Monday, October 29, 2007

iSchool Launches New Podcast Series

A new podcast series lets you get your iSchool news on the go. With stories that capture the impact of iSchool work, each issue brings to life the voices of faculty, students and staff—information leaders who are moving the field forward.

The first issue, to be released tomorrow, Tuesday, October 30, features an interview with Dean Harry Bruce. He talks about his roots in rural Australia and some of the inspiration that launched his career in information. The first and subsequent issues will be released every three weeks at

Like every newborn, the podcast needs a name. Submit a suggestion. If we use your suggestion, you’ll win a $25 gift certificate to the University Bookstore. Listen to the first issue for the email address you’ll use to send your name suggestions, comments and story ideas.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Tips for Winter Registration

As we approach the halfway mark for autumn quarter, we’ll need to take a break from our coursework and think about what to take next quarter. Period I registration starts bright and early on Friday, November 2nd at 6 am. Here are some quick tips to help you plan out your schedule:
  1. Start by looking at the winter course offerings for your respective program. Pick out a mix of potential classes according to what you need for your core requirements and where your interests fall.
  2. Look at the 2007-2008 Projected Course Calendar. Are there classes offered in the spring that you could hold off on taking during the winter quarter? Would you rather take LIS 560 distance in the winter, or wait until spring for the day course?
  3. Find out what other students thought of a class by looking at the Course Evaluations or better yet, talk to a fellow student who’s already taken the class.
  4. Talk to your faculty advisor or academic advisor. If you have trouble deciding between classes or choosing between professors, your advisor can be a great resource for helping you with your decision.
  5. Take a look at classes offered outside of your program. These don’t have to be limited to iSchool classes but could include electives in Technical Communications, Public Affairs, Computer Science, etc. Just be sure to find out any extra steps you need to take to get into the class, such as submitting an Out-of-School Approval Form, or getting permission from the instructor.
  6. If there’s a class that you absolutely need to get into, definitely wake up before 6AM. Winter and spring classes seem to fill up remarkably quickly. Waking up at 9 am and logging in to register only to find that your classes are full is a bad, bad feeling.
With that, good luck and don’t forget to celebrate Day of the Dead. Anyone have a good Pan de Muerto recipe?

Ridiculous Library of Congress Subject Headings: Week of October 29, 2007

I can't get over the fact that laser guns in movies and television shows consistently emit red pulses. What is it about the color red that makes it such a dangerous or threatening color? Is it because red is the same hue as blood? Perhaps it's because the first constructed laser was a ruby laser. In 1960, T.H. Maiman developed a pulsed laser with a flash tube that surrounded a ruby rod, a mineral that absorbs green and blue light (producing a pink or red color). This type of laser was used to determine the exact distance from the Earth to the Moon in an Apollo mission (with an accuracy of about 15 cm). Of course, lasers still haven't replaced bullets, but they have an interesting fictional history.

Besides "Laser weapons," here are some other weird LC subjects:
  • Breastfeeding - Cote Divoire - Economic Aspects
  • Infant salvation
  • False alarms - United States - Prevention
  • Utility rooms - Japan
  • Lunchbox cookery - Safety measures
  • Verbal self-defense
  • Milking machines
  • Compulsive hair pulling

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

OCLC Report on Social Networking

OCLC just released a report called Sharing, Privacy and Trust in Our Networked World, which addresses social networking and what role libraries may play in this area. Based on their earlier reports, I'm sure it will present fascinating research.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Ridiculous Library of Congress Subject Headings: Week of October 22, 2007

I often associate Ewan McGregor with polar bears. This is because I don't have cable and I end up watching PBS specials late at night. One such special was titled "The Polar Bears of Churchill," where Ewan ventures to a small Canadian town on the Hudson Bay. In Churchill, polar bears often encroach on the town's borders while looking for food and they have to be tranquilized from time to time. Ewan comments on these events with his traditional Scottish charm and he even plays guitar. I was smitten, I tell you. What else do Ewan and polar bears have in common? They both have unique LC subject headings: "Ewan McGregor, 1971-" and "Polar bear watching industry." Here are the rest of this week's unusual tags:
  • Saw filing - History
  • Love-hate relationships
  • Oz (Imaginary Place)
  • Businessmen - language
  • Megalomania
  • Cookery - Dogfish
  • Leopard men
  • Headlight glare - Cost effectiveness

Monday, October 22, 2007

Thoughts on Library School

Here's what Nicole Engard learned (and didn't learn) from library school @ Drexel. How does this mesh with your experience at the iSchool?

