Some things read this week, 11 – 17 May 2008

Monday – Tuesday, 12 – 13 May 2008

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

Got back to this finally.

  • Finished ch. 4 : The Library in the Communication Process
  • Ch. 5 : The Librarian in the Communication Process
  • Ch. 6 : Noise
  • Ch. 7 : Conclusion

Finished this Monday, started back on it about a week ago I think. Not particularly interested in commenting on it right now.

Barnes, Bill. 2007. Read Responsibly: An Unshelved Collection. Seattle, Wash: Overdue Media LLC.

Actually read over the past week or so.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Fallis, Don. 2001. Social epistemology and LIS: how to clarify our epistemic objectives. In Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Canadian Association for Information Science, Ed. D. Grant Campbell, 175-183, Université Laval, Quebec City, Quebec http://www.cais-acsi.ca/proceedings/2001/fallis_2001.pdf (Accessed May 4, 2008).

Discusses how social epistemology (You have read Egan and Shera 1952 haven’t you?) can help decide what the proper objectives are for library and information services. If the idea of social epistemology is new to you then this is an excellent short read with a few key sources in the bibliography.

Tuesday – Saturday, 13 – 17 May 2008

Harris, Roy. 1996. Signs, Language, and Communication : Integrational and Segregational Approaches. London; New York: Routledge.

Started this one over; had only read the preface and first 2 chapters back in March. This is one of 2 books that I really need to read and absorb before I write my CAS paper. Anything else is probably gravy, or even excessive, but this and the other are pretty much foundational.

  • Ch. 2 : Before communication (Wed)
  • Ch. 3 : Communication and choice (Thu)
  • Ch. 4 : Communication and intention (Fri-Sat)

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Meadow, Charles T. 1999. Information retrieval–a view of its past, present, and future. In Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Canadian Association for Information Science, 190-196, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec http://www.cais-acsi.ca/proceedings/1999/meadow_1999.pdf (Accessed May 4, 2008).

A short history of information retrieval. Kind of hard to evaluate at this point in history but it seems pretty fluffy and while not poorly written it is not well written either.

As much as I do not like claims of the “this is the kind of thing every LIS student should know before they graduate” kind this seems to be to be such. I have no doubt that many don’t, especially those oriented towards reference, and children/youth/adult services. If ALA were doing its job in accreditation then it would be something any newly graduated librarian ought to be able to spout off off the top of their head.

Integrating LIS : My LIS511 Bibliography and Essay

Anyone who has read my blog for more than a few months knows that I took Bibliography with Dr. Krummel last Fall. My project in that class was a short bibliographical essay and an annotated bibliography on the connections between Roy Harris and Birger Hjørland in preparation for my capstone CAS paper.

Recently I converted the Word docs to one HTML file and posted it on the Writings page of my website. It is available there under the Library Science section. Or just click here: The Epilogue that Started It All; or, Integrating LIS (Harris and Hjørland ): A bibliographical essay and annotated bibliography.

All in all, having re-read it recently, I am quite pleased. I have no doubt that both theorists could find something to contest and I am fine with that. It would only help me grow in my awareness and use of their ideas. Clearly, I would welcome any feedback from them. In fact, if I can muster up the courage soon then I will write to both of them and explain what I am trying to do. I guess in Dr. Hjørland’s case I just need to point him to it as we have already had some discussion on the matter.

With any luck I am going to insert the short essay here. Assuming that it works then you’ll have to go to webpage to see the bibliography itself (which I consider the better part). I do still need to put COinS data in that page though. There is DC in the page so Zotero will see it but only the page and not the individual references. I also interlinked the bibliography both internally and externally, although I did not with the essay as I felt it would distract somewhat from it. Probably silly and I may change my mind in time.

OK. I went and linked them here although I have not on the web page itself. Also, you should be aware that many of the Hjørland papers can be found at dLIST. Just be sure to check his name with and without the “ø” as there are currently 27 papers in dLIST with it and 1 with an “o”. Sorry. I refuse to do all of the work for you. 😉


This bibliographical essay and supporting annotated bibliography is, in effect,
a warm-up for my Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS) paper. That project will attempt to (1) outline a theory of communication and linguistics called Integrationism and its critique of orthodox views of linguistics; (2) provide a brief overview of the major paradigms of information science, with a short critique of the physical and cognitive viewpoints, and (3) situate Integrationism within Hjørland’s socio-cognitive domain analysis.

This essay and bibliography will focus on the connections and possible overlap between, primarily, two prolific scholars, Roy Harris, emeritus professor of General Linguistics in the University of Oxford, founder of Integrationism, and Birger Hjørland, proponent of the socio-cognitive paradigm and domain analysis in Information Science (IS).

For Hjørland, epistemology is central to work in IS (1998f), defending particular theories and epistemologies is important (2007a), if our theories and epistemologies have no practical implications then they are of no consequence (2007a), and one must argue against a discipline’s theoretical and methodological principles if one finds fault with those principles (Hjørland 1997a).

Roy Harris has been doing just that—arguing against the theoretical and methodological principles of orthodox linguistics for over 30 years. Harris is the founder of Integrationism, a radical view of communication and language. Harris’ main critique centers on what he calls the Language Myth (1981), but Integrationism offers a broad critique of the history of Western thought on language for over two millennia.

My intention for my CAS paper is to take a quick look at the meta-theoretical paradigms or views in LIS, with a specific focus on Hjørland’s socio-cognitive view and domain analysis. Once I have situated my commitments to an overarching view within LIS, I will then focus on what it might mean if LIS were to take seriously the Integrationist views of language and communication.

There is a lot of overlap, if only one direct connection, between Hjørland and Harris. Hjørland (2007a) cites Harris (2005a) in a footnote on the topic of pragmatist semantics and philosophy of science, and says, “Harris (2005) provides an important critique of the semantic assumptions generally made in science” (396). As far as I have been able to discern this is the only direct citation either way.

Both authors are committed to the view that theories, epistemologies, and unexamined assumptions are important; that one should defend those they believe; and that they do, in fact, matter. Our theories, viewpoints, epistemologies, assumptions and myths should, and generally do, have practical or pragmatic effects in the world. Both would question what those effects are and whether they are effects we are or should be willing to accept.

Domain analysis is predicated on a division of labor in society (1997a, 2002f, 2004f). Harris and Hjørland both critique that division of labor within their own and surrounding disciplines (Harris, any, in particular 1996; Hjørland and Albrechtsen 1995a, Hjørland 2004f).

For the Integrationist there are three communicational parameters applicable to “the identification of signs within the temporal continuum.” The biomechanical “relates to the physical and mental capacities of the individual participants”; the macrosocial “relates to practices established in the community or some group within the community”; and the circumstantial “relates to the specific conditions obtaining in a particular communication situation” (Harris, 2005b).

Hjørland’s work across time (1995a, 2002d, 2004f) has reflected much that parallels the three parameters of Integrationism but has grown even more so recently (2007a, 2007f). Several quick examples should suffice to demonstrate this.

Information seeking in a biological sense is reflective of the biomechanical (1995a, 406). Document and genre studies’ role in domain analysis reflects the macrosocial (2002d, 436-438), as does his view of languages for special purposes serving different communicative needs (2002d, 444). “According to the domain-analytic framework, the meaning of a term can only be understood from the context in which it appears” (2002d, 413) is highly similar to “all signs are products of the communication situation” (International Association) and they both reflect the circumstantial.

Synonymy and “when is a semantic relation” are discussed by Hjørland in (2007a, 379-380) and (2001c), while synonymy is the subject of Harris’ dissertation and first book (1973).

In (2007f), Hjørland critiques the “modern, Western discourses of LIS” (2), which he labels as “positivist, ahistorical and decontextualized” (3). This is a decades long critique by Harris on linguistics and Western discourse about language. In the same paper Hjørland describes controlled vocabularies as representing “a ‘prescriptive’ or ‘normative’ KOS” that have been passed off as neutral and objective (7). Integrationism considers language to be normative (Taylor). Thus, controlled vocabularies will also be normative. The issue is to provide multiple vocabularies to expose and make usable different norms, and to dispel the notion of neutrality and objectivity.

There are superficial and there are deep connections between Harris (and Integrationism) and Hjørland. I hope to uncover even more as I work toward determining which are which. Some of these include bibliometrics as macrosocial and circumstantial (2002d, 2007a); the theory of information processing mechanisms as broadly integrative (2002f, 2004f); and the use of metalinguistic/semantic tools (2007a, 2007f).

Hjørland (2007a) writes:

The different theories and epistemologies that are in competition with one another may be more or less fruitful (or harmful) for information science. It is important to realize this and to take the risk of defending a particular theory. If this is not done, other views will never be sufficiently falsified, confirmed, or clarified. In the process of defending a particular view, one learns what other views it is necessary to reject. As pragmatist philosophers have long suggested, in order to make our thoughts clear, we have to ask what practical consequences follow from taking one or another view (or meaning) as true. If our theory (or meaning) does not have any practical implications, then it is of no consequence (372, emphasis mine).

This is exactly what I intend to do with my CAS paper. I am taking a stand on a few particular theories both within and without LIS to determine their value to progress in our field. To do so will require cogent critiques of those I am also rejecting. In the process I will learn much of value regarding which other commitments must stand or fall due to those I have chosen to defend. My final aim is to start a conversation in our field regarding what our linguistic commitments—often completely unexamined—are and what the impact of those commitments are on both theory and practice in LIS. My secondary goal is to provide Integrationism as a serious alternative to our current communication and linguistic theories in the field.

What have I been up to?

What a question. I feel like I need a recap of some of it myself sometimes.

I hope to have some semi-substantial blog posts and/or Flickr sets for some of these but I’d like to get them mentioned before they all become old news.

[some kind of division]

Been watching a fair few movies, started running (4x 5x 6x now), and have been taking and uploading lots of photos.

“Article” project

This is an ongoing project that I got a recent jump on due to my school hiatus, if it is possible to say that [hiatus, that is].

Flickr set. Main pic.

This is one of the things I’ve been considering blogging. But it mostly seems like a waste of time; for any system to work for someone it must meet their individual—current and future—modes of working. Any idiot can say: enter them into a citation manager (that meets your needs), put them into some sort of order (which also meets your needs), and stick them in something (that works for you).

Besides, who else has so many printed and photocopied things?

Much of what I might say is already in the Flickr set via notes and comments; especially on the “main pic.” By the way, I could very simply publish assorted bibliographies of all this, to include good discovery metadata (COinS).

Reading some David Bade things

UIUC Progressive Librarians Guild is hosting a lunch time (11:30-1 PM) discussion with David Bade on Monday, 21 April 2008.

Technology Waits For No One: Thinking About Technology, Progress and Responsibility in Academic Librarianship

I’ve been getting something on e-reserve (Harris’ Epilogue) and making another short Word doc available.

David’s been sharing a few other things with me, too. 🙂

Job Search

Nothing going on here. Have nothing out at the moment.

The End of the Semester

We have 3 weeks left in the semester and then finals week. After Subject Access/Analysis seminar Tuesday, one of my fellow classmates asked me how I was dealing with the end of the semester. I had to tell her, not so bad, but then it isn’t the end for me.

She knows I’m only sitting in on Subject Access/Analysis and that I was sitting in on Allen’s Ontologies, but she rightly assumed I should be taking something. Anyway, I kind of felt a little bad cause I knew she was just looking for a little commiseration and reassurance that we’ll both get through. And in a sense, I took that from her. So. Bad.

But about 20 minutes later when I realized that this was the first semester in 10 years in which I wasn’t facing her exact situation, I decided that I will not feel bad about not being in that space right now when I “fail” more of my friends.

But I am prepared now. I can most certainly empathize, sympathize, feel you, and so on to an extraordinary level. I will not lord my situation over any one [cause I’d like to have been finishing, too]. But I will not feel bad when any of my friends put us in the same same situation as Tuesday afternoon.

I am taking a Deferral on my paper; hope to write it in the Fall.

Since I won’t be walking the stage and I’ll be going to the GSLIS Commencement any way [lots of friends’ big day] I volunteered to help. Looks like I’ll be the “candid photographer.” Will have to have lots of little short conversations but I’ll be “forced” to move around and see folks at Commencement and at the reception. 🙂

[Volunteering. It’s an addiction.] [Also got 2 other students to volunteer. Surely that counts towards being an Enabler of Vices.]

[the other part of the union of topics]

ASIS&T panel

Mentioned this a bit back. Been trying to work out what we are actually doing based on reviewers’ feedback.

Fifth Annual GSLIS Storytelling Festival, Saturday, 18 April

[Audio] [My Flickr set] [Program]

I know that I’ve made 3 of these, but I might have actually made the last four. It is always excellent. Excellent storytelling and excellent art on the whiteboard behind the tellers. I have taken photos the last 3 years but since I sit in the back row and feel that the flash would be intrusive to, well, everyone, I haven’t gotten too many good ones. This year’s camera is radically different than the ones in the past. It worked better and I got some good shots. And then ….

I was out of memory. WTF? I’d already replaced the batteries, but that’s routine. Out of memory? I only remember running out of memory once. That was shortly after getting my first digital camera and was at the Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis in April 2006. It was Spring and there were 100,000s of flowers and trees in bloom and I took a couple hundred photos. But never since.

Well. I had bought a larger capacity memory card than came standard when I got my first camera, and it subsequently moved into 2 more cameras. 256MB.

I keep forgetting that at some point recently I managed to accidentally put the new camera in highest-quality mode. Yeah. I got 74 pictures. It filled up right before Rachel Shulman and thus I missed almost the whole back half of the program. I really feel bad about that.

So I remedied that a couple days ago. For probably less than I paid for the 256MB card initially, I bought a 4GB card. And if I somehow fill that one up before exhausting all the batteries I can carry then I have a “small” backup card. Sweet!

The Festival was awesome! And the art this year was superb. It was done this year, and I think the year before last, by Tiffany Carter. [I had to ask. And I suggested that whoever the artist is each year ought to have their name in the program; it may have been once before.] [Left-side] [Right-side]

Afterwards, a few of us went to a friend’s house and had a drink, conversation, and cat-watching and NSFW [you get my water bottle there].

Opportunity sent my way

A person of quality recently sent me a nice opportunity; thank you. Still to hear from the other party, though.

Incomplete

Found out Monday that my petition to withdraw from my independent study was denied. So that means I will either be keeping that F and my A- GPA. Or I do something about it for my own pride.

This was not good news but I was kind of expecting it. Have not decided what I am doing yet. Considering possibilities; talking to some folks. Lots of things going on around here that could use some terminologies services thinking.

Scheming and pondering at the same time.

Crane Alley Guinness Mondays

A little birdie whispered in my ear that the Alley would soon be doing away with the Monday $2 Guinness / Harp special. I have feared this one coming for a while now, too. Seems they want to run some other specials. Fair enough, I guess, but it will affect my lifestyle. And they’ll get a lot less of my money.

Sara is going to library school

My daughter called me on my birthday (back in Feb.) to tell me “Happy Birthday and, oh, by the way, I’m applying to library school.” I hadn’t even known it was on the table. I was hoping that Sara might wander on to grad school some day but I wasn’t going to harass her. We’d talk about it when she wanted to let me know what she was thinking. She worked very hard her whole life in school, but especially throughout high school, because she knew if she wanted an opportunity for a good education she was responsible for it, in many ways. Four more years of school at Oberlin took its toll.

I do not prod my kids for much in the way of information. I know another parent who does that and it drives the kids crazy. I’d rather have what they want me, or think I need, to know than a bit more grudgingly dragged from them.

Monday evening, Sara called to tell me she got accepted. Yippee! She’s currently an indexer & abstracter at Chemical Abstracts where she intends to remain full-time with a flexible schedule. Her education is in chemistry and she has a year of nanotech research under her belt prior to about 8 months at Chem Abs so far.

Other than probably academic, I have no idea what area of librarianship she intends to focus on. And I’m happy with that. I’m twice her age and I changed my mind after getting here so she ought to have that opportunity. I have, of course, put her in touch with Christina because if Sara is thinking sci/tech librarianship then this is my friend best suited to introduce her to that world.

Also trying to talk her into coming to ASIS&T this year since it’s in her city.

[Yes. I purposely left out where she’s attending. It is not here, which is perfectly fine.]

Sandy Berman and panel

Wednesday evening, Sandy Berman and 3 others, along with a moderator, joined in a panel discussion on the question of, “What is a progressive librarian?” [Flickr set]

  • Carolyn Anthony, Director, Skokie Public Library
  • Sandy Berman
  • Allison Sutton, Social Science Librarian, UIUC
  • Anke Voss, Archivist, Champaign County, IL
  • Moderator : Abdul Alkalimat, Professor, GSLIS

I had volunteered to meet Sandy at the Illini Union and walk him over to GSLIS at 5:15. I went to the Quad side of the Union, visited the ATM, tried to call my son back, and took some photos to kill a few minutes before meeting Sandy out front.

Seeing as I knew I only had a few minutes alone with Sandy I took a peek at his site and checked out his biography [probably have a copy somewhere, but this was easier]. I noticed he had spent a few years in Germany in the 60s so I took that as my angle. Upon meeting him he immediately asked me what my story was. Knowing I had about 7 minute tops I gave a 2-minute or so answer [stop snickering, you!], to which he politely asked a couple further questions. So somewhere a bit past halfway to GSLIS as soon as I had given my latest reply to Sandy I spit out something along the lines of, “Iknewwe’donlyhaveafewminutestogether / soIscannedyourbioforsomethingofinterest /andIwanttoaskyouaboutyourtimeinGermany.” To which we immediately had a short but spirited conversation with many points in common. We have shared several locations in space (Germany) together, just about 15 years apart.

Sandy was quite easy to talk to and before you knew it we were at GSLIS. I handed him off to Abdul Alkalimat, our moderator. Turns out they had met when Sandy was in Uganda in 1971-72.

I got a few photos of the pot luck that aren’t necessarily good photos but they capture the feel. Most of the photos are of the panel discussion, which was quite good.

Afterwards, Abdul, Kate Williams (GSLIS faculty), Sandy, I and a few other students went to Murphy’s for a beer. Nice time, to say the least, except for the table of very loud undergrad boys next to us. I walked Sandy back to the Union from Murphy’s. The weather was excellent for an evening stroll and I got a few more minutes with Sandy.

Jer at Fort Hood

Ten minutes after walking Sandy back to the Union, getting a hug and saying goodbye, I finally got hold of my son. He had just signed into Fort Hood and ended up in the new (2nd) battalion in the Division’s Aviation Regiment.

They are packing their bags this Monday and they head back to Iraq in July. He hasn’t even been issued his gear and he’s supposed to sealing it up to be shipped off on Monday. He had just signed a lease a couple days before. Volunteering can get you in some seriously jacked up ….

I had a rough day or so after hearing this, but I’m putting it off to the side for now. July is not April.

I’m thinking I might head down there for a couple/several days in late May or June; whatever works best for him.

Update [Sat. eve]: They now leave the 2nd week of June. I will probably be heading down there.

Update [Sun. morning]: Narrower leave period than he originally thought; will be probably heading down there sometime between 22 May – 1 June once he knows how much leave he’ll have. He just got off a month’s so he may not have much left.

It’s times like this that make me smile that we even use the same words [serve/service] to describe what librarians do for their patrons/customers and what service members do for their nation.

I guess the main difference is in the kind and amount of sacrifices made.

Overall

Some unexpected positives; some not unexpected negatives (and positives). A massive [expected] negative. It’s my life.

GSLIS Publications digitally available to all

I wrote about this once before (last July) when it had begun but now the major announcement has gone out. If I hadn’t already known about it I would be downright giddy!

The University Library has digitized the following publication series from the Graduate School of Library and Information Science:

Allerton Park Institute Proceedings (1954-1997) [502 items]
Clinic on Library Applications of Data Processing (1963-1995) [473 items]
Occasional Papers (1949-2004) [209 items]

These publications are preserved in IDEALS (the Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship), a digital repository created and maintained by the University Library.

Visit the GSLIS publications “community” within IDEALS at: http://www.ideals.uiuc.edu/handle/2142/154

To track the addition of major collections to IDEALS, visit:
http://webtools.uiuc.edu/rssManager/imageList/961

A fair few issues of Library Trends are also available from that same link. It looks like volume 52(3):Winter 2004 – 56(3):Winter 2008 are currently available [263 items] with topics as diverse as the philosophy of information, LIS pioneers, organizational development and leadership, consumer health issues, children’s access and use of digital resources, research methods, GIS, and so on. Certainly a bit of something for everyone.

