December 22, 2006

Happy Holidays, y'all

Well, folks, I'm off for the next week, to enjoy a vacation in the cold, rainy Pacific Northwest. What makes it worth it is spending a week with my folks, while they spoil their grandson. I hope everyone has a joyful holiday season (or as an acquantance likes to say, Happy Solhankwanzmas) and may the new year start off peacefully for us all.


December 19, 2006

More on the Mac Journey

Well, I'm having a LOT of fun with my new Macbook. I have successfully installed X11 and Open Office with no problems, and today I installed Parallels Desktop, Windows XP and Office 2003, and was astonished at how quickly it all went together. When I've had to do this for a system recovery and rebuild here at work on a Windows-native machine, it takes the better part of a day to do the reinstallations and updates. It took two hours. Why can't a Windows-native machine run that fast, dangit?

I love that I can run any work-required Win-only application right inside my Mac. That's pretty cool.

On a recommendation, I also installed Desktop Manager. What a deal! I use this all the time on my Linux boxes - I love having multiple workspaces at once - and this'll be handy too. I figure one workspace can have Windows and the other ones can have Mac stuff.

This is fun!

My Brain is Gold

Hmm... interesting. Oddly enough, in the space of a few questions, the quizmaker got me almost right. I think the subject list is a bit off, and I could care less about my friends and their money (that's their business), but dang, the routines and organization parts are spot on!


At work: I like set routines and organized ways of doing things; rules and directions are a great help to me. I prefer to stay on one topic at a time. I need to know what is expected of me, and I always want to know if I am on the right track. I like subjects that are useful and traditional, such as business, accounting, history and government.
With friends: I prefer people who are careful with their money and who make plans ahead of time. I like my friends to be loyal, dependable and on time. I am serious about love and show it in many practical ways.
With family: I like stability and security and enjoy traditions and frequent celebrations. I like to spend holidays with family members, and I plan ahead for such gatherings.
Take this quiz!

December 18, 2006

BlogLines Playlists

So, I'm spending today reading blogs for the first time in over a month. Since last I visited, BlogLines has added this totally spiffy new tool, Playlists. I subscribe to 69 feeds (today, at least) and while I enjoy them all, some are more, well, crucial to me than others. So now I have set up a "Top Reads" playlist for my 14 most-important blogs. If I can get through those, great, and if I have time to work through the others that's even better, with the few I subscribe to just for fun at the bottom of the list (well, most of the time). But if I can get through my top-reads list, I at least feel a bit more connected and less clueless about current happenings in libraryland.

I love tools like this. I love organizing things! Whee!

Brr: Winter has arrived, at long last. I now know that 56° is my "yep, it's winter" cut-off temperature. (Call me a wimp if you want; come back when it's 115° and I'm happy as a clam, and we'll talk.)

December 15, 2006

The CMS Investigation Begins

So, today I started my big task of evaluating a variety of web content management systems to use on our web site. I came to the realization after a massive update of the site prior to our PDR that doing it all by hand, page by page, is really not the way to do it anymore. Just because it's the way I've always done it, blah blah blah... so I now have a developmental web server (it's such a cute little Linux box!) right here on my desk for me to install and play with all kinds of CMSs to evaluate not just for my own use, but (I hope) for my staff's use as well.

I have a dream where the engineers responsible for a subassembly update their own subassembly web pages. It might be a pipe dream, but it could be a lot closer to reality if there was an easy way for them to update their pages without having to log into the server, know HTML, et cetera. I've been monitoring the Web4Lib and SysLib listservs for quite some time and collecting comments about 9 different CMSs plus a wiki of some kind, and I just found CMS Matrix, which blew my mind. So I plugged in all the things I'd like to see, and it came back with two products that were already on my list, and one that wasn't. So I'm going to read up on them and next week, start installing and trying them out! Woot!

December 14, 2006

SLA07 Keynote Speakers

Not only do we get Al Gore, but Scott Adams too! Woot!

(No real posting, I just had to share. Hee hee!)

Goin' to the Mac side

Yep, it's true. I bought myself a Macbook this morning, to replace my aging and increasingly frustrating Vaio desktop at home. I've been looking for a few months now, ever since we decided it was time to get a new computer; now that the software situation for Macs has improved so much (not to mention Parallel Desktop, so I can work from home when I need to), it was time.

It's danged spiffy!

I'm looking forward to learning all the various iApplications that came with it, not to mention installing OpenOffice. I'm even looking forward to migrating all my junk, although since 90% of it is either photos or HTML files, it should go pretty easily. Whee!

Hello, Mac. Nice to have you here.

December 11, 2006

PoM Summarized

Well, from my point of view, this was an interesting but ultimately unusable way to spend two days. It was not clear from the preliminary material (printed or website) that the primary, nay only, focus of the conference would be on cultural resource management. So, while it was interesting to hear about what museums and university libraries are doing (especially the collaborative efforts going on), I didn't come away with anything to try out at MPOW.

My favorite speakers were Richard Pearce-Moses (very lively speaker), Elizabeth Yakel (she's actually using tools we're using, like wikis and Google Analytics and things!), and Simon Tanner (he's an engaging and entertaining speaker, even if I don't have to worry about cost models).

I don't think I'd attend another one of these. I got more out of the "School for Scanning" conference I attended in 2001, which apparently NEDCC runs annually; I might check it out for next year, but SolidWorks World, SLA and Internet Librarian come first on the things-to-go-to list!

PoM Closing Keynote: Stewardship in the 21st Century

NEDCC Persistence of Memory Conference
Closing Keynote Speaker: Clifford Lynch, Coalition for Networked Information

Step back and think about the whole notion of stewardship... (uses the environment as an example)

"law" vs "custom" for preservation of intellectual work

Ramifications of IT (Not starting with digital, but the massive treasure-houses of physical holdings we already have)
- Physical collections are more at risk now than ever
- Now have the ability to produce better & better surrogates for physical itemss
- Stewardship used to mean protection; now it means both protection and dissemination

Now, to digital collections
- Not just what we usually think of, but also "born electronic" items like film, sound recordings, etc
-- massive amount of poorly stewarded stuff

- The advent of increasingly database-driven information is negatively impacting historical research
-- example: Lists of flights to cities from NYC in 1965 (relatively easy to obtain) vs 2005 (very hard)

- Future digital material defies description even more
-- example: MySpace, Second Life

- Discussion of storage versus non-storage issues
-- all of a person's writings versus data output from the Large Hadron Collider or current astronomical institutions

- Privacy & liability issues change as data ages
- Need to be wise about how we use material

Characteristics of preserving & curating
- Endless writings about the technical issues are available
- Tendency to stress aout deep-time and obsess about formats
- If the bits don't make it to next month, there's not much worry about your descendents being able to read it!
-- need to focus on the near-time issues in order to get to the deep-time ones

*It's not IT that does it, it's organization!*

Fragility of data these days
- example: Used to be it was hard to unpublish something, but now it can be done with a keystroke

Futur of special collections will be the individual.

PoM: Making Digital Preservation Affordable: Values and Business Models

NEDCC Persistence of Memory Conference
Speaker: Simon Tanner, King's College London

(Guy's doing some interesting things around the world with digital collections - is manager for Desmond Tutu Digital Archive - very cool!)

Revenue generation models

Role of public repositories: place where community "connects with the past and invents its future"

It's about *time*! (time to take action is short, but the actions are continuous)

Attention Economy

What does all this mean for our future?
- Attention is vital to economic sustainability
- Access is valued more than preservation by the users
- Without access, there are very few long term preservation strategies that are sustainable
- How do we finance this? Talk to the designated community & compare costs with OAIS model

Cost & Business models (they are not the same thing!)

Balancing costs, benefits, and mission

eSPIDA approach

Risk Management
- Essential to quantify consequences & risk of loss of digital materials

Justifying & building a case
- Identify timeframe in which action can be taken
- Build awareness of increasing dependence on digital materials
- Produce evidence of cost elements
- Be persuasive!
- Emphasize the strategic fit with current goals
- Show a clear understanding between costs and benefits
- Benefit the designated community!

Levers to get your way
- Legal accountability
- Risk consequences
- Ownership of the problem
- Accountability
- Critical to mission

PoM: Trusted Digital Repositories

NEDCC Persistence of Memory Conference
Speaker: Robin Dale, RLG - Programs, OCLC Office of Programs & Research

What's in your repository?

"Repositories" and "Archives" - semantically confusing scene

Digital preservation is:
- Collaborative
- Reliant
- Complex
- Of immense scale
- Potentially expensive

Communicating trust is imperative!

Trusted digital repository
- Mandate to preserve information over time
- Capability to do so
- Risks & vulterabilities are understandable
- Committed rol in collaborative network

"Responsible Custody"

How do we move forward?
- Building a checklist
- Envisioned uses of a checklis
-- planning
-- self-assessment
-- audit
-- basis for certification

Discussion of RLG-NARA checklist development, "Audit checklist for the certification of trusted digital libraries".

