February 2009 Archives
Philip Jose Farmer died yesterday, February 25, 2009. According to his official Web site, he died peacefully in his sleep.
I first read his Riverworld series when I was about ten. It was so creative and so different than the other sci-fi and fantasy that I'd been reading up until that time, that it really opened up one of those doors in my head. You know... you think you understand the dimensions of something, then you notice another door... a small, unobtrusive bit of a thing. But when you open it, there's an entirely new world there. You take a look and say to yoursef, "Ahhh... Well. Yes. Now I see. Things can be this other way, too."
If that sounds overly dramatic, well I'm sorry. There are few series of books that had as profound an impact on me as a young writer. One of my writing professors at college used to say, "All great writing is about two things. It's about what it's about, and it's about great writing." Farmer's stories weren't just great because they were great stories... they were great because they pointed at all kinds of other *ways* that stories *could be* great. Without being obnoxious or heavy-handed, they were meta-story guideposts.
[The SciFi channel series based on the books was, of course, awful. The main protagonist of the series was the post-mortal (it makes sense... read the books) Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton, one of the most interesting people you'll meet in fiction or history. Because of Riverworld, I read two actual biographies of Burton before the age of 16, and a third later in life. In the TV series, Burton was replaced with (gag) an astronaut. I was deeply and personally offended.]
Anyway... if you're looking for good, odd, important, rollicking sci-fi fun... look no further than PJ Farmer.
I would say, "He will be missed," but we do not need to miss him, as he is still very much with us.
Since we installed the new icons on WorldCat.org, it's easier for users to identify what kind of material they are looking at.
Instead of seeing something like: Internet Resource, Book, Computer File
What is yet to come, is a way to make it easier for users to find these items. We're working on that.
Here are some of my favorite searches on worldcat.org:
English stuff that might be (but not always depending on copyright) free*
This is how I find some e-content items today, but it's likely to change eventually:
We are constantly refining and looking at item types that we might be missing or misrepresenting. If you see something, please let us know.
*These searches are not 100% accurate because we also look at other fields, like physical size, but they're pretty darn close (except for the free stuff).
The NYT has another article out in their "The Future of Reading" series". The accompanying video is interesting. What really caught me and caused me to write this quick post is one of the last things Stephanie Rosalia says in the video: "I never knew my school librarian.... The library should be the center of the school."
So thank you Mrs. Carr for making your library the center of the school at Woodside Elementary when I was there. I remember you!
I recently stumbled over a delightful site: the One Minute Critic, brought to you by the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. The vlog is a great example of librarians having fun highlighting their collections, using WorldCat lists to help people in their community connect to their library and providing sheer entertainment value in ways both high-tech and low-tech.
The 10 Classic Cookbooks list caught my eye, and then I found myself wanting to watch all the One Minute Critics! Incidentally (and interestingly)--this library system has one of the highest referrer rankings of WorldCat.org. In other words, lots of users find their materials through WorldCat.org, and they send a lot of traffic to WorldCat.org. It's a virtuous circle--WorldCat connecting people with libraries and great library materials (like cookbooks!).
The excitement continues to build around the movie Slumdog Millionaire, nominated for 10 academy awards this year. I went to see it over the holidays and loved it. This morning there was a related story on NPR about it that caught my ear.
So if the economic downturn has limited your trips to the movie megaplex, your library can still deliver the goods:
- 138 libraries have the audiobook
- 205 libraries have the soundtrack
- 752 have at least one of the 18 book editions and formats available.
I'm sure as the video is made available, the DVD will appear here, too. Potentially little known fact: the book was originally published under the title Q & A.
Watch the movie trailer from YouTube:
While Stephenie Meyer maintained her cold, undead grip on the most popular items, January saw half of the top 20 replaced with brand spanking new stuff:
#6 Rooftop Diva: A Novel of Triumph After Katrina
#7 In Love with a Younger Man
#8 The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet
#11 How to Show Things with Words: A Study on Logic, Language, and Literature
#14 The ASOH Defense Managing Blame and Forgiveness
#15 Educational Leadership
#16 The Recently Deflowered Girl; The Right Thing to Say on Every Dubious Occasion
#17 The Scarlet Letter
#18 Peanut Agroecosystem: Nutrient Dynamics and Productivity
#20 Rock & Roll Never Forgets
Here's the whole list, and the groovy subject tag cloud below.
We're two weeks into the WorldCat Mobile pilot and you've already uncovered a lot of future functionality and would-be-nice-to-have features--in addition to helping identify specific troubles with certain models of phones. Thanks to the 1,315 people who have already downloaded the app to their mobile phone, there were 39,474 queries made to WorldCat.org through the app. in January.
Extrapolating from the usage statistics, most people seem to be starting their searches at the "home" screen (1,209 users made 26,450 queries). But then 452 people started at the "change location" section (452 users made 4,218 queries)--which just goes to show that lots of people are either reading my hints or more likely, you're using the app on the go, for travel. Finally, the down economy may be prompting people to find more libraries, more often, because the 263 people who used it created 5,355 queries.
All in all, it's a fantastic start for the WorldCat Mobile pilot, and if you haven't tried it yet, go on and give it a go. If you have tried it and received an error message, brace yourself and would you be willing to try again? Our partner organization with the pilot has been making fixes and putting in patches almost 'round the clock. If you try it again and still have problems, please send us feedback so we can get it fixed.