Friday, April 28, 2006

Now opinions on presentations

Over the past couple of weeks, I've attended webconferences, teleconferences, and a few in-person trainings and presentations (including a very well-done student presentation). The quality of these experiences varied in both quality and usefulness and has me once again thinking about what I look for in a presentation, regardless of format. I wasn't blogging quite yet during ACRL last year, or I'm sure I would have typed up a screed about presenters who just read their submitted paper (badly) instead of explaining how they got the idea for the paper, what they found while researching, and why the audience should read it for themselves. Stuff that didn't make it into the paper is a interesting and can act as a "hook" to get more readers who might actually cite the paper later.

I'm not the only person talking about the problem of poor presentation style and choices. A few weeks ago the Librarian In Black wrote about the problem of "ego centric conference sessions." She hits the nail on the head with this quote:
I want you to spark some ideas in me. I want you to make me think. Design a presentation with the thought: what things would someone need to know if he or she was going to do something similar? What are all the things to think about? What are some of the places to find more information about this? What are some of the resources I found most useful? I don't come to learn about the ins and outs of your library: I come to learn how to help mine.
A Bewildered Academic offers a concise "How Not to Give a Conference Presentation." It's good advice and most importantly, it's user-centered. Think about your audience and try to make it easy for them to follow what you're presenting.

After all this complaining, I have to say that the teleconference I attended today through the College of DuPage Press's Library Learning Network was excellent. The panel members used their experiences as examples occasionally but framed their discussion broadly for the benefit of the entire audience. It helped that the topic was the impact of Google book search on libraries and library users in general, rather than a narrower subject. I especially liked the makeup of the panel: a Google representative, an academic library dean, an Economics and Social Policy, a publisher from an academic press, and an intellectual property attourney who represents libraries. The range of perspectives added depth to the conversation and illustrated the various constituancies interested in digitization and libraries. I will definitely be checking out more oof COD's teleconferences.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Online at Last/Collaborative Blogging

After a few hassles and mixed up orders, my phone and DSL service is up and running. It's been hard for me to blog without internet at home. I've been staying late at work to use the internet for my personal needs, but by the time I answered and wrote a bunch of emails, did my banking and bill paying stuff, I always felt more like going home to make dinner than writing a new blog entry. I hope my new connected-ness will make my personal and BlogHer posts come a lot more frequently.

On the subject of BlogHer, I've been struggling a bit to keep up with my duties as a Contributing Editor, and not just because of my temporary connectivity issues. It takes me a lot of time and work to put together surfing guides for my humanities/social sciences and research beat. I know my situation isn't unique, but I think one of the big reasons I get frustrated is that I have a hard time finding academic blogs worth pointing to in my posts. Don't get me wrong--plenty of academics are blogging, but I'm finding that most of the content relates to personal life and/or teaching. That kind of blogging has its place, but I'm looking for writing about my disciplines and academic research. I've found a lot of great content coming from librarian bloggers, but don't want to make my CE posts super library-centric because I'm writing for a wide academic audience.

So, my plan for now is to try to put a lot of the library stuff here and keep my BlogHer posts more discipline-specific. That doesn't solve my content problem, but I'm actively searching for academic blogs and websites all the time. I'm also always open to suggestions. If you're reading or writing about the humanities, social sciences, or research in general, please send me links. I don't want to keep linking to the same writers all the time and I know I must be missing out on some great stuff. Thanks in advance!

It's snowing right now, so I'm off to see if I can stand the windchill long enough to take some pictures during lunch.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Women Writers Meme

I don't tend to do many memes, but this one seems interesting. I think I first saw it at The Little Professor.

Lists of "books to read" and the like never work for me. Because my background is interdisciplinary, there are plenty of canonical works I haven't read in favor of more "unofficial" or alternative works. I do wonder how the selections were made for this particular list, though. There are plenty of women writers who've been left off, and some more popular authors I wouldn't have bothered including (like Danielle Steele). Also, I read a ton of stuff by men. I don't know why exactly*, but male authors outnumber female authors on my bookshelves. My friend Melanie and I have talked a lot about how neither of us listen to many female musicians. That's starting to change for me lately, but my favorite bands are all still male.

Instructions: Bold the ones you've read. Italicize the ones you have wanted/might like to read. Place question marks by any titles/authors you've never heard of?? Put an asterisk if you've read something else by the same author. (I'm also adding other women writers who were originally left off in parentheses. These might include authors I've read and/or those I remember and think belong on the list.)

