Friday, June 19, 2009

A public librarian twitters

My father-in-law sent me a great link a couple of days ago to a funny librarian site. "Dispatches from a Public Librarian" by Scott Douglas. I really enjoyed his most recent post "The Librarian: A Twitter Story". It really struck a chord with me.

So I'm going to plagiarize it! Or more to the point do my own attempt at a day in the life of a public librarian. Just like Scott Douglas, all names have been changed, or never even mentioned, for the sake of privacy.


Lost and found:
1 - Everfresh juice bottle full of water. (I think)
2 - broken sets of headphones.

Amazing how quickly the crowd clears out and the library becomes an oasis of calm. Isn't it always supposed to be that way? (6:00)

I just turned off all of the monitors in the computer room. Time to say bye bye. (5:58)

I didn't get a single person asking me where the restrooms were today. This is unprecedented. (5:54)

I just straightened up the "quiet" room. (5:53)

Got a call from a man looking for a book that another library said we would have to order through OCLC. I found it at one of our affiliated libraries so the other library was wrong. (5:50)

20 minutes to go! (5:41)

I just placed a hold for a patron. She changed her password also, but she remembered it. (5:40)

A woman asks for a book on how to write a resume. I hear that a lot these days. (5:29)

One of our regulars keeps calling me "Tim". I wonder if I should correct him? I didn't notice for awhile. Now it's a habit. I kind of like Tim. (5:25)

Circ just called and offered me a piece of chocolate. I'm happy! (5:25)

While walking around the library I just realized that tech services just put out some more of the graphic novels I ordered for the library. cool! (5:21)

A patron wants to use the stand up computers and they're all being used. I ask biker guy and the twin if one of them can please get off. The twin goes quickly. Maybe he isn't a hacker. (5:08)

I check the schedule to make sure I'm not working this weekend. I'm glad I remember correctly that I'm not working. (5:05)

A couple comes in to use the computers. I remember that a few months ago I had to show them how to point and click. Now they surf on their own. (5:03)

I am now reading. It's a graphic novel so in a way I'm doing collection development. (4:55)

Someone just asked when we close tonight. I realize that nobody has asked where the bathrooms are yet today. weird... (4:53)

Time has slowed down to an imperceptible crawl. (4:30)

I'm reading Huffingtonpost to get the latest on what's going on in Iran. I feel like reading the latest news is part of my job. (4:15)

Just tried to place a hold for a book but the default password didn't work. The patron changed her password but can't remember what it is. (4:11)

Hmmm... it just hit me that I'm here alone tonight. The person who is usually here is on vacation. I could take a break but then I would leave the desk unattended. I'll just stay. Not a big deal. (4:03)

Talked about accessibility issues with the patron and thanked him for his great ideas. I'll send off an email to the powers that be after my break. (3:55)

A gentleman just asked if we had any plans to set up an ADA compliant computer station. I think he was surprised that I knew what he was talking about. (3:50)

The first article I found seems to be the best article I found. How often does that happen? (3:45)

A very large person comes to the desk and asks for a book about eating disorders. I actually think this is a brave act and admire the man. (3:40)

Still looking up articles that critique HIPAA laws. (3:35)

A father just came in with his son's 9th grade summer reading list. I chose "Stranger in a Strange Land" for the kid to read. It was on the list. Hope the kid has fun reading it! (3:25)

One of our other "regulars" is now at the third stand up computer. So all three may be busy for the rest of the evening. I may have to enforce the 15 minute time limit. (3:17)

I found my first good article already by using the ArticleFirst Database. (3:12)

I'm thinking of the best approach to this question. The patron would like a critique of current HIPAA laws and how they pertain to family counselling and therapy. (3:02)

Phone rings and the patron asks perhaps the most difficult question I've ever gotten at the reference desk. I tell him I'm going to have to do some research and get back to him. (3:01)

It looks like the sun has come out. All of a sudden the library doesn't seem as busy. hmmm... (2:47)

Contest man needed help printing out a form from a web site. I helped him print it out so he can try to win a new car. (2:45)

The lady on the computer just asked me what the date was next Wednesday. Couldn't she have found that on the computer?! Glad I'm here to help! (2:30)

One of the circulation staff just gave me her way of remembering what room is what. I don't think I'll ever forget now. (2:28)

I found the man and directed him to the right room. I was smiling and he was smiling so we're all good. (2:26)

A man just asked me where we were showing the film today. I told him the wrong place! (2:25)

A lady just came in and saw the twin on the computers and asked him for some computer help. That's my job! She said he was her "friend". Maybe my suspicions are wrong? (2:21)

