Category Archives: ask tangognat

Ask me a question, and I’ll answer it on my blog.

Ask Tangognat: Alternative Careers for Librarians

Nat asks, “What other type of career can a librarian (or, ahem, library assistant) use his
or her skills (like database searching, cataloging, book knowledge, etc?). Something that is not in another library, research institute, educational facility, or a bookstore.”

Let’s take a look at some of the entries in one of my favorite career reference books, the venerable Occupational Outlook Handbook.

I’m thinking that someone with a library background might want to conside the following areas for alternate work:
Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
Computer Systems Analysis
Prepress Technicians and Workers
Desktop Publishing
Market and Survey Researchers

All of those jobs deal with some aspect of information, although some may require additional training.

Here’s an article on alternatives from LIScareer.

You might want to check out some of the information on the web sites for the Assosiation of Independent Information Professionals and the Special Libraries Association. Those were the few ideas I had, although some of those jobs would likely require extra training. Does anyone else have some suggestions for alternative careers? Please post them in the comments.

Ask TangognaT: anime catalogs

Sarah Writes, “Do you know where I can subcribe to free japanesse anime/movie catalogs that can be sent to my house?”

If I get any catalogs, usually they are from online stores where I’ve ordered anime in the past. One good catalog is from rightstuf, they often have great deals. It looks like their print catalog costs $4 to have it delivered to your house, but if you order from them they will take $4 off your first order. You can download the catalog for free too.

Animenation has the same type of deal for its catalog.

For Japanese movies, back when I was buying Asian Studies materials for a library, I liked the Facets catalogs. Some of their catalogs are free for U.S. addresses. They focus more on asian cinema in general, so although I do think they have an anime section you are more likely to find live action Japanese movies in their catalogs.

ADV let’s you download its catalog, but I wasn’t able to find a place to sign up for mail delivery.

This is actually a tougher question than I expected, because it looks to me like most of the major anime retailers don’t send you catalogs for free! If anyone knows of some good free catalogs, please post in the comments.

I don’t think that the catalogs from rightstuf and animenation are bad deals, since the price of the catalog is refunded with your initial order and there are usually some additional coupons in the catalog. So if you are wanting the catalogs to do mail order, I’d pick either rightstuf or animenation (I’ve only ordered from rightstuf) and order the catalog. If you order something from rightstuf I think you’ll start getting later print catalogs for free.

Ask TangognaT: Best Boston Websites

Stefan wants to know what the best Boston web sites are:

I think that the best place to go for buzz from Boston blogs and information about current events is Universal Hub. The guy who runs Universal Hub also runs Boston Online, which features handy articles like the wicked good guide to Boston English and a directory of local links.

There’s always old standbys like, Boston Herald, The Phoenix (their best of guides can give you ideas for restaurants, etc), and craigslist. If you are into shopping Daily Candy has a Boston guide.

Since I am a librarian, I have to point out the coolness of the Boston Public Library.

Sooz blogs a bunch about Boston area events. Sushiesque also posts fun neighborhood pictures from time to time. Bostonites is a big Boston area web ring.

That’s about all that comes to mind immediately. I tend to use Universal Hub as my main place to get local web sites and read selected posts of local bloggers. If anyone has other cool Boston area web sites, please comment!

Ask TangognaT: Online Education Dictionaries

A question came in from someone looking for a good online secondary education dictionary. I was able to come up with a few links, but if anyone else out there has any good ideas, post some suggestions in the comments.

There’s always the old standby, the ERIC Thesarus which has short definitions for the terms listed.

There’s this Lexicon of Learning

Or The Educator’s Reference Desk

This site collects links to education glossaries.

Anyone have any other ideas?

Ask TangognaT: Library Technology Plans

So far, my nefarious plan to get my blog readers to feed me ideas for things to write about is working because if left on my own today I might have just ranted about Warren Worthington III having a sex change for the X-men 3 movie or how inane it is that people think it is a good idea to import manga artists and have them work for lame American comic book companies. Because anyone who has the option of reaching hundreds of thousands or millions of readers in Japan will of course jump at the idea to come to America and draw issues of Swamp Thing for a few thousand readers in the U.S. Riiiiiiiiiiiight.

Rebecca Writes:

I have a library-related question this time, because I like to demonstrate my actual Librarian “cred” every so often 🙂

Does your library have a technology plan? If so, who wrote it, and how often is it updated? I’m doing a conference session for libraries in my area on technology plans and why libraries need to have them, and I’m trying to get some different ideas on how to actually implement them.

