Awesome Somerville Public Library

Harvard Library and the Somerville Public Library:

Innovation and Collaboration

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Best of Publib received the following press release from the Somerville Public Library in Somerville, Massachusetts:

Matt Phillips and Annie Cain

Matt Phillips and Annie Cain – Creators of the Awesome Box

The Somerville Public Library, in a partnership with the Harvard Library Innovation Lab, launched the “Awesome Box” project at all three SPL branches in early February. This endeavor will allow patrons to give fellow users suggestions on what book/CD/DVD they found to be “awesome.”

“Somerville is the first public library to get on board with the ‘Awesome Box’ project,” says Maria Carpenter, Somerville’s library director. “We are always looking for dynamic, innovative and creative approaches to library service, and this was certainly one of those.”

Awesome Box

Awesome Box

Here’s how it will work: When a patron particularly enjoys an item, he or she will return the book into the “Awesome Box,” which will be clearly labeled with appropriate signage. Then, a library staff member will scan the book twice – once, checking the book in as usual, then another time to list that item on the “awesome” page, which can be found here: http://somerville.awesomebox.io/.

Patrons can then visit the page and see what others have found notably enlightening, mind-blowing or helpful recently. There is also a “most awesome” section, which shows the items that were most thought to be awesome. Users can also search for items that are listed as awesome. When patrons click on the media’s icon, it takes them to the item’s listing on the Minuteman Library Network catalog, so that they can read more about the item and its availability or place it on hold.

For more information about this project, call Maria Carpenter at 617.623.5000 or email her at  mcarpenter@somervillema.gov.

Awesome Somerville

Awesome Somerville

Somerville’s commitment to innovation and collaboration can be emulated by any other public library.  The Harvard Innovation Lab provides excellent documentation along with step-by-step instruction.   The Awesome Box project is just one direction they are exploring.

The great thing about this sort of project is that it capitalizes on patron momentum.  Whenever a patron returns a book or media, they either put it in the regular book drop or express their approval by putting it in the Awesome Box. Either way, the same energy is expended with an added value to the library as a book or media review.

There is an added value to the patron with their likes and preferences registered and noted. There is also an added value to all of the other patrons who might not otherwise know what gems the library contains. The only extra step is checking it in – scanning a second time  to register in the Awesome database.

Awesome Box - a simple, elegant idea.

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Best of Publib – January 2013 in Review

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Best of PubLib – January 2013 in Review

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Best of Publib January 2013

Best of Publib Word Cloud
January 2013

This edition of Best of Publib covers the month of January 2013.  Hot topics for the month of January included:

  • Cataloging Local Textbooks ~
    • Debra Bashaw of the McMullen Memorial Library in Huntington, TX asked:
    • How do you catalog cookbooks from local organizations?
  • Lending E-reader devices ~
    • Lucien Kress of the Multnomah County Library asked regarding the DOJ settlements over e-reader accessibility queried:
    • Are you loaning only accessible e-readers, which readers do you loan and other pertinent questions.
  • List Problems ~
    • Amy Mullin of the Austin Public Library wanted to know:
    • Are there technical problems with the list?
  • Playaways ~
    • John Richmond of the Alpha Park Public Libray District in Bartonville, IL pondered and ruminated:
    • “I’m wondering if anyone Out There has changed policies re: what they/you provide with Playaways. And if you took something away, did people holler? (Which, of course, they shouldn’t do, because they’re in a *library*.)”
  • Surveys for the Public ~
    • Elizabeth Thorson of the Laramie County Library System in Cheyenne, WY asked:
    • “Has anyone surveyed the public when facing budget cuts?”
  • Requests by Parents for in loco parentis services ~
    • Beth Hudson of the Walla Walla Public Library in Walla Walla, Washington wondered :
    • Does anyone have a written statement which they provide when a parents asks that you not check out certain items to their child?”.
  • Worst Marketing Idea(s) Ever ~
    • Dierdre Conkling of the Lincoln County Library District reported on ALA OIF’s plan for a sweater vest day to support intellectual freedom:
    • “I think this sounds like fun but I don’t own a sweater vest. Just shows once again that I am not cool. ;-)”

On January 10th The ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom announced their ‘Wear a sweater vest on Sunday, Jan. 27, in support of intellectual freedom!‘ campaign.  If librarians attending Mid-Winter ALA would wear a sweater vest on that day, it would demonstrate their commitment and support of intellectual freedom.

In jaw-dropping, dumbfounded awe I asked:

I am trying to imagine how Judith Krug would have reacted to perhaps the worst marketing idea I have ever seen and the dynamics of a meeting where this idea was proposed and validated. Did no one dare to speak truth to power?

What does a ‘sweater vest’ represent? How the heck does a sweater vest  correlate to *any* form of ‘intellectual freedom’? Perhaps what is most appalling is the obvious lack of intellectual effort it takes to say you *support* intellectual freedom by wearing a sweater vest.

Maybe this will take off along the same lines as ‘Geek the Library’, which seriously detracts from the library mission. Bad ideas, once they are validated, tend to gain their own momentum.

