Some things read this week, 6 – 12 April 2008

Sunday, 6 Apr 2008

Chan, Lois Mai. 1977. Alphabetical arrangement and subject collocation in Library of Congress Subject Headings. Library Resources & Technical Services 21, no. 2:156-169.

Read this for Tom’s presentation/discussion of his project this coming Tuesday (see Tom’s bibliography mentioned last week).

Marshall, Linnea. 2003. Specific and generic subject headings: increasing subject access to library materials. Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 36, no. 2:59-87.

Read this for Tom’s presentation/discussion of his project this coming Tuesday (see Tom’s bibliography mentioned last week).

The section on The Syndetic Structure is an excellent read that points to many failures of our current systems. Don’t misunderstand, I am not particularly commenting on what Marshall writes, as I am pretty much completely reading her in light of being highly informed by several previous articles on specificity and closely related topics (although a fair bit older), along with the daily struggles—experiential and conceptual—within these systems as a cataloger and catalog user. If one construes what she writes as a call for tools that would make entering, maintaining, and making the syndetic structure usable and useful then run with it. Please.

But. I am also loathe to say “go out, read this, and go forth.” I have many reservations about much of what Marshall (and the folks she cites [much of which I had just read]) advocate. The point, though, is that this is easily a century old discussion. And lest any foolish youngster or modernist thinks we have really made any serious “progress” towards solving—much less defining—specificity then I want them to steer clear.

There are, at least, two major (and somewhat related) issues here. What has been and is the state of the theoretical view(s) on specificity? And, what has been, what are the reasons why, and what is the state of specificity in action? That is, how has it been implemented in our systems, and how does it, or does it, work?

Issues of theory are complex enough, and highly disparate and even contentious. As for “progress”, we have had some if beginning to pull apart past and other possibly productive uses of the concept can be defended as good conceptual analysis. Svenonius’ 1976 article [see last week] gave us 7 concepts of specificity. Certainly useful, and clarifying, in a sense. The number has not gone down in the last 30 years, either.

I do think that there is much of value to be learned from, tested, and applied (or re-applied more smartly) from much of our literature. But it is also extremely rare that much of the conversation can be had by reading one or two articles or books. And I think that it is the conversation that is often of far more value than simply an answer or two to run with. But I do wish more folks would run with more of them.

And, yes, I know that includes me.

Monday – Wednesday, 7 – 10 Apr 2008

Budd, John. 1992. The Library and Its Users: The Communication Process. New York: Greenwood Press.

  • Ch. 2: Libraries, Information, and Meaning. (Mon)
  • Ch. 3: What Does a Communication Process Look Like? (Mon-Tue)
  • Ch. 4: The Library in the Communication Process (Wed- )

Ah, yes. I did actually leave ch. 4 hanging. I temporarily abandoned it as my bus/lunch reading for the running and philosophy essays below.

This is one of the few books on libraries and communication, and especially on libraries in communication. I ordered myself a used copy on Saturday when I also ordered the Carely below, despite its faults.

Main fault: Although discusses assorted models of communication, they are all transportation/transmission-based. The language from the beginning allows no other option; those metaphors are just assumed. There is no real space to even ask broadening questions.

So why did I buy it? Because it bears study; on several fronts. And whether I borrow much of the good and/or use it as a foil—as an exemplar of a (group of) paradigm(s) or viewpoints—it will be valuable.

This is much like the Raber book in that it discusses a critical concept, [more on Raber] [finale] but much clearer on whose views are whom’s, and better argued. I have a lot of respect for Budd as a writer and a thinker, but this is far more rooted in a single meta-view than one might (I do) hope for, despite its seeming diversity within that view.

Monday, 7 Apr 2008

Carey, James W. 1992. Communication as Culture: Essays on Media and Society. New York: Routledge.  

  • Read Introduction and ch. 1: A Cultural Approach to Communication.

Wow! Can I just say, “Wow!” Recommended by Tom Dousa.

