Amusing book titles

Long ago in another library far, far away . . .

OK, only several years ago and an hour away . . . I swore I was going to compile a list of all the humorous, insane, non-PC, and otherwise entertaining book titles that I came across handling hundreds of books every day in Circulation and Reserves. Unfortunately, I never did so which means some real doozies have escaped from the steel jaws of my sieve-like mind. 🙁

But today when I was checking a call no. for uniqueness before assigning it to the book in hand I found this lovely gem, complete with exquisitely humorous LCSHs, too:

Ethics of spying: a reader for the intelligence professional.

  • Spies–Professional ethics
  • Espionage–Moral and ethical aspects

These are not the order of the headings in the record, nor is it all of them. It is just the order in which I find them the most humorous. The others are just derivative or simply not funny:

  • Espionage, American–Moral and ethical aspects
  • Intelligence service–blah, blah (x2)
  • Political ethics–United States
  • Military interrogation–United States–Moral and ethical aspects

See what I mean? Those last two not so funny.

Nonetheless, thanks to recent additions, such as Dildos and Strap-on sex (both of which may be subdivided Geographically) [see Jessamyn and Thingology], and now stumbling across Spies–Professional ethics, LC is certainly making life far more interesting.

Hehehe. Jessamyn makes a funny about “authorities” and strap-on sex in her post title. I think one could do the same with Dildos and Strap-on sex and Thingology. You blew it, Tim. Oops, wrong metaphor perhaps. 😉

Personally, I can’t wait to be able to use this new one from the same list:

Period (Punctuation) [May Subd Geog]

Some things read this week, 21 – 27 October 2007

Note: Not much read due to being at the ASIS&T Annual Meeting in Milwaukee until Wed. evening.

Wednesday, 24 Oct

Shepherd, Simon. “Concepts and architectures for next-generation information search engines.” International Journal of Information Management 27(1), Feb 2007: 3-8.

This is a short, but interesting article in a copy of a journal I picked up for free at ASIS&T. While the prototype has great sounding potential the article is a bit too upbeat for me, e.g., “…future search engines will be able to solve the problems of both synonymy and polysemy” (3, emphasis in original).

In his description of Google PageRank he states “… due to its ability to present Web pages in a rank order that puts the pages the user is most likely to want to see at the top of the list” (3, emphasis in original). So I should trust someone who cannot get this correct? Google most certainly does not put pages in an order that the user will most likely want to see first. It puts the pages in an order that a typical user may want to see first. These are two entirely different beasts altogether! One is a real flesh-and-blood user with a real query while the other is a statistical fiction with no means whatsoever of expressing, much less having, an information need.

The theoretical problems for small-scale examples have been solved and the basic mathematics is understood. It remains to implement the algorithms “in anger” on real databases (5).

So scalability is not an issue at all? Perhaps he ought to read Harel (see below).

We have achieved Latent Semantic Indexing which seeks to identify semantic links between documents even where such links are by no means obvious even to a human reader, …” (6).

I realize that the key word here is going to be “obvious,” but this statement makes absolutely no sense to me. I can parse it out in English well enough. I just find it completely meaningless unless one really waffles about their use of “by no means” and “obvious.” If a human cannot identify the semantic links then are they there? It is humans that construct meaning. Can a machine specify meanings between items when it cannot even recognize meaning in the first place?

Again, it looks interesting. I also have no doubt that it would be an improvement over Google. The idea of backlinks is intriguing also, although I have questions around what constitutes a “reference” to another document (it can also work on the local computer). But no algorithm can solve synonymy and/or polysemy! That is not how language works. Perhaps with a large enough text corpus these algorithms (if scalable?) can do an amazingly good job at addressing both of these issues. But solve them?

