… a continuation. James, the Final Frontier

For those of you who haven’t visited the blog before, welcome!  For the two of you who have, thanks for coming back!  I hope that this can serve as a valuable arena to discuss some tough issues that were teased to the surface last night.

As you can probably tell, I was excited about a certain event that happened last weekend: the opening of the new Star Trek movie.  An unabashed Trekkie, I willingly “boldly go where no (wo)man has gone before.”  Well, maybe not to that extent.  But close.  Real close.

This really does have a point, I promise.  Last night our group was reading through the book of James and took some time to step back and think about what it means to boldly go: whether it’s helping people in need who can’t give back, whether it’s simply sitting on your front porch and saying “hi” in a friendly voice, or whether it means a total change of direction.  For intergalactic space explorers (sorry guys), it means giving up all semblance of normalcy, bunkering down with a small group of people in a confined space, and taking the adventure that follows.

I wonder what will happen when we take the challenge to go without looking back.  I wonder what would happen if we reconciled our call to works in combination with our faith?  Obviously this is a difficult and complex concept, and has been much argued over for centuries.  But the practicality of James is equally clear: go and do.

Comments, criticisms, questions, stories?  What are some issues that other groups wrestled with?

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Filed under Bible study, LAB, Star Trek

Philadelphia Area Library Schools Trick Unsuspecting Liberal Arts Grads Into Gathering Even More Debt

Okay, so my Onion-ish take on the Annoyed Librarian’s article about those Philly library schools is a little bitter.  Why should I be bitter?  I’m gainfully employed, right?

But alas, the AL did bring up a few points that I’ve often thought about myself: 1.) Why the heck would anyone enroll in a library program NOT accredited by the ALA (I haven’t seen a job ad that doesn’t require this) and 2.) the Philadelphia pool of library jobs is shrinking at an alarming rate while hoardes of librarian wannabes flock to area programs (and even distance programs — Pitt is currently offering a Philly cohort of its FastTrack program).  You know something’s wrong when the crappy part time “circulation assistant” or “media services assistant” positions are going like yesterday’s hotcakes.  Why the sudden glut of libraryness?

As an almost-professional librarian (still the dreaded ‘paraprofessional’) who is secure enough to poke fun at herself and the profession that many quip “you need to go to grad school for THAT?”, the view from the ground is stark at best.  Positions in Scranton and Erie suddenly look appetizing.  Now one can justify an hour-and-a-half commute each way, thinking, “but I could get so much reading done on the R6…”

But there has to be a reason, right?  I mean, these jobs must be fantastic for them to be in such high demand and pay such middling wages, right?  Please?  Yes?

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Filed under cynicism, education, Jobs, library

A Profession on the Outs?

Techdirt provides one perspective on the increasing trend towards downsizing or even eliminating reference/research librarians altogether.

Most recently, the WSJ has announced that it has gotten rid of its two research librarians for good.  Now, reporters will have to do their own research because of the abundance and simplicity of the tools that are now available onlilne.

I do realize that times are tough and that belts do need to be tightened, especially in the newspaper industry.  However, when you remove a core element that helps create validity for an entire industry, I begin to worry about the direction other papers will take on seeing this decision.  Not that they wouldn’t do it anyway.  But the seeming lack of concern for credibility in a profession that depends on getting the facts exactly right (okay, minus the tabloids — but I think they’re strangely in less danger than the big guys) makes me wonder if I got into the wrong gig after all.

But alas — never fear — I could always snag one of the Annoyed Librarian’s “Jobs that Suck.” Whoopeee!

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Filed under library, media, news, research

“Who’s Messing with Wikipedia?”

wikipedia logo
Technology Review has published an interesting take on the validity of Wikipedia and a look at a new tool designed to warn readers of the potential for controversy on individual articles.  It’s called WikiDashboard.  Developed by PARC (Palo Alto Research Center), it “provid[es] social transparency to Wikipedia” and graphically shows the percentage of edits made by individuals.  The more edits made, the greater the possibility the information could be altered.

I mean, really.  Who would even care about editing the page of someone like, say, George W. Bush or Rod Blagojevich?

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Filed under internet, news, wikipedia

Need Some New Music? — Sigur Rós

I recently stumbled across Sigur Rós on Pandora and haven’t really stopped listening to them since.  Hailing from Iceland, they’ve garnered a lot of critical acclaim in their home country and in the UK.  Unless I’ve been under a rock, their success has been of less impact in the States.  Take a listen here:

Launch Bass Genius Media Player!

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art:text come together

1 Corinthians 13

Wordle your way to some pretty cool art.  In about a second.  I was turned on to this web tool as an assignment this semester, strangely enough.  The basic idea is that you make a collage with words, and then personalize it using options like font, color, spacing, and language.  The result is pretty fun.  For example, I pasted in the text of 1 Corinthians 13 — the Love chapter (for Valentine’s Day, of course).  You can also do it using an RSS feed or del.icio.us links.  So, say, you want to sum up someone’s blog in a visually interesting way, just Wordle it away!

P.S. — The NY Times has been using Wordle to create images in their ‘Visualization Lab.’  One that I found pretty interesting is Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address.  Take a look around!

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Filed under art, text, web 2.0

What is “community” and why should I care?

These days I’ve been musing about the nature of something that affects everyone who’s currently alive in the world — community.  As a North American woman in her mid-twenties who’s lived in suburbia her whole life, this has come to mean something specific.  As in politely minding my own business and looking the other way when a neighbor or acquaintance or friend is obviously in need.  I’ve been so used to communing solely that even when others go out of their way to include me in their circle of generosity (for instance, this morning a neighbor shoveled my sidewalk as well as a few others’ on the block — I waved and sped away without so much as a “thanks, how’s life been treating you lately?”), it feels a bit intrusive.

Maybe the word itself has been overused and tainted.  I guess that’s not really the point.  I mean, anyone who went to high school with me will remember the class everyone had to take called “Building Community.”  We all dreaded it and suffered through it together, counting the minutes until we could gun it up to the cafeteria for taco salad or turkey dinner.  But looking back, I’m not even sure what we talked about.  The curriculum was probably well-intentioned, but I doubt many of us really took it to heart and literally built community with the world next door.

Now, years later, I ponder as a former “community organizer” sits in the highest elected office in the land and makes decisions that will affect all of our communities.  I hope that responsibility isn’t taken lightly.

As a librarian who hopes to make some kind of difference in the world, be it in the workplace or abroad, I try to see the customer service aspect as it should be and couple it with something beyond helping people find books — but helping them find a community worth investing in and being a part of it actively.  Another bucket list item to accomplish someday (stuff to do before I kick the bucket — thanks, Em).

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Filed under community, cynicism, thinking out loud