Thursday, February 17, 2005

Your Home Library and You

The New York Times recently featured a cataloging librarian and her home-library book organization scheme. Basically, the librarian didn't follow Dewey or LC, perferring to use her own home-grown method of organization for 214 feet of bookcases. That's fabulous. I think librarians are somewhat constrained by ol' Dewey's point of view on subject arrangement at work, so we get all crazy with our personal collections.

I have my own weird system. Most people that visit our house are shocked that the books aren't strictly regulated by Dewey, standing at attention on our bookshelves. I do have special sections for ex-pat and travel fiction and non-fiction, books that my mom has given me, titles about Christianity, and then... everything else. But it works, it really does.

And the books featured on the bottom shelf are quite tasty, according to Miss Buns and her unstoppable chewing habit. Oh, well, at least it's just the old high school year books that she's munching on. What better way to get dispose of my 1991 high school photo, the one where my bangs are sprayed to equisite heights?

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Free Speech

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation recently funded a study that asked students what they thought of the First Amendment. Horrifyingly (is that a word?), 1 in 3 students responded that the constitution goes too far in the rights that it guarantees. Yikes. Maybe they think they have not been directly affected by challenges to free speech. Maybe they don't understand what free speech means. As the article commented, maybe they don't feel passionate about this issue, and that's a requirement to take a stand on something as crucial as free speech.

It is partially the duty of libraries to educate both students and adults on the importance of free speech. One way that we've woken people up is to participate in Banned Books Week in our YA area. Banned books are covered in brown paper; we put up information about why the books were challenged or banned; and also information on our philosophy of not banning books. It has been an effective way to get students to question why the books were banned. It's especially crucial now, when free speech is being outright assaulted.

Where In the World?

...Did all the Open WorldCat records go? I searched Google yesterday to try and find results from the search engine to our library's catalog. Has the interest in this project fallen off that quickly, that the results are buried three or four or fifteen pages back?

The much more efficient way to find the links to the Open WorldCat records is to install the Yahoo toolbar, which has an option to search libraries only. It popped right up.

This is a positive project in theory. But, how many of our patrons really know about this feature? How do we explain it to them? Why would they plow through dozens of hits from booksellers to finally find the library's catalog link? It just doesn't seem feasible.

Or maybe I'm just grumpy because it's dreary outside and 30 degrees. Someone get me a sunlamp, please!