books for librarians

Some time last year my library acquired The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel. At the time, it reinvigorated me as a librarian. His ruminations and historical accounts had me considering the book as a precious community treasure.

During that time, I also attended the 2011 ACRL conference in Philadelphia. I attended a lecture by Jaron Lanier. Sadly, as it was scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on a Saturday not many people attended. But for me his ideas and blunt honesty as a Silicon Valley insider really awakened me. He made mention that libraries and publishing (as we are today) are doomed. He suggested we stop trying to play technological one-upmanship and refocus on the ROMANCE of the physical – the library space and the book as object. He was slightly critical of librarians and our desire (stereotypical or real) to “fit in” with other academics. We tend to want to be considered intellectuals according to other intellectuals’ criteria. We never really created our own scholarship, in a sense. Lanier seems to be a “you’re doomed, but you can still have fun dancing around the flames” kind of guy.

I’m ok with that.

So, I got over feeling doomed and enjoyed the fire…temporarily. But about a year later I’m anxious about libraries and wondering why we seem so 19th century in our daily practices. Yesterday, while poking around my local library branch, I came across Manguel’s A Reader on Reading. This is a collection of essays in which Manguel poetically argues that reading makes humankind human. It’s a return to the printed word as a foundation of our evolution – and a bridge to our future. He considers Alice in Wonderland, Borges, Saint Augustine, and Judaism. Reading is the ultimate interdisciplinary practice.

Yet again Manguel is reminding me of the pleasures and responsibilities of being a gatekeeper to the book.

swtxpca: where pedagogy, science fiction, and cross-dressing come together

Last week I was at the Southwest Texas Popular and American Culture Associations‘ (SWTXPCA) annual conference in Albuquerque. I learned so much while there and flew home with my head full of ideas and intended research. To give an idea of the diversity of conversation and innovative scholarship happening around the world, here is my Must Read & Learn list from the conference.

the ADDIE model as a learning theory

watch Alton Brown how-to cooking videos

Anti-Intellectualism in American Life by Richard Hofstadter

The Art Museum from Boullee to Bilbao by Andrew McClellan

explore The Brownie’s Book and its history (from January 1920; from the Library of Congress, this takes a while to load)

Creating a Personal Research Agenda by Brad Neuberg

Creating a Research Agenda by Justin Reedy and Madhavi Murty

the Library Bar and Grill in Albuquerque
the Library Bar and Grill in Albuquerque

Computer Lib/Dream Machines by Ted Nelson

Critically Queer by Judith Butler

Cultural Theory and Popular Culture by John Storey

Culture Wars by James Davison Hunter

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

the articles and books posted on EverdayLiteracies by Colin Lankshear and Michele Knobel as well as following their blog by the same title

The Future of Nostalgia by Svetlana Boym

Institute for the Future of the Book

the Kahn Academy model of teaching

Korean Shamanism 


Mapping Out a Research Agenda slideshow by Barbara G. Ryder

Marginalia: Readers Writing in Books by H. J. Jackson

Narrative as Virtual Reality by Marie-Laure Ryan

Our Lady of...UFOs? graffiti in Albuquerque
Our Lady of…UFOs? graffiti in Albuquerque

Neuromancer by William Gibson

The New Media Reader by editors Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Monfort

Of Other Spaces by Michel Foucault

Planned Obsolescence by Kathleen Fitzpatrick

Possiplex by Ted Nelson (after trudging though Computer Lib/Dream Machines and maybe I’ll finally understand Project Xanadu)


The Production of Space by Henri Lefebvre

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

Thirdspace: Journeys to Los Angeles and Other Real and Imagined Places by Edward Soja

Vested Interests: Cross-Dressing and Cultural Anxiety by Marjorie Garber

Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson