Archive for February, 2009


Remember a long time a go when you spent the day at the library learning how to find books and getting aquatinted with the card catalog system? There was a time when the one computer in the library was used to find books and to locate useful resources for a book report or for that big science project you had to do. Then came the Internet and it made its way into the library system. First it was a great way to see what other libraries had and a way for librarians to keep tabs on new books and where to send people if they needed a specific book. So for a while the librarian needed to know basic computer skills and how to read the card system. Welcome to the new library age.

Librarians face a new job. On top of their traditional roles, many are required to help students use computers aside from finding books. Powerpoint presentations fill the classrooms as students are well versed in the computer world, therefore librarians spend a lot of their time showing students how to use the information they have gathered as part of their presentations. Other programs that are used on a normal basis include word ( a typing program) as well as the Internet itself.

For new students, the Internet is a house-hold name, but many many do not have access to a computer or have never ventured into the digital world. Here the librarian must be well versed in the language of Google and similar search engines so they can help that 3rd grader find resources outside of the library for their book report. Many books on the shelves have outdated material or not enough material, so going online helps expands on resources. Librarians around the nation and around the world are 

“part of a growing cadre of 21st-century multimedia specialists who help guide students through the digital ocean of information that confronts them on a daily basis. These new librarians believe that literacy includes, but also exceeds, books.”

The Internet is like an ocean- if you don’t know how to search properly, you can drown in the abundance of useful and not-so-useful material. Knowing how to navigate these waters is a critical skill that goes beyond the classroom and is used everyday- including at work. Knowing this, librarians, like teachers make up lesson plans to help students better understand how to use the Internet in a way that will get them the information that thy are looking for and how to pick out information that is false or irrelevant. Far gone are the days of “just re-shelving a book,” as stated by Ms. Rosalia, the school librarian at Public School 225, a combined elementary and middle school in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. The responsibilities of  the new digital librarian parallel that of many school teachers.

Yet with the economy the way that it is and with the tendency of schools to cut back, librarians are one of the first to be cut out of the school system.

“Mesa, the largest school district in Arizona, began phasing out certified librarians from most of its schools last year. In Spokane, Wash., the school district cut back the hours of its librarians in 2007, prompting an outcry among local parents. More than 90 percent of American public schools have libraries, according to federal statistics, but less than two-thirds employ full-time certified librarians.”

Parents, teachers, school administrators are all well aware that librarians are a crucial part to the educational system. However a non-certified librarian in the end cost less. More and more schools are cutting back. That means that a certified librarians are becoming rare at an alarming rate. 

The Internet is part of everyday life. If you step into a classroom, whether elementary or college level, many teachers use the Internet as an aid in the classroom. Not having these skills can impair a students chance of excelling or getting the job they want.

Librarians are faced with a new challenge in this digital age. Is it as important to be certified or knowing how to harness the powers of the computer? Schools are meant to educate. Teachers are certified in order to provide the best quality of that education. A school can not function properly without the right resources. Cutting back on these resources such as knowledgeable librarians can have serious implications to the students. How does a school rightfully decide to cut back on librarians, when now more than ever, they go beyond indexing books and keeping the shelves tidy?

Watch the NY Times video related to the article quoted in this blog!

Magical Realism.

picture-2After reading the description as to what “Magical Realism” is, here is an interesting article from the NY times: Staging Latin American Magical Realism, Complete With Songs.

Generally we write about literature, but this article was of interest for the simple fact that it deals Latin American arts. In particular is the play based on the book (that was also made into a movie), “The House of the Spirits,” which opens on Wednesday at Repertorio Español’s theater on East 27th Street. The play is scheduled to be performed in Spanish with a simultaneous English-language translation available, through June. 

The play and movie are based on the book that was written by Isabel Allende. She has written over a dozen books, including the ever popular Zorro. Please take some time to look at her site as she has contributed a lot to the latino/latina community.

As you all know by now, Kindle, the famous revolutionary reading device from from Amazon, has had a make-over. Amazon is happy to announce the Kindle 2. Although still the same price of 359, the Kindle 2 offers a bunch of new features. If you read our blog, “Reading on the go,” or anywhere else on the web, you already know about the new features. We won’t get too in depth on them.

The one feature that stands out that amazon is hyping up is called WHISPERSYNC. This feature allows “readers to begin a book on one Kindle and continue, at the same point in the text, on another Kindle or a mobile phone.” Amazon hopes that this will make consumers more attracted to Kindle than other reading devices on the market. In short, Amazon is trying to make the KIndle the standard in digital reading devices. What the iPod did for music, Kindle hopes to do for books.

picture-1How will the Kindle 2 hold up? This seems a risky step for Amazon with the condition of the economy and the fact that there are many cheaper reading devices currently on the market. However, with cheaper prices for e-books, Amazon hopes to increase sales in the digital book realm. Since traditional book sales have dropped, digital books have started to show higher sales in the last year and are increasing at a steady (and possibly alarming) rate.

Amazon generally charges $9.99 for the digital versions of best sellers, although many publishers still sell the digital content to Amazon for the same price that they sell physical books. That means that for now, Amazon is taking a loss or making a small margin on the sale of some e-books.

Depending on how you look at it, Kindle is either good or bad. You may be able to get a copy of Editorial Campana’s book at a cheaper rate by buying the Kindle edition, but at what cost?

For those of you who have a Kindle (older version and Kindle 2), how has the device changed your reading habits- if at all?

Related article from the NY Times.

Google and Amazon have just recently announced that they will be pushing many books to be released into cell phone format. As many of you may know from our last post, the iPhone has many applications that allow you to read books, and there are other devices such as Amazon’s Kindle and Sony’s Reader. Yet as many of these devices are still expensive, people don’t want to spend more money at a time when most are watching what they spend. Knowing this, Google and Amazon have decided to make books available on many cell phones. 

Keep in mind that this news comes at a time when Amazon has announced that they will be releasing a newer version of their popular Kindle- the Kindle 2. Maybe Amazon hopes that even though mobile phones will allow you to read books, the new Kindle will offer features that will make consumers want a Kindle to read “Stories of Grown-Up Girls and Little Women,” written by Sonia Rivera-Valdès  Kindle already offers over 200,000 titles and with the release of the new Kindle, many  more are sure to follow. So why then would Amazon decide to make mobile phones have access to this library- exposure and profits. Although the Kindle is costly, it does make reading an electronic book easy. It’s large screen makes the reader feel as though they are reading an actual book than a cell phone would or even the iPhone.

But just as camera phones have not replaced digital cameras, smartphones are not likely to replace dedicated e-book readers like the Kindle or the Reader from Sony, analysts said. These specialized devices have screens about the size of a paperback book and use a technology that does not require backlighting, which makes them easier to read in most light conditions. They also have longer battery life.

The point however is that e-books are taking over. Although the future is still unknown, every day, e-books are proving that they will most likely become the new standard. With the growing popularity of Kindle, Sony’s Reader, applications, and now cell phones that can access books, it is just a matter of time when we will know libraries as digital vaults and monitors will become the new pages that we bookmark and instead, readers will say they can’t wait to find out what happens on the next screen. Books seem as though they will soon be found in museums (if they aren’t replaced by something digital) and maybe holding onto a couple may be a good investment as they might easily become collectors items.