Thursday, July 31, 2008

Book by Jessica Fletcher

I went to the public library during lunch to get a new book on tape. While I was browsing their audio book collection, I saw they had a book called "Murder She Wrote: A Vote for Murder." I used to love that show when I was little and it was a big treat to watch it with my grandma.
Anyway, it has Angela Lansbury on the cover, and then I noticed that the first author listed was Jessica Fletcher. For those of you who are too cool to have watched this show, that was Angela's character's name. Half of the people in her little town of Cabot Cove, Maine were murdered, and someone is murdered every time she travels anywhere. In the show, she is a mystery novelist for profession and amateur crime solver that no one ever believes. I read the author bio on the back, and they describe the fictional character! I have heard of pen names, but has anyone ever heard of a book supposedly being written by a fictional person? I am so confused.

Annoying vendor reps

There is a woman from a stock art company that is practically harassing me by e-mail because an obscure page on our Web site doesn't link to her company's site. It's a commercial site that people would have to pay to use its resources, so it's not a high priority. I was going to add it, but now I'm just annoyed and don't want to. I think the e-mail I received this morning must be #7... if it is, I haven't responded to #3-#6. What makes it even more annoying, she provided a long list of links that don't work... what on earth is she doing checking our links, and it looks like links from our whole Web site!

If any of the five readers I have are familiar with any tools that can check external links, please let me know. Dreamweaver is great for internal links, and I have tried Xenu and W3C. I couldn't figure Xenu out, and W3C's tool is incredibly slow (it can take up to 15 minutes to run a report, that needs to be re-run if you accidentally click out of it, then some of the links really do work and it can't check others, and I don't trust it's getting everything right. Basically, it's a mess and not much faster than checking the links manually.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Citation Tutorial and Cat Update

I met with the head of the Writing Center this morning to discuss the citation tutorial we have been working on since Christmas. I think it's almost entirely done!!! There was one suggestion I haven't followed up with from an English professor, but it should be minor. I just wonder which version he saw, because today we found lots of technical glitches that were making the interactive parts not work properly. I can't believe I didn't check to make sure it ran smoothly before sending it out.

Now I need to brainstorm a way to find out how effective this tutorial is. I have two instructors involved at different levels, and could probably talk another one or two into participating. I would want a survey as well, but effectiveness is a key thing to measure.

Cat update: My girl cat is a week into her antibiotics for her bladder infection. That's cat #2 with a UTI in the past 2 months. While I was getting dressed this morning, I noticed my boy cat was backing up against the wall in a strange posture. I asked him what he was doing (because talking to a cat is always so productive), then he started peeing. I went to pick him up and he continued to pee. I described this to the vet this afternoon, who said it sounds more like a behavioral issue than a UTI symptom, but it doesn't hurt to get another sample. Sigh, it's not over yet!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Let the costumes begin

I have settled into the new house enough that I could justify spending some time last night cutting out this year's batch of Harry Potter costumes. I'm currently working on Gilderoy Lockhart. I can't wait to see how this turns out, and it will give me the change to dive back into the world of audio books.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

My Discoveries & Cat Update

After many technical glitches, I attended a webinar this afternoon on Aquabrowser's My Discoveries feature. We have had Aquabrowser for two years now, and got it when it was owned by TLC. We have our catalog through TLC and they have excellent customer service, and give us special pricing as one of their few academic customers. We're seriously considering swapping Aquabrowser for Indigo either this Christmas or next summer, and have been involved in its development.

I am particularly interested in the Web 2.0 features in catalogs, more so after a discussion at CiL in April. My Discoveries adds Web 2.0 functionality to Aquabrowser, particularly the ability for patrons to tag, create lists, write reviews, and rate the books. It looks great, though the same thing as Indigo, which has these tools built into the main product. My Discoveries is out of the question right now because of cost, but I want to stay current on options and push for Web 2.0 whenever I can (at least when it's well-implemented). Whether or not our students will use it will be a completely different question.

The update on my sick cats is that now the other one has a bladder infection. Maybe she did the whole time, I didn't take her sample in since she didn't want to give me one. Today will be day three of the antibiotics, I am really hoping they get better soon!

The cats are having a difficult time adjusting to the new house. I finally got the girl cat to walk around the house with me, and she slept with us until the boy cat came in and made lots of noise and I had to kick them both out (you don't want to put a closed door between the cat and the litter box). This morning, the boy cat was exploring the bathroom while I was getting ready. He suddenly decided jumping into the medicine cabinet was a great idea. I guess at the top of his jump he realized there was no where to go, so he was dangling helplessly, holding onto the cabinet door. Sometimes I wonder what goes through his little mind.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Book Chaos & Sick Cat

Am I a bad librarian if book chaos in my personal collection only drives me crazy because I think it should? We're in the process of moving, and as soon as I had a book shelf, I shoved whatever books were closest onto it. Knowing my husband and me, that's probably as organized as it will get.