The Emperor's New Clothes

Emperor’s New Clothes

This touched off two discussions on the list – one about the efficacy of sweater vests as statements of intellectual freedom and the other about the importance or impotence of the Geek the Library campaign administered by OCLC.  And, there were the anticipated reactions from some readers who were simply aghast that I would question poorly made decisions by established bureaucracies. :)

Emily Weak who had been promoting a librarian employment site/ blog on Publib asked:

Somewhat off your topic, but I am curious as to how “Geek the Library” detracts  from the library’s mission? Isn’t it about the diversity of resources one can find at the library (i.e. whatever you have a crazy passion for, you can find  materials about it at the library)? Is it that you feel geek has negative connotations?

The Side Show Honoré Daumier

The Side Show
Honoré Daumier

The Geek the Library campaign has evolved into its own bureaucracy supported by grants by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and administered by OCLC.  I have found no empirical evidence that Geek the Library is more effective than any other course of advertising or promotion. In fact, there may be many, much more effective methods.  Anna Cangialosi with the Chelsea District Library did provide a link to an anecdotal case study on Publib.  However, there appears to be no clear data regarding effectiveness. The press release branded by OCLC seems to be yet another self-serving validation for people who self-identify as being a ‘geek’.

Professional librarians have spent years trying to separate themselves from the stereotype of anti-social professional clerks.  The movement to create a new stereotype by branding librarians as Geeks may result in many more years of trying to live down that stereotype.  Why not continue what we were working towards => a stereotype representing professionalism along with informational and intellectual excellence?

Saving Our Public Libraries

Saving Our Public Lbraries

Rather than blindly accepting that a terrible marketing campaign is in your interest and the interest of your library – why not read a book about how you can promote your library? Why not do a critical assessment of what works and what doesn’t? Why not re-engage in library science as a fundamental set of skills?

Janet Jai has written an excellent book that investigates success stories, expert advice and innovative ideas that support library marketing. If you haven’t ordered it yet,  you should order it for your library today: Saving Our Public Libraries  Why We Should. How We Can.

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Our Debts

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nd, forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors . .

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The American Library Association (ALA) provides data regarding Student Loan Forgiveness. The ALA’s introduction to the process of getting student loans forgiven, however, begins with this message:

  • Public libraries and schools across the nation are experiencing a dire shortage of librarians, as an alarming number of librarians are reaching the age of retirement.

Genthe-LibrarianOf course, there is no dire shortage in public libraries or schools. Public libraries have closed branches, reduced hours, and even outsourced management. School librarian positions have been eliminated with a movement towards automated learning centers.   The fact that many librarians are reaching the age of retirement does not mean that they can afford to retire – many have spouses who lost employment during the economic downturn and retirement portfolios have suffered losses and retirement benefits have been reduced. There are librarians who have had no pay increases for years and are just trying to get by.

The ALA’s misleading statement  creates an expectation of new graduates that employment opportunities are plentiful. Is it wishful thinking? An attempt at self-fulfilling prophesy? A marketing strategy to emphasize the value of the profession? A marketing strategy to continue to fill library graduate schools? It is hard to understand how a professional organization that supports non-biased critical information analysis would publish and maintain such a misleading representation of employment prospects. However, the result of creating an oversupply of MLS graduates has pitted new librarian vs old. It has led to an expectation that librarians should simply step aside because they are old and *should* retire - completely devaluing lifetime learning and cumulative wisdom.

The 2012 United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics reports :

  • Employment of librarians is expected to grow by 7 percent from 2010 to 2020, which is slower than average for all occupations.

  • Most librarians need a master’s degree in library science.

  • 2010 Median Pay – $54,500 per year

Bureau-of-Labor-Statistics

Contrary to what ALA says, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts growth at half the rate of *all other occupations* and less that half the rate of Education, Training and Library Occupations overall. Note that the anticipated growth in employment opportunities is 7% over ten years – less than 1% per year.  As a statistical estimate with a margin for error this means that there, in fact, could be negative growth.

Yet, even though the Master’s Degree is required for *most* to be a librarian – without the Master’s Degree in library science the job outlook is even bleaker.

The ALA APA adopted a resolution in 2008 that full-time professional librarians minimum salaries would be set at $41,680.  Many full-time librarians still make significantly less.   In fact, even the minimum full-time professional salary is less than the living wage estimate required for a household with one adult and one child in Rhode Island.

Unfortunately, in order to complete a master’s degree that may lead to a $41,680 a year professional job, most students will also have to go into substantial debt.  According to FinAid.org  in 2012  71% of graduate students will complete their degrees with a cumulative average of $53,727 in undergraduate and graduate student debt.

A twenty year fix rate loan for $53,727 requires a monthly payment  of $354.57 for a total of $85,097.86.   The take home pay at the minimum full-time professional salary level without state tax or dependent deductions is: $34,970.58.   So, repayment of the loan to complete a master’s degree in library science could represent over 2 1/2 years of full-time work.  That burden of debt means that it may take at least twenty years before being able to begin to save for any sort of retirement.

