Maybe none of you are asking this question, but I have to admit it has been pestering me a lot lately. The sad part is that I honestly don’t have an answer.
I have been pursuing my own self-education this summer amid all the apartment hunting, moving preparations, job searching, relaxing and whatever else I’ve been doing. I just haven’t been writing about it, although I have intended to.
I have finished two monographs and am about halfway through a conference proceedings:
Elaine Svenonius, The Intellectual Foundation of Information Organization.
Richard P. Smiraglia, The Nature of “A Work.”
Ann M. Sandberg-Fox, ed., Proceedings of the Bicentennial Conference on Bibliographic Control for the New Millennium: Confronting the Challenges of Networked Resources and the Web.
I have also read and re-read the Calhoun Report, engaged in discussions of it, and have read several responses by Thomas Mann, and one to Mann by James Weinheimer.
This upcoming week I will be calling Karen Calhoun on the phone as a guest speaker in the Tech Services distance ed class that I am a tech for. To say that I am excited about this would be a complete understatement.
My views towards the report she wrote using my (and your) tax dollars have become a bit more moderate, although I still have major issues with her use of business metaphors, her equating the researcher with a typical Google searcher, some of her rhetorical strategies, and the choice of experts that she chose to interview. Despite the many flaws in this report, there is some definite “truth” in it. The problem is that someone needs to embrace those few nuggets of reality and then rewrite the entire report. Ah well, hearing what she has to say should be quite interesting. By the way, no one needs to worry. I will be performing my official duties, and thus representing my school and my university; I will not embarass them, nor myself.
Some of the other articles I’ve recently read include:
Daniel Rosenberg, “Early Modern Information Overload.” Journal of the History of Ideas 64 (1), Jan 2003. (via Project Muse) This is an excellent overview and synthesis of the other articles in this special issue on information overload in the Early Modern period, which also asks some great follow-up questions. While being a good article overall, I highly recommend it to those who do not believe in “information overload” for its highly nuanced approach to assorted contributions to the feeling and experience of information overload.
Lynne C. Howarth, “Metadata and Bibliographic Control: Soul-Mates or Two Solitudes?” Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 40 (3/4), 2005.
Thus, it appears that, while the bibliographic control community is advancing theory to inform its longstanding and extensive application, the metadata community is learning from experience to inform its conceptual frameworks. Hence, opportunites for learning from one another abound, and will prove constructive to enhancing the overall goals of quality description for effective resource discovery (51).
M. E. Maron, “On Indexing, Retrieval and the Meaning of About.” Journal of the American Society for Information Science Jan 1977. I came to this article via footnote 54, chapter 3 of Svenonius (see above) where she is discussing the concepts of “aboutness” and “subject.” This paper, described as “a classic,” defines “aboutness behavioristically, in terms of beliefs, opinions, or psychological states of mind” (46). While it contains some good insight, it also has limitations as any attempt to operationalize the individual searcher’s intentions, desires, contexts, etc. does.
Lou Burnard, Metadata for corpus work. A link to this paper was left in a comment on my post, TEI is too metadata! Parse that link out to get a somewhat out-of-date home page for Lou Burnard, Assistant Director of Oxford University Computing Services, among other things. Serves as a good overview of editorial, analytic, descriptive and administrative metadata, particularly in the context of TEI and corpus work. Thanks for the interesting read, sir.
I have, of course, read or re-read an untold number of other things; some re-readings were intentional and some accidental (Rosenberg).
In the realm of liblogs I have either written or considered writing some lengthy responses and then decided otherwise.
One of the ones that almost but then did not get written was a response to Michael McGrorty’s (Library Dust) recent book-fetishist screed, Read Only. I generally like most of what Michael writes, and have said so publicly and to Michael himself. But that little screed was asinine, to use the same word he does to describe my belief that I own my books.
I’m not sure what uber-socialist world he’s living in, but they are my books. I most certainly am not any book’s “foster parent.” And yes, I do argue with the TV; just one of the many reasons I choose not to watch it. And what kind of asinine analogy is it to ask if I “annotate paintings in museums?” If we were talking library books or someone else’s book, then it’s not such a bad analogy, but I don’t own the works of art in a museum. My books, as several pointed out in the comments, are mine.
I had a much better response, and even a bit more gentle one, to Michael that included pointing him to some very good research on note-taking and annotation. I wonder if he’s aware that there are books that are valuable precisely for the annotations that they contain and not particularly for their published content?
I did write a lengthy response (me, really?) to Karen Schneider’s aside in her comment on her own post (Free Range Librarian), It almost goes without saying. In her comment, Karen states “(In fact, an interesting gender question is whether women bloggers read different blogs than male bloggers.)” While I agree that it is a very interesting question, I also think it would be very hard to actually answer in a “scientific” manner and, that more importantly, it would not actually tell us anything useful.
Simple reasons are that there are lots of reasons for which blogs are read by somoeone (that is, there are far more and possibly more important variables than gender), and even more reasons as to why a certain individual reads certain blogs. I listed lots of examples of both.
The draft post also contained my attempt to join the conversation(s) surrounding gender issues, sexism, homophobia, and all the other angles brought up recently in librarianship, especially systems librarianship, and in society in general.
I have, though, decided not to post it. To many, I am just a middle-aged white male and thus have nothing to contribute to the conversation. A few, and I am including Karen here, would encourage me, I believe. The problem for me, though, as I see it is that many would misconstrue my confused, but sincere, attempt to learn and grow and to figure out how I can better contribute to making the kind of world that these women, and many men, would like to see, and so richly deserve.
I guess in a sense, I have nothing to contribute to the discussion. Maybe I feel somewhat silenced myself (as do many men, I think.) And that is just so wrong. People like me are needed as allies, but without honest and open discussion that will only happen very slowly, if at all.
So, although I have frequently written about gender here, I will stay out of this (fairly public) discussion for now. That does not mean that I am ceding my chance(s) to learn. It only means that I must rely on the more personal, and dare I say intimate, discussions that can occur between friends and/or face-to-face. Emily, Jenica, Jenny, my baby girl Sara, Miss E, and others, I sincerely hope you will continue to help me grow into the kind of man the world needs more of.
I would say that I promise more of “the library” here in future, but then I never thought I’d be asking myself where it went in the first place.