The quality of all the ones I have seen so far is incredible.

All in all there are already over 1400 items (article-level) available from these four titles.

I challenge anyone to have a look around and then try and tell me they can’t find something of quality to read in our literature.

And for those of you who know my love for print I will reproduce my response to my friend Jenny who asked why I was so excited since I can see them all in the library that is literally on top of me, one floor up:

Hey jenny. Very true about the cataloging records for the Allerton stuff (sure wish I could fix it!).

Very valid question you ask. I do generally prefer to have something in print that I can read and I love seeing these things in their original manifestations, but …

My main reason for excitement is that others can access these wonderful sources, from near or far.

But some of *my* reasons follow:

1 If it is the library’s copy (or otherwise not mine) then I cannot highlight or write in it.

2 I cannot keep it for future consultation.

3 I am allergic to the condition many of these older items are in.

4 They are sometimes quite frail and even if in decent shape may not be after the gentlest of efforts at photocopying.

5 Having a pdf I can save and use it for a long time. I can print it and write/highlight all over it if I desire. And I have yet to find a pdf that I am allergic to.

6 I will have access if/when I am no longer present to use the physical items.

7 I can point people to them with more than a disembodied citation.

8 As much as I love the physical items, I, too, love the convenience of “immediate” electronic delivery for many and varied reasons.

9 I can find them despite the bad cataloging that exists for the physical items. While I often forget where I found some source on the web, I am fairly sure that I will remember where to find these as they are some of my favorite sources. I have also blogged about them and can just search my blog now if I forget the rest.

I could probably think up a few more reasons for myself or for others that are part of my excitement, but this is a great start.

Yes, I love the print and am so very grateful to be where I am and to have access to them, but I may not always have that access and I am allergic to much of the older materials; materials that I, in fact, value.

As long as I have a web connection I have access to the digital copies and once saved to my computer I have “perpetual” access to a copy of my own.

I hope this gave you some sense of why I am excited. :)

So please do yourself a favor and “check them out.”

… and number one is fleshing out these dreams of mine.

Atlanta’s a distant memory
Montgomery a recent blur
and Tulsa burns on the desert floor
like a signal fire

I got Willie on the radio
a dozen things on my mind
and number one is fleshing out
these dreams of mine

Cowboy Junkies — 200 More Miles

A little over a week ago I wrote to a handful of those I consider myself close to to tell them of a recent decision of mine. It was quite gratifying and reaffirming to hear back from many of them over the next couple of days, and by a half dozen of them within an hour of sending them my message! My friends are amazing!

Those locally I have been trying to catch up with personally, although I have missed a couple due to Spring Break happening this past week. [Sara, I’ve been looking for you.]

Perhaps, though, I should start at something like the beginning.

I have been at this university education thing for a very long time. For the last ten and a half years I have been at it mostly full-time. All the while I have been employed at least half-time and often more. There was a 3-year period, sort of in the middle, where I worked full-time and went to school half-time for the fun of it … and because the university paid for it, I was able to take classes with people I really cared to learn from, and it kept my loans in deferment.

I have actually been in and out of the higher ed classroom for far longer seeing as I entered Illinois State in 1998 with 118 hours of accepted transfer credit (90 of which I could apply) accumulated during my time in the Army.

Over those 10+ years of mostly full-time schooling I have “progressed” in the ways in which I deal with the joys and stresses of the classroom and, even more so, with the kinds of work students are expected to generate so that their learning can be codified and graded. It started out being fairly difficult and while it (the product) always remained difficult to produce the ways in which it is difficult changed such that at some point the process actually became quite easy such that producing products which demonstrated my learning was easy. Difficult work, but easy nonetheless [I hope that makes some sense].

I seem to be long past that point anymore. I have loved my time at GSLIS for many reasons, but for a long time now I have been increasingly unhappy with the process of higher education. I have often complained of the semester system—here on this blog and elsewhere—and especially lately have complained of the need come the end of the semester to produce something which an instructor can grade. Have not my efforts to learn, to challenge myself, my classmates and the instructor already been amply demonstrated throughout the semester?

Simply put. I am burnt out.

This was to be my final semester and I was going to end it with a 3rd Mother’s Day graduation. My only real task was to write my CAS paper and defend. After consultation with my advisor, GSLIS admin, and my employer I have decided to put myself on a non-academic “sabbatical.” That is, I am taking an incomplete and doing other things for a while.

I shall not go into all of the details of the thought process or situation but the only negative thing that can honestly be said is that I won’t be “done” in May. Theoretically, I need to finish before the start of next Spring semester.

I am still working my 2 assistantships at 60% time. Thus, I haven’t really freed up much time. I will still attend the seminar on subject access/analysis, although I have unfortunately not been attending Allen’s ontologies class for several weeks now [Remember, I am just sitting in on these classes].

I m still applying for jobs although I am seeing very few that are appealing or which I feel qualified for. There are many other sorts of jobs I would consider but the ones in those lines of work (terminologies) which show up in the places I am looking seem to mostly be massively corporate or government, mostly defense.

Yes, I am applying for jobs. I have had an MLS for almost 2 years now. While I would have preferred to be finished with my CAS before taking a job there is really no reason to do so. As far along as I am now will only require me to come back—if I leave—for one day to defend; everything else can be done electronically.

