along with a myriad of services for our patrons. I just don't see the need to draw a line, for taking sides, for alienating a segment of the profession we all share because they may not share the vision. Then again, I am not an expert. I can barely run a blog, and while technically savvy, I am certainly not the incarnation of ubertech who programs in their sleep and takes servers apart with enough time to eat their corn flakes. I am only a librarian and a teacher who believes in the power of educating others. I am only someone who values the best of the past as I look to the future. Maybe, just maybe, that's why a little something bothered me on reading that post, and why it moved me to write and think about it when I certainly could have let it slip. Maybe it was just me.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Some brief notes on OPAL Workshop about Health Information

I have been meaning to put these small notes online for a while, but life has a way of trumping such things. I listened to the OPAL workshop on "Finding Health Information on the Web" that was broadcast on January 10, 2006. You can get to the OPAL Archives here for options on listening to it if you missed it. You can also find the HTML Guide to the Presentation. I do like doing things like this when I can because they make good and cheap opportunities to get a little professional development in. So, some of my notes:
  • On sources, look for .gov domain, which is for government agencies. You can also look for .org, which is for nonprofits, and .edu which is often for universities and teaching hospitals.
  • You should ask what organization compiled the information. It is important to evaluate the health information you find. Readers can see the list of suggested websites in the guide, which include places with criteria to use for evaluating health information websites.
  • Keep in mind that information online complements the relation with your physician; it does not replace it. These tools are meant to make people better informed. See the Code of Conduct for Medical and Health Websites (listed on the Guide).
  • On searching: general web search engines can be useful for finding health information. For an example, the presenter used Google, discussing the results, looking at the differences between sponsored links and the results. A basic Google search, on say "high cholesterol," can lead to legitimate results, but one has to evaluate the results of the search.
  • However, there are better, more specialized health information search tools available. One such tool is Medline Plus. Readers may also want to note the availability of sites for alternative medicine and treatments.
  • Don't visit just one website. Visit various sites and compare the information you find from one website to another.
  • A member of the audience asked about Spanish language sites. Mr. Peters pointed to a New York site, NOAH, (on the list) which has a nice bilingual interface and presentation.
  • A poorly designed site shows there can be problems with a site. Bias indications are another problem to look out for. Datedness is always important to look out for. Be leery of sites trying to sell you information, especially with the availability of so much of it free already from the government as well as educational agencies.
  • Remember that the web is just one source of information, but it is a massive resource.
  • Practice prudence and care in searching for information online about health topics.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Booknote: It's Not Easy Being Green

Title: It's Not Easy Being Green and Other Things to Consider.
Author: Jim Henson, the Muppets, and Friends.
Publication Information: New York: Hyperion, 2005
ISBN: 1-4013-0242-4
197 pages
Genre: Nonfiction
Subgenre: Quotation books, reflections or meditations, inspirational.

This is one of the nicest little books I have read this year. It is a collection of sayings, quotes, anecdotes, short sketches, and rememberances about and by Jim Henson as well as from and about his work. It features people who worked with Mr. Henson as well as various celebrities. I grew up watching Sesame Street and love the Muppets. I especially liked the Muppet Show; I still do. So, when I saw this at my local public library branch, I had to pick it up. I am glad I did.

The book has five chapters dealing with topics like listening to your heart, determination, and when we were kids. The material varies from short one line quotes to song lyrics to sketches from Sesame Street or other of the Muppet productions. Just to read some of the routines between Ernie and Bert makes this book worth it. The book also features drawings by Jim Henson. By the way, while many people like the song about being green, my favorite is when Kermit sings the song about rainbows ("The Rainbow Connection") in Muppet Movie. I highly recommend this book for any reader wanting to go back to childhood and simpler times as well as readers wanting to find some hope. Jim Henson was a very optimistic artistic genius who had high hopes for the world and lived to make it a better place. So, as a child who enjoyed his voyages of imagination and learned some of his ABC's from his creations, thank you.

Similar books: The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember by Fred Rogers (I have a personal copy of this). Robert Fulghum's books may appeal to readers who enjoy this as well.

There are so many good lines in this book. I would like to jot down some I want to remember.

  • "There are no rules, and those are the rules." --Cantus Fraggle
  • "Yeah, well, I've got a dream too. But it's about singing and dancing and making people happy. That's the kind of dream that gets better the more people you share it with. And, well, I've found a whole bunch of friends who have the same dream. And it kind of makes us like family." --Kermit
  • This quote I find very reassuring, maybe because I have not quite grown up and I still see Muppets as Muppets, in other words, I still see the illusions. "I've found that children keep their imaginations a lot longer than parents think they do. Parents are concerned that if kids see that a person operates the Muppet, an illusion will be shattered. But I think kids see us as just people who carry their friends around." --Kevin Clash
  • "The attitude you have as a parent is what your kidss will learn from more than what you tell them. They don't remember what you try to teach them./They remember what you are." --Jim Henson

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Lecture on English Travel Writing and India, 1600-1820

On February 1, 2006, I attended a lecture by Professor Pramod K. Nayar. Professor Nayar is a Senior Fulbright Fellow currently affiliated with Cornell University and the University of Hyderabad. He has published essays on English travel writing in Journal of Early Modern Cultural Studies, Prose Studies, Studies in Travel Writing, and Journal of British Studies. I like taking advantage of events like this whenever I can; somehow I managed to find some time in my busy schedule to go, even if it took a me while to put the notes up.


