Table Talk: The Information World

Information: General or specific knowledge about a subject, event, or person.

Let me take a break from reviews a bit to talk a little about the information world.

Why?

Excellent question. How to answer this is another matter.

My blog is mainly reviews. I like talking movies, books, and television and my blog provides a quick summary and my thoughts and these various forms of entertainment. I’d throw in music, but all I really do is listen to music and I’m not sure how to incorporate that into a blog post. And when I think about my blip of information adding to the vast sea of information already out there, I think of how a drop of water just disappears into the to the sink. You cannot tell where that drop of water is. You cannot distinguish your drop of water among the many drops of water.

And then I think about everything else out there on the internet. When I work on research papers for class or even just looking up random bits of information a simple internet search can call up pages and pages of links on what you’re trying to find out. Not including social media platforms. Opinions of others on the subject you’re researching only adds those pages and pages of links.

There is a lot of information out there, fact and fiction, that makes its way into our research.

It could be that I am a library assistant. It could be that I’m a student. Whatever the reason, I cannot help but think just how inflated information can be now days. I use Google a lot when writing my posts. For basic information, to find a quote, to read other reviews. And I see those pages and pages and pages of links yet I don’t make it past page three, sometimes four and never past page five. I sometimes even click on the last page just to see if there is anything useful on that last page. A whole lot of misinformation, or disinformation, and a whole lot of opinions that are being passed off as facts.

And all this always makes me think of the book Are Libraries Obsolete? by Mark Herring. He argues there is a significant difference between knowledge and information. He mentions “it is one thing to find fifty links to a certain topic; it is another to know which of the fifty links on, say, evolution are by scientists, which are by creationist, and which are by eighth graders (36).” He makes the comparison that the internet catches noise whereas libraries try to catch signals (26). While Herring is making his case for the value of libraries, the same concepts can be applied to those who work in libraries. The brains who are pointing out the scientists and such. People like me, who is striving for a Library and Information Science degree.

Let’s take a closer look at that shall we. Information science. Defined as “an interdisciplinary field primarily concerned with the analysis, collection, classification, manipulation, storage, retrieval, movement, dissemination, and protection of information (Wikipedia).”

When I mention that I’m pursing a Library and Information Science degree, people tend to only hear and focus on library. As in “you need a degree to work in a library?” because everyone who works there, even those who are only checking in and checking out materials has a degree says sarcastically. You don’t need a degree to work in a library, however, you need a degree if you want to be a librarian. How else can they separate information and knowledge for you? If everyone can do that, there wouldn’t be a disinformation problem. The internet wouldn’t be inflated with noise and actually have well-thought through links to quality information.

This month is Records and Information Month with the first week being Library Week. Maybe take a minute or two to reflect on just how important knowledge is and the wisdom it takes to filter out the noise. And then think about your library and the people who work in the library. I’m not bias either. I was a library patron way before I ever worked in a library. And I always appreciated research. And when you think about your library and the people who work there, why don’t you stop by a library and show some appreciation? Tell them thank you for the service they provide. They are there to help you. To help arm you with accurate and up-to-date information.

Happy Library Week everyone!

 

Photo credit: dreamstime.com

411 Toolbox: Logging Your Reads!

As you may well have guessed, I’m an information junkie. The problem with being an information junkie is the annoying need to know.

For example:

  • I read a total of 62 books
  • which totals to 12,892 pages
  • and that the longest book I read had 669 (Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare)
  • and out of those 62 books, 19 contributed to the 26 reading challenges.
  • I read mostly works of female authors
  • and mostly mysteries
  • in electronic format (mainly Kindle)
  • purchased from Amazon.
  • It also seems, on average, I take about two days to complete a book.

And all this because I thought Book Riot reading log was brilliant and immediately downloaded it so I could keep track of my reads. Like their post mentions, GoodReads is an immensely useful tool (which I talk about here) and I still use it but sometimes you just need to know more.

Which brings me to a shout out to Book Riot once more because they’ve made an epic reading log (which you can find here). I’ve already downloaded it and can’t wait to fill it up. This log has a few more categories to track including whether the read is comic or prose (which I’m not sure if I’ll use this since I don’t read much comics), fiction or nonfiction, and a reading challenge column. They even created a “results” tab which is I love because, hello, information junkie. It’s a nice summary to the main log.

