Why do libraries give special status to novels?

The novel has a special place in libraries…it is removed from the Dewey classification, the 800s, and placed in the fiction section.  In colleges, too, the novel is removed from the Library of Congress system and honored in  a popular fiction area. No doubt, this is for the benefit of patrons who find it much easier to look for the latest Grisham novel in the “Gs” rather than some arcane numerical system that lumps novels into the  country of author mixed  with criticisms and other genres.  But why have libraries failed to do the same with drama and poetry?

Could it be because novels are just common “fiction” but drama and poetry are “literature?”  This was the attitude in the early days when novels were considered lesser works “just” for women whereas the other genres were appropriate for men to study, and even memorize and recite, in the university. Novels only made it into the curriculum relatively recently–perhaps when teaching became more of a female profession?

I pondered these questions as I moved drama and poetry into a new “literature” section along with the novels. Now we have all the literary genres together–not mixed or combined–but together in one area, removed from the 800s. Like novels, and short stories, they are arranged by the author’s last name.

Now, what to do about the rest of the 800s?

Really neat cataloging tool

I love the DL2SL, “Digital Libraries to School Libraries” service.  A partnership of Florida State University and the NSDL, it is very easy to use and a great way to add digital content to a school library catalog.   This tool demonstrates the exciting ways librarians can curate a wide range of physical and virtual resources.

FDR Papers now online

The papers of FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt are now online at http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/archives/collections/franklin/

“The official description: FRANKLIN is a virtual research room and digital repository that provides free and open access to the digitized collections of the Roosevelt Library—to everyone, anywhere in the world. Whether you are a lover of history, a student working on a school project, or a scholar, FRANKLIN allows you to keyword search for archival documents and photographs and to search, browse, and view whole files, just as you could if you came to the Library’s research room in-person. Now available online are some of the most important documents of the twentieth century – primary source documentation of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s experiences leading the nation through the Great Depression and World War II.”

It is still a work in progress with many sources yet to be digitized.  But it is a great start and relatively easy to use.

You can even link to specific resources.  Here is an example related to (my hero) Raoul Wallenberg:

Apple’s Problematic Dictionary

As you may of heard, a Massachusetts boy looked up the word gay with the Apple dictionary and was very surprised by one of the definitions. It included a derogatory usage that most dictionaries either exclude altogether or note as offensive.  This did neither.

What is interesting is Apple’s response that:

“They told me it’s so hard to track the dictionaries they’re getting sources from, and that they were also shocked themselves.”

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/apple-dictionary-definition-gay-includes-stupid-student-alerts/story?id=20864595

Apparently it was from the New American Dictionary and later versions of the iOS had updated the definition.  This case highlights the importance of not relying on one source as well as determining what the actual source the information comes from which may be harder as apps and computer tools become a source in and of themselves.

http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/blog/2013/11/12/apple-dictionary-app-sudbury-teen-gay-defintion/

Apple Goes Searching?

Recently Apple acquired Topsy, a social search engine.  While the future is unclear, it is pretty obvious that Apple, Facebook, and Google are all competitors in everything now.  Remember when Google was primarily focused on its search? They seem to have neglected the social side, which Topsy covered, and now Apple has jumped in to take advantage of it.

Related articles: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304854804579234450633315742
http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/apple-buys-topsy-twitter-search-tool/story?id=21075570

(Quality) Information is not free

Some recent articles contradict the common belief that all information is now available free on the Internet, and the mantra that “information wants to be free.”

Here is a study that shows how easy it is to “publish” inaccurate scientific research in open-source scientific journals.

And, this article details the “decline of Wikipedia.”  This is especially dangerous since Wikipedia articles appear first in most Google searches.

This comes as companies such as The Washington Post and The New York Times increasingly charge users to access their content with paywalls.

What is the answer?  Librarians need to do more to promote the “invisible internet.”  That is, subscription databases such as ProQuest that just about any public library and every college library subscribes to.  Unfortunately, using these resources is not as easy as Googling it, and users want quick answers in this Twitter age.  But, perhaps it is time to be more intentional and thoughtful in our research, as the President of the University of Florida urged in his recent commencement speech.

FlipBoard

Of all the apps I have tried recently, the one I use the most is FlipBoard.  It is a great way to view Tweets and to see the related links.  It is also a great to personalize and organize media from a variety of sources.

Librarians Still Vital

This  study from the PEW Research Center demonstrates why librarians still have a vital role in a digital age.   A key finding: “Teachers gave students the lowest ratings when it comes to “navigating issues of fair use and copyright in composition” and “reading and digesting long or complicated texts.”  Librarians can play a vital role in both areas!