An old library poster. I’m not sure what it’s advocating. That we read or review so information stays with us? Or is it something about forgetting our library books?
Category Archives: Library and Information Science
Graeme Wood’s “Anthropology Inc.” for The Atlantic was a stimulating introduction to the practice of corporations like Coca Cola and Pernod Ricard USA to hire ReD, a research firm that specializes in field studies, to get qualitative data so they can understand consumers better. My former ad agency, DDB was doing this in the 1980s and I imagine its competitors were too. I’m not sure of the academic qualifications of all our researchers, but I found their presentations on topics like children’s opinions of their closets’ contents and conditions to be fascinating.
When Wood described the home party in the beginning of the article, I immediately wondered about the ethics. How would I feel about being studied at a party so that I might buy more Absolut vodka? How would the guests feel after reading this article? Not only were they studied, the party was then reported so there’s a double lens through which the party and drinking behavior was recorded. It’s both interesting and creepy.
I felt conflicted about the process. On the one hand, I love discovering new insights and would find this work fascinating. On the other, I value privacy and feel our world is getting more and more like the setting of the novel WE, a futuristic world where all rooms and buildings have windows for walls. I agree with the academics who point out that without a code of ethics research can be harmful. It can also be flawed as Heisenburg’s Uncertainty Principle tells us that when behavior is observed, it’s different.
ReD’s six hour long interviews sound like an endurance test, as well as a major imposition. Most participants will opt out of such a long interview so I wonder if the subjects who agree are representative. I would hope that those commissioning the research would take the results with a grain of salt.
The parts of the article that described Chinese group-orientation was half-right. Yes, Chinese person’s and other Asians’ circle of concern is wider than the stereotypical Westerner’s, but it isn’t all-encompassing. There’s a bright, sharp boundary. Most observers would note that Chinese people tend to think in terms of their in-group rather than their individual self. An “outsider” is not someone whose welfare is important, whereas though Western consumers may emphasize self, communal generosity or justice is a value. So the anthropologists who note this communal/individual dichotomy aren’t engaged in good scientific observation. Wood’s article would have been stronger had he mentioned this shortcoming. Since The Atlantic frequently features perceptive reporting on China, I’d expect its writers not to write from inside a silo.
I wish Wood had included some information answering the question of “To what extent do today’s cultural anthropologists exoticize their subjects?” There seems to be an inherent trap of dramatizing their findings or emphasizing the behaviors that seem different. A mixture of P.T. Barnham’s “Give the people, (e.g. client) what they want” and the practice of “orientalizing” behavior so the client feels they’ve paid for treasure rather than the expected. Wood was a bit guilty of hyping his article in this way as his examples of the Orthodox Jewish subject and the lesbian drinking party are more exotic than a mundane middle class family of four. While all groups should be studied, the way the findings are delivered should not be fashioned to dazzle or entertain the client. We all should be leery of how and what Madison Avenue presents to us. I think Wood should have been a bit more skeptical than he was.
An interesting read, “Anthropology, Inc.” calls attention to the business world’s growing use of social science to understand and market to consumers.
Getting to Know Your Patrons
“Getting to Know Your Patrons” provides methods and rationale for conducting field research or contextual research even in libraries with small staffs and limited resources. After reading about PhDs who conduct qualitative behavioral research, it was freeing to understand that doesn’t need the academic expertise ReD’s researchers have, to conduct a study that yields important insights.
Smaller libraries may think they must forego such significant work since they don’t have a dedicated staff that specializes in UX. That’s not the case. By organizing staff to do short observations and showing the sort of descriptions that are useful, this article prepared me to do my first contextual inquiry.
Schmidt, A. (2011, June 1). Getting to Know Your Patrons. Library Journal, Retrieved from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2011/06/opinion/aaron-schmidt/getting-to-know-your-patrons-the-user-experience/
Wood, G. (2013, March). Anthropology Inc. The Atlantic, Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/03/anthropology-inc/309218/
To me, Steven Krug offers the feng shui of web design. When a site, ugly and inconvenient, ignores or rejects the principles in Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think, one’s qi or sense of calm vanishes. Not only sites with garish pages possibly designed 10 or more years ago offer bad feng shui, but the sites that are just a little inconsistent or whose designers wanted to flout conventions and come up with their own cutting edge placement for search boxes and buttons, make users perceive that several small things are amiss. Soon people move on to a competitor is that’s an option or get frustrated and put off their task till they feel more patient (as I had to several times with healthcare.gov).
