The reading habits meme

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Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack?

A lass in libraryland needs both hands to read so no snacking… though a cuppa is a must or an ice cold glass of water.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?

This librarylander has no problem with people marking books (if they are their own), but personally she doesn’t feel the need to mark passages or interesting points.

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open?

Bookmarks, scraps of paper and sometimes dog-ears (if book was purchased by her own fair hand).

Fiction, Non-fiction, or both?

Fiction, historical, biography, historical, historical, historical.

Hard copy or audiobooks?

Hardcopy all the way, audio books are ok but ALIL finds it easy to lose focus listening to them.

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you able to put a book down at any point?

Likes to read to end of a chapter, but has a nasty habit of starting just one more chapter and finding herself still reading way past her bedtime…

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away?

No.

What are you currently reading?

Bleak House.

What is the last book you bought?

Ulysses – but ALIL is not bonding with this tome so far, preferred Dubliners… she will come back to this one anon.

Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can you read more than one at a time?

ALIL prefers to read one at a time – which isn’t very practical when she mentally tots up all the books she wants to read Vs the limited human lifespan she may have left to play with.

Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read?

Bed, but when a lass in libraryland is in the reading zone anywhere will do.

Do you prefer series books or stand alone books?

Tends to read stand alones but a good series is a good series…

Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over?

Mysteries of Pittsburgh (M. Chabon), The Forsythe Saga (Galsworthy), Jane Eyre (Bronte), Moby Dick, some Milan Kundera, and all the Austen offerings.  But ALIL’s biggest pimp would be for Silas Marner, To Kill a Mocking Bird and the not to be missed Grapes of Wrath.

How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?)

A lass in libraryland does that all day at work, at home she likes to put her books on the shelves in a more serendipitous order – by colour, size and feel – Nina Fonaroff stylee.

Lone wolf

Having read a spate of articles on the solo librarian in the October Update (pp.28-30 & 49) and 28 September-08 October Gazette (p.19), a lass in libraryland has been pondering why she finds this lonely corner of the profession so appealing…

A lass in libraryland didn’t set out with a clear plan to become a solo, it just happened.  She was employed comfortably enough in a library with a team of three other professionals and two library assistants when her current job was advertised.  The post didn’t offer a higher salary, a bigger collection to play with or better opportunities and perhaps would have been considered, by some, to be a backward or foolhardy step for a relatively new infomaniac.  But something about the post called to librarylander and she felt sure that it was right for her and her professional development, even though she couldn’t quite put her finger on why…

Twelve years on and having had little or no company at the coalface during that time ALIL has become familiar with the daily concerns, joys and challenges of the lone librarian:

Time – a limited resource in the life of a solo. Tasks need to be done promptly, at the right time and only once

Resources – solo services often have small and/or limited resources available, whether it be budget, staffing, time or support.  These resources need to be used wisely and every ounce of usefulness squeezed from them

Isolation – access to other librarians at lunchtime or over morning coffee are non-existent in the world of the solo, professional succour must be sort outside the workplace and maintained to avoid professional isolation and the slow slip towards madness

Jack of all trades – the solo needs skills in all aspects of library service provision from classification to inductions, managing the LMS to marketing the service, acquisition to budget management, user enquiries to student support, managing e-resources to un-jamming the photocopier…  you get the picture

Two pairs of hands – all this must be done whilst offering a comprehensive and good quality counter service… this is where genetic engineering and the ability to grow an extra pair of hands can really start paying dividends

ALIL has little doubt that it is this time as a lone star which has allowed her to develop into a more rounded and multi-skilled professional, capable of developing a small specialised service into a usable and proactive resource for its users.

Whilst ALIL for the most part ‘wants to be alone’ no librarylander is an island and as the years have passed she has developed a network of fellow librarylanders to lean on, pester, share and develop alongside.

However over the past year or two life at the coalface has become more crowded as ALIL finds herself with an opportunity to work with a variety of professionals and non-librarylanders to develop a small group of services operating under an affiliate umbrella.

