August 25, 2006
Vague Request of the Week
"Something to do with marketing - and something about grasshopper and butterfly."
Ok, I did get a little more information. I was also given viagra price the name of the publication, and a rough time frame ("last three months or so"). So that gave me some pointers as to where to look for the article. Fortunately, our subscription allows us online access, and by searching for "grasshopper" and then "butterfly" - just to be thorough - I found the article the attorney needed.
July 18, 2006
Take me out, now
Both my boss and another senior researcher are out of the compare viagra price office this week. It's another librarian, a contract librarian, and me holding the fort. Yesterday was busy but ok. Today I have actually hung up the phone and yelled "Shit!" out loud.
I'm already having trouble remembering it's only Tuesday.
June 01, 2006
The University of Virginia library has a "What's Hot" feature for its most popular materials. Currently:
What's Hot at UVA Library
Sex and the city [videorecording]
Lost (Television program)
The United States law week
Sex and the city. The complete second season [videorecording]
Daily tax report
The Sopranos [videorecording] : the complete fourth season
Desperate housewives. The complete first viagra prices season [videorecording]
Sex and the city [videorecording] : the complete fifth season
Sex and the city. The complete fourth season [videorecording]
Sex and the city. The complete third season [videorecording]
The Sopranos. The complete fifth season [videorecording]
The O.C. The complete second season [videorecording]
The Godfather part II [videorecording]
Six feet under. The complete fourth season [videorecording]
The Sopranos [videorecording] : the complete second season
The Sopranos [videorecording] : the complete third season
Frank Miller's Sin City [videorecording]
Six feet under. The complete third season [videorecording]
The Godfather [videorecording]
Bureau of National Affairs (Washington, D.C.)
Coppola, Francis Ford
Films for the hearing impaired.
Friendship--New York (State)--New York--Drama.
Mothers and daughters--Drama.
United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation--Drama.
Science fiction films.
March 14, 2006
I was at a vendor presentation about a new product that makes use of news and information feeds via RSS. When the product development guy asked the room full of law viagra price comparison librarians if anyone subscribed to RSS feeds, I was the only one who raised my hand. Later, podcasts were mentioned. Again, my hand was the only one that went up.
I suspect that people in the room make use of RSS, more than they realize. I sure hope so.
Someone at work just called me Marian the Librarian.
January 09, 2006
It's my first day back at work and I am up to my eyeballs in foreign securities law, federal legislative history, finding books on hedge funds and next on my plate, UK arbitration law. Ack.
December 15, 2005
Kiss My Radical Militant Librarian Grits
December 05, 2005
Eyes open, fingers crossed
Interviewing this week for a new assistant. I've written notes on what I'd like to cover with the candidates. But in the end, I hope we find someone with a brain and a good work ethic. If the person could be nice - that nebulous "good fit" - that would be great too.
November 16, 2005
I really want to tell people what's on my mind. Like:
"PLEASE LISTEN TO ME WHEN I AM SPEAKING TO YOU, YOU BLOOMIN' IDIOT!"
At work, I really hate it when I give someone an assignment, and I explain, in great detail, exactly what I want done, and then the person goes off and does the work in such a way that it's either a) not quite what I want or b) totally fucked up.
It could be that I'm not explaining things clearly enough. Sometimes that's the case, and we clarify the issue. Fine. At the same time, I hate having to explain things that should be obvious. But I do it anyway, and I do it politely.
So when I ask someone "Please take these check requests to Accounting and put a note on each of them telling them to call me when the check is ready" I expect that's understood. But when I don't receive the phone call, and we have to research what happened to the check requests, and I find that there are just discount viagra price sticky notes listing my name and extension on the check requests, I tend to go a little ballistic. Why, with all the paperwork that Accounting gets from the entire firm, why wouldn't they know implicitly that they were supposed to call me? For all they know, it's just a sticky note. (Yes, Accounting could have noted the sticky note and like, called me, but that's expecting too much. Which is why I write long sticky notes saying "Please call me when the frickin' frackin' check is ready!")
How hard is it to stay on the ball, people? Am I not speaking English? Did I not just take time to tell you EXACTLY what I wanted, in excruciating detail?
This person has since moved on to better and brighter things than toiling as a lowly library assistant, so the only thing I can do is make clear to the next person that when I'm explaining something they had better fucking listen to me.
October 25, 2005
So this partner calls. He wants a copy of a foreign court's decision. All he knows are the companies involved and that it was "recent." There's nothing more he can tell me.
I have no idea where to start. I search news databases to see if I can find any articles that will give me more information. I call a database help line, and theviagra prices person helps me find a single newswire article, which isn't in English. I feed the text into Babelfish to see if it's relevant. It is. So I've now gained a little more information - an approximate date, which is more informative than "recent."
I find a website for the country's court system. Again, not in English. I look to librarian mailing-lists for research ideas. A few responses trickle in, but nothing particularly helpful. I call a document service to see if they can obtain a copy of the decision for me. The ballpark estimate is $1000, with translation services at $100/page if I so choose.
Back to the court's website. I start feeding text into Babelfish to help me find my way around. Eventually I find a page that allows users to search for judicial opinions by various fields. I type in a party name and a date range....
I found it! I get a rough translation from Babelfish to make sure, but yes, it's the document I need. I send off an email with the document attached, explaining that the partner would need to get the decision translated.
And the response? Zip. Zilch. Nichts. Nada. A mere "thanks" would have sufficed. A "Wow! That's incredible! Thanks!" would be even better.
A lot of this is way too technical and boring. But it's a big deal to me personally. It's the librarian's equivalent of pulling a rabbit out of a hat.
Anyway, I'm sure something will stump me today, so I better not let my head get swollen. Like anyone would notice, anyway. :p
October 19, 2005
Librarians Love Lucy Liu
(click on image for larger version)
I spotted this Intel ad today on the homepage of the New York Times. Naturally I was curious. Apparently this is part of a new ad campaign.
Let's check against the stereotype. Glasses. Check. Cardigan. Check. Clunky shoes (which I like actually, they look kinda cool). Check. Yeah she's cute, but she's not the ravishing creature seated on her lap, as indicated by her rapt expression.
September 26, 2005
How Not to Annoy The Librarian
1. Do not make your reference request at the last minute. Yes, there are emergencies, but is your each and every request really an emergency, each and every time? Try to focus and plan ahead when you can.
2. In light of #1, must your every email be marked as urgent/high priority? We prefer our emails to beep at us only when the contents are truly urgent.
3. We are here to help you, but we are not your servants. If you would like to use a specific book right away, please consider coming to the library and getting viagra prices the book yourself, instead of asking one of us to bring it to you. It's possible that we might have existing research projects for other people - like senior partners.
4. Please do not chew gum while talking on the phone with us. It's rude and it's gross, even more so when the sound is amplified DIRECTLY INTO ONE'S EAR.
August 10, 2005
Popular Reading at Guantanamo's Library
AMERICA'S AZKABAN: Harry Potter books and mysteries by Agatha Christie top the list of the most popular reading selections among detainees at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, according to a prison librarian there identified only as "Lorie."
June 21, 2005
Household Reference for the Inept Domestic Goddess
Something useful, hurrah!
June 05, 2005
New Yorker digital archive
80 Years of The New Yorker to Be Offered in Disc Form [NYT] For those who hoard their back issues in the event they'll "get around" to reading them, this DVD-ROM set could be a godsend.
May 31, 2005
Gallery of Comic Book Covers
May 02, 2005
I am...a librarian!
I've been promoted. Trying to apply the excellent advice on the back cover of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. (Fun movie, by the way).
Not much has changed yet. There will be more reference work, learning by doing. In the meantime, still doing my current duties until someone is found to take on the clerical work.
I haven't let myself get too excited about it yet. Part of me wonders when I'll be found out, because I certainly haven't got a brain the size of a planet.
Still, a raise is a raise. My credit cards and I are due for a reckoning. (We'll just count the iPod as a prescient promotion purchase.)
April 20, 2005
I read an article about ZabaSearch, a people-finder site. It doesn't say what public data it uses, so it's not necessarily the most accurate. I ran a free search to see what it would generate, and the results were unnerving. It had my maiden name, my birth month and year, current and last address. When you click on one of the addresses, you're taken to a page that offers links to satellite photos, the postal service zip code finder, MapQuest and the Weather Channel. While you can ask to have your information removed, there's no guarantee of complete removal. Personally, I'm creeped out. Granted, they're working with public data of some kind, but the potential for abuse is there.
It's impressive, scary to see what a Zaba search can do [SF Chronicle, via ObscureStore]
April 14, 2005
The Librarian, 2d ed.
The Librarian: Reference Request
The Librarian: Adventures in Cataloging
The Librarian: Lost Archive
[via Solar Flare Thanks to Richard for the link!]
March 29, 2005
Additional Living Will Links
The Best Way to Keep Control Is to Leave Instructions [NYT] [Bugmenot] Possibly the most interesting aspect of this article are the remarks from the attorney who worked on the Nancy Cruzan case:
[William] Colby, the lawyer in Ms. Cruzan's case, has no living will. Instead, he has a health care power of attorney.This article also mentions several sites that offer living will forms, some of which I've mentioned before, having come across them in other articles. Here are the ones mentioned:
"I think the clearest statement you can make in writing is the statement of who you want to decide," he said. "The gold standard is to arm that person with what your views and values are."
But if he were to become irreversibly brain-damaged, he said, "I don't have a great desire to control what happens to me then." More important would be his family's peace of mind. "I would just want them to feel they're making the best decisions they can make," he said, "with the least amount of guilt."
Aging With Dignity - (www.agingwithdignity.org or 888-594-7437) "A nonprofit group that provides the documents for $5."
National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization - (www.nhpco.org/ or 703-837-1500) Free, state-specific documents are available for download. I explored this site. They ask for your name and email address and you can choose whether or not to be added to their mailing list. Then you're directed to a series of links so you can select the state document you're interested in.
The Medical Directive
"A Web site for a nonprofit group, www.medicaldirective.org, offers documents for $15 along with detailed work sheets describing possible medical situations for patients and families to consider."
March 24, 2005
Some Health Care Advance Planning Resources
Consumer’s Tool Kit for Health Care Advance Planning - Provided by the American Bar Association, specifically the ABA Commission on Law and Aging, this tool kit provides a series of forms that can help as you consider and discuss with loved ones the issues involved in preparing a living will or other comparable document.
Here are some sites offering forms for living wills that I've come across in reading news articles. I'm sure there are many others. Of course, there's the usual route of seeing an attorney for these arrangements as well.
U.S. Living Will Registry
Aging With Dignity
March 22, 2005
I have to order a copy of an issue from a Canadian newspaper. The paper's website provides contact information, including various phone numbers. I've checked with reception as well as the person who does the office telephone training. I've confirmed the appropriate mechanics of placing an international call from within the office.
STILL. CAN'T. GET. THROUGH. Arrrgh.
That's right, I have a master's degree, but apparently I can't place a call to Canada. Ba dum bum!
Addendum: I sent an email to Customer Service asking for help. Within minutes a very nice woman wrote back and invited me to call her directly at the paper's office in Detroit. As in Michigan. As in the United States. She was just as nice on the phone. Thank you, Pat from Detroit!
March 17, 2005
I've only read a few of her novels, but I liked them very much. (I have an irrational hangup of committing to a whole universe of novels, never mind that I already do this with certain authors.) I didn't know she'd been a librarian, too.
February 17, 2005
Penelope Cruz, Sexy Librarian
Because the field needs to be saved from the bespectacled and dowdy amongst us. Quick onceover reveals that I am not too dowdy today, especially with my funky black socks featuring the London Tube map on them. Whew! From E! Online:
ON THE ROAD AGAIN: Matthew McConaughey and Penélope Cruz, who are starring in the upcoming Sahara, joining forces again for The Loop, a love story about a highway patrolman and loner who decides to search out his long-lost parents after meeting a sexy librarian, Variety reports.Hmmm. This is the second item I've mentioned about these two. Well thank goodness librarians are having their image rescued yet again. When Penelope Cruz can find a specific section from a legal treatise that isn't in your own library's collection, and turn it around in the space of a few minutes - as a PDF attachment via email, no less, then we'll talk. In the meantime...oh, you're no longer paying attention. You're still thinking about Penelope the Sexy Librarian. Yeah, I guess I can't compete with that.
February 14, 2005
I know, it's been all-death, all-the-time around here.
When I was in the middle of my last host-change, shifting files over for the Armoire (and bitching up a storm), Mike told me that backing up my site was no big ordeal - and then did it for me to show me how easy it was. But then he said that I shouldn't get so worked up anyway, it's "just" my blog.
I thought that remark was odd coming from him, a fellow blogger. Part of the panic about losing my site had to do with the blog being a part of my identity, that this was something I was personally invested in. Losing the site, I explained, would be like losing a part of myself.
He still wasn't convinced. I think he even told me, teasingly, that if that's what I really believed, it was kind of sad.
Do you still think that's true, Wheelz? Am I really so wrong?
Considering the sadness we're going through right now, with people posting comments to Mike's last post, checking the site in the hopes that we'll somehow see something new from him, I think it's safe to say that blogs really do give us the sense - and the presence - of someone's identity. And even if one were to say that Mike's site doesn't fully capture his life and experience, it still contains some of his essence, which explains why we want so much to make sure his site doesn't simply vanish.
So it occurred to me - right now no one else has admin rights to my site. What would happen if something suddenly happened to me, or to one of my other friends, or someone that I only know virtually? That certainly has been the experience for not a few of Mike's readers.
In an episode of Coupling, a British sitcom, some of the guy characters explain that they are "porn buddies" - meaning that if one of them were to die, the other would make sure to rescue his buddy's porn stash, thus preventing embarrassing post-mortem revelations to his buddy's family, as well as having the added bonus of inheriting his buddy's porn collection.
Do guys really do this? I don't know. But the idea is there, regardless of the specific content. It's an archival question, on a personal level. Considering how fully I've embraced blogging, I'm certain that I plan to continue the Armoire for the long term. I don't pretend to think that my site is a record worthy for future generations, but it seems to me that it would be a good idea to have designated blog buddies - people you trust who would be willing to preserve your site in some fashion, for the sake of the rest of us who will miss you, desperately, once you're gone.
Addendum: Hmmm. I never thought I would write something connecting death, blogging, librariana and porn but I guess there's a first time for everything. Or maybe, probably, this isn't even the first time someone has had this thought.
January 28, 2005
On Modern Technology
A secretary called the library in a bit of a panic. This is the same woman I helped the other day by cutting and pasting clean copies of articles we'd sent to her attorney into fresh Word documents (she was getting lots of HTML code that she didn't want). Believe me, it was easier to do it than to explain how she could do it herself.
So she called again. She wanted to know if the library accepts requests for recording television programs and could we possibly put the recording in a digital format that could be played on a computer. We don't. Strangely enough, our catering department does - because they also set up the conference rooms with A/V equipment, along with the nice spreads of food. The program is this weekend, however, so they wouldn't be able to do that.
So I volunteered to record the desired program myself. I called the secretary, and she was over the moon. Then she asked me if I had the "special equipment at home" to do this. I paused, then explained, "Well, I have a VCR and can record it on tape." This way the attorney would at least have a copy of the program on tape and if possible we could see about transfer to a digital format.
Then she asked what kind of tape.
She was so grateful. She said she'd tell the attorney that the library doesn't normally do this kind of thing but that I graciously offered to do this for him. I said I'd be happy to do so. But holy smokes...I don't think this woman knows that VCRs exist, let alone that those of us with VCRs are out of step with the DVR people.
January 27, 2005
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Database (Or, BTVSDB)
Buffyology "Every Buffy character, episode, cast member, writer and director and every word of every show, in a searchable database."
It's still in progress. Submissions, cross-references, corrections, etc. are encouraged.
January 05, 2005
Grading the Charities
The American Institute of Philanthropy is a nonprofit charity watchdog and information service. They provide a letter-grade list of some of the top aid organzations that are accepting donations in the wake of the tsunami relief effort.
[via A Girl Named Bob]
December 30, 2004
Foreign Aid - It's All How You Measure It
Foreign Aid: An Introductory Overview of U.S. Programs and Policy [Order Code 98-916, dated 4/15/04] From a report prepared by the Congressional Research Service, a division under the Library of Congress:
"The United States is the largest international economic aid donor in dollar terms but is the smallest contributor among major donor governments when calculated as a percent of gross national income."
Are We Stingy? Yes [NYT] If Americans are offended by Jan Egeland's criticism about the West - as in wealthy industrialized nations, not just the United States - that rich nations are "stingy" for not donating even 1% of their GNP for humanitarian/foreign aid purposes, then maybe we should examine why we're so quick to take offense. And hey, let's make a horrific disaster on the other side of the world all about US and OUR hurt feelings. (This calls to mind that scene in Dr. Strangelove when the President calls Russia to explain that a nuclear bomb is accidentally heading to Moscow and the President whines "Well, how do you think I feel?") Good thing individuals are willing to dig in their pockets, because we're not exactly getting a rousing call to action from the Man Who'd Rather Be Clearing Brush than Leading the World By Example. For instance, Amazon's tally of donations to the Red Cross - encouraging people simply by setting up a link - is now at $5,734,758.29, based on 91,095 donations.
