sylvar: (Default)
I know that Jodi's almost certain to end up with an academic job of some sort -- so that means that there will be an academic library of some sort nearby. I'm thinking about getting a philosophy MA so that I can work as a liaison between the library and the philosophy department, or as an academic librarian who has a subject master's and a working knowledge of two liberal arts fields, linguistics and philosophy.

I'm not disillusioned with systems work—I still love that. But I think that if I can manage to get an MA during the 5-7 years she's working on her PhD, at minimal cost (possibly by working for the university where she gets her PhD), I would have another interesting and reasonably well-paying career option in case systems librarianship isn't in need when I'm looking for work.

I've learned a fair amount *about* philosophy by helping her; I've been able to come up with some decent objections to published arguments. But I've got zero classroom experience with it, so I suspect I might have to start with some undergrad classes to get admitted to any accredited program.
sylvar: (Doonesbury: Mike and Nichole)
Today's Penny Arcade strip ("It's Really Not That Hard") contains no references to video games and yet somehow it manages to be funny.

Librarians will probably find this particularly amusing, as many of us have actually been asked this sort of question.
sylvar: (B5: Sheridan: Big Damn Hero)
Woot! The site design is almost nonexistent, but it works for me.

Yesterday I hadn't even thought of the site, other than "hmm, I wish it existed". Now, depending on how well the DNS records have propagated out, it's real.

http://accio.info/ : the fastest way to get official and unofficial information about the Harry Potter universe. (And you can narrow your search to official sources only, or look for fanfiction, or consult organized references like the Reader's Guide and the Harry Potter Lexicon.)
sylvar: (Library Nut)
712: Landscape architecture and design
713: Landscape architecture and design for roadways and trafficways

Are you kidding? All known and unknown human diseases are crammed into 616, and we're using 713 for putting flowers in median strips?!

(And if we're actually supposed to use 625.77 for that, what the heck is 713 really for?)
sylvar: (Default)
This won't surprise my librarian friends, but the Dewey Decimal System is amazingly Eurocentric. Newspapers are in the 070s, subdivided by geographic area:

071 North America
072 British Isles
073 Central Europe
074 France and Monaco
075 Italy and adjacent islands
076 Iberian Peninsula and adjacent islands
077 Eastern Europe
078 Scandinavia
079 Other geographic areas

Did you notice that? "Other geographic areas"? As in, the place where more than half the world's population lives? Newspapers from Brazil, India, China, Japan, Australia, Egypt, Ghana, South Africa, etc. are all lumped into "other", whereas Monaco and Luxembourg are filed into different categories.
sylvar: (Default)
I'm closing the loop on the blogosphere by noting that I am apparently the canonical Dynixland example of a geek who solves problems because he's got an itch to scratch and shares the solutions because it's asinine to do otherwise:
If there's one thing the open-source movement has taught us, it's that innovative ideas, true competitive levers, often aren't found at businesses. Nowadays, they hide in new places: nonprofit or nongovernmental organizations, end-users with an "itch," social networks of folks with common interests, and sometimes a creative individual like a Ted Nelson or a Linus Torvalds. Or Ben Ostrowsky.
-- http://www.gordian-knot.org/index.php/2005/11/08/the-seven-imperatives-of-sirsidynix
(emphasis and links mine)

In an extremely humble way, I insist that the Linus Torvalds comparison is much more apt, because while he does good work, it's really the community of users -- and I want to emphasize the term community -- who make Free Culture work. If you've read Grapevine: The New Art of Word-Of-Mouth Marketing (and if you haven't, perhaps your library will have a copy that you can borrow), you know that it's people like you who make the real difference.

I can invent a barcode generator that prints PDFs for cheap Avery labels, but it's the users like you who tell school librarians that it's a great way to save money (especially if you cover your labels with library tape anyway).

I can write an article on and share it freely with a license, but it's up to you to share the ideas with others and implement it yourselves.

So what's the next big thing that we can all do together? I'd like to see us encourage RFID vendors to establish an open standard for library RFID tags. Oh, sure, there are ISO specifications for how to transmit data over RFID, but (this may shock you; it shocked me) there is no standard for which bytes represent an item barcode, or anything else about the format of the data being transmitted.

One vendor may encode the library barcode as a hexadecimal integer; another may use plain ASCII, one byte per digit. One vendor may put the barcode at the beginning of the data, another may put it at the end, and a third vendor might encrypt it. How would you like it if a third of your books arrived at the cataloger's desk with the table of contents on page 37 and some vendors put the Cataloging-In-Publication data in pig-Latin just to compete with other book jobbers?

Or here's an idea that could be done pretty easily -- if you know enough about podcasting to be dangerous, and you have users who would like to create their own podcasts, why not create a community broadcasting room? All you need is a small study room with a computer, a decent microphone, and a pop filter.

There's already a great Free Software audio editor (the aural equivalent of a word processor or a photo editor) called that will let your users clean up the sound if they choose to, and if you know enough to help them podcast, you'll be leading your community's techies onto the bleeding edge of Free Culture.

Bottom line: although I'm flattered to be compared to Linus Torvalds, it's my fellow librarians who ought to be more flattered. Linux users have rewritten the rules of information technology simply by telling others when they've found something good, and helping each other when things aren't that good.

At the risk of stealing material from Christ, I encourage you to go and do the same. If you don't have a blog, get one and get comfortable with it. Join a mailing list and ask questions. If you see a question you can answer, do it. It is so not about me. It's about you.

Forward this to your colleagues. Keep building strong communities of library people who care about each other. It's what we humans do best.

November 2010

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