Librarian To-Go

Your roving librarian, reporting from the Borders at Park and Preston.

Things that have made this day possible:
I want to give Technology a great big bear hug.

Cool, Creative Colleagues

Sometimes I feel like my colleagues are divided into distinct categories: the art people, the library people, and the techie people (not to imply that I don't know people outside of these circles, as well). It's great to know a wide range of people, but sometimes I forget that they don't all share all of my interests.

That's been one of the great aspects of taking a(nother) course in digital imaging; they are all, to some extent, involved in and/or passionate about art/images, libraries, and technology. It's also been one of the pleasures of my job, getting to work with our Digital Projects Unit, which handles most of the UNT Libraries' scanning and metadata. I'm already missing my fellow former-GLA, Kristen, fellow art-history degree-er and blogger. And I've been chatting with La-La Librarian, who is not only an artist in library school who has a tech-leaning job, but is also familiar with my GovDocs stomping grounds.

Isn't it nice to have company?

Digesting Your Daily Info Dose

Banned Books pranks:
Wrong? Yes.
Funny? Also yes.
I'll settle for calling them clever--but, ahem, reprehensible.


Where the [Banned] Things Are

Banned Book of the Day: In the Night Kitchen

I heard an interview with Maurice Sendak on NPR this morning. Not about "In the Night Kitchen," his oft-challenged book of 1970, but for his newest, "Mommy?", a pop-up book. He spoke about 19th-century German pop-up artist Lothar Meggendorfer (included in UNT's pop-up book collection), about putting children in danger in his books, and how people "treat you like you're Helen Keller" when you age.

Here's another NPR interview with Sendak from last year.

Sendak didn't intend "In the Night Kitchen" to be such a controversial book (there were complaints because the protagonist, a young boy, is naked throughout much of the book). Then again, parents of that day weren't too thrilled about the badly-behaved Max in Where the Wild Things Are, either; now, it's beloved by parents and children everywhere.


What's Your Favorite Banned Book?

Yep, it's that time of year again: Banned Books Week. So, which banned/challenged book is your favorite?

My top 5:
  1. To Kill a Mockingbird
  2. A Wrinkle in Time
  3. James and the Giant Peach
  4. A Light in the Attic
  5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
"When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.... When enough years had gone by to enable us to look back on them, we sometimes discussed the events leading to his accident. I maintain that the Ewells started it all, but Jem, who was four years my senior, said it started long before that. He said it began the summer Dill came to us, when Dill first gave us the idea of making Boo Radley come out."
--To Kill a Mockingbird

I love the beginning of this book, the end of this book, the all of this book.

Also, an interesting banned books idea...
This library put books in paper bags with labels that state the reasons the book was challenged, and cutouts.


Librarian Laughter for a Thursday Morning

This is what's great about working in Government Documents; you get to see 1950's documents in all their gosh-darn-swell glory. Via GovDoc-L, I bring you Social Security documents from the era of poodle skirts and Leave It To Beaver.

A SSA poster about changing your name after marriage:
When a Miss Becomes a Mrs.

This is possibly the best comic-book quote ever:
"Boy, I'll bet it'll be wonderful to get a real, man-sized job!"

Why yes, it is wonderful to have a real, man-sized job! In fact, that was the precise wording on my position's job description: Librarian for Digital Collections, Real Man-Sized Job (FTE). Must have peachy-keen manner and can-do attitude. Ladies required to wear cat-eye glasses, pencil skirt, cardigan, and hair in a bun (brunette preferable). Previous shushing experience a plus.

Need some tips on demonstrating your technical savvy? A Librarian's Guide to Etiquette is there for you.

And, of course, I can't let this go without a plug for The Laughing Librarian (but of course, you're reading this blog already, aren't you?)

Update: it's really, really sad when your tag cloud makes "span" the largest word because it's ridiculously reading your HTML formatting as well as your content.


Ephemeral Concerns

I've posted in the past about the paranoia of trying to preserve every bit of information. Today, Jill Hurst-Wahl's post concerning Impermanence reminded me of the email conversations my father and I have had, several times, on whether or not there is some information that should simply be accepted as ephemeral.