Can't Get Enough Harry?

Then read this transcript of JK Rowling's Q & A session with Harry P fans at Carnegie Hall. You'll learn about Dumbledore's romantic past, Hagrid's 22 or no children, an alternative Weasley family without Arthur, and much more.

(From The Leaky Cauldron)

Interview with a Vampire (and by "vampire" I mean "librarians")

From the Chronicle of Higher Education--an article called "Young Librarians, Talkin' Bout Their Generation" that features interviews with eight youngish librarians re: the future of libraries.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Sequel to "Machine is Us/ing Us"

Here's a 5-minute YouTube video that addresses information stored digitally: "Information R/evolution" by Michael Wesch (Kansas State University?).

Wesch also did a great video called "Machine is Us/ing Us" which I first saw in a webpage design class with Terry Brooks.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Blog of the Moment

Hello iSchoolers and friends,

Here's what I hope will be a fairly regular "column" on this blog this year (or at least this quarter)--"blog of the moment." (I thought about doing a blog of the day or blog of the week segment, but prefer more spontaneity.)

Over the past year, I've been tracking many blogs (413 as of tonight!), most of which are library-related. So I figure I'll highlight which ones seem the most useful or interesting or just plain fun.

First up is one of my favorites, Information Wants to Be Free, by self-proclaimed "librarian, writer and tech geek" Meredith Farkas. She writes thoughtfully about issues of technology use in libraries, and is one of the main bloggers in the so-called Library 2.0 movement. This year, Information Today published her first book, Social Software in Libraries, which is well worth checking out if you would like to explore using blogs, wikis, and other web technologies to enhance existing library services.

Three words that describe her blog posts: reasonable, balanced, and diplomatic.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ridiculous Library of Congress Subject Headings: Week of October 15, 2007

I found this photo when looking for pictures of old people playing softball (one of this week's entries). However, I think this photo better represents the subject heading: "Beer Therapeutic Use Early Works to 1800." How do you explain a bare-chested man wearing a "Gimli" mask on a scooter with a plastic ax? Those five cans of Busch stacked on the fence of the backstop. Thanks to light beer, this man is transformed into a dwarf with great strength and sense of justice. But I don't think that scooter will make it through the Mines of Moria.

Without further ado, this week's scholarly findings:
  • Elbow growth
  • Period (Punctuation)
  • Footbinding in literature
  • Chemical carriers (Tankers) - Fiction
  • Garbage as feed
  • Menu design - Russia (Federation) - Saint Petersburg
  • Softball for older people
  • Idealism, Polish

I was going to include "Balloons Accidents United States," but apparently child asphyxiation with balloons is a serious problem. According to a 1997 New York Times report, nearly a third of choking-related fatalities from 1972 to 1992 were caused by latex balloons. Only food products like hot dogs, peanuts and grapes are more dangerous than balloons. Sorry to be a downer. I was thinking more about dirigibles. Or those silly people who decided to attach balloons to their lawnchairs. Yes, this has happened more than once.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

"We Read Banned Books!" Wrap-up

This last week was Banned Books Week, and the most notable happening in the iSchool (and of course I'm not just saying this because I helped put it on!) was the "We Read Banned Books!" event, sponsored by SALA on Oct. 4th in Odegaard. About 25 people from the iSchool community and beyond showed up to listen to local writers, artists, and librarians come and share some of their favorite banned literature.

After opening remarks from SALA veep Sonja Sutherland (which you can read here) the event kicked off with a rollicking start. Rock journalist Charles R. Cross shared some beautiful and steamy passages from D.H. Lawrence's 1928 novel Lady Chatterley's Lover. Cross recalled first reading the book as a teenager and noted that it was easy for him to find the sex scenes to share at the night's reading in his copy of the book because, as a youth, he had dog-eared those particular passages. Lady Chatterley's Lover was banned in England for 32 years after its initial private publication.

