Thursday, February 11, 2010

"This Book is Overdue". Chapter 2, Information Sickness

Link to Marilyn Johnson's website.

Link to November 1, 1981, New York Times book review, "Fun Dolphin, Smart Whale". Mooney's novel is reviewed in tandem with one by Rob Swigart, who is (was? -- it's been a long time) the husband of a teaching assistant I had for freshman English at SUNY Buffalo.

From August 31, 2007, Townblog post, "Information Sickness": Ted Mooney's 1981 novel Easy Travel to Other Places introduces the idea of "information sickness," whereby the collection of information only leads to an increased need for more information, and this process -- somewhat like an intenstinal worm -- leaves us hungry and sick.

Whoa! Coming up with the concept of "information sickness" in 1981. Most libraries didn't offer public-access Internet until the mid-1990s. Thirty years ago, we were still in card-catalog, print-reference mode. I hadn't even formulated my "Top 40 Ready Reference Sources" yet.

Yeah, I even updated it last year. But only the top 20.

WorldCat record

LINKcat record (just 2 copies among 49 library locations)

Variations of this next item now found at hundreds of library websites.
Massachusetts Library Association

"Long Time, No Hear" (November 14, 2008)
Excerpt: Our computer facilities are maxed out. Before this summer, a five or ten minutes wait was the most patrons could expect. There are now often 25 people in line with a 30-40 minute wait.

Computer classesHedberg Public Library Janesville, Wisconsin

Search engines.
Two of my UW-Madison SLIS students have chosen WolframAlpha as the topic of their reference demonstration assignment in LIS 635.

Link to Reference Question of the Week - 11/9/08.

A patron walks up to the desk, slides me this piece of paper, and says,

I was walking in the woods behind my house and found a plaque with this written on it. Can you tell me what it says?

Miscommunication: "bootyism"/Buddhism.

"Oranges and Peaches: Understanding Communication Accidents in the Reference Interview", by Patricia Dewdney and Gillian Michell, RQ, Summer 1996.

Abstract: Librarians often have communication "accidents" with reference questions as initially presented. This article presents linguistic analysis of query categories, including: simple failures of hearing, accidents involving pronunciation or homophones, accidents where users repeat earlier misinterpretations to librarians, and accidents where users "creatively reconstruct" the terminology of their need. Restatement techniques and neutral and follow-up questioning are discussed.

A required reading for Session 5 of LIS 635, Reference and Information Service.

The Mosman Library challenge.

Mosman Library vs. that search engine

Buildings, Books, & Bytes, a report published by the Benton Foundation and funded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.

Excerpt from executive summary: T his report is about libraries and the challenges they face in the digital world. But it is also about every noncommercial institution -- from public TV to the freenets -- that provides information to the public. It uses libraries as an exemplar of what can happen to even our most cherished public institutions when they face the onset of the digital revolution, a seismic societal shift. The report's findings about the intersection -- and divergence -- of library leaders' visions with those of the public hold lessons for everyone who values and wants to promote the public sphere of information and communications.

Public Libraries, Public Support? The Mission Behind Buildings, Books and Bytes, by Laura Weiss.

Excerpt: The result of this exploration was "Buildings, Books and Bytes," a study released in November that has elicited widespread, positive reaction from the library community -- both individual librarians and professional associations alike -- as a needed call to action to a profession struggling to carve out a meaningful role for itself in a rapidly changing information landscape. Briefly, the study found significant gaps between library leaders' expectations for their profession and those of the public. The public lends libraries a degree of overall support rarely enjoyed by other American public institutions. Yet, Americans are not yet ready to cede to libraries the role of technology leader. And, in a finding that shocked many members of the library community, Americans appear to have low regard for librarians as a cadre of skilled, highly trained information professionals, believing that volunteers can staff libraries just as well -- and for fewer tax dollars. Thus, the public's message to the library world was clear: "do not simply assume that if you say 'we are now technology leaders, follow us,' we will follow. We need to be convinced. "

What Is a Shifted Librarian?
So I call myself "The Shifted Librarian," but what does that mean? I took the name from a presentation that I do called "Information Shifting" about how the change from pursuing information to receiving information is and will be affecting libraries.

All about Jenny.

ALA 2007 conference on flickr

Kathryn Shaughnessy
End of annotated chapter 2.

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