Archive for August, 2011

Review of Open Access: What You Need to Know Now

Posted in Books and publishing on August 31st, 2011

I’m delighted to note that there’s a review of Open Access: What You Need to Know Now on pages 452 and 453 of the September 2011 Journal of Academic Librarianship. The reviewer is David Gibbs at Lauinger Library (Georgetown University); as far as I know, I’m not acquainted with Gibbs.

It’s an excellent review–not only because it’s favorable but because it’s careful (and not wholly favorable–Gibbs says I’m “not always the clearest writer,” a comment that brought forth approving laughter from my wife, the librarian).

Here’s his conclusion, after noting that–by design–the book only deals with scholarly journal articles:

That said, this is a highly readable and recommended survey of one of the most important issues facing librarians and libraries in the 21st century.

If your library doesn’t already have a copy, it should. It’s never too late to order one–noting that Amazon offers a Kindle ebook version and ALA Editions offers a whole bundle of them, if paper isn’t your thing.


Turns out there’s at least one other print review (in addition to John Dupuis’ blog review, which I believe I noted earlier)–in the August 2011 Voice of Youth Advocates. Unfortunately, that one concludes that “This is a helpful work on an important trend, but most VOYA readers will find the cost a barrier.”

50 Movie Comedy Kings, Disc 6

Posted in Movies and TV on August 30th, 2011

The Groom Wore Spurs, 1951, b&w. Richard Whorf (dir.), Ginger Rogers, Jack Carson, Joan Davis, Stanley Ridges, John Litel, James Brown, Victor Sen Yung. 1:20.

Romantic comedy with a plot line that may seem preposterous, but maybe not. A beautiful and all-business young female attorney shows up at a doorway, summoned to meet with an actor who stars in singing-cowboy films (but neither does his own riding nor his own singing)—and the first thing she sees is his awful fast-draw performance. But she likes him, and agrees to take on the unusual case: He lost $60,000 to a gambler in Vegas and doesn’t either want to pay the full amount or have the gambler’s friends-with-guns show up.

Next thing we know, she’s on his private plane to Vegas. They meet the gambler, but he has other problems and postpones a meet until 2 a.m. Now the two are in a convertible stepping out to view Hoover Dam, there’s some awkward/cute conversation, and next thing we know the two are married. And, as it turns out, the gambler was helped out by the attorney’s father, and writes off the 60 big ones as a wedding present.

She concludes she’s been had—in addition to mostly being a phony on screen, the actor’s clearly a ladies’ man. But she clearly still has Feelings. Lots more comedy, much of it pretty good, although there’s also a murder as part of the plot. If you accept the premise that two rational adults could meet and become engaged or married on the first date, the rest is semi-plausible. As for that premise…well, it’s absurd, of course, except that I’ve now been married for more than 33.5 years to a woman who I proposed to on our first date.

Ginger Rogers is Ginger Rogers: Lovely, amusing, and does a great job in any role. The rest of the cast is also excellent, part of the reason this lightweight film gets a solid $1.50.

Heading for Heaven, 1947, b&w. Lewis D. Collins (dir.), Stuart Erwin, Glenda Farrell, Russ Vincent, Irene Ryan, Milburn Stone. 1:05 [1:11]

The comedy setup here is common enough: Guy gets a physical exam, overhears the doctor discussing someone else’s case, assumes he’s dying when he’s actually healthy. In this case, the background is that a small-town realtor has held on to 100 acres east of town, where his father and grandfather both assumed the town would grow, turning down offers to make it an amusement park or a cemetery or whatever…while the town continues to grow west.

After the local banker says the town would like to buy the land for a town dump and gets turned down, two guys from an airline show up wanting to buy it for an airport—and, when he won’t take a pretty good price, suggest they might instead buy an adjacent 60-acre plot (which, as they note later, wouldn’t work because the adjacent land is overrun by power lines). The realtor buys the adjacent land—and then finds out he’s dying. Meanwhile, the banker and a swami who’s been doing séances for his wife and the local ladies wants to swindle him out of most of the airline’s money, so concocts a phony telegram saying the airline’s no longer interested.

