Monday, December 31, 2007

Google Docs

Last year I began using to bookmark my favorites and found it especially useful for saving and organizing bookmarks I need for my classes.

This year I've added Google Docs to my list of tools. I use it mainly to keep notes and information for my classes although I have added a packing list I can use for the seven trips I'll be making to Portland in the next four months. The main advantage of Google Docs is that I can access my work from any computer with Internet access. This would also be an excellent tool for working on group projects because the pages can be shared.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Buy Legos, Not Lasers!

I remember, one Christmas long ago, when my sons were small, seeing a group of well meaning parents on a television news segment protesting that Toys R Us sold toy guns. They paraded around the store, carrying signs declaring "Buy Legos, not lasers!!" trying to convince parents not to buy play guns. I had to laugh because, as I never bought my sons play guns, it didn't stop them from making them out of their Legos! Maybe they were just ahead of their time.

This story entitled Legos — they're not just for good kids anymore begins

A book written by two former employees of the Danish plastic-brick giant is burning up the sales charts — and raising eyebrows on the other side of the Atlantic.

"Forbidden LEGO: Build the Models Your Parents Warned You Against" was published in August by No Starch Press , a small independent publishing house based in San Francisco.

"You'll learn to create working models that LEGO would never endorse," the book's page on the publisher's Web site promises. "Try your hand at a toy gun that shoots LEGO plates, a candy catapult, a high voltage LEGO vehicle, a continuous-fire ping-pong ball launcher, and other useless but incredibly fun inventions."

Americans have embraced the idea in stride, putting the title at No. 244 on the Web retailer's (Amazon) book-sales chart as of midday Thursday. But in Britain, the constantly hysterical press added the book onto its ever-growing pile of Things That Threaten Society.

"Lego is set to turn slightly more sinister with the launch of an unofficial book that teaches children how to make weapons out of the iconic plastic bricks," warned London's Evening Standard.

On commentator stated:

"This is a very dangerous idea," he wrote with tongue firmly in cheek. "Kids could make atomic bombs out of Lego, and just think what would happen if some Islamic terrorist get hold of a copy. The possibilities are terrifying."

Indeed! But as someone training to be a librarian all I can say is that no one had better try to ban the book!

Friday, December 7, 2007

How Did That Happen?

The terms is, for all intents and purposes, over until mid-January and I should be thinking about relaxing and getting ready for Christmas but somehow that isn't happening. I have an interview scheduled for the end of the month so I can write a paper and then I need to write the paper, there are some scholarships I'm interested in applying for to attend various conferences, some proposals I need to put together for some conferences where I'd like to do presentations, and I want to at least begin doing the research for, if not actually write, at least two other papers.

And oh, I need to order my textbooks for next term, organize my desk, print out the syllabi for my classes and organize my notebooks, and I'm sure there are some things I've forgotten too.

Stop! Wait!I'm going to take this week-end off. I'll try hard not to read my email (but I probably won't be able to resist) and I'll do a bit of knitting. The carpets were cleaned today and tomorrow John and I will put all the furniture back. Maybe I'll start on the Christmas decorating too and make my lists for baking. A nap or two doesn't sound like a bad idea either.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Paper and Webpage for LI835

My paper on Information Transfer: A Model for Liaison Services, which includes a link to a website I constructed for it intended as a pathfinder for university students studying Native American art, can be found here .

Monday, December 3, 2007

Last Class Weekend in Portland

John accompanied me to my last class weekend in Portland. It was cold, rainy, and windy. My presentation went well and I'm glad for that. It was practicing it over and over again which made the difference, I think.

I went to the Farmer's Market, the last one I'll be able to go to until they reopen again in the spring. There were not nearly as many booths as there are in mid-summer and most of the lush produce and flowers are gone. One booth was selling mushrooms, one had a display with jars of honey, and another had a selection of homemade breads. All of the vendors were bundled up against the wind and rain in heavy coats, hats, and scarves. I did find one booth selling jams and chutneys and bought a small jar of strawberry/rhubarb jam for John. As I left the market, I noticed one booth with a basket of traditional winter vegetables-- beets and turnips--but there weren't many buyers.