* Alcott, Louisa May–Little Women
Allende, Isabel–The House of Spirits
* Angelou, Maya–I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
* Atwood, Margaret–Cat's Eye
* Austen, Jane–Emma
Bambara, Toni Cade–Salt Eaters
?Barnes, Djuna–Nightwood
(Barry, Lynda--Cruddy)
de Beauvoir, Simone–The Second Sex
* Blume, Judy–Are You There God? It's Me Margaret
Burnett, Frances–The Secret Garden
Bronte, Charlotte–Jane Eyre
Bronte, Emily–Wuthering Heights
(Brooks, Gwendolyn--Blacks)

Buck, Pearl S.–The Good Earth
Byatt, A.S.–Possession
*Cather, Willa–My Antonia
*Chopin, Kate–The Awakening
*Christie, Agatha–Murder on the Orient Express
Cisneros, Sandra–The House on Mango Street
Clinton, Hillary Rodham–Living History
(Cooley, Martha--The Archivist)

Cooper, Anna Julia–A Voice From the South
? Danticat, Edwidge–Breath, Eyes, Memory
Davis, Angela–Women, Culture, and Politics
Desai, Anita–Clear Light of Day
Dickinson, Emily–Collected Poems
Duncan, Lois–I Know What You Did Last Summer
DuMaurier, Daphne–Rebecca
*(Ehrenreich, Barbara--Nickel and Dimed)
Eliot, George–Middlemarch

Emecheta, Buchi–Second Class Citizen
*Erdrich, Louise–Tracks
*Esquivel, Laura–Like Water for Chocolate
*Flagg, Fannie–Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
Friedan, Betty–The Feminine Mystique
Frank, Anne–Diary of a Young Girl
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins–The Yellow Wallpaper
? Gordimer, Nadine–July's People
*Grafton, Sue–S is for Silence
Hamilton, Edith–Mythology
*(Hamilton, Jane--The Book of Ruth)
*(Hegi, Ursula--Stones From the River)

Highsmith, Patricia–The Talented Mr. Ripley
*hooks, bell–Bone Black
* Hurston, Zora Neale–Dust Tracks on the Road
Jacobs, Harriet–Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
Jackson, Helen Hunt–Ramona
*Jackson, Shirley–The Haunting of Hill House
(Jen, Gish--Mona in the Promised Land)
Jong, Erica–Fear of Flying
Keene, Carolyn–The Nancy Drew Mysteries (any of them)
Kidd, Sue Monk–The Secret Life of Bees
*Kincaid, Jamaica–Lucy
Kingsolver, Barabara--The Poisonwood Bible
Kingston, Maxine Hong–The Woman Warrior
Larsen, Nella–Passing
*L'Engle, Madeleine–A Wrinkle in Time
* Le Guin, Ursula K.–The Left Hand of Darkness
Lee, Harper–To Kill a Mockingbird
Lessing, Doris–The Golden Notebook
? Lively, Penelope–Moon Tiger
?Lorde, Audre–The Cancer Journals
Martin, Ann M.–The Babysitters Club Series (any of them)
*McCullers, Carson–The Member of the Wedding
McMillan, Terry–Disappearing Acts
? Markandaya, Kamala–Nectar in a Sieve
Marshall, Paule–Brown Girl, Brownstones
Mitchell, Margaret–Gone with the Wind
* Montgomery, Lucy–Anne of Green Gables
Morgan, Joan–When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost
* Morrison, Toni–Song of Solomon
Murasaki, Lady Shikibu–The Tale of Genji
Munro, Alice–Lives of Girls and Women
Murdoch, Iris–Severed Head
Naylor, Gloria–Mama Day
Niffenegger, Audrey–The Time Traveller's Wife
*Oates, Joyce Carol–We Were the Mulvaneys
*O'Connor, Flannery–A Good Man is Hard to Find
Piercy, Marge–Woman on the Edge of Time
Picoult, Jodi–My Sister's Keeper
Plath, Sylvia–The Bell Jar
*Porter, Katharine Anne–Ship of Fools
*(Prose, Francine--Blue Angel)
*Proulx, E. Annie–The Shipping News