That’s just the first part of a fast-moving plot that involves assumed suicide, hobos, applejack and an unusual séance. All turns out well. And it’s actually fairly amusing, although certainly lightweight. If you’re in the mood, it’s worth $1.25.

His Private Secretary, 1933, b&w. Phil Whitman (dir.), Evalyn Knapp, John Wayne, Reginald Barlow, Alec B. Francis. 1:00.

Previously reviewed as part of 50 Movie Hollywood Legends. What I said then:

A young John Wayne plays the playboy son of a millionaire businessman. The father demands the son take over as collection agent. He goes to a nearby small town to collect a debt, in the process picking up (and offending) a beautiful young girl—who turns out to be the daughter of the near-deaf minister he’s supposed to collect the debt from. He winds up forgiving the debt and getting fired for his trouble.

After various shenanigans and his continued stalking attempts to get on the right side of the girl, he succeeds and marries her—but his father assumes she’s a gold-digger and tells him to get rid of her. Somehow, she winds up becoming her father’s new private secretary—the best he’s ever had—but then leaves town because she thinks the playboy’s still a player. Everything works out in the end: This is, after all, a romantic comedy, if a surprisingly short one. Nothing spectacular, but not bad. I’ll give it $1.25.

I’m From Arkansas, 1944, b&w. Lew Landers (dir.), Slim Summerville, El Brendel, Iris Adrian, Bruce Bennett, Maude Eburne, Cliff Nazarro. 1:10 [1:07]

The sleeve plot description is almost entirely wrong, except for the key “plot” point in this set of songs thinly disguised as a comedy: It all starts with Esmerelda, a sow in Pitchfork, Arkansas who gives birth to 18 piglets. And ends with Pitchfork (now Pitchfork Springs) becoming a state spa resort for its healing springs—foiling the designs of a Pork Magnate to turn it into the world’s biggest pig farm.

In the middle, we have a Western radio big band, all of whom go back to Pitchfork for their summer break—and a female troupe of entertainers (singers & dancers) whose manager thinks the Sow Sensation should make Pitchfork a great place to play and takes them there, without bothering to find out whether Pitchfork even has a theater or nightclub (which it doesn’t). Naturally, the two groups wind up in the same room & board place, owned by the sow’s widowed owner, and the Western band plays a little joke on the female entertainers (who respond to a whole bunch of stereotypical hillbilly behavior by assuming they’re dealing with hillbillies) by turning into extreme hillbillies. Who also happen to be professional-quality musicians.

All of which is probably more discussion than the “plot” deserves. There are ten songs, all well done, in a 67-minute flick; the rest of the movie comes off as a semi-amusing wrapper for the songs. I would have been offended by the stereotyping (pretty extreme in some cases), except that the band playing with it defuses it somewhat. Oh: The daughter of the sow-owner/hotelier is the damnedest yodeler I have ever heard, and the female troupe’s manager does some great doubletalk routines. Amusing, and probably worth $1.25.

Comments from libraries using social networks: One more time

Posted in Libraries on August 25th, 2011

Thanks to the 47 library folks who have responded to earlier requests. I’d love to have a few more responses by September 14, 2011, along the following lines:

Basic Information

Library/district official name
State, province or country
Service area population
Your name, title and email address
Whether you’re willing to have your comments used as direct quotations or only as background.

Comments on Twitter or Facebook (or both—indicate which):

Whatever you feel is worth saying about how your library uses the social network, how much time is spent preparing items and responding to items (if you do that), whether one person or many post, the feedback you’ve gotten from your patrons, whether it seems worthwhile—and whatever else you think is worth mentioning.

Comments on the relationship between the two (if you use both):

Do you use them for different purposes, or are Facebook statuses basically longer versions of tweets (or maybe the same)? Other comments on the differences and similarities as your library has used them?

Thanks!

I can’t guarantee your comments will be used—I’d expect that no more than 2,000-3,000 words of the book will be comments from these emails. I will list you in the acknowledgments (unless you ask me not to do so) and your comments will definitely help as I prepare the subjective portions of the book.

