Oh, I don't know, I guess I liked this book okay. The depression-era protagonist has been sent to a girls' camp that turns out also to be a boarding school after doing a bad thing. We slowly find out what the bad thing is. As we begin to realize that 15-year-old Thea wasn't really responsible for the bad thing she gets involved with another bad thing, but with more agency this time.
David Rosenthal, in a post on his blog, gives a brief presentation on the principles behind the LOCKSS technology. In it, he explains some of the thought behind it (with useful links!). One of the key questions of digital preservation is "What are the causes of data loss?" David notes that most people would answer this question with the usual suspects: Media failure, Hardware failure, Software failure, Network failure, Obsolescence, Natural Disaster. But, David says, if you ask the people who run large data centers you get a different list:
I just finished reading Rick Anderson's Ithaka S+R issue brief "'Can't Buy Us Love:' The Declining Importance of Library Books and the Rising Importance of Special Collections." it is not the most articulate argument for the future of libraries, but it certainly may be the best eulogy.
Anderson's perspective bothered me so much that I jotted down a few thoughts to ponder in response. I wanted to post as a comment but it ran a little longer than Ithaka allows on their site. By all means, read Anderson's piece, and then my comments below. I'd love to hear what our readers think.
Full citation: "'Can't Buy Us Love:' The Declining Importance of Library Books and the Rising Importance of Special Collections." Ithaka S+R Issue Brief. August 1, 2013. Rick Anderson, Interim Dean & University Librarian, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.
Here are a few thoughts to ponder:
Jumping on to JJ"s post on National Security Archive and Snowden resource documents, the Washington Post recently published its analysis and interesting infographic of the $52.6 billion dollar "black budget" of the US Intelligence agencies ( [attached PDF of infographic]. The Washington Post has released 17 pages of the top-secret 178-page budget summary for the National Intelligence Program that was leaked by Edward Snowden (attached and below).
The nongovernmental National Security Archive at The George Washington University has posted a compilation of over 125 documents to provide context and specifics about the about "The Snowden Affair."
- The Snowden Affair Web Resource Documents the Latest Firestorm over the National Security Agency. National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 436 (September 4, 2013) Edited by Jeffrey T. Richelson.
This "Web Resource" includes documents from the White House, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), and the National Security Agency (NSA), and more.
The Canadian government's Library and Archives Canada (LAC) announced more details of its digitization project. In a "digitization partnership" with Canadiana.org, a not-for-profit charitable organization, there will be a large scale digitization project that will involve about 60 million images from numerous collections, including the indexing and description of millions of personal, administrative and government documents, as well as land grants, war diaries and photographs and the transcription of millions of handwritten pages. This is a "10-year agreement."
- Library and Archives Canada and Canadiana.org partner on digitization, online publication of millions of images from archival microfilm collection. Library and Archives Canada (2013-08-29).
The announcement says that Canadians will have "access" regardless of where they live, at no charge.
What a disappointment this book is. Great title, great elements--a clairvoyant teenage dancer from the USSR relocated to Brighton Beach--and there's not enough dance, the psychic moments are easy to miss, you don't care about the characters, and the whole spy/traitor thing--whatever. The one good part of the story is 1982-83 Brighton Beach. Also the cover is attractive.
Even though this tale of four women in their late thirties is strictly an extra sexed-up romance novel that's not particularly compelling and has some weird quasi-feminist politics, I stuck with it because I like stories about people who are different from me. One of the characters is Jewish, but of the other three, two are Black and one is Colombian, but what makes their lives even more noticeably different than mine is that they're all filthy rich.
Six years later, she no longer dated snakes; she accessorized with them. She had a brilliant career, her dignity, and a closet full of reptile purses--the spoils of her victory over herself.reviewdate: Aug 28 2013 isn: 978-1-4391-2490-1
The Monthly Labor Review, which has been published since 1915, initiated a new design this summer and in an article in the July issue, editors explain the new design and offer a little history and time line of the publication.
- The Monthly Labor Review gets a new look, Monthly Labor Review (July 2013).
There are two particularly notable changes to new articles. First, they will be published in HTML as well as PDF, making them more accessible on different devices and more interactive (links, interactive graphics, and charts with underlying data). Second, articles in the MLR will be published as they become ready throughout the month rather than all together at one time.
Two other important changes: MLR has discontinued the "Current Labor Statistics" section and the "Labor Month in Review."
Joan Didion's writing is always elegant, haunting and clever, which is true, as ever in Blue Nights. Even so, this memoir about her daughter's death is no Year of Magical Thinking (Didion's memoir about losing her husband, around the same time).
It's a testament to good writing when I enjoy a book despite not caring for its main characters. Identical twins Kate and Violet are an anxious stay-at-home-mom and a thoughtless free spirit, respectively. In addition to looking alike, they also share what they call "senses" or ESP. Married sister Kate has renounced hers, but Violet has gone pro with her gift and publicly predicts an earthquake will hit St. Louis (where they live).
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has created an extensive Timeline of NSA Domestic Spying that refers to legislation, reports, hearings, events, and leaked documents. It details laws and earlier programs (e.g. Total Information Awareness) that predate the most recent revelations. (It begins in 1791!) It has links to documents and hearings that make it a virtual bibliography and more than a simple list of events. EFF notes that:
All of the evidence found in this timeline can also be found in the Summary of Evidence we submitted to the court in Jewel v. National Security Agency (NSA). It is intended to recall all the credible accounts and information of the NSA's domestic spying program found in the media, congressional testimony, books, and court actions. The timeline also includes documents leaked by the Guardian in June 2013 that confirmed the domestic spying by the NSA.
