Uncontrolled Vocabulary, the Carnival, and the LC Working Group; or, the recognition of frustration

Back in December, a few days before the deadline passed for comments on the Library of Congress Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control, I wrote a post called just that.

In it I expressed much frustration; with both the big picture issues facing bibliographic control and those of my daily frustration in trying to use the tools my profession supplies me to do so.

I was popping off in that post. Clearly. Heck, I even tossed out an f-bomb. I was (am) mad.

Well, thanks to Anna Creech (or so I believe. By the way, thanks, Anna!) that post showed up both on Uncontrolled Vocabulary #24 [revisited momentarily in #25] and in the Carnival of the Infosciences (#86) about a month after I wrote it.

My first reaction to learning it had been discussed on Uncontrolled Vocabulary was mild shock. Oh my! Which idea in it had they latched onto? Hopefully not my (temporary) defeatist attitude regarding my personal feedback on the report. Thankfully, not.

Greg’s initial “almost motivated me to advocacy” line really struck me. A fair few of my colleagues—I’m guessing a significant percentage—have no real idea of the issues catalogers and metadata folks go through with their tools, or the lack of them.

Everyone picks on the OPAC because it’s easy to do so, and most stripes of librarian have to use one. My gripes are much broader. Yes, the OPAC sucks. But so do the various modules in the ILS. I have almost 7 years experience with Voyager’s circulation and cataloging clients due to working in Circulation; (minimal) Cataloging (E-Reserves); and now Cataloging. I have no doubt the Acquisitions folks have complaints about aspects of that module, and so on.

In cataloging, besides needing our ILS module, we need our classification schedules—either in print or online, or both—DDC in our case, AACR2, subject headings list (LCSH), Classification Web, Cataloger’s Desktop, “foreign” language encyclopedias, Connexion (WorldCat), Cutter tables, ….

Then there are the assorted policies emanating from the many organizations involved. Let’s just leave that at many. And some number of these policies actually constrain the work we can do in most libraries.

While OCLC policies do allow qualified libraries to enrich WorldCat records centrally, some consider these policies to be overly restrictive (On the Record : Report of The Library of …, 13, emphasis mine)

These not very well expressed reasons are why I and many others are frustrated. And most of our colleagues cannot even feel our pains. Folks working with other forms of metadata face similar and related issues with their assorted tools, or lack thereof.

Cooperative cataloging. That’s existed for a long time. Right? People use the phrase all the time so it must be an “entity” of some sort one would assume. I would beg to differ.

I do appreciate the Working Group’s calls for increased cooperation and “distribution of responsibility for bibliographic record production and maintenance” (16). I particularly like: LC, PCC, and OCLC: Explore ways to increase incentives and tools for contributions of new bibliographic records, as well as upgrades or corrections to existing records … (18).

While I realize that some may need incentives, could you please just get out of my way and let me do my (basic) job? Yes, there is a bigger context to this such that this item makes wonderful sense. But I still find it more than mildly ironic.

As slight side excursion based on the first quote from the LC report above:

While OCLC policies do allow qualified libraries to enrich WorldCat records centrally, some consider these policies to be overly restrictive (On the Record : Report of The Library of …, 13, emphasis mine)

When will we stop talking like this? Could someone please explain to someone intelligent involved in writing this report that there is not a single library that has ever produced any kind of surrogate, much less added any records to WorldCat. Nor will there ever be.

This poor use of language (rife in our field and made fun of here before) leads to issues with policies which must be defined within the context of this poor use. Libraries, qualified or not, do not really do anything. People of the cataloging persuasion (or assignment) catalog and add or correct records in WorldCat.

But it is libraries that are “qualified” by our various cooperative agreements. This is part of the problem.

I am not through reading the final report yet, about half-way (read this past Mon. at the diner for dinner. Now 2 past.).

This realization that:

A fair few of my colleagues—I’m guessing a significant percentage—have no real idea of the issues catalogers and metadata folks go through with their tools, or the lack of them.

