August 31, 2007

It's Blog Day 2007!

Blog Day 2007"Blog Day was created with the belief that bloggers should have one day dedicated to getting to know other bloggers from other countries and areas of interest. On that day Bloggers will recommend other blogs to their blog visitors."

Here's my five (not necessarily library-related) blog recommendations; I'm violating some of the rules of BlogDay by not notifying the bloggers, but I suspect they'll live; also, these are not new, because the few new blogs I'm following are all humor-related (and not necessarily safe for work!).
  • Lifehacker. Geek to live, baby - and get it done!
  • Whatever. John Scalzi is awesome.
  • A List Apart. A great resource on the neverending CSS hamsterwheel of learning.
  • Stephen's Lighthouse. Always interesting insights on libraries, technology, and neverending worldwide travel.
  • Because I Said So. Often-hilarious commentary from a mom of six. Not for the faint of heart.
Now, to read what some other BlogDay recommendations are!

"Librarian Hotties" Calendar Planned for 2008

Tip o' the calendar sheet to Virginia for this tip! Try as I might, I can't come up with anything pointed or witty to say about it... the fact that it's satire (don't miss that part, folks, it could be important) kind of wraps it all up for me.

(99° and no rain. Sigh.)

August 24, 2007

The End of an Era

Yesterday was my mother's last day of work in a library; today, she begins her well-earned retirement. After, um, forty-two years? Forty-three? More? Some amazing amount of time 'round about there - she was working in a library when she and my dad met, and next year is their fortieth anniversary. Over the years, she's done it all - cataloging, reference, technical services, serials management, research support, solo, team-based - and in every kind of library, too - university, elementary school, military base, public, community college. She spent her last several years being the Voyager systems administrator for her college, which took her in even more new directions.

I remember helping my mom alphabetize cards for the card catalog at the base library at Incirlik (I was 6 or 7) using one of those long flippy metal and plastic alphabetizing doohickeys - you know, the ones that were really long and narrow, with the letters of the alphabet on each of the pieces of plastic, and you could slide the cards behind the right letter and sort 'em all out? Those were brilliant. When I was in high school, my mom was the librarian for the base's elementary school, and the library was the only classroom with a computer; I will never forget the horrible voice of the spelling game program that the kids always wanted to play with! And she would always bring home new books to read to us over dinner. (Bear in mind this was to a family of two adults and two teenagers - didn't matter, we had children's books read to us at dinnertime!)

My mother has forgotten more about librarianship than I will ever know. Growing up, I'd always assumed I'd follow in my father's footsteps, but when that path was closed to me, discovering that my mother's was open was serendipitous. She was a great help to me in grad school, a soothing balm through some of the rougher patches of my professional life, and a cheerleader through it all.

Thanks, Mama, and happy retirement... Now the fun can begin!

It's Friday so it must be blog-reading day, right?

Well, no, not today. Dang it. Well, maybe this afternoon...

First (well, second, after the coffee brews) I have to rename a SQL database, which turns out to be nontrivial. And this is in SQL Server 2005, which I have just about 0.0001% experience in, so I'm just a tad nervous about it all. At least at this point if I screw it up it'll only take two or three hours to rebuild it and some shrugs from the few test users, instead of being faced with a lynch mob (as in, better now than later). Yes, this is related to the EDMS from Hell, although in all fairness this is because of my own mistake in not thinking a naming convention through. So, my mistake, my pain in fixing it.

Then I have a major software upgrade (on a package I don't actually use, I just provide admin support) to perform. The thing about this one is, since we installed this package over a year ago it's worked beautifully and has required no support. Which means I have zero familiarity with it. Hopefully, the upgrade will work as beautifully as the product has so far... fingers crossed.

Ah, the coffee's done. Now I can face SQL with caffeine-induced courage. Plus, I have a bonus donut... that always helps.

Chance of rain today! Yay!

August 23, 2007

A Return to Tradition

I have decided that I've had it with these dratted newfangled electronic document management systems and I want to go back to a 3-ring binder with green grid paper and a PENCIL! Arrgh! I don't care if it means more work for me to keep track of what state each document is in, it can't be as much work as this fardling program is right now. If I could get a good grip on my hair, I'd be tearing it out right now.

I've sent my formal help request to the support line, and I'm going to go play with Drupal for a while. At least there I'm making progress and having some fun, dang it!

99°, 28%Rh, lovely clouds over the mountains, but I dunno about rain today...

