Mark has been Off for 2 years

… but broken for much longer.

This blog, Off the Mark, is 2 years old today. I shall refrain from calling it an anniversary, as such, since last year we sort of decided that my blogging anniversary ought to be from the start of my 1st public blog, …the thoughts are broken…, which debuted in January 2005. It was “decided” that this is really a continuation of the first and I cannot really disagree, even if I could employ serials cataloging and FRBR terminology to show otherwise. ;-)

Here’s what I wrote on my 3rd blogging anniversary back in January of this year.

There appear to have been 157 published posts here in the last year. Forty-seven of those were “Some things read this week …” posts, while there were another 8-10 that commented on that “column.” I posted 2 of the 3 poems that I wrote; “fallen” and “Stargazing.” Wow, what vastly different views of the world!

In the larger scheme of both blogs and my blogging overall, I have 961 posts, 5 in draft, and I’m remembering 3 specific ones that were published and then pulled at some point [not a light decision]. Will I reach a thousand posts by the end of the calendar year, or perhaps my 4th blogging anniversary in January? Who can say? Based on historical statistics I will easily. Based on current output and current thinking I would say no. We’ll see.

Things have been somewhat quiet around here lately and I expect them to stay that way for several reasons for a while, at least. I am doing some serious thinking about and work on my communication styles. I want to change a fair bit about how I say some things. Topics will probably stay much the same, although much of the personal productiveness and questioning of personal narrative will (has) generated some “new” topics for me; i.e., new for the blog.

So, while I really do not want to mark this as an official anniversary I do want to take this moment to note some of this and to say “Thank you” to any who read, comment, and critique. I take feedback here quite seriously. I simply cannot grow without the voice and help of others.

Quick shout-out to LISHost for hosting and support for the past 2 years.

Some things read this week, 4 – 10 November 2007

Sunday, 4 Nov

Romero Guillém, María Dolores. “Graeco-Latin vocabulary in ESP texts and its pedagogical implications.” In Inchaurralde, Carlos (Ed.) Perspectives on Semantics and Specialised Languages. Universidad de Zaragoza, Departamento de Filología Inglesa y Alemana, 1994: 285-293.

Green Rebecca. “Conceptual Universals in Knowledge Organization and Representation.” [Keynote Address] In López-Huertas, María J. Challenges in Knowledge Representation and Organization for the 21st Century. Integration of Knowledge across Boundaries. Proceedings of the Seventh International ISKO Conference, 10-13 July 2002, Granada, Spain. Advances in Knowledge Organization, 8 (2002): 15-27.

Harris, Roy. The Language-makers. London: Duckworth, 1980. [Re-reading]

  • Ch. 6.
  • Ch. 7

Harel, David. Computers Ltd.: What They Really Can’t Do. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. [for LIS452]

  • Ch. 4: Sometimes we just don’t know

Monday, 5 Nov

Solnit, Rebecca. “Finding time: the fast, the bad, the ugly, the alternatives.” Orion Magazine September/October 2007.

Found via Library Juice. Thanks, Rory!

For variety’s sake I’ll use a different paragraph to give the gist of the article:

The conundrum is that the language to describe the ineffable splendors and possibilities of our lives takes time to master, takes a certain unhurried engagement with the tasks of description, assessment, critique, and conversation; that to speak this slow language you must slow down, and to slow down you must have some inkling of what you will gain by doing so. It’s not an elite language; nomadic and remote tribal peoples are now quite good at picking and choosing from development’s cascade of new toys, and so are some of the cash-poor, culture-rich people in places like Louisiana. Poetry is good training in speaking it, and skepticism is helpful in rejecting the four horsemen of this apocalypse, but they both require a mind that likes to roam around and the time in which to do it.