… I had due to my post being featured in these 2 collective stalwarts of the bibliogosphere around the same time. I was aware of the UV appearance first and there is really something odd about hearing your post discussed on the web.

Like Greg, my realization almost led me to advocacy. But this is a delicate situation for a multitude of reasons. I try to be very careful on the few times I bring my actual experiences at work here. Almost every one of my complaints is with something other than my institution and I do not want to give the impression otherwise. But there is so much that does not get talked about in our field (not only in cataloging, of course). Even critique towards a positive end state is rarely publicly welcomed and/or welcomed in public.

Thus, as much as I would love to spend more time talking about these issues here and perhaps shedding a little light on them for a handful or two of people, I simply cannot do any more than the rare instance when I do. Which lines can or cannot be crossed, and which of the first are wise to do so seem like questions best answered by avoiding them (like everyone else).

There was a bit of discussion in the comments at Uncontrolled Vocabulary #24 about what I was saying. I came a tad late to the party but was able to add a comment clarifying what I was trying to say.

As I wrote there, I am feeling a bit better as I am learning to try and modify in increments. I just wish when you weren’t allowed to change some specific field it would tell you versus making you look in some crazy long document, especially if you forgot the 1st sentence about increments. Other validation errors tell you what the problem is.

But. Yes. I remain frustrated when I cannot do something like change a title that is wrong in a pre-pub record.

I also got a decent amount of long-term headaches taken care of and off of my desk the last couple days. 🙂 I don’t do resolutions anymore but I did swear I was going to move some of that stuff. About half is gone (mostly in the last 2 days) and I’m waiting on an answer on 2 things.

I do feel bad about some of that stuff sitting there for a couple months sometimes. But let’s be realistic here. They give me these things (or wait for someone like me to come along) because they are nightmares and they don’t want to do them. I get a lot of found stuff. Some of it has been sitting somewhere from 2 years to several decades. Literally. So, honestly I can’t really sweat the couple months it’s been on my desk. And as I said it is moving on.

Hope is hard when you are continuously frustrated from doing your job.

Off the Mark in 2008

There will be changes in this blog this coming year. Not necessarily, and, in fact, not particularly, intended. Those intended may well not happen.

“Some things read this week, …” posts will likely continue. They will be reconfigured somehow—not yet discerned—by the change in my reading habits, at least through mid-May.

As the year begins, I am working on a bibliographical essay tying Hjørland and Roy Harris (and Integrationsism) together. From there I will be embarking on producing my CAS paper as previously described here. This is a major undertaking for me as for achievements go; even academic.

I shall also be pursuing a job; preferably to begin shortly after defending my paper in early May. I could, in theory, start a job at any time. Although I still have 3 years from this coming May to finish my degree, I much prefer to finish this May and then start a new job. But I remain open-minded.

So, “Some things read …” posts will most likely be much simplified as I will mainly be re-reading things from (primarily) this past year, along with re-reading parts of things. I will want to keep some record for myself, but it need not be fully publicly expressed. I will comment when I have anything particular to say about a specific piece or idea, though.

I will be reading some other things, though, as I hope to sit in on 2 seminars: subject analysis and ontology development.

Seeing as how my “Some things read …” posts were a goodly portion of this year’s output I imagine output will shrink, for several months anyway.

I doubt I will be much engaged with any (other) big ideas or the biblioblogosphere either. Not due to lack of desire; there was so much I wanted to engage with this past year and/or more deeply engage. No doubt the future will remain the same on this one.

No idea as to how the job search will affect my blogging. My goal is certainly to get one and a good one that fits me, too. Perhaps less public display of my angst and pain is forthcoming.

I have some evidence that there is already wild speculation regarding what kind of decision I am currently putting off and hoping to forestall. If one were to go back a couple months in this blog and read forward (with some exemplars linked above) they would find much of relevance to decisions that must possibly be made. All three posts are long and cover several areas.

