Bearkat's blog

Cataloging by Chilton

At the risk of raising the ire of more adept catalogers, the last few years it has confounded me that cataloging manuals are so complex, e.g., LC - MARC, AACR2, DDC, etc. Why so much jargon? After all, I'm not defending a dissertation, I'm just wanting to add an item to our catalog in a timely matter. Please just provide me examples of what punctuation is appropriate, what information should go in each field, etc.

In a very rough comparison, if any of you own a Prius, you know that it isn't the simplest procedure to change the headlamps (I'm sure Toyota dealerships would rather us bring our cars to them for any light bulb changes). Heck, even a local mechanic shop took 20 minutes to change one of the headlamps. Well, I found a manual on how to do it and did it in 10 minutes. :)

If I had the time I would compile a manual, preferably online, for the cataloging equivalent to Chilton's Auto Repair Manuals. If there is the "Haynes Owner's Workshop Manual for the Space Shuttle" there sure as heck could be such a title on using DDC. ;)

Cataloging For Dummies (like me)
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Cataloging (no, none of us are idiots)
Really Simple Cataloging (also me)

PS. I greatly appreciate "Cataloging with AACR2 and MARC21" by Deborah Fritz. :)

iWoz and Libraries

I'm currently reading "iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon". It is a lively and fascinating read, and plenty of Steve Wozniak's comments are worth repeating, but this one about the that he and the other Steve:) spent at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) Library is superb, especially to a hang-out at libraries geek such as myself. Reminds me of spending some time at Mizzou's Engineering Library. :)

...It had a great technical library, just tremendous. It had the kind of technical books and computer books and magazines you wouldn't encounter in normal libraries (emphasis added) or any other place I knew. If there were any place that had a phone manual that listed tone frequencies -- the manual the phone company was trying to pull out of circulation -- this would be it.


It Wasn't Fancy But It Worked (most of the time)

I don't know about you all but I'm so tired of sacrificing computer program dependability for supposed ease of use , apps on top of apps, spyware, etc...Is it just me or is the Windows desktop circle spinning more slowly and longer than ever? Oh for the days of DOS and WordPerfect 5.0..(my new-old computer is a ThinkPad with Windows 7, Office 2010, etc.)

  1. Usually both worked on the first try.
  2. If something didn't work in Windows you could try a DOS command line.
  3. Figuring out the commands and key combinations was challenging but so much more rewarding than point and click.
  4. Less things to distract you, e.g., email, Facebook, Netflix, etc.
  5. You didn't have to wait for all of the add-ons to load...
  6. The black and blue screen backgrounds were non nonsense and attractive in their own way. :)

Plenty of Bs to go around...

I have noticed the past few days how many LIS postings are by usernames which start with B (mine included :). And some of these are very good friends of mine :). An interesting pattern which I'm probably not the only one to notice. :)

  • Bearkat
  • Bibliofuture
  • Bibliophile Adventure
  • Birdie
  • Blake ("LIS News: since 1999 and still doing fine" :))

Not sure if this qualifies as a "Friday Funnies" category or not, but it is worth a shot...

Blade Runner moment

I downloaded the Microsoft Tags Reader for my phone and scanned one of the USA Today tags. It wasn’t in the best light and the app didn’t recognize the tag at first but in a "Blade Runner Deckard" type moment the app triangulated, centered, and focused on the tag image and then pulled up the newspaper's business headlines - wow! It makes me wonder what publishers in general and libraries could already or potentially be using these tags for. Maybe some libraries are already using MS Tags or other tags?

Books and Headaches

A few weeks ago I pulled a number of books for a Commedia dell'arte performance course. The subject range of books I pulled for the session covered a large gamut of topics: art, dance, costume, literature, theatre, swordplay, wagons, etc. Following my presentation to the class, a student mentioned that seeing too many books gave her a headache. She further qualified that and said that not many things gave her a headache. In response I provided her the imagery of looking at the bookshelves as looking at a web page and going off in a number of different but related directions. She gave a somewhat quizzical look, but a few seconds later an approving nod. I felt like maybe, just maybe, I provided a connection that she could relate to.

