Saturday, November 18, 2006

I love this (except the librarian image - I'd prefer a different one). But isn't it great! =)

Friday, November 03, 2006

Ran across this quote today...

"Only librarians like to search; everyone else likes to find."

Roy Tennant, Library Journal

Monday, October 23, 2006

Pardon the delay - I've been working on papers for weeks on end. And massive amounts of reading. Definitely some interesting stuff. And some really, really boring stuff, I'm sorry to say.

I'm taking this brief pause from paper-writing to share with you all one of the most disturbing things I've seen in awhile.

This requires Flash I believe and you'll need sound to 'enjoy' the whole experience. It's actually quite interesting, though I don't like the results interface. And frankly, Ms Dewey pours it on a little too thick. I'm sure there are some people that will really enjoy this though...

Back to writing...

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Well I've had all my classes once now and things have been quite interesting.

In my very first class, the seminar class, there were students from Ethiopia, Nigeria, Vietnam, Sudan, Mozambique, Bhutan, Tunisia, Russia, South Korea, Mexico, India, Montenegro, Morrocco, and some other places too I think. It was amazing!! We're going to have to work on some group projects together so that will be an experience. I've already made connections with some women from India and Russia.

In my Intructional Training class the professor came in wearing a grubby sweatshirt inside-out and a backwards baseball cap. He proceeded to give the worst powerpoint presentation ever! Mumbling, reading off the slides with his back to the class, there was way too much text on the slides to read any of it, etc, etc. He was obviously making a point! With such a fun and energetic teacher, this is sure to be a great class.

In my Collection Development class we had a panel of library-type people who work with collection development. An interesting observation was made about people from other cultures not understanding libraries or the idea of borrowing items. Some people found it hard to understand borrowing something and not owning it then. It reminded me of a story I may have posted last year about a new librarian somewhere in South America. Parents came in crying and embarassed, believing their child had stolen a book from the library, when he had only checked it out. They didn't understand the concept.
Think about it for a minute. What would it be like to have no concept of the idea of borrowing?

Then I had my Development Management class. One of the most interesting topics to come up (something I had never heard about) is that Bhutan has replaced the GNP with GNH: Gross National Happiness. I know it sounds a bit kooky, but it's interesting.
Their king has declared that the ultimate purpose of government is to promote the happiness of the people. He has said that Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross National Product and he is giving happiness precedence over economic prosperity.

If you're interested, you can read multiple papers about this at The Centre for Bhutan Studies.

I'm off to study about ARCS, an instructional model, in preparation for my first assignment, due Friday!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Welcome back to school everyone!

Okay, so most people who are going to school have already started, days or weeks ago. But today is my first day of school.

I have to say this has been one of the best, summer vacations I've ever had! Plenty of relaxing, hanging out with different Quaker groups, a little travel, a little bike riding, a little reading. I think I'm ready to go back to school now.

This week I gathered with fellow committee members of iServe to promote our committee and get some new students interested in volunteering. It was a great success and I have a lot of hope for the group this year.

I also tried to advertise iWorld but didn't do so well. I'm sort of taking over the website, but haven't been able to touch it yet...and I'm not sure who all is interested in this committee! It looks like me and maybe a couple others. I've got to get busy and do something with this committee...

In half an hour I head off for a full day of classes. First it's a three hour seminar for the International Development Certificate Program. Then it's an hour brown bag to discuss the IDCP and what it will look like this year. Then it's a three hour LIS class: Instructional and Training Strategies for Information Professionals. I've got descriptions of some of these on my website...which I meant to work on more this summer but just couldn't be bothered. =)

Then I might possibly go to a barbeque after all that! But we'll see. Off to school now...

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Thursday, August 10, 2006

New books!

I was checking out my schedule the other day and saw that the required reading had been posted for some classes.

So, gift certificate in hand, I traipsed over to the enormous campus bookstore to search for my books. I picked up:

Developing Library and Information Center Collections,
Reducing Poverty, Building Peace,
Whose Reality Counts? Putting the First Last.

While I was waiting for my books (which were still unshelved and hiding in storage), another book caught my attention which I just had to get: The End of Poverty

I've already started into the poverty/peace book. I'm excited about the collection development title as well - though I imagine it's a bit more of a dry read.

