Skip to content

FRL’s Library

Stu asked if I could provide a heads-up on what I’m reading, because we librarians have access to the good books first.

It’s a very good question, and once upon a time I had such a feature on FRL; I even displayed books, with a link to Amazon’s entry. I had to kill the review feature because I was having technical problems that threatened lo the very existence of FRL, but I could reintroduce it.

However, I must fess up about my library. I manage a digital library. No books. When I walk through exhibits at library conferences, invariably I have the following discussion with vendors:

Vendor (eyeing badge): So, where do you work?
Me: I manage a digital library. We have no books. Or facility, for that matter. We all work from home.

The vendor’s eyes then begin to roam, seeking real customers. Clearly I’m either lying or simply “out there.” In any event, they aren’t going to sell me books/chairs/easy-clean keyboards/buildings/tables/etc.

I have worked in traditional libraries. The flavors of librarian I’ve experienced include children’s, technology, director (twice: rural public, and gummint), and general reference, which is my weakest area since I’ve done it the least. (Don’t you love library job ads that add a reference requirement on top of maintaining all the hardware and software for the library and developing new services? Makes me want to develop a position that is 95% children’s work and 5% server maintenance.)

But alas, in my present job I have no super-wonderful advance notice of what people are reading. I get it the way everyone else does, from book reviews, book blogs, hints from the publishing industry, and the news.

Even worse, in the MFA program I’ve been working my way through since the summer of 2004, we read very little that’s new, and we re-read stuff to death. You can get a feeling for our assignments from my take-off on MFA reading lists. It’s all very, very good reading–well, I’m still in recovery from Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn–but beyond the latest Joan Didion, it’s nothing new. Still, I’d be happy to resume sharing my lastest reading, if there’s interest.

Incidentally, I felt conflicted about my review feature. To encourage library use, I wanted to point to Open WorldCat entries, but no such blog plugin exists. If librarians want to encourage people to use libraries, the people with the big research bucks should invest in some of the basic social software needed to make that happen.

Posted on this day, other years: