Tag Archives: Facebook

Lies, Damn Lies, and Librarians

You wouldn’t know the truth if it kicked you in the head. – Hitch

I sometimes wonder if the First Amendment should be conditional, though I’m not sure what the criteria or who the arbiter would be.  It can’t be based on education; too many supposedly educated people are horse’s patooties. It goes without saying that it cannot be left up to government at any level or to any party. So, even though I empathize with the Hamiltonians rather than the Jeffersonians, I’ll defer to Jefferson on this one.

Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson

hamilton

Alexander Hamilton

Where did this originate from to throw my otherwise good nature off (the time is truly ripe for a baseball piece, isn’t it?) I’m sure many of you have online affinity or discussion groups you participate in or observe.  If you’re a Facebook user, you’re used to seeing someone’s snippet of an idea that may or may not convey a profound level of intellectual thought.  At any rate my friends (real and FB imaginary) and I float in that direction rather than posting inane pictures of our cats, dogs and other drooling pets. One of the things I try to do is to mix-up the choir a little bit. Where’s the fun in engaging in discourse if everyone has the same worldview? Ragging on the opposition in a unanimous voice has to get boring, doesn’t it? However, every so often something happens, or someone writes / posts something that leaves you honestly concluding “the zombie apocalypse would be a breath of fresh air.” (I was actually much harsher in an expletive laden sort of way.)  Here’s what was posted:

Saw this and a succession of commentary and my sense of what’s right & wrong went into skeptical overdrive.  Needless to say, using rather common Librarian superpowers (readily available to mere mortals, but don’t tell anyone,) I satisfied myself and some other well intentioned folk that former Fed chief Greenspan never said this, and never endorsed this kind of economic view in any forum.

What Alan Greenspan did do, in testimony before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs in 1997, was outline several of the reasons why inflation was still low to non-existent in the previous 3-4 year period.  Among the reasons he cited and the evidence provided were a recent history of longer union contracts, fewer labor-management conflicts and fewer workers moving between jobs.  He also concluded that the then current phenomena of worker insecurity needed to be further studied to find fully accurate causes.  I will say, he did it in florid and terribly dry fashion –

“The reluctance of workers to leave their jobs to seek other employment as the labor market tightened has provided further evidence of such concern, as has the tendency toward longer labor union contracts. For many decades, contracts rarely exceeded three years. Today, one can point to five- and six-year contracts–contracts that are commonly characterized by an emphasis on job security and that involve only modest wage increases. The low level of work stoppages of recent years also attests to concern about job security.”

The link above takes you to the catalog record for our holdings (on fiche) of the hearings that Chairman Greenspan appeared before, but you can also go one additional step to prove a point (and pass on the fiche.)

1. Testimony of Chairman Alan Greenspan; The Federal Reserve’s semiannual monetary policy report, Before the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, U.S. Senate. February 26, 1997

2. Job Insecurity of Workers Is a Big Factor in Fed Policy By Louis Uchitelle –New York Times. February 27, 1997

We did this once before around here, only the subject was then Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, and the accusation was that as Mayor of Wasilla, she had actively pursued the censoring of materials from the Wasilla Library.  A little legwork by library staff debunked that story too.  I am a firm believer in letting the honest facts speak for themselves, and letting people prove they aren’t worthy of my time or consideration by dint of their real sins, not the imagined ones.

– Richard

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

What I Love

Dear Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh,

Perhaps it is a little early in our relationship to tell you this (you’ll recall that tomorrow marks our four month anniversary together), so forgive me if I’m being presumptuous.

But tomorrow is also Valentine’s Day, so this is the perfect occasion to say those three little words.

I’m in love.

With everything about you.

I love that you allow me to check out up to 50 books at a time.

And that nobody at the circulation desk blinks an eye when my fines creep higher and higher.

And higher.

I love the secret window that allows me to look down upon the dinosaurs.

I love that someone put a warm scarf on Dippy the Dinosaur during this long cold winter.

I love the quiet sense of history I get whenever I walk in the building.

I love that kids don’t have to be quiet.

And that kids all over the globe are discovering the Library online through My StoryMaker.

And that our libraries are the cool places for teens to hang out.

I love the way that Main looks at night.

And that you can come enjoy the Library After Hours.

I love that the First Floor librarians are enablers, telling me to “take as many as I want” when they see me browsing the stacks.

I love the conversations that happen among strangers on our Facebook page.

