Archive for: July, 2010

Why the library should affect students' choice of university

When we think of outreach and recruitment, we don't usually think of using the library as a tool to attract students to our institutions. Here at York I do occasionally take part in Faculty of Science & Engineering outreach activities -- mostly when the library is included in high school science class tours of the institution.

Rather than do something really boring like a "here's the reference desk" tour, I like to take smaller groups down into our teaching lab and do (hopefully) fun and amusing interactive sessions on the current state of the information universe. You can get an idea of what I cover from one of the blog pages I created.

But maybe, just maybe, when we design our spaces, when we design our web presences, when we think about outreach and marketing, we should think about leveraging what we do well and turning it into something that can benefit our whole institution.

What got me thinking about this was an article that was bouncing around Twitter, etc., a little while ago, 4 Reasons Why the Library Should Affect Your College Choice.

If we can affect whether or not students choose our institutions, shouldn't we be aware of what we can do and strive to maximize the effect we can have on recruitment?

Here's the four things that the article suggest people should look for in a library, with a bit of the text from the article:

  • What is the staff like? Chat with a reference desk staffer or two. How helpful are they? What kinds of information can they provide? Do they seem like they are prepared and willing to help students? These are important questions.
  • How much does the library system and its librarians interact and work with faculty? Find out what, if any, types of collaboration professors have with the libraries. Fisher says professors and librarians at many schools work together to create course content or inform each other's work and research. If you can get a sense of the relationship and bond between these two major parts of campus life, you can get a nice picture of how smoothly you can research class topics and projects.
  • What's the atmosphere like? Walk into the library and go about your normal business. Some campuses have multiple libraries--one of which is likely to be more of a social environment than the other quieter, more serious locales.
  • Check the library system website and digital resources. This is a big one. It's a new digital age in information services, and academic libraries are on the cutting edge.

Why is this a good idea for us? First of all, the four points basically cover what the library is all about for undergrads -- space, reference, information literacy, online collections. It's a great way to make the case that our core competencies as libraries and librarians are part of what makes our institutions great.

Also, ultimately in higher ed funding is about butts in seats and the more butts in seats, the more money is circulating in the system that can get allocated. And, if the library is recognized as an important part of recruitment that certainly helps us make a case for funding. And longer term, happily recruited students become happily donating alumni.

We need to make the case that part of our job is to make our institution look good -- to help attract the best students.

It's worth thinking about.

Do you have any stories about your library being part of recruitment efforts?

(A slightly different version of this post will be part of the My Job in 10 Years outreach chapter)

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Cool posts from InsideHigherEd

Usually every day brings one or two interesting things at InsideHigherEd, but today is a bonanza.

  • The Ed Tech Sonic Boom

    Today, we are able to leverage a set of well-developed and stable technologies to build in pedagogically advanced active learning methods into a wide variety of courses and modes of instructional delivery. To be a great teacher it is no longer a prerequisite to be a dynamic and gifted lecturer. Rather, faculty can partner with learning designers, librarians, and teaching specialists to create dynamic, student-centered courses that allow students interact and create with the curriculum in ways that were impossible before the advent of technology enabled and supported classes.

    However, these improvements in course quality made possible by the pairing of learning design methods and technology have brought with them a new set of challenges....

  • Let's shift some paradigms is the first post from the new blog Student Affairs and Technology which shows a lot of potential.

    A couple of years ago I was a participant for a conference panel on student affairs and technology. The evaluations were less than positive. Almost all of the comments shared a common theme: "be less technical and explain the basics." Fortunately, there was one comment that has stuck with me and that I use as a call to action: "Helping me to boldly go where I've never been before." It gives me hope as a student affairs techie that we as a profession have not lost our willingness to learn, to explore, and to stay positive about new technologies. Let's push the envelope. Let's shift our professional paradigms. Let's make technology (and learning about new technologies) a part of our daily practice in student affairs.

  • Whither the Wikis?

