Sunday, June 28, 2009

Friday, May 29, 2009

More crazy furniture!

To follow up on an older post, here are some neat bookshelves I found.

#1 reminds me of the sleeping pods in 2001: A Space Odyssey
#6 is akin to the movable shelves VA Hospitals used to use to bring reading material to bed-ridden patients, only much nicer! (don't ask me how I know about these things, some things are best left unknown...)
#18 a round sofa-bookcase!! Chic!

Which are your favorites?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cat and librarians. Libraries and cats. Dewey the wonder cat. And now, and amazing interactive map of cats and libraries from around the world, both currently purring with us or chasing squirrels in the great Heaviside Layer.

(image by adamscarroll)

Monday, April 20, 2009

BEHOLD! The Power of the Archivist!

Diablo III has a new character, The Archivist. And it's about time librarian kick-assery was acknowledged by the video game industry. Now if I can just harness the shushing power, the library would be a much nicer place to work. But I wonder who will clean up the mess...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

There's an encyclopedia for everything...

For one of my DFW projects last quarter, I did research about encyclopedias that have been published recently. And let me tell you, there are A LOT. The encyclopedia business is booming, apparently. And there are some pretty odd encyclopedias out there. Here are a few of my favorites:

If you could make up your own encyclopedia, what topic would you choose? I'd be interested in reading an encyclopedia of sushi. And what do you know, it already exists. And SPL has it! It's specifically about sushi rolls. I think I'd like something a little more comprehensive. Or maybe I'll just go eat some sushi. I think I like that option best...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Lexicons in literature

I am currently reading "Anathem" by Neal Stephenson. Stephenson's writing is, well, it is *not* concise as can be seen by this 935 page volume. It is, however, extremely clear and well-written. The way he uses words amazes me. He creates his own vocabulary to describe the futuristic world where this novel takes place. For example, he uses the word "saunt" to mean a person that is a combination of a saint and a savant. The context gives absolute clarity to the term while you are reading - and makes me wonder why we don't have many of these words in our parlance already.

So my question is, why would one include a lexicon in a book when crystal clear definitions for the terms have already been given? Stephenson's lexicon is interspersed throughout the story. Some are at chapter breaks and some right in the middle of a scene (for lack of a better word). I personally find this to be quite irritating. I am compelled to read the definitions because I am afraid that I will miss something vital to the story if I do not, and yet I rarely learn something that he has not already revealed through his diction. I would be tempted to see them included as footnotes - but know that I would still stop to read them in the same manner. For me, it would be best to put them at the end in a glossary that I could read if I wanted to, or if I had a question about the meaning of a term. With all that said, however, it is a really well-written book and has some interesting ideas for archivists and philosophers - as well as musicians, mathemeticians, scientists... Just read the book.

Another interesting question, or thought really, is also raised in my mind as I read this book. Has Stephenson created a new genre with his latest creation? This work is what he styles as speculative fiction, as opposed to science fiction. It definitely contains some science, and it is fiction - yet it is more than that. To hear what Stephenson himself has to say about this potentially emerging genre, click here.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Book Talking

Yesterday was the last class session for LIS 569 (Book Lust 101) with Nancy Pearl. It was a fantastic class, by the way--if you haven't taken it yet, you should definitely try to at some point.

Anyway, one of the things we learned in the class was the importance of book talking in readers' advisory. I'm not all that comfortable with public speaking in general, and book talking is (in my opinion) even more difficult than "regular" public speaking (giving formal presentations and stuff like that) because you don't want to sound like you're giving a speech; the goal is to sound as natural as possible--as if you're just having a conversation with the audience.