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aying Down Your Debt – You can be forgiven!

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The graduate student debt problem in Library Science was brought home by Library Director Michelle Mears of the Public Library of Enid & Garfield County in Oklahoma with her posting on Publib December 12, 2012. Ms. Mears also provided an option for loan forgiveness that every new librarian with federal loans should adopt as soon as they find full-time employment.  Your debts can be forgiven for the valuable public service you provide in ten years instead of 20 or more :

I wanted to get the word out to those who may be unaware of their eligibility for student loan forgiveness through the federal government.  Working full time in a public library makes you eligible for this program. http://www.studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/charts/public-service  If you are eligible, you need to get certification documents turned in right away, even if you are still working for the same employer or have only had one employer, and get one from each qualified employer since October 2007.  Your loan will likely transfer to a different servicing company who will keep track of qualifying payments.
I just certified my first five years, which leaves me only 5 to go (120 payments total), but this will likely forgive the balance of my loan when I get there.  Remember, with interest you end up paying back more than what you originally borrowed, but this program will probably save me about 5 years worth of payments.  Ten years seems like a long time to be in repayment, but any forgiveness is better than none.  I just wish they would have back-dated it because I have already been paying for 14 years (which means I have paid nearly $58,000 on a $38,000 loan and have yet to make a significant dent in the principal-only recently have my payments been gnawing away at it).
Hope this helps someone, or at least gives them hope that someday a month will come with no student loan payment! ~ Michelle

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Happy Holidays to All from Best of Publib!

christmas-cover

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Run, Hide, Fight

Surviving Workplace Violence

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On December 13th Library Director Susan Pieper with the Paulding County Library in Ohio offered this timely post on Publib:

I shared this short video with my staff during a staff meeting this fall.
Homeland Security released it and in light of the recent tragic shootings,
I think every library staff and every citizen should watch it.:
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The video was produced with a Department of Homeland Security Grant by the City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security. It includes three key concepts ~

RUN – When an active shooter is in your vicinity:

  • If there is an escape path, attempt to evacuate
  • Leave your belongings behind.
  • Help others escape if possible.
  • Prevent others from entering the area.
  • Call 911 when you are safe.

HIDE – When Escape is not possible:

  • Lock and / or blockade the door.
  • Silence your cell phone.
  • Hide behind large objects.
  • Remain very quiet.

FIGHT – As a last resort, and only if your life is in danger:

  • Attempt to incapacitate the shooter.
  • Act with physical aggression.
  • Improvise weapons.
  • Commit to your actions.

In addition to those key concepts of Run, Hide, and Fight – the video also discusses how to interact with law enforcement.

911 – When Law Enforcement Arrives:

  • Remain calm and follow instructions.
  • Keep you hands visible at all times.
  • Avoid pointing or yelling.
  • Know that help for the injured is on the way.

The information provided in the video has been endorsed by numerous law enforcement agencies.

Libraries are certainly not exempt from workplace violence. Many have disaster plans in place and policies and procedures that are meant to reduce the likelihood of violence. However, they are open to the public and certainly permeable to people with ill-intent.  Many are also open to an increasing population of concealed carry permit holders – including patrons and staff.

American Nut and Arms

American Nut and Arms

The discussion of concealed carry by staff and patrons played out as a major meme and theme on Publib at the end of 2011.  Many library staff members came out as staunch proponents of concealed carry.  Others could not see the point.  However, gunfire, gun-accidents, and gun related incidents all have one thing in common – the presence of guns.  With each act of random violence that plays out in the media, the reaction from a fearful public includes the purchase of more guns.  So, there is an ongoing expectation of gun violence and an ongoing increase of people armed with guns.

In addition to guns, the United States has another crisis of sorts – something that law enforcement and public libraries experience every day.  Psychiatric hospitals closed throughout the US in response to the 1975 Supreme Court decision in O’Connor v Donaldson that non-dangerous individuals cannot be confined and Addington v Texas requiring convincing evidence for involuntary commitment.  It was hoped that many of the abuses experienced by people involuntarily committed – as dramatized in One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest  would be remedied. The number of beds for psychiatric patients in 1955 was one for every 300 Americans.  By 2005, that number was reduced to one in every 3000 with over 90% of those committed to forensic cases.  So, the reality is psychiatric beds are no longer available in the US and other institutions without specialized training - including public libraries - must cope with the repercussions.

Drugs such as Thorazine (chlorpromazine) have helped many people cope with mental health issues.  But, many people go untreated and the prison and jail populations have become the de facto mental health facilities – providing incapacitation often without any truly effective rehabilitative treatment options.  Many may come out worse than they were when they went in – maxing out their sentences in Supermax facilities in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day.

