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.

Productively non-productive

Thanks to all my friends for sending their condolences in various venues. I am uplifted by your care. I’m a right proper heathen but if your views run differently and you can spare a thought for my aunt’s family right now that’d be awesome.

She was a rock for that family. For a very long time.

[I apologize for any odd paragraph formatting below as WordPress is screwing with me relentlessly on this.]

I think or, at least, I hope that I was productively non-productive yesterday. I didn’t do anything directly related to my bibliography, although, perhaps, that could be argued.

I read lots of my own stuff (and comments) from this blog over the past year. While I did, I did lots of electronic annotations in Zotero, copied and pasted anything useful written about articles or books by Hjørland or Harris (or related) into my draft bib, noted blog posts that will be useful when I come to write my bib essay and the CAS paper as a whole in my wiki, and other minor related tasks. This morphed out of the books read in 2007 delaying tactic I was on primarily Saturday.

Late in the evening, I took the content of my 2 posts on Hjørland’s “Semantics and Knowledge Organization” ARIST chapter [part 1, part 2]and got them re-formated into a Word doc with any redundancies removed and internal and external citation lists merged for both at the end. Printed out it’s 11 pages solid. Now I’ve got to put that work—and an awful lot of unanswered questions, some very big—to even more work. Still. This is mostly CAS paper stuff primarily; although, this is the paper with the one Harris reference. Hmmm. Definitely bib material.

I’ve been varyingly unhappy, perhaps unsatisfied is better, with my blog for quite a while. Can’t quite put my finger on what exactly about it that bugs me. But I do know that it’s various, and varying.

Part of it is not being able to cover everything I’d like as deeply and/or as broadly as I’d like. But that’s just life. I do wish that my “Some things read this week…” posts were better. Better in the sense of more fleshed out entries for far more of the things read. Some wrap-up thoughts, etc. “Progress” is important but this is a prime area where I could employ some goals towards Slow Reading. [Please ignore that “progress.” I wrapped way too much up in that term.]

Speaking of John Miedema, there was an interesting post and comments at a recent post, “Have you set an end-date for your blog?” [BTW, there are frequently interesting things to read at Slow Reading.]

Have you set an end-date for your blog? Interesting question, and idea. For the right reasons, it is a grand idea.

In a comment, John writes:

Hi Peter, I’ve put one blog to “sleep” so far (http://johnmiedema.wordpress.com). It was my first public blog, had the usual first blog characteristics — wandering mission, odd mix of personal and professional — and was a real learning experience.

Well, I guess—nope, didn’t put it to sleep but gave it a new manifestation and expression, and name—that is fairly similar to me. It explains my 1st blog pretty well, and it explains this one, too.

wandering mission, odd mix of personal and professional — and was a real learning experience

Well, my mission wanders no more than I do so not really applicable, although all output probably evidences differently as far as appearance to others. But an intentional “odd mix of personal and professional,” certainly. And it remains forever—hopefully—a learning experience.

I know John wasn’t implying that these “usual first blog characteristics” are anathema to every blog. Perhaps just those he’d prefer to write. 😉

Hell, I’d love to be able to write a highly focused topical blog or two. And that’s also a part of my non-satisfaction with this blog. But writing those blogs is not me. Or, at least, not me right now.

And based on what I read yesterday, it has been highly focused for a while now. It’s just highly spotty, and not really intended to be so focused.

End date? Sure. It’ll definitely have one. I’m just in no position to set one right now, unsatisfied as I may be. Let’s hope I don’t just disappear it, though. 🙂

Comment Timeout installed

Following Walt’s lead following Jessamyn’s (and others), I finally installed James McKay’s Comment Timeout for WordPress.

For the last couple months, and more so the last couple weeks, spam has really been ratcheting up. In the last 24 hours it has been completely over the top (for me)—more than 10-25 x average.

I am hoping this plugin may help reduce some of this. One reason is that I have generally always scanned through the list of Akismet captured spam as once in a great while a legitimate comment gets caught. In fact, if I comment on my own blog from my PC (logged in from my Mac usually) any comments I make get caught as spam about 50% of the time. But with this much spam I simply cannot look through it all and even if I did I might well miss the legitimate comment in all the noise.

