Erin Dorney

Blogging life & librarianship

Posts Tagged ‘blog

Tell me again how the stories will differ… (for Artspace New Haven)

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“Library Science” at Artspace New Haven

Artspace New Haven is a nonprofit that showcases local and national visual art, providing access, excellence, and education for the benefit of the public and the greater arts community. Its current exhibition is titled “Library Science”, conceived by New York-based curator Rachel Gugelberger. The exhibition contemplates our personal, intellectual, and physical relationships with the library, focusing on how these relations are changing as libraries adapt to the digital world. From its socio-cultural meaning to its architectural space and classification tools, the library informs the methodology and practice of the artists in “Library Science.”

Presented are the works of 17 artists in a variety of media, including drawing, photography, sculpture, installation, painting, and web-based projects. In conjunction with the exhibition at Artspace, Connecticut artists were invited to submit proposals for research residencies towards creating site- and situation-specific projects at local libraries. “Library Science” seeks to encourage librarians to forge relationships with artists and support the creation and presentation of new artwork by providing assistance with research and access to information.

In a further exploration of personal libraries, Artspace has been contacting librarians (especially those who blog) to invite them to submit written contributions, photographs of their personal libraries, top-ten shelves (ten favorite books), etc. Below is my submission, focusing on my relationship to my personal home library and books as a source of companionship and learning. I encourage other bloggers to write on these topics and send links to their posts to sinclaire(at)artspacenh(dot)org so that she can link to them from the “Library Science” exhibit page.


My Personal Library

Tell Me Again How the Stories Will Differ
When Read on the Screen Instead of on Paper

I’m fairly certain that when the first e-reader was announced, my family released a collective sigh of relief. Surely not because this technology marked the beginning of an era wherein economics and privacy governed the access of information, but because they assumed they would not have to lug another single box of my books to a new residence. In 27 years I have lived in six apartments and a closet (part Harry Potter reference, part truth), each move accompanied by box upon box of skillfully-penned, woefully-bound trade paperbacks. Is it blasphemous for a librarian to prefer the flimsy, mass-produced edition over the handsome hardcover volume? Although my personal library may be organized by color, it does not exist simply as an element of design. No, my books are here to be used, abused, written on, bent up, dropped in tubs, covered in sand, read, re-read, shared, lost, given away. Plainly put, my books make my home.

The three shelves pictured here used to sit in my grandmother’s hallway in Buffalo, NY, stuffed to the brim with the books of May Sarton, Graham Greene, Anaïs Nin, and Colette with assorted wildflower identification manuals and travel guides thrown in for good measure. A personal library is a funny thing. For some, home book collections contain reading material laced with lowbrow embarrassment. For me, being able to look at my shelves and instantly recall when I first read A Girl of the Limberlost (freshman year of high school), who got me hooked on The Clan of the Cave Bear (my older brother), and where I randomly picked up The Handmaid’s Tale (a garage sale), makes me feel like I’ve finally reached land at the end of a long and terrible sea voyage. I distinctly remember a bloody paper cut smearing the pages of The Life of Pi, my tears rippling the pages of Cathy Ostlere’s Lost and the phantom pain in my jaw after we read Autobiography of a Face in my college class on memoir. I have books left behind by past boyfriends, remember stealing my mom’s copy of Summer Sisters (there are dirty bits in there, people!), and my dad has not once, but twice, gifted me copies of The Dharma Bums. My books bring me comfort and have taught me as many lessons as life itself.

Given my overt love of reading, it often comes as a surprise to many friends and family members that I rarely work with print books in my career as a librarian. Instead, I spend the majority of my days solving problems, helping students and faculty members do research, and equipping people will the skills to lead empowered lives. The intersection of knowledge and information is expanding beyond the traditional boundaries of books, covers, and pages. We see content being created communally, locally, and socially, outside the dual constructs of author/publisher. Daily, I witness a new generation of students struggling to reconcile their everyday world of transparent, web-based existence with the conventional assumption of Library = warehouse for books. How best to help the student whose professor has required he make a copy of a print journal article when the library has transitioned to purely electronic journal access. How best to explain to that same student that once he graduates in two years, he will no longer have unfettered access to that body of knowledge due to a strictly enforced pay wall.