Cross was followed Cody Walker (UW English Instructor) and Wendy Call (editor of Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writer's Guide), both Writers in Residence at the Richard Hugo House. Walker shared passages from Walt Whitman's Song of Myself, and reminded us that Whitman once said "The dirtiest book is the expurgated book." Call presented an autobiographical essay about her relationship to Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, and the serendipity that entered her life the times that she has read it. The Handmaid's Tale is #37 on the ALA's list of The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000.

Local children's book author Laura McGee Kvanosky read from Susan Patton's The Higher Power of Lucky, a book for young readers that caused a stir earlier this year for its use of the word "scrotum," which prompted some school libraries to censor the book. The ALA responded to this controversy with a statement asserting the book's value, which Kvanosky charmingly echoed during her portion of the event. She read us the offending, scrotum-filled section and I think everyone in attendance agreed: sometimes you just have to call a scrotum a scrotum. Kvanosky also noted the tainting effect that censorship can send throughout the literary community, noting serious discussions she has had with publishers over whether she could depict two little fox girls playing card and changing their clothes (not at the same time, mind you).

David Wright, a fiction librarian at SPL, then took us to the dark side of intellectual freedom, reading a chilling passage from The Turner Diaries, a work of speculative fiction that is also chock-full of white supremacist propaganda. This book details a revolutionary struggle for "racial purity" in the United States, and has inspired a number of white supremacist groups and Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber. In the passage Wright shared, the narrator of the book details the execution and public display of thousands of "race traitors" in Los Angeles as a means of pacifying the population.

Wright was obviously (and understandably) nervous as he read this passage and apologized several times over, but his point was a powerful one. It is perhaps too easy during Banned Books Week to think of all the Huck Finns, Harry Potters, and Cather in the Ryes of the world: "Important Works of Literature" that liberal humanists have to defend against those who are scared by challenges to their worldview. I'm not saying that this isn't important, even while I admit that there is an element of elitism and self-righteousness worked into this equation. We also have to remember that there are books like The Turner Diaries, filled with ideas that we (and most people) will find repugnant, racist, even dangerous, and we have to defend them just as much (and maybe more) than I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Why? Because it is our job to protest ideas, and to make sure they are available for those who want them, pure and simple. It's a hard message, and I applaud Wright's courage in making us remember it.

The evening finished on a more upbeat note, with local comic artist Ellen Forney's hilarious reading from Judy Blume's Forever, oft attacked for its honest depictions of teenage sex. Forney invited Cody Walker back up to the stage to read a particularly juicy scene. She then went on to talk about challenges to her own book I Love Led Zeppelin, a collection of comics which has been pulled from several libraries for its frank sexual content, including a section titled "How To Fuck a Woman With Your Hands." She shared some of the e-mail exchanges that she has had with librarians across the country, and offered insight onto how content decisions are sometimes made from within the library before they even have a chance to be made by the community they serve.

All in all, it was a wonderful event: inspiring, thought-provoking, hilarious, frank, and even a bit disturbing. And really, that's just how Banned Books Week should be. Major thanks to all of the readers, and to Bo Kinney and Sonja Sutherland for their work putting it on.

Ridiculous Library of Congress Subject Headings: Week of October 8, 2007

Hey iSchoolers,

Here's another dose of silly Library of Congress subject headings. The Silverfish LCSH vault is running low, so we would appreciate any contributions. Whenever you acquaint yourself with fantastic subjects like "Rock Music Yugoslavia" or "Chain Saws Accidents," please share it with the rest of the Information School community. Comment or submit your own posting!
          • Martians in mass media
          • Long Suffering - See Meekness
          • Crossword puzzle makers - Drama
          • Hurricane modification
          • Intelligent buildings
          • Trading with the enemy
          • Bouncers - Great Britain
          • Incubi
In reference to one of the above selections...I just want to point out that the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration investigated the following methods in attempting to control hurricanes: cooling the ocean with cryogenic material or icebergs, blowing the hurricane apart with hydrogen bombs, injecting air into the center with a huge maneuverable tube to raise the central pressure, and blowing the storm away from land with windmills.