    Of all the Web 2.0 tools that have become de rigueur on college campuses, wikis fundamentally embody the Internet's original promise of pooling the world's knowledge -- a promise that resonates loudly in academe.

    And yet higher education's relationship with wikis -- Web sites that allow users to collectively create and edit content -- has been somewhat hot-and-cold. Wikipedia, the do-it-yourself online encyclopedia, vexed academics early on because of its wild-west content policies and the perception that students were using it as a shortcut to avoid the tedium of combing through more reliable sources. This frustration has been compounded by the fact that attempts to create scholarly equivalents have not been nearly as successful.

  • Google and the Digital Humanities

    For humanities scholars, having all the world's writings available in a digital format opens up an entirely new realm of quantitative research to supplement the qualitative research that, because of limitations inherent to the print medium, has historically been their sole dominion, say Google officials.

    "Traditionally, the conventional model of humanities research is that a professor has his graduate students do deep readings on a relatively small number of texts," says Orwant. "Now, for the first time, we have so many books online and so many useful data mining techniques that it becomes possible, instead of reading 10 books deeply, to read 10,000 books shallowly."

  • 'Elegance in Science'

    Q: How do you define "elegance" in the context of your book?

    A: The dictionary definitions of elegant -- graceful, tasteful, of refined luxury -- are useless here, because scientists tend to use the word in peculiar ways. Rather than starting with a formal definition, then, I have remembered Wittgenstein's advice -- that "the meaning of a word is its use in the language" -- and I spend the first chapter of the book discussing mathematical or scientific proofs, or theories or experiments, that are generally regarded as elegant, sometimes contrasting them with those that are not. I begin with mathematical examples since it is mathematicians that get most enthusiastic about elegance, and there are some very pretty examples that are easily accessible to non-mathematicians. I then proceed to the physical and biological sciences, ending the chapter with a description of the experiment, published by William Harvey in 1628, proving -- what was then not known -- that the blood in our bodies circulates; an experiment that required only a bandage and that could have been done at any time in the past.

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Pepsigate: Yes, I'm staying

For now, at least.

My natural inclinations about this whole mess are probably closest in nature to either Chad Orzel's or Jason Rosenhouse's, so reading them will probably give you a pretty close idea of where I stand. Bora, not surprisingly, has collected a lot of the reaction.

I also really like what Christie Wilcox has to say:

Let me make it clear, though - I don't blame anyone for leaving. I don't hold it against them. While I may not have had the same visceral reaction they did, I also haven't been here that long. I haven't dealt with this kind of mismanagement and gotten fed up about it over and over again. I can easily see how, for many that left, this was the last straw. For me, though, this was the first time Seed did something wrong.

I also stayed because I decided it was the right thing to do. When I saw my friends jumping ship, the thought of leaving crossed my mind. That thought, however, was fleeting, and I decided instead that I needed to stay.

I originally wanted to blog on ScienceBlogs because it is a community and a media outlet that I believe in. This hasn't changed. I still think that ScienceBlogs is an important member of the scientific and journalistic communities, and I feel that it is important. Now that the battle is over and the smoke has cleared, it's time to mourn the losses suffered and rebuild. I'm still young, naive and optimistic enough to think that Seed can and will do better in the future, and that it's a future I want to be a part of.

I hope that you all continue to read the Sciblings and ex-Sciblings that you know and love, wherever they end up. As for me, I'm going to be here for a little while longer, and I hope that you'll stick around for it.

I truly believe that ScienceBlogs management has made some serious missteps in this whole fracas, ones that have seriously damaged the community of readers and bloggers. Credibility and community takes a long time to build and even longer to restore. However, I think restoring that credibility and rebuilding that community are projects worth undertaking.


More recent revelations about other advertising/editorial issues also leave a bad taste in my mouth. You can read about that issue here and here.

