Friday, February 20, 2009

Ten non-library blogs librarians should read

TMI. We usually use this term to tell our friends when they're sharing too much about their personal lives, but I think the trap of "too much information" is one that librarians fall into on a daily basis. We can't help it. Librarians want lots of information, all the time. The problem is that there are so many great library and reading/book blogs that we can, and often do, spend all our time just reading blogs from and about our colleagues. These are valuable blogs, no doubt, but we can always benefit from diversifying our knowledge. Librarians know their book and library services blogs inside and out and often in their sleep, but I want to offer up some non-library, non-book blogs that I find interesting, fun, and strangely beneficial to my day-to-day work.

apophenia. This is the one blog I always recommend to anyone who wants to know more about teens and social networking. danah boyd is one of the country's leading authorities on the subject, and her writing is both in-depth and easy for those of us who aren't fluent in Academicese to understand.

Cake Wrecks. Everyone loves cake, right? (Please say yes.) And everyone loves a beautifully decorated cake, right? You know what everyone loves more? Badly professionally decorated cakes. We're talking spelling errors, frosting disasters, and the Just Plain Heinous. You will laugh. And then you'll cry. I don't even go in my kitchen unless I have to wash the dishes and I love this blog, so don't worry if you're not a foodie.

The Consumerist. Subtitled "Shoppers Bite Back," it's not Economics for Dummies, it's Retail And You. The Consumerist is part of the Gawker media empire, so it's got a sarcastic tone that carries a lot of truth and a lot of information about retail, credit, taxes, debt, real estate, and all the other daily economic concerns that, well, are driving up library usage.

Freakonomics. The authors of the fascinating Freakonomics now blog for the New York Times about everything from thugs to the Kindle 2 to baseball. And that's just this week.

GeekSugar. GeekSugar is like your cool older sister, dispensing interesting information about technology, gadgets, and geek fashion in a relatable way. More than just gadget news, GeekSugar also explains complicated programs in plain English and offers helpful tech tips for the everyday user (like "How to make your own iPhone ringtones in GarageBand" and "How to attract more blog readers").

I Can Has Cheezburger? or, if you're a dog person, I Has a Hotdog!. The concept was simple: Post funny and/or adorable pictures of cats, and put in captions that express what the cat in the picture is probably thinking. Next thing you know, LOLCats and LOLDogs are a cultural phenomenon, imitated and duplicated at places like LOLBrarians.

Indie Rock Cafe. It's important that libraries have indie music in their collections. It's one of those "If you build it, they will come" things. But what's a librarian whose taste is more Led Zeppelin than Arcade Fire to do? Read Indie Rock Cafe. Even if you've never heard of any of the bands they cover, you'll quickly learn who's hot in the indie rock world, meaning who's going to be hot at your library. Maybe you'll even discover a new favorite band.

Plagiarism Today. Whenever I visit schools, I always end up talking to at least one person about plagiarism. How to avoid it, tips on getting students to recognize what it is and not do it, etc. PT is run by a non-lawyer who's interested in copyright issues. One favorite section of mine is "How to Find Plagiarism," and the Copyright Myths section alone is worth the time you take visiting the site.

The TV Addict. Even though their "Twelve Reasons to Stay Home on Friday Night" completely ignores my favorite show, Numb3rs, I love the TV Addict for their unashamed devotion to the art of TV storytelling, both good and bad. Plus, they're huge fans of Supernatural and you know how I feel about people like that. They post interviews, pictures, podcasts, news, rants, and quick rundowns of what they're watching. Or, as I like to say, they watch TV so you don't have to. (Don't get me wrong, I like TV, but with reading for the Printz TV has taken a back seat this year.)

Writer Beware. Okay, so I'm cheating. But it's my blog and I'll cheat if I want to. In all seriousness, this is a blog I wish every librarian would read for a few reasons. One: We get asked a lot of questions about publishing. Two: Lots of librarians would also like to be writers. Three: Writing and publishing (and librarianship) as an industry seems to have this reputation among the masses of being a haven of creativity and nice people. Truth is, there ARE lots of creative and nice people in publishing, but there are also a lot of dishonest people who prey on aspiring writers. A.C. Crispin and Victoria Strauss, both accomplished science fiction writers, take no crap from any scammer, and they make it all public.

Honorable mentions for this list go to Apartment Therapy, Shiny Shiny, Metal Sucks!, and ShoppingBlog.

Feel free to comment with your favorite non-library, non-book blogs!

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