Friday, April 29, 2011

Book Review: Faithful Place

Faithful PlaceFaithful Place by Tana French

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've enjoyed Tana French's books thus far--enough so that I wanted to read this one. At this point in my reading life, it's not often that I read multiple books by the same author. I just don't have the time to commit to one genre and author--not when there are so many other excellent books being published every day. I like to dabble, going from one genre and author to the next, getting a feel for what's out there. When I find something I like, I will return. This is the third book of hers that I've read, and I guess I'd have to say I'm becoming a fan. Not a die-hard, will-read-everything-by-her-no-matter-what fan, but still--I haven't been let down yet.

What's great about this book is that I feel it's a step up for her. Her previous books felt like interesting, well-executed murder mystery novels with a more literary bent. More thinking involved than you'd get in the latest Cornwell or Evanovich. But not enough so that French stood out to me as an author. That's changed with Faithful Place. I'm beginning to know what sort of books she writes. The characters are more fully fleshed out. The literary bent is more pronounced.

But what really made this one stand out for me is the way the city (Dublin) took on an active, living role in the novel. You could tell these characters actually *lived* there. Locations were fully formed. They had a real impact on who the people who lived there were, and what could or could not happen. So often, I feel like setting in a mystery is there more for the flair than for any real effect. Maybe you have some southern drawl going on, or a bit of generic Angela Lansbury Maine. But that's all window dressing. You could switch the setting and have essentially the same plot.

Not so with this novel. You feel like you get to understand Dublin by the end of it. At least a piece of the city. (Of course, I can't say how accurate that understanding is--but at least I feel like it was well described.) The setting and the plot are intrinsically tied together in this novel.

It's the story of a cop returning to the place he grew up to solve the murder of his first true love. There's neighborhood intrigue, family machinations, police in-fighting--all very well done. It didn't quite have the oomph to get me to give it 5 stars. Something just didn't click 100% for me. Maybe it's a sign that while I like literary fiction, I don't *enjoy* it as much as pure genre fic. Either way, I enjoyed the book, and I look forward to reading her next.

View all my reviews

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Trailer Park

The new trailer for the final installment of the Harry Potter movies (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2) has just been released.

It all ends July 15.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Job Announcement: Information Technology Librarian

Mantor Library wants you. Yes you. Assuming you've got an MLS and are good with technology, that is. Yesterday I posted this to so many different job sites I lost count, but I figured it was worth a post here, too. Just in case one of our legions of followers is interested. :-) We're looking to fill a new position: Information Technology Librarian. Read on to find out what we're after . . .

Information Technology Librarian

Mantor Library at the University of Maine at Farmington seeks a creative, knowledgeable, and service-oriented professional to play a pivotal role in the development and maintenance of its information technology systems and endeavors. Reporting to the Library Information Services Manager, the Information Technology Librarian’s responsibilities include (but are not limited to):  maintaining and troubleshooting library technology, investigating and implementing emerging technologies (including e-resources), assisting with the development and maintenance of the library’s online web presence, and providing technological support for library users and staff. Additionally, as a member of the professional staff, the Information Technology Librarian is part of the Information Literacy Program education team and provides regular reference assistance.

Qualifications:  Required:  The successful candidate will have an ALA-accredited MLS and experience or advanced course work in the areas of implementing and maintaining information technology as well as instruction.  Demonstrable training abilities; awareness of current trends and developments in library and information technology; familiarity with Windows operating systems; skill in the use of Microsoft Office Suite and Adobe Creative Suite (and/or demonstrated ability to learn the basics of new programs and technologies quickly); and a willingness to work well with students, staff, and community members regardless of their level of technical expertise are necessary.  The applicant must have excellent oral and written communication skills and a demonstrated ability to work cooperatively in a team-based environment.  Preferred:  Knowledge of networking and automated library systems (Innovative Interfaces is used at Mantor) and experience in the supervision of student workers and/or other employees are desired. Academic library experience is a plus. 

Salary range for this full time, 12 month, position is:  $35,000 – $40,000, with a full benefits package.

Application:  Applications will be reviewed beginning May 23, 2011.  The position is open until filled.  Desired start date is August 1, 2011 (negotiable). Send cover letter, resume, and list of three references to:

Bryce Cundick
Mantor Library
116 South Street
Farmington, ME 04938
Phone: 207-778-7224

Application materials may be submitted via email as a single attachment in Word, PDF, or RTF format. 