Please email comments to waltcrawford at gmail.com

If your library stopped using either or both (yes, I have at least one such response), I’d be interested in knowing that as well–and why.

The checked states

Responses are invited from people in one of the 25 states where I’ve checked websites of libraries (“libraries” as defined by the state’s own statistical reports)–a little over 2,400 in all, not the 2,500 I estimated in earlier comments–and also from those in other states, provinces and nations.

Here are the states I’ve checked:

California, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Minnesota, New Jersey, Arizona, Washington, Maryland, Missouri, Colorado, Louisiana, South Carolina, Kentucky, Oregon, Connecticut, Mississippi, Utah, Nevada, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, Wyoming.

Libraries in those states have defined primary service area populations totaling 163,657,750 based on the most recent state reports (2009 in most cases)–a little more than half the nation’s total, albeit a lot less than half of the public libraries.(There are hundreds of small and rural libraries in this sample–174 libraries serving fewer than 1,000 people and 639 in all serving fewer than 5,000.)

[The states are in descending order by total of the PSA populations. That's not always the same as the state's total population, for various reasons, and in one or two cases is distinctly larger due to reporting oddities, which will not be dealt with in this project.]

Anyway: More responses welcome, and thanks again to those who have responded so far.

 

Milestones, books, lists not discussed

Posted in Books and publishing, Stuff on August 23rd, 2011

Just a quick multifunction post for no particular reason:

  • I reached a milestone yesterday, completing Phase 1 of my 2012 book project–that is, checking public libraries/library agencies in half of the U.S. states for presence on Twitter or Facebook. More than 2,500 libraries checked in all, starting near the end of July. (There will be a followup, intended to be precisely three months after the initial scans.)
  • I have not yet started on any of the data analysis or real work on the project, and probably won’t even add the key columns to the spreadsheet(s) until I’ve taken a day or two away from the project. Conclusions will, of course, be part of the book. On the other hand…
  • The process involved looking at more library websites than I’d ever expected to, and that did generate some thoughts that have very little to do with the book. I may turn those thoughts into a casual essay (or part of an essay) for Cites & Insights. (No, I’m not planning any grand set of guidelines or critiques–others who are closer to the issues have done those or will do them. These will be casual thoughts.)
  • Also completed the first half of a closer milestone: Making changes in my current book project (The Librarian’s Guide to Micropublishing) based on the editorial pass. Starting, oh, as soon as I finish this post, I’ll be doing the second half of that milestone: Detailed copyfitting to deal with awkward line-break hyphens and the like. (For very good reasons, I’m doing the actual layout on this book.)
  • Once that’s well under way, I’ll do some C&I writing…and maybe get back to watching old movies.
  • I am firmly resolved not to deal with a silly list issued by some college that gets lots of attention for the list. I looked at part of it, broke down laughing, and decided that it wasn’t worth the time or attention. Silliness is always with us; the Onion and Cronk do it better.
  • Speaking of old movies, which I wasn’t, our Saturday movie last weekend was a reminder of why I don’t plan to give up on physical discs any time soon–the Blu-ray version of Forbidden Planet, magnificently restored–and with loads of extras, running to more than four hours altogether, I think (including some we won’t bother with, such as the full-length 1957 film that also “starred” Robby, the Robot). Yes, we’ve seen the classic movie (perhaps the first A-level SF movie?) before; no, we’ve never seen it like this–and even if we had high-speed broadband, you can’t get this level of picture quality via streaming.
  • And to close this randomness: Perhaps worth noting that, of all the Blu-ray discs we’ve watched from Netflix–probably 80% of the discs over the last couple years, certainly more than 100 discs–only one has had any problems. (That one looked as though someone had deliberately tried to damage it, and succeeded.) That tough coating on Blu-rays apparently works: Most of them look as though they’d never been played.

