Sunday, May 30, 2010


The final paper of the quarter hit the drop box on Friday afternoon (hurrah!), so it's just presentations from the point out. One is a no-more-than-fifteen-minute presentation on how blogs can add value to a library's web presence. The second is an about-fifteen-minute presentation of RDA as if presented to a library director. The research for both is pretty much done, though there isn't much to do for the latter other than gather together everything from the quarter. A draft of each, in Powerpoint, sits on my desktop, awaiting tinkering. They're essentially outlined and essentially done except for the whole, you know, presenting part.

I keep stalling on the talky bit, which is unfortunate because I'm fairly sure I'm going to have to talk both presentations through before they start to make sense. I'm not entirely sure why. The recording itself is fairly innocuous. I don't really hate the sound of my own voice (though there still some shades of unadulterated Queens-style vowels in there). I seem to get caught up in the articulation bit. Even when I have a script and a timer in front of me, I tend to alternate between lethargic rambling and lightening-fast babbling. Before this program, getting up and talking in front of people/recording something as if I were talking in front of people just wasn't a feature. I can distinctly remember giving only two presentations in the four years of my undergraduate, and one wasn't even for a class but rather a summer research job. There was a group presentation for the MA, but I can barely recall if I said anything or if I wrote something and another person said it all.

The fact remain that I'm far more comfortable making my argument in text and handing it in or posting it online somewhere. The message boards we use in the online program just emphasizes this, especially because I even go back and edit once I've realized I've said something that's not quite right. If anything, I'm often too talkative on the boards. I try to tell myself that I'm not that librarian stereotype, that I do like people and that, in fact, I will miss interacting with students when I move into Tech Services full-time later this summer. But I just don't like talking in front of people. To people? Fine. With people? Absolutely. On a stage with people looking at me and judging? Ugh. I know that people are judging as harshly as I think and that, honestly, what is ten minutes on blogs and libraries and how does that impact the world? But the second I hit record I just feel like a complete idiot and start talking as fast as possible to get it over with.

Even though I've essentially been scripting this RDA presentation in my head for weeks, sitting down and getting it recorded just seem absolutely impossible. I'm sure I'll be able to trick myself into getting something down later this week (particularly since the blogging one is due on Friday). But right now, watching BBC history documentaries just seems like the best option.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Linked Library Data Incubation Group

Link to the charter:

The mission of the Library Linked Data Incubator Group is to help increase global interoperability of library data on the Web, by bringing together people involved in Semantic Web activities—focusing on Linked Data—in the library community and beyond, building on existing initiatives, and identifying collaboration tracks for the future.

The group will explore how existing building blocks of librarianship, such as metadata models, metadata schemas, standards and protocols for building interoperability and library systems and networked environments, encourage libraries to bring their content, and generally re-orient their approaches to data interoperability towards the Web, also reaching to other communities. It will also envision these communities as a potential major provider of authoritative datasets (persons, topics...) for the Linked Data Web. As these evolutions raise a need for a shared standardization effort within the library community around (Semantic) Web standards, the group will refine the knowledge of this need, express requirements for standards and guidelines, and propose a way forward for the library community to contribute to further Web standardization actions.

The incubator group has been initiated by actors from national libraries, university libraries and research units, library vendors companies and other interested stakeholders. Its scope is however not limited to libraries as institutions, but is meant to involve other cultural heritage institutions, partners from the publishing industry, and other relevant domains.

This is amazing. This is exactly where we need to be heading. And I am happy to see that LC is on board with this, as well as the DCMI (natch) and IFLA.

I am at loss for anything pithier than "YES!".

13 days...

Today I've been somewhat ridiculously productive. Thirteen days remain in the quarter and I've managed to draft all of the remaining assignments (paper on the US's plan for testing RDA, presentation on RDA, presentation on libraries and blogs). Some drafts are far more drafty than others and there's the actual recording to contend with, which may or may not be made a million times easier via Jing. I love the ability to switch between a browser for demonstrations and a PowerPoint for the rest of it, but the lack of editing is a bit nerve wracking. I never bothered with the micro-editing functions in PointeCast, but I did go slide by slide. Though this running through things in real time is probably beneficial for me in the long run as there really isn't an opportunity for a "do over" in live presenting. Once I've done more than a ten minute test drive of the software, I'll talk more about it here.