Professor Nayar began by defining British travel writing as including memoirs (what we usually think of travel writing) as well as reports, documents, missionary narratives, tourist guides, handbooks, military campaign narratives, military reports, etc. These sources are studied for their rhetorical value. For instance, tourist guides would tell travelers what clothes to wear and even what books to read for the trip to India. Between 1600 and 1720, the narrative mode can be seen as marvelous. We have at this stage documents like those of the East India Company. At this point in time, colonization was not intended. From 1750 to 1830, there was an imperial sublime mode of narrative.

One of the sources for these materials is the Transactions of the Royal Philosophical Society of London. Another is John Locke's private library because he collected a lot of these materials. In addition, there are other private libraries and societies. Many of these societies collected information by actually sending inquiries to travellers.

Travellers often formed an impression of India before they even got there from reading accounts. The travel literature was a colonializing element itself, according to Professor Nayar. The narratives served to homogenize the diverse cities of India. The narratives then gave a way for the English to have some control over what was initially a frightening place. Additionally, admiring a new place, and India certainly has a lot to admire, could be seen as treacherous. Yet, the marvelous mode is a way of control. These narratives often open with a sense of awe. The "awe factor" was controlled in narratives of the marvelous mode by use of explanation. The explanation tools of the marvelous mode of narrative were enumeration and accumulation of detail upon detail; this is, in other words, cataloguing.
  • A side note. The narratives of India present often a trope of fertility, where the women and the land are seen as fertile. However, the beautifully profuse land gives way to a sense of excess. For instance, the excess took the form of a land full of predators. Animals become wilder as the narrative progresses.
  • Another side note: Descriptions of the Moghul Empire. The emperor was described as an "overgrown pike in a pond." Descriptions like this lead to a rhetoric of inflation (superlatives are heavily used). On the other hand, the jewelry of women is often seen as fetters and manacles. Overall, the rhetoric of the narratives moves to a narrative of native decadence and laziness. We see in the accounts descriptions of great agricultural produce giving way to lack of natives laboring.
Most of the discourse is seen in the 19th century, but it was taking shape in the 16th and 17th centuries in the travel literature. By 1750, the East India Company was gaining political power. What happens in the narratives then is an assertion of land control. This is seen in the mapping accounts and in the archeological narratives. The land is seen as empty, even though it is lush and fertile, and there is a need to build over the emptiness. The British feel a need to give meaning to the emptiness, so they give it meaning: they interpret the emptiness and build. The emptiness sublime enables a narrative of construction and improvement.

* * *

When I was taking coursework in postcolonial studies during graduate school, this was the type of scholarship that simply fascinated me. I loved reading those exotic accounts and discovering what they revealed about the people who wrote them at the time. Going to events like this allows me to indulge my literary studies side. Overall, an interesting talk.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Immersion and personal statements

I decided sometime last month to apply for Institute for Information Literacy: Texas Immersion program. To be honest, I always reluctant to ask for funding for myself for things like this (this one is particularly pricey, and I would not even be going out of town). And yet, it is something that I know I can get so much out of in terms of new things I can learn and bring back to my institution, that the opportunity, plus the fact it is local this time around, makes it too hard to pass it up. At any rate, like many of these programs, they ask you to write a personal statement. Sure, I can write something nice and polished, but I often struggle with this because I don't really like talking about myself. Put me in a classroom, and I will play with controlled chaos (is there such a thing?). Ask me to brag about what I have done, and I actually get shy. In part because I think actions speak louder than words. But I understand a resume or a CV is not everything. A tool like that is just a list of facts; a screener needs some context, so that's why they ask for a personal statement, and why I am stuck trying to write one within the deadline. Funny thing about deadlines. When they are far away, you don't worry, but they creep on you. When I sat with my director and supervisor to discuss this possibility, it was a month away. Suddenly, the semester started, and I started teaching (you know? The stuff they hired me to do). It's two weeks or so before the deadline to apply, and I am trying to get a draft going. And now, I am writing this, should I worry a screener will see it and get a glimpse of my anxiety before seeing the actual application? Well, I am not writing anything I don't mind anyone seeing, and if they were to hold this working post against me, maybe I need to apply someplace else. Writing is often a work in progress, a way to make meaning, and that is what I am trying to do now.

