New NCLA GRS Help! Webinar

The NCLA Government Resources Section runs a webinar series on government-related topics, and all the recordings are free and available on our website. Our next webinar is in March. Just in time for Sunshine Week, we will have the National Institute on Money in State Politics with us! Join us!

Help! I’m an Accidental Government Information Librarian presents … National Institute on Money in State Politics

The Government Resources Section of the North Carolina Library Association welcomes you to a series of webinars designed to help us all do better reference work by increasing our familiarity with government information resources, and by discovering the best strategies for navigating them.

Edwin Bender, executive director of the National Institute on Money in State Politics, has been connecting the dots between campaign finance and public policy for more than a decade. He promotes the free use of the Institute’s comprehensive, highly credentialed political donor information by investigative journalists, scholars examining state elections and public-policy processes, and attorneys involved in campaign-finance litigation—and is now focused on empowering librarians across the country.

What could YOU do with $2 billion? That’s the amount contributed to candidates and committees for 2014 state races. And why would there be so much monetary interest in these races? Sometimes legislators vote in obvious ways—and sometimes constituents wonder what may have prompted a certain vote. Ditto for governors and, now more than ever, our elected judiciary. Join Ed to learn how to research a state candidate’s donor base, the top-giving industries, and possible connections between contributors, proposed legislation, and lobbyists.

We will meet together for Session #45, online on March 18 from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. (Eastern). Please RSVP for the Session by March 18 using this link: http://tinyurl.com/grs-session45

Technical requirements: We will be using collaborative software called Blackboard Collaborate. It requires that you be able to download Java onto your computer, but you do not need any special software. After you RSVP, we will send you a link that you can use to test the software. If you have any questions, please contact Lynda Kellam (lmkellam@uncg.edu). You do not need a microphone as a chat system is available in the software, but you do need speakers or headphones.

The session will be recorded and made available after the live session, linked from the NCLA GRS web page (http://www.nclaonline.org/government-resources).

Empirical Librarians Unite! #emplib15

Today I participated in the first Empirical Librarians Symposium at NC A&T. The goal of the symposium was to showcase librarians conducting research and librarians supporting (mostly high-level) researchers. The organizer, Nina Exner, said it best that these two tracks mutually reinforce each other. As we support high-level research, we learn more about the research process thereby helping us to create our own research agendas. These are the highlights in my notes from the session. I hope the Power Points will go online because there was great information in them.

The keynote speaker was Dr. Diane Kelly from SILS at UNC Chapel Hill. Her talk was entitled “Why Empirical Librarianship?” and gave an excellent overview of empiricism and empirical research. A few points that stood out to me as reminders:

  • Empirical research tends to be associated with quantitative methods, but empirical research does not have to be quantitative. The goal is to use observation in order to inform what we know about the world. This can be done with qualitative methods.
  • She also had a great breakdown of the different empirical approaches (surveys, interviews, and why you would do them). Nice reminder that surveys are not the only way!
  • She also gave some readings that sound great including Lincoln and Guba’s Naturalistic Methods.

The Lightning Talks covered a range of topics. Here are the highlights:

  • Jess Bellemer at Hood Theological Seminary talked about supporting the research needs of commuter students. They shaped a thoughtful approach to supporting the unique needs of this population. I especially like that they email a summary of interaction after each consultation. I’m not sure I could scale that for my consultations, but I might be able to create a template that I could cut and paste into. Something to consider.
  • Mary Scanlon from WFU talked about business datasets and the unique considerations for those sources. She did a fabulous job discussing the differences between free and for-pay data sources and when researchers might need each type.
  • Jahala Simuel at Shaw University presented on a faculty workshop called “Copyright Law in the Digital Age”.  They got a grant to create the workshop and hire an outside expert in copyright law. It sounded really cool and I wish we could do something like that.

I also talked about supporting the patron’s research life cycle. Mostly theoretical musings but fun to put together.  

I also presented on supporting research data management on a shoestring. Most of the resources I discussed are available on our library’s Research Data Management website.

Finally Chris Eaker of the University of Tennessee and Chelcie Juliet Rowell of Wake Forest University talked about their experiences supporting data curation through a research-driven approach. In other words, their decision-making about data curation is being driven by their research into the data curation practices of peer institutions or specific user groups. They developed their projects through the Institute for Research Design in Librarianship, which sounds like a great opportunity! Definitely fun to meet some more folks interested in data issues!

Overall great symposium. Looking forward to #2!

what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger #alamw15

what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger #alamw15

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I know blogging is dead (long live blogging), but in a few years it will probably be considered retro cool and those of us who kept up will be … oh whatever. So, I’m heading to Chicago in the winter for ALA midwinter 2015. Despite the cold it will be a good time. Rather than a schedule (because I never stick to it and really, who cares), here are my highlights. What are yours? Got time for a coffee with the lyndamk in that hectic weekend? If so, dm me.

  • Stumping for JP Porcaro for ALA President! JP is an old friend and a good guy with the charisma and care for leadership. Want to know more about his agenda for Pres? Stop by the booth. I’ll be there Friday after the exhibit opening (I think)
  • Writing for Against the Grain! Oh yeah, I’m press again this year. I love to write and I get to learn all about collections and stuff I would never learn on my own. Plus people see my press credentials and tell me their life stories. It’s a hoot.
  • My first ALA Awards Committee meeting! Very excited to award some awesome people. But I can’t say much more because it is all secret
  • Seeing old friends. Lots of old friends. And eating lots of good Chicago food
  • Superbowl! I’m not really excited about this, but it’ll be fun to hang with people who care. And I’m rooting for the Seahawks … Who are they playing?
  • Chicago in the winter! Januarys in the mid-west are why I fled Wisconsin. So good to be back for a short visit though.