Thursday, 25 Oct

Harel, David. Computers Ltd.: What They Really Can’t Do. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

  • Ch. 3: Sometimes we can’t afford to do it [for LIS452]

Tonkin, Emma (2007) Signal and Noise: Social Construction and Representation. In Lussky, Joan, Eds. Proceedings 18th Workshop of the American Society for Information Science and Technology Special Interest Group in Classification Research, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. [Word doc available at DLIST]

Zelle, John M. Python Programming: An Introduction to Computer Science. Wilsonville, Or: Franklin, Beedle, 2004.

  • Ch. 13: Algorithm Design and Recursion

Friday, 26 Oct

Davis, Hayley and Talbot J. Taylor, eds. Redefining Linguistics. London: Routledge, 1990.

  • Ch. 1: Davis, Hayley G. Introduction.
  • Ch. 2: Harris, Roy. On Redefining Linguistics.

Danskin, Alan. “Tomorrow never knows”: the end of cataloguing? World Library and Information Congress: 72nd IFLA General Conference and Council, 20-24 August 2006, Seoul, Korea. [pdf] Found via Cataloging Futures. [Oops. Wrong link. Thanks, Chris!]

A much more positive view of changes needed in the cataloging arena. Lays out the current challenges to traditional cataloging and then answers the question whether cataloging is relevant in the short- to medium-term and in the long-term. Argues that cataloging is about establishing a context for each resource, despite the horrible failure of the OPAC to make use of this navigational potential.

While I agree, this is one of those areas where it is not so much the OPAC designers fault. Some portion of it is, of course, but more of the problem resides in our rules systems; AACR2, MARC21, etc. Have a look at Barbara Tillett’s work on bibliographic relationships and especially the following Vellucci article:

Velluci, Sherry L. “Bibliographic relationships.” In: Weihs, Jean, ed. The Principles and future of AACR: Proceedings of the International Conference on the Principles and Future Development of AACR, Toronto, Canada, Oct. 23-25, 1997: 105-146. [pdf available here, thanks to Irvin for the link]

I agree that this is an important argument to make but we are in such an awful situation to make it currently. I wonder to what extent this is being fixed in RDA. I’m not too hopeful really. Tillett’s relationships made it into the RDA to FRBR mapping and they say a mapping of RDA to FRAD is due.

But these sorts of relationships and mappings cannot be afterthoughts if they are to work as they should; they must be integral to the system from the beginning. Even if they are being added mid-way that is not the same. JSC documentation says that they considered FRBR from the beginning. Perhaps. But the main problem is that FRBR (as a complete E-R model) is not complete. Both FRBR and RDA is being done piecemeal. And we are to get a coherent system from that process?

Friday – Saturday, 26-27 Oct

Davis, Hayley and Talbot J. Taylor, eds. Redefining Linguistics. London: Routledge, 1990.

  • Ch. 3: Love, Nigel. The Locus of Languages in a Redefined Linguistics.

Story, or not story

[Disclaimer: I do not mean to offend anyone’s personal views. My only aim here is to share a love of word play with others who may also appreciate it.]

Earlier this week I did the copy cataloging to enter this book into our library. I found the juxtaposition of the the title and the subject heading quite humorous.

Murphy, Francesca Aran. God is Not a Story: Realism Revisited.
LCSH: Narrative theology.

Truth be told, the book looks highly interesting to a heretic such as me, and the subject clearly matches the title because the book is (based on my reading a fair amount of the intro) a reaction to a “side-effect” of narrative theology, which argues that

the Church’s use of the Bible should focus on a narrative presentation of the faith, rather than on the exclusive development of a systematic theology.

The intro to the book explains it better than the Wikipedia article, but it seems that (and it makes sense that) a side-effect of focusing on story is that the view, intentional or otherwise, that ‘God is story’ arises. That’s is in the existential sense. Does seem to be a distinct possibility.

Anyway, based on my reading of Auerbach’s Mimesis I imagine that if I was a theologian I would be highly drawn to narrative theology. It is the story of the Bible that is important. But Murphy’s objection is easy enough to see as a definite issue within narrative theology.

