Thursday, 26 June 2014

Wednesday reads - 25 June 2014

Getting back into the groove of this one (I hope):

What I've just finished reading:
Jean Plaidy's The Murder in the Tower (ebook) - disappointing, for a Plaidy.  I guess I was hoping for a lot more about James I and Charles I, and she seems to have focused on Charles II and thereafter with the Stuart books.  I do think I'll enjoy the books about Mary and Anne when I get there.

The Agency, by Y S Lee - Awesome.  My only quibble is how easy it was to forget that it was Victorian and assume it was Regency.  I don't know if that's because I'm so used to reading Regency, or whether the setting just wasn't *quite* explicit enough.  But I really enjoyed it, and have the next two on my TBR pile.  (It's a very big pile.)

What I'm reading now:
I'm doing my usual: in the middle of far too many things all at once.

The Maid and the Queen, by Nancy Goldstone.  The third Goldstone I've started and probably the first I'll finish.  Which isn't to say I don't like the other two, I've just been more easily distracted by them.  This one is about Joan of Arc (the Maid) and Yolande of Aragon (the Queen - of Sicily) and Yolande's influence on the reception of Joan.  Seriously fascinating, and will make for a good review post given that I'll have to mention Tessa Duder's Song for Alex and Shaw's Joan as well.

The Body in the Tower, by Y S Lee.  Second in the Mary Quinn/Agency series.

Also on my Goodread's "Currently Reading" list: The Lord's Day (Michael Dobbs), Passage to Pontefract (e) (Jean Plaidy), Escape from Cockatoo Island (Yvonne Poshoglian) and Four Queens (Nancy Goldstone).

What I'll read next:
Hild, by Nicola Griffiths
The One, by Kiera Cass
Our Man in Tehran (e), by Robert Wright
Glamour in Glass, by Mary Robinette Kowal

among others...

... by the way - it's still Wednesday somewhere in the US.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Cross-post: (academic) Libraries and Access

The bulk of this is a cross-post from my Discernment blog - a bit of a rant about the UCA's theological library and the fact that I would have to pay to borrow.  As I say, it's a rant.  I may get around to some helpful, logical reasoning in a future post.

I love libraries.  I'm a librarian at the moment (and some might say, by birth), so that's not surprising.

And I love the Dalton McCaughey library.  In my third year of uni, I spent a lot of time in the DML's predecessor library, in part because of the subjects I was doing, and in part because my room at St Hilda's College overlooked the library therefore I had continuous reminders of how gorgeous the rooms themselves were, and it was close when I wanted a change of scene.

The library has a fabulous collection.  There are a lot of books I'd love to read, and the access to journals, etc... but there's a couple little problems.

I live in the country.

I work full time, and am rarely in Melbourne when the DML is even open.

These two things wouldn't be such an issue, given that there are processes available

And the biggest issue?

These are the people who are allowed to borrow/have electronic access without a membership fee:

-  Students of the University of Divinity
-  Members of staff of the United Faculty of Theology
 -  Other lecturers and tutors of the United Faculty of Theology and visiting scholars recommended to the Library by the Principal of one of the three member Theological colleges
-  Members of the Society of Jesus and members of staff of bodies or institutions sponsored or supported by the Society who are recommended to Council by the Provincial
-  Ordained ministers of the Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania
-  Staff of the Centre for Theology and Ministry
-  Lay Pastors, Youth Workers, Community Ministers, Accredited Lay Preachers, Pastors (or equivalent, such as youth leader, pastoral visitor, worship leader or children and family worker currently in a recognised placement or appointment) in the UCA, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania
-  Candidates for Specified Ministries of the UCA, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania undertaking required studies (including candidates not at UFT or the University of Divinity)
-  Endorsed UCA members in ministry with children
-  The staff of Trinity College and members of Trinity College who are students of The University of Melbourne and/or Trinity College Theological School
-  Licensed clergy of the Anglican Province of Victoria
-  Faculty members of a Recognized Teaching Institution of the University of Divinity, including adjunct lecturers who are recommended by the Principal of their institution.
-  Faculty members of the Presbyterian Theological Hall.
-  The Master, Deans, Fellows, Directors of Studies, Resident Tutors and Librarians of Ormond and Queen's Colleges at The University of Melbourne
-  Student residents of Ormond and Queen's Colleges
-  Undergraduate and postgraduate students, and staff, of The University of Melbourne
That's a lot of people, yes.  But it's not lay people.  Regular old (and young) lay people who may well still want to educate themselves further on issues of theology. And for whom $250 per year plus postage may be rather expensive.

My mother - an accredited lay preacher - could have access, and in fact I will probably suggest it, as following the Metaxas, she wants to read decent books about Bonhoeffer, which I'm sure the DML has.