So, what do they ask for? If you go to the website, and look for the requirements for Track 1 (The Teacher Track), you will find the questions for the personal statement there. For openers, they want to know about my experience as a teacher and my involvement in information literacy. What could I say? I have been involved in information literacy and education from both sides. I have been a composition teacher in high school and college. I was teaching students how to research and, more importantly, how to make the best use of the information they find, even before I decided to become a librarian. It is really powerful stuff to show a student how to craft an argument, how to find the information they need for it, how to decide it works for them. It is powerful because I have been lucky to often witness thoughts as they came to life. Those "ah-hah" moments teachers love to talk about, they are very true. Being a writing teacher, and I mean that in more than one way, puts you at the forefront of information literacy, if you are any good at what you do. You can't help but deal with it. But that is going further back than the screeners may want. I could make my life easier, and look at my work with the Instruction Unit at Ball State where I managed to deviate from the outlined program to teach classes. Since all composition classes were required to attend a BI session, we had a series of basic lesson templates, with times on it for how long a segment was to take. This works fine for someone with no experience, but what I found is that it does not work as well when a professor wants some very tailored instruction for a particular assignment. What ended up happening is that I often improvised searches right in the middle of a lesson to accomodate some request. Over time, I would tailor my lessons closely. I had the advantage back then that I was working for the English Department (they paid to have one of their graduate assistants do their library instruction over at the library), so I knew most of the faculty, and I could find out what they wanted for their classes because I either talked to them, or I had taught composition myself. Those were pretty good days of library and departmental collaboration. This would be something I would like to explore further if they let me in: collaborating with faculty. Sure, I have done some research on the topic on my own, and I work at it in my institution, but I have a lot of work in this area. So, anything I can learn from people who are in the trenches as well and have experiences to share, I would certainly like to know. And since this experience of immersion is supposed to be collaborative, I will offer in trade some of my classroom tricks.

At this point, I think most of the trick is finding what I would like to emphasize about myself, and then carefully lay it out in a short essay. The four questions combined would be about 1,100 words, but each one is about 200 words minimum, except for the first question I sort of mangled above, which is to be 500 words. And there is some risk. Often, a very short statement has to be very focused. You have to get to the point quickly. Read the question, begin by rephrasing it as part of the answer, the supporting the answer. Short stuff like this is a matter of get in, get out, and move on. And yet, here I am thinking about it and not really following my own advice as a writer. Why? Because in large measure this means a lot to me. I am a teacher librarian. It's my life we are talking about here, and I don't mean to be dramatic about it. This is really what I do. "Teacher librarian," now there is a term you don't hear about. Can I trademark that? By the way, there is a paper or a book waiting to happen. Because there is a difference between the BI that looks more like a corporate training session and the actual act of teaching students not only how to use a database, but how to make meaning of what they find, which often happens in the follow-up. I am sure someone already did, but it is just more than coordinating the program. You have to be actively involved in it. You work with students, meet with them. You work with faculty, gather their assignments when they provide them so you know what the students are doing. I have a bit of an edge being in a smaller setting where I can actually get to know the teachers, so when a student comes in and says, "I am doing this for Dr. Smith," I know who Dr. Smith is and what he is doing in his classes. This takes work. It takes time; it takes dedication. And yet, for all the experience I have gained, some at a hard price, over the years, I still have a lot to learn, and that is what I am hoping to get out of this workshop if I get in.

Anyways, just some food for thought, or some initial ramblings to see what rises to the surface. At any rate, here's a glimpse of what I am working on between teaching classes, consulting with students, and a few other things.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Booknote: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

Title: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
Author: Frank Miller, with Klaus Janson and Lynn Varley
Publication Information: New York: DC Comics, 2002
ISBN: 1-56389-342-8
Genre: Graphic novels
Subgenre: Fantasy, adventure, comics.

Note on the edition: this was originally published in 1986 as Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, 1-4.

This work is one of the classics of graphic novels. Frank Miller tells the story of Batman, who has been retired for many years. The hero has been gone for so long that many people are not even sure that he was real or not. Batman decides to return to action, with a new Robin, when a new crime wave, led by a gang known as the Mutants, terrorizes the city. This is happening as psychologists declare Two-Face able to leave Arkham and are arguing for the release of the Joker. Commissioner Gordon is facing retirement, and his successor has vowed to arrest Batman for his vigilante actions.

Frank Miller's narrative is dark. Actually "dark" is a simple way to put it. This is right down eerie and gritty. Gotham is not a nice place, and the art reinforces a sense of a doomed place where Batman barely stands as the only thing between some sense of civilization and utter chaos. However, he is already in his sixties, no longer a young man, so can he still carry the mantle of the bat? The story is very engaging, and the ending, well, I won't give it away, but I will say it is interesting. It will satisfy many readers, as it is, well, different. I liked the twist, but I will leave readers to decide. This is a work I was familiar with, but I had not gotten around to reading it until now. Having read it, I enjoyed it a lot, and I feel like I have filled a gap in my graphic novel reading. I highly recommend this, but this is not a Batman story for very young readers. Rather, it will appeal to older young adults and adults. Another strength of the novel is the subtle (or not so subtle) commentary on contemporary society that the book makes from politics to talk shows and pop psychology.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Support Net Freedom

(Crossposted from The Itinerant Librarian)

I have been reading about this issue in the news here and there: Network neutrality. Educate yourself and then take a look at the NetFreedom Now Campaign because this can affect not only you and me, but anyone who needs or wants to have good access to the Internet and online world. Given that much of what we do is online now, this is something to be concerned about. I am specially concerned about the possibility that it may serve as yet another way to increase the gap between the haves and have nots. And considering that I already pay a king's ransom for my broadband connection, I am not buying the CEO's ideas about needing to charge more. Not to mention I am not thrilled over the idea that if I want to access certain content, they may ban it because it is a competitor or does not pay extra fees. So, as I said, get educated and go do something.

