Archive for April, 2010

New server, new RSS feed

Librarified moved to a new server today, so if you’re still subscribed to the RSS feed, you’ll want to switch to the feed to keep seeing new content.

April 17, 2010 at 11:13 PM Leave a comment

What you can do for libraries

There’s a lot that libraries can do for you including providing fun programs, a quiet place to read or study, homework help, tax forms, technology training, free Internet access, and volunteer opportunities. But there’s something you can do for libraries–and they need your help.

I recently wrote about the trouble Indiana libraries are facing due to property tax caps and the cuts school libraries are facing in Monroe County. But yesterday delivered stunning, devastating news about New Jersey libraries: they’re facing a 74% reduction in funding.

The cuts, which add up to $10.4 million, could also cost New Jersey access to $4.5 million in federal matching funds which, among other things, currently provides internet access for roughly two-thirds of the state’s 306 public libraries.

That’s right: No Internet at the library. Never mind that the public library is the only free internet access in 78 percent of communities, according to the New Jersey Library Association; or that many state agencies have moved their forms on-line.

It’s especially disheartening that this news comes at the beginning of National Library Week. Especially through Internet access, technology training, and database access, libraries are becoming more important, not less. And while everyone needs to make cuts when state budgets get trimmed, libraries are being disproportionately targeted.

Yet another irony is that, of all the villains that have pushed New Jersey to the brink of financial oblivion, libraries simply aren’t one of them. Librarians aren’t represented by powerful unions. Their pay hasn’t escalated at 4 percent to 6 percent a year. Library funding at the state level has been flat for twenty years.

“We have never fed at the trough like public safety and education,” said Robert White, executive director of Bergen County Cooperative Library System, which represents 75 libraries across four counties. “And now we’re being punished for it.”

If you’re in the area, there will be a rally in Trenton on 6 May to demonstrate support for New Jersey libraries. You can also contact legislators, send a letter to the paper, or join supporters on Facebook at Save My NJ Library.

And since it is National Library Week, be sure to tell your own legislators that you support your library. If you’re in Indiana, you can do that online via the Indiana Library Federation. You can also take national action via the ALA website, where they’re asking you to talk to your senator by 14 April (that’s this Wednesday) to express your support for libraries before the Senate Appropriations Committee meets to determine funding for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and the Improving Literacy Through School Libraries (ILTSL) program in its FY2011 budget.

You can also use the ALA’s Library Value Calculator to see how valuable your local library is to you as a patron–or to your community if you’re a librarian trying to defend your institution.

And finally, if you haven’t yet sent in your Census form, please do so. The number of people in your community determines how federal funds will be allocated, and your library is one of the organizations that will be affected by that funding. While it may not seem like one person really matters, when it comes to the Census, you do.

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April 12, 2010 at 10:44 AM 1 comment

News: property tax caps and Indiana libraries, microfilm art, and YALSA mentoring

About two years ago, the Indiana legislature voted to institute a property tax cap of 1% for residential homes effective in 2010, and Governor Mitch Daniels signed the bill into law. This is bad news for libraries because in Indiana, most of the library’s income is from property taxes (about 80%, in fact, according to the director of the Allen County Public Library). Budgets were cut, hiring was reduced, and cost-saving measures were introduced. The St. Joseph County Public Library said it’d cut all its Saturday hours. A year after the tax caps were announced and revenue cuts had begun, most of the library branches in Vigo County were closed. This fall the Anderson Public Library cut its hours. And yesterday, the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library (IMCPL) announced that they’d likely be closing six branches and cutting 55 jobs. Back in January one poll showed the governor’s approval rating was about 65% across the state with his highest rating (around 70%) in the Indy area, and about 73% of people approve of the tax caps. Libraries provide things like story times and recreational reading and fun programs, but we also provide absolutely essential resources like computer and Internet access and assistance in filing for unemployment online. I’m really hoping that when library services, hours, and staff get cut, people reconsider their approval of property tax caps, but since even cutting fire departments by about 30% hasn’t convinced people that the tax caps are a bad idea, I just don’t know how hopeful I can be.

In more cheerful news, IUPUI’s University Library recently got rid of about half of its microfilm collection and the librarian in charge of the weeding project, Mindy Cooper, was determined to keep it out of the landfill. According to Mindy, a lot of it went to students at the Herron School of Art and Design at IUPUI, Indiana art teachers, and the Eiteljorg Museum, and one of the things it was used for was to make this collage by Alisa Nordholt-Dean at the Eiteljorg. What a neat reuse of discarded library materials!