And among real life Library users when you find yourself browsing in the same stack, interested in the same thing.

Chalkboard I love reading the chalkboards.

I love when I feel guilty about taking a new display book from its stand, I know another excellent one will quickly replace it.

I love that I can renew my books online at 11:59 p.m., avoiding a fine by mere seconds.

I love when a donor tells me that he or she loves the Library.

I love that brilliantly magical moment when a child gets his or her own library card and for a few seconds, traveling back in time and becoming six years old again.

I love getting lost in the stacks (I need to carry a GPS) and discovering a new author.

I love that we have a GLBT section on the First Floor and that it’s not hidden away.

I love that we offer so many diverse programs and events.

I love that we offer Sensory Storytimes for children with special needs.

I love that when we were looking for a family-friendly place to go with my son with autism, we came to (and were welcomed at) the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Main.

I love that every one of our CLP branches is different.

I love the immensely talented staff members I’m privileged to work with and call friends.

I love going to meetings and coming back with five books.

And recommendations of five more to read.

I love the peacefulness of the International Poetry Room.

I love being able to hear a new-to-me song on the radio while driving into work in the morning, and checking it out so I can listen to it on my drive home.

Or downloading it via Freegal.

I love walking up those worn marble steps.

I love that patrons can drink coffee anywhere on the first floor.

And that a Donor Plus Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh card offers a discount at Crazy Mocha.

I love that I could continue this list forever.

And that there is still so much more at the Library to fall in love with.

Love, Melissa F.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Staying Connected

What do you think about online social networking?  Does it make you feel more connected, or less?  This article made me think about the ways in which we connect to one another.  I used to spend hours on the phone; in those dark days before call waiting, my parents were always telling me to wrap up phone conversations.  In recent years, not so much– kind of ironic considering I now have a cell phone on me at all times.  I find that I spend more time communicating with more people these days, but those long conversations are reserved for only a few people, and they’re far less frequent than I’d like them to be.

Postcard from c. 1910

I imagine that part of this is just life happening– as we get older, our lives fill up with careers and family and a few close friends– but I also wonder if the sheer availability of everyone makes us less likely to have those long, intimate conversations in a non-virtual setting.  Don’t get me wrong; I’m as Facebook-addicted as the next person, and I love that I can share the details of my life with far-flung family and friends, and that they can share things with me.  We absolutely have more daily interaction than we would without an online social network.  We control so much of what we present to the world online though, and I think that’s what makes more personal interactions a bit more authentic, even if our “face to face” is over a phone.  Maybe more frequent technology breaks are the answer?

-Irene

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

And the Ladies Have It

Welcome spring, and welcome Suzy–please enjoy the first blog post from our newest contributor, who will be joining us monthly in the writing staff rotation.

For Women’s History Month I wanted to honor the “bad” girls of history. Then I got hung up on the definition of “bad” in this case. Do I mean bad like Nell Gwyn, orange-seller, comedienne and long-time mistress of King Charles II of England? Or bad like Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed, one of the most prolific serial killers of all time and fan of bathing in virgin blood? Both ladies are fascinating, but there are degrees of bad. I think Gwyn’s amorous misdemeanors sort of pale in comparison to murdering 600 people. But I’m judgy like that.

So, being the scientific chick that I am, I chose my favorites.  Without further ado, my top 10 bad girls of history:

 Nell Gwyn –Reputed to have told her coachman fighting for her honor, “I am a whore. Find something else to fight about.” Gwyn’s feisty wit and lusty personality are the reason King Charles II, on his deathbed, begged his brother, “Let not poor Nelly starve.” And she didn’t.

Cleopatra–Sure, she was an amazing administrator and Egypt’s culture and economy flourished under her reign. But she murdered her own brother and sister to become the Queen of Egypt! She was the mistress of Julius Caesar and Mark Antony! She swallowed a priceless pearl to demonstrate her wealth!

 Elizabeth Bathory–As mentioned above, killed 600 people in pretty gruesome fashion. 600 PEOPLE. That’d be like killing all of my Facebook friends. Twice.

Bonnie Parker–I freak out if I get pulled over for speeding. Parker was involved in at least one hundred felony criminal actions during her two-year career in crime. This includes, but is not limited to, kidnapping, murder, armed robbery and one major jail break. She also chain-smoked Camels.

Mae West–The very first play she wrote (“Sex”) got her convicted on a morals charge. But the lady who said, “Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often,” was an instant success and never looked back.