Monday, October 8, 2007

keyboard shortcuts for mozilla firefox

These just might make my online life easier!  :)  Hope they help you too.  mw

backspace=previous page

alt+home=home page

ctrl+(+)=increase text size

ctrl+(-)=decrease text size

ctrl+f=find text on page

ctrl+d=bookmark page

Virtual Library

Here is a piece of digital art by Yann Serandour called "Ma bibliotheque virtuelle" (sorry I'm missing all the accent marks). Why am I posting it? It just looks cool.

Anyone have links to sites that mix art with libraries?

Usability Issues

From Smashing Magazine's blog, here are "30 usability issues to be aware of." Not so compelling post title, but compelling principles to remember (such as the 3-click rule: "users stop using the site if they aren’t able to find the information or access the site feature within 3 mouse clicks").

Library Potties

Have you visited any magnificent bathrooms lately? Did said bathroom(s) reside in a library? If so, the bloggers at Checking Out and Checking In are calling for your photos as part of the Bathroom Blogfest.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Orientation 2007

I had been on vacation for a couple of months, so it was difficult to get out of bed for the 8:30 start time of the MLIS orientation. I made it to campus driven by large quantities of caffeine and my percolating excitement for the upcoming two years. Upon arrival, I knew my new colleagues were already acclimating to Seattle life as they hovered around with coffee in hand, discussing their advisor appointments, while awaiting their turn to be photographed for our directory.

The Residential-MLIS orientation began with Karen Fisher and Marie Potter’s introduction to the program before Dr. Harry Bruce took to the podium. During Bruce’s welcome we learned that this cohort was the most competitive in the iSchool’s history with only a 42% acceptance rate. This was mostly an informational session, however my peers and I had fun getting to know each other during the introductory ice-breaker. From my casual conversations with other first year students, I feel confidant in saying that the highlight of the morning session occurred near the end when we broke into groups lead by second-year students who gave us the inside scoop on the “unofficial” information of the iSchool.

During the afternoon, all of the new iSchool students convened in Kane Hall for our official welcome to the school. The faculty introduced themselves and their research and we were ushered upstairs for a social event. Here my colleagues and I learned and put into practice our first professional lesson during our tenure at the iSchool – the importance of building relationships because of the interdisciplinary nature of our work.

19th Century Mustaches

This is too good not to share: the Mustaches of the Nineteenth Century blog is...just that.

Here is a photo from said blog which is described as "Pazyryk Horsemen, some 300 years before the birth of Christ."

Found via BoingBoing.

College students' perceptions of the library

OCLC (the Online Computer Library Center) published a report in 2005 on college students' perceptions of the library. It talks about their library usage and their awareness of library resources. Also discusses internet search engines vs. libraries and librarians and the "library brand." Useful for academic librarian wannabes and others...

Here are a couple of other reports published by OCLC, along with descriptions from the website:

2003 Environmental Scan: Pattern Recognition
The 2003 OCLC Environmental Scan: Pattern Recognition report was produced for OCLC’s worldwide membership to examine the significant issues and trends impacting OCLC, libraries, museums, archives and other allied organizations, both now and in the future. The scan provides a high-level view of the information landscape, intended both to inform and stimulate discussion about future strategic directions.

Libraries: How They Stack Up
Libraries: How They Stack Up, released in 2003, provides a snapshot of the economic impact of libraries worldwide. The report contains some interesting comparisons of library economics and activies to other sectors, professions and destinations in the global economy.

A Dispatch From SLA 2007

By Amy Donahue ‘07, MLIS

The first time I went to Denver, I tried local brews. I heard Al Gore speak. I took pictures of the Colorado Capitol Building. I stayed in a hotel where lemonheads instead of mints were left on the pillow. But I wasn’t an ordinary tourist taking my fill of the Mile High City – I was an attendee of the Special Library Association’s annual conference. And I have to admit; I had an amazing time and learned far more than I could have learned just visiting.

