Cites & Bytes @ Bailey

a library newsletter, a compendium of interesting tidbits, a communication tool....from Bailey Library @ Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. (Site Feed)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

August 1-3: No Online Catalog, but Happy Lugnasadh Anyway....

From August 1-3, the online catalog will be unavailable while undergoing an upgrade. EZ Borrow will also be unavailable; database access will not be affected.

Also on August 1, Lugnasadh Day! Sounds like a mad party (not to mention the handfasting!)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Hot Dog!

Yeah, it's a slow night on the reference desk. Here's some hot dog info for your summertime enjoyment:

Hot Dogs as America from the American Museum of Natural History...
July is National Hot Dog Month! from the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council...
The FDA takes the fun out of hot dogs here...
Remember the dancing hot dog from the drive-in?
Crazy baby hot dog costume from the Prank Place...

Sniffing Out the Facts...

The latest discoveries from the information detective:

What people are packing (literature-wise) ... in the trunk of the car
Need a sick day? check out the WebMD symptom checker for ideas
Wish you were here...artists on vacation from the Smithsonian Archives
Ohio State* Open Access initiative makes 60 books available online... and here's how to search them, from Research Buzz

*SOTOSCSM: Shout-out to Ohio State Cataloger Sister Melanie

Monday, July 23, 2007

RIP Lady Bird...

We have a charming picture book in the IMC dealing with Mrs. Johnson's beautification program and her early love of wildflowers. Check it out!

Lady Bird Johnson, from PBS
Lady Bird Johnson Final Tribute, from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Sunday, July 22, 2007

All 759 Pages...

Finished it! I had a bit of a busy weekend, company, etc., almost considered taking it to the music festival where I spent most of Saturday, or I would have been finished earlier. I got the book at midnight on Friday, or somewhat after actually since I was #78 in line at the Borders Outlet. You've really got to hand it to Rowling... these books have been so engrossing, that sort of I-don't-want-to-stop-reading this experience and this last one was no exception. I'm not giving up any of its secrets but I thoroughly enjoyed it... epic, really. The whole phenomena has been really fun. I'm donating my copy to the library on Monday... get on the hold list!

UPDATE: Children, Creepy Middle-Aged Weirdos Swept Up in Potter Craze... satire from the Onion

Friday, July 20, 2007

Recently Read by Nicole*...

The Last Mortal Man by Syne Mitchell. Book One of the Deathless.
Set in the near future, technology has reached its peak with nano-technology, or nanology; tiny machines that convert a living person into a “Deathless,” one whose cellular structure is composed of nanology. Alexa, a one-time assassin, is converted to protect the one person she set out to kill, Lucius Sterling. Over the centuries, a threat appears that can turn the Deathless into ash, reversing the process of the nanology and wiping out whole cities and thousands of lives in mere seconds. Alexa must team up with Jack, the grandson of Lucius who has a severe allergy to nanology, and find a way to stop this process before the entire world is set back to the Stone Age.

This is a brilliant work of science fiction, one that catches even the fantasy-lover’s eye. There was not one point throughout this story where I became bored. Granted, there are a few places where the author could have researched a bit more, but they’re easy to put aside for the sake of the whole story. There is action, ethical dilemmas, and scientific theory in every chapter, right down to the special bond between family. A must read for all science fiction fans.

Enchantment by Orson Scott Card.
Ivan is a Russian boy who had to convert to Judaism with his family just to emigrate to America. During the process, he comes across a chasm filled with leaves and a sleeping princess in the center of it all. In his fear and innocence, Ivan runs away. Now an adult, Ivan finds himself back at the chasm, fighting a large bear, and waking Sleeping Beauty with his enchanted kiss. That’s usually where all fairy tales end, but not this one. This book isn’t the fairy tale, it’s the happily ever after; it’s how they get there, hating each other even in their dutiful marriage to save Princess Katerina’s kingdom. It shows how they grow accustomed to each other and fight the witch Baba Yaga, relying on modern tools and ancient magic.

When I first picked up this book, I was a bit skeptical. Orson Scott Card is famous for his science fiction, not fantasy. However, he weaves such a masterful tale full of old Russian fairy tales, folklore, and modern day problems that I was instantly convinced of his skill. There are so many literary references to make any avid reader pick them up and smile. You’ll find yourself coming across a reference and saying, “I read that!” or “I’ve heard of that!” Subtly incorporated into the tale, these references are only noticeable if the referred book had been read, so it makes re-reading this story a new adventure each time.

*Nicole Bartley is a student worker in the IMC and an avid reader. Thank you, Nicole, for contributing to the Recently Read thread! Any other volunteers?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Recently Heard...

in my car, when my cracked muffler-thing wasn't drowning it out...

Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community and War by Nathaniel Philbrick.
This extensive work was impressive, very interesting... sometimes gripping (very detailed accounts of King Philip's War) and sometimes humbling (not too much to be proud of in terms of native relations.) In fact, Philbrick draws a nice parallel between that war and the one in which we currently find ourselves entangled. What's that saying about being ignorant of history and doomed to repeat it? As you know, most of the myths surrounding the Pilgrims are romantic creations; this work provides a much more textured and accurate history, warts and all. There is still much to be admired, however, in the struggle and perseverance of the Pilgrims and in the characters of Benjamin Church, Massasoit, and Mary Rowlandson, a captive.

Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream by Barbara Ehrenreich.
The plight of unemployed white-collar workers is not quite as sympathetic as that of the minimum wage employees Ehrenreich profiled in Nickel and Dimed. Her insightful observations and wit are just as sharp, however, as she endures months of job search, career coaching, job fairs, resume counseling, Christian networking un-opportunities, and other sorts of expensive torture in her "transitional" quest for a corporate position. She even gets a makeover! All to no avail.. the only positions she is offered involve selling Aflac Insurance and Mary Kay Cosmetics. It's no Nickel and Dimed, but it is a very funny book, worth a listen, and just a little scary for anyone looking to re-enter the job market. Brush with Fame Moment: Barbara Ehrenreich came to Slippery Rock when Nickel and Dimed was the freshman read and the librarians got to lunch with her... a very nice treat and an honor for us.

A Piece of Cake: A Memoir by Cupcake Brown.
There are times, when I am listening to audiobooks, when I hurriedly turn them off.. in the McDonald's drive-thru, for instance, or in this case, whenever I was concerned about offending innocent bystanders. This is a very frank autobiography about abuse, addiction, and ultimately, a hard-won rebirth that is inspiring. The language is extremely frank and honest and seemingly no sordid detail is glossed over or omitted. Cupcake, or "Cup" as she is known to her friends, turns the corner after spending four days behind a dumpster, alternately smoking crack, drinking, and occasionally emerging to turn tricks to earn enough money to score. She saves herself with the assistance and support of a varied cast of employers, AA sponsors, medical personnel, friends, family members, and some really nice law school professors who donated money to get Cupcake an "interview" suit. Today she is a successful attorney, frequent speaker, and now best-selling author with a website. Lots of personality and an unflinching memoir...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I'm Just Wild About Harry...

OK, so I think I have my plans in place. At midnight on July 20, I am running up to the Borders Outlet at the Factory Shops and waiting in line for my reserved copy of the final Harry Potter (in which Harry apparently swats He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named with a vicious badminton birdie, at least according to the cover.) Constant Reader may remember that I was ridiculed by a drunken college student ("How old are you?) at the last Harry Potter release at the Slippery Rock bookstore and I am hoping to escape undetected and unscathed at a different location. Where is my invisibility cloak? Some other info for impatient muggles:

Harry Potter Festivals: A Gala Time for Muggles
Find or Plan Your Own Harry Potter Book 7 Party
Record Demand for Final Potter (or I'm Not the Only Weirdo in Line)
Potter Has Limited Effect on Reading Habits
Chinese Pirates Attack Harry Potter... not to duplicate, but to innovate
Harry Potter's "voice" Not Talking...
A woggle of quizzes: Which Harry Potter Kid Are You?; BBC Harry Potter Quizzes; The Very Hard Harry Potter Quiz

How about a poll? J. K. Rowling is rumored to have killed off two characters in the last Harry Potter; what's your prediction?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

More on Summer Reading

OK, I can admit it, I'm reading a trashy detective novel. Well its summertime! And anyway the plot of Havana Heat by Carolina Garcia-Aguilera hinges on an attempt to return stolen art to its rightful owners. Right up my alley! But instead of the more common theme of the Nazis as art looters, this time its Fidel Castro's government. The protagonist, Miami private investigator Lupe Solano, even consults with the Art Loss Register in London. Hey, she did her homework. So what if the writing is a bit plodding and she works the Cuban connection into the ground ... there's plenty of drama to keep you turning the pages.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Recently Read by Phil...

