libraries


Listening to: Burn Black – Hole

Ooh, the Guardian‘s a bit more interesting than usual today (it’s my homepage and there’s been fuck all worth reading lately):

Ten rules for writing fiction. I particularly like Jonathan Franzen’s advice, even though I despise his fiction (Strong Motion? Oh, how I rue the day I picked that up), and Geoff Dyer’s:

If you use a computer, constantly refine and expand your autocorrect settings. The only reason I stay loyal to my piece-of-shit computer is that I have invested so much ingenuity into building one of the great auto­correct files in literary history. Perfectly formed and spelt words emerge from a few brief keystrokes: “Niet” becomes “Nietzsche”, “phoy” becomes ­”photography” and so on. ­Genius!

Maybe I should start writing fiction again. I saw my friend R. yesterday (we went to see this) and she asked me if I still did – god, I like the idea of it, anyway. (I can only seem to write when there’s something else I should be doing instead – assignments to write, books to shelve. I’ve never been more prolific than when I worked at the uni library – all those afternoons crouched down in the stacks, scribbling furiously in my notebook when I should have been paying closer attention to the 8-digit call numbers…)

Can you make society more ethical? I can barely bring myself to skim the answers – Comment is Free so rarely brings out the best in people – but what a great conversation to try to have! Oh, and okay, I don’t think anyone reading this actually lives in London, but who wants to come to the panel discussion at the British Museum?

I’m thinking about chartership (everyone seemed to be going for it when I was volunteering at the LL and my boss mentioned it as an option the other day). As someone who didn’t even bother to join ALIA, it’s a strange thing to be thinking about, but maybe it’s time to be more of a careerist – I definitely need to find a way to be more a part of the London or UK library community. Or maybe I should just get another hobby.

P.S. Knit the City – !!! How wonderful!

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Listening to: Flag Fall $1.80 – You Am I

Here’s an interesting article about the shortage of teacher-librarians in Adelaide. One thing that’s been really intersting about getting this job is how much more the librarian qualification is emphasised in school libraries here. I don’t think I could actually get a job in an Australian school library without a teaching qualification, could I?

A lot of our students have a shocking lack of research skills (especially this close to the end of their secondary education). I’d hate to think there wasn’t at least someone to guide their information literacy.

Listening to: Forget It, Sister – You Am I

When I left my last job, I was given a book voucher but I couldn’t decide how to spend it. Luckily, Patti Smith has been everywhere lately (there was even an interview with her in the Vogue I picked up off the floor of the library today) and I happened to have time to kill in Kensington this afternoon and there was a Waterstone’s… So after traipsing up and down the stairs for a bit, trying to get a straight answer from the salespeople (“I think we’ve sold out, but try upstairs in Music” – “Well, there might be a copy left in the Biography section, if you can find it”. Libraries are so much more sensible – imagine if I spoke to students like that!), I emerged with my very own copy of Just Kids, her book about life with Robert Mapplethorpe in New York from the late ’60s onwards. So far – and I’ve only read the first chapter, which is Patti’s childhood in Chicago and Pennsylvania, her discovery of the power of her own imagination and her introduction to books – it’s beautiful.

Less beautifully, Tony Abbott is a fuckwit, but at least people are writing about it. I particularly like this piece by Karen Brooks:

I wanted to give myself a context for understanding all the brouhaha that erupted last week when our budgy-smuggler-wearing Opposition Leader was quoted as having said ‘women should treat virginity as a gift.’ My knee-jerk response was, ‘You’re a gift, Abbott, with a silent ‘f’.

(Tony Abbott is married! Was this well-known? Gross.) I think I kind of miss Australian politicians. I’ve enrolled to vote here, but to be honest I don’t know what I’m doing. They don’t have Green MPs! I’m not sure how to work with that.

My lovely boss had a nasty accident on her bike last night (thanks to a taxi, which is completely horrifying) and although she’s going to be fine (superficial but frightening-to-behold injuries, apparently), I’m in charge for the next couple of weeks. The day-to-day librarian stuff I can handle, but there’s a massive gap in qualifications between us and the library assistants (who are lovely and competent but are also mostly gap year students and refer pretty much all enquiries to us) and finding a way to maintain a useful service to students from 8.30am until 7.00pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays is going to be a bit of a nightmare. We just closed early today, but it wouldn’t be fair to do that again and we had a heap of reference queries as I was trying to get out the door this afternoon (I’d normally finish at 3.45 and do the late on Thursday). And I can let the others open on Thursday morning, but then my whole day will be spent on the Help Desk and I’ll miss out on any admin time. Argh!

Listening to: Rebel Girl – Bikini Kill

I have the best boss in the world! That anti-choice teen pregnancy book? Withdrawn! She came over to me yesterday, aghast, and said she hadn’t realised how bad it was when she ordered it and that there’s no way we can have that sort of rubbish on our shelves when our students have a genuine need for information.

