Opportunities come … and go; just as fast

A couple hours ago I wrote and sent off an email that I found very difficult to write.

This weekend I received an email asking me to sit on a panel at ALA to help discuss a topic of current concern to some. But, unfortunately and for various reasons, I decided early in the year not to go to ALA. I chose to go to NASIG instead (June), along with ASIST (Oct.). I have since added ISKO-NA/NASKO in June.

Despite having lodging in the DC area, there is simply no way I can decide to go at this late date. I most certainly cannot afford it, nor can I afford to miss even more days of work.

But how is one to turn down such an offer? This is certainly the highest level invitation of any kind I have received in my so far short library career; probably even of my whole life.

I know some of you turn down these sorts of things frequently. But did you turn down the 1st one? “They” say “timing is everything” and so much about the timing(s) of this is perfect. But bounce that timing off the reality of life and it skews real poorly on one or more axes. OK, one axis. Money.

Several people of importance to me are encouraging me to accept and I am grateful to them for that wisdom. But it simply is not to be. <sigh>

But. Tomorrow I start a(nother) new job and will become a Rapid Monographic Cataloging GA (well, hourly for the summer; GA in the fall). Yay, me!

I am seriously looking forward to actually making some forward progress each day (as in number of titles cataloged). My serials gig is anything but rapid. It’ll be hard to remember that I can only do copy cataloging with the monographs, though. 😉

Life is full of trade-offs it seems. And some of them are even good ones.

P.S. I was reasonably OK with my decision a few hours ago, but now I am finding it hard to fathom that I said “No, thank you.” I can certainly believe the reality of it, though. Oh well. “Buck up, kid! You get to learn something new tomorrow.”

A crazy mishmash of life

Sickness and death

Been having odd sick-like things going on for a couple months now. Went to the doc last week. Sinus x-rays showed an infection and I’m a third of the way through 20 days of antibiotics. My electrolytes were also off and I had to have them retested. Go back Monday for a follow-up.

I need to call the pest control dude back. Maybe it’s the cold snap, but I have had a couple ants the last couple days. I have about 3 more weeks to get a free touch-up spray. It’s stressful enough right now with the semester’s end rapidly approaching without needing to kill more ants. “Stay outside, you little bastards!”

End of the semester

Speaking of the end of the semester … I’m OK, but really need to get productive quickly! I’ve been reading a lot as you can see, but now it’s time to do something with what I’ve read and to actually research some (i.e., visit and play with) some terminology services-type projects. I’ve been entering many of my readings in Zotero, too, so I can do my bibliography.

My project for Representation and Organization is probably going to be an annotated bibliography. Kathryn’s left it up to me to produce something useful for the class on my topic, relationships, although she suggested a few things including the bibliography. I am going to structure it around Bean & Green’s 4-way grouping from the introduction to Relationships in the organization of knowledge:

  1. Bibliographic relationships between units of recorded knowledge
  2. Intratextual and intertextual relationships, including those based on text structure, citation relationships, and hypertext links
  3. Subject relationships in thesauri and other classificatory structures
  4. Relevance relationships (vii)

I will, of course, expand on these (non-mutually exclusive) categories and try to include at least one good article on each topic. Many topics will have several good or even great ones. And, if you’ve been paying attention, you may have noticed that I’ve even gone back and read some of the early classic articles.

Allen really liked my first paper for Ontologies and now I just need to do a bit of expansion and try to add a couple sentences here and there on some points he said I’d get nailed for if it were a conference paper. Our initial limit was 3 single-spaced pages and now I have 1-3 more to “play” with. Of course, I’m supposed to explain the notion of hierarchies, my choice of methodology (chose the right one, but need to say why), and also what I mean by “fundamental category.” I love how he said that “I need to do something (about “fundamental category”), that it’ll be hopeless, and that I won’t be satisfied.” Truer words of advice from a philosopher were never spoken. In 1-3 sentences I need to stave off criticism from those who think they know what they are and that I don’t, and criticism from those who think no one knows what they are. Certainly a simple task, eh? 😉

I really had no idea what to expect from Allen when I went in to talk to him last Sunday since I had never written an actual paper for him before, but it was delightful. We chatted for a good while about a fair few things and it did my heart good. Those memories are mine, though.