Aid Grows Amid Remarks About President's Absence [Washington Post] And let's not ignore the opportunity take political cheap shots during times of tragedy. Josh Marshall aptly notes about this same article: "President's latest response to the tsunami tragedy: badmouth Bill Clinton."
December 29, 2004
Red Cross Sets Up FamilyLinks Resource
FamilyLinks (http://www.familylinks.icrc.org/) is a website that has gone live as of today. It's been set up by the International Committee of the Red Cross to serve as a resource for people trying to locate their loved ones in the wake of the tsunami.
December 05, 2004
I Am A...
This is for sale at fredflare. Their description: Librarians are totally the new "It" girls! Whether you're a real librarian or just play one on TV, you'll look zainy brainy with this sweet red pin. Shhh! About 2"
Tonight's the premiere of The Librarian: Quest for the Spear, starring Noah Wyle. Pretty silly, what I saw of it. (I fell asleep.) I thought the description was a joke at first - Wyle plays Flynn Carsen, a brilliant 30-something who has 22 degrees and finally gets kicked out so he can gain life experience as opposed to living as perpetual college student. Why he just didn't become a professor, I don't know. Carsen is a hapless Indiana Jones, accompanied by a fellow member of the Library staff - a beyond cool-and-icy blonde, a Lara Croft type. Bob Newhart appears in the film early on - his scenes were funny.
This is probably closer to the life of a librarian, at least in public libraries.
November 22, 2004
Late last Friday, I sent around polite but harried emails to the local listserv asking if anyone had a particular book available for borrowing. No responses. I needed to get it by noon today for an attorney. After maybe twenty phone calls, no luck anywhere. I even called libraries in other counties. Finally, I find a specialty bookstore that has it available and I place an order and arrange for a courier. Just after arranging for Absolute Rush Delivery (And Step On It!), I find out the attorney needs it for his meeting...tomorrow morning. Love those fake emergencies. I'm exhausted from all the stress.
I woke up early to make a green bean casserole for the office potluck. When the recipe is on the side of a soup can, I can't really take credit for the cooking. But I made a wicked discovery - those French's fried onions are really good, straight out of the can. But to my pleasant surprise, by the time I came to the conference room to fix myself a plate, my casserole was totally gone.
Of course, maybe I wouldn't be so tired if I hadn't stayed up late re-learning how to install Movable Type on my new host. I think I've totally effed it up and will have to start from scratch. And I was so close too. Feh.
But I get to leave early today. No longer will I have furry caterpillars for eyebrows. I've been good, I haven't tweezed for, like, thirty whole days. And oh, how I was sorely tempted. Maybe I'll go for some dramatic brows, not the super-skinny pencil lines, but perhaps more diva than simply natural. We'll see.
November 16, 2004
Researching invoices, making multiple phone calls to resolve billing issues, is time-consuming and very, very frustrating, especially when I have a giant stack to work through and the vendor is being a money-gouging hardass. I didn't need a master's degree for this. *sigh*
The Digital Future
The Library of Congress is presenting a lecture series, Managing Knowledge and Creativity in a Digital Context. The first lecture was yesterday, 11/15, and featured David Weinberger, who discussed blogging. The lectures will air on C-SPAN. A video archive of the first lecture, and presumably the subsequent lectures, is available from C-SPAN here.
November 01, 2004
Our heroine holds in her hand a precious spark, whose source lies in the heart of the original divine flame brought down from Mt. Olympus - the gift of Prometheus to humankind. Using both the Spark of Knowledge and her uncanny ability to read minds, Lady Crumpet indefatigably pursues her mission: to help her fellow truth-seekers fulfill their quests, and requests, for information.
October 29, 2004
"Oh, You Haven't Done It Yet?"
Some of the pushiest people in the firm are from Marketing and Recruiting. They're the ones that think nothing of making extremely broad requests at the last minute and expect immediate turnaround. It's not like we don't have requests from the attorneys or anything.
Got a note in my chair last night from one of my coworkers to obtain copies of an associate survey from one of the trade magazines. Another coworker and I had just spent several hours, staying late to distribute candy and trinkets and flyers promoting the library - hand delivery to every person's desk or office. So this request was something I'd planned to do today, but I had to get to other ASAP items first.
Before I could get to it, the girl from Recruiting called. She's one of those sleek, polished, model-skinny, effortlessly pretty Asian girls who through no fault of her own makes me feel like a frumpy dumpling. We each fit our department stereotypes, I guess. I said that I'd gotten the request but I hadn't had a chance to work on it yet, thus raising the title question, in those very words.
It was expressed very nicely, but there was definitely a sense of disappointment, and the barb of accusation. I mean, when you put it that way, how am I supposed to take it? But whatever. I let her run through her explanation of why it's necessary - hey, it's the same technique that I use to get others to help me out. So I said I'd do it and went ahead and looked for it, to avoid another call.
The issue isn't even out yet. It's in next month's issue, which is probably arriving today or early next week. I'm not the only one in the library looking out for it, as it's one of the big issues that's requested.
I'd console myself with some chocolate left over from last night's treat delivery, but feeling too ugly at the moment. Fucking hormones. Sudden mood swings and "troubled" skin is just as much a curse for me at 30 as it was at 13. It doesn't help that the gal at my salon told me not to tweeze before I see her in a month because we need to "train" my brows to grow on the same cycle.
I don't need a costume for Halloween. I'm already hideous au naturale.
October 28, 2004
Is This Really Necessary?
I've been on the phone for over twenty minutes, trying to order a single book from an industry organization....Twenty-five minutes now. Usually I order over the phone so I can speak to a live person and ask any questions if necessary. We've never ordered from this vendor before, and apparently their system requires that our account be set up before purchasing anything. Lucky me - the system is aggravatingly slow, and I don't feel any better that the customer rep makes me repeat everything I've told him and keeps saying "one second, one second."
Total call time: 28:18 Arrrrgh!
October 20, 2004
The Paperback Revolution
From the site description:
Welcome to The Paperback Revolution, an online exploration of the history of paperback books.
From the 1935 launch of Britain's Penguin until 1960 – the year in which dollar sales from paperback books first surpassed those of hardcovers – the paperback revolutionized the readership, marketing, distribution, circulation, and reception of books and reading in the United States, Canada, and many other nations. This website begins an investigation into this history with the dual aim of inspiring further interest and research into both paperback history in general and in our local repository, The Edmonton Collection.
Fascinating. Definitely something to explore further.
October 18, 2004
It was busier than usual, although I suppose one could always attribute it to being Monday. (You just hope not every day at the office is a Monday.) I'm finding it hard to write. It's been either insignificant nit-picking or impotent political teeth-gnashing. My life seems so small right now. I'm feeling insubstantial. I don't feel like I'm doing anything particularly well.
One of my co-workers is leaving for a job out of state. He's probably going batty whenever I bring him yet another item to catalog, since he's only here for a few more days. He's a really nice guy. I'm sorry we didn't get to know each other better beyond the chats in the coffee area. I don't have a shot at moving into his job, nor do I particularly want to, not without more real reference and research experience under my belt. But I did get a taste of it today:
- In several instances, I had to answer my boss's second line. In this case the partner needed to find out something ASAP. When he described what he needed and why, I was genuinely excited. I felt personally invested. I felt we the firm were taking up a real, worthy cause. And so I started some preliminary web searches before taking it to my boss after she finished her other call. I even found a document that was included in the materials provided to the partner.
- I had to work on an obscure interlibrary loan. My best bet were the local universities, who charge fees, but I found a corporate library who had both editions of the book I needed. Not only that, the librarian was in the area and actually brought the books to my office. I love how helpful librarians can be to each other!
- Another attorney called from out of the office. She needed exhibits to a recently filed complaint in a major industry lawsuit. The court clerk was unhelpful, so a call was made to a document service. These services cost a pretty penny, but they deliver what you need.
- Another needed copies of foreign treaties. In English. Even though the parties were non-English-speaking countries. I thought I was just going to turn this request over to my boss, but I was given the project to do myself (until I presumably got stuck). I did manage to find official copies, albeit in a non-English language. Thank goodness for friends in other law libraries! (Thank you thank you thank you. I SO owe you, Z!)
None of these were things I planned to do today. I managed to update a budget spreadsheet, but that was it. Otherwise, it was one of those days where you catch your breath as you furiously shut down your computer and pack your bag and leave before the next call comes and you've already stayed half an hour later than usual.
October 15, 2004
Trashing the Vote: Can We Stop Them?
Yesterday I read that Nader's been thrown off the ballot in Pennsylvania, because the petition seeking to add him contained bogus names and addresses, leaving the number of valid signatures well below the required amount. It's possible Nader has better ideas. But I don't like him and I think he's a shit. No matter what he says, he's a spoiler. Of course if Kerry were a better candidate, someone who could appeal to progressives and moderates, the election wouldn't be so close. Of course, who knows how accurate the numbers are going to be anyway, given that there are organized efforts all over the country to fix the vote. It's not just the issues with electronic voting machines. It's tampering with voter registration through whatever means possible.
My first awareness today was in Paul Krugman's column, which outlines voter registration issues going on all over the country, but especially in swing states:
Earlier this week former employees of Sproul & Associates (operating under the name Voters Outreach of America), a firm hired by the Republican National Committee to register voters, told a Nevada TV station that their supervisors systematically tore up Democratic registrations.
The accusations are backed by physical evidence and appear credible. Officials have begun a criminal investigation into reports of similar actions by Sproul in Oregon.
Republicans claim, of course, that they did nothing wrong - and that besides, Democrats do it, too. But there haven't been any comparably credible accusations against Democratic voter-registration organizations. And there is a pattern of Republican efforts to disenfranchise Democrats, by any means possible.
Here's the story from KLAS-TV, the Nevada local news outlet that's investigating the story. You can read the story and also see it presented as a news segment. There is footage of ripped-up voter registration applications and the reporter even goes so far as to contact one of the people who thought he had registered and was shocked to find out his application had been trashed. And guess what? KLAS has another story that connects Voters Outreach of America to Ralph Nader; apparently the group obtained petition signatures to get Nader on the ballot in Arizona, and perhaps elsewhere.
At Daily Kos [via Zeebah], I read more about Nathan Sproul of Sproul & Associates. He was a former head of the Arizona Republican Party. Of particular note is how Sproul & Associates, operates as Voters Outreach of America but posed as America Votes - a real, Democratic voter registration outreach organization - during voter registration drives. And they're doing this in public libraries! Leave it to librarians to compare notes and figure out some of what's going on.
The more I find out about stuff like this, the more I fear that there will be riots.
October 08, 2004
The Week That Things Were Settled
Well, I still have lots of backlog at work, which is pretty much my own fault. However, this is the week when several bizarre situations apparently have been resolved:
1. We've had trouble getting our issues for a particular publication on time, since at least 2002, going by the history of our unusually thick vendor file. In fact, it got so bad that we never received a single issue for one of our multiple copies during the entire year of the last subscription period. I made calls; they were never returned. (My predecessor faced similar non-responses, according to her copious notes.) About two weeks ago I sent an email spelling out the ugly details. I made a phone call to the appropriate person on Wednesday, asking that she call me back that day. I didn't have the will to call her back, even though I'd promised my boss I'd crack some heads. Miraculously, she called me back today. We had a businesslike, professional conversation, during which I got our copies consolidated under one account number AND a year-long extension on our subscription, which I'd just renewed. I would hop up and down, but I'll have to wait and see if we get all of our copies of next month's issue first. At least I got the publisher's concessions in writing, so that will be the piece of paper I wield when I next go on the rampage.
2. Yesterday, I discovered that a book order that I thought was pending had actually been delivered at the end of August. To our office, signed for by someone in the mailroom, but not delivered to the library. WTF? was of course my first thought, as I very sweetly and slightly desperately asked the mailroom to find it, like, NOW. Today, I thought to check with the partner we'd ordered it for. Apparently the mailroom delivered it directly to him, even though the publisher confirmed for me that the addressee was the library.
3. In the personal arena, I'd bought a Neil Finn bootleg on eBay. In late August. The guy shipped it on 8/31, well within the acceptable timeframe. After not seeing a package for all of September, I notified the seller, who said he would refund my money or send another copy. I told him I'd wait a bit longer, although I wasn't hopeful. It arrived this week. Yippee!
October 03, 2004
Librarians in Love
A wedding announcement for a couple of librarians appeared in the Sunday NYT. There's no picture in the web copy, but their picture in the paper is adorable - they're obviously besotted and look really happy together. Given that many couples who get their announcements in the "women's sports pages" are lawyers or i-bankers or some other moneyed or connected set of people, it's nice to see my profession represented. ;)
September 21, 2004
This is a 24-drawer hardwood cabinet that holds 288 CDs. (I would require several.) It comes in oak, cherry and white, and looks like the wooden library card catalogs of yore.
August 17, 2004
Books About Librarians
I'm currently reading The Time Traveler's Wife for my book group. Until I picked it up (there were too many holds on the title at the library, so I had to buy it), I had no idea that one of the main characters is a librarian - at the Newberry in Chicago.
Librarian Career Romances A grad student working on her MLIS presents this site as her online portfolio. The profiled novels date from the 1940s to 1960s, with examples of cover illustrations and brief excerpts. Titles include Kitsy Babcock, Library Assistant and The Loveliest Librarian. From the latter: "The light changed, and Katie walked briskly across the main street. Decidedly beautiful, Katie carried with her that continued air that lovely girls often do. Katherine Anne Dugan had long ago realized that being pretty helped her to be a better librarian, actually stimulating interest in learning and reading."
Finally, books that speak to me and my place in the profession! Can Lady Crumpet, Law Librarian be far behind? On the other extreme...
Librarians in Pornography A survey of "hard core pornographic paperback novels [which] covers 49 books published between 1978 and 1988." Some summaries are available, with brief notes as to the stereotypes. Unsurprisingly, the language is quite explicit. Memepool notes: "When a librarian encounters pornographic novels about librarians, one can only expect a catalog of pornographic novels about librarians will soon follow." [via randomness]
August 16, 2004
SIBL featured in 'Manchurian Candidate'
Saw the update of The Manchurian Candidate over the weekend. The most notable aspect for me was the use of NYPL's Science Industry and Business Library (SIBL) as a location. Quite appropriate for the film's aesthetic, as that library is quite sleek and high-tech. At one point Denzel Washington, who plays Major Ben Marco, needs a place to hide out and do research. He gets a visitor's pass made (his photo taken and everything) - in order to borrow a micro-tape recorder to listen to some tapes he's found. He also looks up news items using microfilm and Google. We don't see him consulting a librarian for assistance (beyond getting his visitor's pass, which probably wasn't done by a librarian anyway). He does get criticized later for producing material that's supposed to prove the existence of sinister big business/government conspiracy - because he got it from the Internet. So that's at least a nod in the right direction of rigorous evaluation of one's sources, especially online material.
[Note - potential spoilers follow.]
If I'm devoting my response to the film to the brief scenes set in the library, it's because the film itself is otherwise quite disappointing. I'm not categorically against remakes; changes had to be made in order to make it work in the present day. But there's nothing new about ties between big business and politicians; what's terrifying are the power players who are behind the scenes, who aren't the elected officials, who aren't accountable to constituents. This was at the heart of Angela Lansbury's character in the original. Meryl Streep's version of the character, as a senator in her own right, who's already in the pocket of Manchurian Global (now "Manchuria" is the multinational company, the stand-in for Halliburton, as opposed to the threat of Communist control by China), seems more fantastically monstrous, which just doesn't work. Also, the change of the mental trigger, applicable now to both Raymond Shaw (Liev Schreiber) and Ben Marco (Denzel Washington), is both silly and visually less compelling. We go from the visual impact of the game of solitaire as the trigger device, the connection between the image of the Queen of Diamonds and terrifying mother-figure Angela Lansbury, to a particular recitation of the brainwashed victim's name - the mental change for the Shaw or Marco is shown by the world sudden seemingly overbright to them. The use of the card game as the device had to change, had to be updated, but the new solution seems obvious and clumsy for what's supposed to be the latest developments in brainwashing. These aren't the only problems, just some of the big ones. It's a shame - I really wanted to like this.
August 13, 2004
Gawker Interviews Columbia Librarian
Never thought I'd be writing that. A brief Q&A with Deborah Wassertzug, who works as one of the university's journalism librarians.
August 09, 2004
X-Patents Discovered at University Library
Lawyers Unearth Early Patents [NYT] X-patents refer to the first 10,000 patents issued by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many of these are missing, the original files having been destroyed in a fire in July 1786 - ironically, while a more fireproof building was under construction. Two lawyers, researching the inventor Samuel Morey, discovered 14 of these X-patents in the Dartmouth College Library.