The State of Rhode Island has the highest rate of severely mentally ill people in the US – at around 7.4% – almost twice the average of other States*.  In addition, it has some of the highest rates of illegal drug use and highest rates of untreated drug and alcohol addictions. So, most public library directors in Rhode Island will interact with people with severe mental illness problems and drug and alcohol abuse problems.  Rhode Island also has some of the strongest gun control measures in the US – although that does not stop gun violence from occurring.  When you look at the big picture and consider the likelihood that you will interact with people who have guns, who have mental illness and may have ill intent – it is always best to be prepared.

I highly recommend that libraries partner with their police departments and look at the training offered by the Memphis CIT  program. Their de-escalation training works.  Community partnerships can save lives and help redirect people from jail and prison to appropriate mental health resources.

You might even upgrade some office supplies.

Thanks to Susan Pieper for sharing!

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The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins -  A Book Review

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The Woman in White - Cover from 1890

The Woman in White – Cover from 1890

Walter Hartwright, a young drawing master, takes a late evening walk along a London bound road.  Suddenly a young woman dressed in white approaches behind him. Despite the late hour, she asks if she can still get transport into London. This is done. Before she goes, the young woman asks Hartwright not to tell anyone about seeing her.  Later on, Hartwright learns who she is and how she came to be on the road at such a late hour…It is this story of the woman in white which made Wilkie Collins famous.

The Woman in White appeared as a serial in “All the Year Round” magazine in November 1859 and was published in 40 installments. It was published in three volumes in 1860; a single volume edition followed the next year. The story was widely read by British society and related promotional products were sold. (Quite like what we see for popular book or TV series today!)

Wilkie_Collins_(Waddy,_1872

Wilkie Collins – caricature by Frederick Waddy, 1872

The story is told by a few different narrators. We hear from Marion Halcombe in her diary, the Fairlie family attorney Vincent Gilmore, Count Fosco, household servants among others. With each character’s narrative, the reader sees how events unfold. Murder, greed, deception, romance, and marriage–these are just a few elements in the story. The investigation of Anne Catherick’s (the name of the young woman attired in white whom Hartwright met on the road) past is an early example of the mystery solving element Collins would later further develop in his 1868 novel The Moonstone. Once I started reading the novel, I didn’t want to put it down! The narrations flow well from one character to the next.

Each character tells their respective part without restrictions so there are times you may doubt the veracity of the individual’s account.  I read the novel in two days on the bus ride during my vacation in France.

I was introduced to the novel watching an adaptation of it on PBS’s “Masterpiece Theater” on Sunday evening years ago.  It featured Tara Fitzgerald as Marion Fairlie and Simon Callow as Count Fosco. I watched with interest–the story line was great. One of the scenes I remember best is Sir Percival Glyde demanding his young wife Laura to sign a document and refuses to answer what are its contents. When Sir Percival presses her, Count Fosco interrupts by saying he refuses to be a witness. Later Marion discovers Count Fosco isn’t someone to be trusted after all.

The_Woman_In_White_-_Illustration

I bought a Penguin Classics edition of the novel at Gibert Jeune, a French bookstore chain, in Paris during my group travel tour last month.  (There was a floor for foreign language books)  The edition I own includes notes and introduction by Matthew Sweet, appendixes, chronology of Collins’s life, and reprints of prefaces Collins wrote to the 1860 and 1861 editions. Penguin’s version was published in 1999 followed by a 2003 update.

Because of the success with The Woman in White, it has been performed on stage and screen. Collins wrote the stage version that was first performed on October 9, 1871 at the Olympic Theater. Today it can be seen as a musical.

Several TV adaptations have been made. The most recent was in 1997 by the BBC and was broadcasted on “Masterpiece Theater” for US audiences in March 1998.  Then host Russell Baker provided the commentary.  (Scroll down to see a short biography of him)

The novel is still available in print and online.

I wish PUBLIB readers a wonderful holiday season and plenty of reading!

Link of Interest

Wilkie Collins Information Pages: website about Collins and his works

Frederick Waddy

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Favorite Handy Reference Book: People, Places, and Things

Favorite Handy Reference Book: People, Places, and Things

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When patrons come to me at the reference desk, there’s one book I readily pull out to consult. It’s not a replacement for checking the catalog but it’s a helpful starting point for patrons looking for a particular topic.  This handy reference book is titled People, Places, and Things, a reference book once published by OCLC.

People, Places, & Things is a reference tool listing popular LCSH headings in alphabetical order with corresponding Dewey call numbers.  (I found a description of the book on page 4 in a 2003 newsletter by OCLC)  Depending on the topic you’re looking up, there may be more than one Dewey number assigned to it.

The book doesn’t list every topic patrons ask at the desk but it’s still useful.  Sometimes I have to think of another term for a subject if I can’t find it listed. If it’s still not there after looking it up, I’ll consult the catalog. At times the book been a back up for looking up call numbers when our catalog was offline.

We *do* need our education!

I discovered People, Places, & Things when I first started 5 years ago.  It was one of several reference resources we kept on the History-Biography reference desk. (The copyright date is 2001 on the copy we have) Since then this book has been invaluable to me.

