Friday, February 26, 2016

The Dictionary of Imaginary Places: an Annotation

As promised, this week I am posting my assignment from last week: my reference annotation from my 407 class. I don't make it a habit to post assignments because I think it's kind of unoriginal, but I think when you read about this reference source, you'll understand why I am sharing. This book, The Dictionary of Imaginary Places, is fun to read and fun to write about. I've written a long and a short annotation below. Find out more about annotations at Purdue OWL.

(the long version)
This 755 page paperback volume from Harcourt Publishing is a travel guide for the imaginative reader. The original text, published in 1980, was followed by an expanded paperback run in 1987; this critically acclaimed third edition has been, according to the authors Alberto Manguel and Gianni Guadalupi, co-authored by their readers’ submissions. Illustrators Graham Greenfield, Eric Beddows, and James Cook have created 150 maps and 100 illustrations to accompany the 1000 plus text entries. The book includes an original foreword and an authors’ note for this edition. The authors explain that they have defined “imaginary” as places that cannot be visited and are not mapped in the real world or installed upon existing landscapes. The places must be on earth; there are no heavens or hells, and no places in the future. The authors have clearly researched their sources, taking for granted that fiction is fact. The Dictionary of Imaginary Places is at once entertaining and informative, highly appropriate for research and very easy to use. Each “imaginary place” is arranged alphabetically, in bold, followed by a description and a citation to the original literary work. Readers may make use of the index, which lists places under the original author’s name. Searching for a title or pseudonym will direct you to see the cross-referenced name authority. The authors include non-English titles in the original language (which are translated to English in parentheses). While the Los Angeles Times calls this book a “lively, opinionated ethnography of the unreal,” it is now seventeen years out of date and a new edition would be welcomed. The cover lists the original price as $28, but currently Amazon sells the paperback for $18.66, and the library binding at $36.05.

(the short version) 
From Harcourt, Alberto Manguel and Gianna Guadalupi created this 1999 third edition paperback as a guide to fantasy literature. Graham Greenfield, Eric Beddows, and James Cook created 150 maps and 100 illustrations to accompany the 1000 plus entries. Includes an original foreword and authors note. Entertaining and informative, appropriate for research and easy to use. Arranged alphabetically, entries are followed by a description and citation to the original work. A cross-referenced index lists places under the original author’s name. The LA Times calls this book a “lively, opinionated ethnography of the unreal.” Via Amazon: paperback $18.66, library binding $36.05.

Manguel, A. & Guadalupi, G. The Dictionary of Imaginary Places (1999). San Diego, Harcourt Inc.

Similar Works

Borges, J. L (2006). The Book of Imaginary Beings (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition). New York, Penguin House.

Eco, U. (2013). The Book of Legendary Lands. New York, Rizzoli Ex Libris
(RIP Umberto Eco!)

Rose, C. (2000). Giants, Monsters, and Dragons: An Encyclopedia of Folklore, Legend, and Myth. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.

VanderMeer, J. (2013). Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction. New York: Abrams. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Making a Statement

This month, I have prioritized getting scholarship applications out for next year. I had deadlines of March 1 for the American Library Association and April 1 for the Association of American Law Libraries. I decided to do it all at once because I know that I am only going to get busier from here.

Below, I am posting an abridged version of the essay that I submitted to AALL. That essay was allowed to be longer because they also wanted to know about my financial status. The version that I submitted to the ALA was limited to less than 300 words. Editing it down was great practice for an assignment that I had this week in my reference course. We had to create an "annotation" for a print reference source; I chose "The Dictionary of Imaginary Places" and had a lot of fun writing it (stay tuned next week to read that piece)!

Anyway, here is my personal statement:

When I was an undergraduate, the most influential classroom of my education was a small, sunny office near the reference section of the library. I had a work study in Interlibrary Loans, and in that transitional year, I found an invaluable mentor in my supervisor. She embodied the professional I wanted to be: well-read, inquisitive, and kind. I learned not only about the industry, but also the intention behind her librarianship. As a result of that training, I spent three summers exploring my options in other libraries as a technical services assistant and paraprofessional. 
I finished my undergraduate program with a dual-major B.A. and, perhaps more importantly, four years of practical experience in a career I felt passionate about. I had also been confronted with an existential challenge; while I was studying abroad in Turkey, my father lost his battle with cancer. I needed time away from school, so after graduation I explored the wider scope of information services at a prominent law firm.  
Seeing the internal network of a law firm helped me focus my aspirations toward a career in legal librarianship. After a year away, I returned to graduate school, continuing to work full time and remaining engaged in the information field. I have demonstrated my leadership and my curiosity by joining the Innovation Board within my firm, and I am currently leading a firm-wide initiative to host quarterly educational lectures for the entire information services group. I have also successfully petitioned management to incorporate these events into the curriculum for our annually required professional development time.  
Ever since I left for college, I have been financially self-reliant; the longest I have gone without working was during my semester in Istanbul. I have learned not only to make wise choices, but also to trust myself to take risks. Four days after graduating, I moved into a summer sublease in Boston, setting a goal for myself to find a job by the end of July. I had been interviewing since March, driving between Vermont and Boston, and those miles paid off when I started a full time job less than a month after my graduation. 
Applying to Simmons was, like moving to the city, a calculated risk. I considered many factors: my remaining undergraduate loans, my rising rent and modest pay. Today, I am proud to be putting myself through school, and I will continue to work hard because I recognize the value of investing in myself. My attending Simmons would not be possible without receiving external financial aid, and I will make every effort to be deserving of it. 
I look forward to a point when I am able to help sustain and mentor aspiring librarians. I envision myself as a law librarian where I will have opportunities to work alongside intelligent, influential colleagues and to lead innovation in the field. Legal librarianship appeals to me because of the strategic nature of research and the tangible implications of my service. I see a career in librarianship as not only fulfilling, but also a field in which I can bring intention and meaning to my practice.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Yes... there is crying in grad school

Maybe I should be relieved that it didn't happen until the second semester, but LIS 437 (Legal Information Services) made me go there.

Legal research is like learning a new language. It's different from any research I have done as a student. I need a dictionary to understand the legal dictionary. Through our class, we have access to Lexis Advance, one of the major sources for legal information. I'm sure once you know what you are doing/looking for it's much more intuitive, but I feel like a tourist.

This week, our assignment was to locate a bunch of secondary sources based on potential reference questions and then write the correct citation for them. Legal citations come from the Blue Book, which is like the second line of defense between me and the right answer. First you have to get past the Lexisdragon, then actually cite the dragon with proper spaces and punctuation.

It's not hard to see how I ended up totally lost by the second question. I spent 90 minutes scanning through Lexis sources for one question, not sure if I even had the right answer to be citing. I think the biggest struggle for me was that my professors had warned us, "you won't get the right answer, but make your best effort and don't worry about your citations being perfect." Um, what? If there is no way for me to get the right answer, when am I done?? This is not a criticism of the class - it's just very different from the way I am used to working.

Eventually, I became so frustrated with myself that I just had an angry cry. My boyfriend, who I think has cried 2.5 times in his life, was baffled, but sweet. "This is what I want to do with my life!" I cried, "and I can't figure it out!"

I'm also insecure because there are a few people in my class who are actually lawyers or have experience on the legal side of things. I work for a law firm, but my job is closer to IT/administration, and I'm just not used to using that language. In the end, I did e-mail my professors to let them know that I was confused, and they were really helpful in class. Sometimes you just have to say, "I have no idea where to begin."

I am trying to get past the feeling that this is some kind of straight-out-of-the-gate failure, and accept the fact that I am in graduate school for a reason. I'm not supposed to know what I'm doing yet. And yes, sometimes, there is frustrated crying, but there is also chocolate.

Friday, February 5, 2016

This week in 3-D printing adventures...

Last Tuesday, I hosted a lunch event at my law firm as part of our "Innovation TED Talk Series." I'm on my Information Services department's Innovation Board, and one of our most successful "ideas" has been this series of lunchtime sessions, where we view a TED talk and then discuss it as a group. Even though we have the capability to have meetings with multiple cities, we have kept this at the local office level because it has been very nice to just have a discussion with people that you might cross paths with in the kitchen but never really have an opportunity to talk with. It's also a venue for people to brainstorm and share ideas generally. After the first talk, I also campaigned to have these kind of events count toward our department-wide annually required professional development training.

This quarter, our talk was "Where Good Ideas Come From," a 2010 presentation by Steven Johnson that examines what kinds of spaces and environments lead to innovation (if you have 18 minutes, it is worth a watch). Our ensuing discussion ranged from open concept workspaces, to standing desks, to nutrition. We also ended up talking about the Innovation Board itself and how it fields new ideas and fosters innovation in our firm.

Since it was lunch time, I also made a snack for the event - I have been baking cupcakes like crazy for my boyfriend's birthday (we had a party and a surprise bar night). I made a batch of vanilla cake/chocolate frosting mini cupcakes and my boyfriend created "idea lightbulb" cake toppers in Google SketchUp. We 3-d printed them overnight and they were the perfect addition to my TED talk snacks.

Rob's design
Speaking of nutrition... Sugar high anyone?

Monday, February 1, 2016

A Board Game Birthday

This weekend we celebrated my boyfriend's 25th birthday and had to incorporate one of his favorite things: board games. For a few months, he has been working on a 3-D printed Settlers of Catan board (original and a few expansions). We have printed everything except the cards, and I have helped him by hand-painting the terrain tiles and resources. I wish we had kept track of how many hours we have spent working on this game.

Our friend, who was also celebrating his birthday, created a wooden board to hold the tiles. I personally LOVE honeycomb patterns, so there is something really satisfying about seeing them all laid out this way. My favorite are the Wood tiles (green), because each is painted a different shade of green.

Setup, before play
I had never played Catan before, so my boyfriend I were on a team (basically I just watched and listened, and rolled for us). I think that I understand enough to play on my own now... but whether I have the patience for a three hour game is another question.

The game in play, with our "Robber," named Donald Trump
After the game, I brought out the cake that I had made - red velvet with "Meeple" sprinkles. Meeple are the game pieces that are used in Carcassonne, one of my favorites at game night (I go every Wednesday after class and meet up with Rob). I found these sprinkles on Amazon by searching "nerd sprinkles," and paid $10 for them because they were obviously necessary.

I also used my re-usable silicon mini cupcake cups!
Is anyone else really into board games? I have found a solid appreciation for them, although I do prefer more social/less strategic games like Heads Up and Cranium (my family had a game night last Friday as well, which included hours of Heads Up). I know that there are some popular "board game cafes" like Brookline's Knight Moves (which is starting a Somerville Branch!). Is this something that works well in public libraries too? The fact that this was all 3-D printed could be really suitable in a public library that has a 3-D printer (like mine in NH) - if patrons lose any pieces, you can just make more!

I'm also really curious about what other games we could 3-D print. This has been cost-saving, but also just a fun activity for us to complete together. While I don't think we will ever run out of projects, I would love to find more activities like this. I will have to poke around on Thingiverse and see what is out there.