And She’s Out of the Gate! (Almost)

So I see here that I haven’t posted since 2007.  Typical.  I’m glad I fit right in with those statistics detailing how many people leave their blogs for dead.  This blog was started for a class at the beginning of my Master’s program in library and information science so it’s appropriate that the occasion of my return is a class assignment toward the end.

But, before I get to that, let me just tick off the box labeled “Ongoing Personal Data” and say that I have passed my comps.  After this summer, I have two classes in the fall which finish my program.  I recently read that the graduates of 2009 will have the hardest time finding a job since they started tracking such things.  I choose to believe that they are referring to UNDERgraduates with no experience who live on either coast.  We’ll see if my blatant and willful denial translates into a confident and charming impression on my prospective employers.  🙂

Now on to the reading I did for this week and my thoughts on it.

I read out of Joseph B. Miller’s   Internet Technologies and Information Services.       There were 2 chapters on connections technologies and TCP/IP.  To be honest, I already was familiar with most of this material. 

If I read this before and forgot it .. or whether it was new info – the detail about ISDN being favored because of it’s swift handshake… it seemed new to me.  Interesting tidbit.  And that providers are re-evaluating the option with the large files of streaming media.  Particularly salient to me because I have Netflix and tried to get movies over my Netflix-partnered Blu-ray DVD player.  That’s when I discovered how woefully inadequate my internet speed is.  I will soon upgrade (the sound of Beyonce Knowles strangely fills my head every time I say that word) to the higher speed.  Just as soon as I get that great job with the luxurious salary.  🙂

The mention of WiMax was intriguing.  I hadn’t heard of that before, I’m sure.  It seems so simple I wonder why someone didn’t think of it sooner.  I’m sure that’s completely NOT the case, but I certainly appreciate the potential and will look for further news about it.

I have two things that come to mind about TCP/IP.  One is Star Trek.   You know, the whole beaming thing.  That is honestly how I pictured the process when I was first learning about it.  The visual helped tremendously. 

The second is more exoteric.  As I was thinking about the TCP/IP standard and what it has meant to the development of the interent, I am aware that some people think of the internet like they think of God – sort of a polymorphic mass of basically benevelant energy somewhere ‘up there’.  Witness the ‘cloud computing’ label.  But, actually, the internet is ALL of us.  Your computer and mine – HP’s (somewhat bigger) computer and my grandmother’s.  ARPAnet was the spine at first .. but like some mythical mutant, the internet finally grew so many spines it had no need of one.  In fact… one spine would have crippled the internet. 

 (I have a point – I’m working up to it.)

As a web designer, I know there are many, MANY different machines out there – with many different settings.  Making a web page work for all of them is tough.  Something aided incalculably by the HTTP protocol.  In the same way, TCP/IP allows all these disparate entities to coexist and form something much bigger than any of them.  And so much more powerful.

It’s still hard for me to get my head around something as simple as an agreed-upon standard connecting the world as it has. 

I know this hasn’t addressed the more technical aspects of the text.  But, darn it all, they’re boring.  I’ve heard the details so many times both during this program and before that I honestly would rather talk about the philosophy.  It’s a shame the library program teaches more internet protocols than it does anything else.  But there you are.

Thank goodness for work experience and intellectual curiousity!

I think passing comps fulfills the detail about becoming a librarian in today’s post. 🙂

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Say hello to my Little Kindle!

So.. read the article in the Nov. 26 Newsweek about Amazon and the Kindle.  About six people I know (outside of school) had asked me about it before I even got the issue in my mailbox.  (Yes – I get it in hard copy.)  My family and friends know I’m in Library School and often forward e-mails with all manner of things to do with libraries be it architecture (the new Seattle library is awesome) or the Kindle business.  I particularly liked the NYT article about the new ‘hip’ librarian last summer.  Made me feel especially cool for about a week. heh.

But this was really interesting.  Seems they have incorporated a technology that makes the print VERY clear and easy to read, defeating one traditional problem of e-readers.  And they’ve included all the expected things… hyperlinking, searchible text, the ability to buy a book right on the screen and have it instantly….