If you have made a comment in the last few days and it did not show up, I sincerely apologize.

I really hope this helps!

I, too, have set the closing time at 180 days.

[Update]: Having lived with this for around 48 hours I can say that it is either a really odd coincidence (as Walt suggested as a possibility) or I can call this a resounding success.

I went from somewhere around 60 spam an hour to a total of perhaps 20 in the last 48. That is 20 total.

A plea to those who output their del.icio.us stuff to their blog

Please don’t!

Maybe I should take a different tack first. Instead I will try to combine them.

If anyone reading this blog uses any means to output the items they add to del.icio.us as blog posts I would be interested in hearing your reasons for doing so. Now, if you have a blog that serves this purpose primarily then feel free to answer, although I already have a sense of some answers why one would do this.

My question is more to people who send this info to their “regular” blogs. I don’t know if this practice is taking off, or if I am just reading more people lately who do it. I do know that several people that I have read for a while have begun doing this.

Let me also admit that I have on a very rare occasion marked one of these posts as “Keep New” in Bloglines.

I am not claiming that one shouldn’t make their del.icio.us postings public. But there are ways to do so and are, I believe, so by default. If you think that you are providing a service to others—and you may well be—then you could always find another way to remind people that they can use the tools available within del.icio.us to watch your every move.

Now honestly, this has been bugging me for a while. I certainly do not mean to pick on Karen, and I had been intending to write this post days ago, but … do I a link to the Weather Channel blog or an Onion article?

OK, I know I’m about to lose half my readers, but I really do not find the Onion even slightly entertaining. I know it’s something all the “cool kids” are supposed to read and be able to discuss, sort of the hipster equivalent of knowing what happened last night on whatever the current hot reality TV show is. I don’t know why or how but, clearly, their vision of humor is somehow skewed from mine. Psst. And I honestly do not think many folks really get it either, but one must keep up appearances.

Anyway, my point—if anyone is still reading—is that regardless of what you are adding there is a 99.999% chance I could care less.

“So what is the problem,” you ask? “You’re using an aggregator, just ignore my post.”

Well, ignore may well become the operative word. The issue is that, despite what some think, dealing with all of this stuff does take real physical and cognitive labor. The physical labor is not generally the kind that makes you sweat, but it is the kind that may very well lead to overuse injuries.

I am a cataloger. I work at the computer all day. And if any of you are the slightest bit familiar with our systems you know what a nightmare of usability that they are. And then there are the design choices committees of librarians make about how to set up the search options in an OPAC and the various entries to it that compound the problem for someone who needs to do anything besides a keyword search.

On the cognitive front, just like you, I have more than enough to slog through and I try to subscribe to information sources from people whom I truly want to read. This is not to say that I am guaranteed to want to read every word that you write. Certainly not. But if I have kept your feed around then a conscious decision has been made that I find what you post of value, at least generally.

Adding your del.icio.us stuff to your general blog is a guarantee that—for me—you have just significantly impacted that decision in a negative manner.

If you rarely add stuff to del.icio.us then I probably will barely notice. But if you add stuff almost as frequently as you post….

Maybe this is just me. I don’t know. And you probably shouldn’t care if I read your blog or not. But I ask that you give a few minutes consideration to what your blog serves as for you, and then consider whether adding your del.icio.us content to it serves that purpose. If it is congruent, fine.

But I’m wondering whether it truly is. And while I advocate doing what you want with your own blog, always, I also realize that generally part of the point is to have folks read it. So, be sure to consider whether this additional content also serves as a useful and appreciated bit of content for them.

In my case, the answer is almost 100% No.

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.

Keeping up, why is it always forward-thinking?

Chris Zammarelli, at Libraryola, has a post about keeping up which I found via the LIS Students Ning.

I left a lengthy comment, which I’d like to expand here hopefully. My comment:

 

I’m not sure I have a feel for what you are looking to keep up with, although I do see that your thesis is on e-government and your blog is about “trends in librarianship.” Since my comment is more about the concept of keeping up versus how to I guess that doesn’t matter.

I think you’ve done a good job here talking about the idea of keeping up and have a compiled a good list, for certain sectors of librarianship.

But my point lies elsewhere and I’m not exactly sure why your post is the one to finally trigger the thought … but why does keeping up always mean looking forward?

