Archive for December 2008

Happy Chanukah, all!

More on the book buying theme/meme

For more on the books make great gifts theme, check out “A Bookstore Stimulus Package?” over at the Freakonomics blog (, which contains a lovely letter from Roy Blount.

We don’t want bookstores to die. Authors need them, and so do neighborhoods. So let’s mount a book-buying splurge. Get your friends together, go to your local bookstore and have a book-buying party. Buy the rest of your Christmas presents, but that’s just for starters. Clear out the mysteries, wrap up the histories, beam up the science fiction! Round up the westerns, go crazy for self-help, say yes to the university press books! Get a load of those coffee-table books, fatten up on slim volumes of verse, and take a chance on romance!

If you prefer your book buying bailout nudges more on the visual side, though, enjoy “Mimi Finishes her Christmas Shopping” over at Will Write for Chocolate (!). And, if you prefer your publishing crisis stories on the auditory side, give a listen to “Book Industry Enters Shaky Chapter” (really, NPR? was that necessary?) over at I was somewhat amused by the hopeful thought in there of books being recession proof because they’re “cheap.” A) not so much, and, B) odd as it may seem, for most people books don’t fall under the category of “necessities.”

Mine! Mine! Mine!

Maybe it’s just the grinchiness of the season, but I’m wondering what’s up with the recent spate of of librarians who don’t want to share. First, Code4Lib Journal publishes “We Love Open Source Software. No, You Can’t Have Our Code.” Here’s the abstract:

Librarians are among the strongest proponents of open source software. Paradoxically, libraries are also among the least likely to actively contribute their code to open source projects. This article identifies and discusses six main reasons this dichotomy exists and offers ways to get around them.

Go read the rest of it, please. (Which you can do, because Code4Lib Journal DOES share…)

Then, OCLC continues its power grabbiness, summed up with inimitable style at Caveat Lector under “Thursday WTFery.”

Here’s what it boils down to, guys. I have an almost 2yo already, so don’t need to hear about any more of these “NO! MINE!” toddler-inspired power struggles, mm-kay? Listen:

Librarianship is about sharing. Librarianship is about collaborating. Librarianship should darn well be about not having to reinvent the wheel every time. So play nice!

Speaking of sharing, The Free Range Librarian also has an awesome post up: “Hiding my candy: giving me the option to share my reading.”

I don’t want librarians to “protect my privacy” by purging my reading history from their catalogs. (One of the most useful features of Amazon for me? My purchasing history. Not just as a personal record — but as data Amazon uses to improve my experience.)

To which I can only say: YES. Not only for the option to share with and explore others’ reading, but for the option of having my record available to me — I can’t count how many times I’ve tried to remember a title I just returned, or recall the name of an author I enjoyed last month. If I’d bought the book on Amazon instead of getting it from my local library, this would be a given… As far as privacy concerns, how about: opt-in only, with the option to keep the data password-protected/private or share it with the world, and the option to not share any given item.

Beware of library geeks bearing gifts

Awesome idea over at Organization Monkey:

what does one geek get another geek for a holiday gift?  a customized opml file.

So go grab her OPML file of RSS feeds from tables of contents of various library periodicals.

Don’t stop there though — also grab the OPML file of RSS feeds of library-related job ads. (This could use some adding to/updating, so if you have suggestions, comment here, pls.)

Buy the book

When we focus on the recent feel-good stories about people turning to libraries in tough economic times, I’m wondering if we think enough about the other side of the equation: More people visiting libraries instead of buying books doesn’t much help out the book industry, which has been feeling the economic downturn badly. If you’ve missed the many, many stories about this, see:

Over at BookLust, Patricia Storm — herself a writer — says that:

Sadly, one of the areas where I have had to cut back on is book-buying. I find this very, very hard, ‘cuz I walk into bookstores and see all the pretty new and delicious books and I just want to buy them all!! But I can’t. So instead, I trek it over to our local library and sign out books that only a few months ago, I would have bought.

It’s fascinating to look at the effect the economy seems to be having on publishers’ willingness to experiment with older models. Over at the Issues in Publishing blog, Fran Toolan offers some predictions for the next year, suggesting that it’s “going to be a great year for small and nimble companies.” Although neither small nor, generally, nimble, some of the larger publishers are taking tentative steps toward mixing things up. For instance:

Borders Group Inc. has agreed to accept books from HarperStudio on a nonreturnable basis, departing from a decades-old publishing tradition.

Under the terms of the deal, the nation’s second-largest bookstore chain by revenue will get a deeper discount on initial orders of books published by the new imprint of News Corp.’s HarperCollins Publishers — 58% to 63% off the cover price, instead of the usual 48%. In exchange, Borders won’t return any unsold books to HarperStudio, instead probably discounting them in the store.

In response to the crisis, The Association of American Publishers has also launched a “Books are great gifts” campaign at (Aren’t they?! And don’t forget that you can share the gift of Karen Schneider’s writing — or of mine, not to leave out the big ITI blowout sale :) .

Maybe what we need here is a “Librarians buy great books” campaign. I always give books to the kids (and sometimes the adults) in my life, how about you?

Best careers of 2009 includes librarian — really!

US News & World Report includes “librarian” among its “best careers for 2009. Aside from the annoying writing style (“They may even get to put on performances, like children’s puppet shows, and run other programs, like book discussion groups for elders!”), this is worth reading for the comments alone — which range along predictable lines from “don’t go into debt for this crap career,” to “librarianship is one of the best-kept secrets, I love my job.”

So what do you think — “best career” potential here?

Edited several hours later to add: If you come down on the “crap career” side of the equation, don’t miss Stephen Abram’s comments.

More Tech Static

Just published the second issue of The Tech Static, for those of you responsible for technology-related collection development (or, technology!) in your libraries. Stop on by, and let me know what you think.

ITI 40% off book sale

Always wanted to buy one of my books but been shocked at the cost of trade publications? ITI is currently running a holiday sale — 40% off all in stock items when you order online. Check it out.

If you already have the whole set or just don’t want to hear from me, then check out some of the other recent titles like David Lee King’s Designing the Digital Experience (sale price $14.97!), Pam MacKellar’s The Accidental Librarian ($17.70), or Virtual Worlds, Real Libraries ($23.70). (Sale prices show up when you add to your cart.)