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Archive for the ‘Librarianship’ Category

Did YLL ever, in a million years, think that she would want a Kindle? No way, baby! YLL was smugly old-school, reading library books in bed, in the bathtub. Lugging multiple tote-bags with of reading on every vacation. At a conservative estimate YLL reads 250+ books a year, and buys maybe 4 or 5 of those. YLL buys the books that she loves, that that will be read over and over, and admired on neatly organized shelves. What need does YLL have for eBooks? Except, of course, that YLL needs to be able to explain to the library-using public how to work their technology.

So YLL learned how to make it work. The library got a Sony Reader and YLL taught herself the ins-and-out of using Overdrive (the company that manages digital collections for libraries) and eReaders. YLL didn’t hate it. YLL even read a Lee Child book in digital and it was fine, but YLL wasn’t a convert.

Then YLL decided to teach herself the Overdrive app for the iPod Touch. Up till then YLL used an iPod mainly for music and to watch TV in the bathtub (Crazy you say? Holding an iPod is WAY easier—and less stressful—than balancing a laptop on the edge of the tub, which is what YLL had been doing.)

YLL downloaded the app, then checked out some books, and it was easy. So. Very. Easy. YLL checked out more books, reading two per bath.  YLL read them in the middle of the night when struck with insomnia.  YLL didn’t even care that about the need to “turn” the page every 3 sentences. YLL was sold.  YLL started thinking about a Kindle.

YLL’s relationship with Amazon is problematic. They’re a big corporation, and YLL is a reactionary liberal. Amazon does shitty stuff, like making a christmastime app that lets you scan an isbn in a bricks & mortar bookstore and buy it from Amazon. Ick.  On the other hand they also are helping to break down the historic barriers to publication that authors face. Unlike many other retailers, they know that there really is money to be made in books. Especially if your model is big enough. When libraries first started acquiring digital collections and making them available for eReaders, Amazon flat out said “No way. We’re in the business of selling books, not lending them.” But here’s the thing. For a giant, evil, corporation, Amazon listens. They’re smart enough to know that you can’t piss off your customers too much, cause the loyalty your customers feel is about you giving them what they want.

So Amazon, bit the bullet and agreed that they would find a way to make library books work on the Kindle. And they way they found works really well. Maybe even better than the other eReaders, because it’s entirely wireless. And easy. And convenient. Just like pretty much any shopping experience through Amazon is—because they’re so frickin smart.

So YLL hemmed and hawed.  YLL debated (out loud, and at length, because that’s how she thinks) about buying herself a Kindle. And when Christmas came YLL’s partner ended the ongoing moral ambivalence by making a the decision YLL secretly want to make.

And YLL loves it. YLL had spent the past several months minimizing all the stuff of life (music goes digital, paper and photographs get scanned, unused things find a home where somebody will love them) YLL is realizing that even books aren’t sacred—there are some things that YLL will be more than happy to keep digitally rather than dedicate limited shelf space for. One of YLL’s favorite authors has just released a digital-only novella. YLL can buy it from directly from the author, who gets to keep all, not most of, the money. If this is how YLL shops for other stuff (the new Kindle case came from Etsy—handmade by a women running her own business—not from Amazon) why not books? A lon-local but direct economy made possible by digital purchase. YLL thinks it could be a thing.

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YLL has a limited repertoire of tools to keep the unruly in line.  Far too often library patrons feel the urge to behave in a manner unbefitting the hallowed halls of knowledge or glorious palaces of information also known as Your Public Libraries.

YLL could, of course, call the police–that is how they handle the issue at many Other Public Libraries, but YLL (supported by the library administration) chooses not to live in a police state.  So, with legal recourse and fisticuffs both off the table, YLL wields her arsenal of behavior modification tools including–but not limited to–humour, compassionate kindness, gentle remonstrance, firm severity, steely-eyed rage, and…cuteness.

Should YLL be ashamed of utilizing diminutive height,  coy smiles, rounded eyes, occasional giggles and a breathy tone to force the unruly into socially acceptable behaviour?  YLL knows that some of you think so.  However, while YLL admits that this method is hardly a pillar of the feminist revolution to which YLL is hopelessly devoted, the power to quickly subdue the enemy with little to no effort and with attributes with which YLL is naturally blessed proves too convenient to resist.

As YLL is disallowed to perform physical violence,  it seems that the only alternative is to occasionally cause the masses to choke on cuteness.  And YLL–unashamed, unrepentant and perhaps a bit pleased with herself–feels no apology is necessary.

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Despite our former first lady’s ill-advised comments YLL does not believe that most librarians enter the profession because they enjoy reading books.  Most librarians YLL knows (and YLL knows multitudes) do love books.  However, imagining these busy professionals filling their days with the leisurely perusal of the world’s finest literature is laughable.

So why do the most interesting people become librarians? While YLL would never (well, rarely) be so presumptuous as to speak for an entire profession YLL does have a theory…YLL is proud to consider herself a dilettante, and thinks that most librarians are also dilettantes, regardless of the fact that they may not take the same pride in this particular label.

YLL enjoys knowing a great deal about many things without having to become an expert in any one field.  Those wishing to describe this in more flattering terms might label YLL a generalist, but YLL will always choose a frothier, fun description.  YLL thinks there is far too much American puritan rejection of leaving a job unfinished in this country, resulting in far too many people that don’t know enough stuff.  Most folks feel guilty, or think they should, if they begin to learn a task or hobby but don’t put the hard work in to becoming skilled.

YLL thinks the world could only benefit from more people who know a little bit about home repair, cooking,  sewing, how to fix a bicycle, a little bit about reading music, some first aid, how to use a compass or navigate by the stars, how their computer work, etc., etc.  So dilettante away gentlemen and ladies.  You’ll never get bored, you’ll impress your firends and relatives and you’ll be handy to have around…just like a librarian.

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