Book Review: This Book is Overdue! by Marilyn Johnson

This Book Is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us AllThis Book Is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I think that I would have liked this book more if either I had read it right when it came out in 2010/2011 or if I had not read Ms. Johnson’s Lives in Ruins about archaeologists and their work. So much belt tightening has been forced on libraries since this book came out. And while Ms. Johnson clearly likes and appreciates librarians, it’s clear that she has way more passion for archaeologists.

This book focuses on public and academic librarians. Special librarians get a nod here and there. No mention of school librarians at all. The book is mostly based on interviews and some site visits. There is a select bibliography for further readings. While this book has a notes section in back, they all appear to be additional commentary from the author rather than documenting where something came from.

The book is quite decent and gives a lot of details about the “Connecticut Four’s” resistance to the Patriot Act and various ways that librarians have either been cutting edge and/or careful about protecting history and tradition. I either know or know by reputation about 2/3 of the librarians mentioned and it seems like Ms. Johnson got them right.

This book was written at the cusp of the Great Recession, so Ms. Johnson was able to note instances where grand plans – such as an office for writers services at the New York Public Library – got scuttled for lack of resources.

Overall, and burdened with an extra eight years of library history, this book left me wistful. So many good idea and so much energy among librarians — and so little resources to keep initiatives sustainable.

A recommended read if you’d like see a number of different approaches to public and academic librarianship and to get a flavor for the eternal debate on the pace of technological adoption in libraries.

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Book Review: Crude Awakenings by Amanda Coyne and Tony Hopfinger

Crude Awakening: Money, Mavericks, and Mayhem in AlaskaCrude Awakening: Money, Mavericks, and Mayhem in Alaska by Amanda Coyne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well researched and documented history of crude oil politics in Alaska, focusing on the 2006-2008 oil corruption scandals, Senator Ted Stevens and Sarah Palin.

I have lived in Alaska since 1998 and thought I followed the oil corruption and Ted Stevens’ scandals closely. While I did have major details right, this accessible book provided a lot more detail. It also did a great job of setting its main subjects into the larger context of oil industry history in Alaska.

Recommended for Alaskana collections that don’t already have it and for people wishing insight into how Sarah Palin got launched onto the state and national stages.

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Preferences, Astrophysics – #100DaysOfReading Day 101 (final post)

Welcome to the last weekly check-in on my #100DaysOfReading, a part of the #100DaysOfX movement.

Today, April 15, 2018 is Day 101 of my focused reading journey. I’ve gotten so much reading done, that I plan to keep setting aside time to read, but I won’t be posting weekly check ins any more, just the reviews I post to GoodReads.

Since my last post I have finished the following books:

  • Levitt, Steven D., and Stephen J. Dubner. 2014. Superfreakonomics. [Place of publication not identified]: HarperCollins e-Books
  • Macintyre, Ben. 2016. Operation mincemeat. [Place of publication not identified]: Bloomsbury Publishing.
  • Castle, Richard. 2012. A brewing storm. New York: Hyperion.

If you’re interested in the brief things I have to say about the above books, visit my GoodReads Reading Challenge page.

BOOKS IN PROGRESS:

  • Coyne, Amanda, and Tony Hopfinger. 2011. Crude awakening: money, mavericks, and mayhem in Alaska. New York: Nation Books.

BOOK ABANDONED:

 

  • Pfeffer, Susan Beth. 2008. Life as we knew it. Orlando: Harcourt.
    • I wanted to like this book. But it overtaxed my suspension of disbelief in the opening disaster. People are watching the Moon, 238,000 miles away get struck by an asteroid. The moon is shifted in its orbit so dramatically in just a few minutes that people can easily see craters with the naked eye. While I haven’t worked out the lunar distance needed to make this happen, I’m guesstimating it would be about half the Moon’s current distance. That sort of acceleration 1) would have ripped the Moon to shreds and 2) should have ensured the Moon kept moving towards Earth, likely either colliding with it or escaping Earth’s gravity. A near miss would have likely also altered Earth’s orbit about the Sun. This wasn’t mentioned in the 20% of the book I read before giving up.
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My 82 (160?) days of code #100DaysOfCode

The first time I attempted #100DaysOfCode, I got to 78 days. I learned a lot, but travel logistics got in the way. I started again about 84 days ago. I’ve learned a lot and have a working web app using the National Archives API. I’ve also have started learning to manage a project with a codeveloper who has done great things with the look and feel of my site.

Two days ago, I boarded a plan at 5:00am local time. I had a few layovers to where I am now, but couldn’t bring myself to code out of exhaustion. I might have coded on a flight from Seattle to Dallas, but I couldn’t get into the inflight wifi.