I need to get on this paper, though, as I present it to class on Tuesday the 17th. I’ll post it here at some point. I’m even considering posting both versions, but I want to have the expanded version written before I post the original.

Assistantships

I just realized that my thesaurus assistantship is over May 15th, and I verified that they have no money to pay me (hourly) after that. At least I didn’t get let go like several other folks a month or two back. That means I will not completely finish my first pass through FireTalk, although possibly all Top Terms except TT00 General. The problem is, I’m still waiting for node labels (maybe next week) and it will really need a 2nd pass. ::sigh:: “‘ferris wheel rescue’, ‘ferris wheel rescue’, ‘ferris wheel rescue’…”

I think I’m set for Fall, though. I scored another assistantship in Rapid (monographic) Cataloging and kept my Serials gig. Sweet! I’ll get to sit at my own desk all week, and get some great monographic copy cataloging experience. I’ll certainly see a vastly wider range of subjects, class nos, and some other MARC fields than I do now. My only concern is that if some adjustments aren’t made it’ll be 60% total, and those extra few hours/week make a big difference.

My serials gig is through the summer, but I need to find some way to make up the $$ from the Fire Service gig. Cause it only adds up to rent and utilities for 3 months. Else it’ll be a very boring summer as I basically sit in my house and it ramen.

Blogging, or not so much

See the next post…

Future classes

This summer I’ll be taking a class on Topic Maps with Patrick Durusau via LEEP. This Fall, who knows? Registration opens Monday and we don’t have all the classes listed yet! Now this is certainly abnormal for us, but it sucks nonetheless.

I am taking Bibliography with one of our amazing emeritus professors, Don Krummel. After that, hmmm? There really aren’t many decent courses being offered in my opinion. But one should keep in mind that I’ll have 74 semester hours of LIS credit by the time Fall semester starts. Maybe it is about time to move on. 😉

There are a couple that might be interesting in light of my previous socio-technological work, but they are with someone I don’t think I’d take any class from based on what I’ve heard from many of the PhD students.

Julia Flanders (who is amazing!) will be teaching Electronic Publishing via LEEP again. While interesting, I had a look at last year’s syllabus and I don’t know. Kind of peripheral to my main interests.

An analysis of contemporary electronic publishing from the perspective of the production process, emphasizing the role of information processing standards and the concept of documents as knowledge representation systems. Specific topics will include the organization of digital document production, tools and techniques, technical strategies, business strategies, and policy issues. Particular attention will be given to the use of key XML-related standards in the production process, and to the general role of data standards in supporting the development of a high-performance electronic publishing industry. As a vehicle for presenting a coordinated selection of fundamental issues, we will focus on the development and use of the Open eBook Publication Structure, a new industry specification for the content, structure, and presentation of “electronic books”. Students may approach the material from a variety of perspectives. Final projects will be individualized to student’s interests and backgrounds and may be either analytical research papers or technical projects designing and implementing portions of publishing systems (From GSLIS Course Catalog).

Dave Dubin will be teaching Foundations of Information Processing in Lib & Info Science, which will include Python programming. Allen Renear highly suggested I take this after hearing of the other classes I have taken and my professional plans. He’s right; I need to do this. But it’s LEEP and I broadcast this class for Dave once and had a hard time keeping up when in the same room with him even. That boy can pack an English sentence like none I’ve ever known!

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 (From GSLIS Course Catalog).

