Monday, December 17, 2012

Mantor Monday - Finals Week Hours

 Finals week hours will be as follows:

Monday through Wednesday - 7:45 to 11:00 pm.
Thursday - 7:45 to 7:00 pm.
Friday - 7:45 - 4:30 pm.

Since the Weather Gods thought it would be big fun to serve up finals week with a heaping helping of snow-and-freezing-rain sauce, adjustments may have to be made. If  final exams are postponed to Friday, the library will remain open until 11 pm on Thursday night.

Good luck on your exams, and safe travels if you have to commute or are heading home for break this week.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Barcode Inventor Dies at 91

 Do you remember the days when a librarian checked out a book by removing a paper card from a pocket in the back of the book, writing your name on it, and then marking the due date with a satisfying thump of an ink stamp? Many of you probably do not: the advent of the barcode has made such methods obsolete in all but the tiniest, most technology-free libraries.
N. Joseph Woodland, who pioneered the concept of the universal label code, passed away on Sunday. He was 91.  There is an interesting profile of Woodland, and the history of the barcode as we know it, here.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mantor Monday (Tuesday Edition)

This Monday-on-Tuesday blog post was brought to you by yesterday's snow day.

We will be continuing our pre-finals week tradition of remaining open until midnight. It will look like this:

Monday through Friday -  7:45 a.m.  to midnight
Saturday, Dec. 15 - 9:00 a.m. to midnight
Sunday, Dec. 16 - 11:00a.m. to midnight

That's 15 more study hours for you, my friends.  But wait: there's more.

To help you get through this week of relentless cramming and last-minite-paper-writing, we're hosting a mid-week snack break. On Wednesday, December 12, we'll be putting out free snacks in the browsing room at 8:00 p.m.  There will be a great selection of granola bars, popcorn, peanut butter crackers, fresh fruit, fruit gummies, candy, and more - come and get some while they last. UMF does not pay for this spread, by the way. Library staff members purchase the snacks. It's our way of showing our appreciation for all of the students who make working at Mantor a joy!

So come on in, study hard, get a snack - and don't forget to breathe.
Good luck with your finals, and have a wonderful winter break.

The Vanishing CD Drive

Apple released their latest iMac recently. It's a beautiful machine. Sleek. Stylish. It's just missing one thing: a CD/DVD drive. That's right. If you buy one of these machines, you better hope none of your media comes in a disc format, because discs won't play on them (unless you shell out $80 for an external USB drive, of course.)

Even a few years ago, I think this would have alarmed me. Today? Not so much. No one wonders where the floppy drives are these days (not usually, anyway). And when was the last time you reached for a Zip Disc, or one of those old literally floppy floppy discs? They're outdated. Old news. Everything's getting downloaded more and more. For file transfer, USB drives work wonderfully.

The transition isn't complete yet, of course. Blurays, for example, still provide a generally more reliable picture and audio than streaming does. (Then again, Apple has never really supported Blurays, so why would they start now?) And some areas of the country just don't have internet speeds that are that fast. (But again, these are brand new computers. People without fast internet aren't really Apple's target demographic just yet.)

Let's face it: time is moving on, and physical storage is being left behind. For the most part, I'm all in favor of it. The pros (ease of use, no file size limitation, universal access) outweigh the cons (potential for companies to block access or remove it, alienation of some users). I do think it's very interesting and telling to see signs of this finally happening. As computers and televisions merge, will we see the movie sections of Walmart grow smaller or disappear, as more and more of it is moved online? It's already happened for music. I can't imagine movies are that far behind . . .


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Scotland's Mystery Artist Strikes Again!

Do you remember the story from last year - the anonymous book artist who caused an international sensation by leaving gorgeous, ethereal book art pieces in libraries around Scotland? The artist's mission was to show support for libraries and reading.  Here's one of the works:
via NPR
(See them all in this NPR story from last year.)

Well, the artist has returned! To celebrate Scotland's Book Week, 5 new works popped up, accompanied by treasure-hunt-style clues. As the clue was released each day, the race was on to find the artwork. The location -  and the piece itself -  inspired each day by 5 classics of Scottish literature.

In these two images, details from the sculpture of J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan. See the gallery of all five new sculptures here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Ease of Use in Technology

Every now and then something happens--I come across a new piece of tech, or I update to a new version of an old program--and I'm just reminded about how much easier technology is becoming. With all the innovation in user interfaces and attention paid to streamlining programs and hardware, I think it's really easy sometimes to forget just how hard using technology used to be. Case in point: I remember going to use the computer catalog at the public library when I was growing up. You had to use precise commands that didn't make a whole lot of sense (at least not to a ten year old). These days, it's all point and click and keyword searching. Much much easier, even if now and then you still can't find exactly what you're looking for. It's still much better than it used to be.

Yesterday I was trying out the new versions of iPhoto and iTunes, and I had the same experience. Again--the programs aren't perfect, but it's a lot easier to do things with them than it used to be. I was particularly surprised at how easy it was to upload photos to Facebook. Before, I needed to jump through a lot of hoops, worry about resizing my photos, sometimes use multiple programs. Now it was as easy as checking a box, and suddenly there they were online.

Nothing much more to say about that than what I have. Just that I think we should take the time to be grateful for the technology we have. It can still cause headaches and problems, but it's getting better all the time, and it helps us in so many ways we take for granted already. Yay technology!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Mantor Monday - Study Space? Have it Your Way!

With finals approaching, our study rooms are booking up fast! Here's a rundown of the spaces we have available for solo and group study:

General study space - If you like distraction free study time, make a beeline for one of our individual study rooms in the basement. There are three of them, and this time of year they are in high demand.
There are also individual study carrels along the rear wall.
 Group spaces: four group study rooms seat 4-6 people each.

1st floor:
General study spaces - cafe tables and library tables in the Reference area.
Comfy spaces - couches and chairs in the Browsing Room and arm chairs at the ends of the Reference area stacks.
Group spaces - Project Zone 1 has a dual-screen computer and can accommodate up to four people.
The Enhanced Study Room seats ten people and has an interactive projector system available. (You must bring your own laptop to use the Smartboard system.)

Both the Project Zone and the Enhanced Study room are reservable.

General study spaces this peaceful area of the library offers very quiet carrels and one table for partner study.

2nd floor:
General study spaces - this is the quiet study zone. Tables and chairs, and carrels on this floor  for conversation-free study.
Comfy spaces -  couches in the quiet study zone.
Group Spaces - four group study rooms. One of these rooms has a projector available. Another one of the group rooms is being transitioned into a Project Zone. It has a computer, but currently there is no network access.  (So no browsing, database access, etc.)
Large Group Room - Large conference table with upholstered chairs, this room seats a dozen or so comfortably. This room is booked and unavailable for group study during the week 12/9 - 12/16.

The 2nd floor Project Zone, the group room with the projector, and the Large Group Room are reservable.

3rd floor:
General Study Spaces - tables and carrels for group and solo study.
Comfy spaces - couches and a deep, plushy armchair. (Caution: maybe a little TOO comfortable for serious study. Zzzzzzzzzz......)