What started as a bunch of disparate services huddling together for warmth has developed into a joined up, network efficient grouping with a remit and central funding!  In little over two years the group has been able to introduce joint access to electronic resources across eight HEIs, become a sub-committee of the umbrella organisation, secure central funding and inform policy.  The group has found itself able to affect major changes to its provision, by improving access to resources and saving money into the bargain… all without losing the autonomy of the individual services.

A lass in libraryland is well aware that by far the most rewarding aspect of this joined up thinking is that a group of lone wolfs have been able to find a voice loud enough to be heard simply by hunting as a pack when required… perhaps this corner of libraryland isn’t so lonesome after all.

The devil is in the detail

rssSometime ago a lass in libraryland found herself trawling the app store for interesting free toys to add to her iTouch and stumbled across Free RSS Reader. She downloaded the said app and added the feed URLs of a few libraryland Twits and hey presto instant feeds. The joy of not having to log onto a computer to check feeds was a real plus and saved ALIL lots of time.However the time it took to add new feeds caused ALIL much frustration – having to remember URLs and enter them into the app manually quickly became a chore…

Then as if by magic Apple released the OS 3.0 software update and all of a sudden the app was transformed from a useful tool to a ‘can’t do without’ necessity – a simple cut and paste and new feeds could be added in seconds.

Now ALIL is not only up-to-date with all the blogs she reads but can add new blogs in a trice.

If you haven’t already got the Free RSS Reader app or 3.0 update on your iTool of choice (which ALIL knows is highly unlikely, being an up-to-date streetwise, informed bunch) then ALIL would recommend immediate action to rectify this oversight…

On the move

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A Lass in Libraryland has been stepping outside her comfort zone this week and then some…

Having set up a blog a while back she had become more aware of other blogs, how they looked, how they were set out and their impact. Sometimes she found herself experiencing blog and domain name envy…

While ALIL wallows in all things 2.0 she could never be described as geekzilla and as a result she wouldn’t know CSS code from toffee and as for altering templates, forget it. So she found herself wondering how to get a domain name all of her own and how to get it to interact with her blog… whilst pondering the complications of altering templates and fiddling with style sheets.

The whole transferring from ‘blog.com’ to ‘blog.org’ to make the most of the added flexibility was a non-starter unless she could locate a good hosting service or a spare server knocking about the house… oh and some sadly lacking geekability.

A cast about located a possible alternative, a CMS that offered intuitive and flexible templates, which ALIL could learn to adapt as her competence levels grew. The platform would fully host the blog and allowed integration of domain names should ALIL desire. The slight downside – that the service, unlike ‘blog.com’, was not community driven (non-open source) – meant the development speed of the platform would be dictated by the providers, but this issue paled when ALIL had a play with the templates, widgets and setup options offered. To ensure she wasn’t missing anything ALIL also read reviews and dug for dirt… what she found amongst other things was positive feedback about support ticket response rates and some fantastic looking blogs.

In a total of two hours ALIL had signed up to her new CMS, set the templates and transferred her blog data from its previous home. Next she located an appropriate domain service and registered www.scarpagirl.com, created a new CNAME record in the DNS interface and pointed it at her new blog provider.

Although the ‘finished’ product doesn’t look very different from the old blog it should grow with ALIL, at a pace dictated by her and with a comforting level of provider support.

So give a lass in libraryland a neb at that ‘Basic CSS’ tome and put your damn toffee away.

Treacle

Question… what is the last thing you would expect a Librarian to say they were?

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An alien, axe wielding, maniacal, book burning fool or…. a dyslexic?

How the hell does someone with dyslexia end up as a Librarian and at what point is that even a good idea? These are questions a lass in Libraryland has pondered on numerous occasions, her conclusion… sometimes it would be easier to wield an axe. To be fair it should be noted that ALIL was until a few years ago completely ignorant of her so called affliction, she had dragged herself through the educational system and managed to bag herself a degree in Librarianship, so far so good. First job landed she proceeded to pick up and build on her newly acquired skills, there was progress and there where moments of despair (the joys of juggling three part-time posts whilst seeking ones niche can not be underestimated). After the usual casting around, attending interviews and deciding on which direction to go she located that elusive job with her ‘name written all over it’.