Finally, the application process for YALSA’s mentoring program began on Monday (here’s the official blog post). They’re looking for librarians who’ve been working with teens in public or school libraries for at least six years to be paired up with new librarians and graduate school students to form a mutually beneficial mentoring relationship. The application forms are due by 30 June and reference forms should be submitted by 7 July. Participants will be notified of their selection in mid-September. I’ve applied and I’m hoping to be selected, but regardless of whether or not I’m invited to participate, I think this is a really cool program and I’m glad YALSA is offering this opportunity not only for new librarians to have guidance, advice, and a source of encouragement, but also to give more seasoned librarians a chance to pass on some of their wisdom and learn new things themselves.

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April 10, 2010 at 4:02 PM 1 comment

Waterlogged books in the freezer?

A few weeks ago I saw a Lifehacker post about saving waterlogged books by putting them in the freezer. I’d heard this from an archivist on a listserv last year, too, so I decided to give it a try.

I stopped by my local Half Price Books and picked up two copies of each of four different books. I wanted a paperback, a larger hardcover, a smaller hardcover, and a book with glossy pages.

Four books standing up with their spines toward the camera. The books are James Stewart's BLOOD SPORT, Paul and Sarah Edwards's MIDDLE-CLASS LIFEBOAT, JoAllen Bradham's SOME PERSONAL PAPERS, and Michelle Kennedy's STAYING DRY.

Although it kind of killed me to do it, I filled up the bathtub and put in the books, weighing them down with heavy objects to keep them submerged. I didn’t have as much time to set up the experiment as I wanted or I would have put the books in a box and slowly filled the tub, more closely replicating flood damage conditions. The books did get a lot wetter this way, though!

A photograph of eight books in four stacks soaking in a bathtub, each stack weighed down with heavy crystal vases and decanters.

The instructions in the Lifehacker piece said to put the books in plastic bags and then stick them in the freezer for up to two weeks. I did so for one copy of each book, although the biggest one didn’t fit properly in the bag, so I stapled it shut. I was worried this would affect my results, but you’ll see that wasn’t really the case.

A photograph of the top left corner of a book (with the title, BLOOD SPORT, visible) in a plastic bag that has been stapled shut.

So then I put the books in the freezer and left them there for two weeks.

Four books in plastic bags separated by paper towel in a freezer. Also visible in the freezer are food items in different containers.

I drained the tub and left the second copies of each book there to dry as best as they could. I thought about using the hair dryer to try to dry them out but thought they’d make a better control if I let them just sit for two weeks. Future experiments might include other drying techniques.

An overhead shot of four books standing up in a bathtub, waterlogged and bloated with wavy pages.

Today marked the two-week point so I checked on the books. None of the ones in the bathtub had completely dried, although the one with glossy pages was close. It was, however, stiff and difficult to open or to turn pages. Mold had grown on two of the books (the paperback and the smaller hardback). It’s kind of hard to see in the photographs, but it’s there and it’s kind of gross. There were not only rust-colored and blue-green spots, but the entire top of the book had a layer of fluffy white mold I couldn’t get a good picture of.

A close shot of the top of a book with discolored spots of mold on the pages

So just leaving books to sit and dry doesn’t work very well. But what of the books in the freezer? To be honest, they didn’t do a lot better. The cover of the smaller hardcover book was frozen to the end papers.

A photograph of a book with just the front cover opened. Ice coats the endpapers.

Some ice had formed on the outside of the books (which I guess is a little bit of moisture that was pulled out), but mostly they just felt like humongous ice cubes. They were really heavy, made a solid “THUNK” when I placed them on the counter, and were still bloated.

A photograph of a book standing upright, pages toward the camera. There are large sheets of ice on the pages and the book is bloated with moisture.

So at least with my method of getting books wet, my interpretation of the freezing directions, and my particular freezer, this definitely didn’t “pull the excess water out of the book” as the Lifehacker post suggests. A commenter on that post, though, points out that the Iowa State University Extension specialist who wrote a piece linked in the Lifehacker article says that freezing wet books just puts them on hold, giving you time to assess the damage and figure out what to do with it, not that freezing books wet books would dry them. And this part does seem true: the only way in which the books I kept in the freezer fared better was that there was no mold growth. The Iowa State piece even says you can keep books frozen for years with no additional damage.

From that article and my experiment, it looks like just putting the books in the freezer won’t do more than buy you time to look into drying methods. The linked article does mention commercial freeze-drying procedures that use sublimation (which, you’ll remember from high school chemistry, is when matter goes straight from a solid to a gas without becoming a liquid in between) as a way of drying out books and provides more at-home methods, too. So if you do drop a friend’s book into the tub or have books damaged in a flood, stick them in the freezer–and then start looking into your drying options.