I've actually been getting a little work done on the church library project. Just a little.

Still about a month and a half till school starts!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Ahh, Sesame Street. I may even remember seeing this segment when I was a kid. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Okay, I'm geeking out on Library Thing! It's a free online catalog that I heard about ages and ages ago. I finally decided to try it out. Why? I have no idea why these strange impulses jump into my head. Perhaps I'm procrastinating a bit...
It's in process, but if you want to see some books I have on my shelf, go here.

And hey, you can catalog your own books at It's insanely easy. Sorry to sound like an infomercial...

I've been enjoying my summer immensely so the price of not doing as much work as I had wanted on some different projects. I'm finally starting to do some work on my church's library. Wow, they have an odd process set up for cataloging new books. I've got some work to do, but I'm actually looking forward to it and hope I can improve the whole thing.

I also haven't done much with my new position as "community liaison" of the iServe Committee. I think I'll procrastinate on that one more week and start in to contacting "the community" as soon as I return from yearly meeting down in Oregon.

Hope you are all doing well, and remember, if you need to stay cool, libraries are air-conditioned.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

One day left.

1 1/2 hours - or 2 1/2 depending on the professor. One giant group project paper to turn in, due in 9 1/2 hours. Worth only 5% of our grade.

One year down, one and 1/2, 1/3, 2/3, who knows - to go.

Four glorious months of vacation.

If all goes well, 12 1/2 hours till I'm free and can party non-stop...or sleep...I'll decide tomorrow. =)

Friday, May 26, 2006

Three days left!!! I have three days left of this quarter and I can't tell you how excited I am! I've barely had a break since October. I'm looking forward to having only one job this summer - no school or large conferences to plan, not two jobs, just one. How sweet it will be.

Of course, I'm sure I'll manage to keep busy. I have plans for my room - like finally unpacking boxes and getting my curtains up!

My roomies and I are planning to build a milk carton boat and enter a Milk Carton Derby in July. We still have to think of what to build...

And I'm going to be taking over the church library for the summer and whipping it into shape. =) This will hopefully become one element in my portfolio - which is required for graduation.

Hmm, and I need to work on my website. Yep, I have one through school but it doesn't have anything on it now except a little man digging with a shovel.

Ooh, and I hope to get some bike-rides in and perhaps some camping - we'll see.

So I got plans. But no school! =)

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Hey, just what you wanted: another story! It's quite serious, this one. It's interesting because everyone else in my class did really silly or funny or audience participation or sing-song stories and I did this real serious one. It seemed a bit weird. But everyone commented and someone said they appreciated finally having a serious story! So that was cool. It's not all about telling stories to little kids you know; adults like stories too!

So enjoy!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

At possible great embarassment to myself, I have decided to post this link. This could be dangerous. I don't know if it's a good idea. But...I'm doing it anyway. You'll need speakers for this, and I think it plays with windows media or something like that.

So...enjoy, and let me know what you think!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

While I'm posting images, here's a great shirt from Unshelved, my favorite comic. =)

Courtesy of BeaucoupKevin(dot)com (and who knows where he got it!)

Friday, April 28, 2006

I got in!! So, I'll be starting a certificate program for International Development Policy & Management next quarter. It's actually a good thing since it seems like there aren't many LIS classes offered this coming year that I want to take. So I can fill in the slack time with this great program.


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

For a while there I thought I was learning how to say no, but that's just crazy-talk. There is just too much to do - responsibility-wise and fun-wise.

An update, in no particular order:

- had a mid term today. Wow. The last time a took a test in school was probably 5 years ago! I'm trying not to whine too much since all my siblings have regular tests and most of my friends in other grad programs have midterms and finals. It was kind of a weird experience. I hope I did well. I'm pretty sure I didn't bomb it, but afterwards I knew there were a few things I didn't get.

- I've got a group project coming up on Integrated Pest Management in libraries. We got stuck with the first presentation date, so that's in like two and a half weeks! But our goal is to make everyone have the creepy-crawlies by the time we're done. =) We've talked about getting plastic bugs to put out on the desks and have images of bugs crawling on our powerpoint. And I'm tracking down books that have been eaten by pests.