So I'm still torn. I enjoy being part of this community and I truly believe it's worth working to save. I appreciate the opportunity to reach a very different audience than I did at my old location, a chance to preach to the unconverted. I value being able to reach science people with the library message. I've been blogging long enough to have no illusions about how "famous" it has made me. But the people that I do reach here on ScienceBlogs are truly the right people for me to reach.

I would be very unhappy to give that up. And so, here I remain.

I still think this is very much a teachable moment -- a theme I may come back to at a later date. Those of us that deal with students in our non-blogging lives I think could almost use this as a case study in thinking about what credibility really means in the online world -- how to build it, how to lose it, how to measure it and how to teach about it.

(As an aside, my natural inclination was to just keep blogging without saying anything. To stay without a statement. I thought about it long and hard and decided since I did make my initial post I should probably follow up.)

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Scientists vs. Engineers

As if Pepsigate wasn't enough to get people riled up, this could be even move apocalyptic!

H. Steven Wiley takes a close look at the real Two Cultures, Scientists vs. Engineers!

In the past, I have heard there was conflict between the "two cultures" of science and the humanities. I don't see a lot of evidence for that type of conflict today, mostly because my scientific friends all are big fans of the arts and literature. However, the two cultures that I do see a great deal of conflict between are those of science and engineering.


At one extreme, you have basic scientists, who seek to discover entirely new processes and knowledge. At the other extreme, you have applied engineers who use the knowledge to build useful devices.

When working with these multidisciplinary groups, I have observed a definite cultural difference between scientists and engineers. Basic scientists seem to be very comfortable with ambiguity and the unknown. Applied engineers, however, depend on and expect established knowledge and certainty. Of course, there is a continuum between these extremes with respect to specific technical fields as well as the people who work in them. However, there is a definite difference in the comfort zone of people who identify themselves as scientists or engineers.

Of course, the article deals mostly with generalizations and stereotypes, but as with many of those, there is often enough truth in them to make it worthwhile to pay at least a little attention.

My library serves mostly scientists with only a very small number of engineers in the student body.

I was wondering -- those of you whose libraries serve large numbers of both science and engineering students, do you see a difference in the kinds of questions they ask, the kinds of services they take advantage of or the kinds of collections they need?

8 responses so far

All aboard the York University Space Elevator: Part Two

Jul 10 2010 Published by under engineering, yorku

Following up on my first post a while back, All aboard the York University Space Elevator!, the York University Earth and Space Science and Engineering research team of Raj Seth, Brendan Quine and George Zhu have published another paper, this time in The Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, Feasibility of 20 km Free-Standing Inflatable Space Tower. (Open Access version)

This paper describes the theory and analysis for the construction of a thin walled inflatable space tower of 20 km vertical extent in an equatorial location on Earth using gas pressure. The suborbital tower of 20 km height would provide an ideal surface mounting point where the geosynchronous orbital space tether could be attached without experiencing the atmospheric turbulence and weathering in the lower atmosphere. Kevlar is chosen as an example material in most of the computations due to its compatibility in the space environment. The Euler beam theory is employed to the inflatable cylindrical beam structure. The critical wrinkling moment of the inflated beam and the lateral wind load moments are taken into account as the key factors for design guidelines. A comparison between single inflatable cylindrical beam and inflatable multiple-beam structures is also presented in order to consider the problems involving control, repair and stability of the inflated space tower. For enhancing load bearing capacity of the tower and for availability of more surface area at the top, the non-tapered inflatable structure design is chosen for the basic analysis, however further analysis can be performed with tapered structures.

Once again, thanks to our Institutional Repository folks, the paper is once again Open Access, available for reading to the entire world here. (Thanks, Marcia!)

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Friday Fun: Wikipedia Celebrates 750 Years Of American Independence

Jul 09 2010 Published by under education, friday fun, history

I love Wikipedia. I probably use it every day. It's become an indispensable part of the modern information landscape.