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April 7, 2010 at 7:56 PM 7 comments

Links: girls on book covers, a Twilight novella, and the Lambda Literary Awards

I wrote a little earlier on the depiction of larger female characters on book covers and touched on the “disembodied parts” look that seems popular on books intended for girls. Karl of Txt-based Blogging wrote a post on the depiction of boys vs. girls on YA book covers (inspired by Codes of Gender, which I watched earlier this year!), concluding that, as in most media depictions, girls and women are shown as passive and off-balance whereas boys and men are given more active, strong poses. He posted a link to this post on YALSA-bk and it generated quite a bit of discussion. What do you think?

Last week it was announced that Stephanie Meyer would be releasing a 200-page “novella,” THE SHORT SECOND LIFE OF BREE TANNER, in June. One dollar of every $13.99 purchase will go the American Red Cross. If you’re reading this for yourself and not buying it for a library, I second Leila’s suggestion at Bookshelves of Doom to read the free downloadable version and donate more than $1 to your charity of choice instead. She suggests Kiva and I encourage Heifer International, but mostly I just want our money to go somewhere meaningful, wherever you decide that is.

Did you see OCLC’s announcement earlier this week about an iPhone app, pic2shop, that lets users scan book barcodes and then see which local libraries have the book. I know that this won’t benefit all library patrons and that the digital divide is very real, but it’s still a neat way to get people who do have iPhones to consider the public library when they’re looking for a book–and for libraries to keep their WorldCat records up to date.

The finalists for the 2010 Lambda Literary Award were announced earlier this month; since 1989 the award has recognized “the finest lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans literature available in the United States.” Miriam at Feministing has a writeup with some thoughts on the categories in which awards are given.

April 4, 2010 at 11:25 PM Leave a comment

Review: THE DAUGHTERS by Joanna Philbin

When fourteen-year-old Lizzie Summers slips up and reveals on camera that being the daughter of a supermodel isn’t always glamorous and wonderful, it sparks a huge fight between her and her mom, but it also prompts a photographer to ask Lizzie to model for her. All her life Lizzie has felt that her crooked nose, frizzy red hair, and bushy eyebrows have made her the beast to her mother’s beauty, though, so she’s not sure she can accept the offer, even if the photographer specializes in “new pretty,” regular people whose flaws make them beautiful. Lizzie also doesn’t know if she can operate in her mother’s world–or if her mom will even let her do it.

Complicating matters further, Todd Piedmont, Lizzie’s childhood friend and the boy with whom she shared her first kiss at eight years old, has just moved back from London and she’s getting mixed signals from him. He seems to be interested in her–he even tried to kiss her before his party–but now he’s dating Ava Elting, the snobbiest girl in school.

Through it all, Lizzie knows she can always count on her friends Carina Jurgensen and Hudson Jones. Carina’s dad runs a media empire and Hudson’s mom is a famous pop star, so they know what it’s like to always be in a parent’s spotlight. Together the girls figure out who they are beyond just being their parents’ daughters and make sense of boys and social politics at school.

Gossip Girl/Clique/Mean Girls-style books aren’t usually my thing, but I liked the twist here that the parents are famous, not the girls themselves–something Philbin must know herself from experience, since she’s the daughter of Regis Philbin. THE DAUGHTERS was also less racy than I was expecting; although one character is accused of “hooking up” with a girl we never meet, the main romantic arc culminates in nothing more than a knee-watering kiss. And in general the characters here were nicer than I was expecting. Maybe all of this gentler content is because the characters are fourteen and the book is aimed at readers 12+.

At some points the writing relies on clichés (Lizzie’s friends are a Brita filter, the clouds are fluffy like cotton candy, someone’s jaw actually drops open) and the romantic part of the plot is fairly predictable and the cliffhanger seemed a little cheap (Lizzie’s story is wrapped up pretty nicely but the last page and a half introduce a new crisis in Carina’s life).

Overall, though, it’s a good first novel that I really warmed up to as I read on. The characters are what make the book interesting: they’re genuinely trying to figure out who they are and to stay true to themselves. Rather than focusing on status and scandal, Lizzie and the other daughters affirm reliability and the importance of friends and family.

A note on the cover: the ARC I have is a similar design, but the three girls are all clearly dark-haired (the girls in the story are a blond, a brunette, and a redhead). The updated cover reflects the girls’ different looks and gives them more interesting outfits. The cover was actually my biggest problem with the book, so I’m glad to see it fixed. I’m still not a fan of the umbrella, but at least the cover models look like the characters.

THE DAUGHTERS will be out in May and the second book in the trilogy, THE DAUGHTERS BREAK THE RULES, comes out in November.

Read more reviews:

Book source: ARC from the publisher at PLA

If you’d like to read this book, I’ll send you my ARC. You have to promise, though, that you’ll either post a review online or send one to the publisher and that you’ll pass it on to someone else when you’re finished with the same conditions attached. Whoever emails me first gets it!

April 2, 2010 at 1:55 PM Leave a comment