Sure. I can parse out the terms, the metaphor, whatever. I even agree that is what it’s supposed to be. But what is it when you’re looking back at the literature? Is that research, and only research? I think it is only research in certain situations, and that keeping up should not be restricted to the current or future.

I read an awful lot of library literature and a great deal of it is from the past. Often very past. Only sometimes is it research, I would say. When I am working on a specific project and track down sources for that specific topic/need then it is research. Is it research all of the time, even if it is for pleasure reading, if it material is from the past?

Anyway, depending on your interests, I would say that looking back into our literature is an amazing way to learn about trends in libraries/librarianship (among other things). Might even help you put the current trends into context.

Anyway, just a suggestion prefaced by a question. Good luck with the thesis.

For some reason, Chris’ post made me realize that every post I’ve seen on keeping up never talks about what can be learned from the past and how that can be of assistance in keeping up today (and in the future).

Is it because of the metaphor of keeping up itself? Does the phrase preclude thinking of the past?

Or, is it because everything looking backward is research? I can’t see why it should be. For starters, much research is very forward looking.

The OED Online gives me the following senses of research (there are others but they are irrelevant here):

Noun 1

  1. The act of searching (closely or carefully) for or after a specified thing or person.
  2. a. A search or investigation directed to the discovery of some fact by careful consideration or study of a subject; a course of critical or scientific inquiry. (Usu. in pl.)
  3. Investigation or pursuit of a subject. rare.

Verb 1

  1. a. trans. To search into (a matter or subject); to investigate or study closely. Also, to engage in research upon (a subject, a person, etc.).
  2. To seek (a woman) in love or marriage. Obs. [OK, this is irrelevant, too, but I found it humorous.]

Noun 2 and verb 2 both had to do with re-search; that is, repeated search.

Clearly, there is no temporal stress on past, present or future. Noun 1, sense 3 could be used to describe my endeavors to consume so much of our past literature, but it is rare. The verb sense (1st sentence) could be used to describe my reading as research. It could also very well describe much of what passes for keeping up, as could sense 3 of the noun, and perhaps even noun sense 1. Noun sense 2 fails for my pleasure reading because it is not directed to the discovery of some fact. It could be claimed to be directed, but only to getting a good general overview. And I find it highly doubtful that anyone could parse out general overview into fact.

I am not trying to argue that my reading habits do not constitute research in the more relaxed meanings of noun sense 3 or verb sense 1. It is more that it is not research in the stricter sense(s). Kind of like LIS (LS/IS) is science and, yet, not science either.

My argument is more along the lines of learning from the past is one way of keeping up. For a large percentage of librarians our schooling lasts one to two years, at most. Even counting assignments, much less what else you did between them, how much of the literature did you actually read? How much of it was historical (however you want to parse that out. Well, other than last month’s issue.)?

I sure wish I was more eloquent on these sorts of things, because I truly think that this view is a large part of the problem in our profession right now. And yes, I do realize that many other professions/disciplines are the same. I could care less about that!

So much is being rejected by people who have no idea what they are rejecting or why. Or they think they know why, but their stated reasons are based on unexamined assumptions and outright bigotry.

“My God, it must go! It’s based on the card catalog.”

Well, perhaps it is based on the card catalog (or some other unhip thing), but do you know what problem it solved at the time and, even more importantly, do you know what problem(s) it might be solving right now? Meanwhile, other things are being embraced that were previously rejected with no idea that they were tried and why they did not work out and still won’t, or that perhaps with x being different now they will. But you best know about x and make sure it is different.

Our field is full of trends that come and go. And then they come back! Do some of you who are new or relatively new to the profession wonder why so many veterans are so worn out? Amongst many other things, it is because they have seen the same things over and over and every new “generation” wants to try it again.

Trying again, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. But trying something again with no idea of how or why it failed, or that it was even tried, is extremely disheartening to many veterans. Perhaps some of our library veterans would be more willing to watch and perhaps even assist in trying “new” things if the new folks made it clear that, miracle of miracles, they were actually aware of the past and why things were different now and how that difference makes a difference.