Nothing at the library?

I currently work at a small liberal arts college in the Midwestern USA where librarians are "embedded" in introductory courses and oversee the information literacy curriculum. Last week one of my colleagues informed me about a response from one of her students that I just have to pass along. The student's comment was that she couldn't find anything at the library about the Industrial Revolution , her other topic was .... wait for it .... Martin Luther and the Reformation. As Joe Friday is often quoted as uttering "Just the facts, ma'am"....

Catalog keyword search hits

  • Industrial Revolution = 142
  • "Martin Luther" = 204
  • "Martin Luther" AND Reformation = 21

Ok, I know that out-of-the-box library catalogs aren't as "innovative", user friendly (or forgiving) as Amazon, Google, and the like, but the difference between what the student claimed and what the "facts" illustrate is too wide a chasm to cross.

Comments like this make me think that we should have a library lock-in, perhaps overnight, and not let the student out until they find something. Heck, it might even become a succesful reality show. It wouldn't be as goofy as Silent Library but it might still be a goodie. Afterall, there could be worse fates.

Saved by the text!

I function as an "embedded" librarian of sorts as part of my instructional duties, and last week I filled in for a class session. Well, to make a long story short, the assigned classroom was not the regular classroom. The class began at 12:30 and only three students had showed up, I was beginning to panic at 12:40 - was I going to have to do an abbreviated instruction session, reschedule the session for a later date in an already tight semester schedule, etc. Anyway, a few more students came in during the next few minutes but at 12:45 12+ students walked in as a group! I found out that one of the students in the classroom had texted another student and some how the texted student gather up the remaining students! So cell phones and texting may not always be a distraction for students after all!

Digital age and devices

In continuation of my blog entry last Friday, I have thought about the implication of digital device use in educational and other forums. As more and more information is made available in a digital format, I believe that equations about no cell phone, laptops, etc. during class (or other forums) is going to have to evolve even more than it has. It is interesting that some people expressed a reaction to Representative Cantor's use of a Blackberry during President' Obama's speech as similar to a student goofing off during a lecture or perhaps cheating during an exam, instead of possibly reading supporting documentation and taking notes (I do so with my Blackberry for important topics at meetings so I don't then have to fumble through various notebooks trying to find what I wrote). I wonder what kind of rules of conduct the Senate and House of Representatives have on digital device usage?

Blackberry distractions?

I'm a Blackberry fan. I don't do much texting on it, but just the other day I brought it to a faculty meeting so that I wouldn't have to print out a pile of documents or struggle to read the notes and attachments on the projector. It is so ingrained in the faculty that cell phone use during class is a disraction; I wondered if any in the group thought that I was up to no good?

It was interesting to read about reactions to Representative Eric Cantor's use of his Blackberry. I know that there are certain expectations of congressional members at presidential speeches and other functions, and I'm not comparing a faculty meeting to the President's address, but perhaps Cantor was actually doing what he said he was doing:

"Cantor said he was reading excerpts of Obama's speech on the BlackBerry and taking notes as he did so".

More at the Richmond Times-Dispatch

"Amazoogle" and Libraries

Last week I attended an academic library conference in Missouri. The keynote speaker was Susan Singleton, Executive Director of CARLI. In her presentation Susan referenced Karen Schneider's blog, specifically The User is not Broken.

Susan challenged the attendees to think about some of the points that Karen made in her posting, such as "The user is not "remote." You, the librarian, are remote, and it is your job to close that gap", "Every technology you learned about in library school will be dead someday", and my personal favorite "The OPAC is not the sun. The OPAC is at best a distant planet, every year moving farther from the orbit of its solar system".

In regards to the last statement I believe that one of the largest barriers to opening up our OPACs have been librarians’ philosophy of privacy (as opposed to Amazon’s, Google’s, etc.). At least until recently, OPACs have not allowed any personalization. I think that the options of privacy should be up to the users not us – if they want to share their reading lists with friends let them do so. Why not have features on our OPACs such as people who checked this book out also checked these out, or allow users to rate items?

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