Friday, February 25, 2011


For anyone who spends a lot of time in the car, or simply isn't interested in another formulaic sitcom in the evening, audiobooks and podcasts are a life saver. Between work, graduate school, and all of the other responsibilities that come with adulthood, little time has been left lately to read for pleasure. Rather than listen to the hit of the week for the 200th time on Top 40 radio, I have been listening to a great number of audiobooks and podcasts. The podcasts I download free from iTunes and cover everything from ESPN's Mike & Mike radio show to comedians like Kevin Pollack's Chat Show to various NPR and 60 Minutes episodes.

I haven't set foot in a public library building in several months (should I admit that as a librarian??), but I have been adding to the county library system's circulation statistics on a weekly basis. Right now I'm listening to Life, the autobiography of Keith Richards that is read by Johnny Depp. Even though I love biographies, I don't know if I would have had time to pick up the hardcover, but I can't turn off the audiobook. Many established and very talented actors are getting in on the audiobook game. Anne Hathaway's reading of The Princess Diaries, whose film she also starred in, is terrific. Maggie Gyllenhaal reading a very depressing The Bell Jar, The Rivalry performed by Paul Giamatti and David Strathairn about the Lincoln-Douglass debates, and Inkspell and Dragon Rider read in a plethera of voices by Brendan Fraser are all brilliant.The books I borrowed from the public library are downloaded through the OverDrive program onto my iPod right from home and others I borrowed on CD or Playaway from my school library. I love the fact that I can take them anywhere to listen to them - the doctor's office, rare quiet moments at work, long or short car rides, or through my television with a special cable while I do chores around the apartment. I never thought I would like audiobooks, but with a talented reader they can become quite an addiction - and life saver for those of us with little time to sit down :)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Such Tweet Sorrow

I stumbled across Such Tweet Sorrow in a journal article today. It was mentioned, along with several other Web 2.0 tools, as a creative way to engage students in lessons. Mudlark and the Royal Shakespeare Company have teamed up to create five weeks of tweets that will tell the story of Romeo and Juliet. For those who join the conversation late, there is a "story so far" section to catch the reader up. This is a daily update of the events that have transpired. The language used in the project is definitely "teen" not "Shakespeare" and could be used in well-crafted lessons to engage reluctant readers of the Bard's play.

The only problem I see with this program is that, based on my experience, many teens do not have Twitter accounts, nor do they intend on getting any. I'm guessing that most will view the tweets on the project homepage, rather than follow one or more of the six characters tweeting. The similarity of tweeting and texting, a main form of teen communication, may override this issue. However, overall it is another tool available to teachers to engage students and perhaps the organizations will do similar projects for other works of Shakespeare.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Google Art Project

I love museums of any kind. Ok, except for Modern Art. I have tried, but I just don't get it. I should not have been surprised when I heard about a new Google tool yesterday called the Art Project, especially when I have stumbled upon the ability to enter some musuems, such as the Louvre, in Google Earth. This new art site incorporates the technology that allows the ease of traveling in Google Earth and incredible imaging of the world's great masterpieces.

The beauty of the site is it's simplicity. Only half of the homepage is used for drop down menus, while the background is a constantly changing array of artwork. The focus is clearly on highlighting the museum holdings, not creating an elaborate website.

The site is very easy to use, with two initial choices of selecting a museum to explore and then deciding between exploring the museum or the artwork within it. Each piece of artwork is accompanied by physical details, artisti information, media, viewing notes, the history of ownership and other artworks by that artist. The museum exploration option includes an interactive floor plan, works in the museum, history, links to offical site and, of course, it's location on Google Maps.

For those desiring a little more instruction, there are two short video clips linked from YouTube. There is one that explains how to use the site and a behind the scenes video. Each video is only a few minutes long. The behind the scenes video is merely a montage of the museums included in the project and the photographing of the masterpieces, but it still makes one a bit jealous of those participating in such an endeavor.