A few posts I’m not writing

Posted in Books and publishing, Writing and blogging on August 18th, 2011

Now there’s a potentially endless series…

I suspect my posts have even been less regular than usual, if such a thing is possible. (There’s a retired library person who lives in Livermore who posts every. single. weekday, if regularity is your thing…)

Last weekend, I considered doing a series of daily posts this week and next about progress on the two book projects that are currently overlapping, and where doing semi-overlapping work (a couple of hours each day on each one) turns out to be the best way to proceed.

That didn’t happen and won’t happen. The book projects, and my own overriding laziness (well, and some real-life situations), are the reasons for so few posts.

Briefly:

  • One project came back from line editing on Tuesday. It’s an odd hybrid project where I’m doing the layout as a fundamental part of the book. I’m waiting for some responses on a few layout issues, but meanwhile I’ll start this morning on some needed additional text (probably 500-1000 words). I have until a week from Sunday to finish the textual and layout changes, so in practice working a couple of hours a day is a good way to proceed.
  • The other project is nearing the end of Phase 1 of the research stage, after which I’ll start on the actual writing–at a very preliminary level. The research has gone far beyond what I originally anticipated (I first planned to look at libraries in two states, then in six; now it looks like 25), and it’s straightforward enough that I plan to do a three-month follow-up, which should be revealing.

Somehow, once I’ve done some work on each project (I’d been doing more on the second one while awaiting the editorial notes & queries), I’m all written out: Writing a post is rarely of much interest. Sorry about that. Then again, do you really care that I’m halfway through scanning Kentucky libraries (that’s what I would have said yesterday early afternoon–I’m done, with Oregon up next)?

[LSW FFeeps probably recognize I was doing Kentucky yesterday, as I found Madisonville's URL for their public library website so remarkable as to be worth noting--namely publiclibrary.org. And yes, there's a thelibrary.org in Missouri. Did you know there are more than 700 LSW folks on FriendFeed?]

 

A twin non-review

Posted in Books and publishing on August 16th, 2011

My habitual pattern of public library use is to check out three books: One “genre” fiction (alternating between Science Fiction and occasional Fantasy on one hand, mystery on the other), one mainstream fiction (whatever that means–basically “fiction books that Livermore Public hasn’t segregated into genre shelves), and one nonfiction. LPL has a 4-week circulation period. Most often, I finish the three books in three weeks. Most often, I enjoy them all.

The last two cycles, though, I really haven’t enjoyed the nonfiction books. In one case, I finished the book (it was a struggle) and wondered why I’d wasted so much time. In the other, the writing was facile enough and the book short enough that I could breeze right through–but I was annoyed by the whole thing.

Thinking back on it, the two books have something in common.

What they have in common: They’re variants of Hunter Thompson’s gonzo journalism, but without Hunter Thompson’s sheer manic flair. That is, in both cases, the book seems to be a lot more about the writer than it is about the subject.

In one case, the supposed subject is the situation in Florida after the 2000 presidential election. In the other case, it’s the New Yorker (the supposed decline thereof, although the writer who denounces the post-Wallace Shawn magazine somehow managed to keep working there for another fifteen years).

I originally included the authors and titles here, but that’s hardly the point. I know that I never want to read another book by either of them (even though one has an excellent reputation in some circles).

No big significant message here. I was surprised to find that these two disappointments did have as much in common as they did. I don’t feel that nonfiction writers should minimize their personal appearance within a book–I like getting to know the writer as well as the subject–but there are limits.

 

Two trivial items related to C&I 11:8

Posted in Cites & Insights on August 13th, 2011

I just finished the penultimate (and most annoying) step in publishing an issue of Cites & Insights–in this case, September 2011, C&I 11:8–and thought of two little items possibly worth noting.

Hey, it’s Saturday. Want profundity, you’ve come to the wrong day (and the wrong blog).

Lack of a caveat

The primary essay in this C&I is long–31 pages–and, as is even more the case with the new & improved HTML template, considerably longer if you download and print the HTML version. I make it 44 pages as print-previewed by Firefox.

In the past, although less so in recent months, I’ve cautioned against using and printing the HTML version when it’s that long–it’s a waste of paper.