August 22, 2007

Embarrassment and Wonder

Looking at my ClustrMap, I see I have visitors from countries I can't identify. As someone who identifies themselves as globally aware, this is mortifying to me. (I'm off to get me some map learnin'!) I am also completely and totally astonished every time I look at it to see how international the visitors to this blog are. Hi, aloha, dag, hola, bonjour, hej, merhaba, and g'day to you all, and I'd love to learn how to say hello in anyone else's language if you'll leave me an instructional comment!

92° and time for bed.

August 21, 2007


Just a fleeting post today...

* Still having fun with Drupal. The joys of the last couple of days: URL aliasing, the glossary and swfupload modules, and figure captions. (OK, that last one isn't quite so joyful, but it will be soon.)

* I recently subscribed to the Journal of Web Librarianship (starting with Volume 1, Number 1, which I just finished reading today, just in time for Number 2 to arrive) and I luuuuurve it. I now aspire to publish in it someday.

* Also recently subscribed to, but I'm two issues behind on reading: Library Hi Tech. I fell in love with it just for their recent issue on content management systems.

* I've only just this instant realized I missed the deadline (it was Monday) for getting my slides in for the proceedings for Internet Librarian! AAUGH! Drat, drat, drat... AND I forgot to vote in the rain game today!

It's an even 100° and I'm going home now, dang it.

August 16, 2007

A short but very deeply felt rant

I really, truly loathe web registration forms that will not work in any browser except IE... and said loathing only deepens when there is no notification of such anywhere on the page, and you don't find out until after you've filled out the bazillion form fields and tried to submit it.

If I didn't have to use this particular company's site to request an upgrade for their product for work purposes (no, you can't do it via email, nor via the program itself), I'd refuse to, and send a nasty email to the company. Arrgh.

August 14, 2007

Zoomin' with Drupal

So... it's been a hectic week with a lot going on. But I'm not going to tell you about all that - I'm going to tell you about some of the things I've discovered about Drupal lately instead! I had some real breakthroughs last week that enabled me to really get cranking, and yesterday I opened up my dev site to my engineers for input and comments. (Let the flames begin!)

I wanted to share some of the things I've learned, though, because they weren't very intuitive (at least, not to me!), the help files were not always that helpful, and why not do what I can to keep other folks from beating their heads against the wall, too? This all applies to the NoProb theme (and my subtheme off of it).

YMMV with all this, of course -

* If you're using the TinyMCE editor and the IMCE image tool, you have to either globally set, or allow your users to set, their input format to full HTML. Filtered HTML won't cut it. I was going nuts trying to figure out why just a simple hard return wasn't giving me a visible paragraph break on a piece of text - it was marked as filtered HTML. Changed it to full, and poof, there was my paragraph break. Images were also displaying in the editing blocks, but not in the preview panels, for the same reason.

* Breadcrumbing locations are not controlled from the administrative settings, nor from the style sheet definitions; you have to tweak the template's php page for that. (Thanks to Cary for the info on the right way to tweak it!)

* To allow users to change the weighting of their book pages (as in, the order in which the book pages appear in the book) you have to grant permissions to administer nodes to the appropriate user role. <rant>On a related note: So far the only thing I've found that I really dislike about Drupal is the whole weighting thing. Don't get me wrong - I love the book content type and we're going to be using it quite heavily - but I quite snarl at the weighting process. If'n you don't use it, you end up with your book pages in alphabetical order, which is not what is always wanted. It's very nonintuitive - I thought it was just me but so far every one of my users who's signed up for an account has gone "Uh, what the heck is this?", and there seem to be a hefty number of postings about it on the forums as well. And where did a weighting of -15 to 5 come from? Can't we just go, say, 0 to 20 or something? Or even more - I can very easily see where there might be more than 20 "chunks" in a set. Sheesh!</rant>

* When creating profile pages (which we will be using for staff contact pages), if you choose to use a freeform list as one of your fields, you cannot use HTML (therefore you can't, say, link to a given talk or published paper). Go with the multi-line textfield. While you're at it, if you want a picture to be added to the profile page (but nowhere else), you have to enable picture support in the user settings, but do not toggle the user picture display in the theme controls. (I thought you needed both and ended up with photos all over the site!)

Still to come (amongst much more, I'm sure): Figuring out how to limit the content list shown to the logged-in user to their own content (as in, don't show my content to Bob, or Bob's content to Sam), and trying to get figure captions to appear under the figure on the web page instead of just as a floating title (which doesn't work on all browsers, it seems).

