Monday, May 31, 2010

Studying the Encyclopedia Judaica

When I was an elementary school student I read through the two encyclopedias we had a home. Sometimes people called me the "walking encyclopedia." This summer my son and I are reading through the 1972 edition of the Encyclopedia Judaica. I have that edition at home and I couldn't afford the new edition. I also have the Jewish Encyclopedia (1901-1906) and the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia (1939-1943). We are comparing the articles and how the editors treat subjects.

This is a long project. If we spend 1 hour per day we will need 6 or more years to finish the project. We are not just reading the primary article, but we are checking the sources the authors used and the bibliography. Some of the articles require looking up other articles. It is not possible to just read from page one to the end. Some should articles take a few minutes, while others take hours of preparation to complete. The biographic articles in the "A" volume are quite matter of fact and we have skipped most of the.

By reading the articles aloud we have found many typos and some mistakes. For example in the article, "Abbreviations," the author refers us to a book by J. Ezekiel, "Ketonet Passim." This book was written in English despite its Hebrew title. On the title page this book is called, "Kethoneth Yoseph by Joseph Ezekiel." The author must how confused this book with "Sefer Ketonet pasim by Yaʻaḳov Yosef mi-Polnaʾeh." Some of the books and articles I found digitized in the Internet Archive or Some of the references I couldn't find extant in digital or print any library.

The articles when written by more than one person were not edited for smooth reading. Sometimes they are choppy and have not had the redundancies removed. The older Jewish Encyclopedia is much easier to read and is edited much better.

So far the major articles we have read are Karaites, Abbreviations, and Magic. I'll keep you posted as to what we discover.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

NCIS (TV show) and Books

On the NCIS show last night (May 4) "Obsession" there was a murder of a bookstore owner, Charlie Bascom, who was connected to the murder of Navy Lt. Craig Hutton being investigated by the NCIS team. The bookstore is in the process of being sold when the real estate agent says the bookstore isn't really worth a whole lot. Books are a dying business, everyone is getting electronic readers. !" Well she didn't come to our library. Books are still kind. Electronic books have their place in our collection; we have 2500. I even added links to 500 e-books for my personal use. Electronic devices may break when they fall; if you drop a book it will still work. The new technology does not replace the old; it just gives a new venue for reading and transfer of information.

In another scene Gibbs finds a microfiche card hidden under a a shelf covering. Carefully he holds up the card. Tony DiNozzo asked what is it. Gibbs says it is a microfiche sort of stores information like a 1970's flash drive. They obviously haven't visited a library lately. We still have lots of microfiche. We don't use it much, but it still has its place in the information world.

The show "redeems" itself when the source of the book dealer's wealth is revealed -- an original Gutenberg Bible from 1456 printed on velum and an early edition of Shakespeare's plays. When showing these books the character wears protective white cotton gloves. These volumes total value was given at more than $8 million. While Tony in his juvenile remarks does not understand the place of electronic books or microfiche, the money is still in physical books.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Above and Beyond Books

Librarians do more than work with books and periodicals. With thanks to a posting on LM-Net by Louise Leonard here are some of the activities that librarians do to help a school or community that are above and beyond the books.

1. Public Relations: Books fairs, reading promotions, concerts, special speakers are some of the exciting and unusual events that involve parents and the community. Often the press and TV want to cover these events, proving valuable and positive PR for the library and school. The librarian is an ambassador to the community for the school in many ways. Since the librarians are not the teacher for a particular class, they can speak about aspects of the school at all grade levels.

2. Web Presence: Librarians maintain vibrant web pages for the library and the school. This shows off the library resources and allows students and faculty to 24/7 access to library resources. Sometimes librarians maintain a social networking presence on Facebook, Twitter and others on behalf of the school. This strengthens our home-to-school bond.

3. Staff Development: Librarians are early adopters of emerging technologies, and model their use, both informally, and formally. Librarians train the students, faculty, and staff in the effective use of electronic information resources and electronic equipment. They help teachers learn how to use equipment to present material in the classroom. Librarians compile and make available curriculum related bibliographies and finding aids to help support the teachers’ lessons. Librarians provide expertise to prioritize purchasing of books, supplies, or equipment on a global basis for the school. They know how to find the sources and make the best deal for these purchases.

4. Committee work: Librarians serve on committees concerned with coordinating all information, technology, and building improvements that affect all users.

5. Grant Writing: Librarians try to bring revenue and resources for new ideas and equipment by researching, writing, applying or helping administrators with grants. They also help mange activities that grants pay for. Part of the overhead for grants goes to the library for resources to support the grant activity.

6. Marketing: Librarians prepare displays and signs to promote reading and the library. Librarians write materials that encourage reading, library use and learning for the moment and life-long learning.