More important to my current goals are the independent studies/practica that I’m trying to put together. I want to do some work with “authority control,” both traditional (AACR, MARC, LC) and newer, non-traditional forms like embedded gazetteers, term lists, etc. They will probably have to be separate, but who knows? I’m drafting a letter to ask for a meeting to discuss possibilities with our head of cataloging but am waiting on a couple feedback responses first. Quite possibly something could come of this that would shape my CAS project. It’d be nice to do some real work and learning, and benefit the library and our patrons at the same time.

I thought I had the authority control thing sewn up when I got a CETRC Mentor, but seeing as I never heard from them I seem to need to find a different route. And speaking of never hearing from….

ALA and its offshoots

Almost 2 months ago, I wrote about ALA membership processing being broken. I called them a couple of days after that and was assured that everything was right with the world. The lady I spoke with really was very pleasant. She assured me that, “No, I did not owe any more $$ for ACRL and that I really was no longer a member of ACRL, and that surely LITA knew I was a member because they have exactly the same info as she does.” She suggested that maybe I hadn’t heard from them yet as their journal is quarterly and, well, Nov. to Feb. When I asked whether I should have at least received a welcome email or such she was a bit perplexed but, nonetheless, “All is right with the world.”

Well, damn it ALA! All is not right with the world. I still get ACRL publications. I have yet to receive any thing—journal, email, “Fuck off but thanks for the $$”—except for a kindly welcome from a member in my post comments. As I said in my previous post:

I voted for the dues increase ALA. I expect you to actually fix some of the broken parts with it. Starting with membership services might be a good place. That seems like such a basic concept for a membership organization, especially one whose purpose really isn’t to serve their members but where their members work. It seems to me that asking people to pony up large sums of money to be a member of something that actually supports their employers—truly one heck of a concept—would particularly make the organization pay attention to the “small” matter of membership.

I said a lot more, too, and I stand by every word of it. There are other games in town and as I figure out exactly where I want to put my limited time and energy professionally ALA is at the bottom of the list. I also doubt that they could do much to improve the situation for me at this point. I’ll probably stay a member of ALCTS next year, but after that when I am no longer a student and depending on where my 1st job takes me … who knows?

ALA, you are improving in a few small ways and I am truly glad for that. But you still truly suck in some very overarching ways that are far more important. So keep putting money into Second Life because that is far more important than even recognizing that someone is a member of part of your organization. Yeah, seems like the right priority to me. In the meantime you can find me at ASIST and NASIG.

That is all I’m willing to say because I don’t want to find myself in a situation like someone else I know who swore “Never again ALA…” and ended up taking a job there a few months later. See, my ethical sensibilities would have a real hard time with that.

That’s all for now as I have another post to finish so I can concentrate on school work.

wow

Sort of an underwhelmed astonishment. No, not really “astonishment.” I can certainly see how I got here, after-the-fact. Hmmm…? Anyway, not sure if I’m living or being lived lately. Lots of stuff happening. Not ingesting much of some of it. Some relaxing and being with friends, but in a complicated, sort of way. Lots of little “failures,” of the “Am I letting someone else down?” sort.

Late afternoon I sent off my 3rd marked exercise for Information Modeling. I think I was OK. This class is such a (wonderful) dichotomy for me; wonderful in the multitudes of ways in which has been and remains dichotomous. I do believe that I am meeting the requirements and, more importantly, the purpose of the class, but it sure isn’t in the best of ways. It is in effect a “survey” class (of a particular type and level having begun with first-order logic) and I am certainly surveying.

The whole two classes at the same time thing was not my best idea. Far from the worst; but not so great. It’s working; could be better. I’m still missing some of the IML classes even though Classification Seminar is over. Allen had class the previous Thursday while I was stuck in O’Hare. This week I made all of class, but with the tooth and poor to no sleep, I was practically asleep before class was over; just kind of dazed.

I have watched 3 movies since Friday evening. Friday, I watched Steamboy. Yesterday, I watched The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. I began Kingdom of Heaven last night and finished late this afternoon after sending off my entity relation diagram and exercise.