But I'm doing the PoD and I can't have access; because I live in the country I can't even go in and browse for a day or something like that.

I understand that there need to be restrictions (sort of - I mean, I understand the concept of a private/academic library), but for a church that keeps going on about how sad the state of lay education is, I find it problematic that I can't improve my own education through access to the theological library.  (Also, as an Old Hildarian - why is St Hilda's excluded from student membership?)

With the DML presumably needing to be reviewed in the near future, perhaps this is something that can be taken into consideration.  (Or, perfectly selfishly, just open up membership to PoD as well as accepted Candidates?)

Monday, 16 June 2014

This is so very me...

I love this Google doodle for the World Cup.  I suspect there are many readers out there who thoroughly identify!

Friday, 13 June 2014

Developing thoughts on libraries and citizenship

I dream of being able, one day, to apply for a Ramsay or a Reid scholarship from the State Library of
Victoria, and I think I've finally come up with a topic.  I've got until December this year to refine, it, too (if I want to apply for 2015).

I'd like to study how libraries in Australia and perhaps the US or UK (no harm in aiming high) deal with issues of security and the need to have security guards.

I mentioned when I first posted the Caitlin Moran quote that I felt it had some major implications for the library I'm at.  I'd really, really like this quote to be true of my library, but we're dealing with some major behavioural issues, and none of us have the requisite training to deal with the troublemakers as actual citizens (within their understanding of citizen, not the library manager's understanding, or the little old lady who wants the library quiet like it was in her day, or etc.

Yes, citizenship brings responsibilities, but I really don't think anyone has ever taught these kids, or modelled for them, the idea that swearing isn't considered polite in public places, or that they need to consider the wishes of others.  And we have neither the time, the skills, nor the authority to be the ones to teach them that (nor do we really want to).

So now we have a security guard.  And while I acknowledge that it's making things a little pleasanter for us, I hate it.  I hate the visual.  I hate what it's doing to a reputation for being welcoming that we have worked incredibly hard over the last four years to build.  And I hate that our reaction to these kids is just to throw them out.

So yeah.  I want to start thinking about whether going to some of the Melbourne libraries - Broadmeadows, Craigieburn, various other outer suburbs, perhaps some Western Sydney libraries - would give me some insights that could be used for us.  Long term project, obviously, but I think I'd have support from Management.

(Also, I really dislike the "customer/consumer" approach for libraries, and I do wonder if we'd do far better with a 'citizenship' approach.  More thoughts to be developed there.)

Because I really needed a new academicy task/goal.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Review: The Houseguests - a Memoir of Canadian Courage and CIA Sorcery

The Houseguests - a Memoir of Canadian Courage and CIA Sorcery
The Houseguests - a Memoir of Canadian Courage and CIA Sorcery by Mark Lijek

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the epilogue to The Houseguests, author Mark Lijek expresses the hope that the movie Argo, whatever its inaccuracies, will encourage viewers to find out more about what really happened. It worked. It was for that exact reason that, on arriving home from seeing Argo, I went searching for other information, and Lijek's book was one of the only books immediately available to me. Mark Bowden's book on the wider hostage crisis was at another library branch; Robert Wright's book on Ken Taylor is seriously rare in Australia; now Mendez's book is more widely available, but we saw the movie rather early. "The Houseguests" was available on Kobo, and able to be bought in Australia (thank you for self publishing, Mark Lijek).

Honestly - it showed that the book was self-published. Editing issues, typos, etc. But when you're interested enough, you can totally get past all that, and that's what this book did. Editing aside, I was captivated: and now that I've got my copy of the Argo DVD, I'm inclined to read the book all over again. Something about the way Lijek writes is very refreshing. It's so easy, with the Hostage Crisis, to descend onto jingoism and exceptionalism. Mendez does this a little, but then, he's CIA, you kind of expect it. Lijek just writes.

Obviously one is going to get a positive picture of a man's wife in a book he writes. What he wrote about Cora made me like her even more, and I'd been inclined to like her from the movie because she was played by the awesome Clea Duvall.

Now I've read the Bowden book, and Tony Mendez' own book. I'm still trying to track down the Wright book about Taylor. The Lijek gave me a wonderful view of what actually happened in the story told by Argo, and even more than that, it pointed me in the right direction to find out even more. The movie did exactly what Mark wanted it to do, and Mark's book just further whet my appetite. Thank you.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

On a cold, rainy island...

Quote from Caitlin Moran: image via Missoula Public Library

Boy does this quote bring up a lot to think about; the way that as staff we are forced to think about our users as consumers rather than citizens, just for starters.

I don't particularly love Caitlin Moran at all, but I do appreciate this quote - and I think it's an important one for keeping in mind as library staff.