Carey pulls apart the concept of communication into two of its dominant metaphors, one of transmission/transportation and one as of ritual. That is, cultural.

From such sources one can draw a definition of communication of disarming simplicity yet, I think, of some intellectual power and scope: communication is a symbolic process whereby reality is produced, maintained, repaired, and transformed (23).

To study communication is to examine the actual social process wherein significant symbolic forms are created, apprehended, and used (30).

The widespread social interest in communication derives from a derangement in our models of communication and community. This derangement derives, in turn, from an obsessive commitment to a transmission view of communication and the derivative representation of communication in complementary models of power and anxiety. As a result, when we think about society, we are almost always coerced by our traditions into seeing it as a network of power, administration, decision, and control—as a political order. Alternatively, we have seen society essentially as relations of property, production, and trade—an economic order. But social life is more than power and trade (and it is more than therapy as well). As Williams has argued, it also includes the sharing of aesthetic experience, religious ideas, personal values and sentiments, and intellectual notions—a ritual order (34).

Carey may not have the answer, but he provides a useful counterforce to much; for instance, Budd above. Although Tom only really recommended the first chapter, I ordered myself a copy as it has lots of overlap with previous and current studies. And I’d love to see the ritual and magic of human communication taken a bit more seriously in our field. We have such primitive notions of communication in our field.

Wednesday – Friday, 9 – 11 Apr 2008

2007. Running & Philosophy: A Marathon for the Mind. Malden: Blackwell Pub. &nbnsp;

  • Foreword by Amber Burfoot
  • Preface: Warming Up Before the Race by Michael W. Austin, ed.
  • Ch. 1: Long-distance Running and the Will to Power by Raymond Angelo Belliotti
  • Ch. 2: Chasing Happiness Together: Running and Aristotle’s Philosophy of Friendship by Michael W. Austin (Thu)
  • Ch. 3: Running with the Seven Cs of Success by Gregory Bassham (Thu)
  • Ch. 4: The Phenomenology of Becoming a Runner by J. Jerry Wisnewski (Thu)
  • Ch. 5: In Praise of the Jogger by Raymond J. VanArragon (Fri)

Cataloged this a few weeks ago. Gave it time to get to Applied Health Sciences and then went and got it.

Started running again last week. I made it out last Saturday and again Monday. Then the weather got crappy (for running anyway) again. Definitely a fair weather runner but I need to get back into some kind of shape. I took a coupe years off due to my hip acting up, but it hasn’t bothered me for quite a while.

I tried to start up again last year but things just got in the way repeatedly and then it was hot. I will run when it’s hot but I have to acclimated to the heat first. Hopefully I will do better this year.

These essays are really helping me to be in the proper mindset to start running again. All of these things, and more, are, or at least can be, part of the experience of being a runner. I am looking forward to reading the rest of this. This is what replaced Budd as my current bus/lunch book.

Saturday, 12 Apr 2008

Dickinson, Liz. 1976. Of catalogs, computers, and communication: visions of the whole service catalog. Wilson Library Bulletin 463-470.

Given to me by Tom Dousa a couple days ago due to commentary on the catalog as communication tool. Highly dated but useful mini-critique of some of the issues with our catalogs and LCSH. Still. And of interest to me due to its explicit mention of library praxis as communication.

NOTE: WordPress’ formatting issues, even using the HTML editor, are biting me hard in this post. Notice how the variously formatted entries are snugged up against the citations. I have tried assorted fixes; some of which hold for short periods; none which work. There are other issues of format but that is the most virulent and most easily spotted. What sort of idiot would crowd those elements like that? Intentionally? Not me. I find this positively distressing.

Hmmm. They are printing just fine; I did a print test of this draft post for other reasons. Verified the display stupidity in Safari.

Going to have to edit my template’s stylesheet to place some “padding” around some of these elements in display. Although it wasn’t the template that changed. Grrr. More things broken by so-called technological “progress.”