As I headed back towards the classroom building, I heard roaring sounds coming for a nearby street and went to see what was going on. The street had been blocked to cars and it was now filled with motorcyclists wearing Santa hats over their helmets. Many had large stuffed animals strapped to the back of their cycles as passengers, some had sidecars filled with toys, and one was pulling a little cart piled high with gifts. They roared their engines and a few did wheelies and people watched and smiled and waved at them and they waved back with huge grins. This was the annual Portland Toys for Tots Motorcycle Parade. What a wonderful way to begin the Christmas holidays!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

L-Net Training

I've been waiting for more than a year to do the training for L-Net . L-Net is a virtual reference service their webpage describes as "an online reference service provided by Oregon's libraries. You may chat live with a librarian or e-mail us your question." I finally was able to do the first part of it yesterday at the Portland Community College Sylvania Library. The second session will be next week.

Emily Papagni, the Multnomah County Library outreach librarian, provided us with the training. That's her in the photo.

This photo is of the lab in the library taken before everyone arrived.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

How We Communicate

Early this morning, on the pathway leading to the OSU Library, I came across a message written in yellow chalk on the sidewalk. I had been thinking about all the exciting web2.0 tools I'd found yesterday and now, staring at me, was the simplest of messages, told in a simple way, to anyone who walked past.

The audience clearly was intended to be students and instructors and all those who walked down this path. The message wasn't meant to be permanent, only to last a day or so. It would wash off with the first rain or would be scuffed out of existence in a few days. It was short and to the point. There were no bells or whistles or flashing lights or bright colors.

Maybe, just maybe, sometimes simple is better.

Monday, November 5, 2007

It Really IS Like Christmas Every Day!

I've been opening and playing with all kinds of toys lately and adding them to my blogs. I added a widget which allows updated posts from the Global Museum , one that allows one to sign up for email subscriptions to the blog , Meebo for IM , LibraryThing , , Flickr, and a search worldcat function, all to this blog.

I added twitter to another of my blogs, All the Rest of My Life .

Friday, November 2, 2007

A Vision of Students Today

Thank you, April, for sharing this!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Have a wonderful and safe Halloween!

Friday, October 26, 2007

EDI Leadership Conference

Last week I went to Kansas to attend the EDI Leadership Conference . I learned a great deal, met new friends, and met friends of old friends. I still feel as if there's a wonderful and exhilarating tornado inside of me full of emotions, memories, and ideas. I haven't sorted it all out yet. Photos can be found here , here , and here .

Monday, October 15, 2007

Northwest Central

I have updated my profile at Northwest Central.

Motivation and Diversity: Factors that Influence the Choice of LIS as a Career

This presentation is from the University of Arizona School of Information Resources and Library Podcast Archive which can be found here.

Lisa Hussey (British Columbia, Library, Archival and Information Studies) discusses her dissertation, which focused on building an understanding of the motivations of ethnic minorities to choose library and information science (LIS) as a career. Diversity in LIS and diversity initiatives in LIS programs have been important topics in the profession and in the literature. Increasing the presence of librarians of color may help to improve diversity within LIS. However, recruiting ethnic minorities into LIS has proven to be difficult. The central questions explored can be divided into two parts: (1) Why do ethnic minorities choose librarianship as a profession? (2) What would motivate members of minority groups to join a profession in which they cannot see themselves?

There is a presentation as well as a podcast .


I joined LibraryThing in September, but didn't really begin doing anything with it until last weekend. I've added and tagged over 200 books. I can see that this will be a very useful tool. See my profile here .

Sunday, October 14, 2007

O Canada

A music video of Nipissing First Nation in Ontario, Canada with original music by Keith Mcleod.

2007 Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums Conference

The 2007 Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums Conference is being held in Oklahoma City on October 23-25 and even though I'll be in Emporia, Kansas the week before attending the EDI Leadership Institute Conference and Oklahoma City is less than 250 miles away, and I'm on the program committee for the 2009 Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums Conference which will be held in Portland, I won't be able to go.

It's another example of "so close and yet so far."

View Larger Map

Saturday, October 13, 2007

First Nations DVD: Making a Difference

The Ontario First Nations Public Libraries has developed an eight minute DVD entitled "Making a Difference", to promote and increase awareness about libraries in First Nations’ communities. A short clip from that video can be found on their website, Ontario First Nation Public Libraries .

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Photo Detective

An article in today's Wall Street Journal entitled The Photo Detective , describes the work of Maureen Taylor, formerly the Library Director at the New England Historic Genealogical Society. It begins:

Maureen Taylor has dated a photograph to 1913 by studying the size and shape of a Lion touring car's headlamps. Armed with her collection of 19th-century fashion magazines, she can pinpoint the brief period when Victorian women wore their bangs in tight curls rather than swept back. Using a technique borrowed from the CIA, she identified a photo of Jesse James by examining the shape of his right ear.

and ends

Ms. Taylor gives about 20 lectures a year, has a column in Family Tree Magazine and writes books, including "Uncovering Your Ancestry Through Family Photographs" (2005). Her latest quest may well be her most ambitious. Using census records, Ms. Taylor and a colleague, David Lambert, are tracking down photos of Revolutionary War veterans who lived to see the photography era in the late 1830s. So far, the researchers have found 100 images. They've also found photos of Revolutionary War families, including widows, by searching public and private collections for 1840s-era photographs of elderly people.
"We're looking for pictures people don't know they have," says Ms. Taylor, who's working on a book about the topic. "The majority of photographs from that period are still unidentified. They're lost."

A fascinating read!

Banned Books Read-Out

This report from the Banned Books Read-Out, held September 29 in Chicago, features ALA President Loriene Roy and Judith Krug from ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom speaking on the importance of choosing your own reading material, and authors Carolyn Mackler and Chris Crutcher on how librarians "save our lives daily."

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Spring Semester 2008 Classes

I've registered to take ten credits next Spring. My classes are:

LI809 Introduction to Archives
LI810 Research and Inquiry in Library and Information Science
LI833 Information Transfer Among Special Populations
LI866 Introduction to Copyright
LI899 Thesis

Course descriptions can be found here .

Monday, October 1, 2007

Banned Book Week

The 26th anniversary of Banned Book Week began a couple of days ago and continues through Saturday. See the ALA site for further details. And here is an extensive list of banned or challenged books .

You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.
~ Ray Bradbury

Saving Ancient Manuscripts

A brief article in the October, 2007 issue of The National Geographic Magazine caught my eye this morning.

Filed under Archaeology, the article describes how, in the 1500s, a scholar and scribe around Timbuktu by the name of Mohammed El Mawlud bought and created handwritten Arabic texts on topics ranging from theology to astronomy. When a foreign army sacked the library, destroying some of the texts and taking others, families began hiding them in caves and behind walls. More than 300,000 books survived and most are still in the hands of the families that protected them. Grants are now being used to help repair, protect, and scan these books, some of which date from the 12th century.

Read more here , a story in the Guardian Unlimited entitled In Fabled City at the End of the Earth, a Treasury of Ancient Manuscripts: In Timbuktu the Race is on to Preserve Papers that Document a West African Golden Age

And here is a link to Libraries of Timbuktu for the Preservation and Promotion of African Literary Heritage

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

An Old Suitcase's Journey Home

This story in today's Washington Post An Old Suitcase's Journey Home.The Bag Had Been Left Behind In a Building Under Renovation, With No Clear Owner. But It Fell Into Determined Hands tells the story of the tenacity of the members of a building demolition team, described by the author as "Guys whose job is to clobber, destroy and trash", to preserve, track down the owner, and return an old battered suitcase containing some photograph albums, a yearbook, and letters dating to the 1920's.

The owner, Washington D.C. attorney Brian Shaughnessy, stated the items inside "don't mean anything to anybody else, but they mean a lot to me."

Friday, September 21, 2007

Saving Vanishing Languages from Extinction

The Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages recently reported that, while there are an estimated 7,000 languages spoken around the world today, one of them dies out about every two weeks.

