Ex Libris: an E-Zine for Librarians sponsored by
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#245, April 15, 2005

SUBJECT INDEX to Past Issues

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Neat New Stuff I Found This Week

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My resume
Or why you might want to hire me for speaking engagements or workshops. To see outlines for previous presentations I've done, click on Handouts

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My Writings
A bibliography of my published articles and columns, with links to those available online.

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Order My Books

Net Effects: How Librarians Can Manage the Unintended Consequences of the Internet, and The Quintessential Searcher: the Wit and Wisdom of Barbara Quint.

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What IS Ex Libris?

The purpose and intended scope of this e-zine

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E-Mail Subscription?

For a combined subscription to Neat New Stuff and ExLibris, please click HERE, complete the form, and click on "subscribe." To unsubscribe, use the same form but click on "unsubscribe." To change addresses for an existing subscription, unsubscribe from that form and return to the page to enter the new address.

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Highlights from Previous Issues:

My Rules of Information

  1. Go where it is
  2. Corollary: Who Cares?
  3. The answer depends on the question
  4. Research is a multi-stage process
  5. Ask a Librarian
  6. Information is meaningless until queried by human intelligence
  7. Information can be true and still wrong
  8. Pay attention to the jokes

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Guru Interviews

  1. Tara Calishain
  2. Jenny Levine, part I
  3. Jenny Levine, Part II
  4. Reva Basch
  5. Sue Feldman
  6. Jessamyn West
  7. Debbie Abilock
  8. Kathy Schrock
  9. Greg Notess
  10. William Hann
  11. Chris Sherman
  12. Gary Price
  13. Barbara Quint
  14. Rory Litwin
  15. John Guscott
  16. Brian Smith
  17. Darlene Fichter
  18. Brenda Bailey-Hainer
  19. Walt Crawford
  20. Molly Williams
  21. Genie Tyburski
  22. Patrice McDermott
  23. Carrie Bickner
  24. Karen G. Schneider
  25. Roddy MacLeod, Part I
  26. Roddy MacLeod, Part II
  27. John Hubbard
  28. Micki McIntyre
  29. Péter Jacsó

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Cool Quotes

The collected quotes from all previous issues are at

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When and How To Search the Net

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Wanna See Your Name in Lights?

Or at least on this page, anyway? I'd like to print here your contributions as well as mine. As you've noticed, articles are brief, somewhere between 750 and 1000 words -- something to jog people's minds and get their own good ideas flowing. I'd also be happy to run other people's contributions to the regular features like Favorite Sites on _____. I'll pay you the same rate I pay me: nothing.

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Drop me a Line

Want to comment, ask questions, submit articles, or invite me to speak or do some training? Write me at: marylaine at

Visit My Other Sites

My page on all things book-related.

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How To Find Out of Print Books
Suggested strategies, resources, and finding tools.

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Best Information on the Net
bestinfo/default.htmThe directory I built for O'Keefe Library, St. Ambrose University, still my favorite pit stop on the information highway.

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My Word's Worth
an occasional column on books, words, libraries, American culture, and whatever happens to interest me.

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Book Proposal

Land of Why Not: an Appreciation of America. Proposal for an anthology of some of my best writing. An outline and sample columns are available here.

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My personal page


Frances Jacobson Harris. I Found It on the Internet: Coming of Age Online. ALA, 2005. 0-8389-0898-5. $35. Reviewed by Marylaine Block

Teens don't use libraries as much as we would like them to, choosing instead to meet their information needs online. According to Harris, who's had 17 years of experience working with teens as a high school librarian, that's as much a fault of librarians' misunderstanding of them as it is of their misunderstanding of libraries and librarians. In this book, she sets out to show what the impediments are in our relationship with teens.

One is that our information systems are formal and difficult to use, and their use is imposed on them by teachers for research that has no intrinsic interest to them. Nor do the contents of our libraries seem to have much relevance to the questions that do interest them. Let's emphasize "seem to," because our libraries may in fact have exactly what teens want, but because they don't understand the structure of the information, they don't know how to ask the questions, or in which systems (catalog? Database A? Database B?).

Another impediment is that we tend to think of our systems as purely information technology, while teens are using it as much for communication as for information -- indeed, says Harris, information-gathering is as much a social process as an intellectual process for teens. "Communication bridges the gap between formal and informal information systems. People find ways to make information systems, whether formal or informal, work for them when they have information needs. The challenge for us is to remove roadblocks..." When we cut off access to instant messaging on our workstations, or bar teens from congregating in (noisy) groups around a computer, we interfere with their search process.

The problem, she says, is that many librarians really don't understand the way teens use information and communication technologies. So she devotes a significant portion of the book to showing us exactly what systems they use and how they use them.

There are pitfalls in their use of those systems -- ethical issues like privacy, bullying, illegal behavior, and intellectual issues like evaluating content -- that teens may not have the knowledge or reasoning ability to deal with. That's where Harris sees librarians having their most important role, helping teens recognize the problems and form an ethical and intellectual framework for approaching the technologies. The book concludes with a series of suggestions for teaching teens evaluation skills and information ethics.

Readers will also be grateful that Harris provides a review of the literature on teens' use of the internet, and librarians' approaches to working with them.

I recommend the book, not only because of the informational content, but also because Harris' respect for teens shines through in everything she says.

And that may be the most important message of all. Too many librarians are in the habit of treating teens as second class citizens whose needs are not as important as those of adults, and whose offenses are jumped on while those of adults are ignored. (I'm reminded of a cartoon showing anxious librarians, watching a teen in band costume with a drum suspended from his neck, saying, "True, he hasn't done anything YET.") These librarians are the people who most need to read this book.

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Today, librarians have the power to make the merger of information and communications technology work for people in ways that are humane and enriching. Teenagers are our partners in this endeavor. They are the innovators whose imaginations we must value. We will not succeed without their vision and energy, and they will not become library users without our skill and passion.

Frances Jacobson Harris. I Found It on the Internet: Coming of Age Online. ALA 2005.

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Ex Libris: an E-Zine for Librarians and Other Information Junkies.
Copyright, Marylaine Block, 1999-2005.

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