Sunday, March 8, 2009

RSS: Where Have You Been All My Life?

I read an article about RSS about five years ago that thoroughly confused me, and since then I have been intimidated by the whole business. So it was not until this assignment that I finally figured it out - simply by subscribing to a New York Times feed that looked interesting to me, clicking on the RSS (or XML?) button, and choosing Bloglines as the program I wanted the feeds to go to. Presto! I now can see all of the latest NYT travel stories on the same site where I receive other news feeds. WHY DIDN'T ANYONE TELL ME HOW EASY THIS WAS?

I now feel like I have been missing out all these years. Just think of all the cool information that could have been sent to me all this time. When will I learn to not let my feelings of being overwhelmed keep me from figuring out things?

If you will allow me to provide some honest feedback, the link you provided to an article about RSS did not turn on the lightbulb for me. It was written for the benefit of programmers. I needed something directed at lay people. You might consider adding an article next semester that explains how to subscribe to RSS feeds.

That said, I am grateful for your class, as it has forced me to learn how to use a good deal of tools I will need to know as a librarian - tools that will also enrich my personal/intellectual life. Thank you!

Graphic Books Receive NYT's Stamp of Legitimacy

In my Library Stuff news feed this morning, I was delighted to see a link to a story about how the New York Times just released best-seller lists for graphic books.

I have had delight in graphic novels dating back to around five years ago. I remember reading a Chronicle of Higher Education story about new art programs for cartoonists (for lack of a better word). And I saw the quirky movie Ghost World and read the graphic novel it was based on. Probably a year later I read about Maus, and quickly checked out the book from the library to see a Holocaust survivor's story put in graphic novel form by the survivor's son. And several years later, I became hooked on the Persepolis series about a girl's experience growing up in Iran before and after the country's cultural revolution. I delighted in the girl's personality and loved how my eyes were opened to the culture and people of Iran. I realized how my perceptions had been so ill-informed up until reading Marjane Satrapi's book.

I expected there to be negative comments posted to the above blog as well as celebratory ones, but in the 25 comments I read no one said anything negative. Perhaps the audience for this particular blog skews toward people who are already fans of graphic books. I did find one post that referred to the naysaying against graphic books, though. A poster named Joshua Carlson wrote the following:

“… As a librarian, I know how important graphic novels have become in libraries. Not only am I an avid reader myself, I’ve seen first hand how popular they are with library patrons. There are still many obstacles for many libraries, however, in convincing staff, the public, library boards, and critics of all kinds, that graphic novels are an important format (equally as important as any other format a library carries from DVDs to traditional novels) and one that does have a place in the building. This best seller list can only help to add credence to what many librarians have already known, that graphic novels are worthwhile, and should be recognized.”

It should be no surprise that there is resistance to graphic books. People are habitually averse to change, are they not? But the overwhelming popularity of the format and all the research that speaks to the benefits of reading graphic books should, over time, convince the majority of the naysayers of the legitimacy of graphic books. That’s what I expect to happen, at least.

Friday, March 6, 2009


I’m feeling overwhelmed by this foray into blogs. It literally exhausts me that so many people are posting so much information to blogs. How do they make time for it? More importantly, how am I supposed to read all this stuff?

Okay, I know I don’t have to read every blog, nor would I want to. But what blogs do I really need to read? Seeing that there are so many library-related books out there makes me think I must be missing out on a lot of what’s going on in the field. I don’t want to miss out, but how do I squeeze one more thing — reading blogs — into my already crammed schedule?

“It will be okay.” I need to repeat this to myself. It seems I almost always have an initial freak-out phase whenever I have to adapt to something new. The trick is always to keep moving forward during this phase — in this case by learning more about blogs day by day — until I reach a place where I no longer feel overwhelmed and where I actually start to enjoy the new activity.

Okay, I’ll try to move toward this enjoyment by listing the things I learned through my Blogline feeds today:
• Stephen King was just named an American Icon by USA Weekend magazine
• Google just launched a new site where anyone can post, and vote on, money-saving tips:
• That the Shifted Librarian is written like a long series of notes that include typos. (But I want to look more closely at this blog because it appears to be very authoritative.)

Okay, I’m starting to feel better now …