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When I’m not busy with library school work or busy at work, I try to read at least one social media-related book a month. (Yes, I know, I’m super rad and stuff.) Despite 99% of them having nothing to do with libraries, I find that these books are a great place to find library marketing ideas.

Sticks & Stones: How Digital Business Reputations Are Created Over Time and Lost in a Click is no exception. I can honestly say that this is the best social media book I’ve read this year. Divided in to four parts, Sticks and Stones author Larry Weber explains the importance of one’s digital reputation, shaping said rep, examples of small and large-scale digital reputations and strategies for managing your own digital presence.

Part I: Digital World, Digital Reputation takes readers through what they need to know about what having a digital reputation really means, its implications and how to form and hone your/your company’s. Throughout the book, Weber uses real-life examples of businesses rocking their digital reputation and cautionary tales illustrating why you better learn to rock your own. (The highlight of Part I is “The Reputation Management Process” outlined in Fig. 1.1. Though a simple six-step process, this process is a place to, if nothing else, begin one’s online PR management strategy.)

Part II: Building Reputation: Start a Dialogue addresses a range of issues that arise when building a digital reputation:

  • establishing community guidelines
  • the concept of treating your reputation as your brand (using zappos.com as an example)
  • becoming the venue at which conversation regarding you/your company takes place
  • where to be on the web
  • what jobs are necessitated by a web 2.0 presence

Part III: It’s All About You (and Your Firm) delves in to establishing YOU online. Getting on LinkedIn, how to network online – all the stuff you should know about if you’re going to be relevant in world 2.0. As someone pursuing a career in social media, I appreciated the time Weber took in this section of the book to remind readers that establishing a social media brand is a process. One that takes care and requires an amount of judiciousness. It is also a process that, if you’re not careful, can eat up an unreasonable amount of time. Weber calls for striking a balance between one’s real and digital professional lives and one’s personal life. In my experience, many social media writers fail to address these issues and by doing so, imply that having a successful digital reputation takes ALL of your once-personal time.

Part IV: Tools and Tactics is wonderful. With chapters dedicated exclusively to YouTube, responding to negative community feedback, “The New Craft of Public Relations” and the Obama presidential campaign, all I can say is that you really need to read this section of the book (I literally photocopied the public relations chapter for my boss before returning the book to the library). Weber explains what strategies work and why without being condescending or overly simplistic. It is so easy to translate these strategies to non-corporate business and industries.

Weber discusses “The Future of Digital Reputation” in his final chapter, which almost ALL social media books insist upon doing. Despite loving the vast majority of this book, this last chapter left me thinking, “These are interesting theories.” Just like all the other theories about the future 4.0. I’m sorry to end this recommendation on a negative note, but that’s how the book ended. :/

(I wonder if Weber will use his negative feedback strategies on this blog post.)

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Rather than wax poetic about how useful this book was for me as a historical guide to the world of blogs, I’ll let the author speak for himself.  Here are a handful of my favorite moments from Scott Rosenberg’s latest book “Say Everything.”

Even better than moderation is the enforcement of conversational norms by the [blog’s] participants themselves, which for a moderator or host demands a skill closer to gardening than police work. Mostly, however, the social tenor of a website is simply going to mirror that of the real-world community from which it draws its participants. (p. 250)

Every group of bloggers progresses through its own natural life cycle: childish excitement, teenage angst, midlife crisis, elderly fatigue. In a 2005 post titled “The Blog Cycle,” [an early blogger] anatomized the gestational phases that most blog communities pass through as they recapitulate the formative experiences of their predecessors: from asking “what is blogging” to claiming “our community invented blogging!’ to recycling the old Blogging-versus-Journalism debate through all the other common discussions that seem to arise whenever bloggers begin to see themselves as a distinct group. Far from complaining that the repetition of these conversations was a problem to be solved, [the blogger] suggested that they were inevitable milestones on the path of each community’s development. (pg. 331)

Historically, the succession of media forms and technologies follows a predictable pattern: every innovation arrives with a fanfare announcing that it will replace its predecessor. But when the dust settles, the new-comer almost always winds up having redefined that predecessor rather than eliminated it. (pg. 335)

