Do You Love Stories?

I Love Stories
One of the stickers the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library was handing out to story-loving passersby

Last Sunday (June 12, 2011, to be exact), I had a fun old time volunteering at the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library’s booth at the Haight Ashbury Street Fair, an annual tradition that takes place not from my house.

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Book Review: “Super Sad True Love Story” by Gary Shteyngart

Gary Shteyngart's "Super Sad True Love Story" is available at your local library!

I recently had the pleasure of reading “Super Sad True Love Story” by Gary Shteyngart, which I borrowed from my local public library. In this dystopic black comedy, the author takes the superficiality of modern love, the overabundance of data (and people’s cavalier attitude toward their own personal information) and the sense of America’s decline, contrasts it with an Old World sensibility.

 

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Thinking About “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains”

I finally finished reading the “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains” by Nicholas G. Carr. I had the opportunity to hear him speak in person at the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco in June, 2010.  He was being interviewed by Peter Norvig, who is the Director of Research at Google.  The choice of interviewer was no doubt inspired by Nicholas Carr’s article in the Atlantic Monthly entitled, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” I also had it autographed by the author, which always makes for a fun addition to my collection.

I would definitely say that I have a mixed opinion of the book. I thought it was interesting and definitely valuable in that it made me stop and think about how I interact with the Internet, and how my use of it is affecting my ability to concentrate. I definitely find it easier to read from print than from a screen, and I notice that I do skim when reading online. Interestingly enough, this seems to be the way that I, and probably many others, traditionally read hard-print newspapers and magazines. One thing I noticed with the Internet is that it I am constantly tempted to click on something else. However, is this due to the design of the Internet, or is it due to something within me that says, “maybe this link has something more interesting (and hence more gratifying) than what I’m looking at right now?” In other words, is it the nature of the Internet, or is it an anxious, “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” mentality? Or could it be, as Mr. Carr states in his book, that the structure of the Internet is re-wiring my brain as I use it? Or perhaps, the Internet’s structure hooks into the lower-functioning part of the brain that is geared to respond to stimuli.  In other words, the Internet – or to be more precise, use of the Internet – triggers a primal response in humans that is not useful in the Information Age.

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Cats Can Be Opportunities for Awakening, or They Can Be Annoying

I have two cats, Ingrid and Olivia.  My partner and I adopted them from the San Francisco SFCA last August, when they were only 4 months old.  As can be expected of kittens, they are full of energy and need to explore everything, sometimes repeatedly (such as climbing the curtains).  I also dabble in Zen Buddhism.  I say “dabble” since while I am drawn to Buddhist philosophy, and find a lot in it that makes sense to me and gives me peace, I don’t practice it very often, as I am just too lazy, and not all that disciplined when it comes to meditating.

However, I’m searching for employment in the library profession and have plenty of time on my hands to do so. I’ve found that I can get caught up in the logistics of the job search, and the resulting anxiety.  Does my resume look good? Does my cover letter look good? Did I say the right thing in my email to a potential contact?  Am I doing the right things in searching for a job (i.e., if I’m looking for job postings should I be networking instead, and if I’m networking should I be doing something else)?  The anxiety caused by the logistics feeds upon itself, and if not checked can lead to stress and sleepless nights.  However, anxiety, stress and sleepless nights do not lead to a job.

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A Feeling of Accomplishment

Today, I received my diploma in the mail.  It really underscores the sense of accomplishment I feel in having completed my MLIS degree at San Jose State University.  In addition to being a sign of official recognition and confirmation of my competence in the field of library and information science, it is also a reaffirmation that I can do anything I put my mind to.  This reaffirmation comes at a time when I am currently searching for employment as I launch my career.  The economic climate may be rough, but I have confidence that I will be able to find the place where I can make the best contribution possible as an information professional.  The job search continues, but for now, I’m going to savor this one, because it feels so good.

diploma

Thoughts About Reading (and Writing)

Today I read a very interesting article in the Sacramento Bee about the fear among experts that people are losing the ability for in-depth reading.  This is due to the rise of digital media, which people process differently than traditional print media.  One of my favorite quotes in this article is from Canadian author John Miedema, who says that “the Web is essentially a distraction machine.”  Each page of the Internet is filled with clickable links, all vying for the user’s attention.  In a sense, each hyperlink is a kind of flashing sign, saying “pick me, pick me!”  Nicholas Carr makes the point that each link causes our brain to stop and decide whether or not to click on the link.  Since our brain is forced to engage in the decision-making process, it can’t focus on the written material at hand.  The brain is multitasking and is not able to absorb the information that it ostensibly went to a web-page to find.

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Launching myself into the world

It’s a new year and I’m on a new path. I’ve recently earned my MLIS degree, and I’m ready to embrace my calling as an information professional.

I’m particular eager to work in libraries. I have long considered libraries to be not merely “places where books are kept”, but more importantly, a place where citizens from all walks of life have access to whatever information they need to enrich their lives.

During my internship at USF Gleeson Library/Geschke Center, I provided reference service to students.  It’s a great feeling being able to help people find the information they were looking for, especially when they didn’t know where to begin.  One student came up to the reference desk and said “I bet you don’t have anything on Hawaii pidgin.”  I did a search of the term “hawaii pidgin” and found a book on the subject.  We were both surprised, and he went away happy.

That brings me to one of the key things I learned about being a librarian.  Librarians are guides to the collections contained within their institutions.  And in the process of guiding the user in finding what he or she is looking for, the librarian is constantly learning more about his or her library’s collections, but also new ways to meet individual users’ information needs.

Providing information helps everyone grow and gain knowledge that can enrich their lives.  This is the world I am proud to enter.

Educational Excitement

Gentle readers,

So far, this has been an interesting week as far as school goes. I’ve managed to come up with three model lesson plans for my class on Design and Implementation of Instructional Strategies for Information Professionals (LIBR 250), including one that is an online Knowledge Building Center (think Moodle). It has been a real challenge, but an interesting one. I definitely feel that it is changing the way I think about how people learn and understand, and the best ways for teaching.

I’m also learning about marketing for my class on how to be an Independent Information Professional. This week’s class is focusing on marketing which includes (drum roll please) blogging, and the ins and outs of web-based and email-based marketing.  As I am learning, marketing is a full-time job.

In other school news, today we covered ethics of equal access in my archives class.  I always find ethics to be interesting as it gets me from thinking simplistically.  It’s kind of fun to analyze the ins and outs of a given situation.  It also helps to discuss my thoughts with other people.  This kind of ties in with my “Instructional Strategies” class whose focus is on building collective intelligence.

Now I’m off to work on my marketing assignment, which I will tell you all about when I’m done.

Jonathan

New to WordPress

Hello Gentle Readers,

I have made the decision to upgrade to WordPress, as hopefully, it will allow me more flexibility than my Blogger blog, plus I think I will be able to customize it better and include more content.  Right now, it’s a work in progress.  I should probably put it away for a while and focus on the homework I’m supposed to be doing, or else take a nap.

Jonathan