or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk




Kate Spade Book Bags

   August 17th, 2010 Brian Herzog

Kate Spade Book-of-the-Month-Club ClutchI am not what someone might call fashionable, so thanks to Liz for pointing out the next fashion accessory - Kate Spade "Book of the Month" clutches.

Kate Spade? A clutch? These parts of the phrase were mysteries, but the book element interested me. Once a month, they'll release little purse things designed to look like books. So, for just $325, people can look like they're carrying a book with them, but actually are not (as opposed to making your own book safe for free out of an actual book).

But this does puzzle me: if the point is to look fashionable, wouldn't it make more sense to make a clutch that looks like an iPad or Kindle? Or maybe retrointellectuaistas just have far better fashion taste than I. Well, yes, of course they do. It is creative and well-done, but I still need to cue Flight of the Conchords:

I might sound critical, but you know if they designed a man-purse based on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland or The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, I would want it.



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Bookcrossing Unconvention 2010

   August 10th, 2010 Brian Herzog

Bookcrossing logoI have been using the website Bookcrossing for awhile, and really like the idea (their slogan "make the world a library" is pretty rad, too). So I was sad to find out they're having an unconvention in Boston on a weekend that I work.

In case you're interested, here are the details:

Bookcrossing North America Unconvention, Boston, August 13-15, 2010

Every year, the official anniversary convention attracts Bookcrossers from all over the world. In 2010, this official anniversary convention took place in Amsterdam.

But for bookcrossers who want to stay closer to home, and for some especially enthusiastic bookcrossers who may want to attend more than just one convention, the Unconvention was invented.

The Unconvention is a more casual gathering, with an emphasis on socializing with fellow bookcrossers. So come to Boston from the 13th to the 15th of August 2010 for some great bookish fun.

We have a great place lined up for our Boston UnConvention. We've arranged with Hostelling International Boston to stay at their Commonwealth Avenue location in Kenmore Square, which will serve as the centre for all Unconvention activities.

We'd be glad to see you there. Come share your enthusiasm for traveling books, promoting literacy, and the fun of random finds with other Bookcrossers, and enjoy activities that are planned for the Unconvention.

Optional Preconvention Activities
Friday, August 13, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Preconvention: Salem Tour
Preconvention: Independent Bookstores Tour

Icebreaker Activities
Friday, August 13, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Book-themed icebreaker game
Yankee-themed yankee swap

Friday Evening
Friday, August 13, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Informal dinner and mingling

UnConvention Program
Saturday, August 14, 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m
Welcome from Boston Bookcrossers
Brunonia Barry - Author of “The Lace Reader”
News from Support – What’s happening at Bookcrossing?
Bookcrosser Badgerjim - A few words from BC in DC re: 2011 10 Year Anniversary Convention
Wrap-up by Boston Bookcrossers

Saturday Lunch
Saturday, August 14, 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

Saturday, August 14, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Freedom Trail Release Walk
Visit the Boston Public Library

Saturday, August 14, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
UnConvention Dinner at Fajitas 'N' Ritas
Commonwealth Shakespeare Company Presents: Othello

Sunday, August 15, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Farewell Brunch, reverse scavenger hunt prizes. Raffle

For more about the Unconvention, and for Registration Information: http://www.uncon2010boston.com/home/

Registration Fee: $55
includes Friday evening food, Saturday morning catered breakfast, Saturday lunch, and Saturday snacks.

Friday pre-convention activities and the cocktail party: $30
Friday cocktail party: $20
Saturday events: $32

Find out more about the Boston Bookcrossing's Meetup group: http://www.meetup.com/bookcrossing-195/ Feel free to drop in at any scheduled Meeting of the group, and enjoy the company of bookcrossers!

And in somewhat related news, be sure to also check out this year's PodCamp Boston, September 25-26, 2010.



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New Biography Selection Criteria

   April 22nd, 2010 Brian Herzog

BiographiesMy library's ever-shrinking book budget has made me be more discerning when it comes to selection. However, one area that is always difficult for me is biographies.

It seems like every troubled athlete, aging celebrity, recovering musician, reality television personality, unfaithful politician (and their wives), have all signed book deals. I don't pay much attention to pop culture personalities, so it's hard for me to tell if the person is someone significant.

So I was joking with a coworker about a new selection criteria for all of these celebrity memoirs. Since the importance of many of these people is based on social zeitgeist, I thought I could use Google to help me decide. I figure that if a person is important, a Google search for that person's name should return at least one million webpages. If they're above that (arbitrary) threshold, I'll buy their biography - if not, then I'll check again when the paperback comes out.