A hat tip to Laura's LIS.Dom, who also has the links for images like the one I used here.

Booknote: Yossel April 19, 1943

Title: Yossel April 19, 1943: A Story of the Warsaw Ghetto
Author: Joe Kubert
Publication Information: New York: ibooks, 2003
ISBN: 1-59687-826-6
Genre: Graphic novel
Subgenre: Holocaust literature, historical novel

Note on the edition: This graphic novel received a nomination for the Eisner Award in 2004 and two nominations for the Harvey Award in 2004.

This is the story of a boy who could have grown up to be a gifted artist had he lived in a different era. However, young Yossel is a Jewish boy living in Nazi-occupied Poland. His family is sent to the Warsaw ghetto. At the start of the story, the Final Solution and the concentration camps were just a rumor, a fairy tale. However, when a camp escapee makes his way to the ghetto and reveals the horrors, it is no longer a fairy tale. Yossel draws, and it helps him escape his reality. However, over time, he finds a need to document what he sees and hears. The story is illustrated in pencil sketches. In the introduction, Kubert explains that in graphic novels and comics, an artist first draws in pencil, then inks over the pencil sketches, and then color is added. However, to give the sense that these are the sketches of a young boy on the run, drawing whenever he had a chance, Kubert chose to draw and maintain the pencil sketches. The result is that the readers get the boy's point of view in the story, and the reader also gets a strong feel of the grittiness, the dirt, and the horror of the story's setting in a way that a story illustrated in any other way cannot convey. The story leads up to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, a real event. Readers will definitely be moved by this narrative. This graphic novel should be included in any reading list of works on the Holocaust. It is another great example of how the medium of graphic novels can be used to tell a story, in this case a story that we should never forget.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Taught some classes, and student reminds me of a simple lesson

Been a very busy week so far. I have taught 10 BI sessions, and I have two more to go tomorrow. I'll be then done for the week. It is midafternoon (about 3ish when I start typing this in bits and pieces), and after a late lunch, I have some time to sit down, catch up a bit on my feeds, and maybe think a little as I write. My instant messaging soft-launch, which I mentioned previously here is moving along. It just seems like an easy thing to do for students to contact me. I just sign in and leave it running in the background while I do other things. While I am a bit sceptical, I am willing to give it a good chance. I will let folks know how things turn out at semester's end. A while back, Aaron Schmidt at walkingpaper had this small post of ten points of IM in libraries. I clipped it because it was one of the things I looked over as I was thinking whether instant messaging would work for me or not. They are some good points. So far, it works for me because, as he says, it is free, so the only cost for me so far was just to download AIM and Yahoo!'s clients, register with AIM (I had a Yahoo! account already), and then run the services on my computer. I was not so sure about MSN's service, which Aaron listed back then as the other major one. Based on asking around, I think I can skip MSN safely, for now. So, very little time was the cost. He says that millions of patrons use IM everyday. I am not expecting a deluge of IM's, but if it gets one student to use it because they may be doing a search on a database, and they need help on the spot, or for any other reason, it will be worth it. Unlike Aaron's vision, I have not reached the point of IM being like having a phone. I know for some students this is the case, but I don't think it is as many as common wisdom would say. One of the advantages of teaching is asking students now and then about things. When asked which ones used IM, I think I get about a third in any given class.

In terms of staff, Aaron mentions that it is a good idea to practice amongst the staff. Keep in mind the context of Aaron's post is for library reference, and I am using it as another tool for students to contact the librarian who taught their class. Though I will be doing reference work as part of what I do, it is not part of any integrated effort on the part of the library. Our library is working on something different for virtual reference. At any rate, it may be interesting if some of my colleagues tried it out. I know my director uses it personally. I may be the only one daring enough to set up accounts that students could use to contact me, but then again, in my position as Instruction Librarian, it is expected that I will be accessible for students. The best line in Aaron's post, which I find is the best reason to be doing this, is this one: "IM is user-centered and builds relationships with library users." I think that speaks for itself.

There are a few things I have been thinking about. The little meme going around about trust and patrons in libraries, the bad signs, and a few other things. By the way, I linked to Aaron's blog because it was handy. The issues have been in a couple of places, and I have been reluctant to post about them in part for fear of people thinking I am less than customer oriented. Let's just say I am not of the "give them all they want, and bend over so far that you. . ." camp, which seems to be the very popular thing now. I guess in a way I wonder. I am extremely dedicated to my academic community, and yet, at times I wonder if I were to voice some thoughts if people were to think less of me. Not that I give a (starts with "s" and rhymes with "knit") what they think, maybe it goes back to the "if you can't say anything nice, don't say it." Or maybe, and this a fleeting thought, I should probably just disconnect a bit more (or perish the thought, altogether?) from the biblioblogosphere. No, does not mean I would stop blogging, just that I would be tuning out a lot of stuff.

