Justin wrote a great blog post today musing on the future of Teen Services in libraries. He sees a model of good Teen Librarianship being teams of awesome people collaborating together. It can’t be a one-man show. How can libraries do this? He writes:
Investing: To me, that’s key. Surround yourself with the people you want to work with
Yes! This reminds me of something that Austin Kleon writes in the introduction to his book Steal Like An Artist (h/t Brainpickings). It is a concept that I have been thinking about over the course of last year – especially as I move around in my profession and have the chance to meet new and cool people. The concept is this:
There’s an economic theory out there that if you take the incomes of your five closest friends and average them, the resulting number will be pretty close to your own income.
I think the same thing is true of idea incomes. You’re only going to be as good as the stuff you surround yourself with.
Remember, this is true both online and off.
I miss Yann Martel’s fantastic What is Stephen Harper Reading project. His battle to encourage reading in our leaders, or to start young people as readers in order to make them great leaders, is inspiring and, I think, one of his greatest contributions to literature. Even though I don’t care much for his writing, I have tremendous respect for Martel as a thinker and appreciate his efforts to promote literacy.
I can not see how you can be a thinking person who is head of a government without having accessed what fiction can give you. It makes you be someone else, somewhere else, during the duration of the book. And that’s very very useful. It helps you get beyond the confines of your narrow life. Overall, the cumulative effect over time tends to bring down blinkers, tends to increase tolerance.
Read a lot of stories and think about what the stories you encounter mean for your own life and the lives of those you love. In that way, you will not be alone with an empty self; you will have a newly rich life with yourself, and enhanced possibilities of real communication with others. – Martha Nausbaum
2012 was a big year in reading for me. I read a 63 works of fiction, 26 works of non-fiction, and 20 graphic novels.
My New Favorite Author:
This was the year that I discovered the works of Michael Ondaatje, an author that blew my heart out with every sentence. His haunting and dream-like novel Divisadero is my favorite work of fiction read in 2012. I first read it in March and then again in August after I’d cycled through all of his other novels at least once (or in the case of Anil’s Ghost, twice). I also read a lot of his poetry, though not in book form. My favorite poem by him is The Cinnamon Peeler. It makes me long to visit Sri Lanka.
I also read more contemporary books this year than in years past. There was a lot of good stuff that came out in 2012 and I didn’t get to nearly as much of it as I would have liked. Of particular note were a few debut books from authors like Christopher Beha, G. Willow Wilson, Robin Sloan, Katherine Boo, Lawrence Osbourne, and Kevin Powers. There were also some strong books by established authors like Andrew Miller, Per Petterson, Jami Attenberg, Scott Lasser, Paolo Bacigalupi, and Graham Joyce.
My Top Ten Books published in 2012:
- What Happened to Sophie Wilder by Christopher Beha
- Can Animals Be Moral? by Mark Rowlands
- Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
- Pure by Andrew Miller
- The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers
- It’s Fine By Me by Per Petterson
- Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson
- Wild by Cheryl Strayed
- 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson
- Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
Honorable Mention: The Forgiven by Lawrence Osbourne, Every Love Story is a Ghost Story by D.T. Max, Eat and Run by Scott Jurek
Full list of stats:
All titles can be found HERE.
Total Fiction: 63
Total Non-Fiction: 26
Total Graphic Novels: 20
# of above read as eBooks: 15
Average per month: 9.1
Average per week: 2.1
Best month: November (13 titles)
Worst month: January (5 titles)
Favorite Fiction Book Read: Divisidero by Michael Ondaatje
Favorite Fiction Book published in 2012: What Happened to Sophie Wilder by Christopher Beha
Favorite Non-Fiction Book Read: *The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film* Michael Ondaatje
Favorite Non-Fiction Book published in 2012: Can Animals Be Moral? by Mark Rowlands
Favorite Graphic Novel Read: Habibi by Craig Thompson
Favorite Graphic Novel published in 2012: any of The Unwritten titles by Mike Carey that came out this year
John Palfrey recently gave a short TEDx talk about his work with the DPLA. It’s a good introduction to the project and why it is needed.
More info at DPLA
This month I’m indulging and pushing some of my favorites.
Need a concrete example of how publishers are “inserting friction” in order to make it difficult for libraries to share eBooks? Just look at the price difference.
Full version of above picture from American Libraries Magazine (pdf)
Ursula K. Le Guin says this of “frictioned” eBooks in libraries:
If the part libraries play in distributing ebooks gets “frictioned” into insignificance, it will be easier for the corporations to take further control of what ebooks you personally can obtain, how long a book will stay on your reader before you have to pay for it again, and whatever else they want to control. If they see profit in doing any of this, they’ll do it. If small publishers try to sell the books they don’t sell, the big corporations will eliminate the small publishers.
We’d be wise to keep our information base as broad as possible, by supporting the existing public libraries in their heroic and amazingly successful effort to carry on their job in the electronic age.
The goal of the public library has been to give anyone who needs or wants it permanent, unlimited, free access to books. All books.
The goal of the public library in the electronic age is what it always was: to give permanent, unlimited, free access to books — print books, ebooks, all books — to everyone.
I’ve been participating in Daniel Russell’s (previously mentioned HERE) free Power Searching with Google course. It is a lot of fun. I’ve refreshed stuff I already knew and learned a few new tricks I didn’t. The third class and mid-term assessment went live this morning.
I just posted this on Facebook but thought I’d share it here too.
I found myself returning to this article over and over during the last two days. It’s a rather chilling yet perspicacious examination of the increasing bifurcation of our society into a rich upperclass and underprivileged lower class (or, as put in the article, “Perfect world travelers versus people who don’t have passports. The drone owners versus the drone targets. And, strangely, those who can move freely in physical space and those who can’t.”) and the extent in which tech can play a role.
The sci-fi author M John Harrison recently blogged about how the traditional rhetoric of disaster (think The Road) is worn out – those issues are no longer the important issues – and that there is some other kind of disaster ready to be written. I tend to think that this is it – the ability of technology to either democratize everyone or fuel the machinations of the powerful elite. In which case, access to, knowledge of, and education about technology may need to be thought of differently, maybe even as a “human right.”
Cory Doctorow’s recent talk at the EBLIDA-NAPLE 20th annual conference in Copenhagen is worth spending 14 minutes on. He addresses the issues that librarians should be thinking about in regards to the future of e-books in our libraries. The first 13 minutes lead up nicely to his final plea to librarians (emphasis mine).
It is a feature and not a bug of ebooks that two people can read them at the same time…We are the people of the book and it’s time to start acting like it.
In conclusion, I have a simple but radical proposal for you. Stop buying ebooks with DRM on it. Period. I know it’s not easy, librarianship is not easy, librarianship has never been easy – ask the people at Alexandria. You are, after all, the specialists who safeguard information in the information age. Access to information has always been a radical political act. But you wouldn’t accept a publishers demand that its representatives be allowed to put hidden cameras in your collection to discover who was reading which books. You wouldn’t accept a publishers demand for access to your circulation records. You wouldn’t accept a journal publisher who said that your physical copies had to be confiscated and burned if you terminated your subscriptions. The digital equivalents are no more acceptable than the physical ones.
“What if everything in the world were a misunderstanding, what if laughter were really tears?”
-Soren Kierkegaard Either/Or: A Fragment of Life
I took this picture on July 12, 2007 and put it on my old blog coupled with the above quote. I was 23, had just graduated from Binghamton University, was generally confused about the world, and was reading a lot of Kierkegaard. The blue sky and gentle humming of early July always reminds me of that summer when, paradoxically, hope and cynicism blew in equally strong. Past thoughts can have a certain poetic power.