Archive for April, 2007

Audiobooks, Quanity vs. Quality

When I changed my job, one of the reasons I didn’t mind adding 45 minutes to my commute was because I enjoy listening to audiobooks. Since I don’t have time to read at work (an all too common misconception about librarians) and somewhat limited time at home, audiobooks are a great way for me to keep up with some of the more popular titles I may not get around to otherwise. And because I get about an hour and a half of listening a day, I tend to run through our library’s audiobook collection rather quickly.

It seems I am not the only one either. Libraries are putting more of their funds into audiobooks while sites like ListenNJ have really begun to improve their selections as well.

But are the recording companies pushing these audiobooks out a little faster than they can handle them?

My experience with audiobooks produced in the last six months has been somewhat disappointing. Although the casting has usually been wonderful, I find myself having to adjust the volume up in order to hear everything or down so as not to blow my speakers out. I seem to have this problem with both my car stereo as well as my mp3 player, so I am not particularly inclined to believe it’s the devices’ fault.

When I asked a couple of my colleagues about this, they have also noticed this offset between the quality of the voice and the production.

Are recording companies spending so much on their voice actors now that they have to compromise the amount of money they can dedicate to refining the quality of the sound? Have the companies found that certain voices will make people more likely to listen and spend for an audiobook?

April 13, 2007 at 9:44 am

Plogging for Poetry Month!

Helene Blowers over at Library Bytes posted some “Podcast Thoughts” last week where she made the case for libraries to podcast about current events, topics and culture. Helene’s thoughts mirror mine precisely. In fact, it is something that I have been thinking about for several months and it finally came to fruition on April 2nd with the official launch of the PPL Poetry Podcast Blog for National Poetry Month.

I wanted to call it the “PPL Poetry Plog” since it is a series of podcasts on a blog, but I thought that might be too confusing (and too much alliteration). I then wanted to call it Poetcast, but the folks at poets.org beat me to it. Not thrilled with the final name (last minute decision, just had to call it something), but I am thrilled with the results and how many readers we have had during the first 10 days. Our stats, in fact, are exceeding my expectations by leaps and bounds (over 225 viewers on most days and over to 2,000 views thus far). I know the statistics will get skewed by posting here, so I held off. I wanted to see how far we could take this with only local exposure and word of mouth. Others have found us already, such as the Book Blog at timesunion.com and that has thrilled me.

We have recorded 26 poets so far and hope to do a few more before the end of the month. The poets all come from the greater Princeton area and each poet brings a unique voice and perspective to the project. For instance, Paul Muldoon, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2003, did a beautiful reading of a pantoum for us and Enriqueta Carrington’s poem was read by 2 poets in 2 languages while Judith McNally contributed a unique “microlouge”. We have many more surprises in store for the rest of the month, including some wonderful poetry by a high school student.

This has been a real team project and with me every step of the way has been Evan Klimpl. Evan is one of our Tech Aides at PPL and I simply must give credit where credit is due. I may have had the original concept and coordinated the project, but it is Evan who responsible for doing 90% of the poetry recordings, cleaning up the files to make them sound professional, uploading the files, preparing many of the posts and anything else that I have requested. I can not thank Evan enough for embracing this project with the such enthusiasm and dedication. Also assisting with this project and deserving thanks are Bob Keith and Romina Gutierrez from PPL. And last, but certainly not least, in the early stages of this project my good friend John LeMasney gave me some invaluable advice about how we could do this project for free (which was one of my goals besides promoting poetry).

This is an idea that I hope other libraries will steal, because it is a project that can be done without having to make any investments — except perhaps a decent microphone for recording ($35-50 maximum) if you don’t already have one. Here is how we did it (in a nutshell):

  • We used Audacity from sourceforge.net to record and edit the .mp3 files
  • The blog was set up at wordpress.com — this is the free version of wordpress and it works well for a project such as this
  • Our .mp3 files are being hosted at archive.org
  • The player that we are using to in the posts comes free with wordpress
  • We took photos while the readings were being recorded to ensure consistency

This has been a terrific way for Princeton Public Library to experiment with how we want to implement podcasting in to our programs. We have lots of ideas and now that we have the process figured out we will hopefully be able to podcast more original content in the near future.

April 11, 2007 at 9:17 am 7 comments

A Sincere Hug and Easter Chocolates

Memo to Self
File under: Why I Love being a Public Librarian


I have friends who sincerely question why I choose to work in a public library. They all earn far more than I do with less or equal education. One or two even point out to me on a regular basis that I could earn a better salary with less stress if I looked elsewhere for a job.