Granted, not all my ideas are practical, but here's how some current biographies fare with this "hive mind" selection criteria:


Obviously, not flawless, but this Google criteria might help tell me who I should pay attention to. And in addition to traditional reviews and ratings, another one of my tactics is to wait until requests for a book reach a certain number before ordering it, but that method only addresses demand after the fact, and leaves out the patrons who didn't think to request it.

Selection is a fine art, but when it comes to biographies, most my crayons are dull.



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Book Due Date Calendar

   April 20th, 2010 Brian Herzog

Overdue Book CalendarI feel a little sheepish whenever I talk about a product on here, because I don't want to come off sounding like a commercial. But I thought this Book Due Date Calendar was a good idea.

It's available on Etsy from a seller called Aunt June, and it's a fun and creative way for patrons to keep track of when their library books are due.

Paper for our receipt printers is expensive, so we ask people if they need a receipt instead of printing one automatically - which means many people leave the library without any tangible reminder of when their books are due back. I've seen libraries use due date bookmarks, which are also a good idea, but this calendar was colorful and definitely eye-catching enough to be a great reminder (especially for kids) - kind of like a real-world Library Elf.

Here's what it looks like in action:

Overdue Book Calendar

It looks like you download a pdf, which is nice because you can print out extras if you're a heavy library user. I wonder if you could print it onto some kind of glossy paper that might work like a dry erase board. I also wonder if the seller would be willing to work out some deal with libraries to let them sell these as fundraisers.

Thanks for the tip Lauren.



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Book Term Poll: Hardback, Hardcover or Hardbound?

   March 30th, 2010 Brian Herzog

Hardback book stackWe got into a discussion at work about whether the proper term for a book with stiff covers is referred to as a hardback book, a hardcover book, or a hardbound book. I was out-voted, but I like to think that I wasn't wrong so much as our sample size was too small.

I grew up in Ohio, so I wonder if the term I use is different from my New England coworkers because it's a regional thing. I'm not a linguist, but regional variations in vocabulary have fascinated me ever since I went off to college and met people from different parts of the country. Bubbler? Slippy? Creamies? These words* are great.

Anyway, my coworkers and I all agreed that pretty much everyone uses paperback to refer to soft-cover books (except for spiral-bound books). So please, answer the poll below to help determine which term is more popular.


Thank you for helping satisfy my curiosity.

And speaking of surveys, here's another interesting question on Unshelved Answers: What is the best way to turn the pages of a book?.

 


*Here are what those words mean:
Bubbler: a "drinking fountain" in New England (like this, not this)
Slippy: how people in some parts of Pennsylvania say "slippery" (among others)
Creamies: "soft-serve ice cream cones" in Vermont (like this)



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Ebooks and Resources

   March 16th, 2010 Brian Herzog

Shelf Check ebook comicI've had ebooks on the brain lately for a few reasons, so I thought I'd pull together some resources I've been bookmarking.

But first, my reasons:

  1. My consortium will soon be offering ebooks via Overdrive. This is good, as Overdrive ebooks are compatible with Sony Reader and the Nook, but will still include existing Overdrive drawbacks
  2. The IT Section of the New England Library Association is devoting our spring workshop to ebooks. Speakers will range from libraries already circulating ebooks and ereaders to a certain library that made waves by going digital to a book store that takes digitized books and makes them print again. It will be a great day, and I'll post more details soon.

Ebooks are certainly in the cards for libraries, and hopefully not like these comic strips. In no particular order, here are a few ebook-related links worth reading:

Ebook Reader Reviews and Guides and Deconstruction
A nice introduction to ereaders and ebooks, "7 Things You Should Know About E-Readers," from EDUCAUSE, focusing on teaching and learning:

Reviews of ereaders from various sources:

The eBook Buyer's Guide to Privacy from the EFF talks about how each of the most popular ebook readers rate as far as privacy, tracking of purchases, sharing of information, etc.

I've seen a little discussion on the topic of "why digital," and this is a good evaluation of how and when and why technology matches content:

Ebook Price Wars
This is worth watching, because low prices means lots of people purchased the hardware, but rising prices means people will be coming to the library for ebooks instead of purchasing the content themselves.

Ebooks for Downloading
A few places where people can download ebooks for free - please list additional resources in the comments.

Of course, as soon as I finish typing this post, I'm going to pick up the old-fashion made-of-paper book I'm reading and enjoy flipping through the pages.



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