- my database class is insane with assignments due every class time and so much reading! And I don't know what it is with this reading, but I cannot stay awake and concentrate when I read this stuff. I can stay up till 1 am studying for a test, reading through notes, etc without feeling too tired. But if I start to do the readings for this class ... it's like I develop narcolepsy all of a sudden. The best bed-time reading material EVER.

- I should be finding out this week about the International Development certificate program. Yep, I applied. I'm not sure how much time this will add, probably a year. So we'll see - and I'll certainly post when I hear.

- And lastly, I nominated myself for a student committee. Can you believe it!? I've never served on a student committee or really considered it. I applied for the service committees "community liaison." So, I'll let you know about that too.

Well, I'm off to do some reading...zzzzzzzzzzz

Friday, April 14, 2006

One of my first assignments for my Storytelling class, other than telling stories (more on that later), was to write a poem. A poem!? Are you kidding me!? I thought I escaped that torture by choosing not to get a masters in poetry! But it wasn't as painful as I thought it was going to be. Mostly because I didn't worry about rhyming or rhythm or any of that nonsense; I just focused on the content. So, here it is:

Where I’m From

I’m from Birkenstocks, books, and teapots; and a basket of un-mated socks; from baklava and Christmas cookies; from sweet ripe blackberries and tart huckleberries – picked every summer.

I’m from thousands of brightly colored Legos scattered around the living room, my three siblings and I building castles and boats. “Has anyone seen a piece that looks like this?” My mom discovers a stray piece…in the middle of the night…in her bare feet. “Kids!”

I’m from sand in the bathroom, dirt from the garden, and pine needles in the carpet.
I’m from pansies and poppies, rosemary and nasturtiums – with leaves as big as dinner plates. I’m from bird feeders scattering seed all over the yard. And the cats often scattering the birds.

I’m from my grandpa, telling funny stories of growing up until tears are streaming down his face. And ours too. “Bean, beans the American fruit, the more you eat the more you toot!”
I’m from my grandma, making clam fritters from memory, after a long day of clamming.

I’m from Uncle Eldon and Aunt Betty, and from great grandmother Jayne, with poor eyesight, who once sat talking to a wooden Indian. I’m from great aunt Paula, great uncle Axel, and Inge and Arne in Denmark. So many relatives I never met, but who had such influence on me.

I’m from only one bathroom and five people getting ready for church. “We’re going to be late again.” “Shotgun!”
I’m from church potlucks and game night: Take Off, cards and Scrabble. Don’t know a word? “Look it up!”

I’m from fun and games, and “it’s not fair.” From all of this, and more.

That's probably the best poem I ever wrote. Can I be done with poems now?

Another class assignment, obviously, is to tell stories. I have to tell stories to three "audiences" each week. An audience has to be at least one person. Thanks to my roommate for listening to the story about why dogs hate cats.

Next I tracked down two little girls - a six year old and her younger sister. They were in a pretty wild mood but settled down enough to listen to two stories. The older girl guessed everything that was going to happen in the tailor story though! They wanted to hear more stories but I didn't have they told stories. Stories that they made up. That went on and on and had no point. And then they got more and more riled up. The older girl decided that we were buddies now which meant she could try to attack me and steal my glasses. Kids. I just don't get them sometimes.

Lastly I went to tell stories to the little girl in my house and her parents. She reacted much better. She listened well and joined in at her parts. And at the end she wrapped her arms around me and thanked me. It was very cute.

I get to learn two new stories tomorrow and will have to tell them next week. So if anyone wants a story, come on over...

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

You need to create an Educational Information System for kids aged 8-16 in Bangladesh. You have a budget of $500,000. Go.

That's the gist of an assignment we got in class today. Wow, I was pretty excited about it! We actually have a guest professor - who is the professor for the other section of this class. I've been hearing the other class complain about this assignment since last week but when I heard the description I was a little sad I'd missed out! An information system for a developing country!? Come on - how cool is that!