CRL project to put the above recommendations in place

Building trust & obtaining certification

PoM: Creating Digital Images Worth Preserving

NEDCC Persistence of Memory Conference
Speaker: David Joyall, NEDCC

(Very short presentation, as he was replacing the original speaker, who was unable to attend.)

NARA Guidelines
Current scanner & digital camera technology
Role of the digital capture technician

PoM: Metadata for Preservation

NEDCC Persistence of Memory Conference
Speaker: Priscilla Caplan, Florida Center for Library Automation

Preservation Pyramid: (top down)
* Fixity - quality of not being altered or deleted
* Viability - quality of being readable from media
* Renderability - quality of being displayable or otherwise usable
* Authenticity - quality of being what it purports to be

Standards for metadata
- PREMIS, IMER (general)
- Z39.87 (format-specific)
- METS, MPEG-21 (packaging)

What does all this mean? Questions to ask if you are developing a digital repository or building digital content.

PoM: Virtual Use and Real Users: Understanding Use Requirements and User Needs

Sorry, posts delayed due to a sick child...

NEDCC Persistence of Memory Conference
Speaker: Elizabeth Yakel, University of Michigan

Links from talk on her site

* Access & Accesibility
- virtual presence, finding aids, digital imaging, MARC records
- ability to make sense of collections

* Differences between physical & virtual worlds
- create rich context! repurpose, interlink, multiple points of access

* Mediation to Collaboration
- commenting, tagging, collaborative filtering, bookmarking/bookbags
- social navigation

* Evaluation
- "Developing Archival Metrics", UMich SI department report
- Google Analytics

Persistence results from accessibility, not access!

December 5, 2006

PoM: Collaborative Adventures: Promoting and Preserving External Partnerships

NEDCC Persistence of Memory Conference
Speaker: Katherine Skinner, Emory University

Networking! (people, not computers)

Milward & Provan, "A Manager's Guide to Choosing and Using Collaborative Networks", 2006

Collaborative management of:
* Accountability
* Legitimacy
* Conflict
* Committment
* Design
-- Distributed, self-governing
-- Centralized, lead organization
-- Centralized, formed management entity

Emerging digital library models: Open Source, OAI, DSpace, Google Print, etc
- all extremely collaborative on a large scale!

Digital preservation models: LOCKSS, MetaArchive, etc

MetaArchive details (6-way collaboration on the history and culture of the American South, done with a contract with the Library of Congress. Nifty-sounding project!)

PoM: Working Together Revisited: Diverse Skills for Sustainability

NEDCC Preservation of Memory Conference
Speaker: Robert Spindler, Arizona State University Libraries

Separate disciplines, common interests
- usually separate administrative units, so they compete for resources instead of collaborating

Disciplinary skill sets (librarians, museum professionals, IT, archivists)

Collaborative models

Depocas, Ippolito, & Jones, "The Variable Media Approach: Permanence Through Change", 2003

Collaborations with creators

What is the need for collaboration?
- NSF "Report of the Blue-Ribbon Advisory Panel on Cyberinfrastructure", 2004

- Survival of digital assets depends on effective collaboration
- Creators are still reluctant
- Obstacles still exist

PoM: Assessing Risks for Digital Collections

NEDCC Preservation of Memory Conference
Speaker: Tom Clareson, PALINET

Risk Management for Digital Collections
- Security
- Digital disaster mitigation
- Programmatic policy risks

Do we have a written digital disaster recovery plan? If not, why not?

General security issues (visitor access, password control, equipment security, training, etc)
- internal threats

Computer security threats (viruses, worms, trojans, etc)
- external threats

Need to learn to distinguish risks from threats

Digital Preservation Survey Project
- project overview, 2005 survey results, key findings

Digital preservation is more than just backups!

Next steps: New survey in 2007 of established digital preservation programs; NEDCC proposing national digital preservation workshop series

PoM: What is a Digital Asset?

NEDCC Preservation of Memory Conference
Speaker: Richard Pearce-Moses, Arizona State Library & Archives

His first comment really made me laugh: Everyone needs to get over their fear of the boxes! (meaning computers)

Created a "dictionary" of terms for use in Arizona's state digital preservation process, specifically how we use language, jargon & acronyms

"Precision" vs "Consensus" in defining terms

No nice, neat, clean taxonomy; a definition of a thing can be anything - a digital asset is basically anything you want it to be!

Functions of a digital asset
- curation, discovery, preservation

Characteristics: of the asset itself, and as a surrogate
- context, content, structure

Prescriptive definition of a digital asset:
- Digital information that:
* is valuable (time/money)
* has variety of purpose
* has content
* has context
* has a structure

Think about the emphasis of digital assets as "items".

PoM Keynote: Preservation in the Age of Google

NEDCC Preservation of Memory Conference
Speaker: Paul Conroy, University of Michigan

Lyman & Varian, "How Much Information", 2003


Responsible Custody
Preservation & Usability
[...] different things to different people

= the company & what it does
= the cultural metaphor
* Instant gratification
* Simple
* Anonymous, unmediated
* "Essentialness of Digital Content"
* Rip, Mix & Burn: Repurposing digital content & sharing it
* Provides source material for new forms of scholarship

Waters & Garrett, "Preserving Digital Information", 1996

Levy, "Scrolling Forward", 2001 (response to above)

ACLS, "Our Cultural Commonwealth", 2006; Cyberinfrastructure vs Deep Infrastructure

Integrity to OAIS as a common international language (and ISO standard)

Trusted archive to certification - must be multifaceted

In this age of Google, how do we communicate trust?

Conway, "Preservation in the Digital World", 1996
- basic preservation principles endure

Environmental storage, reformatting, R&D, leadership & advocacy
- ARL has endorsed digitization as a preservation technique

Dilemmas for Preservation
- Is it really that complicated? (Yes!)
* Expense
* Frequent interventions
* Format obsolescence
* Long time frames
* Instant access
* Faithful reproduction

- Success with enfironmental control: Is it actually working to our detriment?

- What difference are we really making? (are we seeing the uses & impacts we expected?)

- Back side of Moore's Law (as technology gets cheaper, people get more expensive)

- History ends in 1923 (copyright issues)

- Market Share

What is the way forward?

- Embrace the all-digital world
- Demand national action
- Partnerships!
- Support the online community
- Choose cost effectiveness
- Evaluate & report in a timely manner!

Prediction: We are heading for a total, digital heritage (backed by environmentally managed paper collections).

Persistence of Memory Conference

I am spending today and tomorrow in NEDCC's "Persistence of Memory: Stewardship of Digital Assets" conference (here in sunny Tucson!). I was going to blog at the conference but there are no accessible power outlets in the room, and my current dinky laptop has pretty pathetic battery life, so I'll be posting summaries at the end of each day. (Day 1 about to be written!)

December 4, 2006

The Librarian Saves the World Again!

What a hoot! There's even less in "The Librarian: Return to King Solomon's Mines" about librarians than there was in the first one, but what will be my new .sig line made an appearance: "You'd be surprised what you can learn at the library." However, this was a fun, firmly tongue-in-cheek adventure romp that blatantly acknowledged its debts to everything from "Raiders of the Lost Ark" to "Casablanca". I recommend it for an evening of mindless enjoyment. (Just don't go looking for anything serious about librarians here!)

November 28, 2006

Too sexy for my... job title?

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving holiday! And now....

From the London Evening Standard's "This is London" entertainment guide (and where else would librarians be, but in the entertainment section?): Librarians 'should be sexier'. Not only should we be sexier, it seems, but we should also stop calling ourselves librarians. I have to say, I think Mr. Aiken is spot on in saying "The concept of the librarian has to change", although I really truly wish he'd found a better way to describe how he thinks the concept should change.

Fall has finally arrived! It's a very brisk 64° out there. Glad I kept my coat at lunch!

November 18, 2006

Gobble, Gobble, Oink

Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone - I'm off to Texas to eat ham, turkey and pumpkin pie, and to work on my twang. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday!

Back on the 27th -

November 13, 2006

The Librarian Returns At Last!

Finally, an air date! TNT plans on showing the sequel to "The Librarian: Quest for the Spear", titled "The Librarian: Return to King Solomon's Mines", on Sunday, December 3rd. Returning are Noah Wyle as Flynn Carsen, Bob Newhart as Judson (Flynn's boss), and Jane Curtin as Charlene (the big stick in the library!). Wyle has stated that he's interested in continuing Carsen's adventures, maybe in New Orleans. I'll just keep my fingers crossed - they're cheesy but thoroughly enjoyable! (As long as Flynn's mom doesn't have any more comments about librarians, that is....)

Don't forget to check out the online comic as well!

November 9, 2006

Your Photo In A Librarian Caricature

Hmmm... "Imagine your photo in a "Librarian" Caricature!" I'm almost tempted to send in a picture and see what they do.