Five hot spots where languages are most endangered were listed in a recent briefing by the Living Tongues Institute and the National Geographic Society. These hot spots are northern Australia, eastern Siberia and Oklahoma and the U.S. Southwest, South America - Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Brazil and Bolivia - as well as the area including British Columbia and the states of Washington and Oregon.

"When we lose a language, we lose centuries of human thinking about time, seasons, sea creatures, reindeer, edible flowers, mathematics, landscapes, myths, music, the unknown and the everyday," said K. David Harrison, an assistant professor of linguistics at Swarthmore College.

As many as half of the current languages have never been written down, he estimated. That means that, if the last speaker of many of these vanished tomorrow, the language would be lost because there is no dictionary, no literature, no text of any kind.

Anderson said languages become endangered when a community decides that its language is an impediment. The children may be first to do this, realizing that other more widely spoken languages are more useful.

The key to getting a language revitalized, he said, is getting a new generation of speakers. He said the institute works with local communities and tries to help by developing teaching materials and by recording the endangered language.

Harrison said the 83 most widely spoken languages account for about 80 percent of the world's population while the 3,500 smallest languages account for just 0.2 percent of the world's people.

But there is hope coming from new technology to at save some oral knowledge.

Fragile field recordings of American Indian speech and song gathered in the early 1900s may be saved for future generations through breakthrough technology supported by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

"This agreement underscores the federal commitment to making critical and irreplaceable collections held by the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology - and thousands of museums, libraries, and archives around the country - available to the widest possible audience while preserving and protecting the original objects and respecting the sensitive nature of the recordings," said Rep. Barbara Lee.

"The 2,700 wax cylinder recordings held by the Hearst museum are jewels in a treasure trove of early recordings that we hope will be rescued. Saving the delicate recordings, which literally may keep alive some of these Native American languages, fits squarely within the goals of IMLS's conservation initiative -- Connecting to Collections: A Call to Action", IMLS Director Anne-Imelda Radice said. Nationwide, there are approximately 20,000 Native American fieldwork recordings on fragile wax cylinders, the earliest method of recording and reproducing sound.

Other rare recordings that could benefit from the technology include:

** Field recordings of linguistic, cultural, and anthropological materials, such as early 20th century Mexican-American folk recordings from Southern California and Hawaiian folk music recordings.

** Field recordings of American and European folk music, including those recorded and collected by John Lomax.

** Speeches of historical figures such as Thomas Edison, Theodore Roosevelt, William Jennings Bryan, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and P.T. Barnum.

The new 3D system builds on a 2D system also developed by the Berkeley Lab called IRENE (Image, Reconstruct, Erase Noise, Etc.), which gathers digital sound from grooved discs (flat recordings such as traditional 78rpm shellac disc records) by illuminating the record surface with a narrow beam of light. The flat bottoms of the groove -- and the spaces between tracks -- appear white, while the sloped sides of the groove, scratches, and dirt appear black. The computer turns this information
into a digital sound file and corrects areas where scratches, breaks or wear have made the groove wider or narrower than normal. IRENE then "plays" the file with a virtual needle without damaging or destroying the original media. The technology was adapted from methods used to build radiation detectors for high-energy physics experiments.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Fun at the National Archives!

I recently came across this online exhibit. Entitled When Nixon Met Elvis , it shows through letters, photographs, and memos, how and why the two met in the Oval Office on December 21, 1970. This photo is from that exhibit.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

PCs and Libraries

The headline for this article, Despite Demand, Libraries Won't Add PCs, is a bit misleading as the problem seems not to be that they won't add more PCs, but that they can't because they don't have room, the wiring is inadequate, or they just don't have enough money.

A new study from the American Library Association, scheduled for release Wednesday, finds the average number of public Internet terminals largely unchanged since 2002, yet only 1 in 5 libraries say they have enough computers to meet demand at all times.

I see this in both academic and in public libraries. The computers are always in use and, where it's allowed, people signed up waiting to use them. Often there are time limits for use.

Meanwhile, three-quarters of the libraries say they are the only source of free Internet access in their communities, increasing pressure on them to meet demand.