And difficult too. When the assignment was given to us today it wasn't as official (won't be graded, etc). I think the professor chose these random countries (Sierra Leone, Somalia, Bangladesh, etc) because he didn't actually want us to know everything about the place and to 'solve' the problem easily. Of course in our group there is one guy who has lived in SE Asia for almost 10 years before coming to school, a girl from China, and me. Oh, I just happened to know about Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha, an NGO in Bangladesh that uses boats to bring mobile libraries, schools, and internet-enabled computer labs to poor communities in a Northern Bangladesh watershed. =)

But even with the knowledge we did have, we didn't know everything. Does the religion and culture of the country allow girls to be educated, or only boys? Does the country have the infrastructure to support computers and internet access (do they have reliable electricity)? Should our 'information system' be book-based? The climate is very humid which can wreak havoc with paper and books and computer alike. Can we design a system to handle this? Will it be sustainable? Will our system run through an NGO, the government, or some school district? What does education look like in the first place? Should this be focused on a city, or out in the rural areas?

And the list goes on. This is the beginning of project development, a very complex process.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Love your library - and love your favorite authors! I ran across this article in The Morning News. A few quotes to pull you in:

Libraries are fundamental pieces of any community, as vital as sewers or snowplows or good pizza. Libraries are little holy lands with giant invisible tentacles of imagination that fly out the doors and plunge through the windows of the houses around them. Libraries are often the greatest thing that has ever happened to any child in any neighborhood in any country.

But! If you get a book out of the library, read it, and really love it, one good thing you can do for its writer and for yourself is go to a bookstore and buy a copy of his or her book. Because it will help that particular artist continue to put art out into the world.

So do what you want. But remember that while a book purchase isn’t necessarily food in a writer’s pantry, it is a message to a publisher that a writer matters, that you want to see more of her kinds of books out there in the world. And, in a capitalist market, whose primary goal is not to improve society but to maximize the wealth of the capitalist, that’s one of the most important messages you can send.

Read. Visit libraries. Love books. And consider buying them once in a while.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

A lesson in googlebombing for all of you. First, go to Google and look up the phrase "miserable failure." (Failure will work as well.)

Wonder why that happens? It's called googlebombing!

Each search engine has an algorithm that ranks results, hopefully putting the best one first. Search engines can do this based on date (newest first) or by number (the pages with the most occurences of the word first) or other ways. Google's genius is ranking by popularity. I think part of this has to do with how many people click on a result in the results list and how long people stay at that site. But another big part is how many pages link to certain pages. The more pages that link to a particular site, the more relevant it must be and the higher it goes in the rankings.

So some of you may have blogs and you may have been hit by spam comments. I got hit by this last year. I had no idea why anyone would want to do this and thought they were just trying to sell a product. That was indeed the aim, but it was more sneaky than I realized. Some companies have 'robots' (little bits of code) that trawl through blogs and post their little blurb and a link to their website. The hope is that when Google goes through blogs indexing all the posts and comments, it will see all the links to this certain company and their site will show up higher in the search results for that particular product.

Back to miserable failure. Loads of people have put this phrase into their websites and used the phrase as a direct link to certain peoples' biographies or websites. So when Google trawls through reading anchor links it doesn't know that this is an incorrect or misleading link - it's just a computer after all!

So that's googlebombing and that's how it happens, more or less. Any questions class?
Quotes of the week - okay, so it's only been two days, but I've got quotes from both of my classes.

From the preservation class:

Rags Make Paper
Paper Makes Money
Money Makes Banks
Banks Make Loans
Loans Make Beggars
Beggars Make Rags

---Anon. English 19th C.

And from my information systems class, a direct quote from the professor:

"All search engines lie!"

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Quarter 3 has just begun and it's looking pretty good so far!

My first class is about preservation and conservation of library materials. We just had an overview class yesterday, but it's already fascinating. We watched this old video about 'slow fires' - books and library materials disintegrating through time. So it seems paper used to be made of linen and other stronger materials. Then when they started printing more books they were running out of linen and needed a lot more cheap materials to make paper. So they turned to wood fiber, and they also were adding acid to the mix - haven't figured that part out yet (I think that comes tomorrow). So you've got all this acidic paper that after a century or two is 'burning up' and falling to pieces.

A man on the video demonstrated the problem. He took a book from the shelves and opened it to the middle. The pages were breaking out. He took out a page and crumbled it in his hand. It literally turned to dust. Wow.

Another problem is that libraries aren't aware of potential problems and don't prepare and do dumb things - like storing things in the basement! The video mentioned the flood in Florence and Venice in 1966 which caused a lot of damage and washed away a lot of priceless things - like art by Botticelli and millions of old and rare books. Hello! Storing things in the basement is a bad idea!