A few months ago, I was doing a session in our lab with a bunch of high school students. When I do these sessions I try and illuminate how the modern information landscape is a bit more complicated than they think -- I try and instill a little doubt and humbleness into their mostly quite confident attitudes. I talk about Facebook and privacy and Wikipedia and a whole bunch of things. Anyways, I'm talking about Wikipedia and demoing how easy it is to randomly change. And this young man pipes up and mentions that he's just made himself commissioner of the NHL. Hilarity ensued. Fortunately, Wikipedia corrected itself within 30 minutes or so and Gary Bettman was restored to his rightful place in the world.

But. It was a good demonstration of both the strengths and weaknesses of Wikipedia.

Which brings me to today's Friday Fun. I just love this one from The Onion: Wikipedia Celebrates 750 Years Of American Independence. Somehow it seems to me that the more important you think Wikipedia is, the greater an accomplishment of the human impulse to learn, the funnier you will think it is.

And, boy oh boy, is it funny. Definitely read the whole thing. An excerpt:

NEW YORK--Wikipedia, the online, reader-edited encyclopedia, honored the 750th anniversary of American independence on July 25 with a special featured section on its main page Tuesday.

"It would have been a major oversight to ignore this portentous anniversary," said Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, whose site now boasts over 4,300,000 articles in multiple languages, over one-quarter of which are in English, including 11,000 concerning popular toys of the 1980s alone. "At 750 years, the U.S. is by far the world's oldest surviving democracy, and is certainly deserving of our recognition," Wales said. "According to our database, that's 212 years older than the Eiffel Tower, 347 years older than the earliest-known woolly-mammoth fossil, and a full 493 years older than the microwave oven."


"The Revolution's main adversaries were the patriots and the people from Braveheart," said speaker Tim Capodice, who has edited hundreds of Wikipedia entries on subjects as diverse as Euclidian geometry and Ratfucking. "The patriots, being a rag-tag group of misfits, almost lost on several occasions. But after a string of military antics and a convoluted scheme involving chicken feathers and an inflatable woman, the British were eventually defeated despite a last-minute surge, by a score of 89-87."

Despite spirited discussions bloggers present later described as "eluminating" and "sweet," the symposium was cut short when differences of opinion among the panelists degenerated into personal insults and name-calling.

While Wikipedia's "American Inderpendance" page remains available to all site visitors, administrators have suspended additions and further edits to its content due to vandalism.

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A teachable moment

So, PepsiCo has started up a new blog here on ScienceBlogs called Food Frontiers.

From the profile:

PepsiCo's R&D Leadership Team discusses the science behind the food industry's role in addressing global public health challenges. This is an extension of PepsiCo's own Food Frontiers blog.

This blog is sponsored by PepisCo. All editorial content is written by PepsiCo's scientists or scientists invited by PepsiCo and/or ScienceBlogs. All posts carry a byline above the fold indicating the scientist's affiliation and conflicts of interest.

From the introductory post:

On behalf of the team here at ScienceBlogs, I'd like to welcome you to Food Frontiers, a new project presented by PepsiCo.

As part of this partnership, we'll hear from a wide range of experts on how the company is developing products rooted in rigorous, science-based nutrition standards to offer consumers more wholesome and enjoyable foods and beverages. The focus will be on innovations in science, nutrition and health policy. In addition to learning more about the transformation of PepsiCo's product portfolio, we'll be seeing some of the innovative ways it is planning to reduce its use of energy, water and packaging.

In June, I had the pleasure of meeting Pekka Puska, president of the World Heart Federation -- we'll be hearing from him on this blog, as well as other global leaders in nutrition research, in every context ranging from government, to academia, to industry. PepsiCo's research team draws from all of those branches: Dr. Mehmood Khan, PepsiCo's Chief Scientific Officer, served as the director of the Mayo's Clinic's endocrinology and nutrition clinical trial unit, and Dr. George Mensah, PepsiCo's Vice President of Global Nutrition, was the chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Cardiovascular Health Program for almost a decade.