Nonetheless, heathen word play lover that I am, God is Not a Story == Narrative theology cracks me up.

Some things read this week, 19 – 25 August 2007

Saturday evening, 18 Aug

Nhat Hanh, Thich. Peace is every step : the path of mindfulness in everyday life. New York N.Y.: Bantam Books, 1991.

Finally got back to some of this.

Sunday, 19 Aug

Three NISO standards are up for reaffirmation so I read these this morning to provide my input:

ANSI/NISO Z39.77-2001 Guidelines for Information About Preservation Products

Abstract: Specifies the information that should be included in advertisements, catalogs, and promotional material for products used for the storage, binding, or repair of library materials, including books, pamphlets, sound recordings, videotapes, films, compact disks, manuscripts, maps, and photographs.

ANSI/NISO Z39.79-2001 Environmental Conditions for Exhibiting Library and Archival Materials

Abstract: Establishes criteria to minimize the effects of environmental factors on the deterioration of library and archival materials on exhibit. Specific parameters are recommended for exposure to light, relative humidity, temperature, gaseous and particulate contaminants, display techniques, and case and support materials composition.

ANSI/NISO Z39.82-2001 Title Pages for Conference Publications

Abstract: Explains how to structure title page information for conference publications so metadata and bibliographic citations can readily access the publications. The standard applies to all disciplines, to all conferences (e.g., meetings, symposia, institutes, colloquia, workshops), and to all formats (e.g., printed documents, videos, Web sites). It applies to published conference proceedings in various manifestations (e.g., papers, abstracts, summaries) and in all languages, subjects, and formats.

Z39-77 and Z39.82 are quite interesting in that we are attempting to tell others what to do. Now, yes, if they do what we ask then it should be mutually beneficial.

Libraries are more likely to buy a company’s products if they can easily identify that it meets their needs. There are a few more benefits I could guess at but they would all be highly related to the first. Seems to be a fairly direct benefit to those wanting to sell preservation products to libraries.

The benefits to publishers/distributors of conference proceedings provided by accurate cataloging of their products by libraries seems a fair bit less direct, though. Sure. There’s the random, odd freak like me who likes to buy his own copies of these things after discovering them in the library, but I truly have to wonder what carrot we have to offer publishers to follow these guidelines. And what is the compliance rate? And then there’s the citation formats, and they do some vastly different things even when a proceedings follows this standard to the letter.

Interesting stuff, nonetheless.

Litwin, Rory (mostly). Library Juice Concentrate. Duluth, Minn: Library Juice Press, 2006.

Read the introductory matter and “Section One: Foundation Building,” which includes (all by Litwin except as noted):

  • “The Library Juice Manifesto.”
  • “Neutrality, Objectivity, and the Political Center.”
  • “Classic and Neo-Information.”
  • “Why Our Relevance Lies in Not Being Information Professionals.”
  • “Questioning the Techie Mission.”
  • “Print Virtue and the Ontology of Bo-ring.”
  • Rosenzweig, Mark. “Aspects of a Humanist Approach to Librarianship… A Contribution to a Philosophical Foundation.”

I believe that I read them all in their original manifestations (not sure about the Rosenzweig), but there is value in re-reading them. Which is to say, that there is value in them.

If I had time I would love to engage with Rory at a deeper level, particularly on “Classic and Neo-Information” and “Why Our Relevance Lies in Not Being Information Professionals,” but I doubt either of us have time for that. I do look forward to meeting and talking with this clearly deeply thinking librarian someday.

If you have not read this material before then you ought to have a look. In the case that you do not prefer to read lengthy arguments, do not worry, as all of the above fits into less than 38 pages.

I do not expect you to agree entirely; if at all. I do not agree entirely. But I guarantee that it will make you think.