Bezos, Amazon’s head man, is said to be a great reader in the article.  His wife as well.  It’s interesting to me that he would be so passionate about creating and perfecting a device that so clearly aims to destroy the book as we know it.  He talks about buying books in the future with the idea that the author could make ongoing changes and immediately download them over time.  Of course, this would be ideal with reference works.  But Dean Koontz?  Robin Cook?  Nope.  Uh-uh.  Count me out.

And I’ll illustrate why.  Recently, J.K. Rowling, in her tour promoting the last of the Harry Potter books, has been spouting some really unfortunate gossip.  She’s been going about telling people at book signing, lectures and the like what happened to characters after the series ended.  She’s also been filling in what I thought of as completely unnecessary details about other characters.  Sure… the first time I finished The Lord of the Rings when I was 11, I wanted the story to have gone on for 20 more volumes.  But, it didn’t.  There was only The Simarillion… or however you spell it.  And so I was left to imagine…. well.. full stop.  Left to imagine.  J.K. Rowling, in her impertinent tampering with a perfectly great story, has taken that out of the readers hands.

This is precisely why I do not want my fiction copy to be editable after it is published.  Okay, so maybe Stephen King’s extra 200 pages of the re-issued The Stand was awesome beyond words and I was greedy for every page of it as a true fan should be.  In my defense.. it was his original story restored.  He has always had to cut reams of content from his books to please the publishers.  But by and large, when I get to the end of a book, it should be over.  Like any decent ex-boyfriend, it should respectfully and politely drop off the face of the planet when I’m done with it. 

Now, if Bezos had his way, he’d have them all lined up in my driveway every morning to re-issue their final statements or edit some particularly galling diatribe they’d delivered on how it’s a man’s God-given right to leave the toilet seat up.  And just as I was about to finally pull into the street, I’d find out that Margaret Mitchell’s estate had decided to have Rhett come running back out of the mist and sweep Scarlet up in his arms.  Which, of course, would deprive the world of any grounding when they uttered, “Tomorrow is another day….”

I know I’m harping on this one aspect… but I can’t help it.  You’ve read here how I feel about publicly editable copy such as you find on Wikipedia.  I just can’t swallow the bitter pill of having John Q. Public rewriting what was otherwise perfectly engaging, informed, and credible copy.  I can see publishers deciding that John Grisham’s books would play better if they didn’t always end with a discontented ‘hero.’  As the movie producers of his books made into films obviously did.  Since they ‘own’ it, they could.  Ever see idiocracy?  Yeah.  Scary.

So, Bezos… give me a wall full of books in my backpack… sell me volume upon volume of easily transferable literature… let me put off buying those glasses for an extra five years…but please, please.. for the love of, well.. you know… do NOT make copy already sent to me and purchased AS IS into anything else.  Thank you and amen.

And here I’ll let you in on one of the biggest things that contributed to me becoming a librarian… I got a job – by complete happenstance – in a library.  The lowliest of jobs – library assistant.  I shelved, I processed, I checked out.  But I got completely invested in it.  The service of it, the minutia, the processes.  The books… ahhhh, yes.  The books.  But after six years, I learned something else… I wasn’t getting any younger.  Strangely, adulthood had caught up to me and gotten a running lead.  I had to pick a lane.  Serendipitously, I was already in one.

the power of the bloggers

really interesting article by the guy tha came up with the phrase web 2.o … http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/oreilly/tim/news/2005/09/30/what-is-web-20.html?page=3

particularly fascinating is the take he’s got on blogging … how personal web pages and online journaling have been around forever but that the RSS feed technology has made journaling 2.0 (blogging) so important in the model of today’s internet .. the echo of blogger’s and their link-posting .. the trackbacking … the references to other bloggers’ posts “to infinity and beyond.. ond.. ond.”

all making bloggers inordinantly responsible for search engine results .. which fuel everything.

Just a small one since I’ve done this three times already today… My librarian is the only teacher i can remember in elementary school (all 6 of them that i attended) dressing up for halloween.  I know this must be wrong.  But the fact that I remember it that way says something.