We have some exciting things planned for this project, including a video series that will begin with a look at the role the food industry plays in health issues, and how industry research into chemistry, physiology, neuroscience, behavioral economics, medicine, and nutrition can improve health outcomes around the world.

As we like to say, science is driving the conversation unlike ever before -- and ScienceBlogs is happy to be at the center of it all.

This has proven to be extremely controversial among the bloggers on this site, to say the least, with some expressing outrage, going on hiatus or deciding to leave. Some of the reaction:

I completely respect my colleagues individual decisions. To say the least, I'm not pleased about sharing the ScienceBlogs platform with Pepsi -- their products are definitely not a force for good in the world and their advertising and promotional efforts work against encouraging healthy eating and sustainable food practices.

But, I haven't made up my mind yet as to what I'll do. Certainly, hiatus and relocation back to my original site are both options that I will consider.

Before I make my decision I want to see how this plays out a little more -- in particular I'm looking forward to getting a feel for the posts on the new blog, whether they feel corportate or whether they attempt to engage in a conversation about food culture, health and the best way forward for a sustainable food industry. And while I'm no expert, I do suspect that if we are going to come to a more sustainable planetary food and agricultural status quo, corporations will have to become part of the solution in the future as much as they've been part of the problem in the past.

But what do I mean by "teachable moment?"

Last night as I was pondering the situation, all I could think about was how I approach Web sites when I do literature research skills sessions for science students. How I talk about knowing who creating the content, thinking about why they created it, what their biases are, what they're trying to convince their audience of. I also thought about teaching students to be skeptical, both of those they instinctively disagree with as well as those they instinctively agree with.

I thought about the ACRL's Information Literacy Standards for Science and Technology:

Standard Three

The information literate student critically evaluates the procured information and its sources, and as a result, decides whether or not to modify the initial query and/or seek additional sources and whether to develop a new research process.


Standard Four

The information literate student understands the economic, ethical, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information and its technologies and either as an individual or as a member of a group, uses information effectively, ethically, and legally to accomplish a specific purpose.

And I thought about trying a little harder in the coming year to really talk about the core issues with students, especially around understanding who to trust and how to sniff out bias and misinformation.

If I was doing a search in a class and landed on a Food Frontiers post, what would I say? What questions would I ask the students?

  • Who created this post and what is their agenda? Are their biases clear?
  • Is this science or is it advertising?
  • Did PepsiCo pay to have this information posted?
  • Are they engaging comments honestly and authentically?
  • How does the presence of this blog affect the credibility of other blogs on the site?
  • Is PepsiCo at all credible in this information space?
  • Would you use this information in your assignment? If so, would you use it as expert opinion like you would a peer-reviewed journal article or would you use it as background/social context?

Like I said, I'm still undecided. A appreciate comments and advice, perhaps even more questions that my hypothetical students should ask.

A good first step (irrespective of what my personal decision is going to be) would be for ScienceBlogs to make it as easy as possible for my students to answer those questions if and when they stumble upon a Food Frontiers post.

9 responses so far

Buy where you shop: Bookstores, libraries and intellectual locavores

Nice article by Vit Wagner in Sunday's Toronto Star, Tough times, but some bookstores have a different story.

A couple of different independent bookstore owners/managers in the Toronto area talk about some of the challenges faced in surviving and even thriving in what should be a period of death and decline for bricks and mortar bookstores.

But while some of the competition is retrenching or worse, BakkaPhoenix, which recorded a double-digit increase in sales last year, is expanding. In stark contrast to the recently shuttered This Ain't the Rosedale Library, BakkaPhoenix is readying a fall move from the Queen St. W. location it currently rents to the larger, two-storey Harbord St. digs it has purchased.

"One of the things we were looking for was space for our community," says Chris Szego, who has managed the store for the past decade. "We already have had science-fiction book clubs approach us to see if they can hold their meetings there.

"We want to schedule writing an reading workshops. That's something independent bookstores can be great at. We offer community."