We've been finding things around the house that are soaked in cat pee. We couldn't tell if it was old or new. The current wave of heat and humidity really brings out the odors of the old house (beyond the cat pee). It finally became aparent that he's still sick when my husband found the suitcase he used last week now smells of eau de chat. I tried to get a pee sample last night, but he didn't cooperate. I'll try again tonight with both cats...

Friday, July 18, 2008


After being at CiL in April (yes, it was good enough to keep talking about!), I tried out Twitter, but I just don't get it. Maybe if my friends were on it, but still... there is no one in the world I love enough to want to know when they stepped out of their office to get a cup of coffee.

On the other hand, I just discovered the microblogging feature of facebook. It's probably been there for a very long time. I usually only go to facebook when one of my grad school friends writes to me and it goes to my e-mail. I love clicking on my friends link and reading quick updates about people. It's often not even anything important, missing co-workers, wanting the weekend to arrive faster, getting a new stereo, etc. But sometimes it is, like posting updates about a father in the hospital, buying a house, or when they're moving across the country. I care about these people, but don't have time to keep up with all of them individually, so this way I can get little snippets.

There's something strangely satisfying in sharing some little tidbit of my life as well. Today it was the sudden realization when I was taking my morning pills that it was Friday, not Thursday as I have been believing for the past 24 hours. Now isn't that a sweet surprise worth sharing?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Favorite Literary Food Moments

Author Jane Brocket chose her top 10 food moments in children's literature. I want to rise up to the challenge and pick 10 of my favorite food moments, though from all books that I have read, not just children's books.

1. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe
I love the food-fight scene, but the best food moment is the gruesome part where they feed the murderer to the mean police officer who is looking for him. It's strongly implied, but not explicitly described. When the police officer gobbles up his third or fourth helping, the waitress tells him, "the secret's in the sauce." I've eaten barbecue at the Whistlestop Cafe in Juliette, GA. My younger brother would not stop saying that line. I have to say, the fried green tomatoes and the barbecue were both excellent.

2. Like Water for Chocolate
This whole book is about the main character's feelings coming out in her cooking. I think my favorite scene is towards the beginning during the wedding reception of her true love to her sister. Everyone at the wedding starts suffering from her heart break and it ruins the wedding.

3. Holes
I love the clever way the author has weaved pieces of the family prophecy throughout the story. Then towards the end, when they're starving, he fulfills the prophecy by carrying his friend to the top of the mountain, where they find water and onions. The onions are enough for them to regain their strength, and if I remember right, protects them later from the deadly lizards, that in turn protect them from the bad guys.

4. Sweetheart Season
The crazy, but good-hearted cereal factory owner thought anything could be solved with a good bowl of cereal first thing in the morning. Throughout the book, he had all kinds of crazy ideas of things to do with cereal beyond as a breakfast food.

Hmmm... This isn't as easy as I expected. I'm going to have to think about more memorable food moments and come back to this!

5. Harry Potter
Someone pointed out in a comment that I didn't mention Harry Potter. I had been thinking about HP, but there are so many food moments, it's hard to pick just one. Possibly it would be in the very first book when Hagrid cooks Harry sausages and gives him a birthday cake. I don't think they tasted very good because Hagrid's not a very good cook, but it was the first time in Harry's life that he felt love. I love when food is a symbol of affection. Food is also a part of the very beginning of Harry's friendship with Rob, when Ron shows off his sandwhiches and Harry buys tons of candy off the cart for them to share. Again, food and affection go together. Of course I'd love to have an evening in the great hall with all of the food made by the house elves... though I would prefer it if they were freed house elves!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Revolving Door

I wrote a post last week about the loneliness of visiting grad school, but it's not just students who move through the revolving door in academia, the academics do, to. This summer, two of my favorite professors are moving on to bigger and better things. One is a friend, along with her partner. We had them over on Monday night to eat pizza off of paper towels in our near-empty new house. I've been in denial that they're leaving, but they have now set a date for the beginning of August, so it's finally real. They will only be a few hours away, so I hope we can stay in touch and visit often.

One of my best friends lives only 2 hours away and is starting to think it's time to move on. I plan to send her every job ad I can find that is within driving distance. I want her to get a good job, but I also want to be able to visit!

I, on the other hand, will be staying put in my first job. I am very happy here and now that we have bought a house, we have committed ourselves to developing roots here. I'm looking forward to roots, it's been so long since I've stayed in one place.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Another life change

I had another big life change today... we closed on our first house. Here's a picture of when my dad was here last month inspecting it:

Why the same old thing?

Why do people such as Christopher Kiess think we should get rid of an MLS instead of revamping it? The notion that an MBA is a better degree seems absurd, though he does say that for public libraries rather than academic ones. I don't know much about public libraries. For running an academic library, I do not see how an MBA instead of an MLS would be useful unless you are strictly a business librarian. An MBA is not a research degree.