Monday – Wednesday, 5 – 7 Nov

Harris, Roy. Introduction to Integrational Linguistics. 1st ed, Kidlington, Oxford, UK: Pergamon, 1998. [Re-reading]

  • Ch. 1: Language and Communication [Mon-Tue]
  • Ch. 2: Language and the Language Myth [Tue-Wed]

Wednesday, 7 Nov

Renear, Allen H. and David Dubin. “Three of the Four FRBR Group 1 Entity Types are Roles, not Types.” In Grove, Andrew and Abebe Rorissa, Eds. Proceedings of the 70th ASIS&T Annual Meeting Volume 44 2007: Joining Research and Practice: Social Computing and Information Science, October 19-24, Milwaukee, WI.

There are things I want to say about this but will refrain for now. At the moment, I only want to ask, “Why?”

Thursday – Friday, 8 – 9 Nov

Harris, Roy. Introduction to Integrational Linguistics. 1st ed, Kidlington, Oxford, UK: Pergamon, 1998. [Re-reading]

  • Ch. 3: Language and Meaning
  • Ch 4: Language and Discourse

Thursday, Saturday, 8, 10 Nov

Richter, Melvin. “Begriffsgeschichte and the History of Ideas.” Journal of the History of Ideas 48(2), Apr.-Jun., 1987:247-263. [via JSTOR]

Was cited by one of the chapters I was reading in the book on Begriffsgeschichte last week. This does a somewhat better job of saying what Begriffsgeschichte is, at least if one is looking for a single article/chapter length look.

Saturday, 10 Nov

Harris, Roy. The Language-makers. London: Duckworth, 1980. [Re-reading]

  • Ch. 8.

Mertz, David. Text Processing in Python. Boston: Addison-Wesley, 2003.

  • Appendix A: Selective and Impressionistic Short Review of Python

NASKO 2007 – Day 2

Conference photos here. More touristy photos here [includes some conference attendees]. Everyone’s photos here [which means jennimi and me.]

Rebecca Green has a much better synopsis than I will produce at 025.431: The Dewy Blog.

Plenary: Issues in Knowledge Organization Research: An Interactive Panel Discussion. Joe Tennis, moderator.

  • James Turner, Professor, University of Montreal.
  • Clare Beghtol, Professor, University of Toronto.
  • Jens-Erik Mai, Professor and Vice Dean, University of Toronto.

comments from panel and audience will be in Day 2, part 2 post.

Contributed Papers Session 3:

An Irrational Truth, Or the Marginalization of People Through Classification in Natural Disaster Settings. [Note: Paper title is different from presentation title.] Randall Kemp, University of Washington.

This was quite an interesting paper. The big issue here, though, is that there are so many classifications going on in a natural disaster situation. There is the immediate triage of various [multiple kinds of] caregivers and emergency responders. There is the preplanning classification[s] built into the disaster plans of the incident commanders. There are the classifications needed to communicate with the media. There are the classifications needed by policy makers. Some of these are immediate, some are long-term, some are flexible and changeable, some are fixed. And this only begins to scratch the surface. The question quickly becomes, “How do we find the people in all of these classifications?” Despite all the complicated issues, this is important work.

The Economic and Aesthetic Axis of Information Organization Frameworks [extended abstract]. Joseph T. Tennis, University of British Columbia.

Information Organization Frameworks (IOFs) “are made up of a distinct structure, work practice, and arise from a discourse.”

I think Joe is on to something here, but this economic axis is an oversimplification.

Tagging for Health Information Organisation and Retrieval. Margaret Kipp, University of Western Ontario.

For those interested in tagging, and in particular the intersection of tagging and traditional classification, Margaret Kipp’s work is worth watching. Go find her earlier stuff and keep an eye out for her future work. I believe Louise Spiteri is one of the few others working in this space.


Contributed Papers Session 4:

Faceted Navigation and Browsing Features in New OPACs: A More Robust Solution to Problems of Information Seekers? [extended abstract] Kathryn La Barre, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

I’m really hoping that Kathryn’s research agenda can be funded. We really need to know whether these types of systems are actually effective or whether they just appeal to our beliefs.

