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Posts Tagged ‘libraries’

Class Struggle

This hasn’t happened in my library yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it did….

by flickr user .michael.newman.

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Open Library

One of the many free eBooks available from OpenLibrary.org

I recently joined the 21st century and bought myself a Barnes & Noble Nook. Over the past few years, my opinions on e-Readers went from distrust (a threat to libraries!) to distaste (for the DRM) to curiosity and then, finally, I realized one could be useful. I refused to buy a Kindle due to the proprietary software and the fact that I wanted to use library eBooks.

However, Overdrive can be picky and difficult to use. With that, I was exceptionally pleased to see the Internet Archive’s recent announcement of an extensive free e-book collection at Open Library. From the announcement:

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Discards

Book waiting to be discarded

While most people hate to think that libraries throw away books, with the limited shelf space that libraries have, weeding and discarding books are an unavoidable task. Recycling and donating are great, but what if your library has limited funds and you can’t get to a drop-off point?

We were looking into Books Through Bars, which donates certain books to prison libraries, but between their restrictions and the fact that we’d have to bring all the books ourselves to Brooklyn, this wasn’t feasible.

Now we’re checking out Better World Books, a for-profit organization that pays for all shipping costs, and has a good history of both recycling and donating books to a series of non-profits. As a student, I bought very high quality discarded library copies from Better World Books at reasonable prices. The student sustainability committee here has teamed up with BWB for the end of the semester, providing book drop-off boxes for students who don’t want to lug their books home.

While I have my qualms about teaming up with a for-profit organization, it might be nice to get some money back for the books we can’t keep. At the same time, many of our books are in too poor a condition to be donated to BWB. So what else is there? I wish I could go to Radical Reference’s event on Discards and De-accession on Monday, but I’m busy.

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I’ve been to two Library events this weekend, one radically different from the other. The first was the Westchester Library Association (WLA) conference in Tarrytown, and the second was the LACUNY event on Critical Pedagogy and Library Instruction at Brooklyn College.

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The main problem that I find myself continuously running into while answering reference questions on the Internet Public Library (IPL) is the kinds of references I have to use. I always go to databases, print materials, all of these paid subscriptions since that’s what I learned to search

The IPL is a public library, and doesn’t use subscription databases. I get very frustrated having to limit my initial searching to the free stuff. I’ll use Google Scholar, which in itself is free although many of its results are not free, and have to skip these great articles in favor of the free ones. I can’t even check JSTOR, or ERIC because I just want to use those materials.

I don’t know what I’d do if actually working in a public library. I feel stripped of my search skills! I suppose this is why I plan on staying in Academic libraries. Has anyone else who worked in public libraries dealt with this? How did you manage it?

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One of my final projects is a slightly unusual one – but then, the class is rather unusual for me since it’s wholly online. While doing the reading and having a lecture online isn’t too odd, normally what throws me off the most is the Discussion Board. So far I don’t at all find it equivalent to class discussion, where I’m rather chatty for on-campus classes. I’m more hesitant to post than I am to just chime in, partially because there’s less of this organic element that discussion in a classroom seems to have.

Anyways! Most of our final project has been a semester (whoops – quarter) long project. Drexel’s iSchool helps run the Internet Public Library – a wholly digital, free library. I have to answer reference questions (seven of them) for my project. I don’t know if this is the most-used part, but to me it seems so.

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Thanks to my new Twitter, I discovered last night through CBS3 that Mayor Nutter was giving his budget crisis speech. After 2 minutes of talking about how great our city is (Woo, Phillies!), he got to some terrible, terrible news. We have to close a deficit of over $108 million in just six months. Here’s some of the worst of the cuts the city is getting:

  • No more tax reductions.
  • Cutting over 200 city positions, 600 unfilled positions, over 660 seasonal positions, and over 700 contractual positions.
  • Closing 3 ice rinks and several pools.
  • Every city employee earning over $50k has to take a 5-day unpaid furlough this year, and another next year.
  • No more street repairs, street cleaning, and only snowplowing on “tertiary streets.”
  • Getting rid of some fire equipment, and letting 200 police positions go unfilled.
  • Every city official is getting a paycut up to 10%.
  • Closing 11 library branches, and eliminating Sunday hours at three regional branches.

There’s more, but this is the worst of it. Philly wasn’t necessarily doing really well before. The City is the biggest employer in Philadelphia, followed closely by the University of Pennsylvania. It’ll be a tough winter for everyone here. Let’s just hope that these massive cuts actually help keep the city afloat.

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