July 30, 2004
I'm sure there are other collections or lists out there. But here's the one I've found so far.
July 27, 2004
Civil Service, My Foot
I placed an order for documents to a state department last Friday. Hand delivered. The order was accompanied by a cover letter requesting that we get a phone call when the material was ready, so we could send over a courier. We never got the call, and the package was shipped out. Yesterday. We have the package now, so it's fine. But I guess my cover letter was merely useful for showing off our letterhead.
The letter also requested certification, which the department doesn't do. So guess who gets to call the department's legal counsel to try to request it yet again? Why is this my province, and not the attorney who requested these documents, or his paralegal? *sigh*
I can do this. I can do this. I can do this.
Addendum: Had to leave a voicemail. Rats!
July 22, 2004
9/11 Commission Report
Available as a single PDF (7MB) or in multiple, smaller PDFs. Also available in print, from the GPO (Government Printing Office) or through bookstores.
July 20, 2004
Stolen Book Leads to Car Chase
So a guy steals a book from the library at Syracuse University. There's mention of the 10-minute car chase, and the helicopter that takes over and follows the guy home. Important details to note, sure. But how come the article doesn't tell us what book was stolen? [via Obscure Store]
July 14, 2004
Check out the Forbidden Library - a personal site that compiles listings of banned and challenged books deemed dangerous for the weak minds of children (or those with childlike minds). While the American Library Association does provide its annual list of banned or challenged books, this site offers cited annotations - examples of actual communities that have had issues with a book, as well as the apparent reasoning for demanding a book's removal.
The font is on the dark side though. I don't think it would hurt the site's aesthetics to change the font color or make it slightly larger in order to be more accessible to readers.
June 30, 2004
What People are Reading
Know Neighborhoods by Their Book Buying [Sabrina Tavernise, NYT, 6/28/04] A glimpse into what the big chain bookstores - which together sell one-fifth of books in Manhattan - are selling, depending on the neighborhood.
I wonder if library websites would want to do something similar - a periodic list of a library system's most popular books, based on checkout numbers. Perhaps one could somehow set up the list as an RSS feed. I know that there's a feed for NYT's most emailed articles, which I find can lead to interesting reads.
June 21, 2004
The Library v. Google, Round 7,951
Old Search Engine, The Library, Tries to Fit Into a Google World [Katie Hafner, NYT, 6/21/04] Actually, the "battle" is probably squillions of times over that number. Libraries are having to contend with users turning more often to Google as their first, and sometimes only, line of research. And this isn't just a matter of people avoiding going to hard copy print resources in the stacks. They're also not using other electronic resources that would be better suited to their needs. The article focuses mainly on academic libraries, with remarks from librarians on facing the reality of the way people are conducting research, and how to make their collections more accessible to people - both the digital and the print. It's not that librarians think ill of Google; it's just that good material is not always available online, or if it is online, Google may not always be able to find it. But this is an area we librarians can work on - getting that message out to people and showing them the many ways and means to do thorough research. The following remarks offer a good explanation of what librarians are trying to achieve:
"Although it seems like an apocalyptic change now, over time we'll see that young people will grow up using many ways of finding information," said Abby Smith, director of programs at the Council on Library and Information Resources, a nonprofit group in Washington.
"We'll see the current generation we accuse of doing research in their pajamas develop highly sophisticated searching strategies to find high quality information on the Web," Dr. Smith said. "It's this transition period we're in, when not all high-quality information is available on the Web — that's what we lament."
June 18, 2004
Mistress of the Oblivious
A courier came by to pick up a book we were lending to another firm, but no book had been set out on the counter. Total aging bike messenger/skate punk vibe, ruggedly cute and scruffy. He reminds me of someone...wait, he looks just like the guy I saw on Sex & the City last night, the guy Carrie went out with who owns a comic book shop on St. Mark's Place but lives with his parents on the Upper West Side. He waited while I made phone calls to the other firm and we checked our shelves for the title.
I was so focused on sorting out the problem that I didn't notice the finer details of his person. We made eye contact while he observed that for being so high up his Nextel wasn't working, and I mentioned that I never got good cell signal up here either.
Turns out we didn't have the book, so he left. Afterwards, my boss came up to me and said she couldn't look at him in the eye because she kept staring at his ears. The blank look on my face astonished her.
"You mean you didn't see the holes the size of dimes in his ears?"
So naturally I had to tell her the story of how I'd passed a dead body on Canal St. and didn't know it until my sisters told me.
I really should try not to have such tunnel vision. But then again, at least I was able to talk to the guy and see him as a person. Even if I did miss the giant gaping holes in his ears.
A Simple Request
A floater secretary called to request a printout of an opinion published in the Fulton County Daily Report. I tracked it down and checked with one of our reference librarians to make sure the printout was acceptable. Strangely, the web product doesn't offer a clean, printer-friendly format, so to print a document makes it look like just another news article.
It turned out that the librarian had gotten the same request from the secretary whose work was being covered today by the floater. According to the secretary's note to my colleague, we were to just email the case to a partner in the San Francisco office, so the librarian tells me I can go ahead and do that. So I do, and I call the floater to tell her. She sounds flustered and says I should have sent it to her so she could print it out. I offer to send down to her the printout I'd already made. Abruptly she says she has to check something and will call me back.
A few minutes later I get a call from her from another phone extension. (???) She wants me to e-mail the article to her, explaining to me that when attorneys request a printout it's because they don't want to print it out themselves - meaning I should've sent it to her in the first place. It's true, there are people like this, but who is she to lecture me, especially when the original request instructed that we e-mail the article to the attorney! I shouldn't get my hackles up when I don't know if she's getting flak on her end and she doesn't know that I've been around lawyers for some time. A "thank you" would have been nice, but whatever.
So I sent it to her. I noted the case name and the original secretary's instructions in the subject line. And then I tossed the printout I'd made into the recycling bin.
June 17, 2004
On Renewing a Subscription for a Foreign Publication
You might think being able to install Movable Type from scratch and code my own HTML and CSS (well, swipe code and adapt it for my own) means that I'm remarkably handy in other capacities, right? Try figuring out how to send a fax to the UK from our inscrutable office machines.
I ended up having our Mailroom people help me. The first time, only the first page went through (the second page having gotten stuck behind it). The second time went through swimmingly. End of story, right?
I just got a transatlantic call from the publisher, asking if we would please stop sending our fax, as they've just gotten a third copy and we're "rather wasting [their] paper." I apologized, explained the situation, and we confirmed that I wished to renew our subscription and update the address/contact information. Right, byeee!
It turns out that the Mailroom had a spare copy of my fax and couldn't remember if it was sent, so they re-sent it. So that should be it. But still - I'm getting an international phone call, which must cost some amount of money, to tell me I am wasting a few pages of their fax paper? They must have assumed they were under threat of mass faxing, which is understandable. But still!
Addendum: They called me back. Again! Their machine is still emitting "reams of paper of the same two pages." V. strange and not good at all. The Mailroom says nothing more is sending, and feeling guilty, I called the publisher to let them know. (So let's see, that's...three international calls, three intentional faxes and countless unintentional ones. Ack!) They were laughing at this point and think the last one may have come through. (Please!) So we were able to joke that there's no way to misunderstand that my subscription should be renewed.
June 15, 2004
Need A Login?
BugMeNot offers logins and passwords to use for access to sites such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, or my town's lackluster paper of record, the Atlanta Journal Constitution. This way one doesn't have to offer up one's unborn child in order to read an article. [via Zeebah]
June 11, 2004
Town Hall Meeting on the Future of Library Education in Georgia
[Note: this is the text of a notice I received on one of my listservs.]
There will be a town hall meeting on the FUTURE OF LIBRARY EDUCATION IN GEORGIA on Tuesday, July 27, 2004 at 6:30 pm at AFPL Auburn Avenue Research Library. (Parking is free in "Reserved" marked spaces)
Participants of this town hall meeting will include members of Atlanta Law Librarians Association (ALLA); Georgia Library Association (GLA); Metro Atlanta Library Association (MALA); Special Libraries Association (SLA), Clark Atlanta University SLIS Faculty and Valdosta State MLIS Faculty.
We will start with short statements by presidents of the associations, CAU-SLIS faculty and Valdosta MLIS faculty.
The purpose of this meeting is to have broader discussions on the future of library education in Georgia. All librarians in Georgia are invited to participate.
DON'T MISS THIS OPPORTUNITY. YOUR INPUT IS VERY IMPORTANT!!
June 04, 2004
Pemberley, a condo community in Utah. - Choice promotional lines include: "PEMBERLEY is super-size attached garages." Floorplans include the bennett (sic), the meryton, the collins and the wickham. Surely the collins floorplan will have a window facing the road so nosy residents can espy the comings and goings of their condescending affluent neighbors. (via Sick & Wicked)
Sunset in Manhattan - Gorgeous photo, accompanied by a brief astronomy lesson. See if you can find the Empire State Building.
Noah Wyle IS...The Librarian - The librarian-as-action-hero, in a TNT television movie to debut later this year. Treasures such as the Golden Fleece and the Ark of the Covenant lie within the inner catacombs of the New York Public Library. (What do you mean, which branch. The one with the lions!) (via LTR)
American Journalism Review article about political blogging.
In the Virtual Stacks, Pirated Books Find Eager Thumbs [Sandeep Junnakar, NYT, Circuits, 6/3/04]
May 27, 2004
The Day After Tomorrow
Yesterday, I gleefully asked the question "When does The Day After Tomorrow start?" Since it starts Friday (tomorrow), the correct answer yesterday was...heehee. Fortunately, I am not alone in appreciating a corny joke. We're seeing it on Sunday, so come tomorrow, we'll be seeing the movie...the day after tomorrow. (hahahahaha...ahem.)
A natural disaster-oriented, special-effects-laden summer extravaganza. Dennis Quaid, handsome-older-man climatologist, has to rescue his son, sensitive hottie Jake Gyllenhaal, after New York City gets the freezeout. And what key locale would be of interest to one Lady Crumpet? Why, the New York Public Library!
I am a bit perturbed by the idea of characters burning books to stay warm. Let's hope they don't start with the special collections.
Maybe after the movie, I should go to the Jake's on N. Highland. Good ice cream and a cute boy behind the counter who looks a little like Jake Gyllenhaal. Hello!
May 13, 2004
Library of Alexandria
Library of Alexandria discovered - "Archaeologists have found what they believe to be the site of the Library of Alexandria, often described as the world's first major seat of learning."
April 27, 2004
"The Case of the Disappearing Article"
Most interesting commentary by Tony Greiner in Library Journal about an article, "Selling the War Badly," published by Time for its March 2, 1998 issue. The article, about the public's reaction to Clinton's ordering air strikes against Iraq, also had a sidebar by George Bush, Sr. and Brent Scowcroft called "Why We Didn't Remove Saddam."
Greiner's article explains that this 1998 story was available on Time's website until the spring of 2003, just before W. ordered the attack on Baghdad. He credits The Memory Hole with the discovery and for posting a scanned copy of the article. Greiner then goes on to search various databases and attempts to contact Time, EBSCO, Bush Sr. and Scowcroft for their comments.
Home, Sweet Library
"Yes, Some Students Live in the Library (But Not Like This)" [Karen W. Arenson, NYT, 4/27/04] An NYU student, paying his own way through scholarship and jobs, didn't get the funding he needed for housing. So he spent 8 months sleeping in the 24-hour accessible basement of NYU's Bobst Library (heretofore known as a popular place for flinging oneself off one of the atrium floors). At some point, he began to write about it. On the web. Says the student: "I knew it would be interesting to the N.Y.U. community.... I just didn't know anyone else would care."
Well now that it's been covered in the NYT, he's ruined the gig for everyone else who wanted to have a go at living on the cheap at the library.
April 21, 2004
National Library Week
To drum up awareness, we've set out a book donation box for a local elementary school, the Librarian Action Figure, and a entry box for our Lunch With a Librarian contest. The winner gets a free lunch with the librarian of his or her choice. Not many entries so far, though. Would there be more if it was just a free lunch without the librarian? Another contest we're having is "guess how many candies are in the jar" and the winner gets the whole jar (and a monster sugar rush).
April 17, 2004
Heyyyy Youuuu Guyyyyyyys!
The Electric Company Digital Archive MP3s and video clips, available for downloading. Sweet!
April 05, 2004
How to Bungle a Reference Question
So I take a call to our general line, because the one official librarian in the office today is already on the phone. It's one of the secretaries, who needs a copy of a state statute emailed to her and the attorney who needs it. She has a thick-as-molasses Southern accent, so I hear "HOSS-spittle Aw-THARH-oh-tee Lahr." When I ask her to confirm the name of the statute I just can't make out that last word, so I ask her to spell it. Turns out she wants the Hospital Authority Law.
Naturally she has no confidence that I'll be able to find this, so after successfully going into West's eLibraries and emailing the document to her, I find her here in the library looking at the statute in the book. She wants the whole article, not just the first section that I found, fair enough. To salvage the situation, I tell her I will check with the librarian, who's now off the phone, and he sends it to her.
This should not have been that hard. But because I was tentative - because I didn't want to offend her because I couldn't understand her, she must think I'm an idiot, and this will color our future dealings. Yeehaw.
March 31, 2004
All the Sites Fit to Link
Rich Meislin at NYT edits the CyberTimes Navigator, a start page featuring useful web links for the paper's editors and reporters. But by making this page available to all of us, Meislin also wants "to show people that there's still a lot of fun and useful stuff going on out there."
March 30, 2004
My library subscribes to the local paper of record. It's available for perusal in a reading area that we have on another floor. I just found out that if I'm ever unable to find today's edition, I have to ask our catering guy (whose kitchen is on the same floor) to go into the men's room to retrieve it. I am equal parts grossed out and giggling.
March 29, 2004
Sweet, Sweet Victory
I'd been dragging my feet since my last contact with a particular vendor. After revising my letter, I sent a copy by both e-mail and snail mail last Friday. This morning, I get a call from the woman I last spoke with, who is sending me my missing issues from this year. Then I get a call from her supervisor, who agrees to extend my subscription and apologizes for the inconvenience. I am equally exceedingly polite. I exude warmth, friendliness and regret for having to get all medieval on them in my letter. We clear the air, I ask for written confirmation, and all is well.
Can you blame me for doing a jig in the elevator?
March 22, 2004
CPA sues Search Engines for Libel
Accountant 'Googles' Himself, Sues for Libel [AP, 3/19/04] Mark Maughan, a CPA with the firm Brown & Maughan, has sued Google, AOL, Time Warner and Yahoo! for libel. Google's Page Rank system is apparently at fault for generating "alarming" information about Maughan. According to the article:
"Specifically, the search results falsely represent that plaintiffs Maughan and/or Brown & Maughan have been disciplined for gross negligence, for failing to timely submit a client's claim for refund of overpayment of taxes, and for practicing as a CPA without a permit," according to the proposed class action filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.Google's search results already show top ranking links from people and sites ridiculing this news story.
The lawsuit itself is disturbing in several ways. First, why is the tool (the search engine) the culprit? It's the information itself, not the means for finding it, that should be problematic. More worrisome is the not-unwarranted concern that average users of Google or other search engines will look at the first page of results and take the information at face value - which is what the guy is concerned about, because the perception hurts him and his firm. As librarians we continue to stress that material from the Internet is not always the best, most accurate information out there. But this is also a basic premise of surfing the Web - and yet how many people don't get that?
Cats in Libraries
A library does seem more complete when there's a cat around, which is why we have two tabbies at home. An article about library cats offers a glimpse into how such felines came to reside in the stacks. The Library Cat Society celebrates and promotes cats in libraries. The site also displays a map showing library cats around the world.
Addendum: Only somewhat related. A man up in Gwinnett County owns 75 cats which he keeps track of through a catologue...er, database. According to the article, the good care given to the cats, as well as the maintenance of the database, demonstrate that the guy isn't a classic "hoarder" - that is, one of those mentally unsound people who keep lots of animals in horrible conditions and don't understand why that's wrong. He's also willing to give some cats to good homes, if anyone's interested.
March 19, 2004
Innovations in Parenting
Mom on mission after kid exposed to porn at library (Karen Goulart, The Patriot Ledger, 3/18/04) A woman in Boston is very, very upset because her daughter's "emotional safety" was compromised when the 12-year-old saw the dirty pictures another kid was looking at on another public library computer. Which is rightfully upsetting. (What about that other kid's parents - obviously they don't know what's going on.) The mother demanded that internet filters be installed. But the library doesn't receive any federal money, so it's not required to install them. Moreover, the library director doesn't believe they're effective. The librarians do keep an eye on things and take action when necessary, but they also try not to invade people's privacy.
So the mom is having to resort to an extreme measure:
[The mother], who in the past would drop her daughter off at the library to do homework, said she won't do that now.
‘‘My family will not be utilizing the public library system unless I'm with my children,'' she said.