Study on the Influence of Vocabularies used for Image Indexing in a Multilingual Retrieval Environment. Elaine Ménard, Université de Montréal.

While image retrieval is not my area, I found this fascinating [even though still in its early stages] based on my readings in the area of multilingual thesauri.

Coffee break

Contributed Papers Session 5:

In the Margins: Reflections on Scribbles, Knowledge Organization, and Access [extended abstract]. June Abbas, SUNY Buffalo.

June rocks! She has a tablet PC so was able to scribble on her own presentation.

She cites Wilson (1968) reminding us that “What a text says is not necessarily what it reveals or what it allows us to conclude … but what is not said may interest us more than what is said” (p. 18). Alert readers of this blog ought to have learned this lesson by now. ;)

She asks whether “reasons and uses of annotation in the print environment [can] also be extended to the digital tagging practice as well?”

Where do we go from here?” “What we need to consider now is how we can use these sources to adapt, augment, revitalize our knowledge organization structures.”

Motivations? Personal findability or organization; communal or familial sharing; meaning making; performative act?

Did I mention that June rocks?

Performance Works: Continuing to Comprehend Instantiation. Richard P. Smiraglia, Long Island University.

Anticipating New Media: A Faceted Classification of Material Types. Rebecca Green, OCLC Dewey Decimal Classification (and Nancy Fallgren, University of Maryland).

While perhaps not the sexiest of topics, it is extremely important and far more complex than our general, in practice, orientation of a simple dichotomy of content vs. carrier, which itself is often highly confused. This is productive clarification of many of the involved issues, and I am really glad to see it for many reasons. Not the least of which is Hjørland’s comment regarding the need to record and qualitatively discuss our disagreements in the literature so that we may truly learn.

Content vs. carrier, or content and carrier, or perhaps content and carrier and what else? Content, infixion, and carrier per T. Delsey (see Delsey cites in her paper). When and in what ways does one facet limit or impose constraints on the other? They are interdependent (see L. Howarth 1997 cite in her paper).

The FRBR Expression entity: “Another development of the content vs. carrier issue questions whether there may be the need for intermediate bibliographic categories between pure intellectual or artistic content and pure physicality” (88). The FRBR Expression entity bothers her because it is being used to mean lots of different things: two editions of a work, two translations of a work (in the same or different languages), different interpretations of an artistic performance, printed text vs. audio recording of text being read (or performed) (88).

I fully agree with her here. IFLA FRBR folks did some wonderful work in their documentation. They also blew a few things, some of which are because they wanted to keep it simple, some perhaps because they were too close to the issues and document, while others may have been due to a compromise … or a mixture. The Expression entity is one such failure. Manifestation and that unfortunate line drawn between Manifestation and Expression level which supposedly shows the line between the intellectual and the physical. That diagram in, and of, itself is a disaster, imnsho. I think the committee knew what they meant, kept the documentation simple (which I agree can be a benefit usually) and thus blew it.

Both Manifestation and Expression are complex creatures. Neither is (only) what they purport to be; they are both so much more than that. And this is not a good thing. Manifestation is a purely conceptual entity that is composed of one or more physical items. Its component parts (if more than a singular instance) may never be all together in one physical space-time grouping.

Another reason the “line of demarcation” was unfortunate on that diagram that has now been replicated ad nauseum with a subsequent loss of the little nuance in the text is that the physicality of a Manifestation is a vastly different kind of physicality of an Item. But it is not a difference than can easily be explicated in a sentence or two.

Another issue with the physicality line and much along the lines of Dr. Green’s issue here is that, although non-physically instantiated Expressions are logically possible, they are generally not the sort of entity that libraries are in the habit of worrying about. Libraries do the recorded information and knowledge of humankind. Thus, almost every Expression has some form of physicality. And generally this physicality is of the sort in which we now have a conceptual and physical Manifestation and an Item. Electronic-based media is adding some twists to the mix, to be sure, but they can be accommodated if Dr. Green’s initial attempt at explicating these issues is furthered.