Written for reading in one or two short sittings, Krug’s book offers designers, professional and non, clear advice on how to design a site that people can use without frustration or confusion. The book has a breezy, sometimes humorous tone, making learning easy. Krug practices what he preaches as the illustrations and layout enhance rather than distract.
I have read this book and others before. Rereading didn’t hurt because I could use a reminder of principles such as:
- Take advantage of conventions,
- Break pages into clearly,
- Create effective hierarchies,
- Format to support scanning,
- Innovate when you know (for certain) you’ve got a better idea,
- Name every page, and more.
While many of these principles seem obvious, we know that they aren’t widely followed. Some ideas Krug offers, e.g. people don’t care how many clicks it takes to get somewhere as long as they don’t feel lost, may not be obvious though they are true and should be heeded.
Just as writers benefit by keeping Elements of Style close at hand while working on an important project, web designers ought to have Don’t Make Me Think near to remind them of best practices.
1. Who is the editor of School Library Journal?
The Editorial Director of School Library Journal is Rebecca T. Miller. I found this by going to slj.com and when I didn’t see a masthead on the About Us page, I looked for a column since many periodicals have a column by the editor and this is no exception.
“Rebecca T. Miller.” (2014). School Library Journal. Web. Retrieved from http://www.slj.com/author/rmiller/ on March 21, 2014.
2. I need a review of The Lightening Thief by Riordan.
I first searched Book Reviews Online and found 14 reviews for this novel and more for its other formats, e.g. audio book and graphic novel.
I also checked New Yorker and found they published a review as well:
Diones, Bruce. (2010). “Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief.” New Yorker 86.3: 14. Academic Search Premier. Web. 21 Mar. 2014.
I loved the ease of use of Book Reviews Online, but they don’t list reviews printed in newspapers and magazines, which can have value. This bibliography seemed accurate and worth returning to.
3. I need to find a library that holds the work Avvisi di Costantinopoli that was published in Venice in the 17th century.
I searched worldcat.org and found that Harvard University has Avvisi di Costantinopoli, which was published in 1684 in Venice. Even though I trust World Cat since our text and professor recommend it, I searched Harvard’s library and it is there, available for in library use.
4. I am looking for a copy of Pride and Prejudice in Romanian. Can you help me?
Using World Cat OCLC, I found that the following libraries have Jane Austen’s classic in Romanian.
I looked on AddALL.com, but there were no copies available in Romanian. Amazon.com has the Romanian Thesaurus Edition of Pride and Prejudice. Depending on my library’s policies, I might offer to acquire the book through Amazon. I tried Project Gutenburg Europe for a copy to download, but that site seems to be abandoned.
I trust World Cat OCLC, “a network leader,” because it’s widely used and recommended in our text and by several professors.
5. Is there really a publisher by the name of “Small Beer Press?”
First I searched Literary Marketplace’s database and found no listing of them. Then I searched Yahoo and did find Small Beer Press. They only accept paper manuscripts and queries and they promise to read all submissions, thus I think they’re a very small organization.
Small Beer Press: http://smallbeerpress.com/category/books/
Literary Marketplace: No listing. See link below:
6. I really liked Neil Gaiman’s ‘Good Omens. What other authors or titles might I like?
I used Novelist to find some books that this patron might like. Under similar authors, my search yielded nine titles. The first five are: Gil’s All Fright Diner by L. Martinez, Shades of Grey by J. Fforde, Sacre Bleu by C. Moore, Gravity’s Rainbow by T. Pynchon and four more. The Author Read-alikes included Michael Chabon, Steven Milhauser, Clive Barker, Charles DeLint, Stephen King and four more.
I like that each author or title is followed by a succinct explanation for the suggestion as well as the person who provided the suggestion. I consider this source reliable because my professor recommends it and both the UICU and Northbrook libraries subscribe to it.
Reader’s Online Advisory offered five authors that Gaiman fans might enjoy. To find title read-alikes, I had to click on Gaiman’s name and then the title. The sidebar didn’t offer this choice so at first I didn’t think Title read-alikes were availab.e
“Neil Gaiman or Good Omen Read-alikes.” (2014). Novelist. Web Retrieved March 24, 2014.