Well. this post is dedicated to all those who think I should desert public librarianship for greener pastures. In the last week I have had not 1, not 2 but 3 encounters that remind me why I love what I do and will continue to do it for the foreseeable future:

1. After a poetry reading event a young woman approached me and introduced herself. I recognized that she had been at several program lately, but did not yet know her name. She told me that she had recently moved to the area for a job and had been feeling “lost” without having any friends or family nearby. She went on to say that once she discovered our library she felt like she had found a sense of community as she is an aspiring writer and poet. I shared with her that I understood perfectly, having moved all on my own to NJ 8 years ago and leaving friends and family far away as well. She gave me a shy smile and then, quite spontaneously and very sincerely, she gave me a huge hug and thanked me for organizing events that gave her a feeling of “place and being among friends”. It was probably one of the best moments I have had in quite some time.

2. An older woman took my “Sharing Photos Online” class a few months back. She came in this week because she was so excited and just had to share with me the digital photo albums she made for her daughter’s wedding. She had done the entire album on Snapfish and ordered 2 copies — one for her and one for her daughter. Each one was slightly different and personalized with captions and a variety of layouts. It was obviously a labor of love and she was so thrilled with the final product. I felt very proud that she had learned so much and so quickly as when she first came to class she did not even know how to get the photos from her brand new digital camera on to the hard drive. She told me she is now working on a book with their vacation photos and has found a new hobby thanks to the library. She signed up to take “Fun with Flickr” next week before she left.

3. I came to work yesterday to find a lovely box of Easter chocolates from Thomas Sweet with a note thanking me for finding an article. I had done a search earlier that week that was rather time-consuming as the information given to me was vague at best, but the man requesting the article told me that it was of great sentimental importance and he really wanted a copy of the article. I was thrilled when I found it and printed it out for him, leaving message on his machine that he could pick it up. He left the chocolates with a lovely note when he picked up the article. Totally not necessary, I was just doing my job, but a wonderful gesture nonetheless.

It is anecdotes like these and many others that I relay to my friends when the quiz me on my job choice. Seriously, how many jobs are there in this world where you can get gratitude, hugs and chocolates all in one week?

I am writing this post so that I can read it on those days that I am having a bad day at work and so that I can always remember why it is that I choose to be a public librarian. I would be interested in seeing other anecdotes in the comments about those wonderful moments that you experience because you are a librarian — I will bet there are a lot when we all stop to think about how we impact the lives of those we serve daily.

April 5, 2007 at 7:45 pm 9 comments

Customer Loyalty? It don’t enter into it.

Maria Palma over at “Customers are Always” recently posed the question, “What would make you stay loyal to a supermarket?” The question struck me as a bit odd, and my first reaction was to think, “Loyalty? It don’t enter into it.”

I regularly grocery shop at Wegmans, Superfresh, Target, and Costco, and where I lay my green depends on a number of factors. Each store offers me something different.

I get better service at Wegmans, but it’s a longer drive. I love the self-service at Superfresh, and the fact that it’s close to my home. Also, they are one of only a handful of stores that sell Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews, like, only the most perfect food on the planet. I love the prices at Target and Costco, as well as the opportunity to browse lots of non-grocery items and spend more money on stuff I don’t need, but lordy how I want it! Why just last week I went into Target to get a box of cereal and a birthday card and wound up with a new IPOD shuffle. Bliss!

But loyalty? I’m “loyal” to these establishments to the extent that they meet my needs, and not one whit more. Which is to say I’m not at all loyal. I want them, quite simply, to meet my needs. Just give me some combination of:

  • what I want
  • when I want it
  • where I want it
  • how I want it
  • at a cost I find acceptable (Cost includes price, but is not limited to it.)

Making no overt attempt to tie this post to library services. Arf!

April 2, 2007 at 10:43 pm 10 comments

OCLC WorldCat = GoogleLibrary? Wow, It’s Official–and Lots of Changes are Coming!

We all read about OCLC and the Research Libraries Group (RLG) joining forces, very recently under “OCLC Programs and Research,” and some saw that coming—but I don’t know about this! I just read several notices within the blogosphere about Google throwing its hat into the ring, because they have just acquired OCLC and all of its holdings, although I see nothing about this on any of their respective official sites on this, yet. Very, very interesting…. Check out Karen’s, Andrew’s, and Jenny’s take on this very new development. It is April Fools’ Day, though. Hmmmm….

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April 1, 2007 at 1:16 pm

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