Direct supervision. Of one's own child. How revolutionary.
In the sixth grade, I borrowed Beverly Cleary's Fifteen from my junior high school library. It was a teen romance - the most risque thing was a tender kiss between the heroine and the boy she liked. My mom found the book - I guess I must have left it on a table with my other school stuff, and she didn't like that I was reading this, not one bit. I was astonished - now she was paying attention to my reading, when I had read much worse things the year before, like Sidney Sheldon, and my classmates were reading V.C. Andrews? It must not have occurred to her that I'd have access to dangerous material. I was really offended, because I was self-sufficient with my schoolwork, making the honor roll every term, actually excited to be going to school (yes, I was a nerd, have I mentioned that before?). To be reminded of my lack of independence - in general, as well as regarding my pleasure reading - really pissed me off. Of course, she was being my mom, doing what she was supposed to do. I see that now, but the memory still rankles.
Samuel Johnson Treasure Trove
Harvard's Houghton Library is the recipient of the Donald and Mary Hyde Collection, a private collection of Samuel Johnson materials ("A Samuel Johnson Trove Goes to Harvard's Library" - Katie Zezima, NYT, 3/18/04):
The collection offers an intimate look at the private and professional lives of Johnson and his literary contemporaries. It contains more than 4,000 rare volumes and 5,500 manuscripts and letters between Johnson and his acquaintances. It also holds more than 5,000 prints, drawings and objects, including Johnson's engraved silver teapot and a portrait of him by Gilbert Stuart.
Also in this amazing collection: A first edition of Johnson's 1755 dictionary, the only known copy with untrimmed pages (in bookbinding at the time, the paper edges were rough until they were cut cleanly as part of the final binding of the book); corrected proofs of Boswell's biography of Johnson; books from Johnson's private library, many containing his annotations in the margins; and his personal Bible, separated into seven leather-bound volumes for easier handling (Johnson read from it daily).
The library hopes to make the collection available within two years to scholars and students, and items such as Johnson's Bible will at some point be displayed. Incredibly exciting.
March 09, 2004
On Communication Skills
I had to call a vendor this afternoon about a newsletter we had not received for an entire year. Unfortunately we already paid for a renewal and we haven't seen this year's issues either.
My predecessor kept lots and lots of files, thank goodness. What I should have done was check the files first, but no, I called and asked if our subscription could just be extended since we received no issues, and what a surprise - the vendor says they can't (or won't) do that. We have to get the back issues, and they'll extend our subscription for whatever issues they can't provide. I am flustered. The more I try to say, the more stupid I sound. Why can I be so articulate in writing but in person I am a babbling idiot? How the hell can I possibly do reference if I'm stuttering and stumbling for the next word?
The vendor's records are shoddy. The woman tells me she has no record of the dates I've told her we called. I try to explain, but what sounds like garbled gobbledygook, that we are paying for current information. The back issues are nice, but they're no good to us one year after the fact. I tell her we contacted her on several occasions requesting back issues and still we never received them. The best she can do, after speaking with a supervisor, is to give us our back issues and a 4 month extension on our subscription, as a "courtesy." I can't answer for my boss, but I just know she won't go for that. So I tell her I will call back.
So I've spent the better part of the afternoon stewing and writing a letter summarizing our timeline and reiterating our position that the vendor has totally screwed up, in nicer business language of course. It's not exactly helpful that it seems that no one from our library called and harassed them since not getting the first issue until late last year, when we supposedly got an extension - which of course they have no record of. I understand their position - but we are the customer. I just wish we could ask for a refund since they're being so damned resistant to admitting that they fucked up and to doing something meaningful to correct the situation. So I've written a letter, and my boss will proof it, and hopefully we can get something done. In the meantime, I'm nursing some apricot tea, because the whole experience just makes me ill.
I have never been good with conflict, but I'm going to have to improve. My communication skills probably will be brought up in my review as something to work on. Bleah.
March 02, 2004
Obit for Daniel Boorstin, Former Librarian of Congress
March 01, 2004
Wow. I'm going to be taking a legal research course - a refresher for me, I hope - and my firm is going to pay for it. It's corny, but I'm going to say it - my boss is great, and I really, really like my job.
February 26, 2004
1. I'd applied to be a library volunteer at the county public library back in September. Today I finally got an email from the coordinator asking if I was interested. I'll have to update her on my job situation, but perhaps I could do something once a week.
2. A librarian from another firm called with an ILL inquiry. She didn't recognize me, and I didn't volunteer that I knew her from when I used to work at that firm as a legal assistant. At the time, I was really intimidated by her and filled with dread whenever I had to ask for her help with research. I was even driven to tears after one of our reference interviews. Now we are just polite voices on the phone, which is ok by me.
3. One of the partners is leaving for another firm. Yesterday I had to haul a massive cart to his office to pick up books that the library hadn't seen in years. In trying to be helpful, he put all the books in one place: on top of a tall file cabinet. I ended up having to climb up on one of his leather visitor chairs in order to get to them. He also had some ILLs that I knew were due - overdue, in fact. Never mind that the same material is in Westlaw, meaning that these books didn't need to be borrowed in the first place. But I couldn't collect them until he'd made copies of the pages he needed. I know how hectic it is to wrap things up and get your office packed up, so I was trying to be helpful. Mainly, I didn't want books that we borrowed to get "lost" in the move. But every time I checked in with him, he still hadn't made the damn copies. I even volunteered to make the copies for him. Finally he gave the books to an associate who will make sure his sections get copied and who's still going to be around for me to pester. Because I so enjoy being a damn book monitor. Anyway, librarian circles are small. The librarian at his new firm has already been warned that this guy requires serious high maintenance.
4. Meeting up for beer and vittles with some librarian friends tonight.
February 18, 2004
Care & Handling for CDs & DVDs
February 17, 2004
Darcy Seeking Elizabeth
The British Library recently had its first-ever singles night: "[G]uests queued for lapel stickers - with suitably anonymous labels such as "Darcy seeking Elizabeth", "Titania seeking Oberon" or "Adam seeking Eve". The free program, called Mingle, is for "anyone who is single, likes to talk, and wants to make friends and network with like-minded people" in the setting of the library's exhibition galleries. Presumably one has a better chance of meeting an intelligent future mate here than at the local bar.
February 10, 2004
NYT article on Activists' Subpoenas
An Antiwar Forum in Iowa Brings Federal Subpoenas [Monica Davey, NYT, 2/10/04]:
...[T]he protesters, their lawyers and some national civil liberties advocates described the investigation into the attendance rolls and leadership lists of the lawyers' group as highly unusual in recent years. Some said it could send a chilling message far beyond Iowa, leaving those who consider voicing disapproval of the administration's policy in Iraq, or anywhere else, wondering whether they too might receive added scrutiny.
"I've heard of such a thing, but not since the 1950's, the McCarthy era," said David D. Cole, a Georgetown law professor. "It sends a very troubling message about government officials' attitudes toward basic liberties."
Anthony Romero, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said he feared news of the subpoenas — which was spreading rapidly via e-mail on Monday among activist organizations — might discourage people from showing up to protests, attending meetings at universities or even checking out library books. [My emphasis]
"People will have to be asking themselves: will this be subject to government scrutiny?" Mr. Romero said.
February 09, 2004
Anti-war Activists Subpoenaed
Feds Win Right to War Protestors' Records [Ryan J. Foley, AP] Federal subpoenas have been issued to Drake University as well as four of the activists who attended a forum at the school back in November:
In addition to records about who attended the forum, the subpoena orders the university to divulge all records relating to the local chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, a New York-based legal activist organization that sponsored the forum.Also:
The targets of the subpoenas believe investigators are trying to link them to an incident that occurred during the rally. A Grinnell College librarian was charged with misdemeanor assault on a peace officer; she has pleaded innocent, saying she simply went limp and resisted arrest.
Additionally, the subpoena, at least for the university, includes a gag order.
February 05, 2004
Pro-librarian article in NYT
Okay, not the most zippy entry title. Check out the article, find your favorite librarians and tell them how much you love them. Or at least how much you appreciate their expertise.
When A Search Engine Isn't Enough, Call A Librarian (Jeffrey Selingo - NYT, Circuits, 2/5/04)
How to Determine a Phone Carrier
There may come a time when one needs to find out what telephone carrier belongs to a certain phone number. Or maybe you want to find out what prefixes (the first 3 digits of the phone number, after the area code) pertain to a certain city. FoneFinder allows you to do this - for US and Canadian numbers, type in the area code and prefix, or even just area code and city name, and search results are generated.
The site also offers an international number search, but I haven't tried that yet.
February 03, 2004
Why, why must there be a rush ILL (interlibrary loan) that I'm waiting to hear back from when I've actually got to be somewhere tonight? If I stare at the phone, can I will the secretary to call me back, sooner rather than later?
I've handled two ILLs from academic libraries that required us to complete what are called "ALA forms" - ALA-approved, I suppose. They're carbon forms in quadruplicate - meaning that you have to bear down really hard with your pen and your handwriting looks like you're still in kindergarten.
My exciting event tonight? A viewing of Girl With a Pearl Earring, followed by drinks and tapas with my book group. Excuse me, Mr. Partner, but I have a date with Colin Firth tonight, surely you understand.
Addendum: Good thing I lost patience and called the secretary, who'd forgotten to call me back. The issue is tabled until tomorrow. Hurrah!
January 30, 2004
Riding the Elevators
The way my office is situated, I have to take two sets of elevators just to get to my desk. So most of the time, my forays around the office - to pick up books, to drop off invoices, to get a steaming cup of chai - result in my getting in and out of elevators throughout the day. While there are the emergency stairs, there doesn't seem to be an inner staircase that connects my floor to the other floors (there's one for the lower floors). Otherwise I'd be getting superfit in no time.
Just back from a trip to Accounting, with a bonus cup of chai to sweeten the journey. Although billing issues aren't my favorite aspect of the job, the process here is a lot less brain-numbing. I'm not the one processing the bills (hurrah!), but I am a liaison between the Library and Accounting, to follow up on problem bills.
In my experience, getting things done around an office is a zillion times better when you can establish a rapport with people. You definitely want to be friendly, or at the least, extremely polite, with Accounting, the Mail Room, the Copy Department, Word Processing, the receptionists, the secretaries, the paralegals, and yes, the librarians. Of course, the attorneys too, but you have to let them take the lead on how friendly they want to be with you. So far, people at all levels have been astonishingly nice - I continue to be floored by this. I mean, I don't expect everyone here to have a great personality and to be immensely friendly and helpful, but that's really been the norm around here rather than the exception.
Now this is not to say that you should be fake-friendly and kiss ass, because people can totally tell when you're being nice in order to get something from them. But if you can establish a good relationship with people that you have to work with, problem-solving becomes so much easier for everyone involved. There doesn't have to be tears or despair or bashing one's head on the desk, muttering obscenities.
I am very thankful to be on good terms with the lady in Accounting.
January 28, 2004
The Tyranny of Copyright?
Article by Robert S. Boynton in the 1/25 issue of NYT Magazine.
January 21, 2004
West to Outsource to East?
West, one of the giants in legal publishing, has set up a "test office" in India, where Indian lawyers are writing up case summaries and headnotes. The American editor-lawyers can make up to $100,000 a year, which is at least five times what the Indian lawyers are paid.
On business: Outsourcing hits legal services (Neal St. Anthony, Star Tribune, 1/16/04)
Now, Outsourcing to Hit US Lawyers (The Economic Times / India Times, 1/16/04)
December 18, 2003
"A Bookish Contretemps"
Another NYT article about the issues facing the Providence Atheneum.
December 14, 2003
Blog-friendly NYT links
Here's a valuable tool for bloggers: New York Times Link Generator. Paste an article link that you want to use, and it creates a link that's "weblog-safe." The site also offers a bookmarklet for even quicker link-generation.
Interesting article about an obscure mathematical treatise by Archimedes called the Stomachion ("In Archimedes' Puzzle, a New Eureka Moment" - Gina Colata, NYT, Science, 12/14/03). Although the main focus of the article is the discovery of the treatise's subject matter, combinatorics (whose goal is "to determine how many ways a given problem can be solved"), what's also interesting is the history of the manuscript:
In the 13th century...Christian monks, needing vellum for a prayer book, ripped the manuscript apart, washed it, folded its pages in half and covered it with religious text. After centuries of use, the prayer book — known as a palimpsest, because it contains text that is written over — ended up in a monastery in Constantinople.
Johan Ludvig Heiberg, a Danish scholar, found it in 1906, in the library of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Istanbul. He noticed faint tracings of mathematics under the prayers. Using a magnifying glass, he transcribed what he could and photographed about two-thirds of the pages. Then the document disappeared, lost along with other precious manuscripts in the strife between the Greeks and the Turks.
It reappeared in the 1970's, in the hands of a French family that had bought it in Istanbul in the early 20's and held it for five decades before trying to sell it. They had trouble finding a buyer, however, in part because there was some question of whether they legally owned it. But also, the manuscript looked terrible. It had been ravaged by mold in the years the family kept it, and it was ragged and ugly.
In 1998, an anonymous billionaire bought it for $2 million and lent it to the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, where it still resides.
December 12, 2003
Librarian Action Figure (Again)
One of my librarian acquaintances mentioned that the action figure was sold out and that Ebay was the best source to find it. A recent search shows that there are several auctions currently taking place.
However, I ordered one just the other day at Archie McPhee. So far I haven't been told that my order couldn't be processed, so we'll see. But why compete on Ebay if you don't have to?
Career Alternatives for the MLS
Librarians in the Information Age: Alternative Uses of MLS Degrees - New article up at LIScareer.com that identifies several categories for careers as information professionals, whether or not "librarian" is in the job title. Under the catagory "Way Out There," the article notes an MLS grad who became the manager of a sex toy shop:
She says the reference interview is directly applicable, just relating to different information. She also has a collection management responsibility, including toy reviews and customer interests. She says, “I’m trying my best to make ‘librarian’ and ‘sex’ go together, one toy at a time.” (Butcher, 2001)
ABA article on Aggregators
Beating Information Overload with News Aggregators - Article in the current issue of Law Practice Management explains how lawyers can use news aggregators and feeds to stay current with ever-growing sources of information.
December 11, 2003
The Blogbook, which calls itself an "Open Source Law Project," aims to serve as a guide to legal blogging, as well as a forum to "facilitate discussions around the technical, stylistic and ethical components of legal blogging." It's got a clean, simple design, links to recent posts and of course a blogroll of legal blogs, or "blawgs," as they're now being called.
The most interesting feature of the blog's design is the way its content is organized. The horizontal menu bar, beneath the title and caption, has links for Citations, Style, Code of Ethics, and FAQ/Contact. Following one of these links leads you to a sub-blog, whose posts are relevant to the subject link. The look remains the same, so the sense of place, of the site's continuity, remains intact. Only the blog content changes, depending upon the link, because you're actually looking at a separate blog. My only quibble is that while many people know that clicking on the blog title will take one back to the main page, there still ought to be a "Main" link in the menu bar for easy navigation. Overall, it's a neat approach, having separate blogs for related topics that are contained under the umbrella of a primary blog.
Int'l Model Search at NYPL
Page Six reports under their "We Hear" heading:
THAT Ford will hold its international model search finals in New York for the first time in 24 years on Jan. 20 at the New York Public Library with 45 beauties from as far away as Kenya and Singapore competing for a $250,000 contract . . .
When they refer to NYPL, typically they mean NYPL's Humanities and Social Sciences Library on 42nd Street, where the lions, Patience and Fortitude, recline out front.
December 09, 2003
Arts in the News
Today's Arts Briefing in the NYT has several items of particular interest:
Online Music and Dance Archives added to National Registry of Artists With AIDS - The Estate Project for Artists With AIDS and the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts announced the addition of music and dance archives to the registry. Also, according to the site's announcement, archives of "noted composers and choreographers" will become part of a permanent NYPL collection focused on artists with AIDS.
Library director resigns from Providence Athenaeum
The executive director of the Providence Athenaeum has resigned amid a furor over the proposed sale of the library's prize possession, a copy of John James Audubon's masterpiece "Birds of America." The 250-year-old library, in Providence, had expected to raise as much as $7 million from the sale, but dozens of people who use the library protested and took the matter to court. The suit delayed the sale until February, when the case is scheduled to be heard. Jonathan Bengtson, a specialist in medieval history who became the library's executive director late in 2001, sent a letter of resignation to the board on Nov. 23, and the board accepted it on Friday. In his letter Mr. Bengtson cited "lingering elitism among a small, but active, group of individuals" whose "disdain for those who seek to secure the institution's survival seems to know no bounds." He pledged to stay on through mid-February to help with the litigation and said that he intended then to take a job as chief librarian of St. Michael's College at the University of Toronto.
I received a most welcome phone call today - the firm called with an offer of employment, to start in January, and I accepted.
I am very, very happy.
On-Line Picasso Project - An extensive archive, with 7,044 works currently cataloged.