Mad props (I don’t know if this phrase is even used anymore?) going out to Book Riot for taking the time to come up with such a log and then to share with all of us lesser beings (because it never dawned on me to create a reading log in a spreadsheet format face palm–and sorry if this generalization seems offensive, I really am referring to me as the lesser being–#disclaimer?), what I like about their templates is that from here, I can customize the log to what I want to track. And to inspire you a bit more, because it inspired me, you can take a look at this post, again from Book Riot.

With the weekend ahead of me, I know what I’m going to be doing (at least, in theory). Feel free to chime in if you’ve done things differently.

411 Toolbox: The toolbox

A few months back I decided to write about tools of the trade or, well, tools that I use to keep my brain occupied and help me to be the information junkie that I am. I kicked it off by reviewing Evernote–a pretty darned cool app that … well, you can read all about it here. And two years ago, I reviewed GoodReads here.

It didn’t dawn on me to turn it into a spotlight until recently. I decided that I like showcasing the resources I use to feed my brain and they deserve some loving, so I’ve decided to make it a feature post. And just like my book reviews and movie review, I’m trying to figure out how to showcase this spotlight post.

  • Do I make a list of five? Ten?
  • Should I make it a weekly post? Monthly post?
  • Do I make it series?

Decisions, decisions. But then again, that’s the beauty of writing. You can dive in and eventually you’ll find something you like, something you start to work with, and then it takes care of itself.

While planning and analyzing is a good thing, the even better thing to do is just go with it. And since I love writing and blogging I know this will work itself out like the others.

So, not only have I decided t start a Facebook page for my blog, I’m also starting a new category. My has my muse been busy.

To a new month full of possibilities.

Educational Pursuits: It’s not all about History

So, a while back I talked about going back to school and then why I’m a history major, but that’s not the whole story. Nope.

It started with a career search. And ended with a decision to register in school to go for a Bachelor degree in History.

I was working as an Admin Assistant for a government contractor and wasn’t unhappy with my job, but I wasn’t satisfied either. An admin assistant wasn’t quite the field I wanted to be in, even if I did a pretty good job. I was a bit restless, if I’m honest. So I decided to figure out what it was I really wanted do.

Finding a job as a production assistant wasn’t working out so I needed  shift gears. To help me figure out what I wanted to do, I picked up a book (naturally) What Color Is Your Parachute? 2009 edition. I worked my way through some of the tests and narrowed down a few options. This inspired me to take a few personality tests which helped me narrow down my interests as well as my strengths and weaknesses.

I can’t remember exactly when the lightbulb came on but I realized it boiled down to information. I enjoy looking things up, figuring things out, and getting everything to flow into the bigger picture (production assistants, writers, etc). And when I realized that I groaned because how the heck does that translate into a career or even into making a living for myself?

But it helped. It was a start, right? Well, all this lead me to the Association of Independent Information Professionals. This website really spoke to my inner geek. I mean, Information Professional? Never heard of it before, but it really appealed to me. There was a whole association of them!

And on their website it mentioned that most Information Professionals worked in a library. This piqued my interest because … library? What? So I decided to research careers in a library and stumbled across “a degree in Library and Information Science.” I was shocked. I mean, they have a degree dedicated to Information Science? What?! I could have a degree in Information Science? Shut. Up!

I quickly googled “Library and Information Science degree” and found a whole bunch of websites talking about it, including a local university that was known for that program. Bad news? It was a Master’s program. I didn’t even have an Associates degree. And to make it worst, it had been ten ears since I been to school.

It was just a tad bit discouraging. Well, fast forward two years and I still couldn’t shake it. I was still doing a decent job as an admin assistant making a fairly good living and I just couldn’t shake the idea of being an Information Professional.

I took a leap of faith and made the decision to go back to school. Oh, I also decided if my end game is to be an Information Professional I may as well get used to working in the field so I applied at our local library and put in my resignation when they offered me a job at half of what I was getting paid.

And I’ve never looked back.

It’s been an interesting two years and I imagine it’ll only better.

Table Talk: The Library – “an organized collection of sources of information …”

I have to say, I never would have guessed I’d someday work in a library. As much as I loved our local library growing up, as much as I loved to read … ever, growing up it never occurred to me that I could actually work in a library. It never crossed my mind and I have no idea why.

