Article Recommendation: Australian project hunts lost indigenous languages

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The Article:

Librarians in Australia have launched a three-year project to rediscover lost indigenous languages.

The New South Wales State Library says fragments of many lost languages exist in papers left by early settlers.

Before British colonialisation began there in 1788, around 250 aboriginal languages were spoken in Australia by an estimated one million people.

Only a few dozen languages remain and the communities number around 470,000 people in a nation of 22 million.

‘Unrivalled’ accounts

“A nation’s oral and written language is the backbone to its culture,” said the Arts Minister of New South Wales, George Souris.

“The preservation of the languages and dialects of our indigenous citizens is a very important project in this regard.”

Noelle Nelson, the acting chief executive of Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto, which is backing the project, said the settlers’ first-hand accounts at the State Library are “unrivalled”.

“These first-hand accounts are often the only surviving records of many indigenous languages,” Nelson told the AFP news agency.

“The project will introduce and reconnect people with indigenous culture.”

An Australian government survey in 2004 found that only 145 indigenous languages were still spoken in Australia and that 110 of these were severely or critically endangered.

Original Source

My Thoughts

I’ve been thinking of this in terms of Canada: Australia isn’t the only commonwealth country where the indigenous peoples have lost their languages.  It has happened here, and it has happened in other ‘settled’ locations as well.  I can’t help but wonder what resources the various local, provincial and Canadian Archives have that could aid in the reclaiming of culture/languages previously lost.  I think that this kind of initiative in Australia is a fantastic use of resources, one that brings the library/archives to the forefront as a valuable tool relevant today and in the future.  It is helping rekindle lost languages – amazing!

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Thursday Reading Pledge: Pretty Little Liars

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I’ve been considering reading the Pretty Little Liars series by Sara Shepard since the television show came out last summer.  I have not checked out either, and while I am not a literary purist who finds it necessary to read the books before watching a movie/television series, I have a fondness for YA chick-lit (a term I am growing to hate, by the way, but it is so useful) that makes me want to read the books first.  Pretty Little Liars has the dual appeal of also having an underlying mystery to it, one that has me intrigued and already guessing the end-game.  Unfortunately, I am basing these guesses off promos for the show, and if anyone out there has read the Sookie Stackhouse novels and compared them to True Blood, they know how dangerous comparisons like that can be.

Summary

Gossip thrives amid the Mercedes-Benzes, mega mansions, and perfectly manicured hedges in the exclusive town of Rosewood, Pennsylvania. Behind their big Gucci sunglasses, beneath their perfectly pressed Polos, everyone has something to hide, especially high school juniors Spencer, Aria, Emily, and Hanna. Spencer covets her sister’s gorgeous new boyfriend. Aria is having an affair with her English teacher. Emily is infatuated with the new girl at school. And Hanna is using some ugly tricks to stay beautiful. Deeper and darker still is a horrible secret the girls have shared since sixth grade—a secret they thought was safe forever.
Pretty Little Liars

Then the girls start receiving threatening messages signed by someone named “A.” Could “A” be Alison, the ultra-popular girl who disappeared three years earlier? Alison was their best friend. She knew everything about them. But if Alison isn’t “A,” who is? And how could anyone else know so much about the bad girls they were and the bad girls they’ve become? Suddenly, their secrets—the big ones, the little ones, even the long-buried ones—no longer seem so secret. Suddenly, nothing is safe in Rosewood.

I am looking forward to reading Pretty Little Liars this week, and I hope after I finish it I will immediately devour books 2-9.  If not, then at least I gave the series a try. I have a feeling I will enjoy it more than Gossip Girl, as I need a little substance while reading about the lives of the rich, and what looks like something which could potentially be a murder mystery definitely fits the bill.

If you are interested in seeing what other young adult books I hope to read in the near future, check out My Reading List.

Young Adult Book Review – Companions of the Night

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Companions of the NightCompanions of the Night –
Vivian Vande Velde

Kerry Nowicki, 16, never dreamed that vampires lived in her little town of Brockport, New York, let alone that she would become involved with a handsome one named Ethan. When she makes a late-night trip back to the laundromat to retrieve her little brother’s stuffed bear, she interrupts the murderous plans of a vigilante committee that claims Ethan is one of the undead. Kerry tries to help him, so they assume that she is a vampire, too. When the two young people escape, Kerry’s brother and father are kidnapped in retaliation, and a complicated game of cat-and-mouse follows. During the often harrowing experiences that follow, Kerry proves to be an intelligent, level-headed young woman. She recognizes the danger of her attraction to Ethan, but knows that she must trust him to help find her family. Ethan maintains the cunning and duplicity that readers might expect from a vampire. The plot is lively and intriguing, with an unexpected twist at the end. – Courtesy of School Library Journal via amazon.ca