And the problem isn't only access but speed. Many web pages are interactive and not just text based. They have images, sound, and videos which requires a higher speed to access. The good news is that more libraries are going to wireless networking and that will help those who own laptops or have libraries where they can check one out for use. But again, we come back to the money issue.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Walking a Mile

This report Walking a Mile: A First Step Toward Mutual Understanding ,"a qualitative study exploring how Indians and non-Indians think about each other", describes Indians and their perceptions of their place in contemporary American society and how non-Indians view American Indians. It was based on the findings from 12 focus groups, seven with Indians and five with non-Indians, held in 2006-2007

The study was funded by a grant from The Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation.

Note: While some Indians interviewed for the project prefer to use the term "Native American," the Bureau of Indian Affairs reports that the tribes it represents generally prefer the term "American Indian." Consequently, the latter is used exclusively in the report.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Keeping a Diary --A Librarian's Experience

Many years ago a librarian told me that she'd gone to a farm auction and among the items she'd bought was a big box of old books. Upon getting home, she was delighted to find a diary written by the farm wife. She sat down to read it.

"Did chores." was the first day's entry. She turned the page. "Did chores." she read. She looked through out the entire diary. "Did chores." "Did chores." "Did chores." That was the extent of it.

She said she'd wished the farm wife had written more. What chores had she done? Did she hang the clothes up on the line and when she did, did she take a few minutes to watch the clouds or listen to the birds sing? Did she go out on the porch in the evening for a few minutes and look at the stars before going to bed? What did she
think about as she did her chores? Did she have any dreams? Did she make quilts or pies or a doll for a child? No one will ever know because all the farm wife wrote was the simple "Did chores."

Monday, August 27, 2007

Miniature Books

I have been distracted from my class readings and assignments the past few days looking at a book I came across in the library last week, Miniature Books: 4,000 Years of Tiny Treasures . The title is a bit misleading. The oldest "books" are cuneiform tablets from ancient Mesopotamia dating from about 2,000 B.C.and then there's a huge blank area until we get to illuminated manuscripts from the the 1400's. Still, the large-sized book is lavishly illustrated with many color plates and delightful to peruse.
It was published in conjunction with a May 16–July 28 exhibition at the Grolier Club in New York. An online exhibition can be viewed here .

The Miniature Book Society will be holding a conclave in Seattle this October. If I weren't going to be in Kansas that week, I'd probably go! Their website offers links to more articles .

More links for those interested in this topic can be found here and here .

Friday, August 24, 2007

Unusual Bookmarks

There's a letter in today's Dear Abby column from someone who works in a library and is concerned about people using their mail as bookmarks. The writer points out that doing this may result in the person checking the book out next having access to a stranger's name and address and perhaps quite a bit more if the piece of mail is something like a bill or a bank statement.

I've never found a piece of mail in a library book but I've found grocery lists, doctor appointment reminders, a dried flower, photographs, candy wrappers, unused postcards, playing cards, a lottery scratch off ticket (scratched off, not a winner),parking tickets, facial tissue (unused), business cards, a feather, greeting cards, a shoelace, bobby pins, a toothpick, used concert tickets, and, once, a holy card.

This reminds me of a bulletin board in a library from my childhood. There was a list of ten things not to do with library books. I only remember two. The first one was to never read a library book in the bath tub. I remember this one because I'd never thought of doing this but it sounded so tempting! The second one was stranger. It was an admonition to never, never use a piece of bacon as a bookmark. The first thought that came into my head was "cooked or raw" but I suppose it doesn't matter. This led me to two other questions: had this been included on the list because someone had actually done this and under what circumstances would a person use a piece of bacon as a bookmark?

NOTE And after doing a search I found this: The Legend of the Bacon Bookmark .

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Those who don't read have no advantage over those who can't.
~ Mark Twain

And apparently there are many who don't.