“Neil Gaiman or Good Omen Read-alikes.” Web Retrieved March 26, 2014.
7. Does the 11th edition of the Guide to Reference Books recommend the Bopp & Smith text used in this class? Speculate as to why or why not.
It lists this book, but doesn’t recommend our text but it does list it. I thought I’d see if it recommends other reference texts and I found the page (see next page). My best guess is that as a text, this isn’t a book that a library would seek to acquire for its collection or that some of the contributors may be editors for this guide.
My favorite source this week was Novelist because I could spend all day reviewing the various recommendations. It is easy to use and intriguing. I thought the Literary Marketplace had a poor, outdated web design also it didn’t yield Small Beer Press.
This week’s topic for my Library Science class was geography. I thought it would be easy, but it took hours and hours. We’re not supposed to use Google or Wikipedia, and while I see their faults, sometimes they offer a quick step to finding the right answers. The databases practically hide atlases. The trouble is ‘atlas’ also appears in so many book titles, fiction and non-fiction.
1. Where is Dutch?
According to The Columbia Gazetteer of the World there are several places with Dutch in their names: Dutch Antilles, Dutch Bay, Dutch East Indies, Dutch Guiana, Dutch Harbor-Unalaska, Dutch Island, Dutch New Guinea, Dutch West Indies. The Columbia Gazetteer of the World has details about each of these places.
According to MIT’s START, there’s a Dutch, West Virginia. I verified this by going to x, which was listed on IPL. There is a Dutch (and Dutch Town and Dutchman) in West Virginia.
I found START by exploring IPL (see question 2). I consider it a reliable source because of MIT’s reputation for excellence in scholarship.
“Dutch.” (2014). START. MIT. Retrieved from http://start.csail.mit.edu/startfarm.cgi on March 17, 2014
“Dutch.” (2014). Global Gazetteer. Retrieved from http://www.fallingrain.com/world/US/WV/a/D on March 17, 2014.
2. How do you pronounce Tooele? Where is it?
I first looked in the Merriam Webster Geographic Dictionary in Credo because I thought it would contain pronunciation information. However, Tooele wasn’t listed. Then I went to The Columbia Gazetteer of the World because it was mentioned in class. I did learn Tooele is a city and a county in Utah.
Because I want to become more familiar with IPL, I looked under its Geography listings. There I found MIT’s START, an answering service which uses natural language and artificial intelligence. There I got information on pronouncing Tooele (too-ella).
I trust The Columbia Gazetteer of the World because it was mentioned in class and it does offer basic information. MIT’s reputation for scholarly and technical excellence make me trust START.
“Tooele (city).” Columbia Gazetteer of the World Online. 2014. Columbia University Press. Retrieved from http://www.columbiagazetteer.org/main/ViewPlace/144893 on 17 Mar. 2014.
“Tooele (county).” Columbia Gazetteer of the World Online. 2014. Columbia University Press. Retrieved from http://www.columbiagazetteer.org/main/ViewPlace/144892 on 17 Mar. 2014.
“Tooele.” START. 2014. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved from http://start.csail.mit.edu/startfarm.cgi on March 17, 2014.
3. I need to do a report on Peru and need to know about religion, language, population, imports & exports, etc. Evaluate the information for depth & currency.
I wanted to investigate Culturegrams so I used the Northbrook Public Library’s subscription. Culturegrams provided facts on all the information needed. To find the import and export data, I had to go to “Graphs and Tables,” which had that information and allows users to customize their presentation of data. They also have a kids’ edition, slideshows, interviews, recipes and much more. For quick facts and brief descriptions, Culturegrams is easy to use and offers a lot of information. The PDF World Report is 8 pages long.
The problem with currency is that each country’s section doesn’t have a definite date or specify when the information, e.g. population was obtained. The site does explain that collecting data from some countries takes more time than others. This is true and would be a issue with any source.
“Peru.” CultureGrams Online Edition. ProQuest, 2014. Web. 16 Mar 2014.
4. Are there any fjords in the U.S.? If so, where?
I went to the U.S. Geological Survey and found that there are fjords in Alaska. Several documents mention Kenai fjords, Glacial Bay fjords, and Alaskan fjords. The Columbia Gazetteer of the World lists one fjord in the U.S. so that wasn’t terribly useful.