By the way, all of that from “I fully agree with her. …” was all me.

Dr. Green showed 4 ways in which DDC attempts to show content and carrier distinctions. She said that perhaps we’ll see some payoff from her work soon in the schedules. I am unsure of how I feel about the DDC, specifically, and classification structures like it, for many and complex reasons, but I am glad that Dr. Green is working on it.

I want to recant my opening line a bit to, “While I know some of you won’t find this a sexy topic, it should be considered far sexier than it is.” This is a complex and old topic, with plenty of hard practical and philosophical problems. I have the feeling that this is a prime bit of description that would be well served by faceting. But we need to do a good job conceptually, experiment, refine, implement, test and provide feedback in the literature.

Closing Session: Knowledge Organization in North America, Kathryn La Barre (synopsis of the symposium). The “charge.”

I will try to add some notes on this on the Day 2, part 2 post. Or not. See Rebecca Green for a good summary.

I apologize to all those authors/presenters whose papers I did not get to comment on. This is way “behind schedule” and I’ve just decided to start a 3rd post to finish this out. Unfortunately, I now have more pressing things than conference reporting. Of course, I think of this as far more than conference reporting. Which is why I didn’t say I have things of more importance; that would be so far from the truth.

Thanks again to all who made this symposium possible! It was an amazing time and experience.

North American Serials Interest Group, Louisville, KY

This past weekend I attended my first North American Serials Interest Group (NASIG) conference (their 22nd) in Louisville, KY.

It was fun, interesting, and casual. I rode down and stayed with Steve Oberg, who I found out (from someone else) once we got there is a Past President of NASIG. Actually, over the course of 3 days I found it out from many people. It was nice to be able to spend some quality time with Steve and get to know each other better.

I finally got to meet Anna Creech, although we never found more than a few minutes to hang out. I never did manage to catch up with Greg Schwartz. He actually lives a goodly ways outside of town so my only chance was during the day on Friday and it didn’t work out. :(

I did get to talk with Karen for a minutes on late Friday afternoon for 10 minutes or so. Twas nice.


The first event I attended was the reception on Thursday evening at the Frazier International History Museum. It was nice. I wandered up to the Late Night Social later in the evening but I didn’t remember anyone’s names although I recognized some faces. I sat around for a few minutes, but not wanting to drink (??) I didn’t “impose” myself on anyone and wandered up to the room.


Vision Session I: Bob Stein, Director of the Institute for the Future of the Book. “The Evolution of Reading and Writing in the Networked Era.”

Strategy Session: “From Tech Services to Leadership.” Panel relating skills learned in TS to demonstrating library leadership.

  • Joyce Ogburn, Director of Marriott Library at the University of Utah
    Karen Calhoun, Vice President, OCLC WorldCat and Metadata Services (formerly Asst. University Librarian for Technical Services at Cornell University)
    Carol Pitts Diedrichs, Dean of Libraries at the University of Kentucky

Tactics Session: “Successive Entry, Latest Entry or None of the Above? How the MARC21 Format, FRBR and the concept of a Work Could Revitalize Serials Management.” Katherine C. Adams, Britta Santamauro, both of Yale University.

Strategy Session: “Tumbling Dice: Publishers, Aggregators, and ERM.” Sandy Hurd, Innovative Interfaces, Inc.; Kathy Klemperer, Library and Information Systems Consulting; and Linda Miller, Library of Congress.

Dine Around at Jarfi’s. Good food and conversation.


Vision Session II: Karen Schneider. “State of Emergency.” Alternate title: “The Paranoia Presentation.”