Time Enough at Last

you’ll have to read my previous post before this one.  I posted back-to-back 

ok, so then i read Free Range Librarian’s response  http://freerangelibrarian.com/2007/08/29/on-gentleness-and-librarianship-and-20-ish-ness-and-they/ to the Annoyed Librarian’s post.  I dig her.  She’s way more real-life.  She doesn’t like the whole ‘they’ thing.  ‘I’m fine with it but THEY don’t want it.’  She rags on AL’s they-talk.  Good for her.  AL is a little strident.  And off the point, I think.  FRL remembers the days when she worked with librarians who didn’t want change or felt overwhelmed with what was already on their plate.  She welcomes the 2.0-ers.  While still not becoming a cultist.

I saw an episode of The Twilight Zone (the old one) when I was a kid about a man (Burgess Meredith) who is the last survivor of a nuclear war.  It’s called “Time Enough at Last.”  You probably know it.  He works at a bank and reads during his lunch hour every day in the vault.  He is berated for being ‘a reader.’   When the bombs come, he is safely inside the vault.  He comes out to find he is the only survivor.  He walks around, finally finding a library – a big one – and starts going through all the books.  He finds the one he wants to read first, perching himself precariously atop a huge pile of books and debris.  Of course, he stumbles.  And his glasses break.  The fade to black is of him, crying.

Now, folks, I have to say .. this was the worst TZ I ever watched.  It just stayed with me for days.. I couldn’t imagine not being able to read if I wanted to and had all the time in the world.  Horrific doesn’t cover it.  Years later, when I found out I had diabetes, my first thought was of losing my eyesight and not being able to read.  I just can’t think of anything worse.  Nor would I wish it on the least man.  This just made me value reading and the gift of being able to give that to others, even more.

Those crazy rock-and-roll librarians

Was just reading the blog by Annoyed Librarian “The Cult of Twopointopia”  http://annoyedlibrarian.blogspot.com/2007/08/cult-of-twopointopia.html … wow, that’s one attitude-y chick!  And, yeah, it took me a minute to get that one… 2  … (point) … 0  … pians.  I didn’t realize that ‘Library 2.0’ was some kind of cult or something as AL clearly portrays it.  Now, AL is a clever writer.  I read the whole thing because it was good writing.  Engaging, i mean.  I like pissed-off smart people.  They’re funnier than pissed-off dumb people.  And this one I happen to agree with.  Which, of course, makes me like AL more.  But here’s the thing..

I agree with her because I don’t think ANY one paradigm is the be-all end-all of being a good librarian.  That includes Library 2.0.  (If I even have a handle on THAT.)  I think so many things go into being a good librarian that it is foolish to think that you can make a tidy little descriptive annotation of it and call it a day.  Of course, the irony is that, in principle, I agree with the ‘Twopointopians’ in their assertion that they ‘do it all for the end-user.’

I do believe passionately that the biggest draw for me about this profession (though there are many) is that it is so clearly about helping people.  Helping them find stuff.  Learn stuff.  Do stuff.  Helping them with what they want.  Helping them figure out what they want.  Showing them stuff they might not have even known was there to want.  Opening eyes, and roads, and doors.  It’s rewarding to me.  Fulfilling.  I feel that I am in the service of something that makes a difference to many.

Now… as a practical matter, all of the above has to boil down to a list of job duties, skill sets, and attitude parameters.  I believe that the ideas in Library 2.0 have their place within that scheme.  And the stated impetus BEHIND Library 2.0 definitely does.  But the more that I read these blogs, articles, and other pieces by librarians about the library profession and it’s destiny, the more I get the idea that what it all boils down to gets lost.

I mean, let’s face it.  We do a job.  We get paid.  In that sense, we are similar to your average oil worker.  But what makes us want to be a librarian and not an oil worker?  It’s certainly not the money.  Oil workers are incredibly well-paid.  We, unfortunately, are not.  So, who are we that the job duties …. cataloging, organizing, giving direction and instruction, managing old buildings and young volunteers, raising funds and stamping out fires;  the skill sets …. detail-oriented work, good with figures, large memory capacity, good people skills, excellent writing ability, great organizational skills; and attitude parameters … a passion for reading, helping others, public service, technology, hard work, and great puzzles …. who are we that these things sit right on us? 