My goal is to focus my energies elsewhere for a while—large portions of my life have been on hold for most of these past 10 years. What little time I gain by not actively working every free moment on my paper will be easily filled. I already have a list of projects, some major, and I haven’t even had to put any effort into identifying them.

I have finally figured out a system for organizing all those photocopied or printed out articles, book chapters, etc. that will work for me for now and which is flexible enough to grow and change with me and my interests. Many of you probably can’t even begin to imagine the amount of paper I have in folders, folders in boxes, and so on. Let’s just say that it is a lot. So I am entering them into Zotero, frequently backing up Zotero, and physically organizing them. Will I ever get finished? Not likely, no. But if I can get most of the important and more recent ones organized I will be happy.

I’d also like to try and fix many of the broken links in this blog that exist due to the migration from Typepad to my own domain. I haven’t started on that yet and I have concerns about how it might affect people’s feeds but we’ll just have to see. I doubt I can or even want to fix every link but there are quite a few I do want fixed.

Most all of my books now reside in my apartment and not in storage anymore so I would like to get more of them into my LibraryThing catalog.

I also still need to find an email and a feed reader solution to my current woes.

There are, of course, a million other things I could add; some more pressing than others. Asking someone out on a date is near the top of the list. Unfortunately, I know of no prospects at the moment. But perhaps a little more engagement with the wider world will present one. 🙂

Lest you think my CAS paper has evaporated, I can assure you that it has not. My plan is to primarily focus on other things for a while, perhaps even through summer. I am in the process of reading two books directly related to my topic but I have put them to the side for a bit. I hope to pick those up soon and work through them a bit more slowly than I have been. Basically, I have been cramming things into my mind non-stop since last May when I more or less came to my topic. No time to think, no time to muse, and certainly nothing approaching slow reading.

A short five years ago I was able to read DeLillo’s White Noise once and then produce a 14-page analysis of the lived morality as presented in the novel which actually impressed one of the professor’s I most admire in the world. Part of that may be due to lots of exposure to thinking about morality—both academically and as experienced in daily life—over the years. But part of it is where I was in my progress of academic productivity [pretty much in top form at that point].

My CAS paper has taken me into a realm where I have little formal education and where much lay thinking is mistaken due to two millennia of Western culture and education. Thus, I have had to work extra hard trying to come to grips with what I want to “produce.” Now that it is time to do so my mind has rebelled.

At first, when I floated the idea of perhaps delaying this a bit it was lovingly suggested that I “just do it” and then I could relax and follow this more where I want to take it as I further develop my research agenda [something I can actually say I have now]. I had to concur that that would be lovely. But I left that meeting feeling quite apprehensive. A week later when I went back to re-discuss my options it was readily agreed that my current plan is what is needed and it was immediately supported.

There are many reasons why the wise woman who is my advisor agreed a week later after trying to nudge me forward a week earlier. The reasons are no doubt complex, but when I asked her why she knew now that this was the right decision I was told that, “You turn gray. Today you aren’t gray and thus I know this is the right decision.” And here I always thought it was simply metaphor.

the sky is grey
the sand is grey
and the ocean is grey

and i feel right at home
in this stunning monochrome
alone in my way

ani difranco — grey — reckoning

This past Thursday when I told this story to one of my best friends ever—and my boss during what was probably the worst couple years of my life—she just looked at me funny for a few seconds. And then she said, “Of course you do!”

I guess all I can say is, “Here’s to learning to radiate all the colors of the spectrum!”

My intention regarding my paper is to distract my mind for a bit, dabble some directly on topic (soon), dabble on the periphery, let the mind do its own thing on its own time in the background, have conversations with others which will force me to be able to say what I want, and to finally get on it “full-time” come the start of the fall semester with the goal of defending at the end of fall.

I have received an enormous amount of support and validation from my advisor, other profs, GSLIS admin, the folks I work with at the Library, and especially from my friends and family. This, more than anything else, means the world to me. Thank you.

Sometimes I see myself fine, sometimes I need a witness.
And I like the whole truth,
but there are nights I only need forgiveness.
Sometimes they say, “I don’t know who you are
but let me walk with you some.”
And I say, “I am alone, that’s all,
you can’t save me from all the wrong I’ve done,”
But they’re waiting just the same,
With their flashlights and their semaphores,
And I act like I have faith and like that faith never ends
But I really just have friends.

Dar Williams — My Friends — End of the Summer

Some things read this week, 2 – 8 March 2008

Sunday, 2 Mar 2008

Toolan, M. J. (1996). Total speech: an integrational linguistic approach to language, Post-contemporary interventions., 337. Durham, N.C: Duke University Press.

  • Read Ch. 4: Further Principles of Integrational Linguistics, or, On Not Losing Sight of the Language User

 

Sunday – Friday, 2 – 7 Mar 2008

 

Aitchison, J. (2003). Linguistics, Teach yourself. (6th ed), 257. Chicago, Ill: McGraw-Hill.

