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Catalogue 2.0: A Book Review

September 8, 2014

book over imageLate last year, the review editor for the German library publication BuB Forum Bibliothek und Information asked me to review the book Catalogue 2.0: The Future of the Library Catalogue (n.b.- I serve on BuB‘s editorial board as the lone non-European). Typically, when I write for German publication, I write directly in German, which kind editors then slightly polish to remove some of my infidelities. This time, it seemed to make more sense to review a book written in English in English, my thought being that I could then post the English original for anyone interested. It took me a while to remember this, but I’ve finally managed to do that. Feel free to download and distribute this review (CC-BY, as noted on the PDF).

An interesting sidenote: this work was published by ALA Neal-Schuman. I wrote to them to request a review copy, noting that the review had been solicited by BuB, which is Germany’s largest circulation library publication. Not only did they not provide a review copy, they didn’t even deign to respond to the request. Despite that–and the book’s $90 price tag, which seems excessive–I’ve linked to their store above because it’s a really excellent volume that should be widely read.

DH2014 day three notes

July 11, 2014
DH2104 had free portraits!

DH2104 had free portraits!

This was a great last day to what has been a rich week of learning and discovery. It was certainly worth the long flight to attend DH2014. The organizers did a great job with the logistics and communication. The professional portraits they offered for free were a great idea; I’ve never had such a nice photo.

Session 6, Friday

The Dog That Didn’t Bark: A Longitudinal Study of Reading in Physical and Digital Environments
Claire Warwick, UCL

Set out to study reading and to address some of the dire statements that are out there around reading on the Web, such as ‘reading is dead’ and so on. In particular, they want to research how behaviour changes in digital environments. It was a five-year study (2009-2013) that repeats year after year, which is unprecedented in terms of studying online reading.

They studied masters students in UCL Department of Information Studies programs. They used a diary study method, where students kept track of everything they read, where they were, the medium, how long, time of day, and made comments about their reading. In all, there were 1261 episodes of reading (628 digital and 633 analogue), with 5.13/student on average (5.11 digital/5.15 analogue). Of the 216 total students, 171 were female, with both sexes having the same response rate (56%). Women had more reading episodes on average, however. Their results also showed that reading habits don’t necessarily follow age assumptions, in other words, there was no trend that showed that older students read more than younger students. Read more…

DH2014 day two notes

July 10, 2014

photoToday featured the panels I’ve noted below, as well as two excellent poster sessions. Saw many things that gave me ideas and/or inspiration, and took numerous pictures that I immediately emailed to colleagues who aren’t here.

Session 4, Thursday

MicroPasts: Co-creation and Participatory Public Archaeology
Daniel Pett, British Museum

All open: open data, open source. All built on a variety of OS platforms: WordPress, Pybossa,, and Discourse. About 15 GitHub repos, which host various parts of MicroPasts. Read more…

Digital Humanities 2014 day one notes

July 9, 2014
flickr - lananab1anca

flickr – lananab1anca

My notes from Digital Humanities will likely be copious, so it seems to make sense to segment them by day. As always, any mistakes are my inability to listen and type and I’m more than happy to correct any botched or twisted points below.

Session 1, Wednesday

Digital Cultural Heritage and the Healing of a Nation: Digital Sudan
Marilyn Deegan, King’s College London

Sudan’s cultural heritage is not well known, although it reaches back >4000 years. Commonly heard: did you know Sudan has more pyramids than Egypt? Its cultural history is as rich as Greece, Rome, Egypt, but suffers from lack of knowledge outside the country. Kush kingdom, Napata kingdom, Meroitic kingdom, Nubian kingdoms: visually and textually related (similar script) to Egypt’s culture. The Nubian kingdom originally resisted Islamic invaders, but eventually fell and an Islamic era ensued, lasting into the 14th century. The cultural influences are varied and profound. Read more…

CNI Spring 2014 notes

May 9, 2014

flickr – Jason Mrachina

A bit late, but below are my session notes from the most recent CNI meeting. As always, editorial comments are generally in italics.

Fostering A Graduate Research Community With Digital Scholarship Programs And Services
Andrew Bonamici, Karen Estlund, University of Oregon

They’ve established a certificate program: New Media and Culture Certificate. 24 students enrolled from 10 different departments. The goal is to provide both theoretical and practical components. It has a program director, a fairly aggressive marketing approach (blog, Twitter, etc.), and is trying to position itself as a recruiting tool for potential graduate students.

How does the library support it? For one, it aligns with their strategic directions, but they can also provide facilities, content, tools and systems, and people who are willing to help.

One thing the NMCC doesn’t do is extend the time to degree. It does have some challenges. On his slide about these, the first two began with “decentralized” (both human resources and infrastructure). Strategic planning is hard when you cross units that have their own plans. There’s also a lack of experts and they are stretched thin (“great starters, shallow bench” to apply a sports metaphor). Read more…

Irrelevant work experience

March 13, 2014

flickr – jefferysclark

As is pretty much the norm for a professional CV, somewhere in the past I draw a line in the work experience and only show the jobs that have “relevance” to the work I might seek. Really, who needs to know my long and detailed history in the food service industry? I’d rather forget some of it myself.