As a result ALIL found herself the proud and slightly overwhelmed solo owner of a small and far from perfectly formed specialist service in the HE sector – the mini end of HE that is.

It was during this period that ALIL began to develop a sense of her professional identity and whilst this part of her grew she couldn’t help but feel something wasn’t how it should be… some days she felt as if she was wading waist deep in treacle and yet no matter where she looked she couldn’t finger the cause. The one constant was the fulfilment and pleasure she experienced as she developed and tweaked her new service. Despite the treacle she found herself thriving in an autonomous environment, able to make progress and see the positive changes she could bring to her corner of Libraryland.

Having been qualified for some years ALIL decided it was time to bite the bullet that is chartership and began to gather together the glut of paper evidence required for the task. However, no matter how hard she tried she just could not get the report element written, edited and finished. In frustration she set things to one side and pretended to do something else for a while.

During this ‘doing something else’ period ALIL was due to attend a training session with a number of other support staff. This offered her a chance to learn something about assistive technologies for DSA students and add to her chartership training bundle. The training looked really interesting and when the day of the session dawned ALIL was prepared to soak up new information and skills like a sponge… so much for best laid plans.

In the true style of any good cliché hindsight allows ALIL to see that the appalling trainer who came to deliver the course was actually a blessing in disguise. The poor teaching skills or lack there of and the subject being covered resulted in a blinding revelation… the ultimate conclusion of which was a discussion with the resident student support officer and an appointment to be tested for dyslexia.

In a surprisingly short time ALIL found herself the proud owner of a diagnosis, she was indeed a thirty something, dyslexic Librarian. Cor lummy how the hell did that get missed?

The relief was palpable and having identified the issue ALIL pushed through the pain barrier and finished her chartership report, submitted and gained her MCLIP status.

Everyday ALIL wishes she wasn’t dyslexic, her life and work would be so much easier if she could retain information for longer than 3 seconds. She often ponders how much better it would have been to be gifted a photographic memory, but them’s the breaks and frankly her relief at identifying the issue and purchasing the correct orange, blow up armbands to keep her head above… well treacle… has proved surprisingly liberating.Would ALIL have been encouraged to qualify as a Librarian had she or anyone else known she was dyslexic (careers advisors, teachers, etc)? ALIL somehow doubts it and is therefore glad it got missed… after all the thought of doing anything else for a living leaves her quite cold.The moral of this tale… don’t ask a lass in Libraryland how to spell antidisestablishmentarian when she is up to her eyeballs in treacle, no fair!

Twitterthon

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A lass in libraryland has been twittering for a number of weeks… tweeting, following and exploring. Her facebook account stands neglected and alone, hersocial network forgotten and abandoned.

How was she to know Twitter would be so addictive, so useful? She entered innocently enough expecting not to get the point and for her interest to fizzle out in a few days or weeks… and perhaps if her sole use of Twitter was social this might have been the case. What she discovered was a professional peephole.

Imagine a virtual place where you can see what other library professionals are doing, at any time of day or night, a place where you can tap someone on the shoulder and ask them a question and get multiple responses in an instant. Imagine a place where you can dip in and out at will, from anywhere… a place of serendipitous discoveries.

Now a lass in libraryland has started a library twitter, hoping to engage her users with instant updates on what, how and where… her twits currently total eight, none of which fall into the category of students or staff… she feels a marketing blitz coming on.

Librarylander wanders a little further into the 2.0 world

cropped-shutterstock_5393305.jpgOnce upon a time there was a lass who lived in Libraryland…

After much toe dipping & loitering on the edges librarylander finally found herself diving into the world of 2.0. Gifting Phil B with the credit for the final push with his April Update article on all things twitter.

Librarylander innocently set herself up on twitter only to be unexpectedly sucked into a virtual black hole. Serendipitous lurching from one widget; blog; tag cloud; to the next followed. In less than a day librarylander found herself with a netvibes page; a wordpress blog; & being stalked by 6 twits…