Well, I love it. I’m not sure if I want to actually work as a librarian, but I love this field. This … information field (which I’ll explain sometime soon because I just realized this is a topic for another post).

Working in the library, I’ve heard some very interesting comments ranging from “I love libraries” to “libraries are obsolete” to “wait, you guys don’t help us type our resumes?” Which leads me to think that libraries mean different things to different people. And when lines get blurred and the meanings get vague, I tend to go to the root of things. So, as defined by Wikipedia, a library is:

an organized collection of sources of information and similar sources, made accessible to a defined community for referencing or borrowing.

You see that? Sources of information and similar sources? No where in that definition does it say that a library is a place to house and/or store books.  Books, however, hold information and since libraries are organized collections of sources of information … there you go.

I say this because at one point in history, books were the de facto source of information. You had oral history and then you had written history ranging from symbols on cave walls to rolls of parchment with scribbles to the printed press and books. And guess what? Your library, till this day, still has an oral source of information (e.g. the librarian and/or his/her assistants) as well as written sources of information (e.g. books and magazines).

And now you have the internet and online databases to add to those “sources of information” and someone who can show you how to use those sources (hint: the librarian and/or the reference staff)

I could write turn this into another “Are libraries obsolete?” post/article, but that is for another day. I simply wanted to clarify exactly what a library is.

Is it really that important to “clarify” it?

I think it is. I think there is a disconnect between what society thinks a library is and what it actually is. Whether it’s because we’re getting swept up in this fast paced, digital age or because libraries have been a bit slow to re-image or redefine themselves is yet another debate for another day, but for now, I’ll just start with a definition.

Libraries are information centers and the key word here is information, not books. Yes, libraries have movies and audio books and CDs which may or may not be educational, but if nothing else don’t they hold information? The definition of library doesn’t say the sources of information has to be educational. So I ask again, does a movie have some sense of information on it? Or maybe a CD? Yes. Yes, they do.

And while we’re on this topic, let’s define information as well. Wikipedia says information is:

that which informs i.e. an answer to a question, as well as that which knowledge and data can be derived .

I love that. “That which informs, such as an answer to a question” and “that which knowledge and data can be derived.”

Hm, why was Seinfeld such a popular TV show? Let’s borrow Season 1 of Seinfeld from the library.

Harry Potter had 7 books! I’ll just borrow the movies from the library.

What kind of music did the Eagles play?

Who is the latest and greatest jazz artist?

What in the world is New Age music?

All the answers to these questions can be found at a library, especially if you don’t feel like pay $1.29 for song or piece of music you may not like or $4.99 rental fee for a movie you may not care for. Generally, libraries provide this all to you for free or an even lower fee than that.

I can just do an internet search. No biggie.

Well, you’re right. But that’s another argument and debatable subject and my goal right now is to simply define library.

So, there you have it. Libraries. Information centers. Just so you know.

Random 411: “I want to be an information junkie when I grow up …”

Said no four year old ever.

At least, not in my reality. When I was asked, at my preschool graduation, what I wanted to be when I grew up, I boldly stated I wanted to be a teacher.

Growing up, I never considered a career as a librarian or a historian, both info junkie worthy. Sure I read a lot of books and the library was a favorite place, but it never dawned on me to pursue a career in the library. And now, here I am. A library assistant currently pursuing a degree in European History with hopes to continue in the Library and Information Science Master’s program.

Would you believe me if I said it was the Information Science part of that title that piqued my interest? Well, it was. And still is. And you should believe it considering the name of this blog is 411Junkie as in InfoJunkie. I consider the library part a bonus.

In addition to being a teacher, other career options I thought about were:
Marine biologist, astronomer, storm chaser, paralegal, something dealing with political science, and then I finally settled on something in movie production in my junior year of high school and stuck with that until a few years ago. A few years ago I decided I enjoyed information as a subject and decided to see what’s out there regarding information. I’m still on the fence whether to become a librarian or to be a historian or maybe a little bit of both.

Which brings me to my question.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Has it changed as you grew up experience more of life?

Wishing you the best of luck for those still in search for you dream job! And those of you who found it, here’s to happiness … and stuff!

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*Photo credits goes to Baja Greenawalt’s Cozy Book Nook blog for the librarian photo & Lakos for the Dream Job picture

(NaBloPoMo 2014, Day 18)