Showing posts with label cataloging. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cataloging. Show all posts

31.8.10

Photo: Library of Babel

Photo of the interior of New York University's Bobst Library - taken from a few floors up.
Being inside the Bobst Library on New York University's campus can feel a little like vertigo - especially if you are looking down.
Bobst Library, NYU
People say walking the upper floors of the Bobst Library  the main college library at New York University surrounding Washington Square Park  grants a feeling of vertigo. It's true. Also, I get a feeling I am inside the infinite library written about Jorge Borges's short story "The Library of Babel".

17.8.10

Gone Flat Land: Why XML Seems Promising

A nerdy post on library science and the future of library cataloging.
image credit: "Tempus Fugit" by abbeyprivate
This essay was written as a requirement for an introduction to cataloging course. An entry like this is not typical stones of erasmus fare, but I post it for all my library and cataloging buddies out there. I warn you, though, I made a C+ in Cataloging. I took the course as an online component. While I like the Reference and Information Services course I took online (which garnered me an A+) I found the Cataloging course online more challenging. My satisfactory grade is most likely attributable to my difficulty keeping up with deadlines, but I also found the assignments hard to conceptualize. Most catalogers use a cataloging application (e.g., Connexion) on a PC to create MARC records or to copy catalog. But, for this class, we had to use a generic MS word document to fill in the fields which I found to be terribly awkward. So, a word from the experienced: if you take an online class in cataloging make sure you have access to a good MARC program.
Anyway, here is my report on XML from a C+ point of view. Enjoy:

21.5.10

“A Mere Labyrinth of Letters”: Preoccupations of Librarianship and Epistemological Conjecturing in Borges’ “The Library of Babel”

An illustration of the Library of Babel by Erik Desmazieres 
Librarians share two major philosophical preoccupations:

  1. The idea of a total library
  2. The futility of such a library.

Librarians are “total” in their desire for a perfect, or a complete library, but, unfortunately, the totalitarian nature of librarians has fossilized the notion that if it isn’t in the library then it doesn’t exist. The "if it is not in the records it does not exist" idea is as old as recorded history. The promise of complete, total, accessible knowledge (the first preoccupation) is shadowed by the librarian's futile wading through miles and miles of totality (the hell) to search and find that one piece of totality that one is looking. The total nature of the catalog is supposed to mirror precisely what is on the shelf. But the maddening job of the cataloger is to constantly check the catalog against what is on the shelf and fix any errors; this process has the hope of finish but is bound to be endlessly nonfinished. Librarians spend hours cleaning records, assigning call numbers, shelving books in an endless cycle of return. This nature of librarianship is actually not only the preoccupations of Library Science but of Western Philosophy in general.  Ever since the philosopher Thales posited that there must be something material that underlies all existence — we will forgive him for positing water — philosophers have searched for a univocity, or an absolute to explain that which undergirds reality. Of course, the philosophical search comes short. There is a futility in this search (think of Adam futile search to name all animals or Aristotle's futile search to give names to everything) although it does not cancel out the desire to search. That, my dear, is the paradox of the quest.

4.8.09

Why I hate Wikipedia naysayers and why tutoring sucks


LIS 501 Reference and Information Services

I got an "A" in my LIS class.
I am happy because this is a sign that I am on the right career track. Now, I just have to get my FAFSA shit together and I am set for success. That, and I need to apply to some Ph.D. programs. I have until December. If you have any Ph.D. programs that feature both philosophy, literature and theory, let me know. But, that is a conundrum for another blog post.

I am glad the group projects in the online lit class did not bring me down. I was disappointed that one of our group wiki projects bombed. We had to create a survey of ready reference websites. We chose LGBT as our topic but quickly realized it was TOO hard to find Ready Reference for that topic.

But, you know, let me digress a bit.
Ready Reference ClarificationsI disagree with traditional definitions of ready reference. It is erroneous and limiting to assert that a source is a ready reference and ready reference only. I disagree with ready reference shelves. If you are going to have a Ready Reference shelf: make it an almanac. Ready Reference depends on the needs of the user. For example, Wikipedia is a ready reference at times, especially for cursory questions like, "which movie won the academy award for best picture in 1939?". But at other times Wikipedia attempts to answer encyclopedic questions and users are prompted to follow the links at the bottom of the page.

Why I love Wikipedia
I love Wikipedia no matter what the nay-sayers say. Even Lexis-Nexis with all of its pizazz has corrupted data. And EBSCO does not always transcribe information correctly. I have not done the pre-requisite research, but data loss in huge conglomerate databases is probably under-reported. I mean, you hear about glitches in Google book scan where technician's hands cover up text, but other than that, most people blindly assume that for the most part subscription databases are accurate. I mean, I want to see people hooraying for open source databases and open-source directories like www.dmoz.org and www.lii.org. Instead of demeaning Wikipedia, let us try to create more critical thinkers, which won't be easy because I mean, like, look at all the people who blindly believe mass forwarded emails warning against a virus. The one deterrent to accuracy is people are more willing to believe something they read based on fear rather than reason. I mean ever since that movie Taken came out, young women are not traveling to Paris anytime soon. But, anyway, the other wikis went over well and I was so happy with the class as a whole. Hooray for the University of Southern Mississippi School of Library and Information Science!

I am taking cataloging this Fall. I think I am in for a rude awakening because
everything I know about cataloging is so organic. Greig is set to FAIL!

Speaking of FailI got a tutoring job last week. Made 25 dollars helping this crazy guy prepare for his GRE test. Here is my advertisement on Craigslist. Send it to your needy friends.
Man, you gotta be careful who you instruct through craigslist job spots. This dude is veritably crazy. Thank you very much. He acted like he was doing me a favor allowing me to tutor him in writing. He did play the piano for me in his apartment and sang mellifluously but hey, I am here to tutor, not hang around for a social call. He wrote to me today informing me he was going to prepare for the GRE himself. He was odd. I hope my next set of students fair better than this one. I think I am going to gamble that 25 dollars on the video slots to at least try to milk it for what's it worth. Or lose it.

Future Blog Posts: Siggraph 2009 and Dirty Linen Night
So looking forward to Siggraph 2009 in New Orleans. I promise a blog from there as well as a blog on Dirty Linen Night this Saturday on Royal street.
Note: picture co-opted from http://www.legendarytimes.com/images/news/book2.jpg. Used without permission