Warning: navel-gazing AND trivial, all in one tidy package
I spent a fish-out-of-water hour last Friday, hanging an art exhibit. Nothing in my career made me suspect I’d ever do that – and given my complete lack of artistic ability*, you’ll be relieved to know that it’s not my art. Instead, I was hanging an exhibit of the illustrations from my book, Charles Darwin’s Barnacle and David Bowie’s Spider. They’re gorgeous, thanks to the expert work of science illustrator Emily Damstra, and if aren’t in Fredericton to see the exhibit, then you can come close via this post and the online exhibit it links to.
I did feel like a fish out of water Continue reading →
A couple of weeks ago, Klaas’s cuckoo and I were featured on the Biodiversity Heritage Library blog. You should go read that post – especially the part about Klaas’s cuckoo and the origins of its name. But here’s a little context.
It’s fashionable in some circles to bemoan the fact that many scientists* rarely cite literature older than a decade or two. There are, of course, many reasons older papers go uncited. Continue reading →
Photo: Stockholm public library, Marcus Hansson, CC-BY-2.0 via flickr.com
I’ve always loved libraries. As a young boy, I combed the stacks of my town library, finding great books that took me far beyond the world I knew (40 years later, I’m sharing those same books with my son*). As a no-longer-young academic, I love libraries just as much; but my reasons have changed a bit, and so has my understanding of what a library is.
As a boy, I loved the library because I loved books, and I understood the library as a building full of books. Libraries still have a lot of books, but fewer than they used to, as information has moved online and more square footage is allocated to meeting rooms, study space, computer stations, and so on. It’s not hard to find someone declaring with anguish the death of the library; it’s also not hard to find someone declaring that same death with smug pleasure. For a while I was tempted to join the anguished camp; but instead I’ve come to see the library not as a building full of books, but as a building full of librarians. And if books are wonderful, well, librarians are pretty great too. Continue reading →