Librarying with the cunning use of stick figures.

A take on the e-reader debate

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I finally broke down and got a Kindle this summer. After debating it for years (and using the Kindle app on my smart phone and a shared tablet computer at home), it seemed like the right time.

Unfortunately, I also discovered House of Cards on Netflix the same night my Kindle arrived, so the learning curve was probably (definitely) longer than it would have been otherwise. Some thoughts:

  • I still prefer paper books (and it would appear that I’m not alone on this), but the Kindle is pretty amazing. Between July and August, I spent 3 weeks on the road and only had to take a tiny Kindle with me.
  • The back-lit Paperwhite may be my new favorite camping accessory. The battery life is impressive, and I don’t have to have a lantern on to read anymore.
  • When I am not camping, my Kindle tends to idle in a sad state of disuse.
  • I spend 2 hours of my day driving to and from work. If there were a train that went to my job on a rural campus, then that would be prime Kindle time, but for me it has necessarily been audiobook time instead.

I was hoping that the Kindle would revolutionize the way I read – and to an extent, it has, in certain circumstances – but so far, my response to a Kindle has been similar to that of my venture into the paleo diet: “Well, that was interesting, but I miss bread.” Or, paper, rather.

Written by Jessica Jones

December 6, 2013 at 7:59 am

From the Microform #4: A Post Office Drama

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In July of 1901, the post master of Clayton, NM resigned unexpectedly. Many people had opinions about who should be filling the position, and many wrote to then-Govenor Otero about it, as did Albert W. in whose letter we can see below:

Second page can be found here

Clayton, N. M., July 2, 1901.

My dear Governor,

I write asking  you this time to interest yourself in behalf of Mrs. McClellan, who is an applicant for the position of post master here, in place of Fred I. Burch, resigned.

The facts, briefly, are these: Mr. Burch notified the public suddenly yesterday morning that he had sent in his resignation, and almost at the same time, H. C. Thompson and John R. Guyer became applicants for the office. The citizens, myself included, were surprised at the suddenness of the move, and generally signed the first petition presented. We here in the office signed Guyer’s; Mr. Schleter and some others, I understand, signed Thompson’s, supposing, I presume, that these two candidates were the only “Richmonds in the field.”

It seems, however, that Mrs. McClellan has for some time looked forward to securing the position should a vacancy occur. She knew nothing of the resignation yesterday morning, nor was I acquainted with the conditions when I signed Guyer’s petition.

She is a woman, a lady rather, with every qualification possible for the office, and is esteemed by the citizens generally here. Her husband is incapacitated and hardly able to work, and the general sentiment today, the almost unanimous one, I might say, is for her appointment.

In the face of these facts, may I ask you, Governor, to appoint her to the position of post master at this place? Politically, the move will be a wise one; that is, as Guyer and Thompson both have more or less signers of prominence here, she would suit both factions.

I especially, openly if necessary, wish to oppose the appointment of H. C. Thompson. To my mind he is entirely unworthy of the place. I learn today, authentically, that, if appointed, he will retain the present as istant (sic) post master, a democrat, who was a candidate for superintendent of schools last fall of the Democratic ticket.

I presume that my letter will not be the only one asking for the appointment of Mrs. McClellan, and I really trust that you will find it in your power to recommend her for the position.

The kindest regards, believe me, always,

Sincerely yours,

Albert W.

There were several more about the Clayton post office situation, like this one on stationary from the U.S. House of Representatives:

Albuquerque, N.M. July 6/1901.

Governor M.A.Otero,

Santa Fe, N.M.

Dear Governor: I have all that matter that White brought down about the Clayton post office. That is horribly mixed up there,and I am tangled up about it but lean towards Guyer. I wont (sic) however decide until a day or two later, may be tomorrow. Mrs McClellan is strongly backed, but Guyer seems to be the party man as well as otherwise very competent. Keep all this to yourself. I will return all letters that belong in your files.

B.S. Rodey

At this point, as I scroll through the film, I am rooting for Mrs. McClellan, who seems to be getting the raw end of the deal. She’s a woman trying to support herself and her husband and is qualified for the job, but can’t catch a break over the man with the party affiliation.

Then, I came across this letter, again from B.S. Rodey, dated two days later.:

Albuquerque,N.M., July 8th, 1901.

Honorable M. A. Otero,

Governor of New Mexico,

Santa Fe.

My dear Governor:

I have this day, so far as I am concerned, settled the Clayton post-office matter by recommending Mr. John R. Guyer for appointment.

Very truly yours,

B.S. Rodey

I think we can all agree that this is lame. And now that we already don’t like Guyer, here is his letter to the Governor.

July 11th, 1901.

Hon. M. A. Otero,

Governor of New Mexico,

Santa Fe.

