Reading Library School

“For decades, reading studies have repeatedly found that 'heavy readers' not only read more books than light readers and nonreaders but also do more of almost everything else, including traveling, attending sports events and concerts, visiting museums, and participating in community organizations and politics.  For many, reading is a way of being engaged with the world.  These readers like to know about things and they read to find out.” 
– “Reading Non-Fiction for Pleasure: What Motivates Readers?” – Catherine Ross in Nonfiction Readers' Advisory, Robert Burgin (ed)

Since I've mentioned a few times in this blog that many students end up not doing all the required readings (and are frequently given that advice directly by upper level students), I thought I'd do a post about the type of things I have read during library school because I think it is important to do some sort of reading obviously, even if it's not always what the professor tells you to read.

Required Readings
Even if people tell you to not even try to do all the readings, it shouldn't preclude you from trying to do some of them.  I'm not going to admit how much I've done this year but it's higher than “none” and lower than “all of them”.

Articles You Find For Assignments
LibraryLit will soon become your best friend but there are other databases out there and everybody seems to end up with their own favourite.  I grew to like Emerald which someone pointed me to early as having lots of full-text articles (always an important thing to look for.)

Articles You Find Out of Interest
I've spent some time punching random subjects I'm interested in into online databases (like LibraryLit and Emerald among others) just to see what articles I can find. CPIQ has back issues of numerous magazines and CanadianNewsstand has newspapers. 

Internet Articles & Web Sites
Doing Internet searches is sort of like browsing in a library as sites lead to other sites which lead to other sites and all of a sudden, you're nowhere near where you started but finding out about something completely unique and interesting. 

Library Blogs
For the latest developments, news and plain old gossip in the library world, you really can't beat library blogs.  There are probably hundreds of them out there.  (That last one is a Wiki so it's easy to add yourself if you're a librarian blogger.  <hint>)  I've got about maybe twenty that I read on a regular basis (where “reading” equals scanning the RSS feeds than clicking on interesting sounding articles) and maybe that many more that I don't often visit at all.

Friend Blogs
This partly blurs the line with the last category but I have maybe a dozen blogs that aren't necessarily all about libraries or library school but that I read to keep up with friends lives and thoughts.  Many of them are linked on the left side of this page. 

Classmates' Papers
Anytime I heard a classmate talking about an interesting topic or project they did, I'd ask them to send me the paper so I could have a look.  I often ended up learning more about the most cutting-edge issues, the most unique takes on library-related topics and lots of local or regional information I wouldn't get anywhere else. 

Library Journals, Other Periodicals
Sam Trosow gave us shit for not reading any library journals early in our 501 class so I've taken that lesson to heart and sometimes like to go into the GRC and just flip through some of the journals, stopping to read things that catch my eye.  It's especially fun to pick something you'd never normally pick up – I picked up some cataloguing journal once and ended up reading a very engaging article comparing the classification system for the Internet Movie Database with traditional library classification systems.  I also try to at least glance through Quill & Quire every issue to keep in touch with my old life. 

Serendipitous Searches
Probably one of my greatest pleasures in life is going in the library stacks and just wandering randomly waiting for books to find me rather than me finding them.  I've come across a few this way (including the one that included the quote that leads off this post.) 

Books With Library Connection in Broadest Sense
Ian S. and I spent an enjoyable couple hours at the Grad Club, I think before the summer course selection meeting,  talking about “pop science” books – the latest trend in books where various authors are trying to come up with broad theories to explain some element of our society in a style that's accessible to a lay audience.  “Pop society” – maybe that was the term we used?  Anywho, some examples of these types of books we came up with which are great for giving a lot of material and ideas for virtually any essay or assignment you might do in library school include:

Blink – Malcolm Gladwell
Freakonomics – Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
Free Culture – Lawrence Lessig
Linked – Albert-Laszlo Barabasi
The Cathedral and the Bazaar – Eric S. Raymond
The Ingenuity Gap – Thomas Homer-Dixon
The Long Tail – Chris Anderson
The Rebel Sell – Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter
The Rise of the Creative Class – Richard Florida
The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell
The Triple Bottom Line: How Today's Best-Run Companies Are Achieving Economic, Social and Environmental Success – Andrew W. Savitz
The Wisdom of Crowds – James Surowiecki
The World Is Flat – Thomas Friedman

(Full disclosure – I have not read all of these books although all that I haven't are on my “To Read Soon” list.)