December 08, 2003
A good sign?
Zeebah called me today to tell me she'd been contacted as a reference. I immediately got on the phone to call most of my old supervisors, to let them know they might get a call as well.
I realize this is bad form; they ought to know ahead of time that I'm on the job hunt again, and would they please serve as a reference once more? It's what needs to be done, but I hate dropping off the face of the earth only to resurface and ask my former bosses to put in a good word for me. If I were really on the ball, at least I'd send a holiday card every year, right? Unfortunately, my last firm has the policy of not giving references, so my former supervisor can only confirm that I worked there. But Zeebah has a new job now, so she's free to attest to our working together.
As much as I dreaded the resurfacing, my former bosses were fantastically swell and promised to entertain all such inquiries. I'm so grateful - that they're so nice, and that they also happen to be partners in their firms. 'Cause it's all about status, baby.
December 05, 2003
Am a Donkey's Posterior
So the other people called and were prepared to make an offer. Feeling lame for wasting their time, I explained that I had decided to pursue other opportunities. They were gracious, maybe secretly pissed with me, but it's done. The next person they make an offer to will certainly deserve it more than me.
If this other job I've interviewed for doesn't work out, I'm not at a loss. There are essentially temp agencies for librarians around here. I've met one of the consultants who works for one, and I just have to send my resume to her. At least it will make me feel like I'm making progress.
Recently I went to a holiday party for one of the professional associations, and I also met up for drinks with my librarian friends last night. It's nice to be meeting people who are so supportive and helpful. But I'm also ready to work again, to have a job, to be needed for my skills and to get paid for them.
I just have to be patient, and enjoy some of this time off while I still have it.
December 04, 2003
I think it went well. Everyone seemed really nice; apparently this place has a rep for being a good firm to work for. Very little turnover. I hope to hear good news from them soon, because otherwise I'm going to feel a bit like a sucker turning down the other position. (I haven't yet, but they're going to call soon.)
Interview No. 2 today, one o'clock. Law library. Not actually a librarian position, but one that would give me good experience to move into one.
Hold a good thought for me - that I'll be fairly articulate, that I convince them that I'm the one for the job, that they'll make me an offer. Also that I won't have any more mishaps today, like banging my forehead right into the open door of the medicine cabinet. That should bruise nicely, woohoo.
December 02, 2003
Eco on the Future of Books
Vegetal and mineral memory: The future of books - Last month, Umberto Eco was invited by the city of Alexandria to give a lecture at the newly opened Bibliotheca Alexandrina. He has some interesting thoughts on libraries:
Libraries, over the centuries, have been the most important way of keeping our collective wisdom. They were and still are a sort of universal brain where we can retrieve what we have forgotten and what we still do not know. If you will allow me to use such a metaphor, a library is the best possible imitation, by human beings, of a divine mind, where the whole universe is viewed and understood at the same time. A person able to store in his or her mind the information provided by a great library would emulate in some way the mind of God. In other words, we have invented libraries because we know that we do not have divine powers, but we try to do our best to imitate them.
November 20, 2003
Linkage, Raging Anglophile Edition
Blackletter Ballads - A selection of English ballads, from a site interested in offering 17th Century Reenacting and Living History Resources.
Early Manuscripts at Oxford University - Digital facsimiles of over 80 manuscripts from the collections of institutions affiliated with Oxford.
Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru - The National Library of Wales - The site is in Welsh and English. Highlights include The Digital Mirror, which offers facsimiles of Welsh texts and other items from the library's archives.
The Newton Project - An ongoing project which "aims to create a printed edition of Newton's theological, alchemical and administrative writings and an electronic edition of all his writings, including his correspondence."
What's in London's Libraries (WiLL) - An electronic resource - search the collections of London's libraries, museums and archives, as well as obtain facilities information.
November 14, 2003
Especially since I'm done with the interview. I did try to prepare with questions and what I would say. But it's really hard to answer in any meaningful way when you don't have certain experience - like getting a library ready for opening for the day, or anything similar. Of course, I totally forgot to mention possibly related activities from college and whatnot. I guess I did ok, I tried to be enthusiastic, to listen well, to ask good questions, promote the transferable skills I did have, but I don't feel like I was stellar. The librarians were very nice, very friendly and the interview didn't quite feel like an inquisition. I'll find out by next week whether or not I got it, so the torture shouldn't be too over-extended. Even though public librarianship hasn't been my first avenue, I feel like it would be a good chance to work with people on a community level.
So I'm off to a cafe for something with ridiculous amounts of whipped cream to write my thank you notes and up my word count on my flippin' novel. This time I'll remember the industrial earphones to block out the other drama queens who also hang out at the cafe while being unemployed. *sigh*
November 12, 2003
Dictionary to Keep "McJob" - The 11th edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary added the word "McJob." This upsets McDonald's both philosophically and also because they have some sort of program which is actually called McJOBS(tm). (An article at The Register goes into the interesting history of the trademarking of the term. ["Merriam-Webster explains disappearing McJob" - 11/11, Andrew Orlowski]):
McDonald's first registered the term on May 16 1984, as a name and image for "training handicapped persons as restaurant employees". But the trademarked lapsed in February 1992, and was declared 'Dead' by the United States Patent Office. Following the publication of Douglas Coupland's smash Generation X in paperback edition in October 1992 (the book first appeared in 1991), which popularized the term, McDonald's restored the trademark.
The term also appears in the American Heritage Dictionary, Webster's Dictionary, and dictionary of dictionaries, the Oxford English Dictionary. It's safe to say that the term has entered everyday language, enough that dictionary editors have taken note. And while McDonald's will pursue its trademark rights, it can't stop how people talk.
Cory Doctorow has also posted on this at BoingBoing, and he asserts that the necessity for trademark owners to "to sue everyone who utters your trademark or risk losing it" is a legal "fairy tale." He also links to his August article about trademarks at OpenP2P. Thoughts?
November 10, 2003
I have an interview with a county library this week. Panel interview - ugh, but I'll have to bear it as I can. The woman who called to set up the interview was very pleasant, so I'm hopeful that will set the tone for the rest of the process.
Thoughts on how to prepare, questions to ask, especially those of you who have worked or are working in public libraries? I'm checking the website, noted the proper address and spelling of names for thank you notes. Yes, I will have copies of my resume to hand out. I've looked through my closet to pick out my interview outfit. And yes, it's clean.
I submitted an application last month for an academic job, but my sources tell me it was highly competitive. So I'm not holding my breath. Time to look into temporary work, internships or volunteer opportunities to beef up my experience, improve my skills in the meantime.
Current strategy is to continue meeting up with fellow professionals at association meetings and socially, and to send my resume to some of the people that I've met - who did tell me to send them a copy, so no cold calling or anything like that.
November 06, 2003
Who Owns What
The Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) offers Who Owns What, a searchable online guide to what the major media companies own. The site also provides full-text articles about media ownership.
November 05, 2003
The Ballad of Melvil Dewey
Gad, we're a corny lot sometimes.
The Ballad of Melvil Dewey (to the tune of Ballad of Davy Crockett)
>From the twisted brain of Gayle Hodur - use and enjoy!!
The Ballad of Melvil Dewey (to the tune of Ballad of Davy Crockett)
>From the twisted brain of Gayle Hodur - use and enjoy!!
There was a man named Dewey, Melvil was his name
Classification was his favorite game
Working around books was the place he liked to be,
So he got him a job at the li-buh-rar-eeee.
Melvil, Melvil Dewey,
King of the Wild Book Stacks!
Libraries back then were wilder than the West.
Librarians filed books however they liked best!
There wasn't any system - that just wouldn't do,
So Dewey made it easier for me and you.
He gave each book a number - that was pretty smart!
He filed them by their topics, such as "sports" or "art."
Just learn the numbers of the topics you would like to see.
The books will be right there in their own category.
Three digits do it nicely, as sweet as apple pie,
But there are always times when you might want to classify
Some things in tighter order, and that is when you need
That decimal, that Dewey "dot", to get you up to speed.
After the decimal, some other numbers run.
How many? There could be a lot, but I think two is fun.
If you have a lot to classify, there might be more than three,
But a lot depends on how precise you really want to be.
So now you know the story, and I swear it's true,
Of how Dewey made things easier for me and you.
If you know all of your numbers, from zero up to nine,
Then you can use his system, and you'll do just fine.
Running a quick search for materials by Anne McCaffrey generated several interesting citations, including one for her 1999 acceptance speech when she received the Margaret A. Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award. Definitely a good resource for keeping current with critical SFF literature.
Addendum: One of the citations generated in the database was for a humor piece by Jesse Walker, "Lost Dick-McCaffrey Collaboration Found." The original website is apparently gone, so I've dug up a version of the page through the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. The article is actually there on the page, but it seems to be viewable only if you highlight the text. If you can't be bothered to do all that, keep reading.
Lost Dick-McCaffrey Collaboration Found
© Jesse Walker
[Revolution Science Fiction [3 p.] http://www.revolutionsf.com/article/1211.html]
Paul Williams' eyes sparkle as he remembers the day he made the discovery. "It was in the last box of Phil's papers," he recalls. "On the outside, he'd written 'Receipts' in magic marker, and sure enough, it was filled with receipts. I don't even remember why we were bothering to look through it."
He smiles a great big grin. "I was halfway through them when we spotted something else."
The "Phil" in question is Philip K. Dick, the late cult writer, and Williams is the executor of his estate. The "something else" Williams discovered was a manuscript: Dragonvalis, Dick's long-rumored, long-denied collaboration with the popular science-fiction writer Anne McCaffrey.
"As soon as I started reading it," continues Williams, "I realized I'd found something amazing. This wasn't just a lost manuscript. It was the weirdest chapter in science-fiction history."
A Strange Partnership
The story had been circulating among Dick's friends and fans for years, but no one had taken it seriously. Now at last, Williams held proof of the collaboration in his hands. He made some calls, and the tale soon fell into place.
"It was summer of 1980," remembers Ron Atwood, at that time an employee of the Scott-Meredith Literary Agency. "McCaffrey had written two wildly popular trilogies about the dragonriders of planet Pern, and her fans were demanding more. But she was sick of the subject, and wanted to try new things. One of her friends made a suggestion: Why not hire someone else to write the book? She would fly him out to her ranch in Ireland, put him up for six months or a year or whatever, and let him churn out the novel. She'd approve the final product, make whatever tweakings she thought were necessary, and put both writers' names on the cover. No mess, no fuss.
"I knew Phil was a little short at the time, cash-wise. I also knew he could turn out a book in just a month or two. And I knew his career needed a kick in the pants—something to take his mind off all that mystical crap he was getting into. So I gave him a call, and he jumped at the opportunity.
"We just didn't expect Anne to hate the book so much."
In retrospect, it was a marriage doomed to failure. Dick was a postmodernist popular with intellectuals and the counterculture. McCaffrey's novels were more traditional, and appealed mostly to kids in their early teens. Yet Dick's attempts to work within the constraints of McCaffrey's universe make for fascinating reading.
Dick's book opens five centuries after the end of McCaffrey's series. The people of Pern had long before launched an expedition to the Red Star, the neighboring planet that periodically showered the Pernese with deadly spores called threads. The threat had been halted at the source, and Pernese society had, as a result, evolved far beyond the medieval system that had prevailed in the earlier stories. Suburban sprawl covers the planet, producing a society that strongly resembles that of Dick's beloved Southern California.
But with some differences. Dragonriders criss-cross the sky, mostly working as aerial cabbies. And on the streets and in the weyrs, a new recreational drug is taking hold: Substance T, made from threads farmed on the Red Star.
Under the influence of Substance T, the book's protagonists—D'card, a henpecked dragon-riding traveling salesman; Menolly, his compassionless wife; and Pris, the dark-haired girl he secretly loves—begin to notice odd changes in their world. Dragoncabbies seem to battle falling threads. The Masterdealer who sells them their drugs begins to resemble Chairman Mao Tse-Tung. And Pris, en route to a suburb called Damascus, is struck by a beam of pink light.
D'card begins to suspect that the world he lives in is an illusion, a false reality overlaying the true Pern, in which threads still fall and dragonriders still hold a position of prominence and respect. Eventually, we learn that D'card is actually an alienated 14-year-old girl in a mental hospital in modern America. A devoted fan of fantasy fiction, D'card (real name: Melissa) is addicted to an antidepressant called Substance P, which leads her to believe she has entered the world she so passionately wishes she lived in.
In the final chapter, as Melissa undergoes a painful electroshock treatment, her father looks out the hospital window—and sees a dragon flying by.
"And that," reads the book's final line, "was only the beginning."
McCaffrey refused repeated requests that she comment on the manuscript, but Atwood remembers vividly her reaction back in 1980. "She despised the book," he says. "She was livid. I still remember her calling me right after she read what Dick had written. 'What the hell is this?' she yelled. 'There's no way I can make this shit publishable. It's supposed to be a goddamn horsey book!'"
Dick returned to California, dejected at his failure but with a generous kill fee in his hands. The manuscript wound up in the box of receipts. And McCaffrey wrote the next Pern book herself, a tome without any reference to alien psychedelics or beams of pink light. She never spoke with Dick again, and her lawyers are reportedly prepared to sue the Dick estate if it publishes his book.
"I hope this sees the light of day," comments Williams. "It may take decades to sort out the legal hassles, but trust me: The result will be well worth the wait."
Folklore & Mythology E-Texts
D.L. Ashliman provides edited and/or translated e-texts of folk and mythology stories, as well as folk and fairy tale links and links pertaining to Germanic myths, legends and sagas.
October 29, 2003
No, this isn't a collection of cardigans and sensible shoes; it's fashionable t-shirts for librarians. I rather like the "Info*Bitch" myself.
October 23, 2003
UN Head Librarian Gets Nod from NY Post
Cindy Adams mentions the UN Head Librarian in the context of a gossip item:
TODAY's United Nations Day. The UN's head librarian, Sindiwe Magona, who fled a Cape Town ghetto, writes best sellers like "Mother to Mother."
This fictionalized version of the death of young Fulbright scholar Amy Biel, who'd gone to South Africa in 1993 to help in their first open elections after the end of apartheid, has been optioned by Reese Witherspoon, who has her own production company, Type A Films.
Says Magona about her adopted city: "I love New York City's subways. I ride them every day from the UN to my home in The Bronx. I love New York."
October 22, 2003
"Brothels for the Mind"
"Libraries are brothels for the mind. Which means that librarians are the madams, greeting punters, understanding their strange tastes and needs, and pimping their books."
"Libraries were the original internet. All knowledge was available even in a local branch library. You could order a book and, if they didn't have it, they'd get it from a library in Yorkshire that did. This would give you the double pleasure of having the book you wanted and the knowledge that a Yorkshireman would be searching in vain for it."
"In most libraries, there is a section of large-print books. The print is so large, in fact, that most of the text has to be removed. For example, in 100 Years Of Solitude, you'll be lucky to get 40 Years Of Moderate Loneliness. What makes this even more of a swizz is that they only tell you about this in the small print."
"Pensioners use libraries much the same way as junkies use dealers."
October 21, 2003
Clark Atlanta Closes Library School
Last week, the board of trustees at Clark Atlanta University voted to close their Library and Information Studies program, the only MLS program accredited by the ALA in the state of Georgia, conditionally at that. Other programs were also targeted for closure; the students currently in the programs will be allowed to finish their degrees.
Voracious Like the Wolf
Yes, Planet Earth, there is a Duran Duran Book Club, courtesy of singer Simon Le Bon. Check out Simon's Library of past reads. And Simon not only reads, he writes - recommendations and reviews of the books he's read are available, and fans can contribute reader opinions and vote for their favorites among the selected titles.
I heard about Simons Reader via Simanoff, who's much better about keeping his blog focused than I am. Anyway, this news sort of makes up for my deciding to skip Duran Duran's show next month, because I'm not up to springing $50-60 to see the guys, even though it's probably my last best chance before even Nick Rhodes loses his looks.
Radiohead's Intellectual Appeal
One of the recent issues of Creative Loafing offered an article on Radiohead, who passed through town earlier this month. It quoted a Spin magazine staffer, who said that "Hanging out with Radiohead is kind of like getting high with a bunch of librarians."
October 09, 2003
Nancy Pearl, Celebrity Librarian
"Librarian Makes a Big Noise" [NYT] - Nancy Pearl, whom I've mentioned before, is the model for the librarian action figure, source of controversy in librarian circles. She appears at NYPL's Mid-Manhattan Library branch, 455 Fifth Avenue, at 6 tonight. Wish I could go.
The article refers to the controversy: "The doll has caused a small furor in the more humorless reaches of librarianship for perpetuating the stereotype of the dowdy librarian." Again, I'd like to say that librarians do get the joke. The problem is, will non-librarians get it? How does the doll fight back against the stereotype by perpetuating it? The New York Times reporter congratulates herself and flatters its readers for being in on the joke, but there are still plenty of people who believe in the stereotype. And sadly, there are librarians who still perpetuate it themselves.