I hope to feature some "recently reads" by the rest of the Bailey Library company and here's the first volunteer... from Director of Library Services, Phil Tramdack:

Heart of a Dog by Michael Bulgakov.
Has it been a while since you laughed out loud? To say Heart of a dog, Michael Bulgakov’s early Soviet-era satirical novel about life in post-revolutionary Moscow, is hilarious is an understatement. My Daughter the Genius tipped me off to this one. A sorry and sick dog is one inch from dying on the street of abuse and starvation when he is befriended by an urbane physician, whose specialty is rejuvenating treatments involving transplantation of glands and organs from beast to man. As an historic experiment, the doctor reverse-transplants the pituitary and sex organs of a young Muscovite who dies under mysterious circumstances into the dog, who then begins to undergo a very amazing, funny and unsettling metamorphosis. He is transformed physically from dog to man, sort of, and is revealed to have acquired human speech and attitudes along the way. Among the dog-man’s first utterances are "delicatessen," "you heel," "take one home for the kiddies," and "make that a double." The creature becomes friends with the revolutionary committee in the doctor’s apartment house and gradually assumes a position in the doctor’s life that is, well, hard to describe. Read it: Heart of a dog by Michael Bulgakov.

Poems new and collected by Wislawa Szymborska.
Poetry scares me because I have the morbid fear of being either embarrassed or bored reading it. My Daughter the Genius is responsible for showing me the way to Wislawa Szymborska, the Nobel Prize-winning poet, who is a Polish living national treasure and possibly the greatest living poet on the Earth today. Her poems are clear, accessible, startling in their simplicity, and yet profound, and wise beyond description. Szymborska takes ordinary events and life situations and applies a special, almost god-like touch, to turn the chaos of our everyday existence into the perfect order of a perfect poem. A nice collection is Poems new and collected, with translations by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh. Here is one:


True love. Is it normal,
is it serious, is it practical?
What does the world get from two people
who exist in a world of their own?

Placed on the same pedestal for no good reason,
drawn randomly from millions, but convinced
it had to happen this way--in reward for what? For nothing.
The light descends from nowhere.
Why on these two and not others?
Doesn't this outrage justice? Yes it does.
Doesn't it disrupt our painstakingly erected principles,
and cast the moral from the peak? Yes on both accounts.

Look at the happy couple.
Couldn't they at least try to hide it,
fake a little depression for their friends' sake!
Listen to them laughing--it's an insult.
The language they use--deceptively clear.
And their little celebrations, rituals,
the elaborate mutual routines--
it's obviously a plot behind the human race's back!

It's hard even to guess how far things might go
if people start to follow their example.
What could religion and poetry count on?
What would be remembered? what renounced?
Who'd want to stay within bounds?

True love. Is it really necessary?
Tact and common sense tell us to pass over it in silence,
like a scandal in Life's highest circles.
Perfectly good children are born without its help.
It couldn't populate the planet in a million years,
it comes along so rarely.

Let the people who never find true love
keep saying that there's no such thing.

Their faith will make it easier for them to live and die.

Translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Why, Miss Poindexter... You're... You're Beautiful!

[Insert your librarian removing her glasses and loosening her bun fantasy here.]

The New York Times describes "A Hipper Crowd of Shushers," and thanks to everyone who sent me this article. You know how to make me smile. The New York Sun offers a similar story... the Desk Set dance parties must be the place to be, including fun drinks identified by Dewey Decimal number.

An essay by John Hubbard offers numerous examples and images of the cultural images of librarians (some a little naughty.)

And in related biblio/bibliotheque news:

Friday, July 06, 2007

What We've Done For You Lately...

Some behind-the-scenes niceties from IT and Del Hamilton, our Systems Librarian, and all of the librarians and staff members who suggested these changes:

You will no longer be confused by location listings in the catalog that seem to say 2nd floor but mean 3rd floor. Now it either says "2nd floor, Main Collection" or "3rd floor, Main Collection" and it means it.

You can check out your books at either the main Circulation desk or the Instructional Materials desk, no matter what section of the library they are from.

You can login to library databases remotely with your network username and password. No more trying to read that worn out barcode (unless you are one of the super-cool people who have memorized it.)

There's a new printer #3 in the reference room, thank goodness!

All of the student work stations in the library have been updated to Office 2007, which is very cool now that I am a little more used to it.

The cafe is supposed to be getting a face lift but it just looks empty in there.
UPDATE from the Director: The cafe won't be renovated until October, but there might be a coffee cart somewhere else.

Bad News: The staplers still break on a regular basis.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Tools of the Trade...

The tiny picture above represents our latest development... a customized library toolbar. It's very handy and allows you to access the catalog, databases, citation help, a Google search, check the weather, and contact your favorite librarian... all at the click of a mouse. There's even a place to communicate with us at the end of the toolbar.

You can download the toolbar, install it in your favorite browser, and be a beta tester. We would love to hear your suggestions for improvements and additions. I'm finding it very helpful to simply tap into the catalog from any web page.