Library News

Is reading on the Web really reading?

Here I go again on the subject of the Internet and our changing reading habits. I just finished reading a New York Times article (yes, I read it online) (also, be warned, it’s LONG for a web article) focusing on children and teenagers and whether the reading they do on the Internet is as valuable for their intellectual development as reading books. It reports that the number of teens who read books for pleasure is down, according to surveys — but does that matter, if they are still reading for pleasure but now primarily from online sources? The article discusses both sides of the issue and doesn’t draw any conclusions one way or the other, but it’s interesting food for thought. Do you think kids get the same value from reading blogs, online fan fiction, and so on, as they do from reading novels or nonfiction books?

Eat Locally

One of my favorite trips in the summer months is to…Copley Square. You know how there’s a big library right there at the Green Line stop? Well, right across from it, on Tuesdays and Fridays from 11am to 6pm, there is a farmers market. There are many farms represented here, all selling delicious locally grown produce (and some are certified organic). In addition to produce, you can shop for uh, pottery. You can get sammiches, pizza, and breads from Iggy’s Bread. Sometimes there is a stand for Equal Exchange coffee. The goat cheese picnic lunch guy is there. Stillman Farms is also there with their coolers of meats. You can buy pies, cookies, brownies, honey, flowers, herbs and nut breads. If you can’t make it to the one in Copley Square, try finding another one! And when you go, make sure to take plenty of cash.

My vacation in Brazil

Greetings everyone, I have returned from my vacation in Brazil. It is winter down there so I have once again experienced the shortest day of the year on earth December 21 in the Northern Hemisphere and June 21in the southern Hemisphere. Fortunately, Sao Paulo winters are not as cold as Boston winters. The weather was mostly dry and overcast. However, the smog and the Traffic has gotten progressively worse. Sao Paulo is one of the top five largest mega cities in the world. Here is a link to wikipedia with more information: Sao Paulo Traffic in the city is so bad that the city government passed a law prohibiting cars with license plate numbers that are odd from being on the road during rush hours (8am-10am and 4pm-8pm) Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays. Cars with even numbers have a similar prohibition on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Most working people need to own two automobiles with different license plate numbers just so that they can drive to work 5 days a week. Of course there is always the bus and the subway…I have ridden on both during rush hour and it makes commuting in Boston seem easier. Riding the bus in Sao Paulo can physically challenging since the bus drivers drive very fast through the city’s narrow and twisting roadways. Pedestrians do not have the right of way on the city roads. So the Bostonian way of walking will get you killed or severely injured since motorists have the right of way. As for the subway during rush hour… the trains are packed and you need to literally push your way through people just to get out of the train because people will not step aside for you. So if you like having lots of personal space don’t ride the bus or the subway in Sao Paulo because you will be in very close proximity to strangers. Traveling hassles aside, I enjoyed spending time with my in-laws, who are very nice. I got quite the mental workout while I was there speaking and listening Brazilian Portuguese. I am glad to be back.

Bill Gates as usability rabble-rouser

A Seattle Post-Intelligencer blog posted this email sent by Bill Gates to various Microsoft employees in which he details, with clear irritation, the usability issues he encountered in trying to download and install some Windows software.  Aside from the clear amusement factor, the email and Gates’ response is also fascinating in providing a glimpse of someone who views his job, as The Man in Charge, to advocate for usability. Strangely enough, this is part of what I think librarians do, too.  We advocate to all those companies that make all those fancy databases to keep the end user in mind.  (The end user being, in our case, everyone that comes into Snell and tries to find an article in, say, Lexis-Nexis.) So if something is hard to use, let us know.  Sometimes research is complicated, period.  I daresay that will never change.  But sometimes research is complicated because the tools are poorly designed.

Summer Reading–Rebecca

I think Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier typifies the perfect summer read.  It’s atmospheric and has one of the most famous opening lines: “Last night, I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”  It borrows liberally from past gothic plots (most obviously Jane Eyre) and also manages to make more over the top, an already pretty over the top genre.  It’s chock-full of romance, secrets, jealousy and revenge. 

 

This book is one I’d recommend checking out from Snell Library to read over the summer, and it’s also featured in the Summer Staff Picks exhibit on the first floor of the Library.