From 12:30 PM Saturday to about 2 PM Sunday, I drove 320 miles; most of it Sat. Hung out with friends, who had a sleepover out at Lake Bloomington. Tooks lot of fire pics.

I also brought home 5 heavy boxes of books from storage. They’re just sitting in the back “bedroom.” Maybe I’ll have a look over the weekend.

I returned the previously mentioned movies just a bit ago and got 5 more. But by getting them tonight, I get to keep them until Friday at 9 PM instead of Thursday. It’s just me on Turkey Day so I might as well watch some movies. A couple need to be watched before or after, though. Maria Full of Grace seems to not be a Thanksgiving movie. Maybe not Paradise Now, either.

I need some time to think. My adviser and I talked for about an hour today. Mostly it was just catching up; letting her into many of the ‘little “failures”‘ mentioned above. Gesturing toward research/ideas for Carole’s paper, CAS project ideas, independent study for Spring, ….

It was really an odd session; abstract and vague. Although there is nothing wrong with abstract or vague when they serve a purpose, currently abstract and vague is not good for me. This is mostly my fault; seems I can be no other way at the moment.

School is at a really weird point for me lately. I despise the whole semester system, but that’s been a given for a while now. I seem to have hit some sort of a plateau, a stalemate. I’m not worried it is permanent–just a slump–although, I can see slowly moving towards this over time. Possibly.

Kathryn wants me to curl up with all the literature I collected in Classification Seminar; not just soon, but longer term. She thinks my direction(s) will come from there; I think it may well.

In other related news, I now have a CETRC Mentor. [CETRC Mentoring subcommittee.] As some of you know, I passed on the honor to possibly be an Emerging Leader. I have a few reasons; much of it is financial. [I actually know at least 3 of the folks accepted; at least 2 recent UIUC grads. I wish them all the best of experiences with this program!] I had decided to instead apply to the ALCTS CCS CETRC Mentoring Program. I found out a couple days ago that I got accepted and who my mentor will be. We have yet to make contact, so who will remain unnamed for now.

I guess I figure I would rather spend some time learning from those who have (recently) gone before me, before I try running the asylum. In fact, I prefer it as a long term modus operandi. That doesn’t imply I don’t value those who want to. I just prefer a more personal way to learn “to lead.”

And, NO, I do not want a handbag!

Blake has been keeping in touch as LISHost has been getting nailed by spammers the last few days. I get relatively little spam that makes it through to my blog to get caught by Akismet. It stops everything else. Moving to the Cutline template has, for me, drasticaly increased the number that get to Akismet. Still minor. The last couple of days many are making it through to the Moderate cue and some are getting caught by Akismet. Still nothing getting through that I know of. But if I am getting hit this hard, I can only imagine folks like Walt or Aaron. Spammers are in a special level of the special level of hell I have reserved for marketers. So why all the handbag spam?

This is really rough in spots, but it needs to go out. I may elaborate on many of the things touched on here; much of it is my future. This is possibly more for me than others, but feel free to engage me over any of it. I just have mostly questions right now.

MyALA for 2007

In case anyone is interested, here is what I did about ALA for this year:

Stayed as a student member.

Kept ALCTS and the Cataloging and Classification Section (CCS).

Added Serials Section (SS). Hey, it was free and I do serials.

Dropped ACRL and the two sections I was in. Hasn’t been of much value to me and I’m no longer so involved in the student chapter. [Yes, the site needs updating. We’re having a “small” issue getting control handed over to the new webmaster.]
Kept Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT).

Finally added New Members Round Table (NMRT).

Added Library History Round Table (LHRT).

Joined LITA. I decided to give it a try and see how it fits my interests.

In the end, my dues went up by $5/year. I guess I was feeling generous when I renewed two days ago. All this certainly won’t be sustainable when I’m no longer a student, though.