Category Archives: Information/off-topic

Woman hoarding stolen goods, including books

The Chifley Library at the Australian National...
Chifley Library, ANU by Nick-D via Wikipedia

At ABC news. A woman in my city was deemed unfit to plea because of her mental and emotional state. She had been hoarding stolen goods from shops, including books, which isn’t unheard of. But! She was also hoarding stolen books from Chifley Library, one of the main libraries I relied on as an undergraduate student.
Chifley library is the humanities library and contains a lot of the fun books on history, literature, film studies, philosophy, and of course classics and archaeology (Bianth in Hancock, other archaeology books in Menzies and the external repository). I don’t have any ill will towards this woman, but my heart broke at the thought of all those books. All those students, frustrated in their research. All those librarians, trying to be good but wondering if students had again nicked books to try and sell for cash. I hope they all get processed and home on their shelves safely.


ALA’s Banned Books List

This has probably already done the rounds, but the American Library Association has released a series of lists of top ten banned books. You can view them by year, by author and year, etc in the sidebar on the left of this page.


Though I’ve been a very indolent blogger this year, I’ve caught up with comments moderation and will start posting some more reviews and short articles soon. Remind me, next time I consider returning to study, just how much of my brain gets caught up in studying.

Books and Broadcasting

It’s been so long since my last post, I feel quite guilty for not updating.  With my ebook reading device, I’ve been indulging in fanfiction far more often than novels, and I’ve had a few things in life that have reduced my contact time with wonderful hardcopies.  As it is, one of my friends linked me today to a short light report on libraries and booksellers in Canberra.

It was hardly surprising to me.  I’ve read that right now, out of all the full-time permanent positions in our small town, about half are with the public service.  We are a land of university students and graduated administrators, and we’ve always had high rates of literacy and reading compared to national averages.  What I found interesting was that the ABC played up, a little, the imaginary fantasy of competition between libraries and booksellers, before getting to the point that more exposure to books increases both library loans and book sales.  In some radio programs in the past, they have overplayed old questions over the conflict between hardcopy novels and ebooks while missing the real technological differences between the two mediums and DRM issues.

We have hardly any issues as a city because we read books, but what issues we do have aren’t related to the ratio between booksales and bookloans.  We have a lot of sprawl for a small city, with bad public transport and ridiculously high property values.  This means that smaller independent booksellers and secondhand sellers have been shifting towards larger retail hubs and chains are bigger than individual stores.  It means that youth and those without cars have trouble finding, reaching, and accessing both bookstores and libraries with ease.

I suppose it is just the 7.30 report, but damn it all I’d like to see a local news story about book industry or literary fiction that dealt with things properly.  In the defense of journalists, I imagine that it would be harder to cover a story on bibliophiles in Canberra, because when we’re all reading at home it would be very hard to find and interview us.

Archaeology in a DVD store

Today I post off-topic and discuss no books at all (except for films based on books).  Yes, in the Special Interest section of JB-Hifi Belconnen is an ‘Archaeology’ section.  Inside this section was:

Ong Bak 3 – third in a series of martial arts films in which a spiritual artefact of great value is stolen.  I’ve only seen Ong Bak 1, so I have no idea about the archaeological content of the film, but it seemed odd for ‘special interest.’

Egypt – a box set of a pretty, well-filmed documentary series, on Egyptology, which IS NOT ARCHAEOLOGY, even if you interview archaeologists as part of the whole thing.  This was actually the closest to archaeology in the section.

Several unofficial films describing the secrets behind The DaVinci Code film and book – I recall a classics faculty seminar on historical innacuracy in The DaVinci Code from my undergraduate degree.  I don’t remember there ever being any archaeology, since The DaVinci Code’s main (falsified at times) resources were documents, which makes this historical.

Explaining The Secret – it’s psychology, mentalism, bullshittery… maybe even sociology, but it’s not archaeology.

Dinosaurs – that’s palaeontology, folks!

I’m a bit baffled.  If they established an ‘archaeology’ section, why not include box sets of Time Team, or put the historical DVDs into a historical section?  Did the employees at JB HiFi Belconnen classify these, or is there some idiot distributing cataloguer out there, tagging everything eagerly with ‘archaeology’?  I’m a little chuffed to see fiction being included, less happy about how none of the popular films about archaeologists seem to be shelved there (Indiana Jones, The Mummy, Tomb Raider, Stargate), and very unhappy about what was on the shelf.

Still, in the same way that the procedural crime shows I watch aren’t really made for forensic scientists, I bet the section of shelving and the shows held within weren’t really made with Archaeologists – or historians, Egyptologists, palaeontologists and martial artists – in mind.  Good for a laugh, though.

The Canberra Booktrack

There’s been several versions of the Canberra Booktrack pamphlet released, detailing the independent, local booksellers in the area.  There’s some good ones that are just a tiny bit out of the way, and they’re really worth a visit.

Now, there’s a website, which is exciting for information’s sake, but I imagine for anyone with web-capable phones this makes the list a lot more accessible.The one thing the website seems to lack when compared to the pamphlet, is a map of all the stores at once.  Since they’re listed alphabetically rather than geographically, it may take a bit of clicking around to find the store closest to you.

I haven’t visited every store on the list yet, but I hope to.  I blame some of the stores closer to my home, for occupying my time (and wallet) more often than not.  We can’t compete with bigger places like Melbourne for choice and price, but we don’t do too bad here either.  It’s important to keep in mind, however, that local independent bookstores aren’t included by default – they must join the Booktrack to be included – and there’s still a lot of other awesome book and comic stores in Canberra to hunt down that aren’t mentioned in the guide.  I’ll try to visit and cover some of them here in the next year.

New Years Resolutions

I have a few of the usual, of course.  Do more research personally in my free time.  Ride my bike more and write more.  These aren’t really New Year specific resolutions, more like the promises and affirmations I make to myself all year round.  I haven’t tried to make a real ‘New Year’s Resolution’ since I was in primary school and it was a part of the culture in my peer group.

This year, I’ve done a lot more blogging than in the past, and with it has come a couple of blogging resolutions I hope I’ll be able to sustain.  The first and most important is to decide on a more useful and accessible way to list the books I’ve reviewed in the past.  I’ve seen it done with a fiction/non-fiction split, using library catalogue numbers (most commonly Dewey Decimal).  I’ve seen it done categorically with relation to the focus of the blog, with on-topic and off-topic lists.  I’m going to have to actually compile some of my topical lists and post them.  I’m going to have to decide on an organisational system that suits what I’m doing.

The second is in relation to the availability of public domain and creative commons images online.  I’ve been using the WordPress Zemanta widget that suggests images based on the content of the posts, but that results in a few things.  White surrounding the image automatically, and often image results that have little to do with my actual topics.  My resolution here is to recharge my own camera batteries more regularly and take pictures to accompany my blogs by my very own self (or search down free use images myself without relying on a widget).  I have also been a little shy of using images of book covers because like many small bloggers I’m a bit concerned about copyright, fair use, and the scary hammer of a DMCA takedown notice being arbitrarily brought down upon my head.  As part of my attempt to do a real job of visual content, I’m going to read up on fair use and hopefully start sharing more pictures of the books I’m reading hardcopy.

Finally I’m going to do the responsible thing and post pages on my reviewing policy (though I mainly read the books in my house, it’s good to disclose things) and comments policy (because I’ve had some weird experiences commenting on others’ blogs and now recognise the importance of clear comment guidelines in a world of spam)

I’m mainly posting this so that it’s out here, and if any of my small and lovely readership notice I’m slipping they can simply slap me on the wrist.  Please slap me on the wrist, or anywhere non-gender-specific that you like, if you see anything slipping on my blog.

A to Z Challenge Complete!

Success!  I proclaim it!  I have undertaken the A to Z Challenge 2010 and completed my reading and reviewing list of 26 authors of the alphabet.   It’s 8:30 or so AM on the final day, and I’m off to read a book chosen completely in freedom of alphabets and requirements.  I think it’s nearly time for a victory dance.  Or, at least, a victory photograph of the hardcopy books from my home that I read as part of the challenge.  Also the phone and laptop on which I read the public domain ebooks.  Please forgive the way that they slump on my couch, they’re worn out after the weeks we’ve had together.