November 8, 2006

Ah, Sweet Victory!

Ok, I know I said I wasn't going to do any political ranting. So let me just say, Boo-Yah!, and then I'll go back to smiling.... over the election results and the great news about Rumsfeld.

Woo hoo!

November 1, 2006

Blinded By Library Science

T-shirt image

Fabulous! As a librarian and a giant Thomas Dolby fan, what better shirt could there be? "She Blinded Me with Library Science" T-shirt from Questionable Content - a welcome addition to the closet!

I Am a Librarian

I'd like to take a moment and give another plug to Cynthia Wilson and her "I Am a Librarian" project. Cynthia and I talked ages ago when she was starting up this project; sadly, our paths never crossed so I'm not one of the librarians photographed for her book (woe is me!) - but I've always thought it was a most-relevant project, and to see the wide variety of librarians smiling back from the gallery is a wonderful thing. Be sure to check it out, and if Cynthia succeeds in finding a publisher, be sure to buy her book!

LISNews has an interview with Cynthia that's also well worth a read; also be sure to check out her blog!

October 30, 2006

Bless You, IL Bloggers

I just wanted to send a huge "thank you!" shout-out to all the bloggers at Internet Librarian this year, who really made it work for those of us who couldn't attend. Reading the blog posts made me miss going even more, but also made me even more determined to go next year!

Since there are so many bloggers who've posted, instead of listing everyone separately you can access them via these resources: Technorati, InfoToday's ILBloggers, Google BlogSearch

October 26, 2006

The World's Fastest Librarian

Meet The World's Fastest Librarian and follow her through a typical workday, her activities outside of work, and as she trains for the Fastest Librarian competition. A humorous, tongue-in-cheek look at librarianship by the grad students of UW-SLIS. Made me laugh several times while watching it - especially the scene with all the competitors warming up. Looks like they had a lot of fun making this!

October 25, 2006

More Rex Libris

Rex Libris Statue

Not only is Issue #5, "Tea with Vaglox", now available, Rex now has his own figurine! (Not an action figure, but a post-action-figure.) I, of course, immediately bought them both... Rex will be a welcome addition to the toys in my office. (I also recommend the "Ordo Biblioteca" T-shirt.)

A Prairie Home Librarian

I don't listen to Prairie Home Companion myself; on Saturday afternoons I'm usually running around madly doing all the things I didn't get done during the week. After the PHC of a few weeks ago, a few folks made oblique comments to me about librarians that I just didn't get.... but now that I've read LiB's summary of "Adventures of a Librarian -- on NPR", I get it. Sigh.

Google, Google, Bo-Boogle

So. For someone who makes a living as a webmaster, I only just discovered Google's Webmaster Central. It isn't the be-all, end-all, but it's certainly got some useful tools, especially the Site Status Wizard. Also, if you haven't already been playing with them, check out some of the Google Gadgets; you can add a Google Map, a Wikipedia Search, local National Weather Service radar, and a host of other widgets (1531 to choose from!) to your web site.

Links found via Librarian in Black, who somehow is much more up to date on all this stuff, while simultaneously working, traveling and giving talks, and writing complete and well-thought-out blog postings about all this stuff. I am in awe.

Christopher Robin goes bye-bye

This is just wrong to me... wrong, wrong, wrong. Apparently Disney hasn't done enough to Winnie the Pooh... now, in a new Disney Channel series coming out in 2007, Pooh gets the CGI treatment and a new friend: a 6-year-old girl named Darby, apparently in an effort to reach a wider young-girl audience. Hmm, because there isn't already a huge market in little-girl stuff? Because little boys only want to play with trucks or guns? GRR.

Let's just say that we'll stick with our classic Milne stories with the Shepherd illustrations in our house. They're already a fave with our 18-month-old.

Link found via The Laughing Librarian. No laughing here, though...

October 23, 2006

Internet Librarian Pangs

Internet Librarian

Well, Internet Librarian starts today, and here I am, still in Tucson. Sigh. I wish the timing had worked out so I could go to it this year - I love the SLA conferences but they're more about networking with other librarians for me - IL is where I get the goodies I take back and actually use. Ah well, I'm sure next year will be different!

October 20, 2006 Transformed

My main site "You Don't Look Like a Librarian!" has finally transformed; that'll now be the collection site for talks, essays and columns, and this site will be the latest-news site. Thanks to Grazr, I can embed my blog entries right into the web page, which is pretty spiffy. And thanks once more to Pete Marenfeld for the truly spiffy graphics! (Spiffy, spiffy, spiffy, spiffy.)

October 19, 2006

Body Art in the Workplace

The AP's Madlen Read wrote an article titled "Body Art in the Workplace" which was run by my local paper on the cover of the Business section today. (Thanks, Mark, for bringing it to my attention!) The featured body art model? Colleen Harris, a librarian from U. Kentucky. The article discusses how many organizations are rewriting their dress codes, either relaxing them to tightening them up, depending on the organization's focus. A fun read for a modified librarian like myself - I tend to cover up my tattoos in the workplace, but haven't hidden them, and it's hard to hide the nine earrings, so I don't worry about it.

Chilly for us this morning - 46°!

October 18, 2006

Search Engine UI of the future?

I hope not. Ms. Dewey , a Flash-based new search engine, is graphically very pretty (but very slow to load on all my systems), although the pouty, sexy librarian behind the desk isn't exactly what I was looking for. (The random opening scenes are amusing, though; so far my fave is the one with the big knife, although the motorcycle is a close second.) Ms. Dewey can get a bit obnoxious if left idle for a bit, yelling "Hello, is anyone there?" and tapping on the glass, but that's part of the shtick of the site, I guess, as are the quips she delivers when the search results are ready. (Sometimes they even relate to the search term.)

I'm not sure how effective a search engine it is - of the search terms I input, it took *quite* a long time (and a lot of eye-rolling and pouting) to get any results, and for a couple of my search terms it didn't return any results that were even close! The results scroll in a shaded window to the right, which doesn't stand out very much against the futuristic city background, making the results list a bit harder to read, and there are no obvious scroll bars for the search results.

All in all I'd say it's a well-presented UI without a lot behind the scenes. Personally, I could do with a lot less pouting, posturing and half-lidded come-on glances, but hey, that's just me. (On the other hand, if they deliver a version with a studly male librarian, maybe I'll change my mind...)

October 17, 2006

Show Your Librarian Some Love

Tood Gilman's article "Show Your Librarian Some Love" over at the Chronicle gives an interesting insight into the problems facing academic librarians with recalcitrant professors, and some suggestions to the professors on how to deal with it. An illuminating read for me, and one that makes me thankful yet again that I'm in the branch of librarianship I am. You public and academic librarians deserve serious accolades for dealing so well with the public and with students - I know (first hand) that it's something I don't do well. (Therefore, I don't do it!)

Ah, fall... 77° and 35%Rh. A perfect day.

Vive le Difference!

It's about time! Now, to go hand-in-hand with the female librarian calendars of the past, we have the Men of Texas Libraries calendar! What a great way to celebrate male librarians!

How to Use the Library

Filmed at my own U of A! A lovely little instructional video on How to Use the Library is definitely pro-librarian and rather amusing to watch. I hope Joe got an A on his report!

Library Aerobics

(Can you tell I'm catching up on email and notices?) Definitely good for a laugh! Check out the Betty Glover Library Workout Tape Ad - the "only medically-approved exercise routine for librarians". What would Betty suggest in these computerized days?

Code4Lib 2007

Call for Proposals: Code4Lib 2007. "Code4lib 2007 is a loosely structured conference for library technologists to commune, gather/create/share ideas and software, be inspired, and forge collaborations." I'm not working with anything snazzy enough to present, but boy, I wish I could go to this conference!

Five Weeks to a Social Library

Call for Participants: Five Weeks to a Social Library, "the first free, grassroots, completely online course devoted to teaching librarians about social software and how to use it in their libraries." Most excellent-sounding workshop - check it out!

Temporary Library Tattoos

For anyone who's always wanted a "Read or Die" tattoo but not enough to go all the way - now you can get the Illustrated Librarian Temporary Tattoos! "Put one in a prominent place to prove once and for all that "smart" and "cool" are not mutually exclusive!"

Say It Ain't So

Oh, Target, how disappointed I am in you. Amongst all the Halloween costumes you have for sale in your stores and on your web site, how could you do this to us? Such an accurate representation for our profession you've given us with the "Naughty Librarian Costume"... complete with rhinestone glasses!

October 12, 2006


Well, it's done... at least for now. The 3" binders chock full'o stuff and the custom-tapdancing CDs just made the 5pm FedEx deadline. Now to attend all the emails that are piling up, choice bits to blog on, and blogs & journals to read... at least for a day or two!