The U.S. National Park Service has maps for the Kenai Fjords National Park.
“Fjords.” (2014). The Columbia Gazetteer of the World
“Fjords.” (2014). U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved from http://search.usa.gov/search/docs?affiliate=usgs&dc=628&m=false&query=fjords on March 17, 2014/
“Kenai Fjords National Park.” (2014). U.S. National Park Service. Retrieved from http://www.nps.gov/kefj/planyourvisit/maps.htm on March 17, 2014
5. What is the literacy rate in Fiji? How does the literacy rate compare with other Polynesian countries?
According to the CIA World Factbook, Fiji’s 2003 literacy rate is 95.5% for men and 91.9% for women. The data wasn’t very current. An article on Fiji’s government website mentioned that the 2011 UNESCO literacy rate for Fiji was 94%. However, UNESCO’s website does not show a figure for Fiji in 2011 on its website.
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, “Polynesia encompasses a huge triangular area of the east-central Pacific Ocean. The triangle has its apex at the Hawaiian Islands in the north and its base angles at New Zealand (Aotearoa) in the west and Easter Island (Rapa Nui) in the east. It also includes (from northwest to southeast) Tuvalu, Tokelau, Wallis and Futuna, Samoa (formerly Western Samoa), American Samoa, Tonga, Niue, the Cook Islands, French Polynesia (Tahiti and the other Society Islands, the Marquesas Islands, the Austral Islands, and the Tuamotu Archipelago, including the Gambier Islands [formerly the Mangareva Islands]), and Pitcairn Island.”
You can view a chart and interactive world map of literacy rates on UNESCO’s website. To compare the rates you can get a rough idea from the map considering that Polynesia is formed by a triangle with Hawai’i, New Zealand and the Easter Island as its corners or by selecting the countries listed by Encyclopedia Britannica and using UNESCO’s data.
I trust Encyclopedia Britannica as a well known, accurate encyclopedia. The CIA World Fact Book is thorough and well respected. UNESCO is a well known non-government organization and part of the UN that focuses on education and culture. I have never used the Fijian government’s website before, but believe it’s good practice to go to direct sources.
“ACS Girls Urged to Bridge Literacy Gap.” The Fijian Government, 29 Nov. 2013. Web. Retrieved from http://www.fiji.gov.fj/Media-Center/Press-Releases/ACS-GIRLS-URGED-TO-BRIDGE-LITERACY-GAP.aspx on March 20, 2014.
“International Literacy Data.” (2013). UNESCO. Web Retrieved from http://www.uis.unesco.org/literacy/Pages/data-release-map-2013.aspx?SPSLanguage=EN on March 20, 2014.
“Literacy.” (2014). CIA World Factbook. Retrieved on March 20, 2014 from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2103.html#fj.
“Polynesian culture.” Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2014. Web. 20 Mar. 2014. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/468832/Polynesia.
6. Choose two geographical points. Calculate traveling directions between the two points using at least two different services. Compare & evaluate the results.
I chose Northbrook, IL and Montreal Canada. First I tried Rand McNally, but it couldn’t provide information for Canada. Then I went to Mapquest, which I’ve used before. According to Mapquest the trip is 869.91 miles and would take 13 hr., 52 min., based on current traffic.
I haven’t used Bing, Microsoft’s search engine much, so I tried it. The distance Bing came up with is 874.8 miles and a travel time of 13 hr. 42 min. (10 minutes faster than Mapquest’s time, though Bing’s distance is 10 miles farther.
Until about 30 miles into Montreal the routes were identical. I’ve never been to Montreal so I can’t say which is better, but I’m satisfied with these routes.
Finally, I compared this information with Google Maps, which offered two driving routes and showed the route a plane would take. One route would be 14 hrs and 12 min. and the other 14 hrs. 45 min.
By looking at the maps themselves it seems that the routes are comparable, though the driving times differ by an hour. I’d suggest the patron take all these maps and ask whomever they’re visiting or their hotel in Montreal to recommend the best route after they’ve gotten on Canadian Hwy 401, which all three use.
“Northbrook – Montreal.” Bing.com. Web. Retrieved on March 16, 2014.
“Northbrook – Montreal.” Mapquest.com. Web. Retrieved on March 16, 2014.
“Northbrook – Montreal.” Google Maps. Web. Retrieved on March 16, 2014.