Here is yet another library question I can’t really answer! My librarian cred is lacking! Because as far as I know, my library doesn’t have a technology plan. Heck, I’d be happy if the university in general had some kind of technology plan because as far as I can tell it doesn’t. The library does do strategic planning in various areas, and in some cases technology is a part of that planning (like we might investigate technology in the context of thinking about an information commons) but there isn’t a standalone plan. That being said, I do like the idea of having a technology plan that people from multiple departments could collaborate on authoring. Sometimes there is a big split between public services staff and technology staff within a library and having a plan that would spell out shared goals and a direction sounds like a good idea. If anyone has any ideas about technology plans, share them in the comments 🙂

Ask Tangognat: information literacy and faculty collaboration

Meredith Wrote:

I read your last post about all of the classes you taught last semester (zoinks!) which now has disappeared.

Yeah, I pulled that post because I was worried that it was a little whiny, and when I redid my stats this morning after a good night’s sleep I realized my numbers were off slightly. My course load wasn’t quite as dire as I originally thought even though it felt pretty bad at the time 😛

I wanted to ask about the type of classes you’re teaching. Are they mostly general library workshops (using databases, distinguishing quality sources, etc) or are they course-based, assignment-based, etc?

They sort of fall between the two. I teach a couple classes that are drop-in workshops, but the bulk of my classes are for first year students who are working on a research paper assignment. Some of the assignments are very general (write an argumentative paper about a current controversial issue) and some of the assignments are more subject specific (gender issues, examining popular culture, etc ). These library workshops are scheduled individually by instructors who choose to bring their classes into the library. The content of these courses is usually very basic, covering topics like using the library’s web site, basic boolean searching, how to find a journal article in the library, etc. Even though the library content is basic, it usually isn’t so basic for the students, many of whom haven’t really used an article database for research before.

I’ve read so many studies that say course-based or assignment-based info literacy instruction (preferably with the cooperation of the professor) is more effective, but I don’t really know how many schools are really doing that. I certainly never took a class that involved any library instruction in my life. How open are faculty to collaboration in info literacy instruction?

I guess it depends on what you mean by collaboration – if collaboration is bringing a class in for a library session when the students have a research assignment, I think faculty are open to that. I think that in general it might take something extra for someone to get to the stage where they think of sharing more information with the librarian as part of a discussion or consulting with the librarian about assignment design. I’ve been working on a cool tutorial project that involves a great deal of faculty collaboration, but we had some grant money to compensate everyone for the extra work involved and that really kick-started the process. I think that my work with faculty and instructors is a little atypical of most academic librarians because I mainly work with students in basic composition classes. So there isn’t as much of a specialized subject hook to what I do, and while there are some instructors that I see every year, there is also a rotating cast of phd students teaching these classes who I work with as well.

For my upcomming job interview, I’m doing a presentation on faculty-library collaboration for information literacy instruction and collection development, so I’d love to actually get some input from someone who does instruction. Thanks!

I think the best way to develop collaboration and a working relationship with faculty is to work with them on library collection issues and library instruction at the same time. If the librarian has specialized subject knowledge and might be consulted for issues involving faculty research and collection development, I think it might be easier to have a library instruction component that is integrated into a class. Some of my colleagues who have subject specialties do offer workshops that I think might be more closely integrated into a class than some of the things I do, but part of that is also due to the demands of upper level undergraduate research as opposed to the more basic stuff that I cover.

I think the biggest thing that I end up having to worry about when I prepare for my classes is how much the instructor has done to prepare their classes for library instruction. I always ask instructors that before the class comes to the library, students will know what their research paper assignment is and also have topic ideas because even if the topic idea is very broad, we can work on narrowing it down during class. In practice this ends up varying greatly, I have some instructors that e-mail me a list of detailed student thesis statements which I can use when preparing to teach. This is great because students are much more likely to pay attention and make connections about what is going on when I’m showing them how to research using their own topics. When I’m working with a class that doesn’t really understand their research paper assignment and they have no idea what they want to research I always end up feeling that the library visit wasn’t as effective as it could be. And then there are the classes that people schedule the week before spring break, when the students are mentally already in Mexico or whatever, and there isn’t much you can do to grab their attention…..