October 6, 2006


So many things are *so close* to being done..... but not quite there yet. I think whatever part of my brain didn't go POP a couple of weeks ago might be close to doing it now. But, I survived this week, complete with three-day migraine, and even came out of it with some good news (the tests for RA and lupus came back negative, yay!). This weekend there WILL be some down time, dang it. Even if I have to combine it with patching baseboard seams.

The work on the new web site continues apace. Hopefully I'll have an announcement to post here about it soon! (Pete did SUCH a good job with the graphics.)

A lovely 76° outside right now....

September 29, 2006

Now, you don't see THAT every day

So I'm tooling along the road, humming along with the gypsy music floating from my stereo, thinking how happy I am it's Friday - and I look up to see four beautifully-restored Model T's motoring down the road in front of me! They all had New Mexico "horseless carriage" license plates and were just chugging along - gorgeous cars driven by smiling people (I know, because I waved at them all and got waves back). A very cool way to start the day!

September 27, 2006

I. Detest. LaTeX.

Really, truly, profoundly, and very very deeply, I do. The write-ups f0r the LISA V conference proceedings are due at the end of the week and, because we're going with ASP as the publisher, it all had to be done in LaTeX. (No, I'm not going to format the silly thing.)

I wrote my paper - a poster write-up, actually - in about 45 minutes, including generating new images. It then took 12 HOURS (yes, that would be spread over two days) to get a successful compile (yes, you have to compile it) of the ginormously-huge 3.5-page document, and this after downloading and installing four different software packages on my machine. And contacting the ASP's LaTeX tech support person (thanks again, Terry!). And ranting a lot. Why, oh why, are they still requiring LaTeX? Can't you just accept a PDF (which they want anyway, did I mention that? The .tex file, the figures in .eps format, and a final PDF), which will let the folks with the deep mathematics needs use LaTeX and those of us with zero equations, two pages of plain text and a few figures to use anything else? I am deeply frustrated and seriously annoyed... I just blew a day and a half on this, time that could have been spent doing many, many other things. Thankfully my boss was understanding, and even encouraging - I hit the point at the end of the day yesterday where I was just going to tell the editors to pull my name, I wasn't submitting a poster writeup, and he encouraged me to stay the course. So thanks, Rob.

I wish the conference editors and ASP joy and happiness with this. If they send it back to me with any kind of tweaks or anything like that, I'll return to the "Heck with it, publish it without me" model. I ain't touching that blasted file again. Grr! Not gonna do it!

Now 94° and down to 12%Rh. Aaahhh..... with an added bonus of NOT HAVING TO LOOK AT THAT FILE AGAIN. The week is looking up!

Yeah, What Sophie Said

I just read Sophie Brookover's NextGen article in Library Journal, "Priorities & Professionalism". Well put (I knew she was a good writer, I'm a big fan of Pop Goes the Library) and thoughtful discourse on priority changes and how they can affect us. As a new mother myself, her words really rang in my ears.

92°, 22%Rh. Perfect.

September 22, 2006

Friday's Random Musings

Marian Seeley, the inspiration for "Marian the Librarian" in "The Music Man", is being honored in her hometown today. I always liked Marian.

If you haven't watched the video for Cascada's "Everytime We Touch", I recommend it. The song's rather average (IMHO) but it's worth it to see the librarian and all the patrons dancing at the end! (Bonus stereotype-a-bit-different: The librarian's a guy with glasses, and the singing temptress takes off his glasses and musses his hair. Yes! It's not just the female librarians whose inhibitions drop when their glasses are removed. Hang on a second...)

Go, Jan Stout! A librarian who challenged her teen readers to read a chunk of pages by the end of the summer; if they did it, she'd dye her hair whatever color the teens chose. They did, and she did! What a fun way to get them to read!

September 21, 2006

Wizards Unshelved

An interesting, humorous interview with Bill Barnes of "Unshelved" is available over at Wizard Entertainment. Give it a read! (I really want to know what the second story is....!)

Aah, fall... Sunny, 85° and 25%Rh. Just about perfect.

September 18, 2006

Oh, yeah...

...John Scalzi's Bac-On-Cat made me laugh out loud! A nice break from the bedlam -


Well, it's official. Any second now, my brain is going to go *pop* and start leaking out my ears. Reviews are hell. Project-wide, in-depth, magnifier-in-hand reviews run by the NSF are worse. Am I going to survive until November 4th, when (thank the deities) it'll all be over? I sure hope so.

My brain is currently consumed by:
  • Configuration management. Namely, updating our control plans to more accurately and correctly describe what we're actually doing, while being clear enough so that someone can understand that "document and drawing control plan" really is a part of the overall CM plan and is for much more than just use as a doorstop. I begin to wonder if I should change the plain English descriptions to those using more $5 words like the big boys use, but when you get down to it, we're defining the same thing, using the same process, and I know my engineers will understand me. So I'm stickin' with it.
  • Acronyms, abbreviations, and glossary definitions. Damn, do we use a lot of those around here. Keeping track of them all is a bit of a challenge, especially since I have to have two versions (long story).
  • CSS. This one's been the worst by far in a way; I am so fascinated with what I've learned recently (bless Dave Shea and the CSS Zen Garden; I bought the book and have learned SO MUCH about how to really use CSS as more than just a font defining system) that not only am I redesigning MPOW's entire web site in my head, but I find myself lying awake at night and redesigning web sites I've built in the past using proper CSS. (And I'm talking about web sites for companies that went away years ago.) I just can't seem to let it go. I'm dreaming in CSS now. At last... no more forcing the issue with tables and messy markup! I'm so excited. But, of course, I can't really rip apart the web site and redo it all properly until after the review, so I'll just have to sit and twitch until then. I can't wait. I'm also gutting and reworking my high school alumni web site and my Librarian Image site - I even hired a graphic designer to do all new images and designs for it (the latter, not the former; I have artwork from the school for it). I'm so excited! But in the meantime, I gotta get some sleep....
  • Web site CMS's. I know - 100%, for-sure know - that there's a better way to manage MPOW's web sites than what I'm doing. Right now I'm the gateway, and it's all done by hand - with a few special exceptions, noone can change anything on the web site except me. Chances are that's gonna stay the same, for control issues, but dang it, there has to be a better way of managing all the pages than hand-editing them individually. Preparing the web pages for the upcoming review has really, really brought that home to me - it's way past time to investigate my options and maybe implement one of them. If it works well, I can expand it outwards to the other web sites I'm responsible for in the overarching organization.... but there has to be something. I can't use a wiki (although I'm thinking about it for some of our internal pages, where it doesn't matter if one of the engineers posts mechanobabble); I've heard good things about a whole bunch of possibilities and I'm just itching to get at them. I'm going to have such fun after the review, between CMS and CSS research and rewriting - woo hoo! (I've been accused of being "such a geek" for finding this so exciting. So be it!)
  • Database applications. Thanks to the extremely patient explanations of my SQL guru hubbie, I've learned so much about how to manipulate Access to give me what I want. I find using Access' built-in stuff just doesn't ever seem to really give me what I want it to, and I just don't have time to learn VBA right now (see above!) - but learning that I can get into the SQL code, and then using that (which I use for a few other applications anyway), has really made a difference. I can't make it sit up and beg yet, but give me time, and maybe next year I can actually take a class or two in VBA and learn how to make it dance!
  • Briefly, gender in the technology workplace. I never did get that post out, so here's an abbreviated version, way after the fact and probably on a topic that's already dumped from everyone's bit buckets, but I gotta get it out of my head anyway! I used to think (and joke) that I worked in a building full of old white men, but when I really looked around I realized that I actually seem to work in a pretty darned forward organization. In just my part of the NSO world, there's me, of course, the systems librarian and all-around IT go-to gal, and our enclosure engineer is a woman (hey, you can't tell me that mechanical engineering is any less male-centric than IT, I won't believe you.). The Project Managers for two other major divisions of NSO are women, and on one of them, more than half the programming team are women. There are several female tenure-track scientists. The computer system supervisor for NOAO is a woman (we rent space from NOAO and all our email, etc., comes through their mail server). So, basically, I'm damned lucky and know it... it's been a very, very long time since I've had to stand up to a guy about my knowledge base and I don't think the thought would even cross the minds of my coworkers now. (Also they know I'd come at them with my LART.)
And, heck, this doesn't even go into the stuff going on at home - we've been working (forever, it seems) on replacing the floor in the house, and hit a major milestone this weekend. And my son is just growing and blossoming and throwing temper tantrums every day - spending time with him is of paramount importance. Heck, who needs sleep!

I think the monsoon has, sadly, ended; it's currently a lovely 86° with 19%Rh. I've got my window open! (I love having a window.)

September 8, 2006

Short Random Thoughts

Woke up this morning, second day in a row, to rain and thunder... very cool.

Have a couple of posts rattling around in my head, one on gender in the workplace and one on database development, but work has been so tense and nuts this week I just haven't had a chance. I plan on getting them out this weekend, just to get 'em outta my head if nothing else!