The University and Region:  Established in 1864 as Maine's first public institution of higher education, with historic and continued strength in teacher education and a contemporary role as Maine’s public liberal arts college, the University of Maine at Farmington offers undergraduate programs in arts and sciences, teacher education, and human services.  UMF has reorganized its curriculum to enhance opportunities for in-depth study and undergraduate research, and it recently launched its first graduate degree program, an M.S.Ed., in order to meet the needs of practicing teachers in the region.  In 2007 the university opened an exciting new academic facility, a LEED-certified “green” building that houses our programs in education and human services.  This commitment to sustainability informs all facilities projects, including a new Arts Center, which is currently under construction.  UMF, which has the highest graduation rates in the University of Maine System, has been recognized for high levels of student engagement as measured by the National Survey of Student Engagement.  The campus culture has been described as one of “positive restlessness.”   UMF is a founding member of COPLAC, the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges, which includes 26 public colleges and universities dedicated to the liberal arts tradition and quality undergraduate education.  The Farmington area is rich in cultural offerings and recreational opportunities.  The natural beauty of its mountains, lakes, woods, and streams draws people to the region, which is also noted for its snow, blackflies, and April mud season.  Please check out our home page at:

Diversity:  We are implementing an action plan to provide a deeper understanding of diversity.  Applications are encouraged from women and minorities and others who can help us achieve it.  UMF provides reasonable accommodations in the workplace and in the job application process.  If you need assistance because of a disability, please contact Laurie Gardner, EEO Officer, 224 Main Street, Farmington, ME 04938; (207) 778-7272; (207) 778-7000 TDD.  AA/EEO employer.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Mantor Monday

Welcome back from break! Hope you had a wonderful week, and are ready for the final push to the end of the semester. The library is a busy place this time of year - which is exactly how we like it - but it does mean that if you want to be sure you or your study group will be able to use popular spaces like the Media Viewing Room or one of the two Project Zones, you should make a reservation. Time is running out to get those end-of-semester projects done, and the Project Zones have been in constant use today. Need a reminder of the goodies we have loaded on the Project Zone computers? No problem....
Specialty Programs

Adobe Creative Suite 4 Master Collection

  • InDesign CS4
  • Photoshop CS4 Extended
  • Illustrator CS4
  • Acrobat 9 Pro
  • Flash CS4 Professional
  • Dreamweaver CS4
  • Fireworks CS4
  • Contribute CS4
  • After Effects CS4
  • Adobe Premiere Pro CS4
  • Soundbooth CS4
  • Adobe OnLocation CS4
  • Encore CS4
  • Adobe Bridge CS4
  • Adobe Device Central CS4
  • Dynamic Link
  • Version Cue CS4

Microsoft Office 2007

  • Word
  • Excel
  • PowerPoint
  • Publisher
  • Access
  • InfoPath
And, of course, super-speedy, dual-screen computers to work on - everything you need to create an impressive multi-media project. Both Project Zones have whiteboards, and Project Zone 2 has a large center work table and chairs - great for group brainstorming or layout space for posters and other design projects. To reserve a Project Zone, call Director Frank Roberts at 778-7215.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Pop Up Books

When I was a bookworm-y kid, I would have chased this awesome pop-up bookmobile down the street like it was the Ice Cream Truck.
Built by a Dutch architect in response to that country's narrow roads, this tricked out tractor trailer is constructed of a storage container that rises to form a light-filled, glass-floored reading room above a children's library.
100 meters of books, four computer terminals, cool lighting, a fun-house floor and bean bag chairs? Sweet.
Check out the full slide show on

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Google-Fu: Tips for Searching Google like a Librarian

I had the pleasure to attend the Maine Academic Library Day this past Friday at Colby College. The keynote speaker was Daniel M. Russell, a Google exec in charge of search quality and user happiness. (Can I just say that Google has some pretty cool titles? 'Cause they do.) Anyway, I've sat through my fair share of keynotes over the years, and this one really stood out from the crowd. He went over all sorts of tips and tricks for getting the most out of your Googling. I will say that most of what he went over was review for me, but it was a really healthy review. (In looking over his web site, he had a post on the Einstellung Effect which I thought was fantastic. So many times as a researcher, it's too easy to get used to using one tool. When  you get really good with a hammer, everything you look at starts looking like a nail. Got a board that needs trimming? Just beat the heck out of it, and eventually it'll be the right length. Get the picture? Being reminded from time to time about the various research tools available to you can be really beneficial.)


Another cool thing I discovered--remember that post I did last week on agoogleaday? Dan was one of the people who set that in motion and got it running. It's not often I do a blog post about something cool online, and then I meet one of the people who contributed directly to that cool thing. Dan was nice enough to leave us with some links to training materials Google uses to teach people how to search more effectively, and since I'm a nice guy, I'm here to share those links with you.