  • Ch. 1: what is linguistics?
  • Ch. 2: what is language?
  • Ch. 3: the study of language (Mon)
  • Ch. 4: deciding where to begin (Mon)
  • Ch. 5: sound patterns (Mon)
  • Ch. 6: words and pieces of words (Tue)
  • Ch. 7: sentence patterns (Tue)
  • Ch. 8: meaning (Tue)
  • Ch. 9: using language (Wed)
  • Ch. 10: language and society (Wed)
  • Ch. 11: language and mind (Wed)
  • Ch. 12: language and style (Thu)
  • Ch. 13: language change (Thu-Fri)
  • Ch. 14: comparing languages (Fri)
  • Ch. 15: attitudes towards change (Fri)

This book is great fun. Not great fun as in to read it, but as in to make fun of it and to explicitly see how strictly orthodox and, thus, simplistic (and wrong) textbooks and textbook-like texts are as they follow the party line.

Here’s a nice absurdity:

In fact, it is quite impossible for anybody to form sentences and understand them unless they realize that each one has an inaudible, invisible structure, which cannot be discovered by mechanical means such as counting (20).

All I can say to that is “Seriously, what the hell!” So a 5-year-old child learning their native (or even a 2nd) language must “realize” that each sentence “has an inaudible, invisible structure” before they can form or understand any sentence in their language? What kind of idiot makes a claim like that?

Human bigotry gets us this comparison:

Human language is innately guided. Human infants are not born speaking, but they know how to acquire any language to which they are exposed. They are drawn towards the noises coming out of human mouths, and they instinctively know how to analyze speech sounds. Bees present a parallel case: they are not born equipped with an inbuilt encyclopedia of flowers. Instead, they are pre-programmed to pay attention to important flower characteristics … (21-22, emphasis mine).

Humans know, bees are programmed. What a crock! This may be the opposite of anthropomorphizing, but it is just as bad.

Thursday, 6 Mar 2008

Solomon, P. (2002). Discovering information in context, Annual Review of Information Science and Technology, 36(1), 229-264. Retrieved March 6, 2008, from http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/aris.1440360106.

Friday, 7 Mar 2008

Ellis, D. (1992). The physical and cognitive paradigms in information retrieval research, Journal of Documentation, 48(1), 45-64.

 

Saturday, 8 Mar 2008

Sundin, O., & Johannisson, J. (2005). The instrumentality of information needs and relevance. In F. Crestani & I. Ruthven (Eds.), Context: Nature, Impact, and Role: 5th International Conference on Conceptions of Library and Information Sciences, CoLIS 2005, Glasgow, UK, June 4-8, 2005 ; Proceedings, Lecture notes in computer science., 3507 (p. 250). Berlin: Springer.

Zotero presentation

Last Sunday, a friend of mine—Jodi Schneider (Science Library Specialist, Amherst College)—and I gave a presentation on Zotero: Manage Citations, Make Bibliographies & Join the Web of Data to the ASIST@UIUC Student Group. [LEEP On Campus Weekend was last week.]

We kept the presentation pretty low-key, not a lot of prep work—couple hours each. We made a single web page, which printed beautifully as a single double-sided page handout.

In an hour we covered some basics such as getting it installed, getting some citations in, getting citations out, that it integrates with word processors, how to back it up, and a bit about link resolvers. I think everyone in attendance had their own laptop and everyone jumped in and played.

I wasn’t as happy as I’d have liked to be with it when it was over, although I couldn’t say why. But. We have gotten a lot of nice feedback from those in attendance. Some was provided to both of us and much of it since Jodi went back home. I made sure to pass it on to her.

People have said they got what they wanted out of it. Sweet! [Luckily they were only looking for familiarity.]

It was also recorded (audio only) and will be available for those with GSLIS affiliation via the ASIST@UIUC Student Group web site.

Some things read this week, 17 – 23 February 2008

Sunday, 17 Feb 2008

 

Decker, S. et al. 2000. The Semantic Web: the roles of XML and RDF. Internet Computing, IEEE 4, no. 5:63-73.

 

For Ontology Development.

 

Monday – Friday, 18 – 22 Feb 2008

 

 

Harris, Roy, and Indian Institute of Advanced Study. 2003. History, Science, and the Limits of Language : an Integrationist Approach. Shimla: Indian Institute of Advanced Study.

 

  • Ch 1 : The Language of History and the Language of Science (Mon)
  • Ch 2 : The Origins of Mathematics (Wed)
  • Ch 3 : Communication by Numbers (Thu)
  • Ch 4 : Language Unlimited? (Thu)

 

Friday, 22 Feb 2008

 

 

Harris, Roy. 1998. Introduction to Integrational Linguistics. 1st ed. Kidlington, Oxford, UK: Pergamon.

 

 

Re-reading this for its overview of Integrationism.

  • Ch 1 : Language and Communication

 

Saturday, 23 Feb 2008

 

 

Richards, Jennifer. 2008. Rhetoric. London: Routledge.

 

I cataloged this little book a few weeks ago. It looked interesting enough to possibly provide a decent overview of rhetoric. And it was.

 

This is not a rhetoric handbook, but more of a history of rhetoric, its ups and downs, and its re-shapings. I found it quite interesting and somewhat useful as far as putting together (for myself) a bigger, coherent picture of Western intellectual thought over the past 2.5 millennia. Also validated much of Harris’ critique of Western education on language—grammar, rhetoric, metaphor, etc.

Omega and Alpha

The end approaches and Tuesday I spent preparing for it.