According to a recent Associated Press poll , 27% of Americans don't read even one book a year. Not one! Women and seniors were the groups who read the most; religious works and popular fiction were the top choices. The typical number of books read last year was four; half the respondents read more and half read fewer. After excluding the quarter of the population who hadn't read even one book, the usual number of books read a year was seven. Seven! I can't imagine. it. Thomas Jefferson couldn't live without books. I couldn't either.

One common excuse used is a lack of time and this reminded me of that Twilight Zone episode entitled "Time Enough At Last". A man who works in a bank and loves to read but can't find enough time to read as much as he'd like, is reading while eating his lunch in the bank vault. Nuclear war breaks out and he discovers that he is the last man on earth. There is plenty of food but the loneliness of being alone takes a toll on his sanity. He begins contemplating suicide until he comes across the public library and realizes that now, finally, he has all the time to read all he wants without interruption. He picks out stacks of books to read each month and, as he's leaving the library with the first stack, he stumbles and falls and shatters his reading glasses. Now...imagine if all the books in the world were available only in digital form and there was a power outage, a natural disaster, a nuclear war. Just as the character in this story is at the mercy of his glasses, we are at the mercy of our technology.

On the plus side was this New York Times article The Long Ride Home about long-distance commuters reading on the train to and from work and this blog post on the same topic from the UK Guardian Unlimited. I notice, however, that while the text is about reading books, the photographs show most commuters reading newspapers.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Photography Theory

Comments made by Richard Cox in his review of James Elkins, ed., Photography Theory (New York: Routledge, 2007) tie in very well with a post I wrote recently about Stories and Pictures .

I am considering whether or not to add this book to my stack of to-read books, not because it doesn't sound interesting and useful, but because I have such a large stack of books now and so little time.

Endangered Native American Languages

The Cultural Survival Quarterly of Cambridge, Massachusetts has dedicated their summer 2007 issue, Volume 31, to Endangered Native American languages. You can find it here .


Note: I began my Archives Practicum at the Oregon State University Library Archives last week and did some preliminary examination of the James A. Sewell Photographic Album . I am keeping a journal listing my activities and an annotated bibliography. I am also writing down reflections about what I've learned.
Two of the most important things I learned this week was how easily it is to become distracted by details and to spend time unwisely searching for what may not exist. There is a tendency to want everything perfect and exact and it can be taken to an extreme. Do I measure the size of the photographs and describe them each in words in exquisite detail? How long and how far do I search to find out who the subjects are? How important is it to determine the provenance? I am curious and so I want to know everything possible there is to know about who James Sewell was, where he came from, and what happened to him, what he looked like, who the people are in the photographs, why he kept such an album (and why did he include a lone photograph of what I determined was a chrysanthemum?) Questions lead to more questions and to still more questions and time passes.

As a student I might have the time to delve into all these questions and search for the answers, but I wouldn’t have that time as a working archivist. Elizabeth showed me a box of documents which were in folders with sturdy, typed labels but there not non-acidic. Will they be re-foldered? No. There is nothing to show that they are being damaged where they are now. It would take a fair amount of labor to re-folder them all. When she said that my hands being to itch. I wanted to reach in there and start re-foldering, boring as that task might be. I wanted everything perfect.

In the introduction to Understanding Archives and Manuscripts, O’Toole and Cox state that the primary goals are preservation, organization, and access. The goals are not beauty and perfection. I will need to remember that.

As Greene and Meissner pointed out, if researchers do not know that a collection even exists because no one has yet had time to do a perfect job of processing it and making it available, then what’s the point? It may as well not exist at all.

My goal, then, is to provide enough information about the Sewell photographic album so that researchers know it exists and can access it. It may well be that they will have the answers to some of the questions I seek but have no way to discover. It may also be that there are no answers.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

What is Worthy?

Preserving the Outpouring of Grief: Virginia Tech Archives 60,000 Items Sent as Condolences
was published in today's Washington Post. The questions it raises are how is grief archived and how will the decisions to decide what is worthy of being kept be made. Items were sent by mail and left at memorial sites. Some are digitally-born--blogs, songs, and online chats, Facebook sympathy cards, My-Space postings, even a memorial in the virtual world, Second Life. These will also need to be archived in some way.(See this website .)