When I worked in our Popular Library Division on the first floor, I continued to use this reference resource because patrons frequently came to our reading room first. Patrons would tell me what subject area they needed; I’d look it up in the book and write down the Dewey number. With that in hand, they could locate what they needed in the other reading rooms.  When I returned to non-fiction reference, People, Places, & Things came along too.  It’s worked well for me and a great tool.

School will be starting August 27th in DC–I’ll be ready!

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The Broken Publib Listserve or Control through Incorporation

I have come here not to bury Publib, but to praise it.

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Ghost of Publib

Ghost of Publib

Last year, OCLC announced that they would graciously host the popular Publib listserve.  With 10 thousand + subscribers representing libraries throughout the world, it certainly represented a win/win situation.  OCLC – which sells its products to libraries would host and subscribers – who buy products from OCLC could continue to subscribe.  OCLC would benefit from the feel-good PR and the ability to data-mine and Publib subscribers could continue to enjoy the communication resource they have contributed to since the early 1990s.

While being hosted by UC Berkeley and Webjunction, Google and Yahoo! and all of the other major search engines readily indexed the discussions by Publib contributors. Even now, a quick engine search of almost any topic regarding public libraries renders a link to a Publib posting from previous years.  

But, all of those links are now broken and the provenance of indexing has been destroyed.  Although you may still view cached files, the only way to get live files is to go behind the wall set up by OCLC.  Access to the root directory is by subscription only, so the search engines would no longer index the content:  http://listserv.oclc.org/   So, everyone who searches any topic ever posted on Publib must now go through OCLC and search the files that they exclusively control. 

What a great benefit this must represent to corporate interests of OCLC! Thousands and thousands of postings on every topic regarding public libraries, created by uncompensated authors, and they now control all of the content and its indexing for almost no associated cost and can monitor and data-mine all usage by the library community.     OCLC established and litigated ownership and control of Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) in OCLC v The Library Hotel  and was recently accused of antitrust by SkyRiver and Innovative Interfaces.  Does OCLC now effectively have intellectual property rights to all of the work by Publib contributors?

Hosting a listserv is really not a big deal.  It is fairly low level technology and relatively easy to manage.  With a bit of server space, Open Source programs such as Mailman can be set up that can manage a huge number of subscribers:

http://wiki.list.org/display/COM/Organizations+that+use+Mailman

Hosting by a non-corporate entity such as a library school or a large library system would have made much more sense.  The original iteration with UC Berkeley hosting nested the conversation in a bastion of free speech.  Is removing and blocking indexing censorship? Is vetting all new subscribers appropriate?  Does the ability to restrict access represent ownership? Does hosting a listserve  and controlling access to everything previously written grant intellectual property rights and equate to ownership? Is Publib just another example of intellectual outsourcing?

Time will tell. But, at this time Publib is a ghost of what it once represented. 

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Celebrating Charles Dickens: Nicholas Nickleby (1838)

The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again. -  Nicholas Nickleby – Charles Dickens

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Nicholas Nickleby Cover

Nicholas Nickleby Cover

A young gentleman must earn a living when his father’s death leaves the family bereft of financial support because of a bad investment.  To support his mother and sister, he accepts a position as a schoolmaster in a country school and is horrified about what he sees.  After an incident at the school, the young man leaves with a new friend.  This is the story of Nicholas Nickleby, who is the title character of Charles John Huffam Dickens’s third novel.

Dickens first wrote Nicholas Nickleby as a serial in 1838. Hablot K. Browne (known as Phiz) contributed illustrations for the story.  The following year it was republished in book format. A second edition was published with revisions in 1848.

As the novel progresses, Nicholas finds another position as a private tutor and then works in a theater company owned by the Crummles, a husband and wife team.  (Nicholas isn’t the only one working–his sister Kate briefly works too)  When an urgent situation arises, Nicholas and Smike immediately leave but not without a dramatic personal farewell from Mr. Crummles.  Nicholas’s new position is as a clerk in the Cheeryble brothers’ shop; the brothers are merchants.  All the while his uncle, Ralph Nickleby, becomes obsessed about ruining his nephew…

Chimney-Scene---Phiz

Chimney-Scene--- by 'Phiz'

If you have read any of Dickens’s novels, he writes about serious topics. For Nicholas, one especial topic touched on is the notorious boarding schools of the day–something Dickens observed first hand. Poverty and greed are other recurring themes.  There also are plenty of comical scenes throughout the story.  For instance, coming down a chimney is no way to make a neighborly impression!  Romance is also part of the plot line.  Nicholas develops feelings for Madeline Bray and intervenes for her during a crucial moment in the story.

Nicholas Nickleby Illustration

Nicholas Nickleby Illustration - by Hablot K. Browne

This was my fourth Dickens novel.  In junior high school, I read Great ExpectationsOliver Twist, and Tale of Two Cities for fun. I bought Nicholas Nickleby (published by Penguin Classics with a 2003 copyright date) at Borders three years ago, read a few chapters, and set it aside.  This year is Dickens’s bicentennial birthday so it was a good reason for me to resume reading the novel.  Although the novel is long, I enjoyed it.  What’s a Dickens novel without memorable villians, eccentrics, and comics? You’ll meet plenty along the way.  At times there were slow parts, but it didn’t detract from the story. I enjoyed seeing the illustrations as I read.  For the Penguin edition, Mark Ford wrote the introduction, and a Dickens chronology is included. Appendixes and explanatory notes follow the text.

