WorldCat and Google Books

February 21, 2013

I don’t actually spend that much time on Google Books, which is kind of silly since it’s a great resource, but there you go — deep, dark secret #?. Since I don’t use it that often, I have no idea how long this has been the case, but it was a revelation for me.

In any case, I was playing the other day, and I discovered that it links to WorldCat. Can we all just agree that that is the bomb-diggity? You know I only break out my 90s slang when I’m excited and I’m really excited about this.

If you aren’t familiar with WorldCat, just think about your regular library catalog — you can search for a book and if your library has it, you’ll see the records for everything that matches your search in the library’s collection. When you search WorldCat it searches all the libraries.

So maybe your library doesn’t have that book. That’s a bummer. But hey, a quick search in WorldCat shows that the University library right down the street has it, and they’ll let you use it! And if their copy is out, the library the next town over has two copies! This is the magic of WorldCat.

So the fact that Google Books now links to WorldCat is amazing. Now, people can look at a book they’re interested in on Google Books and click on the WorldCat link to see which libraries near them have copies.

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Lobbying for Libraries

February 20, 2013

Last week social media was all a-twitter after the Guardian ran a story about Terry Deary, a best-selling author in the UK, and his view on libraries. Deary argues that libraries are no longer relevant

“I’m not attacking libraries, I’m attacking the concept behind libraries, which is no longer relevant,” Deary told the Guardian, pointing out that the original Public Libraries Act, which gave rise to the first free public libraries in the UK, was passed in 1850. “Because it’s been 150 years, we’ve got this idea that we’ve got an entitlement to read books for free, at the expense of authors, publishers and council tax payers. This is not the Victorian age, when we wanted to allow the impoverished access to literature. We pay for compulsory schooling to do that…”

Deary seems to have never set foot in a library or read a mission statement if he thinks that the “compulsory education” taxes provide meet the full range of community needs that libraries routinely do.

Many of Deary’s complaints about libraries make him seem like the prototypical rich entitled author, but I’m trying really hard not to criticize him (that’s why I’ve tried to wait and let my feelings cool before writing this).

The thing is— libraries and librarians are constantly having to justify our existence to everyone (the communities we serve, the government, even our own boards). Not only is it a matter of funding in an economic climate where every penny counts, the role of libraries in the community (I’m speaking mostly about public libraries here, but private and academic libraries face many of these challenges as well) is changing and librarians are expected to do more with less. Libraries are expected to increase productivity and serve more community members while also working toward innovation and progress. Many libraries are also making a more concerted effort to draw new people into the library through more programs. With the services they provide and the atmosphere they strive to create, many libraries are turning into de facto community centers.

Libraries do so much and we are constantly evolving to meet new needs

It’s heartening to see that the response to this— people all over social media, along with countless prominent authors have stepped up and voiced their support for libraries. It’s good to know that there are still plenty of people fighting for us.

If you want to read the full Guardian article, you can read it here.

Bookstores in TV

February 3, 2013

The New York Times recently ran a story about the “new” trend (read: since you could stream things online) of binge-watching TV shows. It reminded me of the week or two during my senior year of college when I watched the entirety of the British TV show Black Books. I’m pretty sure it was during finals or midterms…

In any case, Black Books is about a crotchety bookstore owner and his friends. They drink wine and the customers are always interrupting and wanting things. I find it highly entertaining and it’s therefore tragic that British tv series have few episodes per season.

There aren’t that many TV shows where bookstores feature prominently, so Black Book sets itself apart, and it really is fantastic. Give it a try if you have some time and want to laugh. I think it’s time I watch it again, though I might try to space out my episodes a bit more to make it last.

I was going to write about how more shows should use bookstores as a setting, but I think maybe that’s an argument for another time. I know now you’re all dying to go watch TV…