Or, perhaps they are tired of banging their heads against the wall for 30 or 40 years because a real solution was not tried due to a lack of will, money, commitment, or what have you. Perhaps the technology was lacking then. Many of the things that were shown as distinct possibilities from the 1940s-70s are now distinctly doable. But most in our field have no idea what these even are and then they perhaps complain that the CS (and related) folks are reinventing everything we already know. But what is it you know?

I do realize that the amounts of data we have, new encoding and storage formats, and cheaper more powerful technologies have a profound impact on what is doable and what makes a good solution. Clearly, not everything from the past that was unable to get a fair shake needs to be resurrected. But how is one to rule out the possibilities, or borrow a great idea that if twisted just a little is a direct answer to one of today’s problems, if they do not know what went before?

Perhaps you think I’m just rambling or making up stuff here. I’ll leave it to you to decide; you will anyway. But I know professionals who fit both of these descriptions. It has absolutely nothing to do with not wanting to try or do new things! These folks have done more new and innovative things than you are probably going to get a chance to do [assuming demographic trends about career changes]. They are simply tired of banging their heads against the wall and having what they know completely ignored by someone who has no idea what it is that they know, or how that may (or may not) be useful.

Maybe it’s trite. Maybe it’s a truism. And perhaps I’m just plain wrong. But you know what they say about those who refuse to learn from the past.

Rant over. But I honestly do consider much of the reading of the past that I do to be keeping up. Perhaps catching up would be even better. But there’s no way I could sell that to the new “generations.”

Note(s):

I do well know that there are some old curmudgeons out there that would best serve the profession by moving on to something else.

I also see a lot of talk from the younger generations about respect and their work life balance, and so on. You do know that goes both ways, don’t you? [Says the older guy who is looking for some work life balance as he undertakes his new career. Or, in other words, not all new librarians are young!]

Youth, energy, and idealism are valuable assets. But so is knowledge and experience. And all who are chronologically older do not lack youth, energy or idealism.

The rant portion of this post has absolutely nothing to do with Chris Zammarelli! His post only got me thinking about keeping up as forward looking. Once I turned to the past the rest just came along for the ride. I am not saying, much less alluding, that he thinks in the way I am complaining about.

Certainly, my points about the past could use some nuance and some caveats. They are not meant to be conclusive, or overly general. But it is the case that these situations arise. What the percentage is I have no idea. Nor am I really interested in knowing it [pretty much impossible to determine, anyway].

Anyone have any thoughts on why keeping up seems to be only forward looking?

Balanced Libraries: Thoughts on Continuity and Change; a review

Crawford, Walt. Balanced Libraries: Thoughts on Continuity and Change. A Cites & Insight Book, 2007.

I read this book last Wednesday – Friday. In many ways it was like curling up with an old friend. I had read versions of some of the chapters and smaller sections in Cites & Insights, perhaps some of the ideas on Walt at Random, and had read many of the posts from which the citations come in their original form. That said, there was still plenty new here along with the previous disparate ideas being tied together into a coherent whole.

Audience

The audience for this book is anyone interested in the strength—present and future—of libraries; public, academic, school and special. The book definitely belongs in every library that supports an LIS school. Quite possibly, it belongs in every library.

Public libraries with the means to do so might consider providing copies to their board members. Libraries (of any sort) with enough staff to do so could consider having a reading/discussion group around it. Staff in libraries too small to do so can certainly find value in it. That is, there is value for anyone interested in libraries in these times of rapid change. [Although rapid change has probably always been the case in libraries—for the last 150 years anyway.]

But it’s self-published blog, er, stuff!

Let me try and counter one possible objection right now. Some folks may be prejudiced due to the fact that this is a self-published, print-on-demand book. That is simply silly; especially in this case. Crawford is well aware that this was an experiment from the start (16). I, for one, think it is a successful book, but only Walt Crawford can determine if it is a successful experiment.

Walt Crawford is one of the highest cited authors in the LIS literature for the period 1994-2004 based on a study recently cited in College & Research Libraries. I have no doubt this would be the same if one were to shift a few years either way. Assuming that there is some valid reason why he is one of the highest cited authors in our field, it should not matter whether this book is self-published or not. Clearly, many have found value in his writings.

