my love/hate relationship with reading books

ALA Read mini-poster
“ALA Read mini-poster” by me

This year I participated in the “set your own challenge” book reading thinger on Goodreads. Initially, I set mine at 25, as a little stretch goal from my average of 19 books per year over the past four years. But, I was doing so well in the early part of the year that I increased it to 30. The final total was 27, but I’m part-way through several books that I just didn’t have time to finish as the clocked ticked down to the end of the year.

What worked well for me this time: audiobooks. I read more of them than paper books this year, and it forced me to expand to a variety of topics and styles I would not have patience for in print.

What failed me this time: getting hung up on a book I felt obligated to finish, but did not excite me to continue on it, so I kept avoiding it. To be fair, part of what turned me off was on disc two, I accidentally set my car’s CD player to shuffle. This is great for adding some variety to music listening, but it made for confusing and abrupt transitions from one topic/focus to another.

I read a lot of non-fiction, because that works better in audio format for me, and I read more audio than printed (either in paper or electronic) books. For 2013, I’d like to read more fiction, which means reading more in print. Which means making time for my “must read the whole book cover to cover” method of reading fiction.

audiobook: 20
print book: 7
ebook: 0

fiction: 5
non-fiction: 22

books read in 2012



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NASIG 2012: Everyone’s a Player — Creation of Standards in a Fast-Paced Shared World

Speaker: Nettie Lagace, NISO – National Information Standards Organization

NISO is responsible for a lot of the things we work with all the time, by making the systems work more seamlessly and getting everyone on the same page. More than you may think. They operate on a staff of five: one who is the public face and cheerleader, one who travels to anywhere needed, one who makes sure that the documents are properly edited, and two who handle the technical aspects of the organization/site/commitees/etc.

Topic committees identify needs that become the working groups that tackle the details. Where there is an issue, there’s a working group, with many people involved in each.

New NISO work items consider:
What is not working and how it impacts stakeholders.
How it relates to existing efforts.
Beneficiaries of the deliverables and how.
Stakeholders.
Scope of the initiative.
Encouragement for implementation.

Librarians aren’t competitive in the ways that other industries might be, so this kind of work is more natural for them. The makeup of the working group tries to keep a balance so that no single interest category makes up the majority of the membership. Consensus is a must. They are also trying to make the open process aspect be more visible/accessible to the general public.

Speaker: Marshall Breeding

Library search has evolved quite a bit, from catalog searches that essentially replicated the card catalog process to federated searching to discovery interfaces to consolidated indexes. Libraries are increasingly moving towards these consolidated indexes to cover all aspects of their collections.

There is a need to bring some order to the market chaos this has created. Discovery brings value to library collections, but it brings some uncertainty to publishers. More importantly, uneven participation diminishes the impact, and right now the ecosystem is dominated by private agreements.

What is the right level of investment in tools that provide access to the millions of dollars of content libraries purchase every year? To be effective, these tools need to be comprehensive, so what do we need to do to encourage all of the players to participate and make the playing field fair to all. How do libraries figure out which discovery service is best for them?

The NISO Open Discovery Initiative hopes to bring some order to that chaos, and they plan to have a final draft by May 2013.

Speaker: Regina Reynolds, Library of Congress

From the beginning, ejournals have had many pain points. What brought this to a head was the problem with missing previous titles in online collections. Getting from a citation to the content doesn’t work when the name is different.

There were issues with missing or incorrect numbering, publishing statements, and dates. And then there are the publishers that used print ISSN for the electronic version. As publishers began digitizing back content, these issues grew exponentially. Guidelines were needed.

After many, many conversations, The Presentation & Identification of E-Journals (PIE-J) was produced and is available for comment until July 5th. The most important part is the three pages of recommended practices.

See also: In Search of Best Practices for Presentation of E-Journals by Regina Romano Reynolds and Cindy Hepfer

IL2009: Cloud Computing in Practice: Creating Digital Services & Collections

Speakers: Amy Buckland, Kendra K. Levine, & Laura Harris (icanhaz.com/cloudylibs)

Cloud computing is a slightly complicated concept. Everyone approaches defining it from different perspectives. It’s about data and storage. For the purposes of this session, they mean any service that is on-demand self-service, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity, and measured service.

Cloud computing frees people to collaborate in many ways. Infrastructure is messy, so let someone else take care of that so you can focus on what you really need to do. USB sticks can do a lot of that, but they’re easy to lose, and data in the cloud will hopefully be migrated to new formats.