Perhaps they’re better left unsung” discusses the seminars I hope to sit in on this Spring (why linked above), issues with school (anymore) and especially Python class mid-semester, and depression (See especially the comments).

Certificate of Advanced Study Project” discusses my CAS (why), generally, originally (early plans), and the route to my current topic. Links to “Tunneling …“.

Tunneling for rabbits” is the first explicit description of where I am headed.

No doubt there are other commentaries sprinkled among my blog, but the situation is that I am right back to this “place.” Sure. Some, if not much, of the immediately felt/lived experience of mid-late Fall semester is only a memory, but the place I was and the decision(s) I felt I had to make soon, at the time, are back as full-strength, lived experience.

I’m kind of at the same place as Jennifer was, school decision-wise, mid-year. But for vastly different reasons. I adore my program. Sure, it has issues; every program does. But, all in all, it’s been great. Perhaps I just need a break. There’s much more that feeds into my “situation” but it all ends with staying in or leaving school.

On top of feeling this way, I must make serious forward progress with my work on Harris and Hjørland. As I wrote before,

Yeah.” Anyone got a match?

I really do not want to discuss this right now. That’s why it didn’t come up any time over Christmas. Emotional energy? I have none for this. I am thankful that it is delayed for the moment, and hopeful that it can be forestalled. For that to happen I must—besides going back to work—do a lot of (quality) serious work until the 11th. Spring semester starts the next Monday, the 14th.

Back to the (post) topic at hand, and the intended changes that may not happen. I would like to get upgraded to current WordPress version, and I’d like to get an install of CommentPress running. [Still says CommentPress isn’t playing well with the newest WP. So upgrading is secondary.]

If I could get a CommentPress install (as a 2nd blog) up and running I might put up some of my paper as it gets written. Or not. Would’ve been nice to have for the LC Working Group’s Draft final Report but that is water under the bridge.

So. Changes, possible changes, and not so much change but reversion to a postponed state.

LC Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control

I read it. I made plenty of notes. I fully intended to write up my comments and submit them and to also post them here. I began writing them up.

I stopped.

And that is where I’m staying. Stopped.

It truly isn’t that I don’t care. I do. All the way down to the marrow care.

There is just too much going on right now in this arena. Far too many people talking so far past each other they must be in other solar systems. Almost all at some kind of cross purpose.

I’ve read a few blog posts, literally several hundred listserv postings and other assorted “comments” on the report or related to it. Now I’m just despairing of any sort of reasoned community-level discussion on the issues involved.

Add to that the frustrations I face daily as I go about my job cataloging monographs and serials (based on our tools, not my workplace) and I have just become despondent about it all.

I think the Working Group got some things right. I was far more impressed than I expected to be. But. It is very vague and hand-wavish about major topics. E.g., intellectual property rights. And several others.

But one of the main points in the report is that the community must broaden. I agree. Maybe I differ on the details, but then I am pretty sure that the committee members disagree amongst themselves, too.

But here’s the deal (actually one piece only) with why I am so despondent about it all any more.

At my institution I do I-level cataloging. [OCLC Input Standards] That is, Full-level input by OCLC participants. For serials I even do original cataloging inputting on average 1.5-2 original records per week. I have probably input somewhere around 100-200 original serials records. I have also been able to derive a couple original monographic records thanks to my serials work, but I mostly do copy cataloging of monographs.

Cooperative cataloging it is supposed to be. That’s what I learned in classes. That’s what the Working Group says. And I’m all for that. I will gladly fix any record I want to use if it needs it. But most often I cannot do so. Not allowed to.

Today. Well, let’s just say that today took the fucking cake. Can’t find a record I need by title so try ISBN. Oh, 2 records exist. One touched at some point by LC and the other by the British Library. Both pure crap. In fact, both are Level 8 records. Goddamn prepublication level records and I am not allowed to fix them!