September 5, 2006

What did you do this weekend?

The New One
The New One,
originally uploaded by desertlibrarian.
Me? Oh, got a little bit of art done is all....

Props to Scott for the design and Emily of Enchanted Dragon Tattoo for the work!

It's cloudy and a cool 87°. Last night we slept with the windows open - what a lovely change!

August 31, 2006


Hot Library Smut. Go there. Salivate over these pictures. Buy the book for yourself. I, myself, think the Real Gabinete Portuges de Leitura Rio de Janeiro is the most gorgeous one of a lot of gorgeous images.

(Get yer mind outta the gutter... it's totally work-safe and not what you think.)

How can it be only 95°? My thermosensors must be off, it felt a lot warmer than that when I was outside a few minutes ago.

Consolidation Time


I'm thinking about consolidating the blurbs I post at You Don't Look like a Librarian! into this blog, and keeping that as a place for the talks, columns, etc. Keeping both updated (which sometimes leads me to double posting) - and publishing a separate XML feed for that site - just seems like a bit of overkill, not to mention that there are better ways to spend my time than double-posting things. Plus, it's always fun to redesign a site!

Speaking of talks, I'm confirmed for SLA 2007 in Denver. Look for the track titled "Spectacles: How Pop Culture Views Librarians" in a conference coming your way, and please consider marking it as a "Must Attend" on your conference schedule!

It's a piffling 92°.

August 30, 2006

Thanks Again, I Needed That, Too

Star Trek Inspirational Posters. Read. Laugh. Repeat. (And see if you can get the fight song out of your head afterwards!)

Feh. Cloudy and 92° but no rain in sight.

August 29, 2006

Thanks, I needed that.

This is a much better use of treadmills, IMHO.

Techie Women

Thank you, Roy!

Roy Tennant's August 15th Library Journal column titled "The Gender Gap" has some nice words -and suggestions - for equalizing the gender inequalities in technical library situations. As a techie gal myself, I agree with what he's seeing; the first IL conference I went to in 1999, I felt like a rarity (I'm happy to see the balances evening out a bit), and for a very long time, I was the only gal in the gaming room or programming user's groups. Even in library school, I was the only techie in my class - let's hope that more women move into technology in libraries!

Currently 93° and only 30%Rh. No rain today, I think!

Updated later the same day: Holy cow. I sat down to try and catch up on blogs and this topic - gender issues in technical/systems librarianship - is quite the hot one. Many posts, many comments, in many places, with many things to think about. (On the up side, I found out about a new group/listserv/thing, Code4Lib, which I plan on joining.) Upon pondering, I don't know if I've been lucky, or just adapted so much I don't notice anymore (which is not necessarily a good thing) - I haven't faced any kind of "You can't do that, you're a girl!" situations in the workplace in a very long time. (And when I did, I stepped up and proudly wore the title "Bitch" for confronting the engineer in question.) Then again, if situations like that have arisen and I didn't notice them, is that good or bad? Much to chew over....

August 24, 2006

Froth. Sputter. Spit.

Good lord.

I shall follow Wandering Eyre's and Walt Crawford's leads; no link love here. Instead, I'll link to Jane's post "Really? More of this?" (she provides further links). I'm not as calm as she is about the original column. Nice of the mag to put up a counterpoint (but they only did so after the hubbub hit the fan, so to speak, and it isn't nearly as comprehensive in coverage or rebuttal as it should have been IMHO), but really - either this writer is a troglodyte, or trolling. Either way, it got my back up.

Feh. Forbes should know better.

I even like the shoes

Shoes for the Poor Librarian, from Manolo's Shoe Blog. Amusing little fashion posting; I may have to read more of the blog. (I don't know why I'm surprised that there's a blog just for shoes...) Thing is, I really like those recommended boots... and I do need new shoes for fall... hmm.

Currently 86° and 47%Rh. No rain today, I think.

Poor, poor Pluto

Well, the IAU has spoken and we're down to 8 planets now. As noted here before, the fate of Pluto and other orbiting things of its size has been under discussion for a while now; it appeared that we might jump up to 12 planets for a while, but instead we've dropped down to 8. That's too bad IMHO - I always liked little Pluto with its ginormous moon, looping around out there -

You can read many news releases about the decision.

It's been odd working at an astronomical institution and not having this be the buzz of the hallways. I guess that's what happens when most of your staff are either solar or extragalactic astronomers. The planets are in that in-between zone that I don't think anyone here actually studies....

August 23, 2006

Random Thoughts of the Day

What is up with Blogger these days? I have to jump through nine hoops before I can get to my dashboard - and now it's like all the style sheets have gone missing, and it's slower than a really slow thing. Hmm...

I have to nuke my home computer and reinstall everything from scratch. It's gotten so bloated with Microsoft products that it's almost unusable. On the up side, I'm getting 200GB external USB drives for about $20 each - they'll work nicely as backups! If it weren't for the fact that I need Windows and all its accoutrements for work, I'd just install Linux and be done with it... ah well. My next machine will be a Mac, dang it!

The weather forecasters are threatening us with a lessening of the monsoon. I know we've been ultrasaturated but it's so nice to not have the mountains on fire this summer - and to actually have seen water in the rivers! That's only happened a few times in the 20 years I've lived here. (Yes, this month marks my arrival in Tucson 20 years ago, from Belgium. It was 117° the day I got off the plane... I shall never forget it. Between the culture shock and the environmental shock, who could?)

Currently 86° with 55%Rh. I don't think it'll rain today, it'll just be sticky.

August 16, 2006

River Running

River Running #1
River Running #1,
originally uploaded by desertlibrarian.
I made it out to the Rillito today at lunch to get some shots. I wish I'd been able to get out this morning when the storm was actually occurring; then again, it probably wouldn't have been very safe. Now I can prove that sometimes, there really is water in our rivers! Very cool. (Of course, this much water at once really puts a strain on the city - but that's another topic for another time.)

Still cool and cloudy with a 50% chance of rain tonight. It'll be nice to have the windows and doors open to the fresh air! (Not that I don't thank the gods of air conditioning on a daily basis...)

Can we just paste over the affected sections?

"Pluto dodged a bullet today. " In an article on the New York Times website titled "For Now, Pluto Holds Its Place in Solar System", Dennis Overbye reports on a plot afoot to change the definition of planet and, possibly, instantly expand our solar system to more than a dozen planets. It's weird to think about Pluto not being the last planet. I'd always kind of hoped that we'd discover more planets, but it never crossed my mind that they might be planetisimals that got promoted. And when I think about all the science textbooks that'd instantly be outdated, I shudder....

Reading this article ("This will be the talk of the town in Prague") was a nice break from feverish review document preparation.

The day continues to be lovely with overcast skies, 85° temps and 50%Rh.

Stormy Weather

Usually, when monsoons arrive, they build throughout the day then unleash the lovely rain on us in the late afternoons and/or early evenings. Today, however, we all awoke to a surprise - grey skies above us and thunder crashing in the distance. By the time of the morning commute, the city was being hammered with serious rain; it rained almost 2" in just under an hour at my house (based on my very scientific measuring cup on the back patio).

That's a lot of water all at once for us, and the ground is already saturated from earlier rains (another non-usual occurence for us, usually we're gasping for rain) so the flooding in the streets has been interesting. The washes around my house are roaring bank-to-bank, and I can only imagine what the Rillito River looks like (aside from actually having water in it!) - think I'll run by at lunchtime and take a picture or two!

Right now, it's a truly beautiful and cool 76°, with a whopping 80%Rh.

August 15, 2006

School's Starting Again

And the way I can tell this is because the hordes of kids who apparently can't read but can drive cars have returned. One way street? "But I get to choose which way that is, right?" Do not park here or your car will be towed? "Hey, has anybody seen my car?" Sheesh.

I won't even start on the be-iPod'ed (or be-cell-phoned) student who's looking at the student paper, a map of campus or the latest People and steps off the curb and into oncoming traffic, from between parked cars, without looking up once. I'm surprised more students aren't flattened the first week of school here. Sheesh.

*mumble*grumble* Those darn kids!

Only 90° and 44%Rh. Not much gonna happen today, I think.

August 14, 2006

New Use for RFID?

TUSD is testing out a program (on a few school buses) that'll track students when they get on and off the bus, where they are at noon, and when they're dropped off. Now, it seems that a few local school districts (not TUSD) are testing out another program that'll text-message a students' parents if he or she is missing from the morning roll-call.

While most of me thinks these are both useful tools - along with metal detectors, it's sad that we need them but good to have around - a small part of me wonders if this is the start of a larger "track everyone's actions and locations at all times" program. I mean, if you get students used to the idea, they'll grow up thinking it's perfectly normal, and suddenly we're in 1984. (And since I try not to rant about politics here, I'll leave it at that.)


Currently 88° and 50%RH. Tough call on whether it'll rain or not, but I'm betting not.