In the spirit of the old Library Juice serial, I leave you with one of Rory’s “Selected Quotes of the Week”:

The more we try to get a grip on information, the more it slips through our fingers like a ghost. Information, in fact, is the ghost of meaning, and our society’s worship of the ghost signals a continuing loss of meaning. – Stephen Talbot (quoted in Library Juice Concentrate, p. 197)

Tuesday, 21 Aug

Crawford, Walt. Cites & Insights 7 (10), September 2007

Wednesday, 22 Aug

Litwin, Rory. Library Juice Concentrate. See above.

Began Section Two: Librarianship: Professional Issues. Read:

  • Litwin, R., Luis Acosta, Mark Hudson, and Margaret Myers. “Critical Discussion of the Better Salaries Initiative of Mitch Freedman’s ALA Presidency.”
  • Litwin, R. “Undone by Flattery.”

There are some interesting points made by all in the Better Salaries discussion, but I have to wonder about something Luis Acosta wrote. At least at the time (mid-2003), Alcosta seemed to firmly believe in the looming, or even then extant, shortage of librarians and crisis in recruitment. He also made a direct connection between better pay and having an adequate number of MLS students. Perhaps perceived low pay is an issue in recruitment to the profession.

My main issue is with his contention that by having a large crop of entry-level workers to go into better paid positions when the huge crop of pending retirements happens library administrators will be less willing to replace these retiring librarians with non-MLS positions or not at all.

Besides all the other factors that go into whether or not a position is filled and with whom, and the problem of replacing (mostly) upper-level positions with entry-level ones, I really am having a hard time understanding just how having to pay more is going to positively effect whether management hires someone with an MLS. Seems the opposite is more likely.

Thursday, 23 Aug

Harris, Roy, and Christopher Hutton. Definition in theory and practice: Language, lexicography and the law. London: Continuum, 2007.

Read Preface & ch. 1 “On Stipulative Definition.”

Friday, 24 Aug

Harris and Hutton. See above.

Read ch. 2 “On Definition and Common Usage” and ch. 3 “On Real Definition.”

Litwin. See above.

Finished Section Two: Librarianship: Professional Issues. Read:

  • Litwin, R. “On Google’s Monetization of Libraries.”
  • Litwin, R. “The Central Problem of Library 2.0: Privacy.”
  • “Rory Litwin interviews Barbara Tillett.”

Read all of these in their original manifestations, also.

Saturday, 25 Aug

Zelle, John M. Python Programming: An Introduction to Computer Science. Wilsonville, OR: Franklin, Beedle, 2004.

Finished ch. 1 (began Thurs. eve) and read ch. 2.

Litwin. See above.

Read Section Three: Intellectual Freedom and Media Independence and began Section four: Librarians: Culture and Identity:

Litwin, R. “Four Popular Errors About Free Speech …An Attack on Complacency and Dissociation.”

Oliphant, Tami. “The Invisibility of the Alternative Media.”

D’Adamo, Chuck. “Some Alternative Press History.”

Horne, Doug. “Information-Seeking During Wartime: Reconsidering the Role of the Library in Increasing User Sell-Sufficiency.”

Litwin, R. “A Librarian’s Confession.”

Downey, Allen, Jeff Elkner and Chris Meyers. How to Think Like a Computer Scientist: Learning with Python. Green Tea Press. [Ha ha, I was drinking green tea when I read this.] Available here in assorted forms.

Raber, Douglas. The Problem of Information: An Introduction to Information Science. Lanham, Md: Scarecrow Press, 2003.

Read the final chapter, “Semiotics for Information Science.”

What can I say about this book that I haven’t already over the last few weeks? I don’t really know. Perhaps a little recap will suffice.

This is, by far, the most poorly edited book I have read in an extremely long time! This is a shame.

I feel that this is an important book and yet I cannot recommend it. Perhaps in a discussion with a specific individual and for a specific purpose I might, but otherwise no.

I am glad I read it and I would like to own a copy for future referral, but I will wait until I can find a good used copy for cheap.

Style is certainly an individual thing, but I feel this could have been written much more clearly.

