Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Life in the Academic Library (after two months)

Keswick library interiorImage via WikipediaTwo months in on the new job and I came up with the grand idea to jot down some thoughts on life as an Academic Librarian as I go along and eventually all this 'new' stuff will be old hat. So far, things may be a little misleading since I started at the end of the Spring semester and now I'm into the Summer sessions so things are slow in the library. I am told they will pick up in earnest once the Fall semester begins but as of now saying that it's slow is the understatement of the year.

Everyone here is super nice and I've been taken on tours of the various departments so I can get a feel of what everyone does and to better answer any reference questions that may arise about the other departments. The Dean really seems like she wants to help out the new/junior faculty with the publishing end of being an academic librarian. Since this a "publish or perish" position, technically, she is giving us the support system so we can be successful in that area.

So, lots of time getting used to what this library has to offer, locations of things on campus and in the confusing library stacks, getting familiar with our resources and just getting the skinny from my colleagues on what to expect here and what is expected of me.

So far so good and here's to hoping it stays good.
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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ed's Mini Book Review - The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

Hercule PoirotImage by elena-lu via FlickrAll hail Project Gutenberg! From them I was able to download a could of classics on my iPad and one in particular just happened to be the first mystery featuring the legendary Hercule Poirot. The only downside to the Project Gutenberg download was that no images come with it and there was one at one point but it's only a minor quibble.

Now, I've read some Poirot books before so I am going out of order in a series for a change but it was nice to get the first Poirot appearance under my belt to get a base for how the character changes, if he does at all, through the books. I've seen some of the Poirot movies, the American made movies, and the first thing that really stuck out about the literary Poirot was how quirky and OCD-ish he is. Now I wonder if that stands up through the books as I go through them.

On to the plot of this one. An elderly widow, who was left a nice sum of money from her late husband, is found dead one morning and foul play is suspected. In comes the renowned detective Poirot to have a look and see if the obvious is really that obvious or are there layers of intrigue and deception afoot. Of course there is and Christie does a masterful job of adding characters with not only a measure of depth to them without getting too bogged down in them all the while adding them as suspects and removing them as suspects only to add them and remove them time and again. Here we get our fist glimpse of Poirot in action and in reading Christie mysteries I cant help but compare them to the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, of which I've only read one and in that one, the key clue wasn't portrayed to the reader so I felt a little cheated as there was no possibility for the reader to figure out the mystery. With the Christie mysteries, the ones that I have read so far, all of the clues are presented and it's a matter of piecing them together with the motives of the characters to solve the mystery.

Reading this book hooked me and now I am going to read through the Poirot series. I've read some others from Christie and the ones that I have read, including this one are all tip-top and I constantly amazed how the mysteries hold up almost 100 years later. Rating this with the other Poirot mystery that I have read, I would rate this one on par, both so far excellent mysteries.

My Grade: A

LL
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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Eli Pariser: Beware online "filter bubbles" | Video on TED.com

Bubbles, Computer artImage via WikipediaEli Pariser: Beware online "filter bubbles" | Video on TED.com

Since I am on a bit of a TED kick, watching many of the videos and such, I figure I'd mention the TED talk on filter bubbles. Combined with a discussion on the ILI listserve made me want to post about it.

The concept is that much like can people live in social bubbles so to speak, only interacting and being exposed to certain people and certain types of thinking, that this phenomena can happen online as well. Companies like Google and Facebook tailor what you see and what comes up on your feed or search results based on what you click on so your results are personalized. Now that may be good for some people as they get what they normally seek out, this new bubble is being decided for you. Good or not? You decide for yourself but the ol' LL thinks this is a tricky road to go down. So much for the free flow of information in the web.
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