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.