I first became involved with SLA because of an internship I had in a biotechnology company’s library. For the same reasons that I applied for the internship in the first place (in a nutshell, an interest in science and health), my focus within SLA has, and continues to be, within the Pharmaceutical and Health Technology Division. And I found myself with a fabulous opportunity in the form of the conference to both further explore this aspect of librarianship and to expand my horizons to areas ranging from global librarianship to non-profit and government. And that doesn’t take into account the vendors and social events!

As a matter of fact, two of my three favorite sessions weren’t related to science at all (well, I suppose they are related to library science…forgive my poor joke). The Synergy General Session, held at the beginning of the conference, featured a round-table including the well known Stephen Abram, Clifford Lynch and Eugenie Prime. Tom Hogan asked difficult questions and received some intriguing answers that motivated me for the rest of the conference: check out for a short clip.

I also thoroughly enjoyed Marcia Ellen Bates’ program on “How to Convince Your Clients They Desperately Need You”. Bates is a highly capable speaker who had me hooked the whole time (I believe I actually laughed several times—some librarians can make jokes). As a bonus, everything she said was applicable to any library situation you may find yourself in, from consulting to public. One suggestion: give your clients a survey asking which provided services are useful. Give them the option to choose none of the above. If they actually choose that option, provide new (not just improved) services! It may seem obvious, but frankly, I don’t think it’s said often enough.

Finally, the second to last session I attended was amazing, and did actually have something to do with science. Next-Gen scientists, to be precise. The session was a unique format; we were arranged in small groups and had open discussions that we shared with the whole large group at the end. While the sound system and the logistics of the set-up weren’t quite perfect, I still found myself overwhelmed by the intelligence and openness with which we talked about controversial issues like getting rid of scientific books (costs of new editions every year; younger scientists more used to everything online anyway) and the loss of the reference desk. My then-future colleagues were not afraid and met these issues head on. Needless to say, I walked away with several new business cards.

These sessions barely touch the surface of my overall experience at SLA ’07. I spoke with vendors, met amazing people at division lunches and socials (both my own and others), and heard Al Gore and Scott Adams speak (SLA really does get amazing speakers). I met a friend whom I had only known through e-mail and phone conversations (we worked at the same biotech, but on opposite ends of the country). The list goes on and on, but I’m sure you have homework you should be doing.

Before ending this brief synopsis, I would like to thank Nancy Gershenfeld and the committee of the Frost-Gershenfeld award for making my trip possible. And I would like to extend to all readers an invitation to e-mail me with any questions about my experience at SLA ’07 (a note to future attendees: wear comfortable shoes and pick sessions before you head out)! Also feel free to check out the 2007 Conference website at (there’s even a blog).

See you in Seattle for SLA ’08!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Ridiculous Library of Congress Subject Headings: Week of October 1, 2007

On Saturday morning, I purchased a book called "Hanimals" at the Friends of the Seattle Public Library book sale in Magnuson Park. When I opened the book, I was disappointed to find that there were no subject headings such as "Body parts as animals," "Shadow puppets, postmodernist" or "Painted digits." This art book had escaped the all-knowing eyes of catalogers and reminds me of how much work we have to do in this world. That's why I get up every morning...the anticipation of adding value to information.

This week's submissions come from first-year students who attended the ALISS/Silverfish brownbag event on Friday. Each student had about five minutes to flip through the big red subject heading books (located near the student mailboxes) to come up with the wackiest terms. Here is what they uncovered:
  • Forest fires, citizen participation
  • Botany, experimental
  • Umbrella repairers
  • Quitch - grass
  • Beanosaurs (Trademark)
  • Proctoscopy
  • Manned maneuvering units
  • Miniature horses
  • Prune industry
  • Cockroaches in Literature
  • Quails as pets
And the first prize winning entry was...
  • Metabolism in Architecture (found by Zach Hale)
Finding a quality picture of a pet quail was a lot harder than you'd imagine...but it wasn't so hard to find quail poetry.