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Being Offline

Public Services Librarian Paul Doty will be speaking at the 2nd Annual North Country SLSA Conference, in Lake Placid, New York, on May 23rd. The topic of the talk is about the what and the when students at university are expected to be offline.  That is, when can they expect to have to put down the iPhone for pen and paper or perhaps, even, solitary recall.  For the presentation Paul has prepared a reading list that seemed sufficiently “news worthy” on the topic of technology and learning that this seemed like a good place to publish it.  To preserve a proper (crisp! crisp, I say!) MLA format it’s on a pdf that without further ado, is right here.  Enjoy, let Paul (pdoty@stlawu.edu) know what you think…




FODYLL Mentley Awards

This year the Friends of Owen D. Young and Launders Libraries (FODYLL) will be awarding three prizes for undergraduate student research, which honors Jo Mentley, a former reference librarian who dedicated 27 years to training St. Lawrence students for a lifetime of learning.

The FODYLL North Country Studies Award in the Arts and Humanities

To be considered for this prize, student work must fit the following criteria:

  • Work must focus on topics, issues or concerns having to do with Northern New York or with St. Lawrence University history;
  • Students must make use of library resources;
  • Work must be in the fields within the Arts & Humanities.

The FODYLL North Country Studies Award in the Social Sciences

To be considered for this prize, student work must fit the following criteria:

  • Work must focus on topics, issues or concerns having to do with Northern New York or with St. Lawrence University history;
  • Students must make use of Library resources;
  • Work must be in fields within the Social Sciences.

The FODYLL North Country Studies Award in the Sciences

To be considered for this prize, student work must fit the following criteria:

  • Work must focus on topics, issues or concerns having to do with Northern New York or with St. Lawrence University history;
  • Students must make use of Library resources;
  • Work must be in fields within the Sciences.

All three competitions are open to all currently enrolled undergraduate SLU students for academic work completed between June 1, 2015 and May 13, 2016.  Projects may be traditional research papers, online projects, fiction, poetry, or multimedia works – as long as they meet the criteria for each category.  Students are invited to submit their entries electronically (preferred) or by paper copy along with any supporting media or documentation integral to the project.  If the project involves an oral presentation, students may make arrangements to present the project in person by contacting Theresa O’Reilly by phone:  229-5454, or by email at toreilly@stlawu.edu.

Winners may be asked to complete a Digital Repository Submission Form, which will place their paper in the St. Lawrence Digital Repository.

DEADLINE:  Entries must be received by Theresa O’Reilly, ODY Library, Room 135, on or before: 1:00 p.m. on Friday, May 13th


Baseball Reading Lists

Back when I was also blogging Odyssey Online, a blog for the libraries, I compiled a couple of reading lists about books on baseball here at the ODY “Field of Dreams.”  While it’s a busy time this “late innings” moment in the semester, the sum total of these lists is here:

The last title is a Library of America edition edited by Ian Frazier–Lardner is the author of the short story “You Know Me Al,” and one of the great baseball writers of the early twentieth century.  If you don’t know Ring Lardner’s work there is an imperative read for at least one summer day.


Merle Haggard, RIP

Merle Haggard died yesterday (see the NPR obituary here).  In honor of his memory, a sampling of titles in our collection on country music:

And of course, Haggard’s two autobiographies:

Jim Harrison and the UP

harrison…one more on Jim Harrison.  If you google “Jim Harrison” you find that tributes to the man and his work are flowing and tumbling with the volume and enthusiasm of a spring run off stream, today features one in the Ann Arbor Michigan daily that remembers him in a context of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.   The UP is an important part of Harrison’s writing, both for its remoteness but also for the environmental history living and evident on the south shore of Lake Superior.  Similar in many ways to St. Lawrence County, and for anyone who has spent time wandering in St. Lawrence County meadows and forests aware of the vacant farms and hollowed out towns, the UP of Jim Harrison will be vivid indeed.  Harrison the nature writer is a good primer for a St. Lawrence County saunter, for a mindset to notice the motley and unique hill and dale here…

Jim Harrison, RIP

Jim Harrison died Saturday past.  For me Harrison is a major American writer, and his archetypal hero–a recently estranged hard drinking appetite aware man from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan eyeball deep in a mid-life crisis–takes on an aura shared with Huck Finn, Holden Caufield, Dean Moriarty…a well written and insightful obituary in the New York Times by Margalit Fox is here, and I agree with John Avalon in the Daily Beast that we’ve lost “America’s Greatest Living Writer.”     If I had to recommend just five Jim Harrison works to someone unfamiliar with Harrison’s work, titles we have here in the collection, they’d be:

His “Art of Fiction” interview in the Paris Review is available, by way of preface…

