Monday, June 30, 2008

Grateful @ Your Library

In her American Libraries' Working Knowledge column for May 2008, Mary Pergander offers some helpful advice to stressed librarians everywhere:
How much better might we serve ourselves by letting up on the relentless disappointments and focusing, if just once per day, on all that we love about our jobs, our profession, and the libraries in which we have the privilege to work?
She takes her own advice to heart and offers a number of reasons why she enjoys her library and being a librarian. I identify with several including being surrounded by knowledge and interesting and friendly coworkers. I also greatly appreciate having a license to be curious about everything. No one asks why you should be interested in "topic x" when you're a librarian, whether it's quantum gravity or Peter Rabbit.

What are you grateful for in your library or in the library field as a whole? Will you commit to finding one thing to be grateful for each day? It could improve your morale and through you, the morale of your whole library.

Cited Article:

Title: Living the Dream.
Authors: Pergander, Mary
Source: American Libraries; May2008, Vol. 39 Issue 5, p69-69, 1p
Full Text via Digital Pipeline -

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Monday, June 23, 2008

E-Books: Still not ready for prime time?

In a May 2008 American Libraries article titled The Elusive E-Book, author Stephen Sottong argues that aside from reference titles, e-books (the kind meant to be read off a computer screen) have no future for the foreseeable future.

Part of his pessimism comes from experience:

My own experience with computer- based subscription services was as a librarian in the California State University (CSU) system. From March to December 2001, all but CSU's smallest campus participated in a pilot e-book project with NetLibrary. In that time, there were 17,473 accesses to the e-hook collection. If that number were annualized and each access assumed to be from a different person, then, at best, only 5% of students and faculty would have accessed the e-book collection--and many of the accesses during this period were actually by librarians demonstrating the new system. Each access during the pilot project cost the university more than $5, This is not to fault CSU's implementation of e-books. The trial was well-planned, with most campuses integrating NetLibrary's e-books into their catalogs and providing a spate of publicity for the new service. Our students--who should be a group that readily accepts new technologies--just preferred paper books.

And part comes from ergonomics analysis that seems to indicate that reading off a screen is intrinsically harder than from a book:
Because both convergence and accommodation occur at a further distance when looking straight forward, monitors must be placed further from the eye. Since monitor resolution is less than print, the text on a monitor must be made larger to convey the same amount of information, which means that the width of the monitor must be wider to handle the same amount of text. As the eyes cans across text on a monitor, the distance between the eye and the monitor varies: closer to the eye in the center, farther at the edges. This means that the eye must constantly adjust for both accommodation and convergence as each line of text is read.

The consequences of these differences are enormous. Most computer users try to keep their eyes in the center of the screen, ignoring information at the edges. They skim text rather than read. When confronted with blocks of text longer than a couple screens, users either print the text or ignore it. This strategy works well with journal articles: Users can skim for relevant entries and print the ones they want to peruse in detail. But it doesn't work for book-length manuscripts or other lengthy text forms that require detailed reading.

My spouse likes to use our XO Laptop to read fanfic stories and it seems to work for her. But stories are sort of like journal articles. I've tried using our XO Laptop for reading some book length works and I can attest that it's a more tiring experience. Although my main issue with using my laptop is that there isn't a good way to bookmark your place. I have to make a notation in another file or on paper to get back to the page where I left off. On the other hand, the laptop is a great and comfortable tool for getting through my personal RSS feeds.

Does your library offer e-books for reading? What has your experience been with them? Are any more popular than others?

Cited Article:

Title: The Elusive E-book.
Authors: Sottong, Stephen
Source: American Libraries; May2008, Vol. 39 Issue 5, p44-48, 5p, 1bw
Full text via Digital Pipeline:

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Canneries, Cabins, and Caches of Bristol Bay, Alaska

The Alaska State Library recently received a copy of the National Park Service publication The Canneries, Cabins, and Caches of Bristol Bay, Alaska. Any library with an interest either in the history of Alaska or salmon fishing owe it to themselves to get a copy of this richly illustrated book. According to the letter that came with this item:

The book documents long abandoned canneries, and those still in use, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Canneries, Cabins and Caches of Bristol Bay, Alaska also provides a view of life upriver, during the winter, along the length and breadth of the three great salmon rivers in the Bay, the Nushagak, Kvichak, and Naknek Rivers. These wild bountiful rivers all head partially or completely in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve and Katmai National Park and Preserve."

