Bronwyn's Library Blog

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Mearns classic lifts book honour

Sunset Song, the classic crofting elegy set in the Mearns, has been voted "Best Scottish Book of All Time".
The work, by Lewis Grassic Gibbon, received more than 400 votes from the public over a six-month period.
The result, announced at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, saw Sunset Song 80 votes ahead of the second placed work, The Game of Kings. Article continues

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Avast me hearties!

The New York Times has run an article on the rash, or should I call it treasure-trove, of pirate books launched recently. I enjoyed it immensely, with its light-hearted and informative reviews of the books and of pirates in general. The theme that captured me, though, was piratical language. Referring to the creation of Long John Silver in the Disney version of Treasure Island, the pirate is described as the downscale pirate captain, with a parrot on one shoulder, a broad pseudo-Cornish accent and a vocabulary that leaned heavily on a single, highly expressive monosyllable: arrr.The article concedes "Arrr" may be pure fiction, but…

When the reviews move on to 'PIRATTITUDE!: SO YOU WANNA BE A PIRATE? HERE'S HOW!' by John Baur and Mark Summersand published by the New American Library, the suggestion of hilarity becomes full-blown. Here are the comments: First step: mastering the five A's. These are the building blocks of piratese, and they are, apparently in reverse order of importance, avast, ahoy, aye, aye-aye, and the amazingly flexible arrr, which, the authors claim, can mean, among many other things, "Yes," "I agree," "I'm happy," "I'm enjoying this beer," "My team is winning" or "My team is losing" and "I am here and alive."
Having absorbed the five A's, students can move along to the very useful mix-and-match guide to formulating pirate curses. By selecting an adjective from column A and affixing it to a noun from column B, the apprentice pirate can coin such terms of abuse as "barnacle-bottomed bilge monkey." Slappy and Chumbucket may be on to something here, another clue to the perennial appeal of the pirate. Unlike the tight-lipped tough guys and monosyllabic cowboys who let their guns do the talking, pirates, once they get past arrr, exploit the resources of the English language. Even their parrots have colourful vocabularies.

These authors are the ones responsible for the website and promotion of International Talk like a pirate day. I had discovered the site several years ago and thought I would promote it to teachers, until I went into it more deeply and found it not quite so suitable for school use, more’s the pity. Pirates is a wonderful theme to use in primary school.

The New York Times concludes with a review of Fan Tan, Marlon Brando’s contribution to the mix. This was also reviewed by the Ann Arbor District library bloggers. They also led me to a blog post on Brando’s writing of the book by Blogrunner. As far as I’m concerned these references to a strange tale are more of an incitement to read about Marlon Brando himself – now there’s a tale.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Reading lists for you and your library

If you’re a reader, delve into these sites for the last of your summer (the freedom of holidays, beach breezes) or is it winter? (snuggled by the fire in a big easy chair) reading. If you’re in the library business, they may give you some ideas to promote your services or collections. If, like me, you are both, then let’s call them my gift to you.

Beach Bag of Books


Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh: Adult Summer Reading Book Lists

NPR: Summer Reading
. From National Public Radio

Summer Reading
. From the Guardian Unlimited,16094,1508103,00.html

Going Under Cover with Book Search Tools

Happy reading

Monday, August 15, 2005

Who would have thought ... microfilm

We threw out our microfiche reader a few years back, after keeping it "just in case for a couple of more years." "Old technology", we smugly thought. "Out of date." Now while I don't think we will be going back to it for our catalogue records, it seems that the technology is not outdated in the field of preservation. This article illustrates ...

Deep inside an abandoned iron mine in upstate New York, forklifts move pallets of sealed containers around an atomic storage centre.
The facility was set up during the Cold War to protect millions of government and corporate documents.
The Iron Mountain Atomic Storage Centre is now part of a vast network of archive centres - a lot like the warehouse that became the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Each is an Aladdin's cave of priceless treasures storing millions of historic documents that have been painstakingly catalogued, many shrunk onto microfilm and sealed into airtight containers to preserve them for centuries.
In an era exploding with digital formats it seems that microfilm has become the last back-up, a simple strip of celluloid film that only needs a torch and a magnifying glass to access it.

Read the whole article.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Hug your Librarian

Here, an article from John Brody that he called "Thinking out loud." And I've included the last paragraphs for your warm and fuzzy for the day.

Therefore, any day now, two prominent New York investment banks will announce the initial public offering for, the newest and most powerful search engine yet — better than Google, Yahoo, MSN and AskJeeves by a long shot. Already traders have lined up across the world to purchase shares. Why this excitement? It's all in the discernment. What is so great about is that when you perform a search, say on "16th-century weapons of mass destruction," you will get only one or two dozen references — the ones that are really meaningful and helpful — rather than the 50,700 that came up in the Google search I tried.

What is this great technology, you ask? Well, JHUSL stands for the Johns Hopkins University Sheridan Libraries. You see, our library has the most effective search engines yet invented — librarians who are highly skilled at ferreting out the uniquely useful references that you need. Rather than commercializing the library collections, why not export to the public market the most meaningful core of Hopkins' intellectual property — the ability to turn raw information into useful knowledge.

I hope by now you realize that any talk of taking our library public is simply to emphasize the point missing in all this Google mania: Massive information overload is placing librarians in an ever more important role as human search engines. They are trained and gifted at ferreting out and vetting the key resource material when you need it. Today's technology is spectacular — but it can't always trump a skilled human.

Have you hugged your librarian today?

Click here for the whole article.