Archive for April, 2008

      My assistant, Curtis, and I showed up for work wearing the same colors recently. Yesterday, we were both out sick at the same time. The truly frightening part is that we haven’t been working together that long. Another two or three years and we’ll start turning into one another …
      Speaking of scary scenarios, this is the way the world will end according to Hollywood . But let’s be honest: if the Devil resembles Gabriel Byrne, I am totally signing up with the Prince of Darkness.
       And if you really want to be put off your feed for the rest of the day, check out this little health newsletter that the University of Arnor sends out to us. It’s supposed to be a way to get you to link fruits and vegetables with the health benefits they are good for by associating them with the appropriate body parts. I, for one, will never be able to eat figs again without thinking of this chart …..


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Re: Bon Mot

It’s only fluffy rain.

–owner of a local fabric shop on the current spring snowfall taking place in Hobbiton.

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Spurred on by a rush of spring cleaning, I did something that no librarian should ever do: I took a look in the boxes that surround the perimeter of my office. You librarians know the ones I mean. The ones that have been kicking around ever since you came to work there. The ones no one knows enough about to process, but are afraid to throw out in case they contain something valuable. Yeah, those boxes.

Of course, I knew better. I’ve worked as an A/V archivist long enough to know that if something has been hanging about without anyone doing anything to it, there’s something wrong with the item. Usually it means that some part of the all-important documentation process has been skipped–there’s no release, no information about the contents of the recording, no deed of gift, no idea of what it came from, etc. You get the picture.

Periodically, various members of the staff, past and present, have gone mano-a-mano with the items in question, but they have failed to bring the recordings to heel. A/V archivists only have so many hours in the day and if there is something gumming up the works of processing apparatus, then the process doesn’t apparate and the items are set aside.

So by opening up these boxes I knew that I was just making more work for myself. But knowing that didn’t really prepare me for the more work I got/am getting/will have to do.

Cases in point:

  • I found a release form that had no tape attached to it. After contacting the interviewer (a staff member since retired), I was able to get a copy of the tape, transfer it to CD, summarize the interview, catalog it, and then link its associated items to its MARC record.
  • I found a packet of releases that were related to, but didn’t match up with a collection that we already have. I contacted the interviewer and the end result was a pile of new audiocassettes for me to accession.
  • I discovered that the Gondor Archives had transcripts associated with a collection that we have so I arranged to get copies of same. The end result is a new batch of transcripts and associated papers that I have to go through and match up with the interviews.
  • I questioned my boss, Bill, about a box of VHS videotapes of a conference in Barrow and the end result is a letter of transmittal to the donating organization and potentially a lot of new processing and release form seeking.

All of these new tasks are on top of the on-going ones I already do. Take it from me, friends: don’t feed your gremlins after midnight, don’t push the big red button, and, whatever you do, don’t open the boxes!

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Re: Ah, Gardeners!

Gardeners in Hobbiton are noted for their single-minded pursuit of growing things and their never-ending-struggle against Mother Nature and her minions who seem to be deadset against them growing anything. The recent talk on the Master Gardeners’ listserv had turned to ways to rid your household of fungus gnats (small, annoying insects that gnaw on the roots of your plants) and one lady posted a list of helpful tips that included this little tongue-in-cheek gem:

Invite guests over and serve wine. I GUARANTEE every fungus gnat in the house will drown themselves in your guests’ wine glasses. It will make you feel like a terrible housekeeper, but at least it will kill off some gnats.


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“Faeries, why did it have to be faeries?”–Harry Dresden, Small Favor

Chicago wizard and private investigator, Harry Dresden, still owes two favors to Queen Mab and she’s back to collect in this 10th installment in Jim Butcher’s Dresden series. On the surface Harry’s mission seems straight forward enough–find out who kidnapped crime boss Gentleman Johnny Marcone and get him back–but nothing is ever as it seems with the Sidhe. It’s up to Harry to dodge increasingly powerful hit squads of gruffs (as in Billy Goats Gruff), the minions of the Winter Court, the demonic Knights of the Blackened Denarius, and some major bad winter weather to save his city and the world once again.

If you’re a Dresden fan as I am, this book will leave you yelling “write faster, Jim, and give us more Dresden adventures!” Incidentally, author Jim Butcher is as witty in person as he is on the page as you can see from the below video. This is part of 2007 talk he gave at a bookstore in Seattle.

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Human powered search engine

“Human powered search engine” is Internetese that means that real people read, summarize, and rate various Internet resouces. Brijit is more of a serious, current awareness service. The others–Mahalo, ChaCha, Squidoo–seem to be more socially oriented and less informative. Not mentioned is the Librarians’ Index to the Internet which I highly recommend. Real librarians check out, summarize, and catalog internet resources for you. Sadly, this fine organization recently just had its budget cut by 50%. Cruel hard as Samwise Gamgee would say. Check out their weekly current awareness feature while you still can. Available by e-mail and RSS.

Book Art

Proving that necessity is sometimes the mother of art as well as invention, this is a little, thrown-together video done as a marketing demo for Marion Bataille’s upcoming art book, ABC3D. It is a pop-up book of the alphabet, but that bland description really doesn’t do it justice.

Addictive new game

A warning: check out the below game at your own risk. It’s very simple to play–just line up the jewels to make rows of three or more, but whoa baby, is it addictive! Bejeweled reminds me of those jump-the- peg board games we played when we were kids. You can only move jewels that are directly above, below, or to the side, however, so there’s no moving from several squares away. You don’t need to download anything to play Bejeweled. However, if you want to play other on-line games from this site, you will need to download one of their plug-ins.


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Here are a bunch of links that I discovered courtesy of the Arnor Library Association conference last month, but didn’t get around to posting ’til now:

What to Do With Wikipedia
Rather than refuse to allow students to use Wikipedia, the author recommends that teachers incorporate Wikipedia editing into their courses, turning students into Wikipedia contributors and incidentally teaching them vital research skills at the same time. Simple, but brilliant.

Wikipedia Help for Teachers and Students
Wikipedia concurs. There is an impressive list of universities that have already done something similar. Some courses are specifically about Wikipedia, others have the students contribute as part of a class on a different subject.

Primary Sources
Wikipedia has a very nice primary source page with examples.

Secondary Sources
Ditto for secondary sources. I will be giving out these links as references in my class orientation talks.

Wikipedia also has a nice citations page.

Doe vs. Gonzales
A brief summary of the Doe vs. Gonzales case where a librarian fought a federal gag order successfully. Librarians: standing up for your right to know.

Library Architecture (Slideshow)
Slideshow of modern library buildings. Slideshow author considers these buildings examples of how libraries are being changed by technology. I think it’s more accurate to say that libraries are responding to the needs of their user communities.

Man Who Wanted to Classify the World
Paul Otlet, a cool guy ahead of his time. It was great watching this with a bunch of fellow librarians: we oohed and gasped in all the right places. Only librarians can fully understand what it means to write out over a million catalog cards–by hand. A great documentary if exorbitantly expensive. Rent and show it at your library if you can’t afford to buy it.

Library Careers
One of the neat things about librarianship is how diversified our jobs are. This book has a number of sample chapters that will give you a look into what librarians today are doing.

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