The university's librarian, Eileen Hichingham, clearly sees it in terms of what will the potential researcher will someday want to see.

The importance is not only what came in, but you have to picture 10 years out. What is it? It's a research project. How do people mourn, how do they come together?

People felt an emotional response after this tragedy and it was compared to comfort food after a funeral.

You take the casserole over to the family, and I think people couldn't do that, but they looked to do something as close, as equivalent as they could.

The items included 32 cakes (one for each student killed), a kite from South Korea, thousands of tiny origami cranes, banners, cards, letters, drawings,posters, and stuffed animals.

Over 60,000 items have been received. The space to house it all is only 800 cubic feet. Tamara Kennelly, the university's archivist must decide what stays and what goes by November. The Library of Congress recommended to the university that 5 percent of the physical objects that were received be saved. It is indeed a daunting task.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Dream Archive

I found this article in the Chronicle of Higher Education a few months ago and then forgot about it until I stumbled across it again recently.

The author's list for a perfect archive included long hours, grants of any size, silence, incadescent (not fluorescent) lighting, good security, photocopying (and allowing one to use a credit card to do so), plugs for prolonged laptop use (and Wi-Fi would be even better), along with complete finding aids for all holdings available online, comfortable seating, ambiance and form (including windows letting in natural light), and creative programming such as film screenings, talks, workshops, and seminars in its after-hours.

The only thing I would add is a policy allowing the use of digital cameras (taking copyright issues into consideration, of course).

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

All the Good Stuff

I remember, when I was eight or nine, running so fast I felt I was flying. When I told my mother this, she sighed and told me to enjoy it while it lasted. Surprised, I asked her what she meant and she explained that kids could do some things adults couldn't. She, as an adult, could not run out in the street. If she did people would think there was a problem; she was being chased or was running away from someone. This was a new concept to me as up until then I'd believed it was the adults who had all the good stuff, not the kids.

My generation changed all that. Adults can and do run in the streets now; they just call it jogging. Adults can do other things that they couldn't do in public in previous generations either. They can roller skate and bike, for example. Okay, some do obnoxious things they shouldn't do in public like chew gum (one of my personal pet peeves). However, it's true that we do have much more freedom and can do things now that only children were allowed to do before.

Libraries have been slow to catch on to this. Yes, libraries! Those bastions of change and freedom! I love the reading to dogs program, for example. I don't have a dog and the idea of sitting next to and reading to one while he or she listens to me in rapt attention delights me, but the program has the serious purpose of increasing children's reading skills and confidence, you see. It isn't just for fun. And it's not available to adults.

Then there are the summer reading programs. Oh, they had some of these for children when I was growing up but they weren't nearly as well organized as they are now. Libraries should have them for adults too. But, but...maybe some libraries are finally getting the idea. I saw that the Seattle Public Library is in its fourth year of having a summer reading program for adults ! Good for them! I wish more libraries had them!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Outsider Art

I've looked for and read many definitions of what "outsider art" is. Some call it naive art, others call it folk or primitive art. It can be tramp art or prison art. Others say it is simply art made by those are self-taught and outside the traditional art world.

No where have I seen what I think defines it. Outsider art is art made by those who have to create and will create out of any materials at hand. There is a need to create in each of us and for outsider artists, this need is profound and cannot be denied. The pure human impulse to create is the essence.

The art that is made is visionary and made to fulfill a need in oneself, not the needs of others. It is personal. It is honest. It is original. It can be whimsical, strange, or disturbing. And, always, in its own way, it is very powerful.

Turning the Pages

Would you like to see full featured, fully navigable online versions of the First Atlas of Europe, Jane Austen's History of England, William Blake's notebook of sketches and poems including The Tyger, the original Alice in Wonderland and more?

Well you can here , on the British Library Webpage.

Saving Our Libraries

Three out of every four books in Europe's libraries are printed on acidic paper that isn't expected to last another century. That's the message heard by delegates at the IUPAC World Chemistry Congress in Turin, Italy, this week, who were asked: can analytical chemistry rescue our written heritage?