No rain. Just heat.

August 9, 2007

So, um, er...?

Interesting link from LLotD - almost passed it over until I heard from a friend that I really should check it out (thanks, Kathy!) - Christopher Brosius Limited's perfume scent "In the Library". I'm quite tempted to buy the little bottle just to see what it really smells like!

When will scents come to the Internet? (I'm suddenly having a flashback to Bloom County's Scratch-n-Sniff Bill... aack!) Then again, maybe I don't want random smells wafting out of tiny scent generators whenever I visit a web site... *shudder*

Sunny and 87°. Aaahhhh.

August 8, 2007

Sys Grunt

A day in the life of a systems librarian... with a tip o' the hat to Ref Grunt.

Make coffee.
Read and answer email.
Check status of user with new swap space definition (so far, so good).
Send copyright question for posting old hardware manuals to listservs.
Discuss problematic webcam with IT.
Send SLA meetup info to chapter webmaster.
Read and answer email.
Research some of the listserv suggestions on copyright issues.
Troubleshoot CAD crash issue with user.
Browser/mailer crash. Sigh..
More coffee, read Monday's and Tuesday's LISNews.
Tweak data archive request form.
Procure chocolate for IT guy who fixed webcam.
Blog posting: PCA Call for Papers.
Summarize copyright findings on blog, send to listservs with thanks.
Update billing info for Experts Exchange; renew membership.
Read and answer email.
Answer reference question about the "Eye of God" nebula, aka the Helix Nebula.
Rummage around for lunch.
Adjust settings for directory monitoring program on server after forcing an end-process to kill stuttering notifications.
Post report into archives, database, and web site.
Post new instrument information to web site.
Discuss future (if any) of long-ignored indexing project.
Burn archive DVD of document set.
Return indexed papers to originating scientist; vow to finish unindexed stack sometime this year.
Listen to user complain (at length) about application.
Start work on unindexed papers. Index, index, index.
Read and answer email.
Go home.

96° and 27%Rh. No rain today.

My Foray into Copyright

This morning's adventure is into the realm of copyright and operations manuals. We have a bunch of operations manuals from the 60s and 70s that are still in regular use at the telescopes; they're physically falling apart, so have been digitized for our use, but they're also used by observers to the telescopes. The companies that provided these manuals back in the day have since vanished. Could we, legally, post the PDFs of these manuals in our new online observer's manual? I had no idea - copyright is not my area of expertise by a long shot. (I know the basics, at least!)

So, I turned to my colleagues and posted an inquiry to some division listservs. Here's a summary of my responses:

* Information Outlook has a regular column on copyright, "Info Rights", by Lesley Ellen Harris - they aren't available online right now but had a lot of good suggestions and resources for frequent copyright questions and uses. (I'll be sure not to skip over that section anymore, that's for sure!)

* (Amended to include this item) CFHT's Liz Bryson maintains a rather complete list of copyright resources that's got a lot of good information.

* If you're affiliated with a university or college, chances are very high that they subscribe to a copyright clearinghouse like the Copyright Clearance Center - check with them, they might have the answer. Or, if you have a legal department, ask them. (Lots of folks suggested these.)

* Also, be sure to check the CCC and LOC copyright sites directly. I actually found the answer I was looking for on the CCC web site; according to the "What is Copyright" page, in the "Public Domain" section:

Public domain materials generally fall into one of four categories:

  1. Generic information, such as facts, numbers and ideas.
  2. Works whose copyrights have lapsed due to the passage of time or the failure of the copyright holder to renew a registration (a requirement that applies to works created before 1978).
  3. Works created prior to March 1989 that failed to include a proper notice of copyright.
  4. Works created by the U.S. federal government.
I called CCC directly, briefly explained my situation, and asked for confirmation that they would, in fact, fall under #3 above. (In this arena, I don't trust my own first interpretation.) The very kind rep verified that yes indeedy, they would, and that it would not be a copyright violation to link a PDF of the manual (in its entirety, including the cover page) to our online observer's manual.

So. This has been a good lesson for me on copyright resources and information - thanks so much to everyone who replied to me with suggestions! dPAM and dSOLO rock :-)

Call for Papers: PCA Libraries, Archives, and Museums Area

Call for Papers: Popular Culture Association 2008

Libraries, Archives and Museums Area

The Popular Culture Association will be holding its annual joint meeting with the American Culture Association March 19 – 22, 2008, at the San Francisco Marriott in San Francisco, California. Scholars from numerous disciplines will meet to share their Popular Culture research and interests.