Both records have the title wrong. Both have errors in the publication area. Both have “p. cm.” in the physical characteristics area. Both have the wrong no. in the 490. Both only mention the index when it has extensive bibliographical references. …

Now I realize full well that these records are based on prepub data (probably CIP) and that the book was only published last month. But I was one of the first to need the record and could have fixed it. In fact, I tried. Maybe the 6 others who hold it and got to it before me tried, too. I don’t know. But now there’s 7 of us with it in our OPACs who have fixed our copy while the piss poor record still exists in WorldCat.

But if I cannot even upgrade a goddamn Level 8 prepub record then what good is cooperative cataloging? Can anyone answer that?

What am I supposed to be able to contribute to any discussion on the future of bibliographic control when I am not able to contribute to the daily work that is needed now?

Yes. There truly are many other issues also fueling my current bout of despondency. So please do not respond and tell me that I’m just overreacting to some pitiful Level 8 record.

This discussion may well be the most important of my young career. Only time and a couple decades will tell. But I am going to withdraw from it. For now, at least.

Judge me if you choose. Or if you must. Just don’t misunderstand. I am not abandoning it. I am only choosing to sit on the side, listening and observing. I may well jump in at any point.

Due to the many other things going on in my life at the moment I seem unable to focus on these long-term, big picture issues and discussions when I daily work with horrible tools and misguided policies (none of which are issues with my institution, but are above it) such that at least 50% of the time they get square in the way of my (and my co-workers) ability to do good work.

That’s the best I can do right now. Sorry. Truly.

Some things read this week, 2 – 8 December 2007

Sunday, 2 Dec

Brantley, Peter. “The Traditional Future.” O’Reilly radar 17 Sep 2007.

Recommended in a comment by Nathan on a weekly reading post in mid-Oct., esp. for the Abbott article mentioned by Brantley. Have that saved in the “print me at GSLIS” folder (38 p.) for reading later.

Thanks, Nathan. There are some interesting things in that post and its comments.

Lots of my own stuff from this blog over the past year.

Hjørland, Birger. 2004. Domain Analysis: A Socio-Cognitive Orientation for Information Science Research. Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 30, no. 3 (March): 17-21. (accessed September 19, 2007).

Re-read for bibliography.

LC Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control Draft Final Report. Read a tad more.

This Week

Slogging and re-slogging through lots of stuff for my bibliography.

Finished the LC Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control Draft Final Report.


Life. What the fuck is that anyway? How do we know if we’re living it?

Mama I’m strange
The thoughts and the wants are the locks on the back of my brain

Melissa Etheridge. “Mama I’m Strange.” breakdown.

Last week ended … weirdly. In a flattering way mind you, but nonetheless weirdly. One could do with more of (parts of) that.

Friday was a very slow day with a few hours to make up due to weirdness.

Last night I really slept like crap. I had multiple bad headaches. I could and did manage to find another “place” in my mind/head every so often but in every place I found another, different, bad headache. I should have went to bed way sooner than I did.

Stayed up too late, and watched a movie.

Now I’ve been sitting at this computer almost all day and I’m very tense. And if not at the computer(s), then I’ve still probably been sitting. Been freezing rain and stuff outside. Thankful I am for online public library renewal.

And, as one will notice based on further reading, I’ll be sitting at the computer(s) for a while now.

Aunt Wanda

Thursday my mom called to tell me that my Aunt Wanda had had an operation and that at some point she started fighting for her life. Mom called this morning to let me know that Aunt Wanda had passed earlier this morning.

… and i really don’t know how it happened so fast
how we all grew so old
how we fell out of touch …

Eva Hunter. “Cold Shivers.” Fancy Prairie.

I will most likely be attending a funeral in St. Louis in the next several days. Eva’s son, thankfully, does not tell the entire story.

I got to (re)know my Aunt just a few years ago. Unlike when I was a kid, I found her very comforting to be around and my view of our relationship and her importance in my life [mostly] from a very early age was dramatically shifted to the better. I am so glad for that. I haven’t seen her in a few years either now since last spending some quality time with her. I am so very sad about that.