Real Books For Pleasure
I think I've mentioned on the blog already that before library school, I averaged about a book to a boo
k and a half read per week.  Since getting here, I'm lucky if I read one (non-school related) book per month.  (I just checked – 24 non-school related books this year so two per month.  Not as bad I as thought considering how much other types of reading I've done that wasn't book length – though I've learned that this type of reading counts too! Lots of the books that I did read were powered through during semester breaks though.) 

The Best Article I Read All Year
Finally, our managment professor talked about an article from the 1950's (?) on how much of management theory is bunk and really, people just stumble from decision-to-decision making the best choices they can, given the limited information they have.  He read it as an undergrad and said it was the best article he ever read as he progressed on through grad school and his eventual doctorate (of which he was sure to mention on every slide of every Powerpoint he ever created but that's getting off-topic.) 

Anyhow, that leads me to my favourite article that I've read this year, interestingly enough, something that was either assigned or found during this semester's 506 class (mabye there is something to management after all? ).  Barb J. sent it to me because it talked about Regina Public Library but beyond my natural bias for the topic, the actual subject matter was just incredibly inspirational.  It's called “Lasting Lessons in Leadership” (PDF) and talks about why Ronald Yeo, one of the former head librarians at Regina Public Library was such a successful manager which in turn, made for an innovative, nation-leading library system. 

(I asked the original publisher of the article for permission to reprint the article but never heard back from them.  But since the original journal (10MB PDF) that included the article is available freely online, I didn't think it would be a problem to reprint it here.  Shhh!)

Classmate of the Day: Time to resurrect a long forgotten “feature” of this blog – classmate of the day, where I acknowledge people who have made my life at library school a bit more fun, enjoyable or easy.  We have a double winner today – Linda B. who hosted an incredibly fun farewell party for a few people from our cohort – some who are done for good, some who are done for the term – on Saturday night at her home.  Also have to thank Lara A. who gave me 24 beer as a very personalized Advent calendar (and as a thank-you for helping her move a couple times this year.)  I've only got a couple weeks left here but will do my best! 

Comments 5

  1. Anonymous wrote:

    Another book with a library theme
    The Name of the Rose – Umberto Eco
    Apt quote:
    The rats love parchment even more than scholars do. Let's follow him!

    Posted 06 Dec 2006 at 4:26 pm
  2. Anonymous wrote:

    Ms. Ross affirms the consequent. So syad.

    Posted 06 Dec 2006 at 7:32 pm
  3. Anonymous wrote:

    Yep, good call. (Good movie too!)

    Posted 07 Dec 2006 at 9:03 am
  4. Anonymous wrote:

    Ha! I was just “googling” my name and came across your blog entry… too funny! Hope all is well with you 🙂 It's a beautiful day in Ottawa! – Lara

    Posted 09 Feb 2009 at 6:44 pm
  5. Anonymous wrote:

    Hey there,
    How's the little one? A general rule of thumb: “You can never have too many updates or too many pictures on Facebook when you have a new baby!”
    Not that this was why you wrote a comment but just so you know, I went ahead and changed your name to first name and last initial. I'm trying to do this with any names I mention in my posts now instead of citing people by their full names. Somewhere along the line I decided it's not really fair to mention people (and make them “Googleable”) without their consent. (Of course, if a future employer of yours sees that you buy people beer that may just help you get the job!)

    Posted 15 Feb 2009 at 6:58 am

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