August 10, 2006

The End of the Hiatus

Sorry, to the few folks who actually read this blog - I should have mentioned I was taking some time off for vacation. (I actually didn't vacate much, I worked the whole time on home repairs; we're putting a new floor in, and the old floor had to come out, baseboards out, floors patched, walls patched and painted.... you get the picture.)

I'm back now, way behind but catching up, and will begin sharing my oh-so-deep thoughts with you again!

Currently 86° and a disgusting level of humidity. I love the monsoons when they happen, but dang, the sauna-ness before they hit is nasty!

July 25, 2006

Taking a kitty away from a kitty....

Check out Files Are Not For Sharing, by Matthew Baldwin and Goopymart. Sadly, I think this is how a lot of folks see file sharing, especially the brainiacs currently running our gov'mint.

Currently only a piffling 98°!

July 20, 2006

I hate Access.

No, really, today I honestly do. I get ->thisclose<- to getting it to do what I want, but I can't seem to successfully take that last step. It's making me insane.

Maybe I'll go back to playing with CSS for a while. At least I enjoy that. This is like pulling teeth by slamming doors. Sigh.

Currently 104°...but at least here we're used to it. I feel bad for the folks in Eugene, OR.

July 12, 2006

Style Sheets R Kewl

I've spent the last two days doing some really in-depth digging into CSS to try and take myself from the level of "complete and total clueless newbie" to just "newbie". I'm so pleased with what I've learned, and I've got such ideas for the next round! And to top it all off I've finally got MPOW's website properly using CSS for layouts instead of using tables (which is bad, I know it, it just took me a while to fix it). I'm now playing around with a copy of the style sheet for the website and seeing what else I can fix, display better, or streamline. I'm so excited! (Yeah, I know, but hey! This is quite nifty!)

Currently 97° on the way to a projected high of 107°. Bleah.

July 7, 2006

When it rains, it pours

Holy cow! Another river-filling monsoon storm just hit us and it's really coming down:

Monsoon Storm Monsoon Storm

Also see the Arizona Webcam for a view of the city from the University of Arizona.

Currently... well... storming!

Catching Up, Part 2

As the catching-up-on-blogs-and-journals continues, here's a few more tidbits I've found:

* Perfect! Found on TechEssence.Info, the HTTrack Website Copier will solve a problem I've recently been faced with at work. I love finding resources like that! (BTW this is an awesome blog for library infotech information.)

* Rockin'! The BlogHer conference is totally sold out - now that's a conference I'd like to attend. Maybe next year!

* I've just discovered TechDirt. Joy!

* Give some love to via their CafePress store. Karen and the gang need all the help they can get right now - both financially and getting the word out about what they do!

* Today, in catching up on all this, I added six new blogs to my blogroll. Oof.

* I shall leave you with a reminder that when you need to lighten up (or read a truly interesting take on 24), there are few things better than Dave Barry's Blog.

Currently (at 4:55pm, not the earlier timestamp here; that's what happens when you leave an entry open all afternoon, I now know!) a damp (but not actively raining) 77° (the low so far today according to the NWS!). (one last parenthetical comment, just for fun.)

Congratulations, Jenny!

See, I'm so far behind I've only just discovered that ALA has hired Jenny Levine! Wow.... that's awesome, and huge congrats to Jenny! This may make me rethink my decision not to rejoin ALA; they're obviously interested in moving into the 21st century and maybe, between Jenny and Leslie Burger, I can start actually getting something out of it. Hmm....

Currently 92° and very, very dark and threatening to the east....

Catching Up, Part 1

I've only just caught up with my workload and am now starting to catch up on blogs and journals. So here's a random list of interesting things that I've come across, that either made me think, made me laugh, or both!

* ALA sounded like an interesting meeting. Sometimes I wonder if I should rejoin it, but I get so much more out of SLA...

* I want this job: Technology Innovation Librarian. I love my job but this just sounds TOO cool.

* Ha! You've gotta read the Annoyed Librarian's Library School Coursework post. Now, why didn't I have these classes in grad school?

* Google has joined the Net Neutrality fray. (If you aren't yet aware of the Net Neutrality issue, get aware!) (via ArsTechnica)

* Vista is coming. Now, I rant a lot to my coworkers about Windows and all the problems we have with it, but let's face it, we're a Windows shop. (With, thank the heavens, a solid underpinning of Unix machines for our file servers...!) Are we ready for Vista? (Well, I know one of my guys is; he just got a smashingly fabulous 64-bit Dell that I'm positively slavering over. Yeah, yeah, I don't need 64-bit functionality for what I do, but DANG it's a nice machine.) (via ArsTechnica)

* Warning: Political comment! I wholeheartedly agree with Scott Adams - well said, Scott! No, not about Dilbert; about the whole ruckus over flag-burning. I'm a liberal. I'm also a military brat, and proud of it. I have a very healthy respect for our country, our military, and our servicemen and women who are serving both. However, I can't say the same thing about our government. The flag is a symbol of our country, not our country itself, and dang it, if we're sending folks to die to keep freedom alive, shouldn't we be allowed to practice that same freedom right here at home? (OK, this is a biblioblog, so I'll stop now before the real ranting kicks in.)

* Mmm, a new journal in my field: The Journal of Web Librarianship. (via LibrarianInBlack)

* Wow, another cool new tool! Byoms let you create personalized IM searches; for example, you can IM a question to Wikipedia, and the system will IM an answer back to you. Nifty!
(via LibrarianInBlack)

OK, that's it for this morning. I'll do another catch-up post after this afternoon's readings.

Currently 92° and 34% RH. Just enough to be slightly icky...

July 5, 2006

Watch This Movie

"Kiss Kiss Bang Bang", with Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer. We laughed so hard we almost fell off the couch... "ficus" still sends me into small snorting fits. Just watch it!

Now 93° and 36% RH, but the clouds are building over the mountains... it'd better rain, I voted yes today in our Monsoon Madness game!

(Update: About an hour after posting this, we had 100% humidity and 2-block visibility. Our first real arroyo-buster!)

Aah, rain

Finally! The monsoon season has officially started (as of June 28th - they have to wait for three days of a certain dewpoint then backdate) and we've had rain every day for the past week! Not a lot, but any is better than what we've had since last October, which would be "practically none". Hurrah!

Currently 86° and 49% RH. Bring on da rain!

June 27, 2006

Pictures at last

Boston & the Charles
Boston & the Charles,
originally uploaded by desertlibrarian.
I just added some pictures from my recent trip to Cambridge to the LISA V conference over on my Flickr account.

Currently 98° and ickily humid. (For us, that is; it's nowhere near what I experienced in Cambridge last week. Nor, for that matter, what they're experiencing this week!)

June 23, 2006

LISA V: E-Journal Swamp and the Changing Publishing Sector

The last session I was able to attend on Wednesday before dashing for the airport was on "The E-Journal Swamp and the Changing Publishing Sector". Very interesting things happening in Indian and Italian libraries these days! These are my notes, not detailed transcriptions, and may include my own opinions.

E. Huyck: Same and Change in the Publishing Sector

From UCPress. Content management from the publisher’s POV. The e-journal revolution was pushed from the society and author’s side, not pushed on them by the publishers. The methods they use to edit and prepare manuscripts haven’t changed, but the tools have changed massively.

Currently undergoing a systemic review to see if better tools - better software solutions - are now available.

Introduction and review of current offerings, online options, etc. What’s new: geographics and data preservation.

Digital Data Preservation for Data Driven Scholarship - pilot project UCP is involved in now.

A. Gasperini: Astronomical Interlibrary Cooperation

Cooperation between Italian astronomical libraries; history of, discussion of current events, etc. Need for official recognition by the institutions, which finally happened in 2004.

Crux of the cooperation policy was journal acquisitions; many organizations were buying the same journals, so surely a better and more efficient way to share could be found. However, they ran into a lot of problems trying to implement changes as soon as 2005; it was too fast, and too drastic a chance. They’re still working all that out - as a result, a new organization of INAF was proposed and implemented, and they are now finding that things are working much better! But - there are still many questions, and some resistance; there is still much to do.

N. Anilkumar: Indian consortia models

Review of the characteristics of successful consortia, and how they are a natural outcome of locally-developed resource-sharing networks. Models of consortia (open and closed). FORSA - Forum for Resource Sharing in Astronomy & Astrophysics. Member listing; main objectives; consortium deals, including primary terms and conditions; savings realized. Lessons learned. Parallel initiatives of member organizations.

Recommendations: Larger groups should be formed at the national level (like PAM); government-funded national site licensing should be implemented.

T. Mahoney: Do e-publications really have a future?

The written and printed word did not replace speech, but complement it; shouldn’t then e-publishing complement print rather than replacing it? Let’s avoid the either/or and have both!