Check it out. If you've read it already, let us know what you think.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Primer on Digital Preservation

More and more, libraries of all sizes are faced with the problems of digital media - library photos taken with digital cameras, town meetings recorded in MP3, finding aids and library brochures in Word, WordPerfect, etc.

If you're interested in a quick and general overview of the challenges involved in preserving digital materials, check out this one page article from the May 2008 issue of American Libraries:

Title: Digital Defense.
Authors: Caplan, Priscilla
Source: American Libraries; May2008, Vol. 39 Issue 5, p38-38, 1p
Full Text via Digital Pipeline:

Does your library hold digital materials -- either in your collection or on staff computers? What sort of stuff do you have? And do you have worries that you won't be able to pull it up in a few years?


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Are you being killed by Kindness?

The May 2008 issue of American Library features an article called Killed by Kindness by Julia Keller, cultural critic of the Chicago Tribune.

Ms Keller says we should beware of people quoting Jorge Luis Borges saying "I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library." In her words, "Paradise is a place to which you aspire, not a place to which you make frequent visits or insist that your tax dollars be directed."

As for the people who express love for libraries in nostalgic terms:

Everybody loves them; in fact, they're loving them to death, especially in our schools. Libraries are routinely discussed in warm and reverent tones. Personal reminiscences with libraries as the centerpiece are earnest and heartfelt, set against a pastel wash of nostalgia. Most people have a favorite story about the library of their youth--the day they discovered, say, A Wrinkle in Time or Codes and Secret Writing--and they adore telling it, after which they sigh and offer a those-were-the-days shrug of bemused resignation. Yet these same people--the ones who rhapsodize about finishing off the entire Nancy Drew or Tom Swift oeuvre over the course of a single enchanted summer--often haven't stepped inside a real, live, functioning library in decades.
Do you feel your library is being loved to death? Do you think that libraries need all the support they can get, whether it is rooted in the present or past? How would you like to see libraries talked about?

Cited Article:

Title: Killed by KINDNESS.
Authors: Keller, Julia
Source: American Libraries; May2008, Vol. 39 Issue 5, p50-51, 2p
Full Text via Digital Pipeline:

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Students ask for "real", not "e" books

Think millennials prefer reading online? That's not the conclusion of a 2008 article in Reference and User Services Quarterly, titled But I Want a Real Book": An Investigation of Undergraduates" Usage and Attitudes toward Electronic Books:

If students were to be given the choice between using either a print book or the book's electronic equivalent, 66 percent would choose the print book while only 34 percent would prefer the e-book.
Here's how the article described the participants:

A total of 106 questionnaires were completed: 105 were from undergraduates and one was from a graduate student. Since the study focused on undergraduates, data from the one graduate survey was eliminated. The subjects were 60 percent female and 40 percent male, which is reflective of the college's en-rollment data. The academic status of the participants was 38 percent sophomores; 30 percent juniors; 17 percent seniors; and 15 percent freshmen. Ages of participants ranged from 17 to 46, with the average age being 21 years and the median age being 20 years.

The article isn't quite as cut and dried as I make out. Student would use an e-book if it was the only resource available and there is the fact that over a third would choose an e-book. But I think this article is a caution against making assumptions about users based on age.

Does your library offer e-books? What is your experience?

Full article citation (should be available from your desktop):

Title:"But I Want a Real Book": An Investigation of Undergraduates" Usage and Attitudes toward Electronic Books.Find More Like This

Authors:Gregory, Cynthia L.

Source:Reference & User Services Quarterly; Spring2008, Vol. 47 Issue 3, p266-273, 8p

Direct Link: (Only in Alaska)

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Monday, June 09, 2008

June/July Online Training for Small Engine Repair

Now that Alaska has the Small Engine (snow machines, ATVs, etc) Repair Reference Center, would you like to know it better? EBSCO, the database vendor, recently sent out this training notice (Alaska Times supplied by Daniel):


Dear EBSCO customer,

Did you know that EBSCO Publishing offers online, one-hour training sessions on our Small Engine Repair Reference Center each month, free to EBSCO customers? We know that training reinforces product knowledge and stimulates interest, helping you to get the most from your EBSCO databases.