I don't think it really hit me until I took Preservation (analog, that is) that if we say every little bit of information is important enough to be preserved, we're going to go insane awfully quick from trying to gather up every single post-it ever composed.

But where do you draw the line? And how can we make good decisions now about what will be good information in the future? Things like personal diaries--the blogs of the past, if you will--may seem inconsequential, but historical diaries shed amazing light on daily life, the running of a household, and even the way people thought in the past. I was amazed to discover, at some point in my art history education, that Renaissance-era receipts for household purchases provided valuable data for historical research.

So, while (to me) it seems an immediately ridiculous and/or fruitless endeavor to attempt to catalog and/or archive the internet, and nearly as much so to simply archive all the blogs of a certain period in time... Who knows?

Maybe I'd better hang on to my grocery list after all. You never know what insights future generations might gain from learning that I purchased Dreyer's SlowChurned Raspberry Chip Royale.

Plunder Some Library Loot

I love this idea: a “mystery night” at the library, after closing. A group of students prowls the library in the dark with flashlights, looking up “clues” in library resources. Now, this is some fantastic outside-the-box kind of BI, as well as a great outreach activity!

Sophie Brookover of Pop Goes the Library has authored a thoughtful NextGen Librarian article on Library Journal. It's a great piece that addresses a big issue that I've heard very little talk of professionally: those in our younger set who perhaps want to cut back on their careers to spend more time with family.

Does this gaming page at the UIUC Library make your mouth water? Me, too.

And, in celebration of Talk Like a Pirate Day:
Erika of the Amplified Library displays her pirate-y skills. Arrr, matey!


A Hushed Weekend

I can't really complain, being as I've been incredibly blessed, as a first-year librarian, to only have to work one weekend a month and one evening a week (and actually, it hardly counts as "evening" this semester, since I only work until 7pm instead of 9pm).

But it's sooo quiet.
Which, naturally, inspired me to compose a haiku.

Unrelated Banter:
2.0 library logo mashups: sheer hilarious genius.


Back to the Future

The Impromptu Librarian just posted some great notes on the future of libraries and library services.

In Other News:


Metadata Monster

When I drive home from my digital libraries class, I tend to have the kind of passionately nerdy revelations that only another librarian could appreciate. While pondering my final project, for which I've only briefly thought about the metadata (I'm concentrating on my wishlist of artifacts first), I hit one of those "eureka!" moments. In addition to the "anecdote" element for each item (which will act as a more specific "notes" field), I'll have a "generation" element. It will work in tandem with the DC "coverage" element, but will enable me to specify not only the era of the object's origin (coverage) but also the generation that made/owned it (generation). In the case of one family quilt, of which each square was sewn by a different woman, I'd need the element to be repeatable, of course.

Unrelated Banter:


Not "Just" a Librarian

To the posts of the last few months regarding what exactly the term "librarian" means and what it takes to be earned, I add my own anecdote.

While out of town visiting family, a relative asked, a bit skeptically, what it was that I did in my job. Before I could say anything, Alex (my champion) rushed in, firing out that I manage digital collections and make records and research and give presentations and and and...

My relative brightened a bit, and said, "Oh! Well that's good, I had no idea you were doing all of that. I thought you were wasting your education, being just a librarian. I didn't know you did all those other jobs, too."

I kept my mouth shut about the two master's degrees required/recommended as an academic librarian. There's enough familial conflict in the world, right?


Ready, Set... Scan!

I've just borrowed a large late-1800's-era family photograph (maybe 2' x 1.5') to scan. No, not for my Online Family Archive, as you might suspect; this is actually from my husband's side. Trouble is, now I've got to find equipment to use to scan it, and read some tips on handling old/fragile photographs.

There are a number of other Hoffman family photos in albums that the family is interested in having me scan, but these are of a more normal size. I'm wondering if my decidedly consumer-grade HP flatbed scanner is an okay option for these.

It looks like I'm becoming the Family Archivist... for two families!