A second possible objection is that the majority of sources cited are from blogs. Oh my gosh! From what? While I, myself, am sometimes critical of the biblioblogosphere, this book would serve as a valuable introduction to library and library-related blogs for the vast majority of librarians who are unaware of them or, at least, uninvolved with them. While we sometimes seem to be speaking only to ourselves, there is much of value being said out here. Sometimes we even manage to have a conversation. No matter where these conversations happen, library staff need to be involved in them. This book is one possible entry into them.

Reviewer qualifications, or lack thereof

In a couple of ways, I am not really suited to review this book. This does not mean that I am unentitled to an opinion or that I cannot find value in it. My situation only means that others may be better situated to comment on its primary value. So be it.

There are many ways to interact with this book, and diverse messages to take from it, as well as different uses in which to put it. As I said, much of this material is not new to me. But the overall structure and coherence is. I found that valuable. I have no idea how the book will strike those not currently involved in the biblioblogosphere. I can only hope that they will follow the author’s advice and follow some of these conversations in full.

The other reason, besides my closeness to much of the material, for my being poorly qualified to review this book is that I am currently in no real position to recommend or implement much of anything that might lead to balance in “my library.”

This is not to imply that I am voiceless or powerless in my job. That would be to greatly misspeak on my part. My student status does not lead to a total neutering. [And both the author and I claimed the audience is anyone who cares about libraries.] I only mean to imply that I have had a limited amount of time to understand the workings of “my library.” In fact, the question immediately arises, “What exactly is my library?” On one hand, it is pretty much the entirety of the whole UIUC Libraries. On the other, that is simply silly. I cannot know much about the whole thing and, in fact, know little about much of it. At best probably, I can look within Content Access Management (cataloging and more). Even that, though, is far larger than my gaze at the moment.

In other words, it is easy for me to read this book because I do not have any real needs to address at the moment. I can merrily read along at a good clip and think, “Great question! Could raise some interesting answers, in practice.” And so on. But I don’t have to answer any of them right now. And that is the hard job. In other words, if you need this book then it ought to take you a lot longer to “read” it than I took.

“Negatives”

Let me point out a couple faults before I get into the book proper. The index is not the best, although I have seen worse. The author has asked that I take him to task for it, but I’m not sure I can. So far I have had little need to use the index and although I have been trained to evaluate indexes (or indices, if you prefer) I don’t see the need to get all empirical here. I have a feeling that there may be some folks who did not get all of their citations indexed. I could be wrong but it seems like Steve Oberg/Family Man Librarian had more than one mention. There are others that seem as if they should have more index entries possibly.

As I said on my own blog as I was reading the book:

My only small gripe (so far) is that while the UI Current LIS Clips does show up in the index, neither Sue Searing or Karla Stover Lucht do, although they do in the text (54). Of course, if I didn’t know these folks personally I probably would not be looking them up. A very small gripe, though.

This was the comment which caused the author to suggest that a reviewer ought to take him to task for the index.

The only other issue with the book that I found is that chapter 11 is poorly edited in spots; although these are all minor issues and do not detract from one’s understanding at all. They are generally small formatting issues: lack of a subsection heading being bolded, a footnote not being superscripted, etc. Again, very minor detractions. Has anyone read any book from MIT Press lately? Now there is some poor editing!

Content

This book is, thankfully, not a self-help book. [Of course, that whole category is an oxymoron. How can a book help itself?]

There are no easy answers here. There are some easy questions; but only a few. Most of the questions are more middling to hard if you actually need to answer them. And if you need a consensus answer then just shift a little more to the hard end.

In fact, there may not even be any answers in the book. The answers can only come through an honest look at your library and its communities’ situations. This is not meant to diminish the book’s contents at all. If you actually expected to find the answer(s) in a book then you may well be in the wrong business.

What this book does offer are many of the questions and some thoughts and discussions around those questions that can help you discover the answers for you and your library’s situation. That is the best any book can do. And Balanced Libraries does that quite well.

