Monthly Archives: August 2007


Remember a year or so ago, when all the talk was about how swell Netflix is, and how libraries should try to imitate that model? Well, someone has – and it’s not a library.

BookSwim is a book rental library. From their site:

Online Book Rental Library. Stop buying books when you can borrow new releases and classics with free shipping!

Netflix has popularized online DVD Rental. We`re doing it for books!

BookSwim is the first online BOOK RENTAL LIBRARY CLUB lending you paperbacks and hardcovers directly to your house WITHOUT THE NEED TO PURCHASE! Whether it’s New Releases, Bestsellers, or Classics, we’ve got 150,000 titles to choose from, with FREE SHIPPING BOTH WAYS! Read your books as long as you want. — no late fees! Even choose to purchase and keep the titles you love!

It’s not particularly cheap – plans start at $19.99 per month.

So, why couldn’t libraries do this???? We could charge a patron a monthly fee to mail books to them, couldn’t we? We already have the collection. It seems to me the hook here is that someone doesn’t have to go somewhere to pick a book up – it’s delivered to them. Convenient. Easy.

Now, why didn’t we think of that?


Filed under Customer Service, Libraries and Librarianship

Mindset 2007

It’s that time of year again! Beloit College in Wisconsin has released the Mindset List.

When they welcome the class of 2011 in the coming weeks, American colleges and universities will be saying hello to the generation born as the Cold War was ending. For them, a Russia with multiple political parties and a China with multiple business enterprises seems quite normal. They’ve grown up in a time of triumphant capitalism, where it’s common for stadiums to be named after corporations and where product placements have always been yet another clever way for companies to sell their wares.

Each August for the past decade, as faculty prepare for the academic year, Beloit College in Wisconsin has released the Beloit College Mindset List. Its 70 items provide a look at the cultural touchstones that have shaped the lives of today’s first-year students, most of them born in 1989. It is the creation of Beloit’s Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride and Public Affairs Director Ron Nief. Latchkey kids for most of their lives, students entering college this fall think nothing of arriving home with parents still at work, then e-mailing or texting their friends, instantly updating their autobiographies on “Facebook” or “MySpace, and listening to their iPods while doing their research on Wikipedia. They’ve grown up with Rush Limbaugh urging his fellow Dittoheads to excoriate liberals, with having been taught by an equal number of women and men in the classroom, and with women having been hired as police chiefs of major cities.

Food has always been a health concern. Consumer awareness about ingredients and fats has always been energized. They’ve never “rolled down” a car window, and to them Jack Nicholson is mainly known as the guy who played “The Joker.” As usual, they remind their elders how quickly time has passed. For them Pete Rose has never been in baseball. Abbie Hoffman’s always been dead. Johnny Carson has never been live on TV, and Nelson Mandela has always been free. As for the Berlin Wall, what’s that?

In addition to those mentioned above (no BERLIN WALL???), there are some jarring entries:

7. They have grown up with bottled water.

13. “Off the hook” has never had anything to do with a telephone.

23. Wal-Mart has always been a larger retailer than Sears and has always employed more workers than GM.

43. Being a latchkey kid has never been a big deal.

55. MTV has never featured music videos.

Check out the whole list at Beloit College. It’s mindbending.

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50 Rules

Buddy Charlie has written a book called “50 Rules Kids Won’t Learn in School.”  Publisher’s Weekly just reviewed it:

Charles J. Sykes. St. Martin’s, $19.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0312360382 Expanded from an original list of 14 first broadcast on his Milwaukee, Wis., radio talk show, the latest book from Sykes (Dumbing Down our Kids) equips parents to help tween- or teenage children find success in life beyond school. Taking on the education system’s “modern bubble-wrap mentality” of “no losing, no disappointments, no harsh reality checks,” Sykes takes a hard-line but humorous approach to instilling the discipline, morals and good sense that keep kids from becoming “sulky, self-centered, spoiled brats.” Consider Rule 19: “It’s not your parent’s fault. If you screw up, you are responsible”; or Rule 14: “Looking like a slut does not empower you.” Rules are largely rooted in common sense (“Change the oil”), traditional values (“Don’t forget to say thank you”) and the wisdom that only time can bring (“Be nice to nerds. You may end up working for them. We all could”), and get fleshed out in punchy, chuckle-worthy commentary. Though he can be harsh (“You are not a victim. So stop whining”), Sykes helpfully points out that “Grown-ups forget how scary it is to be your age,” and also that “You are not perfect, and you don’t have to be” (illustrated in an amusing story about Mother Teresa misapplying a bandage); parents will appreciate Syke’s no-nonsense style, but teenage readers may find him condescending (see Rule 21: “You’re offended? So what? No, really. So what?”). (Aug.)