In all of this, technology is neither the problem, nor the solution. Print or digital, formats have always come laden with both burden and opportunity. Because print books have served me so well and taught me so much, I am more willing to experiment with my iPad and iPhone as alternative platforms for reading. Last year I experienced a panic attack while riding alone on a New York City subway car. I was able to immediately open The Selected Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay on my phone and skim through stanzas as my fingers left faint marks of sweat on the screen. I smiled as my heart continued beating quickly, but this time, for a different reason.

While I am drawn to the idea of having my library in my pocket, with me at all times, I certainly can’t risk bringing my iPad into a hot bath. For now, I will continue to strategically pack and ask my brothers for help transporting my boxes of paperbacks. Plus, I’ve already worked out the best elbow crook for reading in bed and the perfect angle to block the sun while reading at the beach.


Thanks to Amy Pajewski for the fabulous photo work and to Curatorial Assistant Sinclaire Marber for inviting me to participate. And, anyone who has ever recommended, lent, or gifted me a book. If you can make it up to New Haven to see the exhibit (running now through January 28), I am confident it would be worth your trip!

Written by Erin Dorney

November 19, 2011 at 12:30 PM

Guest Post @ In the Library with the Lead Pipe

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I have a co-authored guest post up at In the Library with the Lead Pipe on renovations as a catalyst for change.

Lead Pipe posts full-length, peer-reviewed articles relating to libraries and is edited by a phenomenal team of leaders. I’ve added them to my Blogs I ❤ page and you should subscribe to their RSS feed ASAP!

Many thanks to my co-author Eric Frierson for inviting me to collaborate on the post and to Melissa Gold, Hilary Davis, Leigh Anne Vrabel, Ellie Collier, and Emily Ford for their review and edits.

Sidenote: This week continues to get better and better – I won a $50 gift certificate to use at the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen Fine Craft Fair this weekend and I found out that the Computers in Libraries proposal that my colleagues and I submitted was accepted for the conference! Helllloooo cherry blossoms in March! Any tips for a CiL newbie?

Written by Erin Dorney

November 10, 2011 at 8:15 AM

Blog – 2010 in review

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The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

The average container ship can carry about 4,500 containers. This blog was viewed about 17,000 times in 2010. If each view were a shipping container, your blog would have filled about 4 fully loaded ships.

In 2010, there were 35 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 109 posts. There were 40 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 19mb. That’s about 3 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was January 25th with 688 views. The most popular post that day was Library Day in the Life.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,, Google Reader, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for becoming a librarian, library scenester, william ayers, being a librarian, and erin dorney.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Library Day in the Life. January 2010


So, you’re thinking about becoming a librarian? August 2009


Looking for a library job? Hang in there! September 2010


Conference Attendance Advice. March 2010


About October 2007

Written by Erin Dorney

January 12, 2011 at 5:54 PM

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My apologies for the RSS feed.

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Hi everyone – I just wanted to apologize for all of the weird posts that are showing up in my RSS feed… not quite sure what’s going on, but I have posted in the forums about the issue. Now I am contacting the support people. Thanks for bearing with me as I fix this and stop all the random posts from coming to you! Ugh, FAIL! 😦

Written by Erin Dorney

August 17, 2010 at 9:13 PM

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Some blog updates.

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I’m not quite sure if anyone reads this outside of RSS feed readers, so I wanted to point out a few slight changes to my blog. Within the navigation bar I have combined my About and Contact Me sections. I figured that information could pretty much all fall under About. I also got rid of my Coursework section because I felt like it wasn’t really adding anything to my digital presence here. I will continue to discuss my courses at West Chester on an as-needed basis, but I don’t feel the need to list them all out.

The larger change is that I got rid of all of my links from the sidebar. For some reason, I have never been pleased with that setup. Instead, I created a new page called Blogs I ❤ located along the top navigation bar. I am going to post my favorite blogs there with brief commentary (I am hesitant to call it a “review” because I know my comments will be subjective). I think this is ultimately a better way to share the blogs I enjoy reading and let people know why. Maybe it will encourage readers to check out these new blogs and add them to their RSS feed – at least more-so than a simple link to the site.

What else… oh, a small thing – I added some additional pieces of library-related design work to my Flickr account, so you can preview those in my sidebar widget as well. Just some random things from the past year or so.

So, what do you think? Are there any other changes you would like to see? I just realized that I have never done any “usability” testing on this site… so if you are encountering any problems, let me know. I can work on tweaking it.

Written by Erin Dorney

August 14, 2010 at 12:30 PM