Joanne Saul, co-owner of Type Books, is similarly upbeat. While the small chain decided to cut its losses by closing its Danforth outlet last year, the company has expanded its two remaining stores on Queen St. near Trinity Bellwoods and on Spadina Rd. in Forest Hill. Sales slumped for much of 2009, Saul says, but picked up at Christmas and have remained buoyant through the spring.

"A successful independent bookstore has to completely and utterly cater to its community," says Saul. "That's something we strive to do by getting engaged with the schools near us, offering literacy programs, having weekly story time for neighbourhood preschoolers. You have to make those connections with people who support you. It's a two-way street."


Glad Day, the landmark gay and lesbian themed bookseller, issued in an appeal for financial support in the spring. Its future remains uncertain.

"Things have improved a little bit but it's not beyond what we'd expect for the season, given that we're coming up to Pride Week," says owner John Scythes. "It's touch and go right now. I've had a few nice orders from academia, but that won't run the store. The walk-in trade hasn't changed. People come and browse here and then go home and order the book on the net."...

"I can't blame people," says Scythes. "It's the kind of culture we've created. But is it worth it if the consequence is destroying retail book selling?"


Taking an entirely different approach is Marc Glassman, the former proprietor of Pages Books & Magazines. Driven off Queen St. W. last year by escalating rents, the veteran bookseller has rebranded his business as Pages Beyond Bricks & Mortar.

Glassman has continued to sell books through This is Not a Reading Series, the program of regular author events he runs mainly out of the Gladstone Hotel. And, following the model established by New York's Mobile Libris, he is setting up shop at other events, including the recent Luminato and Subtle Technologies festivals. He has a contract to sell books and DVDs at this year's Toronto International Film Festival.

Very cool and very interesting and reminiscent of the article my friend Claude Lalumière wrote a while back that I blogged about, The Bookstore of the Future.

Tim O'Reilly's classic post Buy Where You Shop is probably the best encapsulation of why it makes sense to support local businesses. For many classes of products and services, they provide a kind of value for local shoppers that's hard to duplicate online. Using local business for browsing and research while buying online for price is unsustainable.

A few months ago, I was talking with one of my most loyal retail customers, a specialty computer bookstore in Massachusetts. "We survived the chains, and we survived Amazon," he said, "but I don't know if we're going to survive the online discounters. People come in here all the time, browse through the books on display, and then tell me as they leave that they can get a better price online."

Now, you might say, as the Hawaiian proverb notes, no one promised us tomorrow. Businesses, like individuals and species, must adapt or die. And if the Internet is bad for small, local retailers, it's good for the online resellers and it's good for customers, right?

But think a little more deeply, and you realize that my friend wasn't complaining that people were buying books elsewhere. He was complaining that people were taking a service from him--browsing the books in his store--and then buying elsewhere. There's a world of difference between those two statements. Online shopping is terrific: you can get detailed product information, recommendations from other customers, make a choice, and have the product delivered right to your door. But if you aren't satisfied with the online shopping experience, you want to look at the physical product, for example browsing through a book in the store, you owe it to the retailer--and to yourself--to buy it there, rather than going home and saving a few dollars by ordering it online.

Think about it for a minute: the retailer pays rent, orders and stocks the product, pays salespeople. You take advantage of all those services, and then give your money to someone else who can give you a better price because they don't incur the cost of those services you just used. Not only is this unfair; it's short-sighted, because it will only be so long before that retailer closes his or her doors, and you can no longer make use of those services you enjoy.

I'm not really sure yet how any of this applies to academic libraries directly, but I do see various strains running through. First of all the idea of intellectual infrastructure -- bookstores and libraries are part of a continuum that facilitates learning and discovery. Secondly, I do see the idea of a kind of intellectual locavore being somewhere in all this, that a physical place can connect people to ideas and facilitate learning. That learning communities are a part of that intellectual locavore infrastructure and libraries and bookstore can create, facilitate and nurture that infrastructure.

The ideas of learning commons and intellectual infrastructure will get increasing important as the content that students and scholars need for their work will get increasingly divorced from specific physical containers or reading devices.