No argument that e-publishing is here to stay; the argument is with the product. Right now it’s just too fragile! (Needs storage, stability, continual readability, platform maintenance, etc)


LISA V: History of Astronomy & Astronomical Archives

Wednesday morning's first session was titled "History of Astronomy & Astronomical Archives". Some heartbreaking images of archives before they were cared for, and some wild things happening in history projects - all quite interesting! These are my notes, not detailed transcriptions, and may include my own opinions.

L. Schiavone: Specola 2000

Overview of the project (to arrange and produce an inventory of the archives of the 12 Italian astronomical observatories). In this case, “archive” doesn’t mean a collection after-the-fact but the natural, organic development of the documents collection as the organization develops. These archives hold documents older than 40 years, and they must be arranged and held indefinitely. Items less than 40 years are held in a temporary repository until that time has passed, and they then are moved into the permanent archives.

Prior to the implementation of Specola 2000 some of the individual observatories had done partial archival projects; in 2002 all 12 individual observatories were merged into a National Observatory and the main project began. Each observatory now has a librarian responsible for supervising their section of the archival project, coordinating with a professional archivist.

4 phases:

1) Census of the archival materials held at each observatory
2) Arranging and producing an inventory of all records up to 1960
3) Make an inventory of the correspondence items
4) "Virtual" recovery of documents produced by the observatories but held by other institutions.

As a result of the project the inventories of 5 observatory archives are entirely or partially searchable on the web; more will come as they progress.

K. Moran: Astronomical Archives at ROE

Description of the archives held at ROE. 3 distinct yet related collections: Crawford Collection, Plate Library, and the Archives themselves (made up of materials from Calton Hill Observatory, Dun Echt Observatory, and Blackford Hill Observatory).

Examples of items in the collection (which is arranged chronologically and catalogued through 1937) and discussion of processes and progress on the digitization of the archives. Funding issues, increasing profiles, contributing to public events.

E. Bouton: Starting with nothing - Archives at NRAO

Until 3 years ago, there were no archives at NRAO! Many concerns, but no actions. (NRAO’s 50th anniversary is this November.) Convinced director to start a formal archives program starting in 2003; Ellen did a lot of research and held many discussions about creating an archival policy, and then did so from scratch.

What to define: What will be collected and preserved? What and where are the records? Where will they organize and store it? Who will do the work?

Get staff buy-in to help with administrative and managerial support.

They’re starting to mount web resources of digital projects on Nan Conklin, Grote Reber, John Findlay, Doc Ewen, and John Kraus (all pioneers in radio astronomy).

E. Bryson: Gathering the Forgotten Voices: An Oral History of CFHT's Early Years

Project origins in the LISA IV conference. Decision to capture the history of the observatory in video and audio formats, and then create and provide a DVD for all participants and employees (current and former).

Showed clips of how images from the physical archives will be incorporated into the video record, and how interviews etc were obtained (not just face-to-face but via Polycom, etc). All the interview transcripts will be available on the web site, as well.

B.Corbin: Etienne Leopold Trouvelot, the Artist and Astronomer

Introduction to the artist, who worked for the Harvard College Observatory in the mid- to late-1800s, and views of some of his work. He was not only a prolific artist but also an author (50 papers published) - but we remember him for another reason, he introduced the Gypsy Moth into the US environment.

Online exhibit of his art at NYPL -Heavens Above: Art & Actuality - check it out!


LISA V: O. Gingerich, Gutenberg’s gift to astronomical history

Second invited talk on Wednesday was AWESOME. Owen Gingerich showed physical examples (Real books! Old books! Beautiful items!) of early astronomical ephemerides and educational textbooks, shared some stories about how he obtained them, and discussed early printing practices. His collection is amazing, and we were not only treated to views of these historical items, we were even allowed to TOUCH them afterwards. (We were all darned careful!) Amazing!


LISA V: E. Owens, Long-term preservation of e-journals

Day 3 of LISA kicked off with a presentation from Evan Owens of Portico; a lively talk with some thought-provoking questions. These are my notes, not detailed transcriptions, and may include my own opinions.

Long-term preservation of electronic journals, a survey of current initiatives

Going to talk instead about the larger context of the explosion of digital information…since he submitted his abstract CLIR has done a massive survey and he doesn’t want to duplicate.

Snippets of a 1996 article in “Serials Review” about visions of the future of journal publishing. Going to dive into some specific details as to what is still not known –

* Introduction to digital preservation
* Organizational components
* Technical components
* E-Journals and digital preservation
* More visions: past and future

Long term preservation = interoperability with the future

It’s everyone’s problem, but it isn’t the same problem for everyone!

Many, many varieties of preservation projects with varying degrees of control, metadata and formatting.

Really good resource for digital preservation: PADI (most resources discussed in this talk are linked there).

Auditing and certification is a hot topic now but has a long way to go.

Lots of questions at the higher layers of technological components…

Sample projects:

* JHOVE: JSTOR/Harvard Validation Environment
* GDFR: Global Digital Format Registry
* PREMIS: Data Dictionary for Preservation Metadata (Preservation Metadata Implementation Strategies)

Journals: Publishing models are evolving; practices and product vary widely (often have multiple manifestations of a single work). There is still a lot to do, and there are a lot of problems.

Persistent identifiers; versions & revisions; structured metadata.

This is so new; there are no standards or best practices yet, it’s all being developed right now. No agreement yet but they’re working on it….

Review of technical approaches (web harvesting, ingest and normalize publisher source files; HTML vs PDF…)

Portico’s archival strategy: source file archiving (preserve the components, not the rendition); preserving intellectual content, not ‘look and feel” of HTML; preserve only essential features of the user interface.

Will what we wish to preserve be preserved? (Can’t preserve everything.) Need standards, best practices, and diversity. But remember: Technology doesn’t always make things better!


June 21, 2006

LISA V: The Banquet

WHAT a party. The conference banquet was held at the Harvard Museum of Natural History and was a blast. Wow exhibits (the Glass Flowers were astonishing, and the fossils and Hall of Mammals were quite interesting) quite tasty food, and fabulous conversation. Congratulations, LISA LoC - what a great event! (I'm still recovering a bit!)

June 20, 2006

LISA V: The Creative Librarian

Second batch of sessions on the second day of LISA was on The Creative Librarian. These are my notes, not detailed transcriptions, and may include my own opinions.

J. Holmquist: Resources for College Libraries

Brief history of RCL. Focus for this is undergraduates; it is different from the Core List of Astronomy Books, which has a more research-based focus. Quick review of most commonly used books in astro libraries (by survey). The new RCLweb will be available in September of this year, and is an updated version of the earlier RCL lists, now including e-resources. Introduction to the models of the new science library, currently under construction. (Looks like the Second Life library!)

F. Martines: Information Architecture and Library Webpages

Basic concepts of information architecture; review of components. (Reference “Information Architecture and the World Wide Web” by Louis Rosenfeld and Peter Morville.) Brief review of astronomical observatories in Italy and how their web sites meet information architecture frameworks, looking at library catalogs, links to ADS, historical information, etc. Found a variety of results; information may have been consistent but findability, structure, labels, etc were very different across all the sites.

F. Brunetti: Astronomy for everyone!

Library of Arcetri Astrophysical Library and the public; how they are using information resources for public outreach. Astronomy is the most popular science in Italy; review of public outreach efforts (magazines, StarLab presentations), and then an introduction to the AAO library itself and its collaboration with LiBeR, a children’s science literacy program. At the end of 2004, they set up a new web page “Astronomy for the Public” with information for children, teachers, parents, etc including a bibliography of all children’s astronomy books in Italy. They then found that the astronomers had noticed the library’s outreach activities, and they all began working together on further children’s outreach programs. They now do a once-a-month event where astronomers read stories and poems about the stars to kids in StarLab planetariums, and the kids love them!

S. Ricketts: Changing perceptions of the astronomy library and its functions

Sandra is the librarian at the Anglo-Australian Observatory; she began with a review of the differences in her experience in 1996 and now; journals, preprints, email, user presence in the library, etc. Also a discussion of how the focus of AAO is changing, with the increase of instrumentation. Survey of patrons in 2002 and 2005 about library use; discussion of results. In most cases, usage of online resources increased between the two surveys almost across the board, but physical visits to the actual library remained about the same. She also found that most surveyed scientists felt that there should be library resources available at a telescope, although there were questions about cost; and that the same surveyed scientists did NOT feel a need for a departmental library at university. They would still like to find one, but don’t feel it necessary. The results of the question about hard-copy journals were split; they expected current ones online but older versions needed to be in hard-copy form. And did they still expect to find a librarian? Yes! And not just a body, but someone who could answer their questions and point them towards the answers they needed. They also liked having a library web page that provided links to the catalogs, journals, and services.


LISA V: Beyond ADS and Google

First batch of sessions on the second day of LISA was discussing what was beyond ADS and Google. These are my notes, not detailed transcriptions, and may include my own opinions.