…the rise of the social networks clarifies exactly what characteristics made blogging lat. They are the same traits that once excited its earliest pioneers. A blog lets you raise your voice without asking anyone’s permission, and no one is in a position to tell you to shut up. … Blogging uniquely straddles the acts of writing and  reading; it can be private and public, solitary and gregarious, in ratios that each practitioner sets for himself. It is hardly the only way to project yourself onto the Web, and today it is no longer the easiest way. But it remains the most interesting way. Nothing else so richly combines the invitation to speak your mind with the opportunity to mix it up with other minds. (pg. 336)

Writing for public consumption is not a simple matter of typing up polished views or ideas that already exist; the difficult act of writing precipitates the even more difficult act of thinking. (pg. 356)

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From 2002-2007, Jean-Noel Jeanneney was the president of the Bibliotheque nationale de France. During just three weeks in his tenure there, he wrote this 90-page “little book” to offer up a case against what we now know as Google Books, from a European, non-Anglophone perspective. As this is the kind of book one might find themselves reading in a single sitting, my review will be brief. It’s worth the few hours it takes to read.

As I read this book this afternoon, I kept feeling a lack of emphasis on Jeanneney’s part in regard to the solution to the problem presented by Google Library/Google Book Search. I expected the author to expound for the full 90 pages on a call to action against Google Books and a strong case in favor of  non-Anglophone countries banding together to digitize works in every other language on a large-scale. Instead, I felt like a read an overly lengthy blog-style rant (albeit by a well-educated and important figure in information science) complaining about Google’s status as a for-profit company and America’s status as a capitalist country. We knew this already…

Maybe something was lost in translation, but when I originally reserved this book, I’ll admit I did so based on its title. “Google and the Myth of Universal Knowledge” made me jump to the conclusion that this book would be the result of a study of the effect of learning to Google something at a young age. Shame on me for not reading the book description in more detail before reserving a copy at my library.

So, I lied. My informal little review was longer than I’d originally intended. Long story short, this book was worth the read, despite my inattentiveness at the time of placing my Michigan e-Library hold on the item. Avoid this title if you’re really capitalist. 🙂

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Edited by William Miller and Rita M. Pellen of Florida Atlantic University, Libraries and Google is a collection of scholarly articles written in the mid 2000’s regarding two then-new Google products: Google Print and Google Scholar. The book’s purpose was to explain why and how “Google has become a powerful presence in [librarians’] lives, and in the lives of almost all library users” (Miller, 2005). In addition, the book outlines the nitty gritty of Print and Scholar’s functionality, seemingly for librarians scared of losing their jobs and preservationists worried about the destruction of precious, publications.

In November of 2004, the latest in a chain of new Google “products” were announced, leading to a great deal of buzz in the library community, but surprisingly, Google had very little to say regarding the subjects of Google Print and Google Scholar. Google’s lack of response to calls to explain itself is why this book and its partner periodical were produced. These were some of the most relevant articles published on Google Print and Scholar in relation to the library universe in the year following Google’s announcement. The editors of Libraries and Google sought to make a timely work that explained the products’ impact in detail for interested library professionals.

The articles for this book were “co-published simultaneously in Internet Reference Services Quarterly, Vol. 10, No. 3/4, 2005.” A range of topics is covered with varying degrees of skepticism toward the “800-pound dragon” or “Goliath” (Egger-Sider & Devine, 2005, p.90) that Google is considered, by some, to be. There are the fairly innocuous “Disruptive Beneficence: The Google Print Program and the Future of Libraries” (Sandler, 2005) and “Evaluating Google Scholar as a Tool for Information Literacy” (Cathcart & Roberts, 2005). Then there are the paranoid and hesitant “The (Uncertain) Future of Libraries in a Google World: Sounding an Alarm” (Anderson, 2005) and “Running with the Devil: Accessing Library-Licensed Full Text Holdings Through Google Scholar” (Donlan & Cooke, 2005).

Google Print and Google Scholar obviously have had the greatest impact on academic libraries, and as such, a majority of the writers work in academic settings, whether as professors at Universities’ Library Science Programs or as Heads of Reference in University Libraries. Ironically, several of the authors repeatedly decry undergraduate students’ abilities to perform research while others discuss how great it is that the field of Library Science and Information Research have these new tools to utilize to help students who are “lazy” or simply ignorant on the subject of how to conduct proper research.