Anyway, this is why we have acid-free paper now - so it won't crumble to dust in hundred years or so.

My class on information systems, architectures and retrieval has also just gotten started. There hasn't been a whole lot yet, but the professor is originally from Greece so he has a fun accent and he is also a really funny professor!

Monday, March 13, 2006

I'm done, I'm done, I'm done!!! I just turned in my final assignment for my cataloging/classification class. I'm so glad that is done. I kept second-guessing myself and changing my evaluation of the controlled vocabulary I was...evaluating. Anyway, I'm relatively happy with the final product - let's hope the professor is too!

So now I'm going to start planning and preparing like crazy for my impending trip to Guatemala! For starters, I'm going to blow the dust off the Vicarious Travelblog and keep you all up to date on my travels for the 10 days while I'm gone. So head over there and I'll see you back here on the 27th!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

3 days of class left now and only one project left to go! Therefore, I must procrastinate...

Today I was reading an article about Malawi, one of the poorest nations on earth. Malawi is getting help from the Millenium Cities Project to work with the extreme poverty. The magazine had pictures of daily life, including women carrying water and children in a school. The children were sitting on the ground and a teacher was writing on the wall. They had photos of the math exercises - scratched in the dirt on the ground. And they had a photo of some "textbooks" - bundles of tattered papers tied together with cord. The caption said they had something like 10 books for 150 students.

I was thinking about all this on my way to class; the extreme poverty and disease and hunger in the world and the many groups and organizations trying to do something about it.

I realized my goal, what I am studying, is very hopeful.

Let's face it, if people have the choice between being healed from some disease or learning to read, they'd go with the former. Education is important, but living, surviving, takes precedence. So why hope? I have hope that when I go out into the world and find a place to work, the people there will be past surviving. They'll be moving to the next steps. I have hope for a world where reading and learning is the priority, not eating or drinking or surviving (these things will be guaranteed to all).
Preparing to be a librarian in developing countries feels like such a hopeful thing.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

7 days left. That's all!! Seven days left of this winter quarter. Both classes continue to be interesting, thought provoking, and sometimes plain confusing. =) I have two big projects left to complete so I'll be a busy girl.

On top of that, I'm going to GUATEMALA in two weeks!! Ack! I'm very excited about this and look forward to telling you all all about it.

The day after I return I start the Spring quarter. I know you're all dying to know what I've signed up for, so here it is:

Preservation and Conservation of Library Materials,
Information Systems, Architectures and Retrieval,
Storytelling: Art and Techniques

Sounds exciting, eh? Well I'm looking forward to it!

Back to reading now...I'm getting into classification issues in arrangement and display...whatever that means. =)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

I am in doubt. Oh so much doubt. I'm working on the second assignment for my class, Organization of Information and Resources. (I should say that I did quite well on the first assignment - yay!)

Anyway, this one is on subject analysis and indexing. What is this all about you ask? Well, let me tell you (because I feel like procrastinating!).

Let's say you want to find an article all about the controversy between enrollment and achievement status at charter schools versus public schools in the US. Without subject analysis/indexing, here's what you'd have to do: read through every article in the world till you found what you were looking for. That's a slight exaggeration. Obviously you could narrow your search down by only looking in journals about education. And you could narrow it down to all articles written after 2003 (or whatever). But that's still a hefty stack of journals to look through.
And you can't necessarily judge what the article is about by just looking at the title. No siree. What about "Toward a Pragmatic Understanding of Status-Consciousness"? Would you guess from the title that this is about charter schools? I'm thinking not.

So librarians, many, many, many years ago realized that the number of articles (and books) was growing huge and it was getting really difficult to find a document on a specific topic. So now librarians take it upon themselves to look at documents and index them so they can be found more easily.

So first you have to look at a document and decide: what is this about? This is way more difficult than you may think. Why? Because people are different and they see things in different ways. I might read an article and think it's about deer and index it so. But you may think it's about hunting or some other related topic. There are a dozen or more methods describing different ways to do this subject analysis, but in the end, it is "problematic," as our professor keeps saying. But we do the best we can.