My destination turned out to be much hotter, windier and dustier than I bargained for. And there’s not much air conditioning. So I didn’t get it together yesterday either and my string is broken.

While I plan to keep coding, especially on Alaskana Explorer and a few other things, I’m not planning on restarting #100DaysOfCode anytime soon. After I return home after this trip, I’m only home a few weeks before I travel in rural areas for work. Then hopefully I’ll have family coming up in July. There’s just too many ways for the chain to break in the next six months. After that, who knows.

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CodinGame – Enterprise and Thor #100DaysOfCode R1D82

R1D82: April 10, 2018 – Time spent 1hr

Today’s Progress:  Worked through the “Descent” problem on CodinGame. Reviewed constraints on “Power of Thor”

Thoughts: CodinGame took me longer than I thought because I made a few wrong assumptions and did some serious overthinking. I also got confused because CodinGame sets up coding problems differently from what I’m used to. Once I got those two factors straightened out, I was able to solve the “Descent” problem, but I’m not proud of how I got there. I only had about ten minutes of coding time left, so I considered the “Power of Thor” problem. It looks similar to things I did in Scratch a long time ago, so we’ll see how that goes.

Tomorrow is a travel day for me. Whether I get to code at all will depend on plane schedules and airport wifi. I’m not going to add to my stress by doing JavaScript Promises tomorrow, but I do have some notions and plan to return to them. Along with waiting on feedback from the National Archives on my thumbnail submission.

Link(s) to work:

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Thumbnail diversion, probably not my problem #100DaysOfCode R1D81

R1D81: April 9, 2018 – Time spent 1hr

Today’s Progress:  Worked on Alaskana Explorer troubleshooting a thumbnail display issue. Determined the likely cause was bad data in National Archives (NARA) API records and reported the issue to them. Left the issue I created on Alaskana Explorer open in case I’m mistaken.

Thoughts: So yesterday I was at a coders meetup in Juneau. The meetup, like our town was small. We had met to make some headway on Javascript Promises. No huge breakthroughs for me but more incremental understanding that might help later. Not really related to promises, I showed off the web app for Alaskana Explorer. People played around with it — and found thumbnail display errors. This was near the end of our meet and I had a walk planned. So I did nothing till this morning.

This morning I created a new GitHub branch and set to work. First thing to be doen was to set my “akURL/searchURL” to the one record I wanted to consider. Second was using the debugger. For some odd reasons it did nothing the first few places I put it. Finally I put it fairly high up in the “mainProgram” lines and it set to work. When you go step by step through the code, you really start to credit how much the computer does for you. The debugger showed me that for the type of record I was displaying, it went to the line of code I expected it to. It just wasn’t displaying. I thought it might be a new storage location issue.

My next step, which could have been my first step was to take a close look at the json output of my record and compare it to the display in the NARA catalog. This showed me two interesting things:

  1. In the API output, all of the thumbnails worked except the first one – thumbnail[0]
  2. In the catalog, the thumbnails seemed one off from the thumbnails in the API. That is first catalog thumbnail, which would normally match to API-thumbnail[0], instead matched to API-thumbnail[1], and so on.

Based on these two clues, I concluded that for this record, the thumbnail file names, while in the correct storage directory had their filenames read incorrectly into the API. This is something that happens at NARA’s level and I reported my suspicions to them.

Tomorrow, unless I hear back from NARA that it really is a problem at our end, I plan to warm up with CodinGame and then try my hand at JavaScript Promises again.

Link(s) to work:

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Preferences, Astrophysics – #100DaysOfReading Day 94 (weekly post)

Welcome to the (likely) next to last weekly check-in on my #100DaysOfReading, a part of the #100DaysOfX movement, as is #100DaysOfCode.

Today, April 8, 2018 is Day 94 of my focused reading journey.

Since my last post I have finished the following books:

  • Vanderbilt, Tom. 2017. You may also like: taste in an age of endless choice. New York: Vintage Books
  • Tyson, Neil Degrasse. 2017. Astrophysics for people in a hurry. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.  – Lived up to its billing. Short yet informative and entertaining.

If your’re interested in the brief things I have to say about the above books, visit my GoodReads Reading Challenge page.

BOOKS IN PROGRESS:

  • Levitt, Steven D., and Stephen J. Dubner. 2014. Superfreakonomics. [Place of publication not identified]: HarperCollins e-Books

 

I expect to finish my #100DaysOfReading on Saturday, April 14, 2018. Expect one more weekly post next weekend, and then hopefully a post reflecting on the whole experience.

I still expect to be reading an hour a day after April 14th, but I won’t be blogging about the process or progress after that.

Until next weekend!

 

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