Marie Antoinette–Hopefully we all know by now that Marie Antoinette never said, “Let them eat cake.” But she wasn’t that into helping the starving masses either. And she really, really, really, really liked clothes.

Margaret Sanger–Considering the current controversy over birth control and woman’s health, we ladies may need to channel the spirit of Sanger in 2012. She promoted the pill before the pill existed. And got tossed in the clink for it.

Anne Boleyn–Did she sleep with her brother? And a poet? And a groom? Did she really commit treason?  I don’t know, but she had six fingers and a killer sense of style.

Lucretzia Borgia–Again with the incest. But also a poisoner!

Wallis Simpson–King Edward VII of the United Kingdom abdicated his throne to marry her. Enough said.

Your turn–who’s your favorite “bad” girl? 

–Suzy

8 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Foot N’ Mouth, or 12 years of Social Networking

I’ve had some very interesting experiences over the last few years with what we’ve come to call social networking.  I got to thinking about what for me has been over 10 years of it, once known in the library world as Web 2.0, and in other places as “being on the Internet.”

My experiences have been overwhelmingly constructive; they’ve brought me closer to my nephews and nieces, allowed me to stay in touch with family and friends in the UK, Israel and around the U.S., and in those implausible serendipitous episodes, I’ve been able to reconnect with friends through the most unlikely encounters.  I’ve also had my share of  “I didn’t write that, did I?” moments, one just this past week — but they have been far and few between . . . unless I didn’t want them to be.  This accumulated wisdom has also allowed me to keep pace with my daughter (a 14 year old), though frankly I’d rather be one step ahead of her.

Outside of discussion groups back when there wasn’t a web interface (yes, we used to have to read orange or green text with a black screen, and you needed to know some rudimentary DOS or Unix to navigate around a DEC VAX machine), real time exchanges didn’t take off until the advent of the web-based interface unless you were an intrepid IRC user.  Around 1999 I was a regular reader and contributor to a site that still exists, www.triumphspitfire.com for those of us building, rebuilding or just interested in the Triumph GT6 or Spitfire roadsters.  I spent 18 months rebuilding my Spit, something I couldn’t have done successfully without the give and take of that website and board. It was a gratifying moment when I crossed the line from being the tutored to being the tutor.

Around six years ago I began dabbling in YouTube, even using it several times as a reference tool for someone asking about the Beatles (specifically the first concert at Shea Stadium.)  In seeing what was out there I made some comments about a clip of an Israeli performer, specifically mentioning where I used to live – Kibbutz Yahel.  A few weeks later someone responded to my comment asking how I knew this place, Yahel.  We danced around each other for 1-2 messages; I think we each thought the other was a Nigerian Minister of Banking with a check for us to deposit.  Once we got past that, it turned out we knew each other very well and had even been part of a midnight group skinny-dipping conspiracy 28 years ago.  Steve and I were casual acquaintances, I know his wife, but more importantly,  I was able to ask him about someone who had been my best friend and neighbor for 6 years until he moved to Holland (Dutch wife, child with CF, etc.).  Because of a comment on YouTube I was able to reconnect with my friend Itzik who had since moved back to Israel.

Facebook  probably doesn’t need an explanation for most of you, but I have to take a moment to note that it has revolutionized communication.  I was a reluctant entrant to FB; I looked askance at my 20 something nephews with 286 “Friends”.  Their father, my older brother, used to ask them “how many of your “friends” will loan you something to cover the rent, or take you to the airport at 3:00 in the morning?”  Since then we’ve both come to appreciate its potential and the connections / re-connections we’ve made.  Maybe it’s a boomer thing, because the responses have been almost universal among those of us who grew up in the 60s and 70s.  Some of it is escapism, we want our Rob and Laura Petrie TV lives back, even if we never lived them, or possibly it’s because we’re one of the last vestiges of a time when you went outside to play without playdates and didn’t come home until dinnertime.  I’ve also learned some valuable lessons about really thinking before you write, and the power of words.

