Lost in the Stacks

Support college radio!

Every Friday afternoon, from 12 – 1 PM, Georgia Tech’s radio station (WRECK 91.1 FM) hosts a show called “Lost in the Stacks“, which features music and interviews with various librarians, faculty, and staff. I have taken an interest in the show because they have been interviewing various individuals I have had the pleasure of meeting during my studies and internships. Usually, the show revolves around a particular theme (one 2 Fridays ago was “Bicycles”, for example).

Tonight, I am listening to the archive of the show they did today; this week, they have invited some librarians from Georgia State University to discuss what they do at the library, as well as what is going on at the GSU library. Ironically,  I have been a fan of GSU’s radio station (88.5 FM) since I was in middle school…they used to play strange and eccentric music late at night. And for those who know me, I am a fan of staying up late, as well as strange and eccentric things :). I would always tune into the station, and pretend that aliens were communicating with me through the music.

Anyway, weirdness aside… as I was listening to the show, I was realizing that this show could serve as a great resource for current or future MLIS students such as myself to learn about the various roles people serve in the library.  I personally think that it’s a cool idea that the library has a radio show. Of course, this is one of the many examples that the Tech library has been forward-thinking regarding library services and marketing. But having a presence on the radio station (even if not a lot of people listen to it) emphasizes the fact that there is more to libraries that just a building that houses books and journals. If anything has been beaten into my head since my intro to reference class I took my first semester of library school, it is that libraries are all about dissemination of information. Freedom of information is the rock on which ALA builds its house. However, it seems unheard of for libraries to utilize the airwaves as a means of dissemination.  A library that collaborates with student activities – intermingling with its primary user population – can serve as an effective means of outreach. At little cost, an academic  library could reserve a spot on the campus radio, which not only broadcasts within the university boundaries, but into the public as well.  Furthermore, today’s show in particular reveals that there are many facets to librarianship. Librarians are not just frumpy old ladies who sit behind a desk and scowl, but provide a diverse set of services, and come from a variety of different backgrounds.  One guest has a developed a very technical background and has taught many sessions on emerging technologies, while another guest had a marketing and graphic design background (as well as creates his own comic books).

I can think of a couple interesting ideas that libraries can utilize the radio. Similar to Lost in the Stacks, subject specialist librarians can host a show related to an interesting theme on their topic specialty…something educational, yet fun and interspersed with relevant music. Or, I can see the library present itself on the radio as an information sleuth…offering a answers to life’s commons questions. Maybe something similar to Loveline with Dr. Drew….but perhaps less sexually charged. After all, librarians are sexualized enough due to the fantasies some men have about us wearing a leopard print thong under our maxi skirts.

Perhaps the library can use the airwaves to host fascinating intellectual debates. I have a fond memory of back in my undergrad days where a faculty member hosted a debate between this ultra feminist religion professor, and the head of the religion department at crazy fundamentalist Bob Jones University (BTW, they really need to change their domain name from “bju.edu”…just reeks of pent-up sexual frustration). The debate topic? Homosexuality. I was actually so excited about that one that I wanted to sit up in the front row and bring a tarp. And I know many friends who were eager as well for the verbal jousting that would ensue. The turnout, of course, was tremendous. The library, which prides itself on objectivity,  could serve as a great debate host.

As someone who hopes to enter to profession some way, I want to keep the traditions of the library, but I also want to view it in a new light. The library is not what it was 30 years ago (anyone can tell you that), and if the profession is to survive, it is imperative to be creative to find new ways the library can connect with and serve its users.  I think as more and more people from diverse backgrounds are entering the profession, it may open up a new spin on library services that appeal to today’s user…which would hopefully help those with the purse strings to not view the library on the top of their list of programs to be slashed.


Like people, some books just refuse to be labeled :)

So today, there was a very interesting thread in the Georgia Library Association’s listserv, which offered some great LULZ. While 80% of the listserv tends to deal with personally non-consequential stuff (at least, until actually get my MLIS and become a “real” librarian), this one in particular stood out. Essentially, someone had received a book in their collection that was covered in – of all things – AstroTurf. While I suppose we must give book binders props for creativity, it causes problems because a bar code cannot stick to the outside surface. If you don’t believe that, for some ungodly reason, someone decided to bind a book in AstroTurf, the offending tome is seen below (courtesy of Amazon.com):

Some creative workarounds were offered. One person (my personal favorite), suggested “mowing” part of the book so that there could be a flat surface on which the bar code can stick. In my option, if just enough was shaved to lay the bar code, I would not consider the book too horribly damaged. Perhaps an electric beard trimmer should be a necessity in the acquisitions toolkit :). After all, I can guarantee that this is not the first book to have a…unique presentation. For example, when I was a wee thing, one of my favorite books was Pat the Bunny, which had synthetic bunny fur that felt oh-so-soft and it had this really nice fragrance to it. You cannot really tell from the picture, but the book I had did have the fur on the cover.:

So, I would not be surprised if there was a book on cats that was covered in cat hair, or a book on birds covered in feathers. And perhaps Amazon should then recommend books on “How to keep your book from shedding on the carpet.”

Others solutions included placing the bar code on the inside of the book, while another mentioned rebinding it. Perhaps the book could find its home in reference (it looks like sports ready reference to me), among books that do not need to be circulated. There, the book could be bar-coded from the inside, or not at all (depending on the collections). The archivist in me wants to keep the book in its original condition…it all its gaudy glory. Because God made everything in the world different, and without such oddities, the world would be a boring place, so…why not have a book in circulation that is different too? If that book was stripped of all its turf, it runs the risk of being ignored…just the same as all the other books. The average sports enthusiast, who is visually stimulated and only aware of the obvious, could easily look over this book if its bristly bright green grass was no more.

As the saying goes, we always judge a book by its cover. I do hope that The Sports Book‘s content is as interesting as its binding :)…


Everything ready for ALA

I am very fortunate to have this awesome grant that not only helps for my library school tuition, but has some perks that allow me to attend professional conferences for free.  Last fall, I went to the Georgia Library Association COMO conference in Columbus, and that was fun.  It was lively, but not too overwhelming. But in June, I will be attending ALA’s annual conference, in Washington, DC.  ALA – American Library Association – is the big kahuna. It is going to be craaa-zyyy.

I am really excited about it. First off, I get to stay in a nice hotel near the convention center. Plus, my dad and a couple of good friends live in the area, so I hope I will get a chance to visit with them (in between attending conferences). I plan on going to a few panels, as well as “trick-or-treating”  – I mean- browsing  in the exhibit halls.  While networking and learning about the new technologies in the field is nice, so is picking up a few pens, notepads, pieces of candy, etc.  Mainly, I hope to visit with some recruiters. Thus, I will come armed with many copies of my resume….something to dump in their trick-or-treat bags :).

Since it is a large conference, I will have to be choosy about what I can attend. Luckily, ALA has some stuff specifically for new members, so I may go to a couple of those meetings. I am particularly interested in those that have to do with digital libraries, and how libraries utilize technology (such as Web 2.0, databases, etc).  I have been learning a lot about technology in my concentration, but when I finish my MLIS, I would like to pursue some programming courses.  It can never hurt to know more about computing and technology!