You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2010.

But it seems like everything I want to read is in pdf now.  What happened to my EPUB?  Are they trying to force me to buy an iPad?  That is not happening on my budget.  Anyhow, I like having my ebooks very portable–as in fit in my purse or pocket.  Most readers are just too big for my tastes.

It’s supposed to snow today and everyone is hopeful that it will.  Probably because it is only supposed to be a couple of inches and not terribly cold like our last one.   Our forecast is very changeable here, though.  It has already snowed in some areas, but not at my house.  We may not see any at all at my house.

Libraryland is in a waiting period right now.  Our busy times are out of wack because of school break and a lot of people taking vacation.  No story times right now to bring in the families at certain times.  Sometimes it is quiet and half deserted and others it is hopping and 10 things are happening at once.  Kids are starting to realize they have to have books for projects when they go back to school on Monday, so they are coming in with reference questions.  Parents want to see if they can get that fun picture book they saw over xmas.  I got all my weeding done before the holiday and the advisory group is on hiatus until February, so I have been concentrating on scheduling software and not really feeling like I am getting anywhere.  Everyone is on vacation either literally or figuratively right now, and everyone is waiting to see if what happens when this round of changes are implemented on January 5th.

What am I reading? I am just finishing up The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan, which was just as I was hoping.  Jason wakes up on a bus holding a girl’s hand (Piper) and being regaled with lame jokes by a guy named Leo that claims to be his friend, but he can’t remember anything except that he knows he doesn’t belong there.  Soon the three are attacked by wind spirits and are saved by a gym coach, who turns out to be a satyr.  Next they are whisked off to Camp Half Blood and begin a quest to save the world from giants and ancient goddesses.

I have some exciting books in the hopper (iPod–unfortunately in pdf format); My Favorite Band Does Not Exist by Robert T. Jeschonek and The Atomic Weight of Secrets or the Arrival of the Mysterious Men in Black by Eden Unger Bowditch.  Oh, and Dreadnought by Cherie Priest in traditional book form.  Which to start first?

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My library offers e-books, both audio and text versions.  As you can imagine, the learning curve for this is very steep.  We have handouts to help people get started, but depending on what they want to do, I could give them up to 5 handouts and that is just seriously overwhelming.

I happen to use this service quite a bit.  At first I was only downloading audio books for my long drives to get the Boy or visits to Spokane.  I like listening to books and find that I remember much more of the story when I listen, rather than read.  The reader can make all the difference and I have my favorites for sure.  More recently, I have gotten into the text version, when I started using netgalley to read and review newer books.  I don’t like reading on the computer screen though, so it was only when the Bluefire app made it possible to read them on my iPod Touch that I really started using the service.  Shortly before my trip to Nevada, Bluefire added an update so that you could use their reader with library books, so I loaded up a couple of titles to take with me.  It turns out I have preference for format.

The first book I read on my iPod was The Lying Game by Sara Shepard, the beginning of a new series (she did Pretty Little Liars).  That book was a dream to read on the iPod–which as you know has a tiny screen.  It put a few sentences on each “page” and the text was just as big, if not bigger, than it would have been in a physical book.  The second book I read was Adios, Nirvana by Conrad Wesselhoeft.  This one I almost didn’t continue, but it was really good, so I kept going back.  The print was small and they crammed the whole page onto the screen.  I soon figured out that you could turn the screen sideways and the print got bigger and you just tapped the lower portion of the screen to scroll to the next part.  It was still a strain on the eyes, though.  What was the difference?  The first was an EPUB file and the second was a pdf.  The EPUB is much more adaptable, probably much better for those with low vision.  I am guessing this is why when Overdrive finally caught up with Bluefire (2 weeks later ;) and allowed direct download of text based ebooks to an iPhone or iPod Touch, they only allowed books with the EPUB format.  There might be more to it–there always is where DRM is involved, but I am sure the flexibility of EPUB was a factor.  While I have read several more books in the pdf format, it is only because Netgalley doesn’t tell you what format the books they offer are available in, so if you get a pdf, you just have to deal (or offend the publisher by not reviewing the book they gave you for free).  I have made the suggestion that they include format information on the item record and got one of those “we’re thinking about it” answers.

So, if you have an iPhone or an iPod Touch and are thinking about downloading library books, DO IT!  They’re great!  I would just stick to the EPUB for now and read the other titles in book form.  I am sure that pdf looks just great on an iPad or other reader, but if you have low vision, it is probably still a pain trying to make the text bigger–you can do it temporarily, but text will go off the side of the screen and the whole thing will go back to the original when you turn the page.

What am I reading? I started Pirates! by Celia Rees in digital format through Overdrive, but I think they must have used the galley version.  There are so many typos I just couldn’t handle it and stopped reading (most galleys aren’t that bad).  It seems like a less cheeky, more affluent Bloody Jack so far.  I’ll get back to it later, maybe on audio book.

So now I am reading The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan (physical book).  It is the first book in a sequel series to Percy Jackson and the Olympians, and is written in the same mien, but seems more mature somehow.  I think that Riordan’s writing and style have improved through his last 5 books (imagine that) and while his books have always been interesting and exciting, now they have a bit more refinement.  I am thoroughly enjoying this one, and not just because there is a gorgon around the corner.