In researching libraries who use blogs, the idea of having something to blog about has come up again and again. Librarians are often eager to embrace and implement new technology, but sometimes they do so before they've really thought through the appropriateness of the program etc. Blogs are particularly attractive because they're often so easy to implement and use. But they're also so easy to forget about or to neglect. Updating a blog means that you have to find both the time to write and something worth writing about. My own struggles with blogging is a clear demonstration of that tension. The best ideas typically show up when I'm deep in coursework (though happily they tend to find a home on a class message board). When I'm suddenly free, it's all apologies and banalities. For an individual this might be forgivable, but for an institution it's much harder to pass off. An ALA TechSource report on Web 2.0 offers some excellent best practices for either choosing to blog and what to do once that decision has been made. While I am all for bringing libraries more into the web, I do balk at implementing for the sake of implementing. If it will truly add value, go right ahead. If not, find something else that works.

Monday, May 17, 2010

LCSH and VC's VS

I spent two day this past week in scenic Eugene, OR taking a course on LCSH. The course itself is excellent - great information taught by incredibly knowledgeable people. Sitting there, I realized how lucky I am to have had a fairly strong grounding in the subject from LIS 531. Still, I learned a ton. The course spent much more time working with authority records than anything else and I'll surely be using all of that during my usual authority work. While the course material was incredibly useful, when trying to parse the complex strings and stumbling to figure out where the damn geographic subdivision belonged, I couldn't help but think about the limitations of LCSH as a whole. It's another one of those legacy products built in bits and pieces and updated in chunks for nearly a hundred years. While the strings, once properly formed, can be incredibly expressive, I can see how much of a pain they are to break apart for something like faceted searching or other types of reuse. Simply assigning identifiers to more pre-coordinated strings doesn't feel like a solution either.

As we've been discussing on the boards for LIS 539, so much of LCSH depends on the context of the subject string, located with in the context of the record. This lack of context, or rather lack of explicit context, seems to be a continual issue in trying to move catalogs to be more in line with modern technology. Is it that the library community never dreamed of having to break thing apart? Is it that we, as a community, never dreamed that we could be supplanted as information leaders and thus took the reasonable step of saving time and energy by relying on our shared systems/methods/records to carry the burden of context? I doubt in that position I could have foretold the world in which libraries must function. But to see the same issue crop up again and again, it makes me wonder. As usual, I feel I've not spent enough time in the field to say "Well, let's scrap it and start again!" Scrapping LCSH would be a waste and LC does seem motivated to make significant changes when called on (adding a subdivision for form and fixing all of the inverted headings just to start). Still, it will be interesting to see where this all winds up as libraries seem to inch ever closer to the Semantic Web... whether we like it or not.


I received an email today from a Vassar student asking me to contribute my memories of the Victorian Studies program towards a project she's developing in conjunction with the college's 150th anniversary. I have a Word doc open right now where I've been dumping my memories of the program. I can remember when I first decided I declared. I can remember my first end of the year dinner. I remember feeling relieved that the program had left me well prepared for my MA. I remember chiding actors for wearing white tube socks during a production of The Invention of Love. It's still strange to realize I've been out of Vassar for nearly 6 years and that I've been out of high school for nearly 10. It feels alternatively that so much and yet so little have happened in the intervening time.

And on that note, sleep.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Mostly good...

Things are happening and I can't quite talk about them yet, but it's mostly good, somewhat migraine causing, but good.

So in honor of the ebbing migraine and the fact that I'm nearly done with reading for the week, a list of things that are mostly good or good.

*Coffee and its migraine-fighting caffeine

*My Circ Students, especially the ones leaving me forever graduating today

*Finally understanding what this Semantic Web thing is and why it's a Big Deal

*Lacey coming home in less than a month!!!

*Maria, who is going to be the best Tech Services manager EVER!

*A day off on Monday

*That Husband Guy. He's pretty awesome.