Noteworthy Discontinued Webzines

While I realize the subject line for this post is haiku-like, I write to point to Anna Wiener, and her new article in the online version of The Atlantic titled, “The Best Magazine on the Early Web.”  The piece is a chronicle of Suck, published in the latter half of the 1990’s, which Wiener asserts “Among digital-media pundits and amateur web historians, Suck is regularly credited as the progenitor of a certain style of Internet writing: fast-paced, snarky, and merrily irreverent; simultaneously condescending and self-deprecating.” I can remember reading Suck, and Ms. Wiener’s essay identifies the key writers behind the magazine, and a number of it’s more memorable pieces (as well as asking the question, could such a publication exist today?) While the Internet is, of course, ethereal, and, in that, we think of web-based publications as frogs riding leaves down a fast flowing river to deserved oblivion, this article gave me pause to remember to other noteworthy Internet publications that have ceased being published…or for accuracy’s sake, updated.  These two endeavors both have “legacy” sites that one can still peruse:

  • Read Rock Eater News Service Like Suck, this was a publication that was active in the latter 1990’s and featured articles on how the Internet (circa 1990’s) was changing politics, on higher education, on design, on social justice, and frequently the RRE‘s creator, Phillip Agre, would publish lengthy bibliographies of print and web based publications on topics that interested him.  Mr. Agre left university life and the RRE early in this century, but many of the pieces still ring true today.  He had a sharp eye, he was a lucid writer.  RRE articles came as e-mail messages and their arrival was always cause to pause, and read.
  • The Dish The blog written up until about two years ago by Andrew Sullivan is still up, just as he left it, after discontinuing the venture for health reasons.  I was a card carrying (and subscription paying) Dish-head, so I cannot give an unbiased appraisal of what Sullivan accomplished (I hope someone somewhere is trying), but I loved one commentator’s quote which went along the lines of “The Dish is exhilarating and infuriating and often both before lunch.”   A title for a newspaper piece on The Dish was “Andrew Sullivan Tries to Read the Internet,” and his reading of the Internet is often brilliant and is still worth a look–spend some time simply scrolling through this old blog, it’s worth it.

As we curl up for Spring Break here at SLU, leisure time reading with Internet back issues?



Books About Universities

This list, culled from the once-upon-a-time blog of the St. Lawrence University Libraries, Odyssey Online, represents two lists of books about American Colleges and Universities, and represents a reasonably newish list of books about the higher education enterprise:

On Buying More Than One Copy of a Book

Writing last November in the Huffington Post Ann Brenoff published a short essay titled “The 10 Books At Garage Sales You Should Never Pass Up.”  It’s mostly a list of crime titles and thrillers (with John Steinbeck and Gabrial Garcia Marquez mixed in), a list books that in Ms. Brenoff’s esteem are worth reading and are likely finds at a yard sale.  When she praises yard sale browsing she cautions, “we do run the risk of picking up something we read years ago.”  To my way of thinking that risk is actually an opportunity: the chance to find another edition of a book already on the bookcase shelf.

Owning multiple copies of certain books is the definitive act within a personal library—it’s the way to say in book spines, “this matters to me!”  This list is not, like Ms. Brenoff’s list, one that needs to be written down.  A bibliophile knows the books that warrant a second or third purchase, and while there are writers or titles that bookend a reader’s life, it’s a changeable list.  It’s a list to measure change.  It is also a list that has a lot to do with chance.  This is the yard sale part—the recognition that another copy of a book like a pre-1970 paperback of something by Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett, North of Boston, anything in hardcover by Jim Harrison is the day for making the library at home more the book oriented owner.  Penguin Illustrated Classics paperback edition of Walden with engravings by Ethelbert White, I’m daydreaming,  the opportunity to purchase that affirmation of the self, analogous to a favorite sandwich at a favorite deli, but permanent, appetite to be remembered by the inner intuitive bibliographer.


In the opening chapter of One for the Books (Viking 2012) Joe Queenan wonderfully explores what it means to own books. In a home where “books are in my line of vision at all hours of the day and night,” grouped “by texture and height,” in sufficient numbers that “the average American visiting our house would find himself with enough reading material to get him through the next three hundred years,” Queenan’s looks to authors who “say things I would have thought of saying, in a way I would have never thought of saying them.” Know the man by what he finds original, and important—Queenan’s final word on owing books is “Or maybe it’s because if I don’t own a book, I don’t care about it.”  What you are content to save as who you are—the function of a personal library as a memoir, itself, is the ultimate argument for buying second or even third copies of a specific title.  In his essay “A Case for Books” (found in Due Considerations) the great John Updike enumerated the reasons for books including, “Books as Ballast.”  Updike’s point was that books on a shelve warm our sensory experience of a room, and the thought of having to move a library of consequence keeps people grounded to the home they are in.  The story of that home lines the walls, want to write an autobiography for all to see?  Own books.  Want to really tell a story in that autobiography, listen to the author/bibliophile telling you to buy that copy of that book already on your shelves and indelibly in your memory.  Therein to share what shaped what you’ve read and why you’ve given to books that part of a life given.




Oxford English Dictionary and Sexism

We’ve been unintentionally offline here at the FODYLL blog, but back in January about the OED and sexism–specifically on the books definition of feminism.  Now whether or not the lexicographers got it right is only one aspect of the article–the article very succinctly and elegantly raises the central questions of a dictionary: prescriptive or descriptive.  Should the dictionary strive to be a map of a language to direct how it should be navigated, or a map to record its topography?  Great to have an eternal question, hey?  To aid in the journey to an answer, some of our titles on dictionaries–