First, a disclaimer. A lot of you are no doubt rolling your eyes, offended that anyone might think you don't know how to do something as simple as *use Google*. But you know what? I'm willing to bet you don't. I don't mean to be offensive, but if I learned a thing or two from this, I'm willing to bet good money you will, too. And don't skip the easy stuff. Don't rush off to "Advanced Lessons," assuming you're good to go on all the basics. One of Dan's points was that there are many basic tricks that the vast majority of people don't know about. For example, to find something on a web page, you can just hit Control + F, which brings up a "find" window in your browser. According to Google's studies, 90% of users don't know they can do that, so when they go to a search result, they end up scanning the page, looking for the word they searched for.

So don't be in a rush. You probably use Google every day. Taking a bit of time to learn how to use it wisely is time well spent. Okay? Here are the links, direct from Dan and endorsed by yours truly:

9 lessons for teaching search:

Google site with a LOT more materials for teaching search skills: )


And... you can sign up to get intermittent email about teaching

(And Dan, since I know you have a Google Alert set up on your name, and I'm betting you might end up reading this, can I just say thanks for the great presentation? Really made the day worthwhile for me.)

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Spring has sprung on campus: daffodils and crocuses are blooming in the library flower beds. Students are playing frisbee on the green. And in the woods, intrepid gatherers are gearing up for another springtime tradition in Maine: fiddleheading. Fiddleheads, in case you haven't been exposed to this woodsy delicacy, are the emerging fronds of the Ostrich Fern. And they are delicious: something like a cross between spinach and asparagus.
Fiddlehead gathering is a time-honored tradition in western Maine, dating from a time when trucked-in supermarket produce was non-existent, and people eagerly awaited the nutritious fern shoots after a long winter with no fresh greens. (Fiddleheads are rich in potassium, and are also high in Omega 3 and Omega 6 essential acids, and are a great source of iron and fiber - and they are antioxidant, to boot!) Like fishing holes, good fiddleheading spots are closely guarded family secrets - especially to those whose fiddleheading serves not only as a source of food but income, as well. But since education is our mission around here, and as part of our On Our Minds theme of promoting healthy greens in the diet, I'm going to give you the tools you need to become a fiddleheader. Just remember: pick no more than three fiddleheads per plant, and don't pick from all the ferns in a patch. Overpicking will kill the ferns.
The following video features all-around good guy and great teacher, Dave Fuller, who heads up the University of Maine Co-operative Extension office here in Farmington. Dave is going to show us how to identify fiddleheads. Get your wellies on...fiddleheading is muddy business. Ready?
Take it away, Dave...
For more information on cleaning and cooking your harvest, visit the Co-operative Extension Fiddlehead Fact Sheet.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Google's Trivia Challenge

Let's face it. For the most part, the days of the trivia question are dead--as long as you can cheat. Now, anyone with a computer and an internet connection can get the answer to just about question there is. Google excels at answering tidbit trivia. However, Google's taken that feature and expanded on it--for the next few months, they're asking a trivia question a day, and they're challenging you to use Google to find the answer. The catch is that the trivia questions are more on the obscure side, and they're designed to get you to learn how to use Google more effectively. Monday questions will be the easiest, and they'll get progressively harder through each week.

Take yesterday's question: "Two future presidents signed me. Two didn't because they were abroad. Despite my importance, modern viewers seem to think I have a glaring spelling error. What is it?"

Google provides the answer--and how to find it: "How to find the answer: Searching [two presidents signed two did not] yields the U.S. Constitution. Searching [constitution misspellings] reveals that "Pennsylvania" was spelled with only one "n.""

I love this approach. It's getting people to use your product in an innovative, fun way--and it's teaching them at the same time. Google is a really powerful tool, but many people don't use it to its full capacity. My hope is that Google archives all these questions and provide access to them in a way that people after the fact can still use them for training. But for now, swing on over to to check it out. Fun stuff.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mantor Monday

Hi, everybody -
I've got four things for you in this edition of Mantor Monday. First, a pair of new tutorials to help you with your research. The first tutorial covers primary sources. What is a primary source? If your professor tells you to use primary sources, where would you look? How would you access a primary source? Would you know how to evaluate a primary source? If you need the answers to any of these questions, (or if you just want to tool around in some interesting hisory websites), take a look at this tutorial libguide:
The second new tutorial covers scholarly sources. What are they? How do you find scholarly articles in the databases or on the web? What's the difference between a scholarly journal and a magazine? All this and more is covered here:

The second item on the list books and movies! Yay! Don't you just love the new acquisitions list? I sure do. Go to the library's What's New page, and then click on "New Acquisitions". That will bring up a list of 266 brand spanky new items - all for you. You're welcome.