Companions of the Night is my favourite book of all time. OF ALL TIME. Likely, if I’ve ever made you read it, you already know that. For those of you just coming across it for the first time, know this – though this book was written more than a decade and a half ago, it is in no means irrelevant or dated (though the lack of cell phones is apparent, and at one point there is dial-up internet *shudder*). It also is not your typical vampire novel. The main female character – Kerry – is intelligent, quick-witted, and completely unimpressed or fooled by the vampire who has her hostage. She might be falling for him, but she’s no weak patsy like so many female characters put up against a big bad vamp. She doesn’t just hold her own, she also actively and continuously observes her surroundings and analyses whether she’s making the right decisions.  Kerry has a conscience, and she has a goal: to find out what happened to her family before it is too late.  I’ve always identified well with her; while reading the novel, I always understand where she’s coming from and why she reacts the way she does, and I feel that in her shoes, I would be doing the same.  That is a testament to Vivian Vande Velde’s skills as a wordsmith.

She has also created an enigmatic, slightly-evil, manipulative, but somehow compelling and sympathetic vampire.  Ethan Bryne is a smooth talker with a moral code in the darker spectrum of shades of grey – and he is an absolute delight to read! He’s unapologetic about the fact he feeds off human, to the point where he jokes about it or uses it as a scare tactic. He’s smart, canny, and impossibly good looking (in my mind I picture a younger Matthew Bomer).  Ethan is one of the most well-rounded vampires I have ever come across, and it is impossible to label him as a bad-guy or a good-guy because he is both and he is neither.  He’s the second half of the excellent characters that make this the best vampire book I have ever read.

And I’ve read a lot of them. Some I won’t even own to.

One of the things that makes this unique is, at it’s core, Companions of the Night is a story about discrimination, hatred and persecution.  At fifteen, I appreciated the fact that the novel made me think that there is a side to every story.  The villain of the piece is not the vampire, and is a deeply flawed and psychologically damaged individual who truly believes in what he is doing.  Part of the ‘message’ beneath the surface of this novel is that conviction in your beliefs doesn’t necessarily mean they’re right or moral: Companions of the Night allows you to create your own definitions of morality.  At the time, I was impressed to find a book that allowed me to make my own conclusions and didn’t try to push an agenda at me, and I feel that by just vocalizing my thoughts, I’m doing an injustice to that.

If you’re looking for a smart YA novel that is still fun to read, supernatural with the occasional dark theme, but also clever and amusing, then I recommend this book from the bottom of my heart.

Home Library Design: Colour Coordinating

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There’s a certain aesthetics in colour coordinating books and home decor, especially in a library organized by colour rather than alphabetical or cataloguing what-have-you.

Books by Colour

I love this, I think the bright flowers, throw pillows, and the white couch cushions make this an interesting, yet elegant design that is somehow not over the top.  It just seems like a cheerful and bright place to read, unlike so many dim library spaces I have experienced. I’m looking at you, public libraries (don’t worry, I love you anyway).

On a large scale, libraries couldn’t support arranging shelves by ROYGBIV, but at home it is a much more approachable endeavour.  People tend to remember the colour of the book before they remember the title/author, and it’s very pretty to look at.  When I asked a friend of mine, who has had her bookshelves organized by colour for years, she told me she never had a problem with locating the material she wants because she knows what colour everything is.  Personally, it would break a little piece of me that enjoys organizing my personal collection to break up series, but otherwise I’m not entirely dedicated to organizing by author. The major problem I would have with a organization scheme like this is I would be tempted to go out and buy filler books of certain colours so I wasn’t left with a single yellow with no where to put it (I knew I shouldn’t have bought The Watchmen graphic novel).

Maybe I’m just weird like that, but a project like this could become quite costly.

What do you think? Organization by colour: do-able or not? Are their hidden issues I’m not taking into consideration, or do you have personal experience to share?

Opinion Piece – Ford’s Inadvertently Positive Impact on Libraries

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By this time, most Canadians have likely heard that Councillor Ford (Toronto) is advocating to close one of the three libraries in his ward:

Why do we need another little library in the middle of nowhere that no one uses? My constituents, it wouldn’t bother them because you have another library two miles one way and two miles the other way.