I didn’t do that this time, partly because I doubt that many people actually do that (that is, download and print a big HTML version when a nicely-printable PDF version is available–I assume most people use the HTML version for on-screen/on-device reading), partly because the PDF version’s hyperlinks don’t work (an issue that won’t be resolved until/unless my “financial rewards from doing C&I” picture improves).

Item count

I don’t keep count of the source items used in long essays such as this one. I have Diigo’s initial count, but I sometimes decide not to discuss items I’ve tagged–and some items tagged in Diigo lead to other itmes.

But that annoying penultimate step is a good time to count the source items. This time around, if I count correctly, it’s an even 50.

No one expects the Spanish Inquisition

And, for the third and fourth in this pair of items:

  • Oops. I’ve fixed the two errors (spotted so far) in the post announcing this issue, at least the version on this blog–that is, the bad hyperlink and the claim that Writing about Reading occupies pages 1-4 rather than pages 2-32.
  • What’s that annoying penultimate step? Indexing–never done very well, to be sure. I use a dummy document which makes it a lot easier, but it’s still a pain. Yes, I do appreciate the skills and patience of professional indexers. No, I don’t ever want to be one.

 

New photo

Posted in Stuff on August 11th, 2011

Just a quick note: If you encounter me on any of the services that include an icon or picture, or go to my personal website, you’ll now encounter some variant on this picture.

The picture(s) I’d been using were either three years or eight years old (depending), taken in Alaska during cruises. In both pictures, I had a mustache–one I had for more than 30 years.

I shaved off the mustache a little over a year ago. It’s not coming back. While it was essentially invisible in icon-size versions of the picture (white hair blends pretty well with pale skin), it was still there.

The picture above was taken July 6, 2011, during a hike in Morgan Territory Regional Preserve, near here. (I go for hikes–nothing too strenuous–every Wednesday with some varying number of other folks.) Those are hiking poles in my hand, and a truly elegant hat (OK, a cheap gardening hat, but it does the job and fits my fat head) on my head.

Before you ask: No, the photo hasn’t been Photoshopped–neither my wife nor I owns Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.

It has, to be sure, been altered–not to make me less aged, but to move me from kneeling as part of a group shot to me kneeling in the open area to the left of the group. My wife did the editing, using Corel Paint Shop Pro. Only the background was changed (and it’s background that is actually in the original picture)-she didn’t attempt to touch up my numerous wrinkles or other facts of being just under 66.

Cites & Insights 11:8 (September 2011) available

Posted in Cites & Insights on August 10th, 2011

Cites & Insights 11: 8 (September 2011) is now available for downloading at http://citesandinsights.info/civ11i8.pdf

The 32-page issue (PDF as usual, but each essay is available as an HTML separate) includes:

Bibs & Blather   (pp. 1-2)

Requests for help if your public library uses Facebook, Twitter or both, and a quick note about another tweak to C&I.

Writing about Reading: A Future of Books and Publishing  (pp. 2-32)

The Diigo tag for the items discussed here was “eb-vs.-pb,” but that’s not quite right. The bulk of this lengthy Perspective considers items that, to one extent or another, either favor ebooks over print books, vice-versa, or–better yet–compare the two complementary textual forms of book (not that there aren’t others, e.g., audiobooks).

As lagniappe, the first 3.3 pages offer a future of books and publishing (not the future, but a future)–one set of possibilities that I might personally find desirable, looking ten years out and “while I’m still alive”–say 35 years out.

The Zeitgeist: 26 is Not the Issue

Posted in Cites & Insights on August 8th, 2011

If that number—26—doesn’t speak to you, you haven’t been involved in a multipart conversation that began February 24, 2011, may have reached its peak in mid-March 2011, and is likely to go on for years to come.

The rest of you will think HarperCollins or maybe #hcod. You may think a lot of other things as well, informed partly by where you are in the library community. Even filtering more actively than usual, I started out with close to 100 source documents (blog posts and others), an astonishing number for what was largely a three-week wonder.

 

For the rest of the story

Yes, I know: Based on the role this essay seems to have played in what is clearly an ongoing discussion, it might as well not have been written. But it’s still there, this time in somewhat cleaner HTML.


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