At any rate, it was a long day in the instruction room, but the classes went very well. I live for this stuff, even if I am a bit tired by the time it is over. Topics have run the gamut from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to Frankenstein to prison reform. Very often, prepping for these classes gives a chance to learn something new or try out a new trick in searching. My next to last class today was very energetic, lots of questions, and I like that. When students ask questions, I just let go. I just let them guide me, tell me what exactly they want or need, and I demonstrate it. For instance, in the last class of the day, the professor mentioned some students had already tried doing some research, and in some cases, hit some walls. I had one particular student tell me, "I went to your site, and I tried it, but I could not get much out of it." So, I ask her, "did you go to our site?" while I had our main library website on the SMARTBoard screen, and she said, "no, it did not look anything like that." However, she said it was the site on the computers in our computer lab. A little quick thinking made me realize what she had done. I clicked to get the library catalog's site, and I asked, "Did it look like this?" She said, "yea, that was it." Here is what happened. We have two computer terminals for catalog use only, and she had used one of those to do her research. No wonder she raised her hand quick to ask me when I started demonstrating the first database, "how did you get to that?" In my time teaching in libraries, I don't think I had a student face this, or if they did it, be so ready to admit it. Maybe the fact she was an older student, as in adult as opposed to an 18 year-old freshman, meant she was more willing to take a risk in asking. In my experience as an educator, adults tend to not worry about looking bad in front of their peers. They want the information they need, and if they need to ask, they ask. At any rate, this went to show that students will always find a way to remind you not to take things for granted. I did reassure her that it was fine to search the catalog, but that it would be useful to find books only, e-books included. I showed a couple of sample catalog searches in addition to everything else. I got other questions, from "how do you know if the article is full-text or not?" to "I have this one topic, could we try it out?"

I also had two students come in to my office for individual questions while I was between classes. So, overall, I was kept busy. One of the things I am reminded of is that I need to make some kind of little "cheat sheet" for locating articles that are not full-text directly. In other words, to explain use of Serials Solutions, which we just implemented after giving TDNet the heave-ho, but also include about finding an article in print. This is one of those things that requires constant nurturing. You explain it, and you let them try, and two weeks later they forget. One of the students that came in today had some printouts and was asking if she had the article or not. In some cases, she had missed the PDF link. It is a small link; I am so used to it, so I see it right away. I printed one of the items for her, then showed her how to find the article citations again on the database (Accession numbers can be your friends here) so she could print the others on her own. Consultations for me range from in-depth research assistance to little things like what I described. And very often, I get a reminder that I need to create something to help answer common queries, but more importantly, I get reminded that the reason I am here is to help them get ahead, to answer their questions, a good number of reasons that summarize under the rubrics of service and education.

And then there is the professor who needed some research help, but that is another story.

Booknote: Road to Perdition

Title: Road to Perdition
Writer: Max Allan Collins; Artist: Richard Pyers Rayner
Publication Information: New York: Pocket Books, 1998
ISBN: 0-7434-42-24-5
302 pgs.
Genre: Graphic Novels
Subgenre: Fiction, crime fiction

Note on the edition: This is the paperback edition with the movie poster on the cover. It includes a new introduction written in 2002.

This is the graphic novel that was the basis for the movie starring Tom Hanks in the role of the mob enforcer. In the story, Michael O'Sullivan is known as the Angel of Death. He is an enforcer for Mr. Looney (in the film, the name is changed to Rooney; the senior Rooney is played by Paul Newman in the film. According to the introduction, they thought that Looney sounded, well, too looney for a film character), an Irish mobster allied with Capone. O'Sullivan is also a family man, and his children are unaware of what he does for a living. When O'Sullivan is doublecrossed by his boss and his family murdered, O'Sullivan is forced to protect his son while he goes on to avenge the death of his family and get justice. The graphic novel is drawn in black and white ink. This enhances the gritty sense of the story, and it highlights the crime genre very well, giving a strong sense of place to the Chicago and Midwest of the 1920s. In a way, the art style is reminiscent of some of the pulps of the era, which I think makes it a stronger work as a result. The story is fast paced and engrossing. Even if you have seen the film, you are still caught up by the tale. By the way, while there is still a tragic ending, some of the details are very different from the film version; I won't reveal which. This is definitely a fine example of how the graphic novel genre can be used to tell a good tale. In this case, I think the movie catches most of the essence of the novel. However, over time I am sceptical as Hollywood, known for pretty much making movies out of other people's stories, will botch other graphic novels. That aside, this graphic novel is one selection that I very highly recommend.

For fans not familiar with the film, reader advisors may suggest that this novel is similar to works of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and especially Mickey Spillane (Mike Hammer, the books, not the series).