Like Dickens’s other novels, Nicholas Nickleby has been adapted for TV and as a movie.  It was a TV mini series in 1947 and 1982. The latest TV adaptation of Nicholas Nickleby was in 2001.  In college, I watched it on Bravo one night and enjoyed it. (We had good cable service for a small college!) In this adaptation, James D’Arcy stars in the title role, Sophia Myles as his sister Kate, and Charles Dance as Ralph Nickleby.  It was this 2001 adaptation that introduced me to the novel.

In 2002, Charlie Hunnam starred as Nicholas in a movie adaptation of the novel. Of course, a lot of the novel was cut for the movie, so you don’t get the full story.  I have seen this too and prefer the 2001 adaptation.

Nicholas Nickleby is still available in print and online for your reading pleasure.  If you read this novel years ago or haven’t read it yet, do pick it up and enjoy!

Link of interest

Charles Dickens Museum: www.dickensmuseum.com/
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Saggy Pants

Fashion Police at the Library – No Ifs, Ands or Butts . . .

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Melissa Davidson - Staunton, Virginia asks: 

How are you handling the saggy pants trend? I’m talking about when the waist of the pants is clearly below the bum and heading towards the knees.

To which the Publib Chorus responds:

1920s woman daring to wear pants!

1920s woman daring to wear pants!

Wendy Wright – Denman Island, BC CANADA  ~ Ridiculous though the style is, my crystal ball offers some predictions for five years from now if we try to control teens’ ever-changing fashion trends. In 2017…

  • ~ No-one will be wearing sagging pants.
  • ~ Today’s teens will be voting, taxpaying adults.
  • ~ Those adults will not be using or supporting a library where they once felt unwelcome or talked down to.

Melissa does not specify teens in her query, yet most of us assume we are discussing this age group. For a bit of perspective, we might ask ourselves whether we would follow through on an adult infringement of a rule governing dress. For example, if we are comfortable suggesting to an adult patron that her shirt emblazoned with expletives is inappropriate in the library, but would then tactfully ignore a 30-year-old’s colourful boxers, then our library’s policy should reflect that practice, for all patrons. It is easy to fall into the trap of creating double standards for adults and teens, who have a nose for hypocrisy.

Jacobean Embroidery Leaf

Jacobean Embroidery Leaf

Nann Blaine Hilyard ~  In our community there are adults who wear saggy baggy pants.  Not as saggy as the teens but plenty baggy.  The current  fashion is that the back pockets (which fall on the thigh rather than the butt) have lots of embroidery.    The  juxtaposition is that men with saggy baggies accompany women in leggings (and jeggings, which are stretch denim leggings). Often the women are plump.  (Where are Stacy and Clinton (What Not to Wear) when we need them?)

Angela Morse ~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMwhl4IrPNc Pants on the ground….

Chris Rippel – Great Bend, Kansas ~  Make sure actions against sagging pants don’t expose your own fannies. *Library Law: Constitutional and Unconstitutional Patron Appearance and Behavior Policies: A Review* By James W. Fessler and E. Kenneth Friker, Klein, Thorpe and Jenkins, Ltd.  February 27, 2008 http://www.nsls.info/articles/detail.aspx?articleID=186

Lisa Richland – Greenport, NY ~ Melissa- Are you talking about patrons or staff?  Because I ignore the patrons’ dress habits, and tell staff when their dress is inappropriate.  In the case of staff, those low hanging trousers are in addition an impediment to mobility. And if it is just the aesthetics of the style, I avert my eyes.

Dusty Gres – Vidalia, GA ~ Depends on what else is showing, actually, but here is a true story in the daily life: One of my Branch Clerks is a retired (25 years) Army Master Sergeant. I recently overheard this transaction:

  • Clerk to teenage patron:  There you go. I think you will really like this book. Have a nice day, and son, pull up your pants.
  • Patron:  pulled up his pants

Janet Lerner ~ We’ve posted an excerpt from Philadelphia Mayor Nutter’s speech  http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/aug/8/mayor-talks-tough-to-black-teens-after-flash-mobs  in the Young Adult section of our library, as follows:

“Pull your pants up and buy a belt ’cause no one wants to see your underwear or the crack of your butt.’ If you walk into somebody’s office with your hair uncombed and a pick in the back, and your shoes untied, and your pants half down, tattoos up and down your arms and on your neck, and you wonder why somebody won’t hire you?” “‘They don’t hire you ’cause you look like you’re crazy,’ the mayor said.”
Jawaharlal_Nehru

Nehru in his jacket

Steve Benson ~ I think it’s a goofy fashion but any goofier than bell bottoms or nehru jackets? The boys aren’t exposing their back ends because they seem to always have very nice underwear to go with the saggy pants. My response is to ignore it.. . . But why do you hope they listen?  Doesn’t every generation challenge the tastes of their elders?  My flag and bra burning, tie-dye and bell bottom wearing, free loving, status quo disdaining contemporaries mostly grew up to be conservative republicans.  Wait out this current young generation, ignore where the waistline of their pants falls to, and eventually they will age into us.  What is really worth paying attention to are the thoughts rattling around in their minds.

