Daily Thoughts 43: Author Earnings

Author's selfie Challenges happen in any endeavor. It makes life interesting—and sometimes difficult. We don’t always know what is going on around us, even when we think we do, because we lack data to make useful decisions. We’re stuck going from our gut unless we can get the data. I’m spending a good amount of time working with data, learning about data, and ways in which to analyze and share data. It is interesting that we live in such a changing landscape of information.

Author Earnings

2016 Digital Book World Keynote Presentation

If you haven’t taken a look at Author Earnings, it’s worth your time to get a view of the sorts of data being collected around what authors make.

Daily Thoughts 42: Flights of Time

Author's selfie Funhouse mirrors used to entertain people and now we can do the same sort of thing with an instant filter on a camera. I’ve been busy this week, with few chances to take a break—even though I’ve often encouraged people to take breaks and even posted about it the other day!

Less Time

My main issue this week revolved around other people driving my daily agenda. From places I needed to be, to meetings, I found myself moving from one place to another without pausing. I still have one more day (working tomorrow), and even then I’ll be busy on the weekend. It’s rare that I have a day with no demands on my time. With such restrictions on my time, it’s more important than ever to find ways to devote at least some time to my own health and mental well-being.

To do that, I walk. I meditate. I read for enjoyment. I even watched some TV this week, The Flash and Arrow. I have a lot to do to get ready for the new semester, which is starting soon. I’ve also been listening to Divergent by Veronica Roth. I’ve enjoyed it! I had seen the first movie, so some elements are familiar even though they’ve changed many things. I plan to listen to more in the series.

Posts

I’m trying to keep my streak going as far as the posts go. I won’t always have much to post about, given the time available, but I at least wanted to check in.

Daily Thoughts 41: Gremlins

Author's selfie I made it out to the beautiful North Mason Timberland Library in Belfair today. It is one of our larger libraries tucked into the woods with high ceilings, exposed wood, and a spacious feel. I don’t make it out to all of the libraries as often as I’d like simply because of the number of libraries and the distances involved. Today was a sunny (cold) morning which gave me a good view of the snow capped Olympics on my drive out.

Gremlins

In 1984 Gremlins came out. It included elements that I continued to enjoy with both humor and horror. It’s available on Amazon Prime at the moment.

 

Daily Thoughts 40: Breathless on the Backs of Elephants

Author's selfie I don’t have a topic tonight, except a brief note about being busy. During a conversation today, a co-worker mentioned not having taken a lunch break. Likewise, I found myself rushing from one thing to the next the past couple days and not taking breaks. I don’t recommend it. You may have days where that is the case—but typically the world won’t fall off the elephants if you stop and take a break. Whether it is at work, school, or in your own creative pursuits, make the time to take breaks. Sit quietly, take a walk, ready, juggle, or do something else for your own peace of mind and enjoyment. If you give yourself a chance to step away and enjoy your break you’ll be better for it, whatever you’re trying to accomplish will be better for it, and everyone you interact with will see the difference.

Daily Thoughts 39: Libraries, Privacy, and a Creative Life

Author's selfieI’m a bit tired tonight. It was a bit of a rushed day. I started with a wet, icy walk this morning before work. I started listening to Divergent by Veronica Roth on my walk. I also finished Packing for Mars by Mary Roach. I headed out early this morning to visit the folks at the Hoodsport Timberland Library and talk about our plans for building renovations later this year. After getting back I ended up in a series of other meetings for the rest of the day. Tomorrow is also taken up with meetings and an eye exam. As I’ve aged my eyes have undergone the normal process of fossilization—presbyopia.

Privacy

A key role played by librarians is the preservation of the privacy of our patrons. It’s a fundamental aspect of librarianship and the protection of intellectual freedom. It’s the focus of Choose Privacy Week. ALA has created Privacy Tool Kit with valuable information. The Library Freedom Project also provides valuable information and advocates for improving the privacy and protections of our patrons.

Although privacy is a core aspect of librarianship, we often fail in a couple areas in regards to privacy and confidentiality. One, when it comes to youth, libraries at times do not follow the recommendations made by ALA and routinely violate the confidentiality of youth. It is not uncommon for libraries to do so, rather than encouraging parents to talk to their children or explaining to the parents what options are available to them. Let me give an example to illustrate this point.

Suppose a young person keeps a diary, it is locked, and the parent is concerned about what this youth might be writing in the diary. The parent might simply talk directly to their child, but rather than doing so, comes to the library and demands that the library staff give them the key to the diary.

What is a librarian to do? Hand over the key (entrusted to the librarian by the child)? Or suggest that the parent is better off speaking to the child?

I’d be happier if the vendors of the integrated library systems created software which allowed anonymous use of libraries and prevented librarian access to anyone’s records. I’ve done some preliminary work on just how such a system might work. After I finish this degree I may pursue that further.

