Library Education Forum: of, by, and for the people

You have probably read about this elsewhere, but if not, let me announce (and if so, let me reiterate) the Library Education Forum, which will be held on March 11 in New York City. The good folks from the NYC collective of Radical Reference are organizing the shindig, and library students, prospective library students, recent and unrecent graduates, professors, and regular old librarians are all welcome to attend. I hope Michael Gorman is listening.

carnival #19

Hear ye, hear ye (how I love to use archaic language in a digital environment): the first Carnival of the Infosciences (#19!) of 2006 is up and running over at Wanderings of a Student Librarian.

Among its many gems are some obvious to some but good nonetheless interview tips from Grumpator. Heidi Dolamore, who writes the wonderfully named quiddle (and is running for ALA Council!) has also been posting on the topic of the great librarian job hunt. If you’re looking for a job yourself, definitely check out her blog–she’s been giving great run-downs on different kinds of interviews and what kinds of questions they ask.

I have, in fact, embarked upon the Great Job Hunt myself and may have more to say about it in the coming weeks and months–although it’s also entirely possible that I’ll be extremely busy with said job hunt plus the usual jobs and school and thus not posting much at all.

In the meantime, enjoy the Carnival and consider signing up to host one yourself!

lost and found @ apple

lost and found @ apple
Originally uploaded by newrambler.

On Monday my computer (an iBook, circa 2003) had a complete meltdown–weird static on the screen, followed by more static, followed by the computer refusing to show anything on the screen at all, or for that matter do much of anything else.

So yesterday morning I drove it over to the Apple store. I got there about five minutes before it opened, and there were already 12 people waiting outside. I got an appointment for about forty minutes later, which I figured was pretty good, considering. The guy at the Genius Bar confirmed what I had suspected–my computer was the victim of the faulty logic board problem (see The bad news was that the computer had to be sent off for a week to ten days; the good news is that the repair would be covered. Whew.

So off I went to walk dogs for a few hours, and then I came home to shower and rest for a little bit before going to work at the library–and it was then that I realized that I no longer had the book I was reading, which I’d last had at the Apple store. I called up, and they said yes, they had it. Thus I got to drive back to Oakbrook, where, happily, the book was waiting for me, topped with the lovely blue sticker you see here. Trust Apple to make even their lost and found signs look pretty.

IM RA etc.: technology for readers’ advisory?

I’m writing a paper for my Readers’ Advisory class about the present and future of of online readers’ advisory. I’ve been doing research in the usual academic sorts of places, but it just occurred to me that this would be a good question to bring to the biblioblogosphere.

So, if you happen to read this and use or know of anyone using online resources for RA, leave a comment or e-mail me at lauracrossett at hailmail dot net. “Online resources” could mean anything from plain old websites to newer social software–blogs, wikis, IM, and so forth.

The paper is due Thursday night, but I’m getting interested in the topic and may try to turn it into an article of some sort, or at the very least a blog post, so late contributions are welcome.


index this!

Walt writes that he is done with C&I Volume 5. If you’re a reader of Cites & Insights, you’ve probably already downloaded and printed out the latest issue, as have I (though I haven’t read it all yet). I was particularly delighted, however, to be able to download and print out the index [.pdf] to the whole volume.

I love indexes (or indices, if you prefer). So far as I know, the C&I index is the first one in which I appear, which gives it a certain added appeal, but I like pretty much any old index.

For one thing, an index is kind of a paper version of a tag cloud. Go pull a biography off the shelf and flip through the index. Chances are that some terms will have several lines of pages listed after them, while some will have only one or two. Some will also have sub-index terms underneath, rather like the sub-subjects in the OPAC tag cloud that everyone’s been talking about. I’ve also always thought that a good index reads rather like a bit of found poetry.

And then, of course, there’s what I have always considered to be the greatest literary reference to indices: Chapter 44 of Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, called “Never Index Your Own Book.”

“It’s a revealing thing, an author’s index of his own work,” she informed me. “It’s a shameless exhibition—to the trained eye.”
“She can read character from an index,” said her husband.
“Oh? I said. “What can you tell about Philip Castle?”
She smiled faintly. “Thing’s I’d better not tell strangers.”

Want to know what? Well, as we say in my readers’ advisory class, if you want to find out, you’ll have to read the book.

Technical notes for this entry: I’m trying Blogger for Word for the first time. We’ll see how it works. [Update: I wrote this in Word, but I’m going to be posting via Blogger, since so far as I can see, Blogger for Word is not for Mac. Furthermore, I was unable to cut and paste from Word to Blogger, so I had to cut and paste to Text Edit, then cut and paste from there to Blogger, then put in all the links again. Poopy.] I consulted several books in the course of writing this entry—a dictionary, because I was curious about whether there was a preferred plural form for the word index (not really, though indexes was listed first in The American Heritage Dictionary, Second College Edition, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1991), which was what happened to be closest), and a copy of Cat’s Cradle, because I couldn’t remember the exact title of the chapter, and because I wanted to use a quotation. I know there are many wonderful online dictionaries, both free and fee, plus of course that handy Google operator, define: X, but I never think to use them. It did occur to me to try out Google Book Search to see if Cat’s Cradle had been scanned, which it doesn’t seem to have been, though there are plenty of books that reference it. A search for “never index your own book,” however, did turn up this little gem, which I’d love to read. Google, oh, Google, why do you not synch yourselves with Find in a Library?

what help “the help” can offer

I am still on a few mailing lists left over from my time as a graduate student at the University of Iowa. The other day, someone wrote to one about her experience taking a class on Extreme Web Searching at the UI Library, and she kindly gave me permission to reprint her remarks on the experience.