A few weeks ago I sent in a petition to the Grad College to move my “additional” 2 hours from my MS (42 vs. 40-required) to my CAS. That was approved last Friday (Feb 1st).

Seeing as I had 72 completed hours that put me at 32 for the CAS and as I’m doing (fingers and toes crossed!) my 8-hour paper this semester I applied for (another) May graduation (also 40-required hours).

I did finish my Bibliography class last month but it remains ungraded so I will have an additional 4-hours at the end after all.

I also have what I continue to think of as an Incomplete (4-hrs.) but it is actually an F now. That could be changed if I could turn something in but that is looking unlikely. It is the independent study I was working on last spring on Terminology Services.

I’m still immensely interested in many aspects of the topic but even though my advisor and I went into the semester thinking I could probably do something she could grade we agreed Tuesday that I best just focus on my CAS paper. So I also filed a petition to have the grade changed to a W for Withdrawn. It’ll remain on the transcript—Independent Study will be so illuminating—but have no effect on my GPA. Current impact? OMG!!

[Of course, it’s all relative. As UIUC grads know, here an A- will reduce your GPA. I got one and it was deservedly so (last MS semester). So I had a 3.96 last graduation and now I have 3.76. Ouch!]

Don’t confront me with my failures.
I had not forgotten them.

Jackson Browne. These Days. For Everyman. [WorldCat]

I do actually have a terminologies idea but it is way too deep for a semester paper, especially if I’m actually trying to graduate ….

… and find a job. [I once ended up in the Army for quite awhile trying to avoid finding a job.]

As to the topic, I’m not even ready to talk about it here. I’ve put a couple of feelers out and I’m noticing bits here and there and trying my best to record them for now. My 1st coherent comments on the matter came in an IM conversation with my good buddy, Iris, who was so kind to “listen” as I tried to “say” something coherent. Thanks, Iris. All in all, all I have at the moment is one half of a hypothesis that seems pretty uncontroversial (but how it is fleshed out might well matter to some) and another half that is the vaguest hand waving in the direction of something that is hard to state even in skeletal form. To me it sounds like it couldn’t be the slightest bit controversial in skeletal form (but I know better). As to how it’d play if actually coherently fleshed out I cannot begin to say. But I sure as hell would like to.

I am pretty certain that what I am claiming is so. The question is whether or not the differences make a difference. Finding those differences will involve falling down a couple of rabbit holes once the descent of the current one begins to slow down.

Seems I now have a “research agenda” as a future academic librarian. I just need to find the job interview way of saying it. 🙁 Luckily I am pretty much there now with the current one, which I foresee going on for a long time, at least the Integrationism bit.

Which brings us back to the Alpha. It seems that I am officially on the job market and looking for a job. There is no way that I can rely on staying here no matter how many people might tell me they want me to stay. All I can say is “Show me the job(s)” then. Cause I’d be happy to stay for the right job.

One of the problems with UIUC is the fact that we have an LIS school and a large academic library (40 some odd truthfully). Lots of folks stick around here for assorted reasons—townies all along, spouse still in grad school, …. Despite the size of our library there are not that many full-time openings available, nor do they tend to hire our own grads.

But one of the benefits of being large is we get lots of grants and there are all sorts of grant-funded Visiting Professorships in the library. There might also be hourly work available, but that means no benefits, which might be OK if you have an employed spouse. I really have little doubt that I could stay, at least for a while.

I have told my bosses (and others) that as much as I’d like to stay I certainly do not have to. I also have no need to take any job just to stay. Nor will I.

Personally, I think I could do the institution a lot of good if they kept me around. Not just for UIUC or the Library but for GSLIS, too. Just an opinion, mind you.

I can go anywhere, technically. I have no restraints. I’m pretty certain I don’t want to be in a major city, though. Nor do I want to be at a school with 400 students in the middle of nowhere.

Most of the above was written a couple days ago but I am having a hard time finishing this as I need to be careful. I don’t want to seemingly rule something out so that someone on a search committee can say, “That describes us so he doesn’t even want to be here!”

I am a long way from applying for any jobs that I don’t want (as best as I can tell from all sources short of visiting). In fact, I doubt I’ll get to that point. That behavior has never made sense to me.

Of course, telling what kind of job it really is based on a job ad/description is a crap shoot of the highest order.

So. I want an academic position; tenure is not important. I could take it or leave it. I will pursue continuing opportunities to learn about interesting things and to share that with others via formal and informal publishing whether or not I am required to do so.

I want to do cataloging/metadata work, preferably descriptive and classificatory work of resources more towards the individual end than in the aggregate. Vocabulary work and other forms of classificatory structures are also on the table.

Serials do not scare me. In fact, that is where most of my current experience lies, although I also do monographs now. I do not think I am ready to be an electronic resources librarian but I do hope to learn more of what I need to feel qualified, along with many other things that I am interested in but have little or no experience with yet.

Working with people who are interesting, hopefully fun, and who are actively engaged in helping each other learn their craft so as to provide better service to their patrons and to move the profession forward are all important. I am not out to save the world (20 years in the Army demonstrated the futility of that endeavor) but I do want to make it a better one.

Anyone knowing of anything they think I might be interested in is welcome to point me towards them. 🙂