During the class when we first began discussing book talks, Nancy gave us "17 things to think about"--useful hints and tips for doing book talks. Here they are (somewhat paraphrased):

  1. Before you start talking, take a deep breath and let it out. (Believe it or not, this is really important and it does help.)
  2. Smile. :)
  3. Do the book talk in a way you feel comfortable. There is no right or wrong "style" to give a book talk. The most important thing is to be yourself.
  4. Show enthusiasm! You are trying to "sell" the book to your audience. On a related note, don't book talk something you didn't really like or that you haven't read yet. The audience can tell you're faking it.
  5. Try to get to a point where you're not reading from your notes. Speak as naturally as possible; have a conversation with the audience. If you have notes, keep them short. Know how you're going to start and end the talk, but try not to have a script.
  6. Don't overprepare. If you try to memorize your entire book talk, you'll either sound fake or freak out if you lose your place.
  7. Maintain eye contact.
  8. Ignore the distractions in the audience (people texting, sleeping, etc.).
  9. When you're preparing your book talk, ask yourself what the "takeaway" of the book is. What do you want the audience to remember? Make sure there's at least one detail for them to grab onto. And don't put in minor or irrelevant details. You don't want your book talk to feel cluttered.
  10. Try to give the audience a sense of who you are and what you like to read.
  11. Use language that the audience would use. This goes back to being "conversational" in your book talks.
  12. Keep it short. Don't talk about the plot for more than 1 or 2 sentences. And don't give away plot twists or the exciting stuff.
  13. Try to convey what your own feelings were when you were reading the book. People like to hear about how you personally connected with the book.
  14. If you are good at reading aloud, incorporating a passage into your book talk is a good way to hook the audience. But if you're not good at it, or you're too nervous, just don't do it.
  15. Another way to do a hook is to start with a question. "Have you ever wondered . . . " Other good phrases: "Imagine . . . " or "If you like to read ____, here's another . . . "
  16. Don't make your closing line "I really loved this book." Find an unusual way of ending the talk that brings everything together.
  17. If you're book talking a lot of books at once, have a handout with a list of the books with space underneath each one for notes.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Miscellaneous Info. Bits

It's kinda like AlphaBits, the cereal, only better! Here are some of the random things that have been circulating through my brain lately:

Books! I just read Graceling by Kristin Cashore and Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. These are both *fabulous* YA books, but rest assured that adults will enjoy them, too. Both will have full reviews coming in the next issue of SilverFish. Don't wait for those; read them now. As my 12 year old niece said "Graceling is better than Harry Potter, Twilight and Maximum Ride!" Can you get a better recommendation than that?

Diversity! I just took a great skills workshop class through the Evans School called "Authentic Conversations in Diversity." One of the things we discussed was the use of phrases or words that may unintentionally be offensive to someone. A few were obvious to me, such as "that's so gay" or "jew them down". One that was new to me was "rule of thumb." This is based on an old law that said a man could beat his wife with a stick - as long as it was no wider than his thumb.

Information Grounds! Sometimes I truly am an ostrich in regards to information. How can I be so oblivious to things happening around me? For example, I am doing a DFW at Garfield HS this quarter, which has been an amazing opportunity to work with teens, and I was talking to a friend who is doing his student teaching at a high school in Shoreline. He asked me how things have been at Garfield after the basketball game... Huh? Apparently there was a big racial incident at the game between them and Redmond. One of the sad things here for me is that I was at GHS 3 of 5 days after the incident and still never picked up on it. What kind of information professional am I? So, learn a lesson from me - by doing what I say and not what I do - keep your eyes and ears open no matter where you are because I'm sure there is some good information, just waiting to be discovered.

Good luck with registration for spring quarter! Remember that it is this Friday, Feb. 20th.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Book Furniture

Move over book arts!

Time now for some functional book creations. Check out these vases, lamps, and table-like things by artist Laura Cahill. She makes use of materials that would otherwise been wasted. Cahill states "the glue in old books make them extremely difficult to recycle. Aware of this I challenged myself to turn the second hand books that I had been collecting, into desirable objects such as furniture, lighting and ornaments.."

While some people believe the book to be a sacred object, I'd rather have a book be reincarnated into functional art than tossed nonchalantly into the recycle bin (yeah, big dumpsters in Allen, I mean you) or slowly decomposing in landfills. And this so much more chic than those BigCozyBooks blighting a library near you.