Andrea Philo – Norristown, PA ~ Our security put up signs:  Hoods Down, Pants Up. They monitor compliance.

Chris Truex ~  What’s with these kids, with their hula hoops and hippity-hop music!? Get a haircut! I don’t understand why some 13 year old girl can walk around in spandex with “Juicy” across the backside, and there are no policies for that, but seeing 2 inches of some kid’s boxer shorts causes a riot.  Why in the world does anyone care about kids sagging? I’m sure constantly hassling them about style will do wonders in terms of outreach.

Shahin Shoar ~ Let them be!  What I find not so pleasant is seeing half of someone’s back end hanging out when sitting on a chair or bending down to look at lower shelves;but hey that’s life, not everything is pleasant to my eyes!

Manya Shorr ~ Shouldn’t the issue be behavior and not dress? We really shouldn’t let our personal tastes get in the way of good public service.

Joseph N. Anderson – Logan, Utah ~ I’m surprised that this trend is back again. In the late 90s, I was one of those kids who probably disturbed the library staff with some of my fashion choices including sagging pants. Thankfully, the staff never turned it into a bad library experience for me.

Kevin Okelly – Somerville, MA ~ Ah yes, I’ve seen quite a lot of posterior cleavage.

Ann Hall ~  It should be behavior and not dress.

ConnieJo Ozinga ~ Kevin O’Kelly posted:  Ah yes, I’ve seen quite a lot of posterior cleavage. I don’t think you need sagging pants for this.  We have just finished an interior renovation/construction project and I saw way too much posterior cleavage from those crews.

Jo Choto – Frederick, MD ~ If obscenity laws aren’t contravened, I don’t see that it matters if young men want to waddle around like penguins.  Essentially, their butts are covered by something, whether it’s several sets of shorts or long shirts, so no harm, no foul.  I am more troubled by pre-teen/tween girls who are barely covered at all, though this isn’t such a big problem in the winter!

Darryl Eschete ~  If a kid’s pants are an obvious hindrance to his safe and proper movement, we will ask the kid to pull them up lest they trip and fall on the stairs. I personally have also asked kids who drag their feet (and untied shoes) to tie their shoes and walk correctly, as their shuffling steps make a lot of noise. Dress and behavior are related and can have this sort of complicated interplay. Pardon me. I meant “…lest *HE* trip and fall on the stairs.”

Heian Fashion

Heian Fashion

Kathleen Stipek ~ I think that it is a very bad idea to pass laws about the droopy drawers look.  Some young men are very concerned about the aesthetic of the look.  I have seen some wearing multiple layers of skivvies that are as carefully color-matched as a Heian lady’s sleeves dangling outside her screens.  I have also seen some that suggest to me that laundry soap is not part of a particular young man’s knowledge base.

If we truly want to lose this look, the law side is a bad one as are injunctions from elders which merely turn droopy drawers into a rebellion and perhaps even a matter of principle.   What we need will cost some money, but it will be brutally effective.  Young women whom these young men would love to impress need to be recruited and tested for loud, high-pitched, giggles.  Little groups of 2 or 3 should be posted strategically in any given area, and whenever they see some droopy drawers, they point, giggle, and shriek with laughter.  The young men may begin wearing their pants up around their armpits, but that’s a risk we have to take.  The young women will have to be paid something for each session, but the price and the shrieks will be worth it. Cruel, I know, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Julie Andrews ~ I’m not at all bothered by people with hoodies up. Half the population is walking around like that! It’s cold!!! Even if it’s not as cold indoors, it’s just easier to leave it up.Take it off and you have messy hair. Surely hood-head is a fashion faux pas too?

Tina Shelton – Carrollton, TX ~ I just have to comment because I saw a young man WAS wearing a belt on his saggy, baggy britches!  The shorts that show  are the top pair over a bottom pair of underwear. My question is why bother?  I have to be careful because every time I see this type of outfit, I just want to smirk loudly.

Prison Fashion

Prison Fashion

Chris Ely  ~ Why bother? It’s fashion. Though back when I was working at a place where part of my job was dealing with juvenile offenders. I was told by juvie officials that it began due to a prison having the bright idea to issue pants to prisoners that were too big, to reduce the number of fights and other incidents by keeping one hand occupied keeping their pants up. The thinking was the last thing most people would want to do in prison is drop trou.

Apparently it backfired and became an “I’ve done time” status symbol for former prisoners, then it bled over into just being cool. Not sure how accurate that story was, but it was nearly 20 years ago and the style is still out there. Each time I see it, I wonder how true that story was and what the teens and young adults who wear their pants halfway down to their knees would think if they knew the supposed story behind the fashion.