Monday, February 06, 2006

Article Note: On Linguistics and Bibliometrics

Citation for the article:

Georgas, Helen and John Cullars. "A Citation Study of the Characteristics of the Linguistics Literature." College and Research Libraries 66.6 (November 2005): 496-515.

I read the article in print.

The article presents a study that "seeks to document the bibliometric characteristics of the linguistics literature through an analysis of its citation patterns" (496). The authors hope that this article will be helpful for librarians with responsibilities in linguistics. I found the article interesting because linguistics falls under my Arts and Humanities specialization. Many places I know place linguistics with English, but here it falls to me rather than to our English specialist. However, as the authors make clear, the field of linguistics can be seen as part of humanities, social sciences, or the sciences. So this being in my area of responsibility is not out of the ordinary. In fact, when I was doing my graduate work in English, linguistics was a part of that.

The study found that books and journals are prominent in linguistics scholarship (509). It is a very academic field with a small core of academic presses doing the publishing in the area. The study also found that English is the primary language for scholarship in this field, and that it is closer to the social sciences based on its publication and citation patterns (510).

One implication for instruction librarians from the article:

"For example, in being able to convey to students that, like other social science disciplines, both books and articles are relevant to their literature review, that materials published within the past ten years are acceptable, and that English is the primary language of scholarly communication (even when studying a non-English-speaking group or phenomenon), the reference and/or instruction librarian can help students establish important guidelines in terms of how they should go about conducting their research and which resources are appropriate" (510-511).

This article is your typical citation analysis article with findings, some discussion, and suggestions for further research. The tables presented would allow a librarian to make lists of publishers. While the study found that there is no core set of journals, due to the various specializations within linguistics, the tables listing titles most cited may give some guidance.

So, what would be a core list of publishers? Based on their findings (see their table on most cited publishers for citing and cited sources):

  • Elsevier
  • Kluwer
  • MIT Press
  • American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
  • Oxford University Press
  • Cambridge University Press
  • Blackwell
  • Mouton de Gruyter
  • John Bengamins

Friday, February 03, 2006

Article Note: On the Effect of Online Book Reviews

Citation for the article:

Lin, Tom M.Y., et. al. "Effect of Internet Book Reviews on Purchase Intention: A Focus Group Study." The Journal of Academic Librarianship 31.5 (September 2005): 461-468.

I read the article in print.

The title of this article caught my attention because I do select a lot of the items for our collection based on reviews. I do use online reviews, and one of the things I have thought about is the issue of anonymous reviews, though not as much these days. I think a lot of librarians think about that because our profession places a strong emphasis on credibility of sources and authority. Yet the article reveals that to many book buyers, this is not an issue at all. While the article is mostly geared to online bookstore marketing, it still has some useful information for librarians.

The research is significant because of the proliferation of online book reviews on company Web sites as well as individual Web sites. I take that last to mean blogs as well, though blogs are not actually mentioned. This may be yet another area for further research, one that was not suggested by the authors. The article's literature review looks at how the authority and authorship of book reviews has changed from professionals to amateurs. Two definitions:
  • "Consequently, in this study we define Internet book reviews as all public reviews of published books by readers on the Web sites of bookstores, publishers, or private individuals" (462).
  • "Schiffman and Kanuk pointed out that purchase intention is a measure of the possibility that a consumer will purchase a product: the higher the purchase intention expressed, the greater the possibility of a purchase" (462).
The authors extrapolate from the literature that Internet book reviews do have an effect on purchase intention. To prove it, they conducted a series of focus group interviews with college students. They looked at review length, positive or negative reviews, order of reviews on a site, and anonymity. In terms of number of reviews, this is still up the in the air. The authors suggest that while the number of reviews has an effect, there is no way to know the optimal number of reviews. In other words, there is no way to know how many reviews is too many. However, a large number of reviews is seen as an indication that a book generates interest in readers. The focus readers stated that positive and negative reviews do have an effect. In terms of the order of reviews, the finding was that the more negative reviews up front, the lower the effect on purchase intention. As for anonymity, this did not seem to bother the members of the focus groups. Reasons for this include:
  • That a reviewer is seen as someone who has something to say about a book, that people will review a book if the book moves them to respond to it.
  • Anonymous reviews are common.
  • Even if there is a name on a review, it does not mean that it is the person's real name. (This sounded quite cynical to me, yet it seems very true. All one has to do is take a look at Amazon's reviews and some of the names people use.)
The authors suggest that Internet bookstores should pay attention to these results which affect their consumers' purchasing intentions. They also offer suggestions for librarians:

"Additionally, librarians could reference the results to assist their borrowers to manage and utilize Internet commentaries and Internet word-of-mouth communications. For example, a book information system such as an online catalog could provide a linking service and a publishing window for Internet book reviews. A borrower could use this catalog to arrive at a better judgment abotu the value of a book and, subsequently, to publish a review of the book" (466).

This sounds like some of the ideas that have been floating around the L2 meme. We have heard talk of making OPACs more interactive. Some public libraries have done this, but they have also used tools like blogs to allow their patrons to publish reviews and comments on books and other items. This seems to be yet another confirmation of something that can work. The authors close the article with this suggestion for further research:

"As this research proposes that Internet book reviews can affect consumer purchasing decisions, further study could focus on how librarians can unify the comments of specialized teachers or academic professors in an Internet review forum, which could then be used for better collection development" (466).