I accidentally left a very important (personal meaning) knee pillow at her house the last time I was there. I knew it was safe.

Do I wear a uniform? How in the hell do I begin to answer that question now?

What I should be doing

Should be seriously focusing on bibliography. Need annotations (lots of re-reading), lots of synthesis (lots of re-readings), well-crafted essay on the connections between Harris and Hjørland and due fairly soon. Need drafty thing real soon. Finished in two weeks, perhaps.

Also have class in the rare book room Wed. AM to see 2oth century fine press books.

Only thing left in Dave’s class (Python) is a lecture next Thur. and then a take-home final which I’ll have a week for. Unfortunately during prime bibliographical essay writing time.

I have a draft of my CAS paper proposal (for Spring) out for comment. Awaiting feedback. Won’t make registration during Fall but want to be ready to register as soon as it re-opens at start of Spring.

As I hope any library-type reading this knows, the LC Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control Draft Final Report came out. Comments are only open until 15 Dec. Comment link on the previous link.

I began reading this Friday morning but haven’t gotten very far. This is very important in my opinion but the timing really sucks for academics (and many others) whose semesters will be wrapping during and until the deadline.

I hope I have time to comment on this. If I am tight on time (“if” haha.) then I may concentrate on the educational part 5. But maybe something else will really capture my thoughts as I read it, so who knows?

Little time to be as engaged in this as I would like. See my various comments re CommentPress version of this.

What I am doing

thinking I should clean my apartment. dead give-away.

books read in 2007 data collection. primarily this, but am also generating data for related things so I’m annotating in various ways as note-taking and data verification. But not on anything imminently critical. [did a lot of this earlier in the day.]

calling my brother-in-law for his birthday, Christmas-time arrangments discussion.

looking/listening for linguistically-related song snippets for use as epigraphs. no time to explain.

dreaming about going beyond what I need to be doing in the present re my CAS project. Doing what needs to be done soon is important, and it is a part of what needs to be doing overall, and a time to reflect, consider, synthesize, and present some of that coherently. All critical. Yet, still, I want to go on questing.

thinking about my aunt, and a funeral.

not thinking about the topic of my bibliography.

reading a bit more of the Working Group report. dreaming about what I’d love to do with it but simply cannot. We need a CommentPress version. Quickly.

writing blog posts. [across all of day.]

Recent life before now

I went to Columbus, OH to be with Sara, Max, and others for Thanksgiving.

Monday afternoon I went to Bloomington-Normal for a dental appointment. Saw my friends Mo & Chris and a few others. Ended the evening not feeling very well.

Slept like crap (not as bad as last night). Was sick on Tuesday. Unfortunately, where it was all overcast when I didn’t want to climb out of bed at 6 AM on Monday, on Tuesday when I didn’t climb out bed for a couple hours it was all bright out.

Need to make that missed time up during break.

Wednesday through the present, thinking & scribbling about (scholarly) annotation tools [began in the context of MDRT discussion pt. 2 on OAI-ORE.

A non-wrap up

So work towards my bibliography is most crucial and not getting done. Not capable of much sustained, coherent thought at the moment it seems. And the only serious reading I am trying at the moment is the LC Working Group report.

Life cares not a whit for good timing.

This is still confused and/or confusing, in an odd order, evasive, etc. Little of that is actually intended. Sorry.

Some things read this week, 25 November – 1 December 2007

NOTE: CommentPress version of LC Working Group Draft Final Report needed

Please see last entry. We really need a CommentPress install of the LC Working Group’s Draft Final Report. Can anyone do this service quickly?

Sunday – Tuesday, 25 – 27 Nov

Winograd, Terry and Fernando Flores. Understanding Computers and Cognition: A New Foundation for Design. Reading, Mass: Addison-Wesley, 1987.

