Helping Patrons Find Out If They’re Second Cousins, Before They Get Hitched

There is never a dull moment at the public library.  I swear I’m not making any of this up.  Today’s installment of Librarian in a Banana Suit is brought to you by the patron who walked into the library last weekend wanting to know, “Would my brother’s son be my cousin’s daughter’s third cousin, or second?”  She looked imploringly at me.  I looked back.  “We’re having a family dispute about a couple who wants to get married,” she continued.

It took me several seconds to draw the family tree in my head.  Actually we had to draw it on paper.  “I’m not sure…” I hesitated.

Family Tree(Disclaimer: this is not really her family tree)

Turning to the copy of Webster’s 1993 Unabridged Dictionary that sits behind the reference desk, where passers-by often stand to spy on us, we flipped to the “C”s and read that “cousin” (def. 1c) is:

a relative descended from one’s grandparent or from a more remote ancestor by two or more steps and in a different line; a distinction often being made between (1) those descended an equal number of steps and (2) those descended an unequal number of steps from a common ancestor <the children of first ~s are second ~s to each other, the children of second ~s are third ~s, etc.><the child of one’s first ~ is one’s first ~ once removed, the latter’s child is one’s first ~ twice removed, etc., though these are often called also second and third ~s respectively.>

“So that makes them third cousins!” she said, relieved.  “Well, I don’t know if that’s really what they are saying,” I hesitated again, squinting long and hard at Webster’s definition.

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Booklist: DIY Redux

Although I know I already linked to them in yesterday’s thrifty post, I just can’t get over how much I love all these DIY titles at the Lawrence Public Library.  I want you to gaze longingly at their beautiful covers and even drool a little bit, much like I’ve been doing for the past week.  It’s time for a booklist!

Carry Me : 20 Boutique Bags to Sew Carry Me: 20 Boutique Bags to SewHighlighting the influence Japanese craft has imparted on the world of fiber arts, this illustrated manual showcases the stylish sensibilities of eastern expertise in creating handbags. Sewers are shown how to create distinct and fashionable works of functional art, such as a wool tweed travel bag, a stylish denim bag with grommet and zipper details, a roomy tote with contrast lining and inside pockets, a wool messenger bag, and a soft luggage tote.
I Heart Felt I Heart Felt: 33 Eye-Popping Projects for the Inspired Knitter I Heart Felt: 33 Eye-Popping Projects for the Inspired Knitter is a follow-up to the author’s very successful first book on felting (Knit One, Felt Too), which was really meant as a beginner’s guide. I Heart Felt will also be appropriate to newcomers in felting but it pushes the creative edges on just what you can do with felting, making for a hugely imaginative and engaging collection of 33 original designs
Creepy Cute Crochet Creepy Cute Crochet: Zombies, Ninjas, Robots, and More!If you’re a fan of amigurumi, you already know that super-sweet crocheted bunnies and kitties and pandas have taken the indie craft world by storm. The dolls in Creepy Cute Crochet eat your typical amigurumi for breakfast! This unique craft book contains more than 25 patterns for zombies, ninjas, Vikings, vampires, aliens, robots, and even Death himself. Each easy-to-follow pattern is presented with step-by-step diagrams, hilarious commentary, and full-color photographs of the creatures in their natural environments.

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Haunted Lawrence Archives

Phantoms of the NightLawrence Journal World, Oct. 1995

One of the things I really like about my library is that my boss is really flexible and open to ideas, which means that my coworkers and I are free to sort-of “invent” our own jobs.  It makes for a really creative and energetic work environment, because everyone is doing pretty much what they love — as long as they’ve been willing to take the initiative to make that happen.

So I’ve been carving out this little niche for myself in social media, technology, and instruction.  Last week we started this experiment with our Twitter feed to tweet once a day about #thisdayinhistory.  This means I get to trawl the Google News Archive of the Lawrence Journal World for tweet-worthy happenings. Continue reading

Sexy Reference at the Library

Wow, last night at the library I got my first reference question about… sex!  I’ll give you a quick breakdown of the “reference interview”:

Patron: “Do you have any books about the human body?”
Me: “What aspect of the human body are you interested in? ”
Patron: Blank stare, shuffles awkwardly.
Me: “Are you looking for something like a general medical text?”
Patron: “… Yes.”

So, we head over to the 613s, and as we’re walking, the patron says: “Actually, I didn’t want to embarrass you in front of the other librarians, but I’m looking for books on sex.”  Wow, ok!  Continue reading

Librarians Can Wear Superhero Costumes, Play World of Warcraft

Spock, Playing the Harp

Spock may be half Vulcan and half Human, but he definitely knows what’s up with the Library Computer Access Retrieval System (LCARS) and the Personal Access Display Device (PADD).  This was the crux of Michael Porter’s keynote talk — “Libraries, Technology, Evolution, Change and Success” — at last week’s Library Technology Conference at Macalester College.  Porter, aka LibraryMan, argued that although librarians love serving our communities, we often do a terrible job with electronic content distribution!  He urged us to glean a little inspiration from Star Trek and to actively develop digital strategies for electronic content access.

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Launching B Sides: an Open Access Journal

B Sides

December and January have been all about launching B Sides, our lovely new open access electronic journal for the University of Iowa School of Library and Information Science! We hope the site will be ready to go live at the beginning of spring semester on January 19th, when we will begin soliciting submissions from current SLIS students and alumni.

As the founding editors, my colleague and I have been busy rounding up faculty sponsors, setting up the peer review process, customizing the content management software, working with a graphic designer, and meeting with both the University’s ITS department and Digital Library Services. Whew! In the meantime, here’s a little snippet from our homepage to give you an idea what B Sides will be all about:

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