Furthermore, many good librarians probably ended up in librarianship because they were not business-minded. At least that's how I ended up here. My worst grades in undergrad were in my two business classes (solid B's, but still my worst). I feel I could learn the business skills needed to manage a library if I were to ever move into management, but don't think a business background could have prepared me for librarianship.

That said, I wish I had learned more about the business part of librarianship in grad school, particularly budgets. There were many practical things I wish I learned in grad school, though at least I learned a lot of them during my job while in school, and at my internship. I wish knowing basic HTML and navigating gov docs was a requirement for every new MLS, as well as a sense of the profession and the theory behind it.

Many things about an MLS are laughable. But we should try to get it improved, not get rid of the degree.

Web 2.0 Workshop

Our school is hosting a regional workshop on Web 2.0 on Halloween. Last week, while I was on vacation, we invited our first choice of keynote speakers and she said yes! It is Jody Condit Fagan from James Madison University. I heard she gave a great talk about mash-ups for non-techies at CiL 2008, though I attended something else during that time slot.

As the resident techie librarian who is familiar with Web 2.0 stuff, I am supposed to be organizing the panel and poster sessions. I sent out an invitation to people from the other member libraries to contribute to a wiki I set up for this purpose, but so far only a few have posted a bio and no one has posted any other ideas beyond what I am originally imagining. I'm not sure how to motivate people to participate when we're not physically in one room, even though there is no reason for us to need to meet physically. This is something I will need to figure out in the next week or two. It would be really nice to have a good idea of what everyone is doing by the time school starts.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Lonely trips down memory lane

I've been quiet on my blog this week because I'm on vacation and thinking about libraries very little. This is somewhat related... I guess you have to allow me to be liberal in the summer.

Last night we stopped in Auburn, Alabama where my husband finished his Ph.D. three years ago. It reminded me of how lonely it is to try to visit a place that is such a revolving door. While we had an excellent visit with his Ph. D. advisor, very few of his friends are left any more. He still had plenty of stories to tell me, showed me where his lab was, where his office was, and which office door window he put his best friend's shoulder through.

Thinking of trying to temporarily capture grad school again is lonely. When I get back to Bloomington, I have a few people left, but will never get the whole gang back in one place. Of those who are left, they are many of the most important people, but not everyone. I'd give anything to recreate several moments of time with the friends I made there... Harry Potter Night (before I was a Potterhead) with the collapsed cauldron cakes and gross attempt at butterbeer that started my love of ginger ale, our hiking group and camping trip, my favorite professor cooking enough Lebanese food to feed an army because I asked him to cook for me, that same professor delivering the Chicago Manual of Style in Hurricane Katrina so I would submit a lousy pathfinder for publication (it got brutally rejected), and mostly working in an office with some of the most amazing librarians on the face of the earth... that office no longer exists.

You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone, and we didn't take advantage of the time that we had all together in one place. I have to say I am incredibly grateful for Facebook, but I wish we could all have a reunion and have things the way they were, just for an hour or two.

It just seems strange to me that such an important part of your life can't be revisited.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Community Borrowers

I've been thinking a lot about how helpful academic librarians should be to people who aren't associated with the college. I became a librarian because I enjoy customer service and helping people. Furthermore, we have to provide reasonable access tot he government documents. I don't want to tell people we can't do something. Especially in the summer when we don't have other people who take priority.

However, we are a small college that is privately funded. We have a small staff and limited resources. And it seems that most of the community people who use our collection heavily that come to the attention of the staff are very weird and make staff and students uncomfortable.

I don't want to go into this in detail, but where to draw the line is an interesting question. I'm grateful when I hear about the issues public libraries have to deal with. If we have anyone making us at all uncomfortable, we call security and the person is escorted out. We don't need a good reason. This is particularly important during the school year when students are around and there are only student employees running the library in the evening. We are very protective of our students.

This past week, a group of home-schooled high schoolers wanted an instruction session and tour of the library. I think I would have been more willing to do this as they are prospective students, but the other librarians compromised and provided a brief tour, but no instruction and no reference. They sent them to the community college on the other side of town, since it is publicly funded. At least we did this, I would have been upset if we had not done anything, even though I know we can't be everything to everyone.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

And the great HPN08 begins!

By October, I think "Harry Potter" will probably be my most popular tag. I began brainstorming about our annual Harry Potter Night, which is on the calendar for October 24. We held a small one in March 07, then a large one in October that we plan to repeat annually. You can see some of our photos here (I need to tag more of them).

This afternoon I have been brainstorming how to make a Horcrux scavenger hunt. The idea is starting to become clearer in my brain now, and resembles a cross between an obstacle course and a scavenger hunt. Anyone interested in playing will put their name on a slip of paper, which will go into a goblet (like the Goblet of Fire). We will draw out 2 or 3 at a time, which will make a team. That team will head upstairs to the second floor and get started. At each of the six stations, they will have to go through some type of obstacle like drinking a large up of sour green juice, finding a large ring in a big box of popcorn, playing red-light-green-light with Umbridge...

It's coming together, and what's cooler than getting paid to play with Harry Potter???