The newest manifestation of my expressions is a year old today

Off the Mark is one-year old today. I’m not really sure whether it should serve as any sort of “true” anniversary as my public blogging started in a different venue in January 2005. Nonetheless, the current instantiation of my personal and professional raves and faves has been around for a year now.

My own domain is actually a year and 3 days old.

I want to give a shout out to LISHost for great hosting for the past year. While there have been some minor issues once or twice, Blake and crew have been awesome about providing an almost immediate and always personal response.

Including this post, I have made 271 posts here in the last year, with 4 more in draft. February (the shortest month, but also Birthday Month) had the most posts with 31, while March had the fewest with 10. November and May both had 30, while all the other months had 20-25 posts.

As for the domain, I have updated the site a small bit here and there and added some things. I have added a rough CV and a page of past writings, academic and otherwise. Oops, still need to link the CV but will do it this weekend as I have to head out to the dentist.

I still need to convert some of the writings to HTML, provide a bit more context for some of them, add some metadata, and add COinS to a few more where appropriate. As for the CV, I am aware that the dates are wrong/missing for the 2 invited talks. I am having a minor issue finding the correct dates for those since they happened before my hard drive crash. Just where is last year’s paper planner is the important question?

I also want to add more of my LIS work—class presentations, bibliographies and a paper or two. Actually, I can’t add more than a paper or two anyway seeing as I haven’t written more than 5 or 6 (certainly less than 10) papers in going on 80 hours of course work. That is odd.

It has been an amazing year in many ways. I blew it a few times in my quest to learn how to engage with others in the public arena that is blogging, while my reporting on the LC Working Group got me invited to be on a panel at ALA and was linked to from ALA Direct. I do think that I have learned a lot and that is the important thing.

So, to whoever is out there … thanks for the honor of a small bit of your time and attention. To those who have commented I offer a very special thank you for the conversation. Those who have taken me to task when I need it, THANK YOU.

May we all grow together, today, and in the future.

Library & Information Anecdotes

I’ve decided on a personal moratorium on the use of LIS; i.e., Library & Information Science.

My personal beliefs are such that it isn’t really a science anyway, but don’t worry as I don’t really consider physics to be one either. Hasn’t been so for a long time now.

So what’s my current beef you might ask? Having watched a fair amount of the Library of Congress Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control’s 3rd meeting via live webcast yesterday, along with attending the 2nd one in Chicago, toss in a few other odd reports and such here and there, and one should quickly notice that we have pretty much nothing but anecdote. Not a damn shred of actual evidence for anything anywhere. Just a lot of talking heads talking about what they think is wanted by users or about what systems and data we need to supply that to them.

Hell, even the players (variables) aren’t fully explicated. As was pointed out yesterday, where are the publishers in these discussions? And give me a break with that ridiculous bipartite division of the “use environment” that was devised in the 1st meeting, “consumers” and “management.” These may be the “apparent” ones, but please tell me we will look beyond apparent.

OK. I’m shutting up because I will be looking for a job sometime in the next few months or less. [I will not silence myself for the sake of a job.] Just please don’t talk to me about no damn “science” in our field. I simply find this whole charade unbelievable. Librarians really are too nice for their own good and certainly for the good of the profession. More importantly, we are too nice to do the job needing doing for our (multi-faceted) users.

Please, can someone show me the science?

[This morning I wrote a nice postscript adding a little nuance to the above as in admitting that there is some science-like work being done in our field and that it just doesn’t seem to be being used in this project. Alas, my host’s spam filters trashed it all upon trying to save it. Besides not being able to comment on my own blog; now I cannot post to it. Blake has hopefully fixed it but it was/is very frustrating. It didn’t just not save, but instead trashed a fairly complex and, I might add, eloquent paragraph. As it is, I shall extend this little rant.]

Regarding the lack of publisher presence in these discussions: It seems pretty evident that little effort went into thinking about which communities needed to be part of this process. The way I see it LC and the Working Group decided that whoever was interested (much less, whoever should be interested) would just show up because they decided to have some meetings. This move (or lack of a move) leaves them in the clear. If they had actually spent time considering this point and had issued calls for participation for all groups “we” think need to participate and then some group had turned up overlooked they would be responsible. But by avoiding this, when it becomes apparent that some community is missing the fault is definitely not their’s. They have been inclusive and certainly not exclusionary. They are immune from blame. Well, I cry foul and hold this group responsible for failing to try to ensure that representatives from all needed communities are present.

Publishers, it seems to me, have little apparent incentive to worry about what we as a discipline do to describe their materials after they are published. Perhaps they should. Perhaps we could convince them that they do. But that seems as if it will take an active effort on our part to convince them of such. And just because we may need their assistance (if possible) does not mean they need to be willing to provide it.