Third on the list: Food for Thought Films. Tuesday the 12th we'll be showing the last film of the series in Lincoln Auditorium, 7pm. It's called Good Food. It's about good people producing good food in good ways. It's all good. And if you can't make it Tuesday night, as always we will encore the movie here in the Mantor browsing room Wednesday at 2 and 6 pm.

Lastly, I want to give you a head's up on the library hours for spring break week:
Friday, April 15th: 7:45-4:30 pm
Saturday - Monday: closed
Tuesday - Friday: 8:00 -4:30
Saturday April 23rd: closed
Sunday April 24th: 11:00am - 11:00pm.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Book Review and Movie Review: Wise Man's Fear, and Good Food

The Wise Man's Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #2)The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Name of the Wind was one of the biggest things to happen in fantasy in recent years, making a huge splash on the scene, and propelling Patrick Rothfuss from newcomer to fantasy star. But you have to sort of wonder anytime an author has a breakout book--will he be able to do it again? After all, often with first books, the author has had years (sometimes even decades) to work on that one book. There are such things as one hit wonders, and I always worry that the first book in a series will then go on to pull a Matrix, with each subsequent book just proving that the lightning captured in the first was just a fluke.

So. Wise Man's Fear--the second book in Rothfuss's series. Would it be Name of the Wind: Revolutions, or The Name of the Wind Strikes Back?

I'm ecstatic and relieved to be able to report that it's a fantastic read. Easily as good as the first--likely better. It's books like these that bring new fans to the genre. It's got all the hallmarks of a great epic fantasy: engrossing characters, fully-realized world, complicated politics and intrigue, awesome magic system. The works.

Really the only question to ask yourself is what you thought of Book One. If you loved it, read on. If you didn't . . . we can't be friends anymore. :-) If you haven't read it yet, then what are you waiting for? It really is that good.

It's available in our Discoveries collection this month.

And secondly, we'll be showing a film next week as part of our On Our Minds programming this year. We've been looking at a variety of movies focused on the food industry, and this time up we have Good Food, a documentary focused on how food growers in the Pacific Northwest are pioneering efforts to return the food industry to a smaller farms model. While it lacks a centralized story--it's more of a collection of anecdotes about individual efforts, all of which share the same general topic--it does an excellent job of illustrating the variety of approaches available today to growing food locally and organically. If you're interested in seeing what other options are out there (beyond Big Agriculture and humongous farms), then come on out on Tuesday to the Lincoln Auditorium at 7pm to check it out.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Scam eBooks

Man. EBooks are feeling more and more like the Wild West of the written word these days. Now I'm reading stories about people taking authors' books that have been published online, then essentially making their own ebook from them--printing the authors' works through the Kindle Store or other eBook store, and taking the profits for themselves. In the music and film industry, if someone tried to do this, they'd be slapped with a lawsuit and a DMCA cease and desist letter faster than you could say "lawyer." However, this is the book industry, and Congress hasn't gotten around to regulating it all that closely yet. So for now, all authors can try to do is ask Amazon (or whatever eBookstore is involved) to kindly take down the offending content.

Well guess what. Amazon makes its money on the book regardless of who sells it. They still get their cut. So it's not like they have any great big incentive to fix the problem quickly. There's no threat of a Hefty Fine looming over their heads.

Clearly, something needs to be done about this.

What that something is, remains to be seen. I've been saying it lately--and it bears repeating--I think we're a good few years away from some normalcy in the eBook world. Maybe five years, even. I hope no more than that. Right now, there's chaos and confusion, but that was the case with the music industry in the late 90s, and TV and Hollywood are just emerging from their chaos now. I'm confident eBooks will indeed emerge--but it looks like it'll be a painful birthing process.

Sigh. Such is life.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Mantor Monday

Now showing:
The annual Scholarship Display in the Mantor Library browsing room. The purpose of the display is to showcase the diverse scholarly and artistic work of UMF faculty and staff. Along with a wide assortment of books, articles, and papers, the display features a print entitled Petals, by Lori Hutchinson, and a quilt entitled Reflections by Valerie Soucy. Come take a look!

Coming Soon:

The final entry in our Food For Thought film series, Good Food, on Tuesday April 12, 7:00 pm, Lincoln Auditorium. As always, there will be next day encores in the Mantor Browsing Room at 2:00pm and 6:00pm.