Those are the highlights. What’s your plan for ALA?

Cocky author writes a book #cbr6

The book is hard to write about without giving away some of the plot. Because that is the main attraction of the book, I’ll try not to reveal much. The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair was written by Joël Dicker, a Swiss writer, and won the 2012 Grand Prix du Roman de l’Academie Francaise. The French apparently LOVE this book. I thought it was fine when reading, but after a week of thinking about it … well…9780143126683_custom-eefd5935dbbad9ac94e138162eb68bde28d24bcb-s6-c30

Two stories are interwoven throughout the book. The first is a young successful author’s attempt to write his second great novel. While he’s trying to write and consistently failing he visits an old college professor and friend in a small New England town to help him “find his story”. In the meantime, his friend becomes the primary suspect in a decades old murder after a young woman’s bones are found in his yard (they are found while digging up an area for some bushes, which made me wonder how far you have to dig in the ground for bushes, but whatever). This brings in the second story of the the fifteen year old girl’s disappearance and, surprise!, her statutory rape-tinged romance with the author’s friend (hello, pedobear!). The author decides to help his former professor, because obviously he isn’t guilty if he was in love with the 15 year old, and in the process ends up writing his next great novel based on the case.

The book is definitely a decent mystery with a thousand twists and turns in the plot. The twists aren’t that hard to see coming though, and you realize that basically everyone in this small New England town is guilty of something, everything. It reminded me so much of some film or TV show I’ve seen where basically everyone ends up trying to kill a guy who is already dead (If you can think of what the show is, let me know). There are actual clues to what is happening in the story, which is kind of clever, but made me think I was making up a different story in my head while I was reading (keep a close eye on the mother).

In the US its translation has been getting mixed reviews. On Goodreads people seem to either LOVE IT or HATE IT. Admittedly, there were two things about this book I started to hate. First he begins his chapters with cliched writing advice (from the professor to the author), most of which sounds like it came from the pages of The Artist’s Way (writing is like boxing and more blah, blah, blah). Also, for whatever reason Dicker sets the novel during the 2008 Presidential primaries. I can’t really understand why except that he wants characters to spout off random inane political comments. Purpose? Maybe to show that this is a truly American novel. Or to make it more realistic? I did hear a lot of inane political commentary in that period. Anyway, it just seems misplaced and a waste of words.

But in the end, I thought the book was fine. Despite the main character’s over the top confidence in his abilities and tendency to mansplain to everyone (even male cops), I enjoyed the story. It is a good page-turner, but at the end of the day so are Dan Brown’s books (which is why I curse myself the entire time I’m greedily reading those dumb dumb books). And at least Dan Brown doesn’t have the pretension of being, you know, award-winning literature.

Serena Serena

Serena is one scary, scary woman. serena

I loved Serena by Ron Rash except on the nights after binge reading when I woke up from nightmares about jaguars and eagles and death. Yeah, not so much fun that. This book is not for the faint of heart. It is a brutal story, but not one that feels gratuitous like Game of Thrones can at times (After watching the Red Wedding I felt completely punk’d, but that’s a story for another day). It is a tragedy in the Shakespearean sense and, beyond its literary allusions, it is a gripping story.

Set in the Depression era North Carolina mountains, it is the story of a timber empire led by Serena and her new husband, Pemberton, and their machinations to become the most powerful (and frightening) couple in the forest. In so doing they compete with interests that would like to preserve the forests, as well as the surrounding impoverished community that is simultaneously beholden to the Pembertons for income and repulsed by their brutality. From the literary angle, there is a Greek chorus timber crew that comments on the action throughout while simultaneously trying to survive under horrific conditions (cold, falling limbs, death) where nature is an adversary and rarely a friend.

While it is almost impossible (for me at least) to relate to Serena, her husband is a much more sympathetic character. When he attempts to help his illegitimate child, he unfortunately stirs the ire of Serena, which leads the plot to its closing. At the same time that I can’t relate to her as a character, I absolutely loved reading this book and count it as one of my recent favorites. I can’t image Jennifer Lawrence as Serena in the upcoming film, but I will definitely be one of the first to see it. Here’s hoping it’s as good as the book.

The Essentials on #day100

I’ve been working on a class about data management plans and part of our assignment was to watch this video by Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism.*

While I know what he saying is truth, it was unsettling to hear it right now. I’ve been batting around some possible commitments and trying to figure out what is going to get a NO! So it was pretty timely to watch for that reason even if it threw me off a bit.

In addition it was timely because today I just finished #100happydays. If you are reading this post, I’m sure you know the meme. I just finished posting pictures for 100 days of things that made me happy. After watching the McKeown video, I realized that 100 happy days is a bit like the essential(ist?) approach. All of my posts were pictures of things things that I require for a good life. You can definitely see some themes: my husband, my family and friends, our cats, food, travel, government documents**, books, reading, students and teaching with some coffee thrown in. These are the essentials, the things that should get my time and attention. Without them, life is less happy.

So McKeown threw me for a loop because of the timing of his message. It is a good reminder though to remember what is necessary to life and what … well … can just get a NO. Now back to pondering those commitments.

* The connection to data management plans is a bit convoluted, but does it really matter?

** Not sure if it was so much the government documents as the problem solving aspects of working with a large project. I do love a good problem/project!

#100happydays and kyle's forehead

#100happydays and kyle’s forehead

Oh and for good measure, here’s a taste of my happy …

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#100happydays and cats!