Strategy Session: “Hitting the Trifecta: Alternative Career Paths for Those with an M.L.S.” Ann McKee (consortia), Bob Schatz (book vendors), Christine Stamison (subscription agents), Steve Oberg (corporate), Beverley Geer (publisher), and Michael Markwith (subscription agent)

Tactics Session: “A Needle in the Haystack — Finding that First Academic Serials Job and Advancing to the Next Level.” Kay G. Johnson, Radford University and Gayle Baker, University of Tennessee.

Lunch & Informal Discussion Groups — I was interested in 3 of these and not sure exactly why I went to the one I did, but it was interesting. Perhaps it was my interest in continuing education, and that I hadn’t been to the 3rd floor in that wing of the hotel yet.

I attended SCCTP (Serials Cooperative Training Program) instead of Web 2.0 Tools for Libraries or RDA and Serials. Web 2.0 was easy enough to skip, but RDA ….

Tactics Session: “Straight from the Horse’s Mouth: New and Not-So-New Serialists Share Experiences.” Susan Davis, University of Buffalo, SUNY and Sarah Morris, Illinois College of Optometry.

I skipped the Endeavor User Group Meeting. I kind of wanted to go but I had been fighting a headache all day and it was at its worst. If my institution had been paying I would have made myself go but it was my dime ($375) and I took a break.

Brainstorming Session: This was on why and how to remedy the situation of very few wanting to run for leadership offices in the organization.

Dine Around at Saffron’s I wish I knew the name of the restaurant (thanks Steve & Greg), but I just kind of lucked into the group as they were heading over and they had room for an additional person. It was a lovely Persian place. Cost me a bundle, but it was worth every penny. Of course, going with this group caused me to miss hanging out with Anna Creech and her posse for barbecue. But seeing as I was already seated at the restaurant when I got her call…. Great food and conversation.

Open Mic Late Night Social: Some talented and funny people in NASIG. If I go next year (and I’d love to) I’ll have to practice some of my stories.


Vision Session III: Daniel Chudnov, Library of Congress. “A New Approach to Service Discovery and Resource Delivery.”

Strategy Session: “It Takes a Community; The CLOCKSS Initiative.” Victoria Reich, CLOCKSS Initiative, Stanford University Libraries

I got to this one late as I stuck around to ask Dan Chudnov a question and then spoke with Britta Santamauro of Yale about her presentation on Friday re FRBR. I was much more impressed after speaking with her. I only stuck around a while. It was standing room only, and despite the lively presentation I could learn all of this from a decent article so I took a break.

Tactics Session: “Education Trifecta: Win attention, Palce knowledge, Show understanding.” Virginia Taffurelli, New York Public Library; Betsy J. Redman, Arizona State University; and Steve Black, College of Saint Rose.

This was about how to do serials continuing education, particularly online, and on Steve’s on campus MLS course in serials at SUNY-Albany.

Conference Closing.


[Side note: I was reminded once again that quite a few married librarians do not wear wedding rings. (1) Life is hard enough people. (2) I thought we were the "info people." Hmmm. Thought I wrote about this phenomenon before but I can't find it; perhaps they were only f2f conversation which I know I had.]

I will write up some of these presentations although probably not much about any of them. Several reasons for this: (1) My notes are generally pretty skimpy, (2) some of them were less informative than they could have been, (3) I have other things to do, (4) and there aren’t all that many serialists out there.

If you would like some more info on something I have not yet written about or do not write about feel free to contact me and I will shoot you what I can or try to put you in touch with the presenters. I will probably say something about the Vision Sessions. Otherwise it may just be a comment or two here and there.

I haven’t had a chance to check this out yet but it sounds wonderfully intriguing. Steve Black (The College of Saint Rose) has a program where he interviews all sorts of journal editors about all sorts of topics.

Periodical Radio’s mission is to record dialogues with the interesting, creative, dedicated people who edit and produce journals and magazines.

Listen online or download programs.

And a very big “Thanks for everything!” to Steve Oberg. You were more than wonderful!