*Rand, Ayn–The Fountainhead
Ray, Rachel–365: No Repeats (huh?)
Rhys, Jean–Wide Sargasso Sea
(Ribon, Pamela--Why Girls are Weird)
*Robinson, Marilynne–Housekeeping
? Rocha, Sharon–For Lac
Sebold, Alice–The Lovely Bones (it's in my unread pile)
Shelley, Mary–Frankenstein
*(Shields, Carol--The Stone Diaries)
Smith, Betty–A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Smith, Zadie–White Teeth (also in my unread pile; started and abandoned)
Spark, Muriel–The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
Spyri, Johanna–Heidi
Strout, Elizabeth–Amy and Isabelle
Steel, Danielle–The House
* Tan, Amy–The Joy Luck Club
Tannen, Deborah–You're Wearing That
(Tartt, Donna--The Secret History)
*(Townsend, Sue--The Adrian Mole Diaries)

Ulrich, Laurel–A Midwife's Tale
Urquhart, Jane–Away
* Walker, Alice–The Temple of My Familiar
*Welty, Eudora–One Writer's Beginnings
*Wharton, Edith–Age of Innocence
*(Weiner, Jennifer--Good In Bed)

* Wilder, Laura Ingalls–Little House in the Big Woods (I've read all of the LH books)
*(Winterson, Jeanette--Written on the Body)
*(Wittlinger, Ellen--Hard Love)
Wollstonecraft, Mary–A Vindication of the Rights of Women

* Woolf, Virginia–A Room of One's Own (I love Mrs. Dalloway)

Okay, I have to stop before this post eats my whole blog. Librarians shouldn't try this, because it's a huge time-suck. The reference desk is dead today, though, so it was okay.

*Yes, I know that men outnumber women in the canon and all that.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Snow Day

Outside the History Building, on Ivinson

Split-rail fences look so western

I woke up to snow yesterday. This isn't unusual for spring in Wyoming, and it was hardly coming down at all by the time I left for work. Even though it was pretty cold, I had to stop and take a few pictures as I walked to the library. I'm glad I did, because most of the snow had melted by midday and it was too warm for puffy coat after work. I'm really trying to make a point of taking more pictures. While I don't think I'll ever love this place like I do Seattle, it is beautiful in its way. In fact, the skies here are amazing. Living a little ways outside of the main part of town, I see plenty of open spaces. My cross-street borders a big open area. The houses and streets just kind of end, and there's a big grassy space with the highway far in the distance.

Work is going well and I'm figuring more out every day. I'm not on the reference schedule for the rest of the semester, but I've been spending a few shifts a week on the desk when its single-staffed. I'm trying to hit a shift with each member of the reference staff and have managed to get about halfway through the team. I love reference, and I really believe it's the easiest part of the job to just jump into. I'm still learning the collection and the department procedures, but reference is reference. I can figure out the catalog and the databases and know how to talk to students. It's been really fun. The questions I've been getting have been pretty interesting, too. Maybe it's because the semester's nearly over and people are working on big projects and papers, but I've been really impressed with the kinds of research students are doing and how interested they are in their work. The kids here seem really nice and grateful for the help, too. People here are pretty polite in general. I've been ma'am-ed many times in the past couple of weeks.

In other news, I've signed up for a teaching colloqium in June, and have finalized a couple of committee appointments, which is kind of cool. My supervisor is retiring in June, and we're in the middle of interviewing for her replacement, so some parts of my job are a little up in the air. I know my position, but the new department head will have a lot to do with the kinds of committees and activities I end up joining. I won't go into details, but I have positive impressions of both finalists, so I should be in pretty good shape in either case.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Happy NWLD!

Happy National Library Workers Day!

It's been hard to update without internet access at home. I've been staying at work a little late so I can do little online tasks, and I thought it would be good to make a quick entry here. BlogHer will get a little post tomorrow, then a big one or two over the weekend. I need to catch up!

There's not much to report. I'm busy getting to know my new library, the staff and faculty, and what I'm supposed to be doing. I spent the bulk of today in a benefits orientation, so I have lots of forms to fill out tonight.

I did spend some of my day checking out xreferplus Digital Library, which my library has on trial this month. I’m not sure what I think of it yet, but it’s definitely different from other online reference book packages I’ve used. In case you haven’t tried it, xrefer plus includes 200 reference books and extensively cross references the entries. Resources are available in many formats, including sound files, images, and text. The really interesting part of their approach is the “360-degree search,” which basically creates a concept map of search results and shows the relationships between a topic and its related topics and subtopics. I haven’t gotten the hang of the concept map tool yet, but I can see some potential use for it in BI sessions if we do buy this product. It’s OpenURL compliant, which is nice, since we’re currently working on that for our databases and e-journals. Here’s an excellent review of xreferplus by Karen J. Docherty, in the Charleston Advisor. I’m glad we have the trial for a while so I can take more time to monkey with it.