Dan Chudnov has become my personal hero. [The following is a loose paraphrase of something Dan said much more politely and eloquently. I suggest you watch the webcast of yesterday’s meeting—towards the end of the day—to see/hear this in Dan’s own words.]

It seems that earlier in the day a comment (or more) had been made about some of the issues with current institutional repository software design and that if only the software designers had involved catalogers and other library professionals earlier in the process…. Dan stated that as a librarian, coder, and institutional repository software designer he noticed what seemed to be an awful lot of talk about the capabilities of software/technology to solve a lot of our problems and that it was clear that not too many people knew what they were talking about. [Again, this is an extremely loose paraphrase. Perhaps it is what I wanted to hear.] He volunteered to serve as a liaison between the coding and library communities and asked/suggested that another series of meetings be scheduled at which the ILS vendors, open source folks, library coders and techies, etc. can sit down with the bibliographic structure/control folks and come to some common understanding of what is possible and to what degree.

Yay, Dan! Many of us owe Dan Chudnov our hearty thanks for calling trump on these folks. I treat the concept of hero very seriously, but in this situation I am calling Dan Chudnov my personal hero.

The software/coding community is another one pretty much completely missing from this process. Instead we get to listen to folks like Karen Calhoun tell us what software is capable of. While Karen Calhoun is a smart person, she really has little idea of what she speaks about when she makes these claims. As do few of the others who make them. It is all more/mere anecdotes and finding an article or two that supports what you want to claim. Although, in the Working Group process all the support (superficial, or not) seems to be missing.

Why is it that librarians think they know so much about other areas of knowledge? I certainly am not claiming scientific status or even that this is a theory, or that this is universally generalizable (it is not), but I have a hypothesis.

Many librarians have multiple degrees, often advanced degrees, and we are trained to be experts in search, sometimes in research, and we have a good grasp of the structure of knowledge “universally.” Or so we think, anyway. I think this leads many to think that they can just look up something that they don’t know in some book, article, or even a so-called reputable reference source. We can do a little digging and discern the structure of an unknown field.

So. Need to know the capabilities of concept x, or software technique y, or anything else? Just look it up. Read a couple review articles. We’re librarians, we can just do a little research and we’ll be competent.

What a complete and utter joke! Clearly, there are times where this cursory depth and breadth suffices for some need. But, if one even remotely believes in the process of higher education and specialization, whether instantiated in our current system of higher education or some other manner in which to address the vast panoply of the universe of knowledge, then it follows that a little study is frequently not enough to address the needs we have. I stand awestruck from the hubris involved in such thinking.

I am not trying to be derogatory toward each and every member of the Working Group individually. But there truly is (often) an almost complete numbness of mind that comes over committees. I truly must believe that on occasion some individual member or another wakes up and asks a real-world complex question and reminds the others that they need real data, perhaps even new research to back up any answer. And then for various “institutional” reasons—artificial deadlines, efficiency, cost, committee narcosis—that all gets waived aside.

Clearly, there are a lot of bright people working on this. But seeing as this is one of the most important revolutions of our time—as in all revolutions some things should stay, some should change, and some should go—why, oh why, is it being so utterly fucked up?

I sincerely apologize if I have offended anyone with any of this. I truly do. But this could be one of the most important things to happen in the fundamental ways in which we in the field of librarianship structure our world so that we may meet the needs (current and future) of our users, in and for a long time. And the process as instantiated is a complete and utter joke!

I am frustrated. I am pissed off. I am dumbfounded. I am confused. And based on personal conversations so are others. It is only right for me to allow them to speak for themselves if they so choose, though.

Me. I said my piece. And, yes, I am mad.

Stop the World – I Want to Get Off

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Let me just state for the record: As much as I will miss all my friends who will be at ALA (including the wholesale category I forgot when I was making decisions) and as much as I wish I had been able to accept the offer to be on a panel discussion of a topic near and dear to my heart I am so happy I am not going. I simply cannot do a 3rd conference in a 4-week span.

I am so far behind!

I have barely scratched the surface of reporting on NASIG (not entirely my fault as the slides were not posted before I left for NASKO) and I now have the wonderful and historic NASKO and forming of ISKO-NA to report on.

I have a class that started last Tuesday and already missed a full day (on campus session) on Wednesday [Thanks for the notes, Ben!]. I have to finish my Terminology Services independent study. I have homework.

I have to do my CV. I have to buy an interview suit. I seriously need to talk with some folks as there are things afoot and damn it I am their librarian!