Secondly, we take these subjects and turn them into indexing terms. Often a controlled vocabulary is used. (I'm not even going to try to explain that. Sorry.) So let's say I have an article about dogs in movies. I assign it the terms Dogs and Movies. If you're searching in the library database using those terms, you'll find the article.

So, one disadvantage. What happens if you don't use one of those terms? What if you search under 'motion pictures' instead? You wouldn't find anything. Of course there is cross referencing and preferred terms, etc, but this sort of problem does happen from time to time. That's why when you search you should use different keywords to find what you're looking for.

And one advantage... who cares about indexing and whatnot anyway because now we can do fulltext searches and we don't have to read through all the text anyway? Well, say you have an article about Old Yeller (or whatever that movie was). What if that article doesn't have the word 'dog' in it anywhere? It's obviously about a dog, but your search wouldn't bring it up. That's where indexing comes in because that term would be added and you could find the article.

All that said, it sounds like I know what I'm talking about, but for some reason this assignment is just not coming together!

So, I pulled out my "When in doubt, put the kettle on!" mug (thanks Anna!) and made a lovely cup of Yorkshire tea.

And then I reminded myself:
1. This teacher grades section by section through all the papers, so you don't really have to write a flowing paper (in fact it could hurt you!)
2. She's looking to see that I understand the concepts, so the actual document I'm indexing and maybe even the terms I pick don't matter so much.
3. I can email her and ask questions and hopefully I'll get an answer that makes sense!
4. And, it's not due till Wednesday. =)

Saturday, February 11, 2006

And you thought overdue fines were bad! I came across this quote a couple years ago. I desperately wanted to post it in the library I worked at but my boss would not allow it. =) I did post it in my own little area where my pictures are hanging. No one really sees it, but I think about it as I'm looking daggers at anyone walking around with a book they haven't checked out. (Not that I'm possessive or anything!)

For him that steals, or borrows and returns not, a book from its owner, let it change into a serpent in his hand and rend him.

Let him be struck with palsy, and all his members blasted. Let him languish in pain crying aloud for mercy, and let there be no surcease to his agony till he sing in dissolution. Let bookworms gnaw at his entrails in token of the Worm that dieth not.

And when at last he goes to his final punishment, let the flames of Hell consume him forever.
--From an inscription at the library of the San Pedro monastery in Barcelona

Friday, February 03, 2006

I've been poring over course offerings for days. This program is going to go fast and I don't want to miss out on some cool things. Some classes are only offered once a year (or less) so I have to stay on top of this. I've been ranking my interest in different classes and narrowing and narrowing. I have it down to 88 credits I'm interested in (which includes the required courses). The thing is, I only need 63 to graduate! So I narrowed down further and I thought I had it all figured out. But then everything changed.

See, as I said before, I'm interested in the international aspect and what I can do there. My first week here I talked to someone who said this program does not have any international-type offerings so if I want that I'm going to have to find it myself. I might have to go to some other school and take classes elsewhere to get what I want. I was a bit discouraged by that. It took me long enough to get here in the first place! So the other day I attended my second meeting of ASIST's SIG-III. That's The American Society for Information Science and Technology's Special Interest Group in International Information Issues (see? acronyms are good sometimes!).

Anyway, I went to the meeting the other day and got to talking with one of the leaders of the group. (She's the one who told me about PROBIGUA which I'll be doing next month!) She told me about a certificate program she's taking through the Evans School of Public Affairs. It's an International Relief & Development Certificate Program that I could take right here, concurrently with my degree. And some of the classes could even double count for both programs. There is also a 200-hour practicum which could potentially work for my directed field work credits. 200 hours is basically 5 40-hour weeks. I would basically have to take vacation or leave of absence from my current job to do this! I'm still not sure about it, but I'm really intrigued. The application is due April 15th (tax day!) so I have till then to decide. It definitely means staying in school a bit longer. But I already realized I wouldn’t be able to get done in exactly 6 quarters (2 years).

Oh, and there is also the Jackson School of International Studies . I think I can take a class or two there through the Evans School. They have some really interesting classes. Of course it's all up the air and I'm just collecting ideas at this point.

Monday, January 23, 2006

11:54 p.m. I just squeaked by. I had to turn in this huge assignment by 11:59pm today. I've been working on it for the last 5 or 6 days. I've seen too much of my computer, too much of this kitchen table. The assignment was a metadata schema evaluation. Somewhat interesting, but very involved. There were 17 parts!! And there was a huge amount of overlap. So much so that I began to worry if I was really getting it. Metadata is a weird thing.

