Monday, January 23, 2012

Music and beer, beer and music

I have two posts up elsewhere today.

Every year this guy and I trade top ten, or fifteen, or whatever lists and then make fun of each other. He used to write review for a web 'zine called Losing Today, but now he blogs. My top 15 albums of 2011 are up over there, along with links to some of the music. You like music, don't you?

A sample:

8. Mogwai - Hardcore Will Never Die...: By embracing Krautrock and baroque, among other styles, Mogwai have made their best and most vital album in just about a decade. I placed it here because it doesn't sound like Mogwai.

9. The Joy Formidable - The Big Roar: Overproduced to the point of murder, but damn if it’s not the best sounding album of the year on computer speakers, which is the point of that overproduction.

10. Clams Casino - Instrumentals: Picture a cross between Moby’s Play and DJ Shadow’s Entroducing, if it were composed by someone who drinks too much cough syrup.

You know you want more, don't you?

The other concerns beer. 21st Amendment Brewing out of San Francisco makes a seasonal called Bitter American. It's low in alcohol, 4.4% by volume, but big on flavor, plus it comes in a can, which is convenient when going someplace where glass isn't allowed. Bitter American is going year-round, good news for fans of good beer.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Library as Aquarium, or, The SOPA Post

Over the weekend I went to the Baltimore Aquarium. One of the things that struck me was how well the aquarium has integrated conservation into its exhibits, its building, its mission. The dolphin show has a message about littering in the ocean; the shark exhibits have interactive games concerning bycatch and the evils of shark fin soup; there’s an entire exhibit about the relationship between jellyfish and human activity; and the cafeteria has locally-sourced food and biodegradable or reusable utensils and plates. It wasn’t always like this, of course. Twenty-five years ago none of this would have been included in the aquarium. It was a place to look at fish.

And that brings us to libraries. And the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA. And the Research Works Act, or RWA. Libraries have not integrated our equivalents of conservation into our shelves, computer labs, exhibits, buildings, or missions. That needs to change.

What forms will resistance to SOPA and RWA, and their future spawn take? For starters,

  • in the stacks concerning banned books and censorship;
  • QR codes with links to contact local, state, and national representatives on issues important to the library and its patrons;
  • near computers and in computer labs, reminding patrons of the importance of net neutrality.

Also, programs, events, and blog posts that address the importance of net neutrality, open access, and a copyright system that strikes a balance between rewarding creators and society writ large.

The integration of conservation into the aquarium is natural, and organic, not tacked on. We need to do the same in libraries.

This is a woefully incomplete start, but it’s a start all the same. What would you do? What will you do?

*Image via Do visit them.

Monday, January 9, 2012

New Year, New Library (kind of)

When I’m in the library, I’m often not of it.
When I’m outside the library, I’m of it.

And that glibly sums up the first three-quarters of a year of my tenure as a library director. When I’m in the building, I’m often doing administrative things like payroll, setting schedules, keeping people happy, and planning, among others. I try to catalog and do reference from time to time, just to keep my skills fresh, but it’s not easy. In fact, I’ve found it easier to be a librarian outside the library, when I’m talking up the library to faculty and the university administration. It’s a strange dichotomy, one I didn’t expect, and I’m still getting used to it. With that in mind, I did something I consider unusual: I called a meeting of all our full-time and part-time staff, and told them to treat the library like a laboratory. We’re going to try some things here. We will fail some of the time, but that’s life, and I’ll do my best to limit the damage.

None of these staff members is over 30. All have skill sets that I, and the others, don’t. Some are still in library school. I retain veto power, but this will be interesting. More later.