Ask TangognaT: Good Library Journals

mlis wrote:
Hello. I would appreciate your help in selecting some librarian journals to subscribe to. I left my librarian job to go to grad school and no longer have easy access to librarian journals. If you had to choose 3 journals (Searcher or similar) to subscribe to, what would you choose? The CyberSkepticâ„¢s Guide to Internet Research is $165 a year – worth it?

Hmm, this is a question that I feel a bit unqualified to answer, so hopefully some people will chime in with their own opinions in the comments for this post. The reason why I feel slightly at a loss about answering this question is (please don’t think I’m a bad librarian) I don’t like reading librarian journals. If I’m starting on a new project where I think I want to do a literature search, I’ll do some poking around and read a bunch of articles, but I don’t read librarian journals all the time. Often I can barely bring myself to skim American Libraries or the publications I get through being a member of ACRL like College and Research Libraries. I haven’t read the CyberSkepticâ„¢s Guide to Internet Research so I can’t really say if $165 is a good price for a subscription, but when you have sites like researchbuzz, searchenginewatch, resourceshelf, and the new this week page, I think those resources would keep you current on happenings in the world of Internet Searching for free.

I’m sort of cheap when it comes to spending money on stuff like this. If your concern is staying current with things that are going on in library land while attending grad school, I think you can do that easily by checking in with a few blogs here and there and perhaps subscribing to a few listservs. This might involve a different type of time committment than sitting down and reading a few journals, but I tend to keep up on library happenings this way, and I don’t feel like I’m lacking in professional knowledge. I subscribe to Web4Lib, Usability4Lib, ILI-L, DigLib, and GNLIB-L (that’s the fun graphic novel one). So, I’m not sure what type of librarian you are, but if there is a huge bombshell of an article out there that everyone’s talking about, a mention of it will probably turn up on whatever listserv you’ve subscribed to and you can decide if you want to ILL it through your grad school library.

There are some free sources of articles that might be interesting to librarians, like firstmonday and D-Lib magazine.

A few core blogs like Open Access News,, Catalogablog, info-commons, and LISNews can keep you up to date. Walt does a round-up and summary of recent articles in Cites & Insights that I think would come in handy. Without knowing what type of librarianship you are interested in, or if you just want to keep current, I’m not totally sure which print publication to recommend, because I’d likely mention different titles if you were a reference librarian as opposed to a library systems specialist. I always liked JASIST and Reference & User Services Quarterly. If anyone else has some ideas for “must subscribe” library journals, please add your own comments!

Ask TangognaT: recommended comics!

Man! There’s a sudden rush of questions —

Rebecca wrote:
Hello! You recommend a lot of manga series, but what non-manga series would you

I’ve been falling back on the regular comics blogging lately!

A couple oldies but goodies – Zot! by Scott McCloud is one of my all-time favorites. I also like Mage by Matt Wagner.

I like what I’ve read so far by Andi Watson — Breakfast After Noon, Love Fights, and The Complete Geisha. I haven’t been reading his new series, Little Star, but it might be something I might pick up when it comes out in trade paperback form.

I also like Planetary and Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis.

Same Difference and Other Stories by Derek Kirk Kim is great, I bought the trade but you can read Same Difference online here.

The issues come out very infrequently, but I love the post soviet futuristic sorcery of The Red Star. The art is amazing, which I guess contributes to the issues coming out infrequently. It might be worth waiting for the trade for this series because the oversized editions that come out are beautiful.

I read the Brian Michael Bendis series Powers, and I’ve also been reading his run on Daredevil.

I have a sick addiction to X-Men comics. I like Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s Astonishing X-Men. I’ve also been picking up X-Men just because Peter Milligan is writing it and I lament that his Human Target series is cancelled. I think Astonishing X-Men would be a great title for people who aren’t totally familiar with X-Men, so I’d recommend that over Milligan’s X-Men.

Now that Grant Morrison is writing tons of stuff for DC, I like having series like Vimanarama and the Seven Soldiers of Victory to look forward to. Morrison’s writing and Frank Quitely’s art is going to force me to actually buy a Superman comic — I’ve read my Mom’s old Superman comics, and I used to love Supergirl, but I’ve never really liked Superman enough to buy the montly comics. So I’m looking forward to All-Star Superman.

I like Street Angel, a comic about a homeless skateboarding girl who fights ninjas and the forces of evil.

My youngest sister reminds me that I forgot to mention Hopeless Savages, which is a great series that focuses on the adventures of a punk-rock family. If you like comics that incorporate tons of music references, you might also try the high school comedy Blue Monday. In general, I think you can’t really go wrong sampling anything from Oni Press.