I have pictures to upload which require metadata.

And let’s just leave the household stuff alone, except for the fact that I have a mildew issue and thus cannot close up the apartment and use the AC (not all that effective anyway) and it’s in the mid-90s today. And then there’s what the mildew does to me ….

Anyway ….

I have really enjoyed these conferences the last few weeks. I have seen old friends, met new ones, met my intellectual crush, met other leaders in my area(s) of interest, been present for a historic occasion, fell in love with a big city.

Thanks to those who provided me transportation, housing, conversation and friendship. My heart is strengthened by all that people do for me. I only hope that my efforts to uplift others is also useful, and that when I am in a place where I can do the sorts of things that others have been doing for me that I do so.

I have put/am putting pictures of my Toronto trip in 2 sets at Flickr: O, Canada and NASKO 2007. The 1st is more touristy and the 2nd more conferency. My amazing friend Jennimi also took photos.

Hopefully I will have more to say about both conferences and other things. So much going on in this little head of mine and so little time for any of it. As much as I wish I was “producing” and not just consuming, I am very grateful to all those who I admire and respect who have counseled me to just keep reading and that “it” will come out when I’m ready.

Jenny, Jennimi, June, Steve, Kathryn and others. Thank you.

8 supposedly random things about me

Not tagged as far as I know but will play along anyway.

1. Having recently been “syndicated” in 2 places (that I’m aware of) [1][2], I don’t really know how I feel about this.**
[My last name is misspelled at one of them, but that is anything but random.]

2. I need an interview suit.

3. I really dislike shaving. And I don’t care much for beards.

4. The top 3 artists in my collection by number of CDs are: Ella Fitzgerald, Ani DiFranco, and Lambchop.

5. I dislike the orthography of “dependant.” I know the dictionary says it’s fine, but I still think it looks ugly.

6. I had an hour-long massage today. Been way too long.
btw, my massage therapist has been doing this a long time and she considers my back to be the toughest she has ever met. Not exactly a compliment. 🙁

7. Went to a meeting. Did my duty and wrote it up. Got invited to be on a “hot topic” panel at ALA. Pretty random.

8. If I wasn’t going to be out of town this Friday I could have had lunch with somebody I said I wanted to punch.
[That was just a metaphorical punch, btw. Oh well, hopefully soon. Eat your heart out, Tracy. 😉 ]

** In my quest for brevity I wasn’t as clear as I’d have liked to be. I am honored to be included with many of the folks on both of these lists. It’s just that I don’t think of my blog as a “cataloging blog” or a “coder blog” or even a “library blog.” It’s just (part) of me and, as some of you know, I am trying to stitch my life together. You will find shades of all sides of me here: the goofball, the word lover, the philosopher, the cataloger, the desirer, the depressive, the patriot, the protester, the father, the student, the reader, the music lover, the friend, the “32 flavors and then some.” Seeing as I’m still not sure how I feel about blogging, it’s pretty simple that I don’t know how I feel about being in other places. But I do appreciate it.

No IM and other things

Computer

To my few IM buddies I will not be available the next … days. I took my laptop to the shop this afternoon. The trackpad had been locking up a lot lately, and last night the whole machine just got stoopid! I’m really worried and praying that it is still under warranty. I believe it is; but my beliefs are not exactly relevant.

I’m also pissed because I was going to do a full backup before taking it in. I have a fairly current almost complete backup, but I really would have liked to be able to just dump the whole thing to the external drive first.

They won’t even be looking at it until tomorrow. <sigh>

Life ….

You know, we’re just going to leave that one alone for now.

I have “arrived”

I guess by one scale I have finally “arrived.” I made it into American Libraries Direct for my reporting on the LC Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control meeting. I really don’t even have a problem with their claim that “Blogger Mark R. Lindner offers extensive notes on the session, which featured a controversial presentation by University of Chicago cataloger David Bade….” Some do consider it thus, although I do not.

I just really wish they had linked to the first post. It seems to me to be more like yellow journalism to link to the one post that reports on the presentation that might be considered controversial, or that they have labeled as such. It also does not help that it is the only presentation that I questioned in any true way. As it has already become abundantly clear to me, many people fail to see the labor of love and actual respect that I have for David Bade’s views in my questioning.

I wrote what I did there, and in my follow-up, because I care deeply about his message being heard and, more importantly, being understood by those who need to hear it. I fear even more will now only see my questioning. For that I am especially sorry to David Bade.

The “system” is once again poised to shut down dialogue.

Conferences

I am now officially registered for both NASIG and NASKO. Here we come June, Louisville and Toronto. Woohoo!