At any rate, the most important thing to consider in the year 2009 about Libraries and Google is the book’s relevance. The best thing that can be said for the publication nowadays is that it was, in fact, very important and relevant when it was published in 2005. While some of the explanatory information is still relevant today regarding the functionality of Google’s interface, products and services and while the authors make important observations about Google’s relevance to Libraries, the book is about Web technology and is four years old. The Google Print initiative was renamed Google Book Search in November 2005 (Grant, 2005), the exact month this book and its co-publication were published. Simply slicking the “more” link on Google’s Homepage reveals that today, what was Google Print is now known simply as Google Books. Google Scholar has retained its original name. Both products have, in the past four-and-a-half years, significantly evolved in the way their interfaces operate and the scope (number of books and languages included) of their projects. A lot of the authors’ concerns in Libraries and Google have now been addressed.

Comparing this book with more contemporary works like The Whole Digital Library Handbook (Kresh, 2007), a preview of which is currently available on Google Books immediately below Libraries and Google, or even the little-respected Wikipedia is interesting. TWDLH is more temporally accurate than Libraries and Google, but its focus is obviously less on Google and its products than on the concerns of being a Librarian in the Digital Age. Perhaps this writer will lose all credibility by saying this, but to some degree, as far as facts and dates are concerned, Wikipedia and digital news sites like it can be more accurate than a text. Publishing in print a capital “B” book regarding the state of technology does not seem like the best uses of funds in the Web 2.0 world in which 2009 operates.

All this being said, the writing in Libraries and Google is a welcome relief from the unedited bullet points that wind up on Wikipedia and tech blogs. Getting to read a well-researched text by fired up, educated Librarians who, for the most part, appear to want Google’s products (and other electronic reference sites and technologies) to be accurate, fully formed and useful for their patrons. More than once, article authors bemoaned certain features of Scholar and Print for not quite being as complete or usable as they could be for their patrons’ research studies. The pervasive attitude seems to be that librarians want these sources because they will help their patrons locate information more efficiently than the digital card catalogs the libraries can develop.
In this author’s opinion, Libraries and Google would have been a good use of a library’s funds in the fall of 2005, but definitely not in the summer of 2009. Too much has changed. For a library to keep up with all of these changes collection-wise, they should focus their funds and search efforts on aggregating useful, timely and relevant links and periodicals. After all, Libraries and Google is simply the November 2005 issue of Internet Reference Services Quarterly in book form.

Text Reviewed:
Miller, W., & Pellen, R. M. (Eds.). (2005). Libraries and Google. Binghamton, NY:
Haworth Information Press.
Works Cited:
Grant, Jen. (2005). Judging Book Search by Its Cover. Retrieved June 16, 2009, from
http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2005/11/judging-book-search-by-its-cover.html

Kresh, Diane. (2007). The Whole Digital Library Handbook. Texas: ALA Editions.
Google Books Library Project. Retrieved June 16, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Books_Library_Project

Book Mobilize is a blog designed to bring readers information regarding information science, technology, social computing, and the occassional fun fact. Please feel free to contact us using the box in the righthand sidebar.

Library Links – A series of ongoing posts whose content is pretty self-explanatory. Library Links will include anything and everything from the ALA Code of Ethics to using Second Life for long-distance meetings. This series was motivated out of a need to keep track of library articles read in pursuit of an MLIS degree as well as things stumbled across in personal time reading about libraries. Most posts will include comments regarding what’s posted.

Libraries in the Mainstream – Hot library-related news stories, mentions of libraries in television and movies – whatever catches our attention. Tips on Libraries in the Mainstream we may have missed are ALWAYS appreciated :). Just post a comment or contact us using the box at the right.

Theorist’s Corner – These will be long-form papers regarding a variety of information science subjects, with sources cited in APA format. Book reviews will be posted at Theorist’s Corner for the time being. We won’t be offended if you skim. This category has been removed. It’s boring. -H

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Just for Fun – Just for Fun. These won’t be posted all the time, but on the occasional holiday we might have a YouTube video or playlist for you.