Frankly, for most of us, I don’t think that writing judgemental articles and blogs about this theory or that pertaining to librarianship is the reason that we got into this profession.  I think most of us got into it because that’s where our lives and all the experiences, lessons, and influences in it led us.  Which brings me right back ’round to the underlying subject of this blog….

which brings us to my grandmother.. my whole family, really, but my grandmother in particular.  Since I was a little girl, she has been one of the biggest influences in my life.  And hers is a great, compassionate character.  She will leave no road uncrossed to help someone.  Be it her granddaughter (often) or the lady next door or charities, big and small.  She loves to help people.  She is the woman who taught me how to take joy and pride from helping people.  My whole family has this feeling of duty.  It took me some years to find my way back to it, but it was always there.  Those crazy rock-and-roll years took longer than they ought, I’m afraid.

As I’ve reaped, let me sow…

I have read the blogs of my classmates .. how cool is it (and how much of a coincidence… hmmm?) that I am in a class with such a group of people?  They read.  They write well.  They think about stuff.  They endeavor to embrace change while respecting history.  They are funny, and thought-provoking, and, in the best way, sometimes even weird.

It has been years since I have spent time in such a group of people.  (Apart from my family, of course.)   And reading their musings reminds me why I have taken this inconvenient leap to finish the education I always knew I would.  Because I like these kinds of people.  It would give me the greatest pleasure to work beside nothing but these types for the rest of my life. 

 Which reminds me… of two more chapters in the Making of a Librarian…

The first is writing.  I was a prolific writer of angst-filled poetry as a girl.  I remember wanting to pour my soul into the page.  It was this emotion that made me realize that the books I read HAD authors.  lol.  Sounds funny, I know.  But up until then, reading to me had been … submersive.  I lived in those stories.  The author, if I ever thought of him/her.. was simply God.  If you read – and especially if you started WAY early, like I did, you’ll understand.  Books were just a wormhole … not things unto themselves.  It was when I experienced the emotion pressing out of me into a poem or short story that I first realized writing… books … libraries … it was a world where people …. worked.  And they paid them.

The second thing that hanging with this class has reminded me of is a moment when I was 16.  (I may jump back and forth here in time – forgive the lack of organization.) My dad had just remarried a woman who was a true professional in her field.  I’d known smart women all my life but this was something new.  She worked.  Really, really hard.  She was good with people.  A good salesperson.  Well-spoken but not intellectual.  Well-groomed and dressed, but not a snob.  The first woman, frankly, that I’d met like her.  She was telling my dad that she thought I ought to get a job.  I remember looking at her like she’d grown a third eye on her chin.  And then I said something that she has reminded me of every few years since…

“And now all that’s left of the rest of my life is WORK!”

heh. 

I would have been much less upset if I had known where and with whom I’d spend the majority of my working life.  And how much personal fulfillment I would find in it.

Even though it may have taken a few years to make it here.

This was the first thing…

…. i remember about my path to being a librarian. 

I was in 3rd grade.  My favorite place in the world was the school library.  I loved reading with my whole young soul.  We had two days a year when the librarian (a VERY old lady of I’m sure at least 40) would set out tables adn line them with books.  A book fair?  Nope.  She was letting all the kids come through, one by one, and pick out a FREE book of their very own.  I still have some of those earliest paperbacks.  I just thought it was the coolest thing in the world to do.  She strikes me, in retrospect, as very smart and very kind.  If a bit strict.  

I also remember thinking that it would be so cool to have a job where they paid you to read all day.  ….. Yeah, well.  Like I said, I was in 3rd grade.   

  • Playing God

    I wrote in one of my posts here that I thought of authors as God when I was a kid. And now I'm putting MY random thoughts out there for general edification. heh. Karma. As a job, being God is kind of intimidating. Thank (God) only adults are reading this. (I hope.) That way, I only have to be intimidated about being, say, a lesser cherub.