Dear Governor Otero:

Permit me to extend to you my most grateful thanks for your kind and hearty endorsement for the Post Office here. It is fully appreciated and since Mr. Rodey has been so good as to act upon your suggestion,I have no doubt as to the result.

If I am so fortunate as to receive the appointment I shall try very hard to give satisfactory service to the department and to the public.

When I can serve you in any manner command me.

Your Friend,

John R. Guyer

Apparently he did get the post because this was received by the governor not 6 weeks after this letter of thanks for the endorsement.

August 21, 1901.

Hon. M. A. Otero,


Santa Fe.

My Dear Governor:-

Humbly begging your pardon for my oversight in not sooner writing the report requested,I beg to enclose herewith a scattering something, out of which, I trust you will be able to glean the information desired.

When I received your first request I filed it for future action,fully intending to have the write up there on time and then,becoming engrossed with business matters,which,by the way have pretty closely held me for the past year,I simply overlooked it.

Will you please forgive the oversight and accept my sincere thanks for having done me the honor call upon me for the report.

I trust you will reply,telling me if this is what you wished.

Yours Truly,

John R. Guyer

There is so much wrong here – we’ll even overlook the grammar and syntax errors. First he didn’t respond to a request for information from the governor less than 6 weeks after getting the new job, then the governor had to request the information again and received from Mr. Guyer a “scattering something” that the governor will have to “glean.” Additionally, he then made excuses about being too busy with “business.”

Poor Mrs. McClellan.

Record Group TANM, Archives Division, State Records Center and Archives, Reel No. 131. (1901). Microfilm Collection, Northern New Mexico College Library Collection, New Mexico.

Written by Jessica Jones

June 9, 2012 at 1:53 am

Posted in Microform

Tagged with , ,

Special collection preservation

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When I enrolled at the University of Michigan, I had every intention of specializing in both Library and Information Services (LIS) and Preservation of Information (PI). I knew I wanted to be a librarian, but I also love rare books and working through digital preservation access issues. Despite scholarships, it was still in my best interest to finish my 48 out-of-state hours sooner rather than later, so I crammed everything into 3 semesters and ended up graduating with what I thought was the more pragmatic LIS, only 3 credit hours short of the second PI specialization.

TL;DR – I really, really like preserving information, and I was >thisclose< to having the paper to prove it.

This past semester, I did my first real preservation assessment since leaving grad school, and I focused on the special collection that we have here at the college library. Many research hours and pages and citations later, I had an assessment in my hands – and while the finished product is great for us to have in the library, I think I personally got just as much (if not more) out of the process of writing it.

When professional development budgets are limited, as they are at my workplace, you have to create your own activities and motivation. This year, I am unable to go to ALA or SLA, but I feel good about making sure that I am continuing to challenge myself professionally. While I was writing up the assessment, I went through research that I did in grad school, but I also had the opportunity to read up on all of the scholarship that has happened since I graduated.

I have a lot of different duties in my current position as Assistant Librarian. I head up access services, collection development, and bibliographic instruction – it’s great experience in a lot of areas, and I’m a better librarian for it. One of the best perks of this job, however, is the freedom that I’ve had to pursue projects like this preservation assessment. It’s easy to get caught up in day to day activities, but I’m remembering how much nerdy joy I derive from analyzing environmental conditions and books’ physical compositions.

Side benefit: I got to use the assessment in a grant application, and with any luck, this time next year we will have additional resources to help me preserve these books even better!

Written by Jessica Jones

June 5, 2012 at 1:09 am

How I learned to be a better editor.

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Twitter profileWhen I first got to grad school, Twitter was something about which I really only heard in disparaging terms. “Why do I need to know that you just ate a sandwich and took a nap?” etc. This was before I really started to think of it in terms of a “microblogging” tool rather than an “over-sharing” tool (an argument of which I have yet to effectively persuade my Baby Boomer parents).

I have been playing with Twitter since about 2008, getting a feel for how it works, learning the best ways to interact with both the site and its other members, experimenting with managing multiple accounts with services like HootSuite and Tweetdeck, and – perhaps most importantly – learning how to say what I want to say in 140 characters or less. This did not come naturally for me. I spent my undergraduate years writing history papers; brevity has rarely been the essence of my written communication style.

Twitter has taught me how to be more concise. Oddly enough, this actually helped my papers in grad school. I became better at choosing more articulate vocabulary terms so I had to explain myself less. It has also improved my email efficiency; since I can make my point with fewer words, I get through more emails in less time.

Additionally, I network better with Twitter. As a tool for public communication, there is less group compartmentalization to manage, and it is easier to make new connections (both discovering and being discovered). (Also, Twitter will not teach you to stop over-using parentheses. Clearly.)

One of the things I have enjoyed most about Twitter, though, is having a tool that lets me keep up with all of the things the people and agencies I follow are doing. I love knowing about new program implementations, getting quick links to new research data, and participating in brainstorming and crowd sourcing. Yes, I DO want to help name the new cheetah cubs at the National Zoo, and thanks, @NationalZoo, for asking!