This is not a new idea. Indeed, in 2004 a MIT visiting scientist created an entire bedroom-themed recycled book display. While I'll pass sleeping in that bed (um, paper cuts anyone?) the rocking chair is pretty nice. If only I had a little extra time on my hands...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Information Overload: Trying to Deal

Ack! I am suffering from information overload, but I hear that there are some good antidotes out there. Like I just discovered Zotero. (Apparently, everyone who took LIS 530 with Joe Tennis last year had to add the Firefox extension.) Zotero describes itself as "The Next-Generation Research Tool," helping you to collect, manage, and cite your research sources. Sounds amazing! Also sounds like more work...

Check it out.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Fictional Librarians

I recently finished re-reading the Harry Potter series, and I found myself reflecting on the portrayal of the Hogwarts librarian, Madame Pince. A minor character in the series, she unfortunately embodies many negative librarian stereotypes--unfriendly, extremely strict, and decidedly unattractive ("vulture-like" is one description found in the books).

To J.K. Rowling's credit, she actually apologizes for this characterization, which was for purposes of the plot rather than her actual perception of librarians.

But anyway, I got to thinking about depictions of librarians I've come across in other films and books. One favorite is Mrs. Phelps, the kindly librarian in Roald Dahl's Matilda, who encourages and cultivates Matilda's love of reading.

Another fun one, which I came across more recently, is from Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean's MirrorMask. Although the librarian is a shusher, he does prove to be helpful and you get the feeling that he's probably not as grumpy as he acts. And hey, bonus points for the librarian being a guy.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Top 5 Reasons to come to iYouth Book Club Meetings

5. Because it makes you sound smart. Seriously, when you are at a party and you hear someone say things about their book club, don't you envy them, just for a minute, because they are smart enough to belong to a book club? Just think, now, you too, could discourse at length about your very own fabulous book club. We'll help you come up with phrases to astound, sentences to amaze, and thoughts that will impress others to no end.

4. Because we talk about great books. Each time we meet, we pick a picture book and a young adult novel for in-depth discussion. We have chosen some really intense works such as Unwind by Neal Shusterman (which we are talking about on January 12th. Don't miss it!), 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher, and Little Brother by Corey Doctorow. We have also chosen fun and heart-warming books like Knufflebunny by Mo Willems, And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson, and The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. We also talked about Arlene Sardine by Chris Raschka, too. I don't know which category that one falls into, but makes for some interesting conversation!

3. Because it is convenient. We meet on the second Monday of every month at 9:30 AM, MGH 310D. I suppose that if we came right to your home, that would be slightly more convenient for you - but not for the rest of us... However, campus is your second home anyway, your cozy little nest where you spend any and all of your free time. The ambience can't be beat!

2. Because it is where all the cool kids hang out. Ahh, you thought it was at the College Inn, didn't you? Well, that is correct some of the time - but on book club days, this is where you will find the super cool kids. We know you are one too, so what are you waiting for? Join us already! There is no need to be planning to go into children's and youth services. If you enjoy discussing literature and hanging out with people who make you think, and make you laugh, then this is exactly the right place for you. Everyone is welcome!

1. Because there is always the possibility that there will be food! And on Monday, January 12th, there is a very high likelihood that there will be food. In fact, I would go so far as to guarantee that there will be food at the meeting. What could possibly be better than that? Some caffeine, you say. Hmm, you may be on your own there, but there will be food! Don't believe me? Stop by and find out! We will be waiting for you!

So, if you didn't figure it out yet (but you all did, since only the most intelligent sort of folks read The Silverfish), you are welcome to attend any and all iYouth book club meetings. We look forward to hearing what you have to say about what we're reading. For any additional details, check out our website, courtesy of the fabulous Elizabeth Mitchell, here:

See you soon!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

I came across this promo for 4th Estate Publishing's 25th anniversary. The short film is produced by Apt Studio and Asylum Films.

"The film was produced in stop-motion over 3 weeks in Autumn 2008. Each scene was shot on a home-made dolly by an insane bunch of animators; you can see time-lapse films of each sequence being prepared and shot in our other films."

This Is Where We Live from 4th Estate on Vimeo.