  • The book is in 6 or so implicit parts. The first part (ch. 1) gives an overview of balance and how the book came about. It also provides an outline for the rest of the book.
  • Part 2 (ch. 2-4) addresses patron-orientation (and not just to the select), library as place, and existing collections and services.
  • Part 3 (ch. 5-8) is on barriers to change: time and energy, generational generalizations, push back from patrons and staff and why it may not just be blind resistance, and naming and shaming.
  • Part 4 (ch. 9-13) covers more positive aspects of change: extension and improvement of existing services and systems, new services, storytelling and conversation (marketing), competition and cooperation, and assessment and relating those successes and failures to the larger library community.
  • Part 5 (ch. 14) is about how the library worker themselves can achieve a healthy balance in their lives. It is hard to have a balanced library without balanced library workers.
  • Part 6 (ch. 15) “Change and Continuity” is the conclusion.

I found this to be a well-balanced book on a theme which cuts across many factors that are impacting libraries and library workers (and their communities) of all sorts today.

Despite my few caveats above as to my qualifications to review this books true usefulness, I think that there are few libraries or library workers who would not benefit from reading this book and thinking about its application to their situations. Perhaps we ought to have a “One City, One Book” type reading and discussion group in the library community centered on this book.

A (small) secondary benefit of this book is that is may introduce many a library worker to some fine writing and conversations that happen here in the biblioblogosphere [and, yes, that is an ugly word!]

I guess I ought to add the disclaimer that I have been quoted in this book. When the author first posted the list of who all were cited I was semi-concerned [C&I 7(4) pdf]. “Oh boy! Did Walt catch me saying something silly?” Well, I’m happy to say that I am quite pleased with what he did use. And even though I may have said something about a few of the topics covered in the book, I am pleased to serve a small purpose in the chapter on terminology, shaming and confrontation. Those topics fit in especially well with my thoughts and concerns with “professionalism.”

Nonetheless, I bought my own copy (as it should be) and just as I expect Walt to tell me when I’m wrong, off-base, silly or whatever I know he expects the same.

Read this book!

Book reviews are not really my thing and I wish I could have written a better one. But at least I think it is balanced, and that seems appropriate.

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.

WordPress help request; commenting issues

I am of the last week having issues commenting on some of my own posts. This is the message I receive:

Forbidden

You don’t have permission to access /blog/wp-comments-post.php on this server.

One of these was from February (just now), but the other was from last week. I am not trying to put in any fancy code, one URL in the recent one (although that failed without it, also), and nothing but pure ASCII characters. I simply have no idea.

This is the post which concerns me the most as it is active, and is a serious conversation that I am trying to have. The weirdest part is that I am able to comment some. I put in a couple “test” comments, which I removed. You can see that I made a couple others, although not the full one I was trying to make.

Does anyone have any ideas? I am down to one computer at the moment since my Mac laptop is completely trashed and has to be sent off to Apple for repairs; new trackpad and hard drive.

I’m already stressed enough about the PowerBook and a million others things that I don’t need this issue. The bad part is I’m not sure I can even get into my WP instance until I get the Mac back; at least not without finding a program for the PC and tracking down passwords….

Anyway, any and all suggestions are welcome! Here’s hoping that whoever has the answer can comment, or perhaps use the contact page. I have received a couple emails from folks who were unable to comment on the LC Working Group posts last week, but I have no idea if it is the same issue. No one told me what the problem was for them. I have to wonder how many others couldn’t comment and didn’t contact me.

Update: “Talked” to Blake and it seems I’m running up against some mod_security antispam rules. I know the exact word which caused a problem on the Chief post, and while it is understandable I am not happy about it.

As for my comment on the 1st David Bade post I have sent Blake the text of the comment I was trying to make and also let him know which part took and at which point it failed. I have tried my damnedest to figure out what word there could possibly be “offensive.” The problem with spam filtering is the word does not even have to be offensive; it only has to accompany such words. Of course, offensive is overly broad here. If I was depressive and wanted to discuss medication in my comments I’d be screwed.

I really try very hard not to hate anyone, be they nationalities, religions, groups of any sort, even single individuals. Hating isn’t good.

But. I. Fucking. Hate. Spammers.

Anyone who causes it so that I cannot have a conversation on my own blog about my own discipline is to be utterly despised. The world would be a far better place if all spammers’ heads were to simultaneously explode. Anyone remember Scanners?

I appreciate Blake doing a good job to help us all. Can’t be mad at him in any way. But when I can’t use ordinary words in my own language to have a conversation then there is serious issue.

Fucking spammers are the scum of the earth!