CIA closes office that declassifies historical materials, By Ken Dilanian, Los Angeles Times (August 21, 2013).
"The Historical Collections Division is the latest casualty of sequester cuts. The office handling Freedom of Information Act requests will take over the work.
"...Some of the declassification is required by law, so the Historical Collections Division, which focused on discretionary declassification involving topics that scholars found compelling, was the easiest target for trimming costs...."
Hat tip to InfoDocket!
In a news and FOIA coup (pardon the pun), Malcolm Byrne at the National Security Archive recently announced that the CIA declassified and released documents confirming their role in the 1953 Iran Coup that overthrew Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq (more news coverage here). This adds information to the already informative National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book #28 "Secret CIA History of the Iran Coup 1953."
And now, hot on the heels of this amazing disclosure, Cognito Comics has just released the CIA Operation Ajax Interactive Graphic Novel for iPad and iPhone (with Android coming soon). Check it out!
Weeding has been getting a lot of attention in library circles of late (or, er, in the library circles I hang out in, which is pretty much the LSW room on FriendFeed). The discussion comes from a story that revealed a major weeding project was underway at the Urbana Free Library and that it was being done hastily and without much librarian supervision.
Read the original story, a followup, and some statements from librarians for more information, but the gist of it is that the director wanted to get a major weeding project done quickly before a new RFID system was put in, and so she decided all the nonfiction older than ten years should be targeted, and librarians were to look only at lists when deciding what to keep, not take time to peruse the shelves. Oh, and much of this was done with temporary employees while the person in charge of the collection was on vacation. The result was that huge swaths of the nonfiction collection were reduced by 50-75%.
At best, this is what we call a major snafu; at worst, it’s a travesty of management, planning, and community relations. I lean toward the latter view, but I respect that, as they say in The Big Lebowski, new shit may come to light.
In the meantime, though, I wanted to talk a little about how to do major weeding in a more thoughtful way and about. As it happens, in my eight years in the library profession, I’ve been involved in three major weeding projects. They’ve varied in size and scope, but in every case, they represented a collection that had barely been touched in a decade or more. In my current job, I’m in the final stages of weeding the mystery and fiction collections. Here, then, is a bit about how I did it and what I’ve learned along the way.
The First Pass
I started by targeting things had not moved at all in the past decade. I ran a report of everything that hadn’t circulated in ten years and had a volunteer pull the volumes and bring them to me for deletion. I looked at these books only briefly in passing; a handful I retained either because they were the sort of classics I could imagine someone walking in the next day and wanting or because I had an immediate idea for a display that I thought would bring the books new life. Out of 500+ books on the list, I saved perhaps half a dozen.
The Second Pass
The second thing I wanted to do was eliminate old books with low circulation. I ran report for books more than twenty years old with five or fewer circulations. I saved more out of that group — sometimes for the reasons mentioned above; sometimes because they belonged to a series that we had all the other volumes of. In one case, eight out of the ten volumes of a series showed up on the list. The remaining two volumes had circulated only six times, just missing the cutoff, so I weeded them, too. There’s nothing more frustrating than a series that’s missing most of its volumes.
The Third Pass
We have enough money at my current library that when a book is very popular, we buy a LOT of copies of it. That’s great, as it means people who want to read the latest book by Janet Evanovich or David Baldacci don’t have to wait months to get it, but several years later, it means we have five or ten or fifteen copies of those books sitting on the shelves not getting checked out and taking up space. I had my volunteer pull so that there were only two copies left of everything. In some cases, I added a few copies back in, but for the most part, reducing duplicates has freed up a lot of space and made for a much nicer browsing experience. It is possible that in a few cases I was a bit overzealous. I was walking through the Bs today and noticed a gaping hole. “What the hell happened here?” I thought — and then, “Oh, Dan Brown.” We had two copies of The Da Vinci Code left, and both are currently checked out. Ooops.
The Final Pass
This is what I’m doing right now, and it’s the only truly time consuming part, since most of pulling was done by volunteers. At this point, I’m going out myself with a cart and walking through the shelves and looking for books that look old and tired. When I have a few dozen, I head back to my office to evaluate them. Now I am handling each book individually, looking it up to see how it’s circulated over the years, who its author is and what else they’ve written, what reader it might appeal to. The books with circs that were low but not quite low enough to have been caught on the second pass often get weeded. They are old and often musty. These are the popular fiction of twenty or thirty or forty years ago. From a cultural history standpoint, they’re fascinating — Fear of Flying was far from the only novel that examined women’s lives in the context of women’s liberation — but most of these didn’t get famous. Some of them may be good books, but in my library, their appeal factor will be limited. Twenty or thirty years from now my successor will be weeding all the issue fiction I’m buying now, as well she should.
The books with excellent circulation numbers I look to replace, if I can. Again, my library has enough money that I can buy new editions of Agatha Christie’s mysteries and Watership Down and the work of Isaac Asimov. We have excellent book menders, but sometimes a book is so old even they cannot save it. If I can’t find a replacement edition, I try to see if there’s something else we can do to clean it up. Sometimes just a new Mylar cover works wonders.
And sometimes I discovered things I had no idea existed, like a series of books about Swedish-Americans that will be perfect for a patron I know — a patron who will likely tell other patrons with similar tastes, and who will thus get these books out and about again.
This project started this past spring, and I expect to be done with it by the end of the summer. It should make our shelves look much nicer and it will, I hope, help get more books into the hands of patrons, which is where they belong.