This job is so, so great.

[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZxxhxjgnC0]

(Everyone loves a bit of Maoist ballet.)

Listening to: Anti-Pope – The Damned

Here are some things I have read recently:

* This article about John Forbes. Rad, did you take Geoff’s Australian poetry class at school? We read this stream of consciousness Forbes poem called “Angel” and I loved it and all I can find of it online is the excerpt in the article:

“& I’d like to kiss you
but you’ve just washed
your hair, the night goes
on & we do too until
like pills dissolving
turn a glass of water
blue it’s dawn & we
go to sleep we dream
like crazy & get rich
& go away. ”

* Lavender-Fleur de Sel caramel sauce at Angry Chicken. Why does lavender-flavoured food intrigue me so? It’s almost never good.

* This weekend or next weekend? on AskMetafilter.

* How to Destroy the Book by Cory Doctorow – copyright, ownership vs. licence, digital books. (Via librarian.net)

[Oh, it’s been so long that I’ve forgotten all my html. How do I do proper bulleted lists?]

And after assuring C. last night that times have changed and working for a Catholic organisation needn’t mean compromising one’s principles, I had to catalogue my first anti-choice, pro-adoption teen pregnancy book today (written by a woman who named her daughter “Windsor”. I ask you). I mean, I think it’s okay, I think the collection overall is pretty balanced and the materials on the curriculum are pretty good (there’s a lot of academic support for non-hetero sexualities, for example – although I don’t know how that’s actually taught, obviously), but eeesh. I wanted to tuck some brochures for ARMS or whatever its UK equivalent is in there, at least (I resisted the urge – I am, in the end, A Professional).

Also! I haven’t listened to this yet, but here‘s a Billy Bragg autobiographical podcast recorded in 2006.

Oh, and I’m giving Battlestar Galactica a go.

Oh! And C., the WSRC could apparently fund another year by selling off its picture book collection – I went looking for a copy of Jesse’s Dream Skirt and found it going for $469 on Amazon. Which sucks! Where does one find classic non-sexist kids’ literature at a reasonable price?

Listening to: Synchronised Sinking – The Lucksmiths

Can you freeze raw apple? By which I mean, what would one be able to do with it once thawed, do you think? I have a lot of apples (the only reliably interesting thing at our farmers’ market – I don’t seem to eat a lot of them, though) but not a lot of interest in stewing apples. Hints? Tips?

You can’t really tell from the photo, but I’m knitting a sparkly jumper:

I am also (finally, finally) reading Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-up Bird Chronicle. It scared me at first because I remember it staying on my dad’s bedside table for more than a year, but I think this just reveals him to be an incredibly slow reader – it’s actually a really fun, easy read (it’s the first Japanese book I’ve read since Banana Yoshimoto’s Kitchen! How can this be?). I picked it up because we’re discussing his What I Talk About When I Talk About Running at my bookclub next month (oh, dear reader! I assume you know me personally. I have bookclubs now), which didn’t really do anything for me literarily. So I wanted to figure out what the fuss was about and I get it now! The voice is the same but context and character are making all the difference. I will report back properly once I’ve finished it.

I’m a school librarian now and, sadly, there are no Mills & Boons to be seen. I have, however, been cataloguing a whole heap of surprisingly racy Christian romance paperbacks (they’re all about out-of-control young men living lives of insane [and badly-written] debauchery before being saved by the Lord and the love of a good woman) – the titles are boring but the content is outstanding. Expect excerpts.

Listening to: lots of You Am I

I made a firm promise to Heather some weeks ago that My Finest Hour would be back up and running any minute, so – ta-da! I am not all talk and no action.

Being a librarian is exhausting! I think because I’ve gone for months without being creative or interested at work – I got lazy, people. So this is not a complaint – it’s the best kind of exhaustion – but it’s going to take some getting used to, fitness regimes, et cetera.

My new favourite toy is Intute, this database of free, authoritative (as reviewed by university-type people) websites on many subjects – almost as good as the WSRC Wiki!

Other good things: I am off to a training session in Oxford on Tuesday (!!!) and every Wednesday I am leading (I hesitate to say “teaching”) a tiny class of students who’ve chosen Information Skills as their mandatory extracurricular activity for the term (kind of like our Line 8, but more directly geared towards making their university applications look good [rather than, uh – what did we do? Lawn bowls?]). First class yesterday, with an hour’s notice (!), was not a complete disaster (but it probably was a bit boring). Any tips? Next week we’re looking at online research (hence the Intute link).

Today I have been listening to a lot of You Am I. I’m trying to focus my listening habits more and stick to one artist a day (to stave off a nasty case of short-attention-span). I love this song and video (and many others):

[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYoBEcvnknc]

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