Of course, I still want to get one of the dolls.
October 07, 2003
Peter Waters, Book Preservationist
Waters passed away in June, but the news of his death was only recently reported here in the U.S.
New York Times, October 5, 2003
Peter Waters, Who Preserved Hundreds of Thousands of Books Internationally, Dies at 73
By DOUGLAS MARTIN
Peter Waters, a superb bookbinder who became one of the world's leading authorities on large-scale book conservation, died on June 26 at his home in Fairfield, Pa. He was 73.
The cause was heart failure due to mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer, his wife, Sheila, said.
His death was not widely reported in this country until an obituary in The Washington Post last Sunday.
Mr. Waters was considered one of England's most accomplished artisans when it came to saving rotting old books by giving them new bindings and preserving brittle pages.
At 21, he was one of the youngest artists ever to have a book cover he designed bought by the British Museum. But he left this specialized and lucrative calling to lead in the preservation of hundreds of thousands of books around the world. He became the first restoration officer of the Library of Congress in 1971, and led its book conservation efforts for 25 years.
He also directed efforts to save books damaged by floods in Florence, Italy, in 1966 and in Lisbon the next year. He led similar efforts to save fire-damaged books at the Los Angeles Central Library in 1986 and in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1988.
In 1984, he headed a team of 20 experts, most of whom he personally trained, to restore a water-damaged opera by Leonard Bernstein, "A Quiet Place," in time for its debut at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts.
Most significant to library professionals were the procedures he devised to conserve large numbers of books. The standard practice had long been to repair books as librarians noticed they were damaged.
But with perpetually limited resources, this meant conservation essentially occurred on a catch-as-catch-can basis. Kenneth E. Harris, preservation projects director at the Library of Congress, said Mr. Waters established a completely new approach to conservation.
One of his innovations was the "point system," through which each library division was assigned a budget of treatment hours in a given year. This meant that other books, a vast majority, were stored in special boxes to prevent further deterioration until their turn for repair came.
These so-called "preventative" or "phased" conservation measures became the norm in the library and museum conservation world, Mr. Harris said.
For this reason, Mr. Waters privately resented campaigns that described as a crisis the estimated 6 million volumes in the Library Congress that were too brittle to read, his wife said. He believed the books could be fully preserved through temporary measures and repaired as time and funds allowed.
His many contributions to the Library of Congress included developing and training a respected conservation staff, beginning an internship program to encourage careers in book conservation and adding the conservation of photographs to the library's mission.
Peter Godfrey Waters was born in Surrey, England, on May 19, 1930. He took his first bookbinding class at 14 and promptly spilled a pot of hot glue, but he became the school's top student.
From 1945 to 1949, Mr. Waters studied bookbinding under the master William Matthews as part of his course at the Guildford College of Art. He continued his studies of bookbinding and graphic design at the Royal College of Art, where he met Sheila Salt, a highly regarded calligrapher, to whom he was married for almost 50 years.
Mr. Waters is also survived by his sons Julian of Gaithersburg, Md., Michael of Fairfield, Pa., and Chris of Crownsville, Md.; and four grandchildren.
After graduating from the Royal College of Art in 1953, Mr. Waters taught bookbinding and lettering techniques at the Farnham School of Art in Surrey. He was also a tutor in bookbinding at the Royal College, where he helped run the college's Lion and Unicorn Press.
From 1955 to 1971, Mr. Waters worked as the partner of Roger Powell, an English bookbinder famed for his 1953 restoration and rebinding of the Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript written around A.D. 800.
Together, Mr. Waters and Mr. Powell studied the Stonyhurst Gospel, a Coptic manuscript of the Gospel of St. John, dating from the seventh century. They revised opinions concerning the binding of the rare volume by offering convincing evidence that the binding was original. Many had previously supposed that it had been added in the 18th century.
In 1966, flood waters swept through the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale in Florence, damaging thousands of priceless library treasures. Mr. Waters was summoned to head a 120-person restoration team.
After floods in Lisbon the next year, Mr. Waters worked as a consultant for the restoration efforts of the Gulbenkian Foundation Museum. As a result of these two incidents, Mr. Waters wrote one of his best-known technical works, "Procedures for Salvage of Water Damaged Library Materials." It has been translated into Spanish, French and Japanese.
After the 1988 fire at the Academy of Sciences Library in what was then Leningrad, Mr. Waters was called in because his system of "phased conservation" seemed the only way to approach 3.6 million damaged books. Accordingly, he devised boxes to preserve the books as a necessary first step. The second step, actually repairing the books, promised to take far longer.
"It could take another 50 years," Mr. Waters said in an interview with The Los Angeles Times in 1993. "It could take 500 years."
October 06, 2003
Soho House "library"
[Note: The cross-section of those interested in librarianship and celebrity/media coverage is undoubtedly a limited population, but I include this for those of us starved for tawdry library gossip.]
Soho House is a private club in NYC, one of those current hotspot havens for rich, young expats, media darlings, media hounds, etc. - the usual subjects of gossip columns. It's a periodic setting for many of Gawker's posts, including one about Dido's recent performance in the club's library, which really more of a thematic lounge.
It's an old post, but Gawker also cites a NY Post snippet that snipes about the quality of Soho House's library. Sadly, the Post link is dead, and the paper's archives don't seem to have it available. Suffice to say, there is mostly wallpaper displaying shelves lined with books, because "media people don't read books—they only read book reviews"; the bar is better stocked.
September 30, 2003
The index allows you to look up saints by name or topic. For instance, the patron saint of the Internet is Isidore of Seville.
Worth a read: Margaret Talbot's observations about the dustup between Ashcroft and the librarian community in the 9/28 NYT Magazine.
September 26, 2003
Freedom to Read, Freedom Not to Read
A school board in Texas opts not to remove Aldous Huxley's Brave New World or Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land from a school's 10th grade Advanced Placement curriculum. However, it has instituted the policy that there must be an alternative available to a book that's been challenged. One of the afflicted students explains:
Sophomore Heather Outland said she found the books to be pornographic and offensive.
“I don’t feel that I should be carrying them around, much less be forced to read them,” Outland said. “I believe in the freedom to read. But I also believe in the freedom not to read. I don’t want to be forced to read these books if they go against my values and the values of the community. This is not censorship, this is not banning. This is freedom.”
Ah yes, freedom. Freedom to be illiterate, freedom to be uneducated, freedom to be ill-equipped to understand or discuss cultural or literary references because your values are offended. Reading a book doesn't automatically pose a danger to your values. Maybe the book forces you to think, to examine your beliefs. Maybe some ideas will change your mind. Maybe they won't. But how will you know, Heather, if you don't read the book? If your values are so desperately at risk just from reading a book, then how firm are your beliefs anyway?
September 25, 2003
Perception v. Reality
I'm happy to say that the meeting of library professionals went really well. I got there a bit late, but I did end up staying for two hours. In addition to drinks, we sat down to eat tapas, so we had something to do besides talk. People were really supportive and encouraging - just plain nice. They would introduce me to other people, and I would make the effort to introduce myself and ask them about their libraries and what their work entailed. I even recognized one person, someone who had come to two of my classes up in NY to do a database presentation.
So now I have a few business cards and I'm to send one woman my resume. Now I really have to get going on that process!
Right before I left, I went to say goodbye to one of the first librarians I met, who had been really lovely about talking with me and introducing me to others. I ended up listening in on her conversation with two academic librarians. As we were winding up, one of the academic librarians and I started chatting. She knows someone at the school where I want to apply and gave me her card. She also invited me out to a more casual outing of younger librarians who are just starting out or are new to the city, which will be really great. Basically they just get together to drink beer, make each other's acquaintance and give each other the skinny on what things are like - networking but more laidback. So I have that to look forward to in a few weeks.
September 23, 2003
Ok, right now it's just butterflies. I've already met for lunch with a former colleague who ran the library at my last Atlanta job. She was great, showing me around her current library and giving me ideas as to job hunting. If nothing else, I'll turn to temping, which would certainly help to build up my librarian work experience outside of what I've been doing.
But I do have one lead that I'm to try for. It's an academic librarian position, and it would be a very good opportunity. But would they be willing to take someone who's fairly green? How did all those other librarians get started in academia?
So it's time to whip out the resume, and call upon the aid of the career services person at my school. And get references. And write and rewrite and rewrite yet again a cover letter. Ugh.
So I've taken one baby step towards the job search, lunch with the former colleague. The next is tonight, a social/networking meeting for a local chapter of a librarian association. There'll be free munchies and soda, although I suspect there may be need to splurge for some liquid courage. But considering the last time I did this, back in NY, I did meet and get a subsequent interview/offer for an internship, so I just need to grit my teeth, smile like a madwoman, chatter and chatter and remember to circulate. If my nerves fail me I'll just circulate out the door. It's only two hours - if I can at least manage the first hour I'll have made progress.
September 21, 2003
Banned Books Week
Celebrate Your Freedom to Read.
OCLC sues Library Hotel for Trademark Infringement
The Library Hotel, a scant walk from NYPL's Humanities and Social Sciences Library (the one with the lions), is laid out according to the Dewey Decimal system. What the hotel didn't realize, nor did I, is that this classification system is trademarked and owned by OCLC. (Libraries that use the system have to pay annual licensing fees.) OCLC, a nonprofit organization, has sued the hotel and seeks treble the hotel's profits since its opening, or treble damages, whichever is greater.
OCLC has to protect its trademark, true. But this does nothing positive for the image of librarians.
Update: NYT has its own article on the lawsuit.
September 19, 2003
Baseless Hysteria, &c.
Government Says It Has Yet to Use New Power to Check Library Records - In the continuing saga regarding Sec. 215 of the Patriot Act, Ashcroft has released the data regarding the number of searches for records demanded of libraries and other institutions: Zero. Yes, that's zed, zip, nought. [NYT, Eric Lichtblau, 9/18/03]
Ashcroft: See, you silly librarians? You were duped, you made mountains out of molehills. Yes, we have this power accorded to us by statute, but we haven't used it, so there! Pffffffft!
Librarians: So? You just haven't used it yet. As long as this law is still on the books, your agents will still be able to demand records from libraries and librarians will still be under a statutory gag order, unable to say anything about it.
September 18, 2003
On November 4, Sarah McLachlan will finally(!) release a new album, called Afterglow. Her site notes that the album will sell for $15.99 retail, which is notable because it seems new albums go for twenty bucks these days. Since I buy so many used CDs, I still think that's steep, but for her first album in six years I think I can spring for it.
Methinks I shall have to get these as early presents to myself, as November shall be my birth month.
Strike That, Reverse It
Perhaps Ashcroft thought he had an easy target when he made fun of librarians. But Big Bully has decided to declassify the data indicating how often federal agents have requested records from libraries and other institutions. ["In a Reversal, Ashcroft Lifts Secrecy of Data" - NYT, Eric Lichtblau, 9/18/03]
September 16, 2003
Smackdown: Ashcroft v. Librarians, et al.
Ashcroft Mocks Librarians and Others Who Oppose Parts of Counterterrorism Law [NYT, Eric Lichtblau, 9/16/03] - The Attorney General has gone on the attack, again, in response to criticism of the Patriot Act, and this time he's got librarians in the cross-hairs. He has "accused the country's biggest library association and other critics of fueling "baseless hysteria" about the government's ability to pry into the public's reading habits." The departmental spin on his speech, of course, is that he isn't directly blasting the librarian community. It's just that the
ALA "has been somewhat duped by those who are ideologically opposed to the Patriot Act," says a Justice department spokesman.
So we librarians are merely misguided, easily driven to hysteria? So we should just shut up and shelve our books, or whatever it is librarians do? Do we become the new terrorists, because we seem to care more about our patrons' civil liberties than the Attorney General?
Sorry, my poor librarian nerves are just overwrought. I should trust my government implicitly and believe that they are looking out for my interests, my safety, my intellectual freedom. *snort*
September 10, 2003
Left Hand, Right Hand - Who's on First?
The American Library Association (ALA) is investigating whether its relationship with law firm Jenner & Block is a conflict of interest, as the firm has represented the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in its recent efforts to gather the names of those suspected of illegal file-sharing. In a letter to ALA executive director Keith Fiels, Emily Sheketoff, executive director of ALA's Washington Office, said that the office has grown "very uncomfortable" with Jenner & Block's legal activities on behalf of the RIAA. ALA is seeking a letter from the firm setting forth how it would handle any potential conflict.
[via Shifted Librarian]
September 08, 2003
Got My Library Card
Over the weekend, we also stopped by the library. What a brilliant idea - not only do you get a full-sized card, but you also get a smaller card that you can put on your keychain. I don't know how many libraries are doing this around the country, but this ought to be done everywhere. In terms of ease, usability, of putting people in mind of the library more often - you always have your keys with you, so why not your library card? They even list the number you can call to renew the books you've checked out. And yes, I've already checked out four books, including the one I'm supposed to read for the book group I've joined - A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry.
I also applied as a volunteer, so I can at least do something in the field while looking for work. I'm going to be meeting a former colleague from my law firm days - she was head of the library when I worked at the firm, and she's more than willing to be a mentor, thank goodness. Hopefully I will find something I am both happy with and can make a significant contribution to. Plus, getting paid again would be awfully nice.
August 28, 2003
BBC will release archives online
The service, called BBC Creative Archive, will provide free access to the BBC's radio and tv archives, including downloads, provided the material isn't used for commercial purposes.
July 26, 2003
Fire at UGA library ruled arson
The main library at my alma mater was deliberately set on fire. No injuries, mostly smoke damage, so it could have been much worse. But the fire was enough to do $1.5m worth of damage. Clean-up has already begun, hopefully it will be completed before the fall term. Some articles:
Oxendine says UGA library fire deliberately set [AJC]
Witnesses sought in library arson [Athens Banner-Herald]
Quick reaction saved millions, says cleanup official [Athens Banner-Herald]
Other Georgian librariana (or would that be librariana Georgiana?):
Library loses bias suit ruling - Fulton County has lost its appeal for a rehearing en banc regarding the racial discrimination suit of seven white librarians against the county's public library system. Rather doubtful that the Supreme Court is interested. Settle already!
Georgia plans an utterly virtual encyclopedia - Coming this fall, the New Georgia Encylopedia will be published online, conceived from start to finish as a wholly digital project. [The link is supposed to be nge.gsu.edu but it doesn't appear to be accessible yet.]
July 16, 2003
I haven't been getting much sleep. Putting in extra hours to leave things on a good note. No one wants to hear my complaints about all the little things that irk me about my job. I'm sick of hearing them myself.
I'm frazzled, I'm stressed, I'm hormonal. I'm happy about leaving, I'm sad about leaving some good friends and colleagues. I find it hard to let go and just relax. Unlike normal people, I can't seem to flake out, even though I'll be done with my job tomorrow. I have to be so goddamned conscientious. Everything will work out. I just wish I were done already. But I'm almost there.
Perhaps I should take up smoking. Or recreational Valium.
I have a minibreak coming up - going to Cape Cod this weekend to bond with my galpals at Camp Pemberley. I'm sure there'll be alcohol, chocolates, fawning over Colin Firth/Jeremy Northam/Ciaran Hinds, etc. It will be wicked fun.
It's hard to wax rhapsodic just yet because I have so much crap piled all over my desk. One of my other coworkers just told me that the assistant head librarian thought that the newest shipments of books should be unpacked and brought my way, because it didn't look like I had enough to do. I'm sorry, WHAT???? *hyperventilating*
Oh bloody bloody hell. Best get back to rolling my boulder up the hill.
July 14, 2003
I know I've got a sense of humor
But do other people know that about us librarians? I have mixed feelings about this librarian action figure ("Toymaker finds librarian who's a real doll" - Jack Broom, The Seattle Times, 7/10/03). She's got glasses, dowdy clothes, sensible shoes, and she shushes! So it acknowledges the stereotype, pokes fun at it, but who's the buying public for this doll? Other librarians, I guess. Although looking over my wardrobe selection for today, I'm not exactly Supermodel Librarian, either.
Went down to the Strand to sell some books today. I have too many and can't possibly bring them all with me. It was v. depressing, though. A whole heavy bag netted only twelve dollars, and I lost some of that due to taking the subway. But I'll go again tomorrow. Maybe I'll make enough for lunch money, since this is, after all, New York.
July 10, 2003
Verify Verify Verify
Baby Ink - "where we believe that it's never to early to start expressing your unique personality through professional, high quality body art....Although we are the ORIGINAL body art chain to cater to toddlers and children, our experienced, talented staff is glad to work on people of all ages."
[BBC link via Zeebah]
July 03, 2003
ALA to meet with Internet Filter Vendors
Article in today's NYT: "Officials plan to meet with software makers next month to voice concern over a law that requires libraries and schools to use Internet filters or risk losing federal money." ("Libraries Planning a Meeting on Filters" - John Schwartz, NYT, National, 7/3/03)
July 02, 2003
WEEKEND WHOPPER RECAP
I was offline a bit in the last few days. Much was accomplished.
