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Librarian Blog

Paying top dollar

Twelve of the top 25 jobs in terms of pay and demand did not even exist 25 years ago.

They are all related in some way to computers and databases.

For example, at No. 3 on the list compiled and released this week by Glassdoor is Software Architect. Average base salary is $130,891, and there 3,229 openings right now.

Analytics Manager is at No. 8, paying an average of $116,000.

The other 13 on the list are more traditional. What's No. 1?

Physician takes the top. Average base salary is $212,270, and there are 8,000 openings. Pharmacy Manager is No. 2 with a base salary of $132,000.

I wonder what would be at the top of this kind of list if it were compiled in Sweden, Norway, England, Denmark, Germany, Japan?

It all adds up

The most expensive textbook I bought when I was in grad school cost me $35.

That was in about 1973. Today, inflation would have pushed the price of that same book to more than $186.


No wonder students and their families are looking to professors to do something a little different in this age of the Internet and e-publishing.

The Bryan-College Station newspaper recently reported on a discussion undertaken by Texas A&M librarians about the high cost of textbooks, and the librarians noted that research last year showed that students pay an average of $1,200 a year on books.

The librarians and students seem to be contending with recalcitrant, old-fashioned professors who refuse to update their text preferences.

This is not only not in the best long-term interests of the professors but certainly not in the best interests of students and their families who are facing ever-rising debt loads to be able to afford a college education.

In fact, reluctant profs should be called on the carpet about this kind of thing, tenure be darned.

A valuable service

Congress is often criticized for getting nothing done.

But, here's a shout-out for the bureaucrats in D.C. for putting together a reallly useful public service.

Andrew Weber at the Law Library of Congress has reported that three types of e-mail alerts are now being sent out to those who request them.

You can now get an e-mail that a specific member of Congress has either sponsored or cosponsored legislation. Another type of alert is a daily summary of the text, cosponsor or action on a particular bill that you're watching. And the third type of alert lets you know when a new issue of the Congressional Record is available at Congress.gov.

If you've ever tried to figure out what your congressional representative is actually doing, here's a great way to find out without getting bogged down in the flotsam and jetsam of congressional jibber-jabber.

Where movies are king

Libraries have not been just all about books for quite some time.

We're about so much more: programs, computers, databases, CD books and, yes, movies. Lots of movies.

In fact, last year patrons checked out more movie DVDs than anything else. DVDs were checked out 26,500 times. If each checkout is worth $22, that's a service value of nearly $600,000 for the year.

Right behind that number in terms of checkouts and total value were regular adult fiction books. We checked them out 20,500 times with a value of $25 for each checkout. Third in popularity were our children's books, with 20,000 checkouts for a total value of $400,000.

It's interesting to note that nearly 5,000 books were downloaded using Overdrive, our e-book consortium.

All these figures come from our end-of-year value-of-services report compiled by Library Director Carolyn Manning.

For the record, the services we offered were worth $7 for every $1 of sales tax income invested in the library district.

Better than the book

I'd say that nine times out of ten when I see a move that's based on a book, I come away thinking that the book was better.

Not so with "American Sniper," the story of Texan Chris Kyle, the former Navy SEAL credited with the most kills in U.S. military history.

When I read the book a couple of years ago right after it came out, I thought Kyle did himself a great disservice. He came off as something less than a man to be revered and honored.

On Saturday, my wife and I went to see the movie at the new theater in Kyle, and director Clint Eastwood painted a portrait of Chris Kyle that was much more sympathetic. He made Kyle seem like a good old boy, which may well be what he was before his life ended.

Eastwood has produced an excellent tribute of a movie. I recommend it; skip the book.

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