Small Engine Repair Reference Center training is available as follows:

  • Monday, June 16, 2008 from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m., Eastern Time (11-Noon, Alaska Time)
  • Thursday, July 24, 2008 from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m., Eastern Time (11-Noon, Alaska Time)
  • Monday, August 4, 2008 from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m., Eastern Time (10am-11am, Alaska Time)

TO REGISTER, go here (, select the desired class from the "Which service?"drop-down list, and complete the form.

Please visit EBSCO's Support Site ( to learn about all of EBSCO's products, search among thousands of FAQs, or download Flash tutorials, Help Sheets or User Guides.


Marcie Brown
Technical Communications Manager
EBSCO Publishing
10 Estes Street
Ipswich, MA 01938


If you attend one of these free online trainings, would you leave a comment about your experience? Or blog about it if you are one of the 33 AkLA members with blogging rights on this blog?

The Small Engine Repair Reference Center is one of the Digital Pipeline databases.

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Friday, June 06, 2008

WA State Library Does Sci-Fi What are your bibs?

The Washington State Library recently posted a bibliography on Science Fiction/Fantasy novels set in the Northwest. This bibliography is one of several posted at (Scroll down to Bibliographies).

Does your library post bibliographies or other lists? Fiction, non-fiction, multimedia? Let us know in comments. Also, let us know whether you think (or have measured) whether your patrons or other web visitors use these bibliographies.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Far North Issues at Polar Libraries Colloquy

If you or your patrons are interested in issues and resources concerning the polar regions, check out the Polar Libraries Colloquy Blog at This week the blog is featuring daily posts from the 2008 Polar Libraries Colloquy, but the blog is active year round and highlights resources and news items about the polar regions.

Day One of the Colloquy featured positive reviews of two new documentaries that might be of interest to your collections.


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Local News Blog for Delta Junction

I'm sure Joyce knows about this resource, but other Alaskans might want to know that the Delta News, a local paper in Delta Junction, Alaska runs a blog of news stories. The blog allows comments, although I didn't see any. The blog features local events and carries local photographs. I could see it being useful to visitors or prospective residents.

The main Delta News web site has a good collection of standard news resources and links to blogs written by current and former Delta residents.

If you or your patrons are interested in other Alaska news sources, be sure to check out the News and Weather category on SLED at

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Monday, June 02, 2008

Space @ Your Library? Let them know how you feel

Thanks to the RI State Library Blog for mentioning that the Colorado-based Space Science Institute is conducting a survey to gage public/school library interest in space themed traveling exhibits. The survey can be found at and should take between five and ten minutes to finish.

According to the survey, "The Space Science Institute (SSI) in Boulder, Colorado, has developed a number of hands-on science exhibits that have traveled to science centers and museums across the country. With help from advisors and partners (such as the American Library Association), SSI has begun a program to develop smaller exhibits on a variety of science and technology topics that will travel to libraries."

The SSI maintains a presence at which features information and science-based games for students.

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Know a deployed staff member or patron? Show their blog

Here's an interesting idea I ran across. The Public Library of Westland (Michigan) front page features this link to a blog of a local resident currently with a Styrker brigade in Iraq:


The Blog of Adrian Massey

Adrian Massey

Westland, MI poet and soldier Adrian Massey has started a blog to share his thoughts and experiences while stationed in Iraq with his friends and the Westland community. He is the author of A Soldier's Poetic Response: A Slice of his Life by Robbie Dean press in Ann Arbor.


According to anecdotes, there are a number of military bloggers who are deployed overseas. If one is from your community, consider featuring his/her blog. It is one way of showing your support for the soldier and highlighting their continued connection to your community. It's a good idea to check with your prospective milblogger first.

Do you know of other libraries working with/highlighting deployed personnel in some way? Let us know in a comment.

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