7. Can you help me find examples of how cultures celebrate with food?
You can use our subscription to Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary available through Gale Virtual Reference Library. Look in the General Index at the bottom of the “About this book page.) Under food there are numerous references to food used in celebrations. I trust this resource because I’ve looked through it carefully and both Northbrook Public Library and the Univ. of Illinois subscribe to it.
Gale Virtual Reference Library also has Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia, a four volume encyclopedia covering hundreds of cultures. Under each country or ethnicity, there’s a section called Special Occasions.
National Geographic’s website has a good slideshow with information on how food is used in 10 different holidays worldwide. I’m very familiar with national Geographic as an excellent source of cultural information with photos and brief descriptions.
NPR had a story with pictures today (March 20th) about the food used to celebrate Persian New Year.
This sounds like a school assignment and if it was, I’d suggest a few nonfiction books,
Kids Around the World Celebrate: The Best Feasts and Festivals From Many Lands
Introduces a variety of festivals celebrated around the world. Includes recipes and hands-on activities to give a taste of what it is like to be part of a feast or ceremony in another country.
Food and Festivals of China
An accurate, comprehensive, and balanced understanding of China, past and present through food and festivals
Presents recipes for foods associated with various festivals and holidays around the world.
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary: Detailing More Than 3,000 Observances from All 50 States and More Than 100 Nations. Ed. Cherie D. Abbey. 4th ed. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 2010. 47. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 20 Mar. 2014.
Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia. Ed. Ken Albala. Vol. 3: Asia and Oceania. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2011. 73-81. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 20 Mar. 2014.
Persian New Year’s Table Celebrates Nature’s Rebirth Deliciously. (March 20, 2014). NPR. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/03/20/291443678/persians-celebrate-new-year-natures-rebirth-deliciously on March 20, 2014.
World Celebration Foods. (2014). National Geographic. Web. Retrieved from http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/international-foods/celebration-cuisine-photos/ on March 20, 2014.
American Eras Primary Sources fills a niche that encyclopedias, almanacs, books, and articles can’t. This multi-volume set “reproduces full text or excerpts of primary sources that illuminate a particular trend, event, or personality important to [the] understanding of the time period. Each volume includes about one hundred entries organized into topical chapters” (Parks, 2013). By examining one volume in the electronic version covering the Civil War and Reconstruction, 1860-1877, I will describe and evaluate the series.
The volume begins with section called “Using Primary Sources” which includes an explanation of what a primary source is and advises readers on how to approach the use of such sources to avoid faulty reasoning. Next there’s an eclectic chronology of world events, which provides an interesting perspective that a history book may not. For example, this chronology lists major natural disasters, military battles, treaties (e.g. the First Geneva Convention protecting the rights of war prisoners), fashion trends and firsts such as the first indoor ice hockey game, which was played in 1875 in Canada.
The heart of American Eras Primary Sources is the primary sources organized in categories such as the arts, business, government and politics, communications, law, fashion, science, medicine, social trends, and education. Each category begins with an overview and chronology to provide context. Each entry lists basic information on the creator of the primary source, introduces the item. This volume includes and describes Currier and Ives prints, recipes, patents, illustrations, poetry, photos of Grand Central Station, text from the children’s book The Anti-Slave Alphabet, sheet music, military orders and more. After each entry there is a short passage describing its significance and a list of further resources including websites with click-able links.
The end of the volume contains a general index and primary source type index. Entries may be viewed as text or PDF. Users may easily email or download entries for further examination.
American Eras Primary Sources contains a wide variety of sources that illuminate disparate aspects of American society thereby expanding users’ understanding of the era. Given that an electronic version doesn’t take up shelf space, I would have liked more entries particularly sources from lower level Civil War officers and representatives of minorities other than women and African Americans who are included, but mainly in the conventional ways, i.e. as housewives, suffragettes or slaves. Including sources written in languages other than English with translations would make this important resource even more comprehensive. Still history buffs, students and researchers will find this book highly valuable.
Verdict: American Eras Primary Sources offers a unique perspective on history and should be a part of any public, secondary school or university library collection.
Check this out at your public library if you like history at all!
American Eras Primary Sources. Ed. Rebecca Parks. Vol. 2: Civil War and Reconstruction, 1860-1877. Detroit: Gale, 2013. . Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 26 Feb. 2014.