In its defense, it did provide me with a long list of references to many good sources.

According to the Preface, this “book was written with beginning LIS students in mind; it should be accompanied by the reading of contemporary journal articles from the literature of information science” (vii).

I wholeheartedly disagree! Please do not inflict this book on beginning LIS students. And while I do agree that it must be read along with accompanying articles I question the use of contemporary. If this means the last 40 years (at least), then OK. If that means more like 5-8 years then No. Many of the important articles to this discussion are not exactly what I’d call contemporary, although there certainly are some.

Fall schedule

Classes

I am taking 2+ classes this semester:

Foundations of Information Processing in LIS with Dave Dubin (one of the most brilliant and generous men I have ever met)

Covers the common data and document processing constructs and programming concepts used in library and information science. The history, strengths and weaknesses of the techniques are evaluated in the context of our discipline. These constructs and techniques form the basis of applications in areas such as bibliographic records management, full text management and multimedia. No prior programming background is assumed.

Python programming.

Bibliography with Don Krummel, Professor Emeritus (one of the very few currently teaching emeritus faculty whom I have not taken a course with and a grand and erudite gentleman)

Covers enumerative bibliography, the practices of compiling lists; analytical bibliography, the design, production, and handling of books as physical objects; and historical bibliography, the history of books and other library materials, from the invention of printing to the present.

I would be a complete fool not to take this course with Dr. Krummel. I’ve been wanting to for a long time and now is my best, or only, chance.

By the way, this description has nothing to do with my distributed conversation across the biblioblogosphere the last 2 days. Seriously. But, yes, this will be based on the physical book. The historian in me will enjoy it.

But, more importantly to me, the product of the bibliography is applicable in a far greater context; it can cover many more containers than bound & printed books, and it itself can be contained in a variety of containers. E.g., see this bibliography.

The + is my independent study….

Work

As of yesterday, I am now a monographic cataloging graduate assistant along with being the serials cataloging graduate assistant. I’ll be working 60% on top of my classes.

I began monographs this summer but it was as an hourly. Now I get a steady wage and have to work a prescribed number of hours, but I get vacation and sick days. Yay for vacation! [If I could only learn what this concept is supposed to mean. 🙂 ]

This is the schedule for now. I need to fit Metadata Roundtable in there. ASIS&T 2007 in October. LEEP Weekend since Dave’s class is a distance class. Applying for jobs; perhaps interviewing….

Some things read this week, 22 – 28 July 2007

Sunday, 22 Jul

Crawford, Walt. Cites & Insights 7 (9): August 2007 [pdf]

An excellent issue covering the LIS literature; authority, worth and linkbaiting (Britannica, Gorman, et. al.), disagreement and discussion; and ethics and transparency.

I think you did a fine job, Walt. As I said elsewhere (probably as a comment on your blog), I was/am interested in any direction in which you took the topic and continued the conversation. Thank you!

The Good, the Bad, And the ‘Web 2.0’. Full-text version of an Andrew Keen and David Weinberger “Reply All” debate at the Wall Street Journal online.

I would like to say that Andrew Keen is a fool; but, perhaps, he doesn’t actually believe that tripe he was spewing. Of course, if that is the case then I’d have to call him something worse.

Such a shame he argues so much like Gorman. Both men have important ideas that need to be considered and they are either cluelessly or intentionally burying those important ideas in their rhetoric, name calling, and ridiculous argumentation.

On the other hand, I gained a large amount of respect for David Weinberger by reading this “discussion.”

It is rather fitting that I read this piece today (after printing it 3 days ago) after reading the newest Cites & Insights.

I thought this comment from Weinberger fit extremely well with Walt’s (and others) thoughts on authority:

Knowledge is generally not a game for one. It is and always has been a collaborative process. And it is a process, not as settled, sure, and knowable by authorities as it would be comforting to believe.