Get your own copy at either Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

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Amazon as Social Network

I was wandering about the Web the other day, researching a new people search site I learned about on Lifehacker. I used my maiden name to search, since it’s unusual enough that the results are usually manageable.

The first item that came up was and profiles. I couldn’t imagine what Amazon was doing with my profile, and why anyone could see it. I checked it out. It’s now a social networking site. You can add friends. You can add “interesting people.” It will tell you when one of your friends or interesting people do something.

I’m not sure if I like this or not, but it’s an intriguing development. One of the weird things is, I’m not sure how the “interesting people” came to be on my list. I know who they are, and I do find them interesting…..but I didn’t make that designation. At least, not consciously. In any case, I can see how this could be useful – especially at gift-giving time.

Certainly, the concept of social networking is becoming more ubiquitous. Perhaps it’s time for libraries to determine how we might offer this sort of functionality. We’ve traditionally been the guardians of personal information, but our users seem to be getting less and less concerned with their privacy and more and more willing to share. Why couldn’t we make this an option? If you want to keep your information private, fine. But if you want to share it with other library users, why not? It’s your record, after all. If you want to allow others to see what you’re reading and compare notes, why are we working so hard to stop that exchange?


Filed under Customer Service, Libraries and Librarianship, Things that make you go, "Hmmm..."


A new member of the family joined us Sunday.  His name is Sherlock, and he’s an 8-week-old goldendoodle.

For the uninitiated, a goldendoodle is a combination golden retriever and standard poodle.  They’re loving and sweet and perpetually bouncy.  It’s rather like living with your very own Tigger.  (The wonderful thing about Tiggers!  Tiggers are wonderful things!)

Sherlock was a Father’s Day/birthday gift for my Dad.  DH and I picked the puppy up from the breeder Sunday night and Mom and Dad arrived yesterday to take possession.  The little darling has been terrorizing everyone ever since.   He’s very smart.  The codicil to “very smart” is very stubborn.  And true to his goldendoodle-Tigger nature, he’s bouncing about non-stop.  It’s exhausting and entertaining and endearing all at the same time.


Filed under Me and mine

Politeness Allowed at Your Library

Politeness Allowed at Your Library

Originally uploaded by Buckham Memorial Library in Faribault.

In the library world, negative signage is all too common. Don’t do this. Don’t sit there. No (fill in the blank) allowed.

The Buckham Memorial Library in Faribault, Minnesota is trying to change their corner of the world with a new signage campaign. Library Director Renee Lowery explains, “We’re trying a new campaign, taking down all of our “No” signs and replacing them with one that explains “We promise not to shush you if you promise to be considerate of your fellow library users.” ”

How fabulous.

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Filed under Customer Service, Libraries and Librarianship

That’s Ms. Sexy to you….

According to the Connecticut Business News Journal, librarians are sexy. The article is written in typical back-handed compliment fashion (the title is “A Dowdy Profession Turns Hip) but claims we’re the hip new group these days.

When someone mentions a trendy or sexy career, does librarian come to mind? Maybe fashion designer, race car driver or even software engineer, but definitely not librarian – that is, until now. (Ahem. Gee, thanks.~MB)

Times have changed, and library science has become one of the most desirable career paths in the job market. The next generation of librarians will serve a technology-dependent world with a user-centered focus. No less an authority than the New York Times has noticed that library science has become a hot career.

The question is why?

The article goes through a number of reasons why we’re hip (technology-driven economy, diversity, niche markets) and interviews a few librarians, including Loreine Roy, ALA’s incoming president.   Not a bad read, all in all, but nothing particularly revelatory, either.

It’s interesting that we’re so interesting all of the sudden.

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Filed under Libraries and Librarianship

Minnesota Tragedy

Our hearts and prayers go out to the families and friends of those involved in the horrific bridge collapse just north of us in Minneapolis.

God Bless.

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Filed under Me and mine, Miscellaneous