I signed up for this nerdy class at the library to learn about search engines beyond everyone’s fav, Google, and to my surprise, the class was fascinating. There are a whole slew of search engines apart from Mister Google, and they’re doing remarkable things. (They also have bizarre names like Clusty, Teoma, and Dogpile.) Since many of y’all research when you’re not writing, and since others may enjoy a nice vanity-search, I thought I’d pass on the links. This page should be live for a while.

If nothing else, give KARTOO a whirl. I put in the name of the person I’m interviewing [for a conference] and thought I was bugging out when my results “map” appeared.

One might, I suppose, take this as evidence of librarians having done a poor job of marketing themselves as purveyors of useful and cool knowledge (i.e., a graduate student is surprised by what she can learn at the library?), but I am chosing to see it in a much more positive light. You see (and I’m admitting this here for the first time, at least in print), until I actually started library school, I was one of those people who thought the library had nothing to teach me. The more fool I. I’m glad to see that not everyone is as ignorant as I was, or as unwilling to take a chance on the idea that they might learn something from “the help.”

my mantra

Here’s the post I wrote in Writely sometime back. Life has become more hectic since then, but I offer this to tide you over for awhile.

Everyone has their own set of frustrations (often with technology, sometimes with life in general). I’ve had my share over the past few weeks, too numerous and dull to mention, and thus instead I offer you today my favorite frustration mantra. You can find it at the very end of The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling.


We haven’t a camelty tune of our own
To help us trollop along,
But every neck is a hairy trombone
(Rtt-ta-ta-ta! is a hairy trombone!)
And this is our marching song:
Can’t! Don’t! Sha’n’t! Won’t!
Pass it along the line!
Somebody’s pack has slid from his back,
Wish it were only mine!
Somebody’s load has tipped off the road,
Cheer for a halt and a row!
Urr! Yarrh! Grr! Arrh!
Somebody’s catching it now!

Note: One should really always try searching the Web before typing. I was just trying to find a nice Open WorldCat record to link to, and I found that (not surprisingly) there are full-text versions of the whole book available from Project Gutenburg and the University of Virginia. The UVA one even includes the proper italicizations, which the Gutenburg version lacks.

this post will self-destruct. . .

Surely you’ve seen this by now, but in case you haven’t:

“Our users want the world to be as simple, clean, and accessible as the Google home page itself,” said Google CEO Eric Schmidt at a press conference held in their corporate offices. “Soon, it will be.”

And as a special bonus, all the archives of The Onion are now available online for your perusing. I first heard of America’s finest news source one night in college. I was working patrol and walking around with a friend, who said, “Do you read The Onion? No? You should. This week’s headlines: ‘Secondhand Smoke Linked to Secondhand Coolness.'”

Thanks to Jenna for the link. . . and by the way, have you ever wanted to run for ALA Council? She’s recruiting people.

bricks and wireless

There was a little tidbit on NPR’s “Morning Edition” this morning:

Real estate company RE/MAX says it will create a Web site listing homes for sale across the country. Some observers say the growing availability of Internet listings will increase competition in the real estate industry and that could lead to lower commissions. [audio of full story]

Realtors, meanwhile, are tripping over themselves to tell you about all the things that a real estate agent can provide that a web site can’t. Realtors know about houses before they go on the market; they know the quirks and ins and outs of their terrain; they know how to operate; they know, in short, more information than you will ever find out by surfing the web.

Sound familiar? Try replacing the word “Realtor” with “librarian,” make a few other minor adjustments of lingo, and you’ll see where I’m going.

The most fascinating thing, though, was that apparently people who look for houses on the web are actually more likely to use Realtors than those who forgo the internet altogether. Is that true when it comes to librarians? I doubt it.

I am not generally taken with the notion that we must hasten to be as much like the market-driven world as possible: I think you lose some of your essence when you try to be too much like a thing you are not. But the library is a fundamentally socialist institution in a society and an economy that are fundamentally hostile toward socialist projects (except, of course, when it comes to government subsidizing of the oil industry and other corporate welfare), and we have to figure out ways to trick the system into supporting us anyway. Wifi in your library is one way to do that–it’s pretty cheap to install and run; it makes the people with wireless devices think the library is a happening place and thus, one hopes, makes them more willing to support the library the next time a referendum comes around, thus making it possible for you to buy more books and computers and dedicate more staff to helping out the folks on the other side of the infamous (but in no way imaginary) digital divide.

The library needs to be an information source for those who don’t have access to the internet, but there’s no reason it shouldn’t also be an information source for those who do.