Lady Crumpet, Lipstick Librarian - As of last Thursday, I took my very last session of the very last class for my master's program. I guess this means I've graduated. (Of course, better get in all that paperwork to that effect). I had to turn in a final exam, and with only 24 hours notice I had to participate in a mock interview. I was a bit of a wreck by the end, but hell, I'm DONE.
It's entirely possible to find an apartment you like in a day. So long as it's not New York, apparently. Got up before dawn last Friday for a six a.m. flight to Atlanta. One of my sisters picked me up and we went apartment hunting, which was ridiculously, beautifully easy. All these apartments, all these deals - it's entirely possible to pick and choose, the rental market is pretty good right now, since so many people are buying houses.
Crashed Friday night with my friend Marco, who'd tipped me to the fact that the other half of his duplex was up for rent. This was the only firm appointment I'd made before coming down to visit. Before I'd even seen the place, I knew I wanted to move in next door, just based on being in Marco's apartment. The other searching was just for show; I was looking for a compelling reason not to live in a cool house in a cool neighborhood, with one of my best friends for a neighbor. There's a bus stop right outside the door that drops one off at the nearest Marta station, less than a mile away. There's a washer/dryer, dishwasher, a gas stove, central heating/air, storage space, a backyard, a porch, the walls are painted nice colors. And the piece de resistance - a Murphy bed. How cool is that?!? We're a quick drive from Little Five Points, Candler Park, Virginia-Highland - all the kinds of places we liked to haunt when we lived down there before.
It's funny - Marco, my sister, the landlord and I all forgot to discuss rent when we walked through the apartment. I knew it wouldn't be unreasonable; we sorted that out soon enough over the phone. Future landlord was pretty much ready to hand over the keys (after I handed over various fees and deposits, of course). Quite possibly the easiest, breeziest apartment search ever.
Hanging Out Anyway, since we had so much free time, Marco and I got to have a nice lazy time bumming around. Walking around Piedmont Park for the Pride Fesival. Casual culinary hopping as well - Fellini's for pizza, Dakota Blue in Grant Park for burritos and sangrias, and Jake's for ice cream (ginger for me, lime sorbet for Marco). Dakota Blue is like a month old, and it's right there on Cherokee Ave. across from Grant Central (the pizza place). A friend of Mike's is one of the partners, and he came out to say hi to us. While we waited for our food, we grabbed some sidewalk chalk - I wasn't very creative, just scrawled out my name. Marco, ever the artistaman, did a groovy portrait. Good food - will definitely stop by again if I'm in the area.
Family Time Otherwise, hung out with my family. My sister's bulldog now has a face that only my sister could love. (He was so cute as a young puppy, I guess he's still cute to my sister.) This dog is like the grandchild our parents have been waiting for. A friendly dog, but boy is he strong - he was so excited to have a new person to play with he kept nearly knocking me down - looks like somebody seriously needs some training. Supposedly bulldogs are some of the stubbornest, stupidest dogs and don't pick up a lot. We'll see about that. He certainly knows how to sit prettily for a treat.
Frankly, I'm never going to own a dog that cannot clean its own ass. My parents and sisters are constantly having to use baby wipes on the dog after he's gone potty in the yard. I guesss the way bulldogs are built, they can't really get to where they need to in order to clean themselves. On the plus side, you don't feel skeevy whenever he feels like licking your face, slobbery pedigreed mutt that he is.
The poor little family dachshund is shunted to the garage whenever the dog is around - though granted, he's really old, and isn't up for puppy aggression, especially a bulldog pup. I wish I could take him, it doesn't seem my parents appreciate him, poor little old man. I made sure he got some extra lap time.
Homeland Security (Or, Hartsfield Sucks!) My trip back was mostly uneventful, except for going through security. Ok, it was probably my fault because I left my watch in my jeans pocket. Having been pulled aside to my mortification, the very polite woman proceeded to check me for illegal objects. While I was cooperative, I didn't really bother to disguise my aggravation. I wasn't rude, just unsettled. First, I had to remove my slides, after which she proceeded to wand my bare feet. WTF? The wand then picked up the studs in my jeans, my jewelry, my underwire bra, and the metal part of the rubber band for my hair. I kept forgetting to hold my arms out and would keep getting reminded to stick them out. Y'all should be relieved to know that no sharp pointy metallic objects which could be used as a deadly weapon were found in my feet or anywhere else on my person.
*sigh* I know they're just doing their jobs, but c'mon. I guess it was more embarrassment than anything else that made me so flustered. Although there's an attempt to standardize airline/airport security, procedures seem different from place to place. I guess I should be glad that they're doing it. And I did have a good, productive trip overall.
"Catalog of Woe"
This short story, written by Mindy Klasky Maddrey, appears in the just-published anthology Space, Inc. (ed. Julie Czerneda, Daw Books, ISBN 075640147X). The science fiction anthology brings together stories that imagine what a certain job or profession would be like in the future; Maddrey's story is about librarians. Will definitely have to check it out.
June 23, 2003
Decided: United States v. American Library Association, 02-361
The Supreme Court has ruled 6-3 in favor of internet filters in libraries as a condition for federal funding ("Effort to Equip Libraries With Internet Filters Is Allowed" - NYT/AP, 6/23/03). The opinion was written by Rehnquist and joined by O'Connor, Scalia and Thomas. Kennedy and Breyer wrote separate opinions that allow filters so long as library users have the option for the filters to be disabled. Stevens, Souter and Ginsburg dissented.
In his dissent, Stevens writes, "...a statutory blunderbuss that mandates this vast amount of overblocking abridges the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment.'' The filtering software better make it much easier for librarians to disable and re-enable the software, since they'll be running from behind the reference desk every time someone new sits down to use the computer.
I wonder, does the law require that all computers have filtering installed in order for a library to get federal funding? Or can computers be set aside (filtered/unfiltered) so people can choose which to use? As if most libraries are flush enough with money that they can even set aside computers for separate users.
June 20, 2003
Harry Potter and the Gift to New York
At 11 a.m. today, a signed copy of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix will be presented to the New York Public Library. According to the press release, the book's inscription reads “To the People of New York With Love and Admiration from J.K. Rowling.”
So who gets to read this before the rest of the world does? (Notwithstanding the recently stolen copies) While I'd love to be part of the mania when bookstores start selling the book at midnight, I have to deal with writing essays for a final exam. After next Thursday I will be DONE.
June 18, 2003
Made the Cut
"The Open Directory Project is the largest, most comprehensive human-edited directory of the Web. It is constructed and maintained by a vast, global community of volunteer editors."
June 04, 2003
"We are the library of a free nation and must act accordingly."
Michael McGrorty, a regular on one of my librarian listservs, was published recently on the op-ed page of the Los Angeles Times. ("One Word From Librarians That Speaks Volumes", LA Times, 5/31/03)
One Word From Librarians That Speaks Volumes By Michael McGrorty
Michael McGrorty is a library intern-student at Cal State Fullerton.
May 31, 2003
An elderly woman approached the reference desk recently to ask for help in finding a novel. My impression was that neither her vision nor her legs were up to the task of the search, so I retrieved the book for her from the large-print section. While I was thus engaged, my patron was busy reading the placard that the library where I intern has placed at the reference desk. Its purpose is to inform patrons about the USA Patriot Act [the law passed after the Sept. 11 attacks to expand the government's surveillance powers in terrorist investigations]. It took her a while to absorb the meaning before she spoke.
She said: "What does this mean? This is like the Red Scare. You surely aren't going to participate in this, are you? I have lived a long time, and never thought I would see this happen again."
With that she departed.
I watched her go out the door and thought about an answer for her. Certainly I cannot speak for our library, and properly not even as a librarian, being only an intern.
But the woman's question was more than mere comment, and it was addressed not to me but to the library — to the institution, the staff and the history and meaning of the place she had known all her life. And it deserved a response. If the library could talk, it would speak with the voice of all those who had worked there and every patron who passed through the portals, in every town where there has been a place set aside for reading and a collection of books offered free for the taking since the practice began.
Regarding the current matter, this bit of legislative excess that has fallen upon us, I believe that the library would utter but a single word: No. Just that one word, but emphatically, and leaving no doubt as to intent or application. And that answer speaks not just to the elements of the current situation but to any such that have been and will doubtless present themselves in the future.
No. That is the answer, our answer to the Patriot Act. No to disclosure of patron information, no to violations of privacy; no to complicity with these activities in any form.
The reason for this answer is because of what we are and what we have been. To go along, even if only through our silence, would be to say to ourselves that what we have stood for was nothing; only a collection of fine words, erased by a collection of other words, orders from a distant source that had more meaning for us than the history and creed of our craft.
The library, which has asked thus far only that we perform our duties as well as possible, now asks that we live up to a standard that has previously existed for most of us only in the abstract. Our hour has arrived; now we will see what sort of stuff we are made of, and afterward all of us and the walls and the very books upon the shelves will know.
What this means is to disobey; the cost is what it has always cost. Silent opposition is as valueless as the unfulfilled intent to give alms; this fight needs no coat-holders. Now is the time to say the word, to live the word, to represent the word to our community. No.
Let our models be the press and the advocates of free speech, who would instantly rise to this threat. We are no less important to the nation, and no less is expected of us by the people we serve.
What we need now is not a gush of words, but a single word, uttered and subscribed to by every librarian in the land: No to this and anything like it, regardless of personal consequence, an absolute refusal on the grounds of our heritage and our responsibility.
And when the supporters of this law react, when some person arrives to suppress and punish, let us rise as one to repeat our refusal and stand together. We are the library of a free nation and must act accordingly.
May 29, 2003
Reading Room in Bryant Park
Yet another reason Bryant Park is a gem: the park is reinstating its Reading Room. Starting in June, you'll be able to sign out books and periodicals (donated by publishers) and read them in the park. They're interviewing volunteers to staff the project as well - I really wish I could do this. Interestingly, the Reading Room first originated during the Depression, when many people were out of work and needed something to do, someplace to go, that was affordable, or rather, free. Men in business suits probably left home to "head to the office" and spent their days combing the classifieds or reading the classics. Sadly, such circumstances are way too close to home for people right now. [See also "A Reading Room Returns to Bryant Park", Glenn Collins, New York Times, Metro sec.]
May 19, 2003
Lulu, the Library Fairy
|This is Lulu. She’s a hip & modern fairy. She’s the life of the party and the Mistress of Ceremony. She’s a Library User too. When you spot her on the street, you know your favorite branch library is back in business. Back in the business of feeding your curiosity for books, your hunger for words, and all for free. Because words ARE free, books ARE food — it’s Free Food at your Seattle Public Library branch!|
According to the press release, Lulu's skin is "the color of a lime popsicle" and her tutu is "brightly decorated with orange, fuschia and purple sequins." Apparently she's already a hit with both children and gays in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood.
"There is no Melville Huey"
Sayeth Jim Heckel, director of the library in Great Falls, Montana, where a brood of ducklings have hatched in the library's plaza. (The nest was discovered several weeks ago, and the mother duck had been seen swimming in the plaza fountain.) He named one of the ducklings after Melville Dewey, father of the Dewey decimal system (although today libraries tend to use the Library of Congress system). However, he won't stand for any of the other ducklings to be named Huey or Louie: "Instead, he suggest[s] that they be numbered -- 598.41, 598.42, 598.43 and so on -- after the location in the library where duck books are found."
["Library Makes Way for Ducklings" - AP via CNN, 5/16]
May 08, 2003
Straight from the horse's mouth. Transcripts from the Executive Sessions of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Committee on Government Operations - aka the McCarthy hearings - are now available. These executive sessions were chaired by Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, R-Wisc., from 1953-54, and have been under seal for the last 50 years. The five-volume set is now available and searchable online, and the material will also be distributed to federal depository libraries in both print and microfiche.
The transcripts include testimony from witnesses such as Aaron Copland, Langston Hughes, and the historian Herbert Aptheker, as well as government employees, labor organizers and army officers. Apparently McCarthy used these executive sessions in part to weed out those witnesses who wouldn't buckle under his questioning. Those witnesses who had more trouble articulating themselves, who were more easily overwhelmed, were called back for the public hearings. ["Auditioning for Senator McCarthy", NYTimes op-ed, 5/7/03]
May 03, 2003
The semester's winding up in a few weeks, and then I start my last term for my MLS. Between work and school and an attempt at a social life, sleep has gone down the tubes. Soon I need to conduct some serious research for an apartment in Atlanta, as well as a job. Scott's in full dissertation mode, so I need to pick up the slack for our upcoming move.
With graduation looming ahead, I'm suddenly terror-stricken. Sure I have paralegal experience, a tech services job in a law library, and an MLS, but is that enough in this economy, to land an entry-level position as a librarian?
April 22, 2003
You know that April is National Poetry Month, right? So how sad is it that among the artifacts that were looted or destroyed include the Sippar Library, a collection of Babylonian tablets discovered in the 1980s. Among these cuneiform tablets, not yet fully examined or translated, were previously missing portions of the epic poem Gilgamesh, the world's earliest known literary work ("Missing: A Vase, a Book, a Bird and 10,000 Years of History," Adam Goodheart, 4/20/03, NYTimes).
April 20, 2003
But Did She Consult a Librarian?
Madonna is going to write a series of children's books, based on the Kabbalah. She explains why she's becoming a children's author:
She said she realised there was an opportunity when reading stories to her first child, daughter Lourdes, adding: "Now I'm starting to read to my son, but I couldn't believe how vapid and vacant and empty all the stories were.
"There were like no lessons, just all about princesses and like the beautiful prince arrives and he takes her for his wife and nothing happens, no efforts are made. Nobody asks her what her opinion is, or I didn't see anybody struggling for things. There's like no books about anything."
So Madge, did you just determine this on your own whilst reading to little Lourdes? Did you even bother getting recommendations from an information professional, such as any number of the librarians at NYPL? [via Out of Ambit]
I've posted links using AMG, the All Music Guide database, but haven't discussed the site itself as a ready reference tool. At a casual glance it seems to be quite useful - the page's design is visually dynamic, but remains organized and easy to follow. Near the top of the page there is a search field that allows users to search by artist, album, song, style, or label. A user can also click on buttons for major music styles, such as rock, country, jazz, folk, etc. Additionally, the menu options at the left offer links to music styles, music maps (which trace the family tree of certain styles), articles, a glossary, and AMG's series of print music guides and CDs. In the main body of the home page, users can click directly on thumbnails of new album releases for information. AMG also offers a daily featured musical style that provides users a brief introduction to the major artists and albums pertaining to that style. One of their recent featured styles was New Zealand (Kiwi) Rock.
Unsurprisingly, I generated a search on Neil Finn. As you can see from the results, there are various category listings pertaining to the artist, including tones to describe the overall quality of his music. A photo and brief musical biography are provided, with appropriate links embedded in the text. Other neat features include Related Artists, with links to similar musicians or collaborators, as well as an Artist Browser, which allows users to mouse over style preferences to generate other artists with different qualities, such as Daniel Lanois under the quality of "more Elaborate, Sophisticated." Discography information is naturally available as well.
Clicking on a link for an individual album, such as that for One All, provides bibliographic details - including a listing of the information in MARC format (for the non-librarians, this is the format in which books, CDs, etc. are cataloged for use in library catalogs)! A review of the album, track listings and album credits follow, all linked to information, when available, in the database. An interactive feature is the Music Expert Check, which allows a user to suggest what tones better describe the album's style, which may then be incorporated into the database.
The site is professionally maintained and there is a dedicated staff which continually updates the database material. Database statistics are even available. Additionally, users can click on a link that lets them provide corrections or additional material that will be reviewed and potentially added to the database. What's nice about the All Music Guide is that it's an quality information resource and not simply a commercial site devoted to pushing media sales.
Dr. L. Anne Clyde at the University of Iceland provides a useful primer for weblogs, which includes web articles as well as links to blogs and blogging tools. Full disclosure - the Armoire is included in her listing of sample LIS (library science) weblogs. Thank you, Dr. Clyde!
April 18, 2003
A sampling of articles and commentary on the destruction of the antiquities and archives in Baghdad.
A quotation from Raid Abdul Ridhar Muhammad, an Iraqi archaeologist:
"A country's identity, its value and civilization resides in its history," he said. "If a country's civilization is looted, as ours has been here, its history ends. Please tell this to President Bush. Please remind him that he promised to liberate the Iraqi people, but that this is not a liberation, this is a humiliation. If we had stayed under the rule of Saddam Hussein, it would have been much better.""Ancient archive lost in Baghdad library blaze" (Oliver Burkeman, The Guardian, April 15, 2003)
Almost nothing remains of the library's archive of tens of thousands of manuscripts, books, and Iraqi newspapers, according to reports from the scene."Library books, letters and priceless documents are set ablaze in final chapter of the sacking of Baghdad" (Robert Fisk, The Independent, April 15, 2003) A first person account of the looting and burning.