It’s a hot topic in Canada these days, especially in the library field, but it is also of great concern to people living in the Greater Toronto Area.  A friend of mine from undergrad, someone who is only vaguely aware I then went on to get my MLIS, messaged me the other day to find out what my reaction was.  While she lives in Toronto, I can barely even claim to have visited (unless 3 hour train layovers count. No? Didn’t think so).   The common denominator between us was the fact we both use libraries.  Now, my thoughts on Councillor Doug Ford’s now infamous remark on how he would close libraries in his ward “in a heartbeat” and subsequent response to Margaret Atwood is varied.  Of course I don’t want to see libraries closed. Of course the mere idea fills me with the rage of a thousand wildebeests. I’m a librarian, those responses are more or less expected of me. However, on the internet we would call this kind of ignorance Trolling. That’s right, I said it. For those of you who don’t know, trolling is when someone says something (usually ignorant or against popular consent) just to get the attention of the outpouring of indignant responses.

The joke is on him.  I believe (hope) that this has had a far more positive implication on libraries than is obvious at first glance.  The outpouring of response against closing libraries has been nation-wide.  Canadians, not just those from Toronto, are worried about the future of their local libraries.  They want to know if their own libraries are potentially on the cutting-block and are seeking assurances from their local MP’s that they won’t follow suit.  As for GTA, they’re taking a stance, writing letters to government ‘appealing their case’ and being vocal about how the library benefits them on a daily basis. An open discourse about the importance of public libraries has been created, the public advocating for their right to free access of information.  Now is the time for libraries to speak for themselves. The Toronto Public Library is doing an excellent job advocating for the continued access rights of the public, but it is up to library users to continue supporting TPL and making library closure an unpopular topic for local government to support.

Now I’m not naive enough to think that a vocal outcry from constituents will solve the dilemma libraries have been placed under when it comes time for those in power to put it to a vote. The good news is that many city councillors are becoming vocal against library closures as well.  Unfortunately, closures aren’t the only issue; in Toronto, the privatization of public libraries is also a growing concern, one I hope to speak about in detail in the future as it seems to be the greater issue here.  One thing is for sure: we should thank Ford for being such a myopic ignoramus and poking Canadian literary giant Margaret Atwood with a stick.  Otherwise, the issue at hand may have never reached the public on such a large scale until it was too late and Toronto faced more than just a threat of library closures and privatization, but the reality of it.

For added fun, and to highlight one of the many uses of Tumblr as a medium for information purposes: Fact Checking the Fords.

Library-related Article Recommendation:

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As a librarian with an interest in Social Media (I hesitate to use the label Social Media Librarian) I find the ways websites like Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, etc. can benefit libraries/information settings as fascinating.  In some cases, it is rather self-explanatory (for instance Facebook pages), but in others, it is a bit of a head-scratcher. I’ve been wondering about the professional uses of tumblr while losing hours worth of personal time on fangirl activities I would rather not own to.  Tumblr is one of those sites that has mixed media – and by this I do not entirely mean it’s ability to host images, text and videos – where it is rather easy to navigate away from “safe for work” sites. Personally, I have never come across anything overtly pornagraphic on Tumblr, but I can see how that could be an issue.  Should libraries use a social media site that has a reputation of being a vortex of infamy like Tumblr (I just made that up – possibly unfairly)? The Unquiet Librarian; has written a blogpost-cum-article on the subject over on her blog.

Tumblr Is More Than Porn: Tumblr for Inviting Participation and Conversations for Learning

I am in no way affiliated with this article, I just find it interesting.  The discussion still stands, however. Do you think Tumblr has professional uses or should it be kept as a strictly personal site used by McFassy fans? To take it a step further, I would postulate that youth librarians could probably find a way to integrate it into their social media use, but I believe the Information Managers who could make the best use of a site like Tumblr are those with image-heavy interests. I would love to see the local archives on Tumblr, for instance, with daily old photograph/general interest posts.

Book Nook

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I’m always on the lookout for original, elegant, or comfortable home library designs. I don’t know about you, but one of the dreams I’ve had since childhood is to have a room specifically designate for books, reading, and writing. As I got older, I realized that a chair and a bookcase just wouldn’t do. I needed my library to be a reflection of myself.

Usually, the designs I’m attracted to are a lot like the images in my header. I love classy spaces with chandeliers, comfortable but stylish chairs, and (frequently) white bookcases with splashes of colour.  This book nook deviates from that by a bit, but I would love to have it in my dream house all the same.

A cozy home book nookWhile not my usual style, this book nook makes me want to curl up for hours with a good book.

Do you think this looks comfortable, or am I being swayed by the way the pillows match the wallpaper?