When I first joined FB I was unaware or unsure of what a Wall was, and who saw what when I posted.  Someone asked me about a particular person we’d all known and if I was friends with him.  This was someone whose existence I marginally tolerated when we lived on Kibbutz together, no way was I going to be his friend.  Of course I wrote something to that effect and immediately had someone else inform me that “you realize don’t you that blank-for-brains can see that?”  No, I didn’t, and that was my last faux-pas until last week.  In an ongoing discussion about growing up on Long Island when I did (about 2,000+ participants), someone asked about a judge who’d been forced to resign and went to prison.  I made a flip comment about him, nothing incorrect or slanderous (if the newspapers and court record are to be believed,) but nevertheless impolite.  His daughters, both participants in this group took great umbrage at what I wrote, along with what several others had to say.   One of the daughters took the wrong approach and aggressively protested dad’s innocence; that wasn’t going to fly.  The other daughter took a different approach, shaming us a little by asking if that was what the forum we were in was about; exclusion and other’s misfortune.  That worked, and it was a lesson learned, something I will take to heart when I post or comment.

Richard

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Are You the Library’s Friend?

Did you know that the library has Friends? No, I’m not talking about the kind you find on Facebook. (But yes, we have those too!) I’m talking about a group of library users who support the library, its collections and services through fundraising and advocacy activities.

Each branch of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (and most likely your local library too, wherever you might be) has a Friends group. Depending on which neighborhood library you visit, this group might be very active or it may have only a few loyal members.  It might be in the process of revitalization, or, as in the case of the Main Library in Oakland, trying to get started almost from scratch.

The Friends of the Main Library in Oakland is seeking input from those who live and work in the Oakland area, those who use the Main Library as their branch, and anyone interested in supporting this grand old building and the services it provides to library customers.  If that describes you and you have a minute to spare, please click on this link and fill out the Friends of the Main Library Interest Survey.   I promise you that it’s quick and painless.  We really need your input and guidance to make this burgeoning group a success.  We, quite literally, can’t do it without you.

Do you value your library, want to make a difference that impacts your whole community, and have even a few hours to spare? I implore you to seek out your local library’s Friends group and join. I think you’ll be surprised at what you can contribute, what you’ll learn, and how enjoyable it will be.

-Melissa M.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Oh, the technology!

If you’ve been reading along with the Eleventh Stack team for any length of time, you’re probably pretty comfortable — or at least a little less nervous — about getting some of your news and information from blogs. Lately, though, it seems like there’s a new social technology coming down the pike every few nanoseconds, and that can sometimes seem like a scary pace.  First Facebook was all the rage, but now Twitter is the new black. What kind of whizbang sorceries will these computer-folk dream up next?

Your guess is as good as mine, but as internet news breaks, the library will fix it! For a panoramic view of the techno-zeitgeist, check out some of these books on emerging technologies and the faster-than-light changes in society and culture they engender.

book jacketBorn Digital, John G. Palfrey. Itching to peek inside the thought processes of a generation that’s never known life without a computer? Palfrey’s book describes what it means to be a digital native, how this differs from being what he calls a “digital settler,” and how people at all technological levels can work together to sort out issues like privacy, safety, and identity.

The Wikipedia Revolution

The Wikipedia Revolution, Andrew Lih. Love it or hate it, the Wikipedia project has changed the way people search for and create information online. Lih’s history of the internet’s most famous DIY encyclopedia stands out as one of the most comprehensive texts written on the subject so far, though curious readers may also want to check out How Wikipedia Works and Wikinomics, too.

book jacketViral Spiral, David Bollier. Some argue that developments in internet technology represent democracy at its finest, with developments like open source software and Creative Commons licensing. Bollier’s book looks at these and other phenomena in that light, emphasizing the positive aspects of web culture. For a cautionary note, see Jonathan Zittrain’s The Future of the Internet. For some serious dissension, check out Andrew Keen’s The Cult of the Amateur.

book jacketThe Rise of the Blogosphere, Aaron Barlow. How did blog culture come about? Barlow compares blogging to the early American popular press and describes how traditional journalism outlets themselves paved the way for blogging’s popularity.

If you’re still feeling a little apprehensive about the brave new world we live in, we’d love to show you how the Carnegie Library is using all kinds of technologies, from the familiar to the fantastic, to continue its mission of providing information for the people of Pittsburgh. Stop by the library on Saturday, April 25th and check out our Technology Playground.  We’ll have demonstrations and hands-on fun for you to sample, and you can enter a drawing to win one of three gift cards from Best Buy.

In case of a power outage or zombie apocalypse, there will always be print materials as a backup. But aren’t you just a little curious about what’s new, now and next? Pick the format you’re most comfortable with, then contact us in the way that works best for you, and we’ll hook you up with everything you need to know about emerging technologies. 

See you in the future!

–Leigh Anne

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized