Fall 2012, v. 62, no. 2

Welcome to the Fall 2012 issue of The Idaho Librarian! Please enjoy the articles and feel free to comment or share using WP’s features.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Fall 2012, v. 62, no. 2

Peer Review

Using Idaho’s Court Assistance Publications to Enhance Public Library Service

by Ruth Patterson Funabiki

What Librarians Can Learn About the Mentoring Model Through the Professional Career of Louis H. Sullivan

by Spencer J. Jardine

Featured Articles

Creative Commons – Saving the Internet One License at a Time

by Michelle Armstrong

Libraries vs. Google in the 21st Century

by Shawn Behrends

Joint-Use Libraries: An Annotated Bibliography

by Cheryl Hoover

Tech Talk

Biblion: Frankenstein

by Lizzy Walker

Folksonomies and Social-Tagging

by Kate Baker

Open Access Primer: Issues and Resources

by Mark Williams

WTF? Why should I care about my e-reputation? Why e-reputations matter for teens and young adults

by Amy Campbell and Kath Ann Hendricks

Field Notes

ILA Chapter of ACRL

by Rami Attebury

Libraries as Brain Health Centers

by Erica Compton and Sue Walker

News

Dawn Wittman 2012 Idaho Librarian of the Year by Sue Walker

Dr. Kathleen Hedberg Receives 2012 Friend of the Year Award by Marilia Y. Antunez

Jillian Huang 2012 Special Services to Libraries Award by Amy Vecchione

Katelyn Volle Recipient of the 2012 ILA Scholarship by Amy Mortensen

Kiebert Named 2012 ILA Gardner Hanks Scholarship Recipient by Kristi Brumley

Senator Bart Davis 2012 Legislator of the Year by Jeremy Kenyon

Susan Tabor-Boesch 2012 Idaho Library Media Program Winner by Kit Parker

Reviews

Complete Copyright for K-12 Librarians and Educators [Review]

reviewed by Kay Flowers

Multicultural Storytime Magic [Review]

reviewed by Erica Littlefield

Organizational Storytelling for Librarians: Using Stories for Effective Leadership [review]

reviewed by Laura Abbott

The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Horror, Second Edition [Review]

reviewed by Lizzy Walker

True Stories of Censorship Battles in America’s Libraries [Review]

reviewed by Alex Kyrios

War Upon the Land: Military Strategy and the Transformation of Southern Landscapes

during the American Civil War [Review]

reviewed by Julia Stringfellow

To access previous issues click HERE.

Your feedback is welcome; just email the editor and let us know what you think.

Time for Libraries to Take a Fresh Look at Wikipedia

by Alex Kyrios

Introduction

Baga, Hoover, and Wolverton recently assembled a “webliography” of free online resources for catalogers (Baga, Hoover, & Wolverton, 2013). The webliography is itself a very helpful resource, especially for institutions short on personnel, money, or both. But the authors neglected to mention a prominent source for cataloging tasks such as classification and authority control, as well as help for other library professionals, from reference librarians to resource selectors. Like those listed by Braga et al., this source is free online. That resource is Wikipedia.

Wikipedia has been a fixture of the internet for years now. The site was formally launched on January 15, 2001. It came to prominence some years later and is, as of April 19, 2013, the sixth most popular website on the internet according to Alexa.com. (While Wikipedia is a multilingual project, with 286 languages represented as of April 19, 2013, this study will only examine the English Wikipedia, the largest and oldest version.) Perhaps the best known aspect of Wikipedia is its openness. Generally speaking, anyone may contribute to its encyclopedic articles by adding or removing anything. This fact colors most people’s judgments of the site. If you believe in the virtues of “crowdsourcing,” you’re likely to see Wikipedia as one of humanity’s most impressive knowledge-organizing ventures. But if you’re skeptical of crowd wisdom, you’re more likely to see the project as an impressive sandcastle on a beach, just waiting for a malicious child or the tides to destroy it. It would be wrong to discount the dangers Wikipedia’s open model represents. In most cases, there’s nothing stopping a person from adding false information (or deleting legitimate information) from an article, so taking anything on Wikipedia at face value is ill-advised. But it would equally be wrong to discount the legitimacy and utility of Wikipedia on such grounds.

It’s no wonder librarians can be skeptical of Wikipedia. At first glance, its mission seems incompatible with ours. Even as librarians make active efforts to engage users, such as through demand-driven acquisitions, the library remains a largely top-down model. Bibliographic experts select the best resources to make available to their users. No one would assert that every library resource is of unimpeachable reliability, but ideally, at least, every library book has an invisible seal of approval, an indication that the book is useful and good in some sense. (This can range from obvious quality educational materials, such as Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, to popular leisure reading like the latest John Grisham novel, to primary source documents whose educational value is quite removed from its actual message, such as Mein Kampf.) But Wikipedia appears to have no such filters. In a system without the sort of filters that have served libraries so well, the reliability of information seems compromised. One popular writer has dismissed Wikipedia by summing up its philosophy as “Experts are scum” (Sjöberg, 2006). But this reflects a fundamental understanding of how Wikipedia works, even if it is one that many librarians may share. Used properly, Wikipedia can be a powerful tool for librarians of all types. And a librarian who knows how to make the most of Wikipedia can be a great resource for users of any library.

The Hazards

There’s no shortage in scholarly literature—library literature in particular—of voices warning of the danger of Wikipedia. Behrends says, “Perhaps no website has been the object of as much derision by the library community as Wikipedia” (Behrends, 2012). Popular sources haven’t spared Wikipedia, either. The encyclopedia represents everything that worries businessman Andrew Keen. In his The Cult of the Amateur, he decries Wikipedia’s “citizen-editors” for “defining, redefining, then reredefining truth, sometimes hundreds of times a day” (Keen, 2007, p. 20). The author of Lazy Virtues: Teaching Writing in the Age of Wikipedia, Robert E. Cummings, opens his book by saying “If you know anything about Wikipedia, chances are… you fall into one of two groups: you are either curious about Wikipedia… or you are worried by it” (Cummings, 2009). I would add that if you know anything about Wikipedia, you probably know that it’s open for anyone to edit its articles. This is broadly true. But in practice, Wikipedia has a multitude of defense mechanisms designed to prevent people from maliciously exploiting its open nature. Probably the simplest form of such malicious activity is referred to as vandalism. Popular and scholarly definitions of Wikipedia vandalism can vary from the official description, which excludes other behaviors classified more broadly as “disruptive editing.” For the purposes of this discussion, vandalism will entail any editing not made in good faith, including insertion of nonsense, deletion of legitimate information, or deliberately introducing factual inaccuracies.

In Wikipedia’s early days, vandalism posed a very real threat to the integrity of the project. Then, a determined vandal could quickly go from page to page defacing or deleting content, leaving it to good-faith editors to clean up his or her mess. Especially if undertaken at hours when most Wikipedians could be expected to be asleep, such attacks could cause serious, if not permanent, damage. But even in these early days, Wikipedia automatically tracks the changes made with every single edit. Older versions can easily be restored, so an individual act of vandalism can be reversed in about a minute. It wasn’t long before script-savvy Wikipedians began designing “bots,” automated accounts made to perform repetitive tasks, including identifying vandals and undoing their work (Adler, de Alfaro, Mola-Velasco, Rosso, & West, 2011). Automated tools such as Huggle and Twinkle are granted to editors in good standing, allowing them to revert vandalism in mere seconds, in just a few clicks of a mouse. Wikipedia’s software also allows administrators to protect certain articles, disallowing either anonymous users or, in extreme cases, all users from editing them. Article protection can occur for fixed periods or indefinitely. For example, the article on Yolo, California was temporarily protected after suffering extended vandalism related to the popular motto “you only live once” (YOLO). As of April 21, 2013, the article on Barack Obama is indefinitely protected from anonymous editors and brand-new accounts, having been the target of extensive derogatory vandalism. While vandalism will be a fact of Wikipedia at least as long as it allows anonymous editing—and founder Jimmy Wales has made clear that this essential feature of Wikipedia will not be discontinued—the threat it represents has been effectively diminished from a horde of barbarians at the gates to an irksome fly, easily combated and ultimately harmless.

Vandals aren’t the only bad-faith users on Wikipedia, but they’re generally the only kind that will compromise the encyclopedic content. For example, trolls—users who goad good-faith users into attacks or pointless arguments—have also been identified as a threat to Wikipedians’ morale (Schachaf & Hara, 2010). However, unless trolls themselves engage in vandalism, there is little reason to think their behaviors could directly introduce errors into articles.

The Potential

These hazards should not blind librarians to the powerful tool Wikipedia can be in the right hands. Some of these benefits, in fact, come directly from the hazards. For reference and instruction librarians at the academic level, school librarians, or any information professional helping others assess the quality of resources, the ever-present possibility of errors on Wikipedia offers an endless stream of teachable moments in resource assessment. A statement on Wikipedia without a corresponding reference (generally formatted as a footnote) should be counted no better than a rumor. A statement with a reference the user can follow and verify against, however, will give that user experience in critically assessing specific claims of fact. (For bonus points, press them to find more resources to confirm the observation further.)

But focusing on Wikipedia’s shortcomings is to miss the forest for a few dead trees. Wikipedia has rightly been praised as “amazing” and “one of the best encyclopedias” (Sunstein, 2007, p. 12). For every bored teen who inserts obscenities into an article, there’s a competent researcher introducing real information supported by quality sources. For better or worse, users are increasingly relying on Wikipedia over libraries (Ockerbloom, 2013), and many of them consider it a credible source (Doueihi, 2011, p. 80). A librarian who teaches those users how to responsibly assess credibility does a service to Wikipedia and the profession alike.

This is not to say that librarians must reach out to Wikipedia; the relationship works both ways. Libraries have much to offer Wikipedia, whose references exhibit FUTON (FUll Text On the Net) bias—libraries’ print holdings represent an area of opportunity for collaboration. Wikipedia volunteers know this. The Wikipedia Loves Libraries initiative, started in 2011, seeks to improve engagement between Wikipedia and libraries. Several types of events are coordinated by Wikipedia Loves Libraries, but perhaps the most promising type is the “edit-a-thon.” In these, a library (or archive) hosts local Wikipedia editors who use the library’s resources to add sources to Wikipedia, improving the encyclopedia and bringing people into the library. Furthermore, these sessions are an opportunity for librarians to familiarize people with their collections and form community partnerships. Some edit-a-thons are free-for-alls, while others focus on a specific topic. The Smithsonian hosted an edit-a-thon dedicated to improving coverage of women scientists; the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill hosted one focusing on notable African Americans in North Carolina.

As a digital resource, there are many ways in which Wikipedia has incorporated library data, with researchers on both sides seeking more. Some of these are quite simple. For example, users citing a book as a source on Wikipedia can provide the book’s OCLC number, which will automatically generate a WorldCat link for that book. Casual editors may more often only have the book’s ISBN, but it is entirely within the realm of possibility for someone to design a bot to match up ISBNs with OCLC numbers and supply the latter number in Wikipedia articles. In fact, one bot has already started on a similar task. Following a 2012 OCLC proposal (Klein & Proffitt, 2012), many biographical articles now include authority file identifiers, unobtrusively located at the bottom of the articles. An OCLC-designed bot matched Wikipedia article names with VIAF authority files, which can consequently be used to integrate other authority identifiers, such as LCCN or GND, the German National Library’s system. In the future, similar endeavors could link library data into Wikipedia on geographic and topical entities. (Keen might feel vindicated, however, at the reaction of a few Wikipedians to OCLC’s proposal. Unfamiliar with the concept of authority control, the phrase was attacked as “authoritarian,” “fascistic,” and “totalitarian.”) OCLC has hired a “Wikipedian-in-Residence,” who has coordinated the authority control initiative and presented on ways to integrate the missions of Wikipedia and libraries (Klein 2012).

Coming back to the idea of Wikipedia as a cataloging resource, there are several functions Wikipedia can offer a cataloger. First is its impressive structure of categories. Casual readers of Wikipedia may never notice categories, which are listed at the bottom of every page (only some new articles lack categories altogether, and volunteers quickly categorize such articles). The article for Melvil Dewey, for example, has been placed in categories such as “American librarians,” “Amherst College alumni,” and “People from Jefferson County, New York.” The solenoid, a coil device used in physics and engineering, is in the “Electromagnetic coils” category. These topical categories frequently correspond to library knowledge organization systems such as Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH). Wikipedia’s categories are structured hierarchically, like LCSH’s. As a cataloger, I’ve found these categories invaluable guides in classifying materials on subjects with which I’m unfamiliar. For example, I may have a thesis about a certain species of fish which does not have a discreet LCSH term for its genus or species. But if I can find a Wikipedia article on the species, I can follow its categories up through the species taxonomy until I find a grouping with an LCSH established. Generally speaking, Wikipedia categories are especially reliable. They’re not visible enough to casual readers to be the target of vandalism, and categories themselves are very difficult to vandalize. A savvy vandal could still place an article in an erroneous category, however. As with the encyclopedic content, Wikipedia should only be a starting point.

Wikipedia can also be a good resource for authority work. If a person is the subject of a Wikipedia article, there’s a good chance there are birth and death years in the article. The categories come in handy for this as well—articles on people are categorized by years of birth and death. Dewey, for example, is also in the “1851 births” and “1931 deaths” categories. Especially for living subjects, the articles may also contain links to official websites or CVs, both of which can be invaluable for the creation of an authority file. Additionally, Wikipedia’s human name disambiguation pages collate existing articles with shared names, from the dozens listed at John Smith to the two at Aníbal Acevedo. (Occasionally these pages won’t exist when there are just two entries. As of April 21, 2013, the article at Sanford Berman describes the cataloger, with a link at the top of the page to Sanford I. Berman, a philanthropist.)

Conclusion

Some librarians may regard Wikipedia with skepticism, distrust, or even jealousy. But the free encyclopedia shares many of the values and goals that libraries do, and many of its editors are motivated by the same values that guide many librarians. Wikipedia’s open model may pose some risks, but its overall reliability has been vetted and found comparable to traditional, top-down encyclopedias (Giles, 2005). Especially compared to those competitors, Wikipedia offers many opportunities to promote library resources and forge partnerships to keep libraries relevant in the digital age. In an interview early in Wikipedia’s lifespan, founder Jimmy Wales described the project, saying, “Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That’s what we’re doing” (Miller, 2004). This quote has frequently been referred to as a summary of what Wikipedia stands for. It’s a utopian sentiment. But it’s one that many librarians have been pursuing at least since Alexandria. Libraries can join this effort, and in doing so we’ll improve Wikipedia and the institution of libraries alike.

Works Cited

Adler, B.T., de Alfaro,L., Mola-Velasco, S.M., Rosso, P., & West, A.G. (2011). Wikipedia vandalism detection: Combining natural language, metadata, and reputation features. In Gelbukh, A. Computational Linguistics and Intelligent Text Processing: 12th International Conference, CICLing 2011, Tokyo, Japan, February 20-26, 2011. Proceedings Part II. Berlin: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-19437-5_23

Baga, J., Hoover, L., & Wolverton, Jr., R.E. (2013). Online, practical, and free cataloging resources: An annotated webliography. Library Resources & Technical Services, 57(2), 100-117.

Behrends, S. (2012). Libraries vs. Google in the 21st century. The Idaho Librarian, 62(2). https://theidaholibrarian.wordpress.com/2012/11/12/libraries-vs-google/

Cummings, R.E. (2009). Lazy virtues: Teaching writing in the age of Wikipedia. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press.

Doueihi, M. (2011). Digital cultures. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Giles, J. (2005). Internet encyclopaedias go head to head. Nature, 438(7070), 900-901. doi: 10.1038/438900a

Keen, A. (2007). The cult of the amateur: How today’s internet is killing our culture. New York, NY: Doubleday.

Klein, M. & Proffitt, M. (2012). Linking library data to Wikipedia, Part 1 [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwwTNmJUQ8w

Klein, M. (2012). Wikipedia and libraries: What’s the connection? [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcWmYIF5TMs

Miller, R. (2004, July 28). Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales responds. Slashdot. Retrieved from http://slashdot.org/story/04/07/28/1351230/wikipedia-founder-jimmy-wales-responds

Ockerbloom, J.M. (2013). From Wikipedia to our libraries [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://everybodyslibraries.com/2013/03/04/from-wikipedia-to-our-libraries/

Shachaf, P. & Hara, N. (2010). Beyond vandalism: Wikipedia trolls. Journal of Information Science, 36(3), 257-370. doi: 10.1177/0165551510365390

Sjöberg, L. (2006, April 19). The Wikipedia FAQK. Wired. Retrieved from http://www.wired.com/software/webservices/commentary/alttext/2006/04/70670

Sunstein, C.R. (2007). Republic.com 2.0. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Alex Kyrios, Metadata and Cataloging Librarian, University of Idaho

Notable and Notorious Idaho Women: An Annotated Bibliography

Idaho Penitentiary Inmates 1864-1947 Catalog: Women

http://www.history.idaho.gov/sites/default/files/uploads/inmates_women_1864-1947.pdf

In the early days of Idaho’s penitentiary there was a common belief that women could not be held responsible for murder. Juries were comprised of only men at this time, and it was generally thought that women didn’t have the intellectual capability to be so plotting. Often women were not tried for first degree murder; they were characterized as crazy rather than manipulative. “Anecdotally, they [juries] didn’t have it in their hearts to hang a woman,” according to Amber Beierle, Site Manager of the Old Idaho Penitentiary. This is often reflected in the short amounts of time that they served for crimes such as murder and assault, but also reflected in the size of the women’s ward at the Old Penitentiary. When the Penitentiary was built there was no space for women at all.

Few women were convicted of crimes from 1864-1947 as compared to the men convicted during the same period. Prior to 1906 the women were incarcerated in what is referred to as the 1890 Cell House inside the prison walls. After 1906 women stayed in the old warden’s house with a wall surrounding. Eventually the old warden’s house was destroyed and Idaho Department of Corrections built the dorm style building that is there now, known as the Women’s Ward, which was completed in 1920.

The Idaho Penitentiary Inmates 1864-1947 Catalog: Women is an index of most of the women that were in the Old Idaho Penitentiary from 1864-1947. In my research I have investigated the stories of several women and have found all of these women to be captivating, each with a profound story that speaks to women’s history. There are sad stories, like that of Josie Kensler who was pregnant when she entered the Pen, and who became pregnant while there as well. There are inspirational stories and revenge stories, too. Here are a few short examples.

Ida Laherty was a teen when served less than a year for stealing a team of horses. She stole the team of horses for her boyfriend. Presumably they were going to spend the rest of their lives together, but he ratted Ida out. Josie Kensler looked after Ida in the Pen. Ida was released into a private home within a year of her sentence after the Idaho Women’s Temperance Movement wrote to request her pardon.

Henebe (no last name available) was incarcerated for murder but was able to escape! After her escape she made it back to her home in Fort Hall. She was later brought back to the Pen.

Alta McGee “you could look at her as a jilted woman” says Beierle, but she was perhaps Boise’s first drive-by. Her husband started seeing another woman and together the new couple would drive by Alta’s house after he moved in with this other woman. One day, Alta took a ride through town with a friend. After asking her friend to drive to some destination they drove by her husband’s business whereupon she began shooting at her husband. No one was hurt, but Alta served some time.

Ella Muguerza wanted to escape her alcoholic, abusive husband but couldn’t. During Prohibition he operated a pool hall which also illegally served alcohol. She reported that he came at her one day and after a struggle with the gun she accidentally shot him in the head. Though he lost a “coffee cup worth of brains,” according to the doctor’s testimony, he lived, and she served a brief jail stint.

Cora Dunn was quite flamboyant, and had a way with words. She wrote many letters to people outside the Pen which the warden did not send on. As a result, you can read her letters in her inmate file. One letter, to an ex-lover who helped with her conviction, explains how she got crabs from him. She was incarcerated for writing checks falsely with her family’s estate, or formerly obtaining money under false pretenses.

I could write volumes about these notorious women, the struggles that they faced, the inequities that they experienced, which landed them in the Pen, but until those are written, you may peruse the Idaho Penitentiary Inmates 1864-1947 Catalog: Women, request to view any of these files at the Idaho State Archives, and formulate your own opinion of the nature of these crimes.

Who’s Who of Idaho Women of the Past by Betty Penson-Ward

This short volume is an alphabetical by last name resource about various Idaho women who were notable for one reason or another. Some highlights include Margaret Cobb Ailshie who was the publisher of the Idaho Statesman for 31 years, Emma Green who designed the Idaho State Seal, and was the only woman in the United States to do such, and Eveline Steunenberg, the widow of assassinated governor Frank Steunenberg, who rehabilitated her husband’s assassin, Harry Orchard.

Idaho women in history: big and little biographies and other gender stories by Betty Penson-Ward

This book provides more in depth, encyclopedia, and sometimes anecdotal information about the history of women in Idaho. Beginning with Native American women, continuing to women’s roles in homestead life, and with a lot of information on Idaho’s women’s movements, this is an extremely valuable title on this topic. The chapter on Women’s Movements reminds us that Idaho was one of the first of four states to give women the right to vote (1896) and points out that, “a hundred years later our state does not yet rate among the highest in several areas of women’s concerns: one fourth of all first-time Idaho mothers in 1989 were in their teens…the predominantly male Idaho legislature in 1990 voted for what was then the most restrictive abortion law in the nation, which was vetoed at the last minute by Gov. Cecil Andrus.” Penson-Ward’s perspective is educational, enlightening and a terrific must-read for anyone in Idaho.

Biographies of Idaho Women Compiled by The Altrusa Club of Boise 1979

This hand typed collection of “abbreviated biographies of Idaho women” showcases some lesser known notable Idaho women. In many ways these anecdotal vignettes without any citations perfectly encapsulate Idaho’s treasure trove of history. Every story is captivating, and holds some kind of special twist. Perhaps the most interesting of the stories is about a cross dresser bronc rider named Joe Monaghan who was only discovered to be a woman upon his death. These short stories are listed in alphabetical order by last name of the woman, and some have an identified author, some do not. This work was compiled by the Altrusa Club of Boise in 1979. Without a subject index it is difficult to use this as a research tool, but the stories are incredible and each woman identified within these pages could have much more written about her. The Altrusa Club operated in Boise from 1950-2002. Their manuscript collection is located at the Idaho State Historical Society.

A Danish photographer of Idaho Indians: Benedicte Wrensted by Joanna Cohan Scherer

This gorgeous book publishes the work of an obscure Danish woman photographer named Benedicte Wrensted who documented the Northern Shoshone, Lemhi, and Bannock tribes in Idaho between 1895-1912. Wrensted operated a photography studio out of Pocatello, Idaho and took many formal photographs of local and regional individuals. Wrensted photographed one Native American family quite often: The Edmos, a prominent family from the Fort Hall Indian Reservation. This significant work depicts the life and culture of Native Americans from that time period, and also the work of a female photographer and business woman.

Lady Bluebeard: the true story of love and marriage, death and flypaper by William C. Anderson

Based on a true story this is a fictional account of Idaho’s most notorious female serial killer. By removing arsenic from flypaper Lyda Southard killed four husbands and one brother in law before getting caught. Though this story is based on a true story the account has taken “dramatic license” as the author describes it to tell the tale of Lyda, otherwise known as Lady Bluebeard.

Polly Bemis: Lalu Nathoy & Polly Bemis, a Chinese American pioneer by Priscilla Wegars

Priscilla Wegars has researched Polly Bemis a great deal and produced a terrific children’s biography about this Idaho pioneer. Born into slavery, and eventually was won in a poker game by an Idaho miner and businessman, Charlie Bemis, Polly worked with Charlie as a business partner, eventually marrying him when she was 40. Previously an audiobook was made about her life and was produced on vinyl LP. This short, seven-inch record can be found at the Idaho State Archives and the Library of Congress. The short book by Priscilla Wegars can be found in many more places.

Amy Vecchione, Digital Access Librarian/Assistant Professor, Albertsons Library, Boise State University.

The Librarian’s Nitty-Gritty Guide to Social Media [Review]


reviewed by Rebekah Hosman

The Librarian’s Nitty-Gritty Guide to Social Media
Laura SolomonThe Librarian’s Nitty-Gritty Guide to Social Media
Chicago, IL:  American Library Association Editions, 2012
ISBN, 978-0838911600, paperback
224 pages, $52.00

Laura Solomon writes in the introduction of The Librarian’s Nitty-Gritty Guide to Social Media that “this book is my attempt not only to answer common questions libraries have about using social media but also to explain and demonstrate how libraries can be doing social media more effectively” (intro pg. ix).The best part about Solomon’s book is that she thoroughly accomplishes what she sets out to do–the book is chock full of effective methods to navigate the social media world, with the understanding of why libraries should be involved in social media in the first place.

Solomon includes a wide range of topics from Understanding Social Capital (which is a key concept that I hadn’t heard before), Fine-Tuning Facebook, Online Reputation Management, Social Media in the Long Term, and more. Each of the eleven chapters addresses a vital component in understanding and managing social media for a library. Solomon doesn’t just talk about how to participate successfully in the social media world, but she also gives references, resources and practical tasks for a library’s social media plan. There are many types of social media sites discussed in this book, including Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Google+, Instagram, YouTube, and blogging. It’s up to a library to choose what works best for their needs and patrons.

This book is a great asset for libraries wanting to start or advance their social media agenda. If libraries aren’t currently utilizing social media, this book will help you to understand and plan an effective social media campaign at whatever level will best suit your library. Whether you are the Library Director or the Social Media person, you will find practical applications in this book. At our library we have started using several social media sites; including Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook to connect to our patrons and be a resource for our community. After reading this book I realized that I’d missed some steps to be successful in our media plan. For example, we didn’t have a Social Media Policy, and Solomon explains why that’s important and directs readers to several policies developed by other libraries.

As the Library Director of a small rural library, I sat down to read the book and was excited to find a wealth of useful information I could use for our library. I ended up not only underlining the key tips that Solomon puts at the end of each chapter, but also wrote down a list of tasks for my library’s social media plan. We plan to implement a social media plan, poll our patrons to see what social media sites they use, and establish a social media team to help keep our sites current and updated. We especially appreciated the specific advice on how to effectively post on Twitter.

My library also appreciated the final chapters that talk about evaluating your social media plan and social media in the long term. Solomon helps readers to understand how social media is a changing system, but will continue to be around in some form. If you follow Solomon’s advice and direction then you will have a long-term effective plan for your library’s social media. She also provides encouragement by having real-life library staff give social media advice. For example, “Social media, just as the names implies, is social. No one person or department can tackle it alone successfully. It has to be a group effort. And, oh, yeah I almost forgot, not an afterthought to your other endeavors” (192).

When you are finished reading (and re-reading because the information is so relevant) the book, you will feel equipped and ready to take on the social media world. Solomon’s book is not only an effective guide, but in essence a how-to handbook for libraries using social media. I would recommend this book for libraries that would like to start using social media, and libraries that are having difficulty using social media effectively.

Rebekah Hosman is the Library Director at the Grangeville Centennial Library.

Sudden Death Over Time [Review]

reviewed by Michelle Armstrong

Sudden Death Over TimeSudden Death Over Time
John Rember
LeGrande, OR:  Wordcraft of Oregon LLC, 2012
ISBN, 978-1-877655-79-1, paperback
148 pages, $14.00

John Rember’s collection of short stories in Sudden Death, Over Time are both familiar and unexpected.  Born and raised in Idaho, Rember uses his knowledge of the state to develop settings which most Idahoans would recognize.  However, Rember was also a professor of literature and writing at the College of Idaho and Pacific University, and uses his experiences with academia to help him create stories which are both humorous and a little bit absurd.

As suggested by the book’s title, death as a theme runs throughout the stories.  In “Only I Have Escaped to Tell You,” two college professors are on a rescue mission to find a lost hiker.  Both men are struggling with issues of faith and seem unable to adequately respond to the possibility of finding the hiker’s body. Although death is a constant element throughout each story, Rember does not dwell on it in a morbid or depressing way.  Each story uses death to help frame ideas such as loss, ending, fear and resentment.  In “Dead Birds Don’t Make Good Pets,” a professor is unable to prevent a talented student from committing suicide.  In “The Old Guys Ski Club,” Rember expresses both empathy and pleasure as the girlfriend of the main character’s ex-wife reveals that her relationship has ended.  Occasionally Rember presents death as a kind of peace, as in the final story, “Sudden Death, Over Time,” where the main character finds some solitude as he celebrates his 54th birthday with his wife, Angel:

But memories are alive – they must be, considering all the damage they do. It’s probably good we can’t see them all the time. It’s probably good – for the sake of my birthday celebration – that Angle’s staked out a small space and time in this world where I can sit untroubled by my past and my future, my birth and my death (144).

These stories are also irreverent, particularly towards academia.  There is no idealized concept of the professoriate.  Instead, his characters are incredibly flawed and prone to breaching both decorum and official policy.  In “Selfish Gene,” Rember describes how the main character, a chemistry professor, has stored materials, including mercury, anthrax, and plutonium from the chemistry stockroom in his crawl space.  In the same story, he describes another professor who is fired after sleeping with a student.  Although he does not comment on the value of education, he does draw into question the importance of intellectual aspirations by highlighting political maneuvers by both faculty and administrators.  In “No Time for Poetry,” a candidate for a position with the English Department blackmails her way into the job, while in “Nocturne,” the university administration moves the main character into the basement of an old steam plant in order to encourage him to retire.

Sudden Death, Over Time will appeal to adult patrons of both public and academic libraries.  John Rember’s writing style is clear and accessible, and his artful prose is eloquent without being pretentious.  The eight stories never feel moralistic, but leave you with a sense that you have gained a deeper insight into the character’s motivations and relationships.  Most of all, Sudden Death, Over Time leaves you wanting more of John Rember’s work.

Michelle Armstrong is a librarian at Albertsons Library at Boise State University.  Ms. Armstrong oversees the development of ScholarWorks, Boise State’s institutional repository, and serves as the Library Liaison for the Graduate College and Department of Mathematics.

Religion and the Public Conscience: Ecumenical Civil Rights Work in Seattle, 1940-1960 [Review]

reviewed by Karl Bridges

Religion and the Public Conscience: Ecumenical Civil Rights Work in Seattle, 1940-1960
Randi J. WalkerReligion and the Public Conscience
Winchester,UK:  Circle Books, 2012
ISBN 978-178099081, paperback
192 pages, $22.95

An important issue in religious studies is the examination of the roles that religious communities played in the social development of communities in relation to issues such as poverty and race relations. In Religion and the Public Conscience: Ecumenical Civil Rights Work in Seattle, 1940-1960,  religious scholar Randi Walker provides an overview of this process in the urban Northwest.

Walker takes the cases of two major organizations, the Seattle Council of Churches and the Christian Friends for Racial Equality, to illustrate the role of religion in formation of the idea of a “public conscience” that influenced race relations. Starting with an overview of Seattle from its founding until 1940, she goes on to discuss the philosophical concept of public conscience followed by  a discussion of specific people and events as they influenced developments in the Seattle area.

The modern development of Seattle took place in the context of overall societal changes in the United States.  The northwest region was both less religious and, to some extent, more diverse than other regions of the country, especially during and after World War II, In this context the these organizations approached issues of discrimination, such as segregated blood banks and restrictive real estate covenants, in an effort to create a more integrated society.   These two organizations also provided  venues in which people of different cultures could interact socially.

Walker places these events in  religious and philosophical context relating them to both the views of various religious groups as well as philosophers such as Josiah Royce. In documenting the activities of the organizations and the individual members, the author provides an illustration of how religious communities, especially Christian ones, responded to the call to work out concrete changes in society in keeping with their stated philosophical principles. She points out that the history of race relations was such that the relationships between various racial groups in Seattle resulted in this area having a relatively smooth transition to a more integrated society as opposed to other communities in the United States which experienced much more tension and even outright violence.

This book is a well-documented and well written account of the role of religion in the development of improvements in race relations in Seattle in the mid-20th century.  It is highly focused so, although it provides some good background of history of religion in the United States, it would primarily be of interest to the specialist in either American religious history or urban history.  This book is recommended for academic libraries or for individuals with an interest in religious history of the Northwest.

Karl Bridges is the Assistant University Librarian for Systems at Eli M. Oboler Library at Idaho State University.

Empire of Shadows: The Epic Story of Yellowstone [Review]

Empire of Shadows: The Epic Story of Yellowstone
George BlackEmpire of Shadows
New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2012
ISBN 978-0312383190, hardcover
560 pages, $35.00

The word epic could eventually suffer the fate of the word awesome: overused to the point of banality, losing its original meaning, trivialized by becoming adopted by popular culture and seeping into the vernacular.  In its true sense, epic means of unusually great size or extent.  That being the case, George Black’s book Empire of Shadows: The Epic Story of Yellowstone lives up to its title, spanning decades, crossing cultures, and describing some of the most spectacular scenery ever beheld.  With an unparalleled ability to weave together multitudinous facts and points of view into a compelling and cohesive narrative, Black’s book comes off with the same grandeur as the landscapes he describes and the personalities he brings to life.

This is not just a book about the discovery and exploration of what became Yellowstone National Park; it provides a rich, broad, and deep backstory that gives one a fuller understanding of what, besides its natural wonders, makes Yellowstone such an incredible place.  The land of Yellowstone is vividly described as a land of contrasts, from soaring peaks to deep canyons, from monumental and breathtaking cascades to hellish and diabolical landscapes.  Likewise, the story of Yellowstone is one of contrasts, with characters both noble and deeply flawed, events both heroic and terrible, and trade-offs of both monumental sacrifice and tragic injustice.

Contrasts and ironies abound.  People such as Nathaniel Langford and Lt. Gustavus Doane inspire both veneration as well as condemnation.  Doane, the aspiring explorer and intellectual, follows his participation in one of the greatest Indian massacres in United States history – the Marias Massacre of 170 or Blackfoot Indians, mostly women and children – with some of the most soaring descriptions of the awe-inspiring beauties ever penned during the first major exploration of the Yellowstone region in 1870.  This exploration was made possible by the massacre, removing the final impediment of Indian opposition that had, in part, plagued earlier attempts.  Langford, an ambitious businessman and prominent Montana citizen, is both likable because of his multitudinous talents as a jack-of-all-trades and abhorrent as one of the cruelest vigilantes in the region he was trying to establish and civilize.  Black’s robust portrayal of these and other larger than life personalities gives the book its flavor and creates a multi-dimensional depiction of this era of history that mirrors the world of then and now.

One of the most intriguing themes of the book is the depiction of noble ideals achieved through dubious means.  The figures in this story are admirable but flawed, and Black makes these people come vividly to life in the great tradition of historians like Shelby Foote and David McCullough.  Noble ideals, yes, in the establishment of the world’s first national park; dubious means, in the violence and cruelty suffered because of the clash of civilizations and the triumph of one at the expense of the other.  The predominant 19th century themes of exploration, violence, and civilization  eventually come together to form a nexus, all three on an inevitable collision course that makes the realization of the establishment of Yellowstone National Park a bittersweet accomplishment, giving one a fuller appreciation of what it took to preserve the beauties of the park and causes one to shed a tear or more when realizing how much blood was spilt and how many injustices committed to obtain this natural wonderland.

Black mixes a tireless and indefatigable tendency towards thorough and critical research (almost 100 pages of notes and bibliography) with an amazing ability and talent as a storyteller of the first rate.    His ability to combine the two makes for a riveting, compelling, story that is an absolute must for any library.  The breadth of its scope provides not only a history of the Yellowstone which is its main object, but a sweeping view of the history and settlement of the 19th century American West.  One of the best books this reviewer has ever read.

This book is recommended to all college libraries and public libraries, especially those with a strong concentration of materials in history of the U.S. West.

Christopher N. Fox is the Catalog Librarian at Brigham Young University-Idaho.