Sometimes I wonder if the twin is doing packet sniffing and knows all my passwords already? The library would be a great place for that. Maybe he's reading this now? :-) (2:18)

Lady wants a book that she heard about on NPR this morning. I can't put a hold on it for her because it's so new. (2:14)

Phone rings. The man at the other end of the phone is hard of hearing. I have to yell for him to hear me. I hate it when that happens. (2:11)

Biker guy shows up. Two out of the three stand up machines will probably be used all night tonight. (2:10)

One of the twins is here on one of the three stand up machines. I know he'll probably be here till 6. I have fantasies that he's a hacker. (2:07)

I check my email. Looks like I handled the porn "incident" as well as I could have the other night. (2:05)

I log into the computer and bring up the important stuff. Excel, SirsiDynix, and Firefox. (2:03)

A woman with a thick Russian accent asks if she needs to register for the ESL class tomorrow. I tell her to just show up. We're mellow... (2:02)

Dark, cloudy, and thunderstorms outside, but the library is busy. (2:01)

Arrived at work just on time. (2:00 pm)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Julie/Julia Blog and book

One recent movie trailer that I found interesting was for the upcoming film, Julie & Julia. I started doing a little research and found that one of the film's claims is that it is the first film based on a blog. Diablo Cody was discovered through her blog, but the film Juno had nothing to do with the content in her blog. This appears to be the first film directly based on someone's day to day blog.

Here is a link to the original Julie/Julia Project blog.

Does this mean that suddenly every blogger is an aspiring screen writer? If nothing else it shows how the lines are becoming more and more blurred as to what "professional" content is.

If you haven't seen the trailer the premise is that Julie Powell, a 30 year old temp secretary, decided to make every recipe in the original "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" by Julia Child, in one year. While she was doing this she created a blog to post daily updates on her progress. The blog caught on and she soon developed a legion of fans who would forward to her daily updates. The blog ended up generating so much interest that Julie Powell was eventually offered a book deal and wrote the book "Julie & Julia".

At this point I've read both the book and a great deal of the original blog itself. One of the things that struck me very quickly, and I found this very interesting, was that I enjoyed the blog itself much more that the actual book.

The book was an enjoyable read and provides much of the background story that I'm sure much of the film will be based on. But the blog for me was a much more interesting read and I'm asking myself why?

While I enjoyed the book I found it a bit repetitive. Julie works her day job, goes home to her "loft" apartment, some sort of catastrophe occurs, and she and her husband and friends end up having a great meal. The day to day catastrophes may change but the basic plot remains the same through most of the book.

The blog is different however. While the book concentrates on the background the blog concentrates on the recipes themselves with the background basically adding color to the daily entries. During the book I often found myself wondering more about the various recipes and their preparation. In the blog all of this is revealed in rich detail.

What I also found very interesting about the blog vs. the book is that the blog also includes the comments from her friends and fans. The book mentions these comments and some of the commentators become minor characters in the book. In the blog however you can read all of the comments and they add a whole other layer to the blog. It makes the blog more three dimensional in a way. It certainly adds more depth. It was a lot of fun to read some of the comments and threads that were mentioned in the book.

So we almost always say that the book was better than the movie but in this case I think I can say that the blog was better than the book. I wonder if the blog will be better than the movie?!

Iran, Revolution, and Proxy servers...

I've been following with great interest the recent developments in Iran.

The graphic novel "Persepolis" by Marjane Satrapi really opened my eyes about life in Iran and I've had a fascination with the country ever since.

Did Mir Hussein Moussavi win the recent election over President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Moussavi's supporters claim? We may never know... but it seems like there is revolution in the streets of Iran. I always find it fascinating to watch history unfold before my eyes.

Ayatollah Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guard are already fighting back and they have a history of quickly taking control in situations like this but it will be very interesting to see how this all plays out over the next few days.

For this techie guy one of the other very interesting things about this potential revolution has been the use of technology by the forces of reform. The opposition has been spreading the word through web pages and also by Twitter. Iranians are using Twitter to send constant, live, up to date, posts on what is happening before their eyes. They are making sure that the whole world is watching. They are also using these updates to send information out about marches and rallies.

Of course the government of Iran is doing as much as possible to disrupt this web activity and make things difficult for the opposition.

But you, yes you, can help if you have a spare PC around your house.

This site shows you how you can use a spare PC to set up a proxy server to help the opposition set up web pages that are harder for the Iranian government to track and take down. In many ways you are essentially opening up your machine to Iranian hackers. But in this case the hacking is done for a great cause. I'm planning on trying to set up a spare PC we have in the house this afternoon to help the cause.