Friday, 30 April 2010


A writer/editor who found himself stranded due to the recent volcanic ash cloud has called for other creative types to participate in a colloborative magazine about their experiences:

"A US horror writer was stranded in the UK and he wrote a story set inside the ash cloud. A Belgian DJ stuck in Singapore has created a playlist to play in abandoned airports"

If you have suffered delayed flights and are interested to contribute, the open call for articles is here. Some samples are now available online.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Mystery of the mega-selling floppy disk

Just read a surprising news article on BBC: apparently, millions of floppy disks are sold in Europe every year. For real. I thought those relics from my childhood suffered a natural death in the '90s...apparently not. Only a few days ago did Sony announce that it will stop all sales of the 3.5inch floppy disks in Japan by March 2011. That means that floppy disks have been around all along, existing with the 2 TB HDDs. Who are these people still buying them and why? BBC suggested a few possible candidates - English National Opera, developing countries with second-hand computers, etc but concluded those wouldn't account for the millions of sales. If you have any ideas, please let me know!

The History of Libraries Through the Ages

My friend Brandon, who named this site, posted a great link about libraries yesterday:

The History of Libraries Through the Ages takes a look at the evolution of libraries from ancient Egyptian times to the modern day. Most interesting is the development of its link to academia, which led to the "golden age of the libraries" and birthed great libraries such as the Bodleian and the Library of the British Museum.

To accompany this article, here is a heartening piece of news from the Straits Times: according to the National Library Board, their book loans have hit a record 30 million last year, which means that Singaporeans are using the library more than ever! Considering that libraries these days are competing with your Wiis and what not, that's pretty outstanding.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Meet Conan the Librarian

While thinking of names for this blog, I came across this:

Saturday, 24 April 2010

On e-books

I've only properly started reading e-books a few months ago and now it has become my favourite activity to do on my iPhone (apart from obsessively checking e-mails and whatsapp-ing). It all started with my desire to read every Sherlock Holmes novel out there and finding that my library stocks them in the form of 2 massive volumes which are heavy and cumbersome to lug around. So I went on my iPhone and downloaded them from Project Gutenberg via Stanza and finished reading them with little time and no fuss. Since then, I've gone on to download other classics as well as Cory Dotorow's Little Brother, which I am currently reading and is under the Creative Commons license. 

This surprised me because I thought that I would find reading an entire book onscreen straining and the traditionalist in me enjoys feeling the pages between my fingers when I turn them. As it turns out, that couldn't beat the convenience of having an e-book reader with me all the time, since I bring my phone with me everywhere and could whip it out to resume reading anytime. This comes in especially handy when I don't expect to have spare time to kill, for example, waiting for a friend to show up. In the past, I would bring a book out when I expect to have a long commute on the train or am setting time aside to read, but now reading has become an activity that fills up my sporadic free pockets of time.

For the same reason, I'm not sure if an iPad will fill this need since it is not something I can keep in my pocket and will bring out unless I know there is a chance of it being used, even though it is lighter than my netbook. Undoubtedly, its interactivity and bigger screen will provide a better experience for reading e-books and make my long commutes to work more interesting...that is, if I do buy one. Until then, I'm content with the portability and convenience that comes with reading e-books on the iPhone.

Authors who want to be rockers

Following up from the last post, there are some authors who are living out their fantasies of being rockers. Well, not quite, but a group of best-selling authors such as Dave Barry, Amy Tan and Mitch Albom have formed a band in order to go on tour to raise money for Haitian relief and other charities:
Tan says the qualifications for making the band were having no talent and no ego. She says she's a terrible singer and doesn't remember lyrics. She focuses on costumes instead.
Barry says the band has been hailed as "not as bad as you would expect."

Rockers who want to be librarians

My favourite news story of the month is that allegedly, Keith Richards wanted to be a librarian.

Apparently, he is a fan of the Dewey Decimal System and spends his spare time arranging his vast collection of books.  Who would have thought?

It reminded me of an old interview I read in which Morrissey (whose mother was a librarian) was asked what he wanted to do when he grew up and he replied:
“Oh, I'm afraid I always wanted to be a librarian. To me that seemed like the perfect life: solitude; absolute silence; tall, dark libraries. But then they started to become very modern, you know, these little pre-fabs and they had no romance whatsoever. So suddenly the idea had no fascination for me.”

The library world’s loss is the music world’s gain and since I can’t imagine a Smiths/Morrissey-less world, I’m glad it all worked out in the end. Still, it made me wonder: how many other musicians out there are secretly harbouring desires of being librarians?

Thursday, 22 April 2010


A mystery reviewer who has been posting scathing reviews of history writers on Amazon has been revealed to be the wife of a top historian:

Prof Orlando Figes, 50, an expert on Russia and professor of history at Birkbeck College, London, made the startling revelation in a statement through lawyers following a week of intrigue, suspicion, legal threats and angry email exchanges over postings on the website's UK book review pages.

UPDATE: Prof Orlando Figes has confessed that he WAS the author of the anonymous poor reviews. Although it seems hardly anonymous when one of his aliases was orlando-birbeck (birkbeck being the university he works for)!


This is a project that has been ...long overdue! (ok, excuse the library pun.)

Anyway, I decided to start this site because I thought it would be useful to push myself to keep up to date in my field and occasionally write about it or post interesting links. It’s also the first time I've bought a .com - I feel so grown up! Apart from this blog, I also update two sites for work (this and that) but I hope to post regularly in here too. This will be more personal than my work blogs, with a slant towards library work.

So, welcome, one and all!