For almost a thousand years, Baghdad was the cultural capital of the Arab world, the most literate population in the Middle East. Genghis Khan's grandson burnt the city in the 13th century and, so it was said, the Tigris river ran black with the ink of books. Yesterday, the black ashes of thousands of ancient documents filled the skies of Iraq. Why?
It's taken me a while to think about the destruction of Iraq's cultural heritage. This is the land of Mesopotamia, where civilization began, so the looting and destruction of the museum and library, is just devastating. No, it's not the same as loss of life. But this is a dagger in the heart of a nation, a culture - a culture so primary it belongs to the world. But if our troops could be mustered to surround the Ministry of Oil, then even a small contingent to hold back looters could have been enough to keep people from carting off antiquities. But no - we have cultural barbarians for leaders, who can't imagine that 10,000 years of history means anything. For instance, tablets containing Hammurabi's Code, among the earliest artifacts of a civilization's legal code - gone. Are they destroyed? Did some looter in the frenzy of destruction smash the tablets to bits, or smuggle them out for the black market? We may never find out. So much could have been protected, but no - we couldn't be bothered to anticipate that the outbreak of war would lead to chaos and lawlessness in the streets of Baghdad. So now we have to deal with the aftermath, because who cares about looking out for a nation's cultural patrimony when we've got to make sure Iraqi oil flows into American coffers? So much, irretrievably lost.
April 17, 2003
April 11, 2003
Oh the Vanity!
Your favorite future librarian just got a nod from LibraryStuff. Thanks, Steven - I shall work on getting an RSS feed going. Now I'd better up the librariana content. [dancing a jig, before restoring some decorum]
A good overview article, entitled "Librarians Make Some Noise Over Patriot Act" appeared in The Washington Post on 4/9. And the New York Times reports that "Republicans Want Terror Law Made Permanent", noting that Orrin Hatch has written a proposal regarding the Patriot Act "that would repeal the sunset provisions and make the law's new powers permanent."
For an administration and political party that believes in less government, they seem to be awfully quick to shred civil liberties.
April 09, 2003
Promoting the Profession
The following appear on a t-shirt which you can purchase for your very own. [via LISNews]
Great Reasons to Be a Librarian
It doesn't take a whole lot to be considered "wild and crazy."
It's OK (almost expected) to become mean, bitter, and scorned as you age.
Everyone will understand if you are a closet alcoholic.
You really do "know everything."
You are officially a fantasy possibility.
March 06, 2003
HEY! The Constitution is a
HEY! The Constitution is a living document.
United States v. American Library Association, 02-361- SCOTUS considers the validity of Internet filters in libraries. At issue - whether libraries accepting federal money must institute web filters that not only filter porn, but are so broad as to block useful information - such as health, scientific, social, and political information.
The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit chooses not to reconsider the ruling by a panel of its judges that determined the Pledge of Allegiance to be unconstitutional, because its current text contains the words "under God," forcing a showdown in the Supreme Court. Note to the President and Congress - not everybody is a Christian, or even believes in a God. Then again, atheists should learn early on that their belief, or lack of belief, is not going to make them popular. Stylistically, the tacked-on phrase creates a big thudding interruption of flow: "one nation, indivisible" v. "one nation, under God, indivisible." "Liberty and justice for all," means all, not just all Christians. (I can't even begin to tell them apart.)
At a mall in upstate New York, a lawyer is arrested for wearing a t-shirt that says "Give Peace a Chance." UPDATE: The mall in question has opted not to press charges.
An airline screening program, under the control of the Transportation Security Administration, would run background checks, such as credit checks, and assign to people a color that indicates their risk level as airline passengers. In today's NY Times an article details how both travel industry and privacy groups object to this program, a plan that Delta will soon test. A boycott is already underway.
Lastly, Dick Cheney has sent a letter to the owner for the satirical website whitehouse.org requesting the removal of his wife's doctored-up picture and fictitious bio. The letter requests that the site should avoid "using using her name and picture for the purposes of trade without her consent." The site owner has referred the matter to the New York Civil Liberties Union.
February 22, 2003
Escribitionist was told by a
Escribitionist was told by a guy she reminded him of a librarian. She didn't realize at first that guys are attracted to girls with glasses. People typically have in mind a negative stereotype of what librarians should look like. Sadly, there are those who continue to perpetuate that image - but we come in all shapes and sizes, bespectacled or not. The next time you wish to woo a librarian, here's a few pickup lines you could try.
I lost my glasses New Year's Eve, the first pair I've ever been happy with - black and edgy, kinda retro. I need to get a new pair! ;-)
February 11, 2003
The Total Information Awareness System
The Total Information Awareness System is the key project being developed by the Information Awareness Office (IAO), under the umbrella of DARPA (grandfather of Internet) - ultimately, under the Pentagon. The objective of TIA is to uncover information about existing or potential terrorist activities through the data mining of such disparate sources as credit card, medical, school and travel records. Privacy advocates and civil libertarians are naturally a mite suspicious, especially since the overseer for TIA is John Poindexter. Perhaps you recall the name - he was a key figure with a conviction (later overturned because of an immunity deal) from the Iran-Contra affair. A recent press release indicates that "TIA has never collected, and has no plan or intent to collect privately held consumer data on U.S. citizens."
A logo had been created for the IAO. There's a pyramid, an all-seeing eye, and a Latin motto "Scientia Est Potentia" which translates to "Knowledge is Power." Criticism, ridicule or both have caused the logo to be withdrawn, or perhaps scrapped altogether. Because we Americans have a mordant sense of humor (well, some of us), especially as to Big Brother type organizations, an enterprising fellow has made available the opportunity to purchase t-shirts, caps, mugs, even thongs emblazoned with the logo. Profits are donated to the ACLU. Click here to buy something, if you dare.
UPDATE: In today's NY Times [2.12], Conferees in Congress Bar Using a Pentagon Project on Americans. According to the article, "House and Senate negotiators have agreed that a Pentagon project intended to detect terrorists by monitoring Internet e-mail and commercial databases for health, financial and travel information cannot be used against Americans. The conferees also agreed to restrict further research on the program without extensive consultation with Congress." Says Rep. John P. Murtha (D-PA) of the Pentagon, "They've got some crazy people over there." So TIA is in check, for now.
January 28, 2003
State of the UnionThe President
State of the UnionThe President will spin his (speechwriter's) rhetoric tonight. Some may try and cope during the speech by playing a drinking game. Look for massive hangovers tomorrow.
Professional development. One of my co-workers has interviewed for a job at another law library. I've been trying to keep her psyched up, encourage her to see what a great opportunity this would be for her. She would gain so much more responsibility and experience - she could make the transition from paraprofessional jobs to a full-fledged career in librarianship. Zeebah and I agree that leaving would be the best thing for her, although we'd miss her terribly. Why are we so gung-ho for her to move on? Because she's been here for over ten years, the senior librarians condescend to her; she's smart enough to take on more responsibility, but they don't think so and treat her dismissively. Our firm skimps on salaries, raises, vacation - never mind that our boss never lets anyone else take the week of Thanksgiving or Christmas for vacation and constantly sends out emails reminding us to keep our desks tidy. Yes, "tidy," as though we're teenage slobs leaving dirty clothes or dishes all over the place! Granted, this is not a terrible place to work, but it's not a place to invest your career in for decades, either. You get the experience you need, so you can move on to a better situation elsewhere.
January 25, 2003
Scott and I saw this last night at the WowCafe Theatre, a tiny little walk-up space, with a bunch of folding chairs and everyone cheerfully crammed together. It was loads of fun - an NYU librarian in 1962 confronting espionage and government investigation in libraries. Although things work out in the end, as a librarian she gets rather cozy with the FBI - the main character, Pearl Plotnick, finds sweet librarian lesbian love in the arms of a sharp-as-a-tack agent's secretary. Some easy lesbian jokes tossed in to the receptive audience: "Do you like Humphrey Bogart?" "I prefer Lauren Bacall." The play addressed a very relevant concern today: Freedom of information, the bedrock of democracy, versus national security.
Japanese Smileys Of course, they're way cute! (^_^)
November 22, 2002
Survivors First has prepared an online database listing priests publically accused of sexual abuse. Names are gathered from public material, such as newspaper articles and court documents, and a second team checks newspaper or other document citations, which are listed in the database as well.
U.S. young people geographically illiterate The National Geographic–Roper 2002 Global Geographic Literacy Survey came out this week - according to the article, it "polled more than 3,000 18- to 24-year-olds in Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Sweden and the United States." Guess where our young people fit in? Next to last - we did better than Mexico, woohoo. You can take the survey yourself and see how you do. I missed the religion question - apparently there are a lot of Christians out there.
[Update: I sent this link to Scott, and he wrote back, "Alan Wolfe (with whom I'm not in the habit of agreeing) wrote recently in the Boston Globe that resistance to the American imperial aspirations so clear in the statements of Bush figures like Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and years earlier in the journalism of the Weekly Standard would come not from moral concerns about interventionism, but from the fact that the GOP electoral coalition is just not interested in the rest of the world. I think this is pretty good evidence."]
November 20, 2002
In a mood
Maybe it's the lack of sleep, my sense of juggling tiers of spinning plates, too much coffee and not enough of the right food. My novel seems to be a disjointed grouping of lame dialogue and smut. A bunch of little things at work are bugging me today and I railed at Zeebah during lunch about why the whole world is pissing me off.
One of my co-workers basically used me today in order to make herself look better. Had the issue really been serious, something official would have been said to me already. It's simply a matter of updating a catalog entry; in the meantime, the title was still easy to find, had someone been looking for it. But she's coming back from disability and I think she feels she needs to demonstrate how the world fell apart and how we were so incompetent without her to lecture us and throw her weight around. The truth is, we hardly noticed her absence, except when there was a problem that had never been fixed until we dealt with it.
November 18, 2002
Didn't sleep well. Scott's away
Didn't sleep well. Scott's away on another interview. He comes back tonight and flies out tomorrow. We're staying at a hotel near the airport so we don't both have to wear ourselves out traveling to and fro.
Our upstairs neighbor is a retiree. Nice, keeps to himself, as do we. He walks around his apartment constantly; we can hear the creaking of his floor/our ceiling. I'm not sure when he sleeps - I've pulled all nighters and hear him throughout the night, walking around. I got to bed around two this morning, and there he was, treading away. I wonder sometimes if he would still walk around so much if I wasn't there to hear it.
Another instance of librarians in the media. There's a tv ad for T-Mobile, a cell phone service with Catherine Zeta-Jones currently hawking its wares. A couple is going through the car wash in their behemoth SUV, and the guy is mis-singing the lyrics to that Def Leppard song "Pour Some Sugar on Me," something about ramen noodles; naturally the girlfriend objects. So CZJ annoyingly cuts in and says something like "This would be a good time to call the library." So we suddenly have an inset of a bespectacled, uncool, middle-aged librarian reading out the correct lyrics in question in rote, referential fashion: I'm hot, sticky sweet from my head to my feet yeah. And then all is right in the world again. I wonder how many librarians will get reference calls needing to settle debates on song lyrics now.
October 23, 2002
How to scare a librarian
Our current Secretary of State has gone the way of many folk in believing too much in the all-encompassing power of the web.
On getting people more interested in the Department of State's website: "Let's get it to the point short of being improper where people want to go see what's on the State Department website every morning." Just short of improper, but let's not get too crazy here.
On the value of non-electronic reference works: "I told my staff: 'I no longer have any encyclopedias, any dictionaries, or any reference materials anywhere in my office, whatsoever, I don't need them. I've stopped using all reference materials because you don't need it. All you need is a search engine.'"
Maybe he doesn't, but that doesn't speak for all of us. I hope that when necessary his office actually has to call the librarians at the Library of Congress now and then for assistance. Here's the full text of the Secretary's remarks. (Thanks to librarian.net)
September 25, 2002
Reading is Fundamental
By the way, did you know we're in the middle of Banned Books Week? Check out the list of books challenged in 2001.
I read "Long in Dark, Afghan Women Say to Read Is Finally to See" in the Times the other day. The article discusses how women in Afghanistan are rushing to take literacy classes, because they were kept from education for so long, especially under the Taliban - below are a few quotes that moved me.
"I wanted to know something and help my children," said Mahgul, 45, a widow and mother of six. "I have no knowledge, and so I am not a useful person. If I can get some knowledge, I can help my children more."
"Without knowledge, I am blind; I do not know white from black," said Torpikay, 30.
I feel incredibly humble. I will never take being literate for granted, nor will I feel superior about it. (I will, however, feel free to rant when people should know better, like the NPR reporter who said "quicklier" the other day.) For contrast, keep in mind that this man is married to a former librarian. [Note - I don't know the source of the image, so it may well have been doctored. But a hoot nonetheless.]
I'm tired and cranky and achy. Not enough sleep, eating at weird times of the day, pulling out next day's outfit from the laundry basket (clothes to be folded, so at least they're clean. Usually.) I was working on my legal research assignment during lunch and realized that we didn't have a certain set of reporters in print at work. So I'll be going to class, having already forgotten my textbook, now with incomplete homework.
Work has me in a funk too. I know that all I can do is a bit at a time and keep up with my various tasks. And yet I feel like I'm precariously sprawled on a Twister mat. We get new book acquisitions daily, there are all these invoices and statements I have to go through, and being the perfectionist I feel like I have to get it all done by myself. And then we get these periodic email reminders to keep our desks tidy. Yes, tidy. Between books and invoices there's barely room for a picture of my husband on my desk, so it's not like I've got doodads and knickknacks all over the place.
I'd like to tidy up my life in one fell swoop. But it's all about maintenance, upkeep.
August 22, 2002
Edwin Morgan, Poet Laureate of
Edwin Morgan, Poet Laureate of Glasgow, has written The Welcome, a paean to libraries. The occasion - the opening of this year's IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions) conference in Glasgow earlier this week. According to the press release, "The verse is a tribute to the knowledge contained in libraries and to their continuing relevance in the age of digital information and cyberspace." Be sure to scroll down towards the bottom to find the poem and several annotations.
August 16, 2002
In today's Wall Street Journal,
In today's Wall Street Journal, there's an article about fall fashion trends, including "librarian-length" skirts (the hemline falls a bit below the knee). Also, pants with actual viagra price waists instead of bellybaring hiphuggers are coming back - hurrah! Naturally, the attractive model in the accompanying photograph looks sharp and classy, yet still manages to exude that hot librarian aura - long, glossy hair, dark, thick eyeglass frames, a fitted argyle sweater, a pin-striped librarian skirt, and for further sassiness, tiny, pointy high heels. (Just cue some raunchy music, and she'd only have to whip off the glasses and toss her hair around to get the fantasy going.) The article advises to look to old Katherine Hepburn movies for inspiration, which is a really great look, particularly if you're tall, slim and have amazing bone structure. Which of course is totally me.
August 08, 2002
Can we all say stereotype?
As I was shelving books and tossing superseded volumes, I had a jarring realization. I'm working in a library. Wearing glasses. And a sweater. With my hair shoved up on my head. At least my glasses, though they have thick black frames, are Village cool. And I'm donning my cool zip cardigan, a fitted v-neck, cropped pants and chunky green shoes. Not quite Parker Posey in Party Girl, but certainly not Frau Librarian either.
August 02, 2002
Another cool link from Liz:
Another cool link from Liz: Dictionary of British Cultural References. Must do more of my own reading and surfing so as not to rely all the time on friends to keep me informed.
Liz and I are the Librarian Twins today - we've donned matching slate blue 3/4 sleeve button downs from Old Navy, plus we have our edgy thick-framed glasses. It is providential that I did not choose viagra prices to go with black pants and opted for light beige slacks, else the Look would have been complete. We have agreed to consult on our wardrobe choices in the future lest people think the library requires uniforms of its staff.
July 11, 2002
The Oldest Man in the
The Oldest Man in the World was ahead of us in the compare viagra prices parking lot at the train station. He drifts...he weaves...nobody knows where he's going (least of all him)! Agony and exasperation abound. But he shuffles off, Scott dashes us to the nearest steps to the platform, I race up the stairs, hurl myself into the open door...SAFE on the 7:32!
My desk counters are stacked high and I've got two carts shoved into my little corner of the library - it's like a twisted librarian version of The Cask of Amontillado. Though it's not her fault, I'm dreading the sight of one of my co-workers lately, because it's her job to bring me the new acquisitions.
Today's capper - my boss sheepishly calls me in, calls me "sweetie" and assures me that my work has been top-notch. But the firm's hands are tied, and so "if" I'm here next year, she'll "fight" for me for a better raise. I'm not sure it even covers cost of living. But I don't spoil for a fight - the market here really stinks, and I remember how hard it was to find a starter job last fall that would help me get a real one once I earned my MLS. Liz and I figured out what our raises mean after taxes...maybe one night at the movies with a soda each month. Better I should just sock the money away, since it's going to be invisible over the next 12 months.