This suggestion addresses the concern that many librarians have about Internet reviews: that anyone can go in and write a review regardless of expertise. What is exciting about such a medium is what seems to scare some folks. Yes, it can be a risk, but now and then one has to take risks. I said it addresses the concern because the suggestion is unify the comments of teachers and professors, who are deemed to be authoritative. Now, this may be a good idea, but I am not sure how it could be implemented. Well, maybe it is a matter of collaboration: finding experts like teachers and professors and librarians to come together and pool their collective knowledge to create a review tool that will be useful. One of the complaints people have about resources like Choice and Booklist is that they seem to provide only positive reviews, often just an echo chamber. I know I have wondered about that myself, and it is something I find irritating with Choice reviews, that some professor in the middle of nowhere U.S.A. points out a flaw or two with a book and still goes ahead and recommends it. I don't find that very credible, so if we were to make some sort of unified resource, we would need to do a lot better than that. It would be an open resource to all. Anyhow, some food for thought. The article mostly confirms some issues that many of us probably knew already.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

National Wear Red Day: Support Women's Heart Health

(Crossposted to The Itinerant Librarian)

From the website:

"On Friday, February 3, 2006, National Wear Red Day, Americans across the country will wear red to unite in the national observance and to give women a personal and urgent wake-up call about their risk for heart disease. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) created and launched the Red Dress as the national symbol for women and heart disease to inspire women to take action to protect their heart health."

As son, husband, and father of a lovely daughter, I have more than enough reasons to wear my red tomorrow and show some support for an important and worthy cause. Some facts about women and heart disease include:
  • Heart disease is the number one killer of women.
  • One in every three women die of heart disease. One in thirty die of breast cancer.
If you go to the website and click under resources, you will find various datasheets, including the one where I found the little facts up above.

A hat tip to Emily's Musings.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Some time to think while I got Pandora running

I discovered Pandora, and when I am at my desk working on the computer, I often have it on. If you have not discovered Pandora, you may want to give it a spin. You basically enter a song or an artist, and it tries to find music similar to what you ask for. Most of the time it gets it right. Once in a while I wonder, "now why did it pick such and such." It has some options for sharing, but not something I am interested in now. Anyhow, I am disgressing.

I taught my first class of the semester last week. It went well overall, even if the Multimedia Services people botched my reservation for a technology cart that I was going to use to teach the BI session at a teacher's location. As luck would have it, I was able to get the cart in question, but only because they happened to have one when I went over to find out why my cart had not been delivered. Since it was an evening class, the cart had to be returned to the Academic Computing Lab, and the lady at the front desk said she would take care of it, make sure it was put away. I should know better than to trust someone after hours. Two days later the Multimedia people call asking me if I still have the cart. I explain where I left it and with whom and what time, and what I was told. Apparently, someone else had a cart that night too, and two carts were returned at the same time. One got moved, and they did not know who's got moved. I had to go personally to Multimedia to doublecheck. I think they got things straight now. However, it is clear they need to fix their online reservation system. From now on, I am walking there personally if I need another reservation. Long term though, I am going to propose we purchase our own unit for the library; all we would need is a cart with a portable projector and a computer with wireless capability. It would add to our mobility since many of the classrooms in the older building are not computer equipped (heck, not even a projector). Newer classrooms have at least an instructor station, so that works fine. We'll see. At any rate, the class went well. It was a second semester composition class working on topics of globalization. Wal-Mart was the current topic they were working on, with attention to that company's moves in China. We teach classes in our Instruction Room, and we also go to classrooms upon request. We are as mobile as can be. That instructor had a second class late at night, but her second class was in the new building, so there was a computer there with projector. It's amazing how we take things like good technology for granted, and we notice when it's not there.

Tomorrow, I am teaching another class, a second semester composition. This is my last semi-slow week in terms of teaching. I launch into full mode next week (10 classes). In the meantime, I have been busy with a lot of other things. I am working on the Spring 06 edition of our newsletter. Prepping for classes, scheduling more classes, so on. This is the time of year an Instruction Librarian lives for. On the "trying out new things" department, I am now giving my students my AIM (gypsylibrarian) and Y!IM (scholar_librarian) usernames so they can contact me. It's an experiment based on what I have read about some librarians using instant messaging, mostly for virtual reference. It is a soft launch for me. To be honest, I have not even told my colleagues yet, and when they read this, they will probably either shrug or wonder why I did not mention it. It was an impulse thing. The Yahoo! username is one on my current account (the one that has the e-mail I use here); the AIM is new. At the moment, I usually keep the line open midmorning and after lunch (say from 1p until I leave, which varies from 4p to 7p, unless I am doing a night class, but I would not be online for IM then). I have no idea if this will even work or not. Odds are slim, but hey, it's another way that students might contact me, so it's worth giving it a shot. In my line of work, I do a good share of student consultations. It's another thing I live for, working with students.