The downside of cloud computing is that it is so dependent upon constant connection and uptime. If your cloud computing source or network goes down, you’re SOL until it get fixed. Privacy can also be a legitimate concern, and the data could be vulnerable to hacking or leaks. Nothing lasts forever — for example, today, Geocities is closing.

Libraries are already in the cloud. We often store our ILS data, ILL, citation management, resource guides, institutional repositories, and electronic resource management tools on servers and services that do not live in the library. Should we be concerned about our vendors making money from us on a "recurring, perpetual basis" (Cory Doctorow)? Should we be concerned about losing the "face" of the library in all of these cloud services? Should we be concerned about the reliability of the services we are paying for?

Libraries can use the cloud for data storage (i.e. DuraSpace, Dropbox). They could also replace OS services & programs, allowing patron-access computers to b run using cloud applications.

Presentation slides are available at icanhaz.com/cloudylibs.

Speaker: Jason Clark

His library is using four applications to serve video from the library, and one of them is TerraPod, which is for students to create, upload, and distribute videos. They outsourced the player to Blip.tv. This way, they don’t have to encode files or develop a player.

The way you can do mashups of cloud applications and locally developed applications is through the APIs that defines the rules for talking to the remote server. The cloud becomes the infrastructure that enables webscaling of projects. Request the data, receive it in some sort of structured format, and then parse it out into whatever you want to do with it.

Best practices for cloud computing: use the cloud architecture do the heavy lifting (file conversion, storage, distribution, etc.), archive locally if you must, and outsource conversion. Don’t be afraid. This is the future.

Presentation slides will be available later on his website.

consuming music

I need to let myself really listen to the music I consume, rather than (to further the metaphor) mindlessly move my hand from bowl to mouth.

Last night, I went to see Missy Higgins at the Birchmere in Alexandria, VA. It’s probably the smallest venue she’ll be playing at in this area, given the sold out show and the number of folks trying to get tickets that day. We ended up with seats that had a good view of the whole stage. It was a blast!

About a month ago, I had given my friend, Holly, a copy of both The Sound of White and On a Clear Night, which apparently have not left her CD player since. For Holly, it was a strange experience to be at a concert for a (relatively) unknown artist and know every single song. For me, it was a wake-up call that I have been consuming too much music and not spending enough time on any one album to get to know it as well as I used to.

Even though I’ve been a fan of Higgins for about two years, I knew maybe a third to a half of the songs she played — the rest were vaguely familiar, but not old friends like they should have been by now. What kind of a fan am I? One with too much music and not enough time to listen to it all. A blessing, but also a curse.

When I was younger, I would listen to a single album on cassette tape for hours and hours. The best piece of electronic equipment in our house (in my opinion) was the stereo that had the cassette player that could reverse directions to play the other side without having to flip the cassette around. Now that I can afford to buy or cheaply trade for new music, my focus has shifted from completely absorbing an album because I wasn’t likely to get another for at least six months to amassing as many new albums as I can as quickly as I can.

I need to slow down. I need to let myself really listen to the music I consume, rather than (to further the metaphor) mindlessly move my hand from bowl to mouth. Pay attention to the lyrics, to the layers of sound, to the complexities of the composition. One brief run through the tracks while I am doing something else isn’t going to cut it.

music for your ears

Been reviewing some more music lately. Here are three very different albums.

Been reviewing some more music lately. Here are three very different albums:

Care Bears on Fire – I Stole Your Animal [full review]

One might wonder how a twelve year old would have enough life experience to write songs that would appeal to the masses. Lead vocals and guitar are performed by Sophie, who happens to also be the band’s core songwriter. She touches on topics that range from junior high relationships (“5 Minute Boyfriend”) to the burden of depression (“Shadow Girl”) with as much lyrical skill as most anyone at least twice her age would do.

Missy Higgins – On A Clear Night [full review]

The production on On A Clear Night is subtle and highlights Higgins’ voice without making it too obvious that it has done so. It’s a characteristic that is common for lyrically-focused music, and in the flood of flashy unsubstantial pop tunes that seems to never stop, it’s refreshing to have something that grabs the listener and demands that attention be paid to the message. Clearly I am not the only music fan that feels this way, since Higgins’ fall tour in the US sold out quickly.

Pash – The Best Gun [full review]

The first thing that stands out, aside from Munoz's clear vocals, is the constant, driving, wall of sound pouring out from the instrumentation. Throughout nearly every song, the drums, bass, and guitar never seem to stop, constantly pouring out beats and sound. It's varied enough to stay interesting, but after a while it becomes exhausting. The ears hardly have a moment's rest, aside from the short breaks as the CD (or MP3) player moves from one track to the next, although thankfully the intensity lessens in the last few tracks.