The other thing librarians fail to do in regard to privacy is educate the public on the services we do provide to protect their privacy. Yes, there are ALA initiatives, but on a day-to-day basis, we need to do a better job of training librarian and non-librarian employees to make it clear that this is one of the core services and values of libraries.

And, to make it clear, there is value in privacy even if “you have nothing to hide.” Here’s Glenn Greenwald to talk a bit about that.

Michael Nobbs

Cover art for Drawing Your LifeA few years ago I bought a book titled Drawing Your Life by Michael Nobbs. In the book Michael Nobbs encourages you to draw, to do one thing each day, and pursue a creative life. That led me to his website where I learned that he was diagnosed with ME/CFS, which put limits on his energy. I have plenty of energy but it is impacted by working full-time and going to school full-time, as well as having a family and pursuing my own creative work. I found Michael’s One Thing Today podcast very helpful as I worked through issues in my own life and figured out what I was doing. I very much enjoy the podcast and encourage anyone looking for some support in their creative efforts, for a gentle, kinder approach, to check it out.

 

Daily Thoughts 38

Author's selfieI caught up with Black Mirror on Netflix the other day. I’ve enjoyed the show. Interesting ideas there. Well done. I haven’t enjoyed many shows as much. I’m going to follow it up by watching Dead Set.

Zombie apocalypse on a reality TV show. In the case of a zombie outbreak—or any disaster—people will find themselves in all sorts of situations. I have a bit of fondness for disaster stories. And zombies. This is one I haven’t seen yet.

Creative Yard Work

I haven’t done any writing or sketching today. Rather, I spent time outside working on clearing our fence line as part of a longer term project to improve the property. I also spent time researching materials, measuring the fence line, and figuring out costs.

Other than the work on the fence line, I spent time on errands and other tasks today.

Daily Thoughts 37

Author's selfieI walked out this morning onto a sheet of wet ice covering the driveway, the yard, gate, road, and everything else! I didn’t fall on my ass. I considered skipping the walk. I had already started Zombies, Run! and my audiobook, though, so I went ahead walked (carefully).

David Bowie

Today was David Bowie’s birthday, and in a couple days, it’ll be the one year anniversary of his death. Though gone, the No Plan – EP was just released along with this video.

I’ve listened to the new release, Blackstar released last year today, and other David Bowie songs today.

The Most Important Birthday

Today might be David Bowie’s birthday, but that wasn’t why we had a family birthday party. Alexander shares Bowie’s birthday (though many years apart). He had a fabulous time today playing—his favorite part being the time he got to spend with his Uncle Daron. The years fly past. I enjoyed having a chance to spend this day with him and our family.

The Special

I just saw this on Netflix. Always fun.

Daily Thoughts 36

Author's selfieI worked at the Yelm Timberland Library today, on the second floor of the Fay Fuller building. It happens to be the nearest library to home. That makes the commute time pretty short. I started my day working remotely and then came in shortly before the library opened for the day.

Sketching

Cover art for Beginner's Guide to SketchingI’m planning to start focusing on sketching. I have many books that showcase sketches by various artists and books that provide instruction and guidance. I’m starting with Beginner’s Guide to Sketching: Characters, Creatures, and Concepts from 3dtotal Publishing. I could start anywhere, but I’m going to work on this one for the moment. I want to work through it and then I’ll choose another. Then another. I’ll keep working my way through the books and aim to practice each day. Even if it’s only a small drawing.

I go back and forth on sharing my sketches, but I don’t plan to share most of the practice work. In part because it’s based on work by other artists. It’s one thing to practice by trying to reproduce a picture, it’s another to share that practice work. Periodically, I will share original sketches.

Study

Practice and study are important for artist efforts. I can’t do as much as I’d like right now because I’m studying for my MLIS degree. I’ll try to squeeze in whatever extra learning I can as time allows.

Daily Thoughts 35

Author's selfie Back in the office today. I have a number of meetings to attend. It also gives me a chance to think about things. Today is the birthday of one of my greatest heroes—my Dad. He’s always been an inspiring, dedicated, thoughtful, loving, and hard-working man who has shaped my life in more ways than I can count.

I took a rest day this morning from my usual routine. Ordinarily, I wake up ready to go. Today I felt more like staying under the covers. I don’t think there’s anything wrong, just tired.

Democracy

Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer, and PEN America produced this video of Leonard Cohen’s spoken word poem. It’s excellent.

I support the work of PEN America to protect the freedom of expression around the world.

Daily Thoughts 34

Author's selfie Out in the Elma Timberland Library today. It’s been a cold, sunny day. I read an article about the branch supervisor recently fired from a library for the creation of a false patron record, using it to keep items in the collection that hadn’t circulated. I don’t know the details of the case. What interests me is the question at the base of the discussion—whether or not items should be kept that don’t circulate.