I have tried, several times, to start writing here over the last couple of weeks.  There has been a lot going on, lots of work stuff blowing up, then coming down, then (hopefully) getting fixed.  As most of you know, our budget was cut pretty severely this year.  Many of my colleagues were transferred out of their positions and into non-librarian positions, or just right on out of the library.  Everyone was offered a job–not the job they applied for, not a job they wanted, but a job.  So there is a public statement saying that no one was layed off.  However, a demotion is a lay off.  A cut in pay is a lay off.  Elimination of a position is a great loss, as it is likely we won’t ever get that position back.

Anyhow, as sad as that was, we were all dealing.  We had voted overwhelmingly to take a pay cut, to forgo our COLA, to go on furlough.  We had been informed of where our newest re-organization would take us (I was personally lucky, I do not have to move again), and were all dealing with that loss.  Some of the communication was awful.  Really awful.  Like finding out that your position had been eliminated during a unit meeting with a group of coworkers, no formal acknowledgement, just your position isn’t on the roster.

This week we had another blow to our moral.  Three people would be promoted and given raises and a currently unfunded deputy city librarian job would be filled.  That’s right, raises and more money to the top level of management.  There was a public outcry for several days.  Testimonials were written where all staff could see them.  Everyone was so upset.  Aside from the money, the fact that there was no  competitive hiring process was a blow and most felt that the three did not deserve a promotion.  Eventually the three gave back the raise–temporarily–but no one was mollified.  People went to the Library Board meeting yesterday and the union read a letter stating our dismay.  It was well done.  That, combined with staff letters and a local citizen’s testimony about staff feeling disfranchised, made the board realize that something was really wrong.  They cut the line from the budget allocating funds to a deputy and made a commitment to funding public services cuts before giving any money to raises or new positions.  They also stated that the library needed to create inroads to better communication with staff; that they wanted staff to be able to come to work happy and engaged, not beaten down by bad tactics.

So, I am hopeful.  And our new interim city librarian should be awesome.  Oh, and the Friends of the library received enough donations to gain the matching funds.  That is also very cool and thanks so much to everyone that donated. That’s all I have for now, as the library turns.

What did I read while I was hibernating? Oh so much.

Awaken by Kate Kacvinski.  I had a hard time suspending my disbelief over the premise, but the story itself and the writing was sound.  When I explained it to my father, he said he could believe it, so that might just be me.  Basically, in this post 2040 future (only date I saw) everyone has retreated behind a computer, too scared to leave their homes for various reasons.  It all began because school bombings and shootings had gotten out of hand and in order to protect the children, school had been moved into the family home via digital school, or DS.  Maddie is the teen daughter of the founder of DS, but she isn’t convinced it is the best thing and has a checkered past of helping protesters, whom some might call terrorists, fight DS.  Now that she is older and realizes the impact she has had on her family in betraying them, she is torn between not hurting them again and following her beliefs.

Adios, Nirvana by Conrad Wesselhoeft. The feel of the story reminds me of K.L. Going’s Fat Kid Rules the World. There are short, hot chapters and the writing is poetic. I wanted to go get my notebook several times while reading, and I haven’t written anything longer or more creative than a flyer in years.

The main character, Jonathan, is mourning the loss of his twin brother from an accident a year before. He lives with his bikini barista mother in West Seattle in a ‘needs some love’ house that his mother wants to transform into a wedding chapel. His inability to deal with his personal tragedy has dropped him into a hole, and one that his principal wants to help him out of. She gives him an ultimatum: don’t skip class, interview a world war two vet and write his book, and perform at graduation and she’ll let him pass 11th grade.

A very worthwhile read. Steady and entertaining. The only thing I had a hard time with was how well everything came together and how much everyone wanted him to succeed. I enjoyed all the local references, most of which I recognized, although Jonathan’s world isn’t one I have a lot of experience with first hand. His life, his circumstances, felt very different to me than my own growing up just a little bit North. Sign of the times or just a more urban existence? Either way, I found the differences interesting.

The Vinyl Princess by Yvonne Prinz. Allie is a vinyl expert. At 16 she has already put in 2 years of service working at her local record store; her home away from home. But the numbers of record aficionados are shrinking and so are the store’s clientele. In order to reach more LP fans, Allie starts a blog and a zine, talking about all her favorites slowly garnering a larger and larger fan base, including “Fan in Berkley” whom she fantasizes is the illusive mystery man she sees occasionally in the store.

Like a simplified High Fidelity, this book will satisfy budding music lovers and LP fans. There’s a bit of crime and morality that has an interesting twist.

I read this one on my iPod touch using bluefire–a library download. The text was big enough that I wasn’t straining, even on the small screen. A very fast and satisfying read.

Zombies Vs Unicorns edited by Justine Larbalestier and Holly Black. My son and I listened to this audiobook on our long drive to Nevada.  It is a book of short stories that alternate between zombie and unicorn themes (some combined) and feature authors Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier fighting it out over which is better.  The stories themselves are by awesome YA authors and vary greatly in tone and depth.

We had a great time listening to these.  The banter between Holly and Justine seemed a bit tinned, but was still amusing.  I really loved the second story about a boy who had contracted a rare form of brain virus (the author tells this better) and he travels the country eating other humans–the brains are the best part.  My second favorite was about how to train your baby killer unicorn, and that just says it all right there.  In my opinion, the zombie stories win but the contrast is excellent.  Some of the readers are better than others (there is a mix of readers and one story seems to have 3 different readers, one for each of the “voices”.)  The excellent readers seem to coincide with my favorite stories… thank goodness.

Ok, I’ve overwhelmed you enough.  You may go.