  • Ch. 5: Language, listening, and commitment
  • Ch. 6: Towards a new orientation
  • Ch. 7: Computers and representation
  • Ch. 8: Computation and intelligence (Mon)
  • Ch. 9: Understanding language (Mon)
  • Ch. 10: Current directions in artificial intelligence (Tue)
  • Ch. 11: Management and conversation (Tue)
  • Ch. 12: Using computers: A direction for design

A very interesting book that is frequently recommended by Hjørland in his writings.

This is at least the 24th book I have read so far this year. I have also re-read 3 of these 24 for a 2nd time this year, too, i.e., read 3 of them 2x this year. I have (at least) 5 more that are in various states of being finished. This is a lot more books than last year, which I am happy about, but it also means that I have read fewer articles. Trade-offs are plentiful in life.

Sunday – Wednesday, 25 – 28 Nov

Borgmann, Albert. Crossing the Postmodern Divide. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.

  • Ch. 4: Hypermodernism (Sun)
  • Ch. 5: Postmodern Realism (Wed)

This book has done a lot to change my views on postmodernism. I still do not like the word at all, but this book contains some good ideas on how to overcome the postmodern condition, how to move forward positively as a society as we recover from the failures of the modern project.

Sunday, 25 Nov

Hjørland, Birger. Read half a dozen or so book reviews, encyclopedia articles and letters to the editor.

Tuesday, 27 Nov

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

  • Ch. 2: Sometimes we can’t do it

Hjørland, Birger. “Documents, Memory Institutions and Information Science.” Journal of Documentation 56.1 (2000): 27-41. 14 September 2007.

Stewart, Todd. “Topical Epistemologies.” Metaphilosophy 38(1), January 2007: 23-43.

This was mentioned in the list of faculty publications in the ISU Philosophy Dept. Alumni Newsletter Fall 2007 that I received today. I thought perhaps it might have something to add to the epistemological work that Hjørland recommends so highly for our field; which I agree with. I’m not sure though. Todd is focusing on something different than most of the epistemological work we need to do as librarians; although, it might well apply to the work we need to do within our own field.

…when we engage in the study of a topical epistemology what is called for is the application of our best analyses of epistemic concepts to specific subjects or, alternatively, the development of a substantive rather than a conceptual account of whether and why it is that beliefs about a specific topic are justified or unjustified. What is called for is an explanation of whether and why it is that beliefs about a particular topic are actually or possibly justified or unjustified (24-25).

An interesting issue, which I cannot address here, is that the development of a topical epistemology may be rather fruitless prior to some sort of an agreement about the correct semantic or ontological analysis of concepts or objects as they apply to a topic… (26). [Amen!!]

If you believe in the epistemological project of librarianship as much as Hjørland, myself and, hopefully, others you may find this an interesting read. Again, I see it as more applicable applied to the topics within our own field where we are allowed to, and should, pass judgement on the epistemological status of our beliefs.

Metaphilosophy was available online via the UIUC ORR. While perusing the 2007 issues of Metaphilosophy online I also found a few more interesting looking articles, including one on “intelligent collegiate depression” (ICD) that I will definitely be reading and reporting on.

Wednesday, 28 Nov

Harris, Roy. “The Semiology of Textualization.” In Harris, Roy, and George Wolf, eds. Integrational Linguistics: A First Reader. 1st ed, Kidlington, Oxford, UK: Pergamon, 1998: 227-240.

(Re-)Read another article for the 3rd time. Walrod one from MDRT.

Thursday, 29 Nov

Double, Richard. “Value and Intelligent Collegiate Depression.” Metaphilosophy 38(1), January 2007: 111-121.

American universities can be unhappy, alienating places for many students who are brighter, more sensitive, or less conformist than most of their peers (opening sentence, 111).

This one is pretty good, although I was hoping for a bit more somehow. I do think the author has a pretty good grasp of the depressive mind. I think his reply to “The Immensity of the Cosmos Objection” is pretty faulty, though. Luckily I don’t use that one myself.

