Plus ca change…

First it was vinyl LPs making a comeback–slowly, but still….  Now it’s “monotasking,” otherwise known as “single-tasking” or just “paying attention.”

“Monotasking Gets a Makeover” in the New York Times.

The attentive work I prefer as a librarian is reading, writing, and helping library users to use the library more effectively. Effectiveness isn’t efficiency, or Google would replace library work. (No, it hasn’t.) The complexity of a library system is too often derided because it’s misunderstood. “All these books, so confusing. How do I find something on Ernest Hemingway? I googled it but couldn’t find anything useful.”  The library catalog is a system to find things and to put like things together in a more rational way than the random or popular results from an open Internet search. These operations are called classification and collocation.

Sometimes effective library use comes from retrieving articles from journal databases; sometimes it comes from browsing a book collection in hopes that ideas will come to your mind by looking at what other minds have written and published. Or you might just look at the new book display until a colorful cover catches your eye.

Browsing is much easier in traditional published books than in online files. Thomas Mann, a former private detective, LSU student, and Library of Congress reference librarian, has written about browsing as a legitimate research technique. In fact, the organization and retrieval functions of databases are modeled on old-style library searching.

Here’s a serendipitous example. A person from the maintenance staff is looking for a book he consults occasionally, “a Bob Vila kind of book,” but he doesn’t know its title and can’t explain exactly what it’s about. Hence, while I can’t look it up for him, he can browse the stacks until he sees it. Not very efficient, but he’s happy. (When he does find it, I’ll ask him to show it to me so the browsing can be  made more efficient as well as effective). Eureka!


A Season of Performances

2016 is one of those years I wish I had continued to study sociology, because this spring is providing a fascinating array of display of how people behave in groups. The national Republican campaign for president is a public spectacle, more a horror show than an edifying display of politico-intellectual responsibility. The ratings are up, though, and people are entertained.

Last night’s concert in Eunice was a different kind of spectacle, a display of civic engagement where people contributed their talents to a constructive public entertainment. And boy, was it fun! Perhaps you can’t see it in this picture, but the video will show you. Thanks to Rick Nesbitt for his constructive media engagement with the public life of Eunice, and to Nancy and Harry Simon and the orchestra for its presentation of enjoyable serious music.

“Serious” music? Strauss, Schubert, Saint-Saens, and Jeremiah Clarke’s trumpet voluntary were on the program as well as can-can, Spanish dance music, and Ogden Nash. Though an amateur musician, I am as serious as Schoenberg or Scriabin. I play a violin, not well, but doggedly. My resolution for next year is to learn the music well enough to smile on stage. Last year I was squinting and frowning; this year I’m a bit more relaxed, but for 2017 I have hope and resolve.

Notes on Quiet Desperation

My old grey Nikes, worn past wearing, with the pink rubber springs in the heels, had to be thrown away. Not merely discarded–the soles were so slick that anyone wearing them would have slipped.

A database search for Sonnet 18 returns hits for Milton and Sidney when I request only Shakespeare’s poem for a student.

The problem of the truth of one’s own self, as studied by Susan Howatch in her excellent Starbridge novels: guided by monks, characters resolve their own mysteries once, but continue to enact the same problems.

Escape seems quite attractive now. Santayana (quoted via Clifford Geertz by Amy Hungerford): “another world to live in…is what we mean by having a religion.” True religion is not escapism, though.

Patches of blue sky show through on a day forecast to be 90% rainy.

Anyone know how to rotate images on this platform?

yellow pix extended hours may 2016   smaller        ledoux gardens after snapdragons were ripped out April 2016

Snapdragons and pansies, just reaching their peak, were ripped out of the beds in front of the library. (Later they were replaced by smaller caladiums and coleus, but still…)


You Heard It Here.

–or at least here via Maggie Haberman:

“I don’t know what the hell is going on in politics,” he said.

[The Republican presidential frontrunner, quoted in Haberman’s  March 21 NYTimes “First Draft” blogpost].

It Is Official: We Are Desperate

Call for Papers:  Against the Grain special issue: Emerging from the Dark(room): Tales of Adversity and Triumph.

Do you have a noteworthy tale of woe in the sphere of collection development?  I invite you to submit brief abstracts (1-2 paragraphs) no later than Friday, April 1 for the September 2016 issue of Against the Grain.

{Hoping this is an April Fools’ joke, but if it’s not, here’s my contribution.}

From my college roommate Cindi Ware Hayes :

We came to work. There was no money.  We accepted gifts through the kindness of strangers.  We went home.

We came to work.  There was still no money.  Oh, no strangers. We went home.

We came to work.  There is no money?  No gift horses.

Multiply that times 5 days a week, 51 weeks a year.


PB’s Headlines and Subject Lines

LOUIS Footprint: #10010 EBSCO EDS Discovery Subscription Clean-up

LSUE IT New Incident #8,623

EBSCO Support Case #2018558

Credo Reference Re: website URL change for LSU Eunice

REMINDER: U of Chicago Journals Moving to New Website

New Films On Demand Platform – Important Proxy Server Update

RE: bad catalog record for Old Man and the Sea–here’s another one

Internet outage affecting off campus functions.

Re: Our chapter is accepted! ! ! !

BR Advocate: For-profit colleges safeguarded, while other universities taking cut for budget shortfall

CHE’s Community Colleges: 2 Keys to Success for Underprivileged Students

Advocate: “The Louisiana Legislature on Tuesday stalled for the second consecutive day over how to solve the state’s budget crisis”

AAUP: Louisiana institutions faulted over faculty rights and layoffs of tenured faculty members

LSU president says budget threat to football is legitimate

Gov. John Bel Edwards: “These are not scare tactics. This is reality.”


Happy thoughts.


Shirky Repents!

The media curmudgeon who wrote that War and Peace was too long and boring, Clay Shirky now realizes that deep thought is college work and requires a single focus, not multitasking. Congratulations, Prof. Shirky! (Thanks to Hinda Mandell for referencing this blogpost in her commentary for the Chronicle of Higher Education: “No Phones, Please.” 6 July 2015.)

Shirky, Clay. “Why I Just Asked My Students to Put Their Laptops Away.” M (blog). 8 Sept. 2014.

PS. to teachers: You can do the same for phones and other portable computers.