Libraries Are Finite

Libraries, like the TARDIS, are bigger on the inside. They contain universes, worlds, and uncounted people—both physical and those contained in the pages of books. What people forget is that information, whatever its form, takes space. A book is one way to encode information. It’s analog and physical on a macro scale that we understand. We can pick it up and weigh it in our hands. A file is another way, digital and measured in microns, but nonetheless still physical. For all we talk about the cloud, it exists on massive collections of servers taking up physical space. The devices used to access the cloud also take space. Regardless of format, it takes space to store information.

Given this essential fact of reality, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that your neighborhood library will not contain all information that exists. It will contain more than it used to hold, thanks to the Internet and digital collections. Librarians still need to balance spaces for physical people who want to use the library, and spaces to hold the books on the shelves. They take up more space than the e-books but use less electricity.

Here’s the hard question: once the shelves are at capacity, how do you add more items?

Say that your local library has room on its shelves for about 7,000 items. (The collection is more like 8,000 items, with around 13% checked out at any given time). According to Bowker, about 300,000 traditional titles are published each year! Your local library doesn’t have room (or the budget) to buy more than a fraction of those titles. Let’s say that your library budgets $20,000 for new purchases, and is able to manage around 1,000 new titles each year.

The collection can’t exceed 8,000 items—you don’t have space for more items and a larger library isn’t in the cards. What do you do? The math ends up being pretty simple. If you buy a book, another book must go to make room for the new book.

You can offset some of this by buying replacement copies for books lost or worn out. People will also want the latest book by [insert popular author], so that’ll take another chunk of books. Let’s suppose that the first 200 books are easy decisions.

You’ve also received a bunch of requests for other titles, and because you receive publisher catalogs, review copies, and read industry reviews, you learn about titles you know people will want before they’re even aware the book is coming out. You can save some more space by shifting part of your budget to e-books. That makes some (not all) people happy even though you’re basically building a second collection that often overlaps your collection in the library.

With all of that, you still end up with 500 new books to fit on the shelves. On average you fit about 25 books on a shelf, meaning you need to free up 20 shelves of space! With 5 shelves in each section, that’s equal to a whole aisle of space in the library (of course the books aren’t all in one section).

The only way to make them fit is to pull essentially 500 books from the shelves after you’ve already dealt with the easy ones. Now you have to do further evaluation. How about replacing outdated titles like that Windows XP book? That gets a few more. What about books that no one wants to read? You might love the book, think it is great, but when you try to interest people in it, they pass and pick something else. Maybe it was an over-hyped title that no one finished reading two years ago. Or it sounded like something that people would enjoy, only they didn’t. It could also be a classic that no one ever asks to read—not even your dedicated book club.

As painful as you might find it, you have to make room for those 500 newer books. You’ll try to rehome the discard titles. Maybe the Friends of the Library can sell them to raise money for the library. Or you could try one of those outfits that sells library discards online, giving the library a cut.

This process never ends. It goes on each day as new titles arrive and other titles have to make room for the incoming books.

According to reports, the false account was used to check out items in order to register a ‘circulation’ of the titles so that they wouldn’t show on a report and get pulled to make room for other books. Supposedly the titles needed to be kept on the off chance that someone might request the book in the future, and then the library would have to purchase a copy. Apparently, they never heard of interlibrary loan.

See, your library may only have room for 8,000 items in the collection. Another library system might have a million items! They have the same process, but more room means more titles. There are also libraries with a different focus than a public library. So when someone requests a book that your library doesn’t have, you ask other libraries to lend it to you. And often they do because they’ll ask the same favor later.

Library space is finite. You can’t keep every item on the off chance that maybe, someday, someone might want that item. That doesn’t mean that another library won’t have it.

And if you find that you’re creating false records, complete with false identification, you may want to stop and think carefully about what you’re doing. After all, you can’t force people to read what you want, just because you think it’s something they should like. Working in a library, we should carry items people want—they’re the ones paying for the items!

Horror Franchises

People want remakes, sequels, prequels, reboots, and retellings of familiar stories. We want universes and crossovers. The reason? Because all of these forms promise a similar experience. Sure, we want them to be good (a matter of personal taste). This is why series—and flavors of ice cream—remain popular. We’re looking for that experience. If I still ate dairy, I’d love to have more Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk. If they came out with a similar flavor, maybe something dark chocolate with dried apricots or cherries, and almonds, I’d be very interested. I’d also be interested if they came out with a soy/coconut/other nut milk frozen dessert version of New York Super Fudge Chunk because I’d be looking for a similar experience.

Which is all to the point of a couple new trailers posted today. Enjoy.

Creepy Ring kid is back in Rings, updated off of VHS to email attachments you shouldn’t open. Much like any attachment promising your favorite celebrity in the nude.

Chucky returns in a teaser of shots from previous films, with an overlay of text promising the terrorthrills, etc., of previous films. In other words, the experience. The quality of the franchise has varied a bit, though I found the last installment Curse of Chucky to be one of my favorites. It does mean that folks who bought the Chucky: The Complete Collection won’t have a complete collection any longer. Brad Dourif remains a high point of the series created by Don Mancini. Of course, the latest also starred Fiona Dourif.