WordPress.com by the Numbers: The July 2013 Hot List

Ok, I really had to share this because it’s definitely impressive. I’ve celebrated my 4th birthday here at WordPress and after trying my hand at three different blogs and finally settling with . . .  and sticking to, 411Junkie I’m finally feeling my way around the blogging community. And we’re a fabulous community. Blogging gives a chance to write, gives us a chance to experience, and gives us a chance to share. It’s more than a 140 character tweet, more than a rant on Facebook, and still a bit more personal than a status update on LinkedIn. Blogging is . . . mind-blowing and here are the numbers to prove it!

Thank you, WordPress (and Michelle W. for posting)!

WordPress.com by the Numbers: The July 2013 Hot List.

via WordPress.com by the Numbers: The July 2013 Hot List.

Privately-Run v.s. Public Libraries

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog is solely those of the author and does not reflect the views and beliefs of the Hawaii Public Library System in any way. This is strictly my opinion and understanding.

There’s an interesting debate going on in a group I’m a part of regarding privatized public libraries. It centers around this link: Are Privatized Public Libraries So Bad? which was posted on the The Atlanta Cities website. There are many valid points and arguments, but it is a heated debate. Many participants are passionate about libraries and their role as quality information agents. Many of the participants have worked in libraries and/or continue to work in public libraries so it hits close to home for most of them.

I’ve been a patron of our public library system for as long as I can remember. I absolutely love it! I’ve used my library for all sorts of things. I love to read so I borrow a lot of fiction. I love to research so I borrow a lot of non-fiction. And when computers made its way to the library, I used the computer for research. I’ve used their access databases for research as well. So I’m a huge fan of our public library.

In addition to being a patron, I recently became an employee of this wonderful institution. During the first portion of my orientation, the head librarian of my branch went over the mission of the library system:

“To provide Hawaii residents, in all walks of life, and in each stage of their lives, with access to education, information, programs and services, and to teach and nurture the love of reading and the habit of life-long learning.”

Hawaii Public Library Systems – Mission Statement

I have to say, this mission statement aligns with my personal values, with Personal Growth and Development being one of them.

So I’m all for public libraries. However, I see the struggle our public library systems go through and more so now that I’m a part of it. Before becoming an employee, the Friends of the Library did a promotional series on the benefits of the library. This ran parallel to budget talks about funding cuts statewide for all branches of state government. It worried me then, that was about five years ago. It worries me now, especially with the shift in the roles of libraries that seems to be taking place. More and more patrons are asking questions like: “How do I use the internet?,” “Can you help me with my résumé?,” “Can you type out a business letter?” Not to mention that some of our free services get really negative complaints: “My request will take how long to fulfill? Three to six weeks? Why so long?” And then we have to explain since we use the cheapest available shipping to make sure the service remains free, the cheapest available also takes the longest route to get here.

The help that I’m being asked for everyday seems very different from the help I was given while growing up. And even though the Information Age seems to be in full swing, it seems that libraries are still trying to figure out how to accommodate this new age.

I think this is what determines whether privatization is a good thing or a bad. And I feel it is on a case-by-case basis. For the most part, I believe that it can be a very good thing. Many people fear change and I’m not saying that privately-run public libraries are without fault. There’s always room for corruption and the quality of service may waiver, but it is the same for a public sector as well. Should I shun the idea of a privately-run library based on the possibility that it may be a bad thing? Should I completely rule out the idea based on a what if? What if a privately-run library was owned and operated by someone who felt the same way, someone who shares that vision?

I don’t think privatization is the answer for everything, but it is an option that should be considered. Any business can be good business if it’s run properly and sticks to its vision and mission statements. And that applies to both the private sector and public sectors.

Other Sources:
“The Difference Between the Private and Public Sector.” Privacy Sense. Accessed 07 August 2013.
http://www.privacysense.net/difference-between-private-public-sector/

Erikson, Amanda. “Are Privatized Public Libraries So Bad?” The Atlantic Cities. Last modified March 28, 2012.
http://www.theatlanticcities.com/arts-and-lifestyle/2012/03/are-privatized-public-libraries-so-bad/1583/?goback=.gmr_40592.gde_40592_member_263808550.gmr_40592.gde_40592_member_260632557

Hawaii Public Library Systems. Accessed 07 August 2013. http://librarieshawaii.org

“Outsourcing and Privatization.” American Library Association. Accessed 07 August 2013.
http://www.ala.org/tools/outsourcing

LIVING FOR THE MOMENT

What a beautiful poem! I didn’t realize what was tracebacks (?) until now and what a lovely surprise. Beautiful.

Mankind’s fate: Overpopulation?

*** SPOILER ALERT *** This post may contain a few spoilers for Dan Brown’s newest book, Inferno, which is the continuation of the Robert Langdon saga. Proceed at your own risk (unless of course you aren’t bothered by spoilers =) ).

I’ve had the wonderful chance to read Dan Brown’s latest and greatest Robert Langdon novel, Inferno. What a novel! Firstly, I’ve enjoyed all of the Robert Langdon adventures because on some scale, they’ve touched on issues or topics that I’ve never quite heard of and each one individually caters to the conspiracy theorist in me. I was super excited when I saw Brown was release another book and instant put my name on the waiting list for the novel at our local library.

Secondly, let me just say this, that Inferno wouldn’t be my favorite of the series, but it most certainly is a good read.

What I liked most about it, and what I’ll be jabbering about in this blog post, are two issue Dan Brown introduces–transhumanism and overpopulation. Confused? Well, it’s a great theory. Brown’s character, Robert Langdon, adventures throughout Italy chasing down a madman’s quest to solve the issue of overpopulation. Since this madman was a Dante fanatic, his challenge of finding this deadly answer to man’s most complex problem of overpopulation, he uses Dante’s Inferno as the foundation of his scavenger hunt. And this madman is a transhumanist.

I’ve never heard of “transhumanist” prior to this story, but I was somewhat familiar with the theory. After researching it a bit more on Wikipedia, the definition of transhumanist actually takes us to the word transhumanism, which means using current technology to enhance and fundamentally alter humans intellectually, physically, and psychologically. It pretty much means taking humans to the next evolution by genetically altering our DNA makeup.

Of course there were several things that popped into my head when I read this definition and throughout my reading of Inferno. I immediately thought of the Nazis. And maybe transhumansim doesn’t relate to the Nazis at all, but I couldn’t help but think that they were trying to create the perfect race and since Jews didn’t fit the bill, they started “purging” their race. After thinking of the Nazis, I immediately thought of X-Men. I know right? But it was one of my favorite cartoons growing up and I remember thinking, even at that young age, “what if mutation was the next step in evolution?”

But then, who are we to play Creator? And as it’s mentioned in Inferno, evolution takes time and for a good reason. You’re talking about messing with DNA here. The tinest mistake can have huge, negative consequences. I mean, have you ever watched the movie “Sound of Thunder,” where the hunters stepped on a butterfly and caused the world to devolve? That’s what I picture when I think of this theory. I understand that modern technology is more more advance and that a part of me can see the reasoning behind the transhumanist movement, but to what extent? When is enough enough and how do you know when you’ve crossed that invisible line?

One portion of the story really hit me and it’s the second issue that Brown brought up. The female protagonist, Sienna, explains to our hero, Robert Langdon, Zorbists’ theory about overpopulation and how humankind will overpopulate our environment unless something drastic happens.  The text is subtle during her dialog, but it does raise the question “what would you do?” If the math is indisputable, we are overpopulating our world, what would you do  to fix it? The ethics and morals Inferno forces us to consider is . . .well, unimaginable. Seriously, what would you do? I don’t have the book in front of me so I’m going by memory, but I think Sienna states that 1/3 of the population is the number that the Earth’s resources can safely provide for. It’s amazing, and at the same time, unsettling.

Quite honestly, I don’t think I play God, even if I know the numbers are indisputable and even if I did have a solution to “manage” the earth’s population. Who am I to decide the fate of the world? Who am I to decide whether you live or die? Don’t get me wrong, I understand it. As Sienna mentioned, if it were all logical and no heart, what Zorbist proposed is merciful, but is it right?

And here lies the conflicts of the Inferno and the reason why I love Dan Brown and his Robert Langdon stories. He always questions some sort of moral or ethics and makes you consider your position. I’ve read some reviews that called Inferno boring and that Brown should retire Langdon, but I tend to disagree. Sure, Brown sticks to the same Langdon M.O. but the issues he addresses and the way he presents them always fascinates me and I’ll continue to recommend them to everyone.

To Freeze a Moment

What a beautiful night! I’m sitting out in the yard, under the full moon, just enjoying the quietness of the night.

Have you ever wondered what you might do if you could freeze a moment? I think about Mitch Albom’s book, The Timekeeper, and how he could move in between moments and took a century to learn everything within a moments passing to us.

What moment would you freeze? Would you even want to freeze it? Would you rather just live in it? And what would you do after you froze it?

I have no idea what I would do with a moment. I don’t know if I would want to freeze it, or seize it. I don’t know if I would just sit still for a minute or two, letting the feelings and thoughts that come with that moment sink in or sit for hours as I reflect upon the thoughts and feelings and let it stew.

And isn’t time just a bunch of little moments rolled into one giant ball of time? You know, make-every-minute-count sorta thing?

Whenever I have time to reflect it seems my thoughts always lead back to time and what am I doing to make the most of it. I am grateful for the 24-hours I am given each day. I don’t know if I’ve been making every minute count, but I do know that I don’t regret any moment. I’m not saying I’m living a blissful life. I read a quote on the famous Facebook the other day. It said “There are no regrets, just lessons learned.” I love this philosophy and have adopted that frame of mind.

So wether I freeze the moment or dive into it, feet first, I know that moments are precious somethings and I know both reflection and action can truly make every moment count.