March 2011 Archives

Dictionary of American Regional English

Flip through the Dictionary of Regional English (DARE) once and you will never forget it. Maps of where words are used? Fantastic. Text below from the University of Wisconsin (who have been the host institution creating DARE);

Like other dictionaries, the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) is arranged alphabetically by headword, from A to Z. What is different about DARE is that it shows where people use the words that are included. We all know, for example, that Americans have many names for the kind of sandwich that includes meats, cheeses, lettuce, tomatoes, etc., served in a long bun. What DARE can tell you (and can often illustrate through the use of maps based on fieldwork) is where the words hero, hoagie, grinder, sub, torpedo, Cuban, etc. are the local terms for this sandwich.

And what about the words people use for the strip of grass between the sidewalk and the street? Boulevard, devil strip, grass plot, neutral ground, parking, parking strip, parkway, terrace, tree bank, tree belt, and tree lawn are just a few of them.

DARE can tell you where people might live if their favorite card games are euchre, five hundred, schafskopf, sheepshead, or sixty-three; or where Americans eat apple pandowdy, lutefisk, or rivel; or where people are from if they live in dog trots, railroad flats, salt boxes, or shotgun houses.

The language of our everyday lives is captured in DARE, along with expressions our grandparents used but our children will never know. Based on interviews with thousands of Americans across the country, as well as on newspapers, histories, novels, diaries, letters, government documents, and other written sources, the Dictionary of American Regional English presents our language in its infinite variety. Word lovers of all stripes will delight not just in the entry words, but also in the quotations that illustrate their use. Open the pages of DARE and browse:you'll be amazed by the treasures of our language as it reflects the richness and diversity of our culture.

Four volumes of DARE, including extensive introductory matter and letters A through Sk-, have been published (1985-2002), to the acclaim of scholarly and lay reviewers alike. Volume V, containing the remainder of the alphabet, is presently scheduled for publication in 2011.

Here is a link to the Beatley record. Aaah hell, here's the call number; PE2843.D52. Have fun.

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The Yearbook of the United States Department of Agriculture

The main purpose of the Yearbook of the United States Department of Agriculture was to summarize USDA’s research developments. However, the Yearbook, which was published (with a couple of exceptions) annually from 1894 to 1992, has a broad appeal outside of the scientific community. In fact, Congress passed a law to provide for its publication as part of an effort to make agricultural information more readily available to farmers and other interested citizens.

-via the National Agricultural Library Digital Repository (NALDR)

The format of the yearbooks was to take a certain subject each year (e.g. 1940: Farmers, 1966: Protecting our food, 1967: Outdoors USA, 1982: Food from farm to table, 1990: Americans in agriculture...) and include essays, photos and papers on various facets. The NALDR has digitized almost the whole run (from 1938-1992). Have to admit they are a little dry... not quite as fun as the USDA Handbooks.

The covers though! They are fantastic. The Massachusetts State Library blog ran a feature on them the other week, and the Preservation Librarian there (Lacy Crews Stoneburner, Simmons alumna) has scanned the covers they have to the State Library flickr page. Def' worth a look. The example above reproduced w/ Lacy's ok.

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Kindle for school!

Last November I received a Kindle as a birthday present.  I wasn’t sure if I really wanted one when I first got it and actually considered swapping it for a Nook.  I ultimately decided to go with the Kindle because, even though I can’t borrow books from the library with it, it felt less “buggy” and I knew that some of the features that made the Nook a strong competitor were being made available soon (by February) on the Kindle.  (This includes “real” page numbers and the ability to borrow and lend books from and to other Kindle users.)

Like most e-reader users I know, I now think of my Kindle as a great alternative to carrying around a heavy book or trilogy, but not a full replacement for physical books.  It is possible to love both!  I also love how much easier the e-ink is on my eyes than staring at a computer screen for hours.

But the problem is that these nifty features didn’t seem readily compatible with Library School.  For one, none of the required books for any of my classes so far have been available in any sort of e-format, Kindle or otherwise.  Second, I’d long ago given up on trying to read assignments on the computer because the benefit of saving paper didn’t outweigh the benefit of saving my vision, especially since we do get 400 free print pages each semester, or the ability to quickly take notes on paper. (I have very seriously committed to recycling and saving my print outs to compensate for this.)

This semester, I’ve actually started using some of the extra features and complementary online tools to maximize my Kindle’s potential as a tool to keep up with my class reading assignments and shorter diversions (see Jason’s post below about the dangers of picking up full-text-too-good-to-put-down books during finals).

The first feature I use is my @free.kindle.com address to convert files to the .azw format.  While I can read a PDF on a Kindle without having to convert the file, I can’t use any of the highlighting and note-taking features.  I also generally find it awkward to zoom in on a PDF on a 6-inch screen.  With my @free.kindle.com address, I can email myself assigned readings as attachments to be converted, for free, to the .azw format so I can use all the same features I have with any e-book.  I then store these readings in a Collection folder on my Kindle home screen.  So now I can save paper, my vision, and my back from having to carry that big folder we all compile each semester.

I’ve also combined my Kindle email address with ReadItLater.com and calibre.  ReadItLater.com is similar to Instatpaper.com; both sites allow you to save online articles, stripped away of any ads or other screen “noise”, in one place.  You can then sync your account with a mobile device so you can read your articles on-the-go, even when you don’t have service or access to Wi-Fi.  calibre is free, open-source software that does tons of nifty things with e-books and e-readers.  Among those things is the ability to sync my ReadItLater account with my Kindle through my @free.kindle.com address.  So now, as long as I remember to sync my Kindle with calibre, I can use my Kindle to read my online-dailies instead of having to squint through the teeny-tiny text on my iPhone screen or the harsh computer monitor.

So if you’re considering an e-reader, I say go for it!  You can still make the most of your e-reader for school, even while we wait for the publishers of Library School texts to decide to make some of those (very heavy) books available in e-book format…

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Diversion from LIS

While I am not a children’s or young adult literature person, I am obsessed with the Hunger Games trilogy. They are getting closer to casting Katniss for the live action movies (I am very okay with the current top choice of Jennifer Lawrence – see Winter’s Bone) but I thought I would describe the time these novels consumed my life, because it was during finals week.

I read the first book because it was one of the summer reading assignments for the middle school in the town I work for. Our library purchased around twenty copies and our Children’s Librarian was very excited about this book. I could not take the book out during the summer because there were so many children who needed it for credit. So, September came and I was consumed with school work, and reading another leisure book. By the time I got around to checking out the Hunger Games it was already finals .

I picked up the first book 2 days before a paper was due. I intended to just read a few chapters as a break from the paper. Boy was I wrong. I could not put the book down. I had to take a break from the book in order to finish my paper. Instead of going to bed I chose to finish the book and take a nap before work the next morning. When I got to the library I grabbed the last two books. Luckily it was the weekend and I read book 2 on Saturday and book 3 on Sunday. I planned my weekend off so that I could finish all of my assignments and not have to worry about getting them done throughout the week. That concept was scrapped because I only cared about Katniss and Peeta.

Library School does offer time for diversions, but try to avoid them during mid-terms and finals week.

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