Catty WorldCat

I was so pleased to see a free version of WorldCat, but it got me to thinking. So, the free version is less functional than the paid-for version (otherwise, why pay for it?). Less functional.

I first thought of the thousands of times I've entered an exact title in WorldCat, specified it was a title, set the sort to relevance, and come up with pages and pages of nonrelevant titles (which don't even seem to share many, if any, words with my search) before finding the precise one that I want. And I thought, ugh, less functional. And then I thought of the thousands of times that I've had a patron ask for an obscure title or subject that our library had nothing on, and how I immediately went to WorldCat and was rarely disappointed. (Well, once I got to page seven with the precise title, that is.)

Ah, the intensity of a love/hate relationship. WorldCat: you can't live with it, you can't chuck it out the window as you sound your barbaric yawp.

Jessamyn West talks a bit more in-depth about her own love/hate of WorldCat.


Facebook Live!

Last Tuesday (8/29), we hosted a "Facebook Live" event at Willis Library, in which students used a "speed dating" model to make new friends and exchange Facebook or MySpace names.

It went pretty well, and served as a good jumping-off point for advertising the new CyberCafe (now under Willis's management, not Food Services), with free coffee and cookies. At first it looked like there were going to be a lot more guys than girls, but it evened out a bit. It was great to hear such a high noise level on the first floor, comparable to Dead Week when there are about a hundred bodies packed into the study space!

Speaking of the CyberCafe, I'm excited because not only are there rumors of and cheaper coffee and more food selections to compete with the vending machines on the lower level, but we're also ordering comfy furniture for it. Yesterday Dr. Grose was even talking about perhaps spreading more comfy furniture around the library in general--hooray for the Barnes & Noble model and the Library As Place!

To Retouch, Or Not To Retouch...

I'm taking an Advanced Digital Imaging course this semester, both to enhance my job skills, and because I graduated too quickly to take it (not that I'm complaining). I've already got a lot of ideas formulating around my final project, and I'm also doing an extra paper on our soil survey digitization project for an extra hour of credit (you've got to love nonsensical financial aid requirements). I'll be updating my progress on each periodically.

Our class last night reminded me that anytime emulation and migration are mentioned, I start to get panicky. I should have known I'd end up in the digital preservation field; I distinctly remember sometime around 1997, when my Dad sent me an article he thought I'd find fascinating. It detailed the author's personal attempt to save the recordings by a musical artist from the 1970's (not someone who ever made it big on the popular charts). He detailed the use of tapes and CDs, and how the information was slowly degrading over time, and how transferring it digitally would eventually only increase this phenomenon.

I immediately panicked, preservation-happy packrat that I am. I was the girl who was the last kid in high school to get a CD player and was still relatively new to the joys of the digital medium. I rejoiced when CDs ended the pain of tangled or melted cassettes, and then DVDs saved us from the nightmare of VHS with its fading colors, its tiresome rewinding, and its lack of widescreen goodness. And then I found out that you couldn't just slap your data onto an optical disc and happily leave it for 100 years. Ah yes, welcome to the flawed real world.

We also discussed controversy and different approaches to digital preservation; for instance, making the decision to digitally restore decaying photographs or to document them as they are now. This reminded me of the controversy in the mid-1990's surrounding the restoration of the Sistine Chapel and the work of Daniele da Volterra aka "Il Braghettone" ("the breeches painter"). Michelangelo completed the Last Judgement in 1541, and by 1565 the Roman Catholic Church had initiated the Fig-Leaf Campaign to remove nudity in art, and comissioned da Volterra to paint braghe (loincloths) on eleven of the figures in the fresco.

Of course when restorers went to work on the Last Judgement, they clashed over whether to remove the braghe, thus restoring the painting to Michelangelo's original intentions, or to preserve da Volterra's work, which after all was also part of the art historical legacy. I'm glad I wasn't involved in that controversy! (In the end, 50 braghe by later painters were removed, by those by da Volterra were preserved.)
  • Note: interested classmates can access my course notes on my wiki.