So, what else is on my mind? Projects. The big one for the Instruction Unit is remodeling the classroom, which is on stages. I won't say much more on it now, other than I am thankful for the most valuable assistance and advice of our Systems Librarian. I tell him my vision, and he advises me how to make it happen. As for other projects, I have quite a list, and then as I sit to do one thing, I go, "oh yea, I need to do X" or "at some point, I really need to make a new guide for Y." The list grows a bit more every time I do that. Hmm, Talking Heads are on Pandora now (Live version of "Once in a Lifetime"). I do wonder at times how did I get here. Oh, I know the literal way, but more in terms of the path that got me here. Then there is my reading and writing. I am still reading quite a bit, though my professional reading has slowed down a bit. Of course, work trumps blogging. Actually, I have some things for my blogs to post done, so no fear readers, there will be posts. As of late, I am doing more personal notes on books and articles. I have done a couple of online workshops, and I took a moment to go listen to a visiting Fulbright Scholar today. I have the notes on that, and I will try to post by end of week. I am firm believer of taking advantage of opportunities like that on campus.

As for the biblioblogosphere, I have seen a couple of things here and there I wanted to either respond to or blog about. But to be honest, between L2 and ALA, and some of the politics as of late, not really up to it. Not that I have not thought about some things, they have just gone to my personal journal. So, what am I thinking? A magnificent question. Sometimes I feel like I am biting my tongue to remain polite or graceful. Part of it is the belief that you don't say anything if you have nothing nice to say. At this point, I am not sure what I am trying to vocalize. When I started this experiment, it was a journey of exploration, and it still is. But I am finding that it may be better to stick to the side roads rather than using the highways. I am reading a lot of articles with applications to instruction or my subject areas, so readers may see me make notes on those. And there are some small ideas in the cue, just not sure if they will see light of day right away. Personally, I don't worry about when I will get to those and other things in my blogs. But I know there are readers out there (ok, not many, but more than zero, which is what I started out with), and I want to put something out that is good enough for them. The experiment, at this point, seems to be working.

Well, time to go home. I am learning that much of what I do is to live to fight another day. And you know what, I enjoy it. I am trying out some new things in classes, so I may write about those as well. And I have another project, for now I will keep that card close, but if it works out, I will let folks know. And, I am hoping also to go to TLA this year. It's going to be quite a ride, or so I hope.

Booknote: Graphic Novels Now

Title: Graphic Novels Now: Building, Managing, and Marketing a Dynamic Collection
Author: Francisca Goldsmith
Publication Information: Chicago: ALA, 2005
ISBN: 0-8389-0904-3
113 pgs., including appendices and index
Genre: Nonfiction
Subgenre: Librarianship, collection development, readers' advisory

This short volume provides a brief and concise guide for building and maintaining a successful graphic novels collection. The appendices provide a good list of resources and a good list of graphic novels to get librarians started. The book goes from basic definitions to rationales to marketing and promotion. It is important to remember, and the author points this out as well, that graphic novels appeal to all ages, and not all works are for all readers. The author shows that a graphic novel collection is just like any other library collection. While there may be different decisions about how to shelve it, it should be treated like any other collection. This applies to marketing as well as readers' advisory. The book also considers issues of cataloguing and control.

I personally found the author's thoughts on readers' advisory interesting. This was not addressed in any RA class I took, and I don't think my local public library branch does as much with them as they could. When not displayed with the YA display at the entrance, my local branch puts them in the 741 call number with other cartoon and art books. You pretty much have to be looking for them. Maybe I should drop them a suggestion or two. Goldsmith goes on to provide three key questions for an RA interview involving graphic novels:

"'Do you find yourself moving through most graphic novels that you have enjoyed by reading the text or following the images?' Most graphic novels readers can answer this question readily, and their individual responses help clarify whether they are more visually inclined or more text oriented.

'Are you more interested in a particular graphic novel style?' This question would follow up on a more general question about preferences for a particular genre or subject matter regardless of format. Responses help focus the advisor on whether to include titles from the manga collection, for instance, in the list of suggestions.

'What have you already found in our collection of graphic novels that you like a lot?' . . . responses to this question can help the library evaluate how well the current graphic novel collection serves the local audience" (67-68).

Personally, I never thought much of the first question until I read it, but I would have to say I am the text based person. While I love the art and enjoy looking at it, to follow the story, I usually concentrate on the text more. As for styles, I am a stage where I would like to sample as many styles as possible, so I am not sure how this would help an RA advisor other than to recommend a sampling. Manga would be fine, through it seems a lot of what comes to the U.S. tends to be juvenile (not that this is a bad thing, just means I have to do a bit more digging on my part to find a story I would like). Moving along, Goldsmith also suggests that reader advisors remember to include graphic novel titles with other format suggestions if possible.

Overall, I strongly recommend the book for any librarian working on starting a graphic novels collection. For practitioners who already have such a collection but want new ideas, this book will be useful as well as to help them market the collection and even meet any challenges should they surface.