On Facebook I recently saw one of those little “do this in your timeline” challenges where one was supposed to list the first ten jobs they had had or something like that. As I mentally went through my list, I got both something of a laugh and had a small epiphany, that being that no work experience is ever really irrelevant. Many of my work habits–conscientiousness, teamwork, dedication–were established long before I began working in libraries. So, here’s an attempt at an “irrelevant work experience” listing, in chronological order and starting at age 12:

  • newspaper delivery, Grand Junction Daily Sentinel
  • handyman, custodian, and bindery, IBC printing
  • busboy, La Fonda de Acebo
  • busboy, Elly May’s Kitchen
  • cook, Elly May’s Kitchen (best breakfast, 1984!)
  • waiter, Elly May’s Kitchen
  • emergency room volunteer, Swedish Medical Center
  • bindery and delivery, Arapahoe Printing and Typesetting
  • mail room assistant, Colorado College
  • Bernoulli drive assembly line, Iomega
  • ski and bike hardgood sales, Christy Sports
  • dishwasher, Arapahoe Cafe
  • cook, Glacier National Park backcountry (best and most physically demanding job I’ll ever have, most likely)
  • temp work in Boulder, CO
  • waiter, Le Francais
  • prep cook, Alfalfa’s market
  • freelance German-English translation
  • English teacher, Prague and Poprad
  • graduate student assistant, Washington University Library

… and at that point my “relevant” work experience that I show on my CV kicks in. Since none of this is documented in paperwork–no, I didn’t archive my W-2 forms–and happened before the era of digital photography, I’m sure I’ve forgotten this or that odd job. Still, it’s kind of fun to write this all down and mull why I did some of that work (mostly to eat and pay rent) and what impact it may have had. What is your “irrelevant” experience?

CNI Fall 2013 notes

December 10, 2013
flickr - luc legay

flickr – luc legay

Another useful and informative CNI just ended. As I typically do, I took fairly copious notes on some of the sessions and am sharing them here.

As always with my notes, I’ve put my commentary, where possible, in italics.

Monday, December 9

Barn Raising in a Virtual World or How Innovative Approaches in Funding Led to an Architecture We Can All Use

Allan Bell, UBC; Alex Garnett, Simon Fraser; Carla Graebner, Simon Fraser; Geoff Harder, U of Alberta

Barn raising is a good metaphor for this work, not least because it is collaborative and community based. As it turns out, between BC and Alberta, one has a wide range of local resources at hand for such a project, both informal and formal. These range from code4libBC to CARL and the Council of Pacific and Prairie University Libraries (COPPUL). Within these various entities, and there are more than I’ve mentioned here, there is a variety of expertise at hand in working groups, initiatives, project groups, etc. Read more…

RightsWatch Conference 2013 notes

October 3, 2013
occupy photo

flickr – Jackman Chiu

Civil Liberties and Democracy in the Digital Age: Privacy, Media and Free Expression
Ryerson University, September 21, 2013

This was an excellent event for getting a sense of the current thinking around key issues concerning freedom of information. It wasn’t really advertised to librarians, alas; I only heard about it from a researcher’s email.

As always with my notes, I’ve put my commentary, where possible, in italics.

Panel 1 – Freedom of the press and the citizen journalist

Derek Soberol, citizen journalist

Sound bite: “If you see something, film something.” Interesting twist on a very toxic slogan used in the U.S. to encourage citizen spying.

Showed two cameras that have been destroyed by police as he put it, with some incredulity, “in Canada.” He believes that both citizen journalists and credentialed press need to document abuses of their ranks, i.e.- take videos of each other to document excess force and rights violations. Read more…

Access 2013 YYT notes

October 1, 2013

sjBelow are my notes from this year’s Access conference held in St. John’s, Newfoundland from September 23-26. Access is always worthwhile, but this year’s was particularly enriching for me, and I greatly enjoyed getting to know a new place, as well.

Please bear in mind that these are spontaneous notes, so any errors, omissions, or weird ranting is likely my own fault. I’ve tried to put my editorializing in italics to distinguish it from the speaker’s thoughts.


“What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been”
Roy Tennant

Started by sketching a brief history of Access, and noted its influence on other conferences, e.g.- Code4Lib (single track, hackfest, etc.). There are several people working on recording the history of Access, and he noted that that’s not typical for conferences, so worth noting and applauding. Read more…

Digital Humanities 2013: session notes

July 19, 2013
dh word cloud

made with cirrus via voyant tools

As I often do at library conferences, I’m publishing my lightly edited session notes from Digital Humanities 2013 held in Lincoln, Nebraska. First and foremost, I want to stress what a rewarding and worthwhile experience coming to DH has been. As a librarian engaged closely in the efforts to support and enable digital scholarship, it is critical for me to hear firsthand about the work being done, as well as to tap into many of the issues around DH and its current form and state.

Please note that these are just notes, so please comment with any corrections, rebuttals, improvements, or questions. In general, it should be clear where I’m taking notes and where I’m editorializing, but where it’s not, I’ve put my comments in italics. Also, even though most of the talks list multiple authors (findable via the links), since I’ve used third person singular references for the most part in my notes, only the presenter is listed below.

One last note: I took and prepared these notes using Draft, a super lightweight and sensible online editor that also direct publishes to WordPress and other outlets. Highly recommended


Uncovering the “hidden histories” of computing in the Humanities: findings and reflections of the pilot project
Julianne Nyhan, University College London

Posed a battery of questions at the outset, including the simple one concerning why everyone works in centres. Others concerned knowledge transfer, access to resources, judgment, etc. The key point is that there is no real history of computing in the humanities, so it’s time to explore this. Their method is oral history, focusing on individuals, not projects, specifically people working in the field between 1949 and 1989. They pose questions about their work and the use of computers. Read more…