Sarah Jesudason  ~ This is the second reference to saggy pants being a “prison cred” thing I’ve seen today. But my mental image of what prisoners wear is jumpsuits, not jeans and shirts. Alrighty, who on PubLib has done time and wants to comment on their attire in the Big House?

Carolyn Rawles-Heiser – Corvallis, OR ~ Regarding prison attire–when I went on a tour of the Nevada State Prison a few years ago as part of a state commission, we were told not to wear denim because the prisoners wore denim jeans and blue workshirts, and if there were a riot or  disturbance, the guards would be able to pick the visitors out more easily (and not shoot us, I suppose).

Ancient Cowboy Templar Belt

Ancient Cowboy (Templar) Belt

Kathleen Stipek ~ I have seen young men sporting the droopy drawers look who accessorize with belts.  In a few cases, I have seen enormous cowboy-style buckles on those belts which seem to be pressing on what is, in most gentlemen, a very sensitive spot. I guess it is a willingness to suffer for fashion akin to a woman’s wearing 4-inch stilettos.  As someone who prefers to sacrifice style for comfort, I don’t get it, but then I don’t have to.  The entertainment value is enormous, and in these troubled times, a good giggle never hurt anybody.

Steve Benson ~ Sagging pants was a big issue for a recent Dallas, Texas mayor.  The link is to an article about it and includes picture of a billboard and a rap song from his campaign against sagging pants. http://www.npr.org/tablet/#story/?storyId=15534306

Jesse Ephraim  ~ It doesn’t bother me at all, as long as they are wearing underwear.  It’s not my job to police fashion trends.

Brenda McKinley – Newtown, CT  ~ I keep waiting for someone to request: Enough already, can we please drop the saggy pants?  On the other hand…I guess that’s the fear that started this whole thing.

Bessie Makris – Fort Wayne, IN ~ I think that librarians should also start wearing sagging pants.  Co-opt the style and teens will finally drop it. <g>

Emily Weak ~ I would imagine that whoever worries about injury liability at your library could get a “patrons need to wear shoes”  policy put in place, regardless of health code policy.

Moses and Joshua Bearing the Law

Thou Shalt Not Sag

Susan Pieper – Paulding, Ohio ~ This “sagging pants” thread makes me think of a joke our Pastor told at church this week.

A sixteen year old son wanted to borrow the family car. Father said, “Son, when you bring up your grades to a B average, and study your Bible more, and cut your hair, then we will talk about you using the car.” So, the son brought up his grades to a B average and started reading the Bible more. He went to his Dad and said,” Dad, I’ve been reading the Bible more and Samson had long hair, Noah and Moses had long hair, and there is reason to believe that Jesus had long hair.” To which the Dad replied, “Yes son, and to get around, they all walked.”

Jo Choto ~ Judging by the overwhelming response to sagging pants, may I suggest the following topics for another free for all:

  1. Patrons that leave a cigarette-stink on library items;
  2.  Patrons who ask for your help, then get on their cell phone but expect
    that somehow you continue to assist them;
  3. Patrons who stand in a line six or eight deep for some time, but wait
    until they reach the desk before spending 10 minutes looking for their
    library card;
  4. Patrons who fail to follow instructions for self check out and then
    complain that the machine doesn’t work.

Steve Benson ~  And furthermore . . . Men in green or red plaid golf slacks should be banned from public view as should older gentlemen who pull their slacks halfway up to their chin.

Robert Balliot – Bristol, RI ~ First they came  for the sagging pants, and I did not speak out because my pants did not sag . . .

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Publib Topics – A Graphic Retrospective – December 2011

 Beware Graphic Content Ahead!

 
This graphic image  or word cloud was created using Wordle. It is derived from the subjects and authors of postings in PubLib for December 2011. The size of the graphics is directly related to the number of un-weighted unique occurrences each month of the individual words represented. Most automated graphic processes that generate these types of word clouds use additional weight for H1 – H6 tags through feeds. These graphics are not processed with H1 – H6 tags. The titles and authors were copied to Notepad and stripped of all HTML before being run through the Wordle Java platform. The process is case-sensitive so Library is not the same thing as library.
 
The most prominent word without employing filters would have been PublibPublib and Fwd were deleted from the plaintext files before processing. In addition, the Wordle program automatically disregards articles, conjunctions, and prepositions.
 
Extracting the data from the archives became problematic in December.  The Publib listserve moved from Webjunction to OCLC and OCLC put the archives in an obscure space viewable only by listserve subscribers.  None of the archives are searcheable through the open web and must be viewed through a multi-step process.  Even subscribing to Publib has become convoluted – although members who had subscribed before were apparently migrated successfully to the new server.
 
Once you do reach the archives, they can be sorted by Date, Topic, and Author.  Big topics for December included: Favorite Reads of 2011 ,  reference stumpers ,  and Tax Season.
 
 
Publib Topics - December 2011

Publib Topics - December 2011

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Archives compiled after Dec. 7, 2011 are available here: Archives

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