If you are interested in what might well be termed “rational” responses to depression—or more generally—then please do check out this article. Do not let the journal title put you off at all; it is actually quite accessible.

Bibliographic Ontology Specification – found via this post on CSL at darcusblog. Hmmm. Interesting. I was looking at some of this stuff back in Spring 2006. I really need to learn more about RDF and be more serious about this kind of thing.

Friday – Saturday, 30 Nov – 1 Dec

LC Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control Draft Final Report.

Since I was moving so slowly (and late) Friday morning I was able to go by GSLIS and print this nicely and double-sided automatically. Started reading it at my late lunch. Read the Letter from the Working Group on the bus ride in around noon.

Read more tonight.

I have a few comments and questions, but I am liking much of what I’m reading. About halfway through it.

What we really need is a CommentPress installation of this. I really wish I could do this now, but no way possible.

I’m thinking the report must be in the public domain. LC produced. No markings on report page or report itself. If my assumption is correct then it should be allowable to do so.

I see from a comment on the Installation page by Ben Vershbow that one still needs to have a WP 2.2 install, not 2.3 yet. A comment by on paragraph 2 on 6 Nov says so.

It would so rock if someone could get the report (rapidly) into a CommentPress install. Comments are due on/before 15 December. Two weeks. Not much time.

But think of the value and it could be—should be—archived.

Anyone willing? And can. I’m willing but cannot possibly in the time before comments are due. 🙁

I really need to work with Blake (cause he rocks) and get myself a CommentPress install, but as a 2nd “blog.” There’s a couple of things that can (and should) be done. I may not be the proper one but someone must get things started. That’s for the future, though, whenever that arrives.

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.

In an IDEALS world we can keep up with the past

In a recent post I asked why “keeping up” always seems to be forward looking and recommended that we remember to learn from the past.

Wednesday night when I was out to say goodbye to a friend and colleague (Kurt), and Sarah Shreeves, the Coordinator of our institutional repository, IDEALS, gave me some wonderful news based on that post.

The GSLIS Publications Office has decided to put the proceedings of the Allerton Park Institute and of the Clinic on Library Applications of Data Processing conferences in the IR.

Also to be included is all of Library Trends (with an embargo of 2 years) and, eventually, the GSLIS Occasional Papers series.

I got so excited that I sucked down 4 pints of beer in the middle of the week! Seriously, this sort of news makes my year, much less my week.

The Clinic on Library Applications of Data Processing conference proceedings from 1963 – 1995 are already available (472 items).

The Allerton Park Institute conference proceedings (476 items) are also up from 1954 – 1997.

Library Trends is currently represented by 52 (3): Winter 2004 – 53 (4): Spring 2005 (92 items). This is barely a beginning one might say, but seeing as it includes 2 of my favorites issues — one of which I do not have a physical copy of — it warms the cockles of my heart. Oh, The Philosophy of Information and Pioneers in Library and Information Science (have).

I have read a couple of the Allerton Park Institute proceedings already in all their physical glory. I am particularly fond of 1959, The role of classification in the modern American library, and recommend it to all and sundry interested in cataloging, classification, metadata, the LC Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control, and related topics.

Library Trends‘ theme issues are indispensable and the Occasional Papers series has some lovelies, too.

Sorry, but I cannot say anything regarding the Clinic on Library Applications of Data Processing proceedings. I shall have to remedy that, though.

A hearty “Thank you” to all involved in this! I only hope that more schools will do this. Anyone knowing of those who have already, please, feel free to comment here and write posts of your own. We should not just let these things languish in our repositories, nor leave them for the search engines to perhaps index and show to us on the 1st few pages of search results. We need to shout from the rooftops that they are available. So, consider this my SHOUT regarding the work of my institution’s IR. And, yeah, there’s a lot of other stuff — interesting, I have no doubt — in IDEALS also.

As they say, “What’s past is prologue.” (The Tempest (1611) act 2, sc. 1, l. [261], per The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.)

Go forth. Read.  Learn. Keep up.