11:56. Let's see if I can squeak by and get to bed before tomorrow! Then it's on to the next big assignment, a literature review...

Thursday, January 12, 2006

I’ve got to post before more fun and exciting class sessions!

For the last week I listened to six online lectures and read countless articles, but I didn’t quite understand my organization class until we had our first actual class yesterday.

One the main things we’re studying is Document Representation. A document representation is a surrogate, a stand-in, for the actual thing. It’s basically a description. There are standards in various places on what this includes, but can include author, title, publisher, date published, brief summary, subject headings, etc. It sounds sort of basic, but it’s really not. (Librarians have to organize the heck out of everything and make it all difficult. =)

But here is the importance of document representations – imagine using a library that doesn’t use document representations. All the books are on the shelves and you have to look through all of them till you find what you want. There is no searchable catalog (those are document representations you’re searching). There is no list of any sort. Luckily you at least have book titles and blurbs on the back covers (all bits of metadata which describe the contents of the book).

It’s the same with articles. If you’re searching for an article in a database, the list of results is made of document representations. And it’s the same with internet search engines. Imagine if Google didn’t return that list of results (which are document representations). Instead you’d go straight to the first website. If that’s not it you click Next to view the next site, and so forth. You don’t get to see all the options at a glance.

Any time you’re looking at a brief description of a book, article, movie, website, audio, etc – and not the item itself – you’re looking at a document representation. These things were created to help you, the public, find what you’re looking for.

And who creates these things? Sometimes they’re automatic (as with internet search engines), but mostly they’re created by people; quite often, librarians. =)

Thursday, January 05, 2006

My other class this quarter hasn't met yet. The professor is in Hawaii so the class is listening to online lectures and reading a stack of articles in preparation for the class to start next week. I made it through the three online lectures for this week. So far it's a lot of overview. The professor went on and on about this being a really in-depth, difficult class, hard stuff, confusing, etc, etc. I don't doubt her, but it's on the subject of organization, so I'm pretty excited about it.

In a nutshell, this class is about the process of organizing information. First you decide what you are organizing; then you choose or create techniques, tools, and standards; then you create resource representatives; then you figure out organizing, retrieving, and displaying the resource representations; and lastly you provide access to resources. Sounds a bit dry I suppose, but I'm sure it will be fun.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

First Day

Welcome to the first day of Winter quarter! I'm taking two classes this quarter: Information in Social Context and Organization of Information and Resources. I haven't had the organization class yet, so not much to say there.

The first class will be quite interesting though. This covers intellectual freedom, intellectual property, privacy, confidentiality, information liability, censorship, book banning, free speech, surveillance & monitoring, fair use, copyright; little things like that. Yeah, it's going to be quite a class.

We started today by talking about the American Library Association's Code of Ethics. There are a lot of packed sentences in this code, for instance:
We significantly influence or control the selection, organization, preservation, and dissemination of information.

We do not advance private interests at the expense of library users, colleagues, or our employing institutions.

We distinguish between our personal convictions and professional duties and do not allow our personal beliefs to interfere with fair representation of the aims of our institutions or the provision of access to their information resources.
One thing we talked about: kids in libraries. Some parents look at every book with their kids and know what they're reading. Other parents drop their kids off and have no idea what they're looking at. Sometimes parents get upset about what their kids can find in a library. But are librarians supposed to be parents? Uh, no.

So we can't stop kids (or anyone) from looking at items in the library. But what do we stock in the library? Libraries I think pride themselves on being open to everything. You may not agree with it, but people will need the information and it's your job to provide it. So libraries have books on homosexuality, religion, how to make bombs, etc, etc. There will always be someone who has a problem with some topic in the library.

What about a library that decides not to stock those things they don't agree with? Hmm. I think that would be your own personal library, or perhaps a private corporate library. I think as long as libraries are supported by the public, they will represent the many varied interests of the public.

So as far as a public library goes, librarians aren't going to keep out items that may be deemed offensive by some. And they aren't going to protect anyone from seeing those items or stop people from checking things out. Obviously librarians aren't totally neutral on every subject, but it seems they try to be.