The Libraries, Archives, and Museums Area is soliciting papers dealing with any aspect of Popular Culture as it pertains to libraries, archives, museums, or research. In the past this has included descriptions of research collections, studies of popular images of libraries or librarians, analyses of web resources such as Wikipedia and YouTube, and reports on developments in technical services for collecting popular culture materials. Papers from graduate students are welcome.

Prospective presenters should send a one-page abstract (with full contact information) by November 1 2007, to Allen Ellis, Professor of Library Services, W. Frank Steely Library, Northern Kentucky University (

August 7, 2007

Drupal Subtheme Joy

Well, I did it! I successfully created a subtheme for Drupal, and it showed up in the administrative manager and everything! I haven't tweaked it yet - only on paper so far (I'm marking up the main theme's CSS with notes and stuff - I can't help it, sometimes I need paper and pencil), but I'll be trying that first thing tomorrow (after brewing some coffee, that is).

My plan for the coming weeks is to spend half the day on the EDMS (today I managed to create a batch file that actually works [after a couple of tries; gotta have those quotes in the right place!] to do all the "mkdir" commands to recreate the new, collapsed structure) and half on Drupal (see above). So far so good! Well, except for yesterday - my plan to work on Drupal in the afternoon was sidelined by a not-very-enjoyable vasovagal reaction to the hyalgen injections. (Yes, I passed out. A short-lived but exciting time was had by my husband and the orthopedist.) If it weren't for the fact that the last round worked so well for me... dang it. Ah well; it's the price you pay for having knees forty years older than you are.

Currently 92° and cloudy; it feels cooler than that, but the mugginess is not pleasant. How do folks on the East Coast live with this year-round?

August 6, 2007

Cranky Old Knees

So, we continue to have Fun with Monsoon Storms here in (usually sunny) Tucson - and my knees are telling me all about it. Today I have the first injection of the second round of hyalgen viscosupplementation - at least I know what to expect during the shots and what the aftereffects will be, and last round gave me 15 months of relief (which is a nice long time for this stuff, believe me!) - I hope for the same this time around. Whee...

In other news, we'll be testing a proposed SolidWorks assembly transfer process this week (if you rename a path in the filename of a SW assembly, it breaks the references and, thus, breaks your model - makes it very hard to transfer assemblies into a new directory structure). Keep your fingers crossed. And while that is going on, I plan to continue my assault on Drupal themes and modules - maybe I'll actually get somewhere this week (which would be nice). These two tasks will be my main focus for the month of August - we lose the test server on 1 September, and that's also my deadline for having a working web-CMS to present to the staff. More whee...

Time to jet to the orthopedists' office. It's still lightly sprinkling and a lovely, cool 74°.

August 3, 2007

Classic stereotypes? Nope!

Carol Petrowski shares some thoughts on the profession in her autobiographical article "Librarians don’t fit classic stereotypes" over at the Holmen Courier (Wisconsin). I like the opener:
"I was wearing my favorite T-shirt, the one that said 'U*N*A*B*A*S*H*E*D* LIBRARIAN' on it, when I had the hang gliding accident that smashed my wrist. (Now THERE’S an opening sentence you wouldn’t expect to see in a column written by a slightly-over-middle-aged librarian.)"
Nice musings!

Wait a second...

"So you're saying men can be librarians?" Check out "The Couch Dialogues", today's Penny Arcade comic (today being 2007/08/03 if you have to go back through the archives).

What do you think, guys, do you like "librarianman" any better than "guybrarian"? (How about Libratorr?)

No rain last night, very sad. Currently 86° and 50% chance of rain today.

August 2, 2007


Are you a librarian (or librarian-ish)? Got a blog? Go take Meredith Farkas' (Information Wants to be Free) 2007 Survey of the Biblioblogosphere. Go. Now. Thank you.

It's currently a sunshiny 92° - quite lovely. I hope it rains tonight.

August 1, 2007


...buried, inundated, overwhelmed...

In brief:

* We survived the last round of reviews. Yay, us!

* The Time Traveler's Wife is an awesome book. Go forth and read it now. (Thanks for the loan, David!)

* Check out the storm that walloped Tucson yesterday. (Links to MPG)

* I think we're going to be able to buy our own web server, which is good since one of our main ones went down again today - arrgh.

* Collapsing hundreds of directory structures for a new file structure is eye-strain-inducing. Bleah.

Currently a gloomy 90° with 48%Rh. I hope it rains again today!