Or I could be completely out to lunch on this one -- reaching too far and trying to hard to see the connection of retain bookstores to academic libraries and coming up with a lame concept like "intellectual locavores".

What say you?

(And yes, I shop at physical stores for books and music so I try and do as much of my buying there as possible. I also try and buy at Bakka as often as I can but it's not even remotely close to where I live or work. Although I only read a few magazines regularly, I do actually subscribe to them.)

(And I guess I have a question for Tim O'Reilly, if you're reading this. How would you update Buy where you shop for the coming world of ebooks?

Tim updates his original post here: Why Using ShopSavvy Might Not Be So Savvy)

2 responses so far

Monday Zombie Fun: My favourite zombie novels

Jul 05 2010 Published by under friday fun, science fiction

Ok, ok, this is the last zombie post, I promise.

Here are some exmples of my favourite OTT, badass, crazy zombie fiction!

  • The Book of the Dead is a classic collection of short stories that's well worth reading.
  • Monster Island: A Zombie Novel is the first in a trilogy. It's one of those trilogies with significantly diminishing returns as it goes on, but the first book is great.
  • The Rising is well done and creepy.
  • Patient Zero: A Joe Ledger Novel by Jonathan Maberry is top notch, the best horror/sf/technothriller I've read in a long time.
  • Pet Sematary is one of Stephen King's best novels, excruciatingly painful and raw.
  • Berserk by Brit Tim Lebbon is a military technothriller vampire zombie apocalypse that reads more like a supernatural novel in a lot of ways

And since I'm a librarian, I thought I'd include a couple of lists of zombie novels:

My next zombie reading adventure will be shambling through the Robert Kirkman graphic novel series, The Walking Dead, which is now up to 12 collections and 73 issues. We have 8 or 9 of the collections scattered around the house already -- I just have to get my two sons to find them! The first collection is here.

I also want to get a hold of The Mammoth Book of Zombie Comics and read that too.

2 responses so far

Friday Fun: Why Zombies?

Jul 02 2010 Published by under friday fun, science fiction

Noted zombie novelist Jonathan Maberry as a two part post on his blog, Why Zombies? and Why Zombies? - Part 2.

The second post, btw, has one of the classic blog sentences of all time: "When I reached out to the zombie community to ask 'WHY ZOMBIES?' I got so many terrific responses that I broke the blog into two parts." Zombie community. Only on the internet!

Anyways, I digress. Maberry's researches with the zombie community include short bits from a ton of zombie novel authors.

Here's his initial question:

We kick off our rolling series of ZOMBIE PANEL DISCUSSIONS by addressing the fundamental question: Why zombies?

Here are a couple of responses, taken from the two posts:

DAVID WELLINGTON: I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, where George Romero made his zombie films. They would be shown uncut in prime time on the local television stations back then so they were among the first horror movies I ever really saw. Before I read Dracula for the first time, before I read Stephen King, I knew all about zombies. It was only after the remake of Dawn of the Dead and 28 Days Later that I even thought I could write something about zombies myself.

ROBERT KIRKMAN: Why not zombies? They're a mighty easy way to get things good and fucked up in a fictional world, and that leaves for some pretty interesting character development. So...yeah. Zombies.

TIM LONG: Because vampires just aren't dead enough. When you are dealing with the classic monsters, nothing is newer than or as popular as zombies are right now. Sure they have a long history in myth but only the last 40 years have seen them rise and lurch toward us like a tidal wave. They are everywhere, movies, books, comics, even the ad you see before a movie which tells you to turn off your cell phone. Zombies are scary because they are us. They are our neighbors, our friends and co-workers. They give us the opportunity to show how the worst in people can come out, in both survivors and the dead ... and how to take an ax to their heads.

In any case, there's tons of cool stuff in the two posts. Enjoy!

(BTW, I think I have one more zombie post in me -- my own favourite zombie novels!)

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