It's not just you, Damisi. We all hate it.


Written by Jessica Jones

January 4, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Cataloging Fridays: “Guadalupe Peak” edition

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Guadalupe Peak is the highest point in Texas at 8,749 feet – about 4 years ago, I tried climbing it and didn’t quite make it to the top. Last month, though, I finally beat it. To commemorate the 8.4 mile/3000 foot elevation gain hike, I am cataloging the monument at the top of Guadalupe Peak at Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas.

My mother would have made me take my hair down for this picture.

041 0 eng
043 n-us-tx
044 txu
090 GV199.8|b.G833
110 2 American Airlines.
245 0 0 Guadalupe Peak monument /|cAmerican Airlines.
260 |c1958?
300 1 stainless steel trylon :|bill. ;|c183cm.
500 Titles created by cataloger.
610 2 0 American Airlines, inc.
610 2 0 United States Postal Service.
650 0 Guadalupe Mountains (N.M. and Tex.).
650 0 Guadalupe Mountains National Park (Tex.).
650 0 Memorials |zTexas.
650 0 Mountains |zTexas.
650 0 Triumph.
856 4 2 |u
856 4 2 |u

Things I learned while writing this entry:

  • There is no LOC heading for “bucket list.”
  • The LOC has a pretty great selection of narrower terms for “Monsters” (which I got to by searching Enigma>Curiosities and wonders>Monsters … I don’t know why I searched for Enigma in the first place, but it seemed like a good idea at the time), including Harpies, the Mothman, and chupacabras. It also gives “Monsters” the alias of “Animals–abnormalities,” which makes the chupacabra sound much nicer. It’s not a goatsucker; it’s a coyote with some abnormalities (if you believe University of Michigan scientists, it’s mange), which doesn’t sound nearly as terrifying.

*Disclaimer: This record, in all its hypothetical grandeur, was not actually entered into any existing catalogs. Any mis-appropriations of MARC fields are not intended to offend any catalogers that have more experience than myself in cataloging memorials on mountain summits.

**For more about Cataloging Fridays, click here.

Written by Jessica Jones

November 11, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Collection development

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Alternatively titled: “Why I just put two comedic memoirs in the Select Cart.”

The college where I work is a rural college serving a minority student population. For many of these students, they are the first in their families to go to college. They have already taken a big leap of faith, and for that I admire them.

At the same time, the community around the college is not exactly one that fosters a desire to be intellectual (this is, after all, the self-proclaimed “Lowrider Capital of the World” – and I am apparently such a square that I had to look up the spelling for “lowrider” to make sure that it was indeed all one word). I feel like the library should be filling this need, at least a little. And, that is why I am ordering Bossypants by Tina Fey and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling for our shelves.

I listened to both of these books recently from Audible, originally because I love both of these writers and am kind of a sucker for books read by the author, unless that author is Stephen King (Bah Habah, anyone?). What I found, instead of a couple of books designed purely to incite laughter based on the author’s willingness to be self-deprecating (although there is plenty of that and it is hilarious), is a trend in memoirs that really encourages young people to go for what they want, work hard for it, and surround themselves with people who will inspire them instead of holding them back.

I feel like this is a message that a lot of our students could use. It’s not within the purview of our collection development policy to start acquiring all popular literature. That’s not what I am aiming to do here. It is within my purview, however, to encourage an active learning environment, and I think that title selections like Bossypants facilitate that goal. These are real people’s stories about hard work and success with some humor to make it easily digestible. If books like these can convince students that there’s a reason to slog through the pre-reqs for a reward on the other side, then the materials that I am ordering are still promoting learning and academic success. And, that is the whole reason we are here.

Written by Jessica Jones

November 7, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Tablet computing

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I was one of 5 people in a meeting last week with the college’s Distance Education department and realized that all of us owned tablets – not just iPads, but a variety of brands and models. Tablet owners in our patron base are definitely not in the majority, but it’s encouraging that tablets are appearing to become more accessible technology.

I got a Touchpad when they were discontinued a while back and have since made some adjustments to it for more optimal functioning, but it still sort of amazes me that my tablet has more computing power than my 2 year old netbook. One of the more features I’ve used the most with it has been the Kindle app – this surprised me since I’d held out on getting myself an e-reader for so long because I didn’t know if I’d like it or use it enough to warrant the purchase.

Our library has a few e-readers that circulate, but apart from that our electronic books aren’t really accessed or downloaded as often as we’d like. It’s encouraging that the growing popularity of multi-purpose tablet computers may actually help us get more use out of those collections.

Also, when more noble pursuits have exhausted themselves, they’re pretty great for doodling.

Written by Jessica Jones

October 7, 2011 at 4:41 pm


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