with a lot of help from my friends

This post is long overdue.

On October 3, I did the official soft launch of our new library website. There are still some improvements to come (online library card sign up!) and some things I’d like to do but which may be hard to institute (MeeboMe reference!) but on the whole, it’s done.

It’s basically a WordPress installation with some of the bloggy parts taken out, a modified WordPress theme, and a highly customized sidebar. I use Google to run the events calendar, because I wanted something that would easily handle repeated events such as story times. There are still some little problems (for instance, the header has a blue background in Internet Explorer and none in Firefox), and the header does kind of hog a lot of real estate, but given the amount of time it took to get it working at all, I decided against trying to do more with it right now). On the whole, though, it wasn’t really very hard to set up, despite the devils in the details, and if you’d like more information, just let me know.

Websites don’t usually come with acknowledgements pages, but they should. This, then, is an acknowledgements post.

First, I’d like to thank everyone in the Park County Library System: our director, Frances Clymer, for giving me permission to go ahead with this project; our IT person, Ty Wright, for doing the WordPress installation; everyone on the web team for putting up with multiple logins, long instructions, incessant e-mails, and general nattering from me; and the library staff for embracing the new site.

Thanks to Mitchell Szczepanczyk for doing the test site WordPress installation and to Mitchell and his co-worker Holmes for various troubleshooting.

Thanks to Desiree Saunders at the Wyoming State Library for her indefatigable database access fixing and for pointing out a number of decisions I’d forgotten I had to make.

Thanks to Aaron Schmidt for showing what a blog-based library website could look like.

Thanks to Dorothea Salo for pointing out some faceting errors in an early iteration of the Research page and for sending me this at a crucial point. The Research page still has problems, but those aren’t Dorothea’s fault.

Thanks to Michael Sauers for blogging about the importance of valid code. I know ours isn’t perfect, but it’s a heck of a lot better than at least one (far more expensive) example he cites.

Thanks to Andrea Mercado and Jessamyn West for their offers of assistance. Thanks also to Jessamyn for writing the post that inspired me to make the iPod options page into its own front-and-center page rather than just having it be a post.

Thanks to Steve Lawson for fixing every CSS problem I created and some I didn’t. I am planning to leave a bequest to Colorado College when I die mandating that they always employ at least one person who can fix other librarians’ CSS problems, since I think that’s on the verge of becoming an official part of Steve’s job description.

Thanks to the Twitterverse and all the regulars in the LSW Meebo Room for advice, encouragement, and general good humor.

And thanks to the people behind WordPress, Twitter, and Meebo for creating the tools that made all this good stuff possible. (Oh, and Google, but they get enough props, right?)

Thanks to everyone I forgot.

no, but I’ve read the book

I have a confession to make. I like books. I like books more than I like movies. I like books more than I like television, by a long shot. I suspect that I like books more than I like video games, although since I’ve played so few video games in my life, it may be unfair of me to make that judgment, though I suspect it’s true.

I mention all of this by way of a warning. I don’t think that everyone shares my bias, and I don’t think everyone should, but:

I went to see The Golden Compass over the weekend. I am usually deeply reluctant to see movies made from books I love, and particularly movies made from children’s books. Just the notion that someone would attempt to make a film of The Dark is Rising is enough to provoke in me a profound horror (and I’m not alone there). But Philip Pullman’s books weren’t published until I was in college, and so my connection to them is less primal. I read the Narnia books ten times by the time I was twelve: they are an integral part of the geography of my imagination, and I simply could not bear the thought of seeing someone else’s vision of them.

I had heard encouraging words about The Golden Compass movie on Twitter, though, and the reviews I had read from people whose opinions I respect were mostly good. Claire E. Gross at The Horn Book noted that the translation from book to film was done “with fastidious fidelity”. Monica Edinger and Elizabeth Bird (my two new favorite bloggers) were both suitably impressed. My friend said she’d happily see it again. So yes, my hopes were high, and I was. . . disappointed.

What everyone has said about the visual aspect of the movie is true: it is gorgeous, the effects are extremely well done, and though the daemons occasionally reminded me that they were generated by a computer because of a too-human cast to their features, they were on the whole convincing. The exterior of Bolvanger looked exactly as I pictured it. I always pictured Mrs. Coulter as having much longer hair, and I kept worrying because Nicole Kidman looked so skinny she seemed liable to break. Her golden monkey daemon in the book is described as having a black face, not the golden one he has in the movie, but these are minor quibbles, things I would have happily overlooked. But. . ..

It’s true that the movie stuck fairly well to the plot of the novel. Claire E. Gross says that the reductive nature of the movie adaptations robs the story of “some subtlety.” I am inclined to make that a more emphatic “all its subtlety,” and nearly all of its suspense. It takes days for Lyra to discover what goes on at Bolvanger in the book, and more days for her to plot and execute an escape. In the movie she arrives and is leading the other children out not much more than ten minutes later. The movie ignores such time periods, which are so essential to the building of suspense and the development of character, in order to give more time to battle scenes. And that right there may be my biggest problem, and the one to which my bias is most relevant. I don’t like watching battle scenes. In part that may be becasue I’m a bit queasy about violence, but mostly, I think, I just don’t like watching battles because that’s all they are–battles. People getting smited. Battles in movies don’t tell you much about the characters. They don’t pick up on allusions or expand metaphors. They don’t even really advance the plot, at least not until they’re over. But battle scenes, of course, are what movies are all about. Movies exist in order to create spectacle, and spectacle is what you get from bombs bursting in air.

Of course, a lot of people like that sort of thing. Me, I prefer reading.