L. Robbins: Astronomy & Astrophysics Resource Information Survey

Surveyed patrons at U. Toronto and U. Chicago to find out exactly what people were actually doing. Presented statistical results – unsurprising that most patrons used astro-ph and ADS to keep abreast of recent developments. What about for info older than 2 years? Most replied ADS. Observation vs. theory as a research focus showed very different results; while they use the same tools, they’re using them very differently. With the info that astro-ph is possibly going to be split into five different areas, it would be interesting to re-survey in the future.

G. Burkhardt: ARIBib – Where is it and where is it going?

ARIBib is an online database for astronomical bibliography in the reference format; Presentation on the history of ARIBib, and then the focus of their future work. ARIBib is the living online biography in astronomy for literature from ancient times until the first half of 2000…. ! Access is free for everyone. Very small staff working on this! Remember, though, these are only references, not original works. Tour of ARIBib’s web options, how it deals with accents in author names, etc.

M. Gomez: Evaluating ADS, ISI and SCOPUS in the context of two astronomy libraries in Spain

Why evaluate? Subscriptions expire at the end of 2006; must decide whether to re-subscribe or not. Does the ADS really cover their patrons’ needs? Can ISI or Scopus be complimentary, or do our patrons not even need them? They evaluated all three services looking for similarities, differences and search results, then they surveyed their patrons to see how they really used them. Results were interesting; ADS is clearly out ahead. They found that ISI and Scopus could be complimentary, but only for non-astronomical literature; for astronomical literature, ADS was the definite winner. The patron survey also had ADS coming out ahead, with most patrons using Google as their default search engine. The final results of the study were that ADS and Google were the keys to information for their patrons.

D. MacMillan: Making Space for Specialized Astronomy Resources

Studies online at

What are the students using? Google, E-journals, Scirus… natural language is very important. What should students be using/ ADS, Inspec or WoS, etc. Why? Comprehensive and retrospective coverage, transparency, advanced capabilities, etc. How do we get students to use what we feel they should be using? Instruction, assistance, web pages.


Rain in Cambridge...

...smells completely and totally unlike rain in Tucson. I know that's not a surprise, but it took a moment for my brain to process rain without the smell I usually associate with rain! At least now the humidity should break....

Currently 82° and - yes - raining!

LISA V: S. Abram, Web 2.0

Stephen Abram, all around library dude, gave the second invited talk for Tuesday. These are my notes on his talk, not detailed transcriptions (not that you can get a detailed transcript of such an energetic and entertaining speaker!). His talk will be online at his blog. General consensus amongst the folks I talked to at the coffee break right afterwards was who needs coffee after a kick like this talk!

Web 2.0: The Library 2.0 In Your Future

Overall perception, not the details… we’re facing another shift in the library world away from the technological details and back towards the service aspect. We can’t define ourselves in terms of the technology anymore, but in terms of our patrons. Also must stop investing our energy in “protecting the book” – there is no evidence that books are at risk. But we have to be more aware of the search engine optimization and the way it bends results.

MySpace, Facebook, etc and their impact. Game theory. Second Life. Open Croquet.

We need to stop building paths the way we think people should do things, and learn how the people want to do things and then design from there. Context and comfort are very important. Information density is NOT a bad thing!

Millenials are very, very different, and they approach things very differently…we need to adapt ourselves to understand how they learn, and provide them learning in those ways that are comfortable to them.

SirsiDynix is implementing SchoolRooms – VERY neat idea – across Ohio, and will be rolling out in other states and countries in the future. Also starting to roll out in universities. Check it out!

We need to stop teaching searching skills and start teaching finding skills –

Web 2.0 is not just happening to us – it’s happening across the board.

- Web as platform
- Harnessing collective intelligence
- Data valuable as functionality
- Boundaryless software

At what point do we realize it’s not about delivering information but putting ourselves back in the equation to help find the right question? We run the risk of letting the search engine optimizers decide what people will see….

Microsoft Live Academic, Google Scholar….

We have to look at the why’s of this 2.0 paradigm.

Academichi (Facebook for academics)… check it out!!

Grokker; OCLC open records; Don’t believe everyone learns from text-based learning methods! Social networks and socially driven content, social bookmarking; Cooperation!!!! Library 2.0 is about learning, research, productivity and collaboration. The smartphones are coming…be prepared.

Align services with the technologies the users are using.

Librarian 2.0 plays more!


LISA V: A. Wolpert, Convergence

Ann Wolpert, Director of the MIT Libraries, gave the first invited talk for Tuesday. These are my notes on her talk, not detailed transcriptions. I quite enjoyed her talk!

Convergence: How Information Technology Blurs Boundaries and Creates New Opportunities

Convergence describes a business or service environment that is transformed when previously unrelated technologies combine. Powerful driver of innovation, but you need the right kinds of things to combine and the right social and economic factors as well.

Info Technology is the convergence of many things – has driven extensive convergence innovations. Initially we saw it in finance and entertainment, but also in a whole variety of other areas, including science and libraries. (Not to mention the explosion of the Internet!)

Cell phones are even starting to impact library use! (Students and researchers taking cell-photos of computer screens, archival materials, etc)

Newer IT tools are radically changing the research methods; students are no longer trained in research methodologies, but by the environment of the Web and the Internet (Wikipedia, Flickr, Amazon, etc).

Wow map of wireless action on the MIT campus at 3am – heavy use and activity! Dang.

The nature and norms of information are changing, both in the “social life” and the “technical life”.

Vannevar Bush, “As We May Think”, Atlantic Monthly, 1945. Predicted the need for continually extended, stored, protected and consulted data, and described a fast, responsive, easy-to-use desktop system for information search, retrieval and management. (Based on microfiche technology!) He’d be pleased with the technological advances today, but not with the researcher’s ability to freely consult, store, manipulate and use their data (publisher’s rights, intellectual property laws, etc).

Libraries and researchers are awakening to these convergences.

The “Library as Place” is also changing; the networked environment is turning it more into “Place as Library”. Add in the nature of information and the Library is a whole new entity… but one that definitely will continue to be important as a place. However, the other side of the coin is that wherever a researcher is, the library will also be there.


Just too damn cool.

Talking with Stephen Abram this morning (he remembered me! How cool!) and he mentioned a recent discovery of light moving so fast it went backwards, and what an astonishing discovery it was. Of course, I had to go look for it - and he's right! WOW. Check it out: Light So Fast It Actually Goes Backwards. The implications are staggering.

Yesterday was disgustingly hot and muggy here in Boston, but today seems cooler. Of course, they're expecting torrential thunderstorms tonight.... ah well, guess I get to see a wide range of New England weather!

June 19, 2006

LISA V: Open Access

The third session was on Open Access. These are my notes, not detailed transcriptions, and may include my own opinions. Some very interesting stuff in here!

H. Joseph – Open Access: the promise and the practice

“Open access = immediate free electronic availability of research that scholars produce without expectation of payment”

Potential usage is maximized

Access model NOT a business model, i.e. does NOT equal “author pays”; that’s only one possible way to support open access.

Lessons learned
- Get the science out to the scientists. Member-driven organizations; listen to your members
- Technology provides opportunity for advancement
- Collaboration is key
- All publishing ventures do NOT share the same operating philosophy.
- Common drivers are emerging in the digital environment

Core challenge: use technology to maximize distribution without jeopardizing financial foundation; direct the charge of scholarly publishing and academic resource coalition.

C. Birdie – Open Access Repository in Astronomy – case study of IIA

Analyzed IIA publications and their availability in ADS in answer to the question “If it’s all available OA in ADS do we need to provide our own repository?” The answer was that ADS did *not* have all IIA publications in full text available on the site, so the library moved forward with an OA repository of all IIA papers. Sounds like a huge but very worthwhile job!

S. Barve – Managing digital archives using open source tools

Once they created a digital archive (by scanning a huge amount of historical material!) they were faced with how to manage it all. After evaluating commercial systems and not finding anything that supported digital collection organization, they looked for new solutions and found an open source tool that worked (LAMP system). The library staff ended up taking on the administration and maintenance of the LAMP system and it became very easy for them to manage their digital collection.

Everything is sorted by Communities / Collections / Items using DSpace, which is the digital repository OA software IIA settled on. (

A. Pepe – Protocols for scholarly communication

Brief introduction to CERN. Overview of scholarly output (lots and lots!)… leads into the ongoing projects of long-term preservation and dissemination.

CERN Document Server is the institutional library catalog and the institutional preprint repository….acquired and disseminated by the OAI-PMH (open access institute’s protocol for metadata harvesting). They are pushing for mandated self-archiving in the future (right now they’re about 50% fulltext, but 100% metadata) as well as publishing in OA journals.

They’re looking to develop some archive-based library services that will attract the authors more and induce them to self-archive in the repository. Working on collaborative tools (like adding a review to a paper entry) and looking at usage and citation analysis, all to provide added value to the end users to encourage them to add their papers to the repository.