Sunday – Monday, 22 – 23 Jul

Raber, Douglas. The Problem of Information: An Introduction to Information Science. Lanham, Md: Scarecrow Press, 2003.

Read ch. 1 – 2.

Pretty good so far, but is somewhat sloppily edited. Some are perhaps a matter of style, while some are just sloppy. I can’t find the most offensive one at the moment, but here is one that is a matter of style, perhaps.

Remember, the indeterminacy of signs and the phenomena they represent do not derive from the fact that they cannot be determined, but they can plausibly and usefully be determined in a variety of ways (24).

Alright. The sentence is fairly clear, but I had to do a double take due to the contrastive clauses (sorry, don’t know the technical terms). In my world I think it would be much clearer to say “…from the fact that they cannot be determined, but that they can plausibly and usefully be determined….” Without the second “that” I feel that the sentence lacks force and that the 2nd clause does not match the strength of the 1st clause. Perhaps you disagree. That’s OK.

Here’s a definite example of sloppiness:

The implication that there exists both good and bad information in turn raises questions regarding the criteria are applied in judgment (42).

That sentence clearly needs a “that” or the “are” changed “to be.” Another sentence in ch. 1 had both an “in” and “of” when either would have been fine, but not both of them. None of this sloppiness has resulted in incomprehensibility yet, but I would argue that when the mind is busy picking out these sorts of things and/or being forced to re-read something just to parse it correctly that comprehension is reduced.

The contest that concerns here us turns on several questions (45).

Despite their fundamental and profound differences, however, there are some important common threads bind these metaphors together (46).

WTF? This text has a serious issue with “that!” I sure hope the editing gets better quick or I’m not reading this much further. What a damn shame as this looks to be an important book on “the problem of information.”

Tuesday, 24 Jul

Raber (above).

Read ch. 3 and began ch. 4.

Neill, S. D. “The Dilemma of the Subjective in Information Organisation and Retrieval.” Journal of Documentation 43 (3), Sep. 1987: 193-211.

Cited by Raber in ch. 2.

Is an attempt to bring “together the views of Brenda Dervin and Karl Popper on subjectivity and objectivity as these relate to information use” (abstract). I wasn’t so impressed and I do not really see how it supports the claim Raber uses it to support, or, perhaps, I should say that I do not think I see it claiming what Raber said it does.

Wednesday – Thursday, 25 – 26 Jul

Raber (above).

Finished ch. 4. / Read ch. 5 – 6

Thursday, 26 Jul

Yee, Martha M. and Michael Gorman. “Will the Response of the Library Profession to the Internet Be Self-Immolation?”

This is Martha Yee’s written testimony to LC’s Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control. It was posted to AUTOCAT in multiple parts and then a link appeared to a copy posted on the James Madison University cataloging wiki.

Thankfully, Christine Schwartz posted a link to it on her blog Cataloging Futures.

Friday, 27 Jul

Hillmann, Diane I. “Adding New Skills to our Skillset.” July 2007.

Found at Cataloging Futures.

Raber (above).

Began ch. 7.

I have kept reading this book despite the poor editing — it only gets worse — because I find its message important. I will probably finish the book because of this message. It could have been so much better with some quality editing, though. Words are frequently missing; sometimes they even affect the meaning. There is also some stylistic editing I would argue for in a few places.

My main concern, though, is that “This book was written with beginning LIS students in mind” (Preface, vii). I find that highly questionable. If Prof. Raber is blessed with beginning students who are capable of critically following and engaging with his arguments in this book then he is truly blessed.

I am not saying that beginning students could not gain something from this text, but that for most students to be able to profit from it in more than a cursory manner requires some previous time spent with many of the concepts in the book, whether conceptually, experientially, theoretically, or however you want to say it. That is, the text assumes too much familiarity with a plethora of deep issues; none of which is itself free of problems.

The “problem(s) of information” is deep, perplexing, and highly intertwined with many concepts, most of which are equally deep, perplexing and enigmatic.

Hesitantly recommended.