These, the first sentences in this report, Can Chemistry Save Our Libraries , certainly caught my attention.

It's books made between around 1860 and 1990 that are the real concern, said Strlic [Matija Strlic, from the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia,] - and these are the books that make up the bulk of most library collections. Before 1850 or so, paper was made by hand from clothing rags. This gave a paper with high quality fibres and neutral pH, which is expected to last several millennia. But once paper making was industrialised, the sheets made by the new process were of pH 4 to 5. Left untreated, this paper will only survive a couple of hundred years before disintegrating, due to gradual depolymerisation of the cellulose fibres caused by the acid.

The article discusses a project called SurveNIR and the development of a near infrared (NIR) technique to assess whether or not a book needs to be mass-deacidified by checking to see, first of all, if it actually needs the process done, and secondly, whether it's strong enough to withstand it. Unlike the process used now, it leaves the paper completely unmarked.

Jan Wouters, of the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage in Brussels, Belgium, presented a related talk,discussing how each page of a valuable 8th century illuminated manuscript, the Codex Eyckensis, was laminated by conservators in the 1950s. The lamination not only affected the look and feel of the manuscript, it also accelerated the decay of the parchment and had to be laboriously removed.

Determining how any preservation treatment will affect an artifact, said Strlic, assessing both short and long-term effects, can be done now using model paper aging.

It's particularly important not to use new techniques on the most precious books before they are fully tested, he said.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Patron Saint of Archivists

This was a post on the archives list this morning.

Deacon Laurence presided over the financial records of the early church in Rome. In 258, the Emperor Valerian confiscated all Church property and summarily executed Pope Sixtus II and seven deacon who were responsible for distributing goods and funds as needed, primarily to widows and orphans. The remaining deacon, Laurence, was charged with providing records of the funds.

As any good archivist, Laurence informed the emperor that such a massive FOIA request would take three days to process. He saw that all remaining funds were spent out and distributed to the poor. When the Emperor demanded to see the wealth of the Church, Laurence presented him with the widows, orphans and other needy Church members and informed him that they were the treasures of the Church. The Emperor was not impressed. He had Laurence roasted alive over a fire on a gridiron. Laurence is reputed to have said, at one point, "You may turn me over; I am well done on this side."

It is traditional to remember St. Laurence with sandwiches of cold cuts on August 10, the day of his demise.

Google Cheat Sheet

The Google Guide is a two-page quick reference which is also available as a printable pdf.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Care and Identification of 19th-Century Photographic Prints

In preparation for my Archives Practicum, which begins next week, I requested and received Care and Identification of 19th-Century Photographic Prints from The Emporia State University Library . I am being very careful with this book, published by the Kodak Company in 1986, as I've noted it is out of print and used copies are priced at $160-$300.

In a little more than 100 pages, the author, James M. Reilly, provides a history of photographic printing, describes the materials contained in prints and how they deteriorate, discusses the stability of specific print materials, informs the reader how to identify different types of print processes including providing an extensive identification guide and many examples, and spends a chapter each on preservation and collection management, storage, and handling, display, and care.

I am taking extensive notes as I believe this will also be a very useful book when I take a class in Preservation next year.

I also came across Photographs of the 19th Century: A Process Identification Guide by William A. Leyshon, which provides a useful glossary as well as an extensive biblography.

Other useful bibliographies on the topic can be found here and

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

More Truth About Stories

I've just finished this book ( The Truth About Stories ). There was a bit of discussion about written and oral literature. After listing statistics about Canadians' reading habits, Thomas King writes:

What's curious is that there are no statistics for oral literature. When I raised this question at a scholarly conference once, I was told that the reason we pay attention to written literature is that books are quantifiable, whereas oral literature is not. How can you quantify something that has sound but no physical form, a colleague wanted to know, something that exists only in the imagination of the storyteller, cultural ephemera [a curious phrase]that is always at the whim of memory, something that needs to be written down to be.....whole?

I understand the assumptions: first, that stories, in order to be complete, must be written down, an easy error to make, an ethnocentric stumble that imagines all literature in the Americas to have been oral, when in fact, pictographic systems (petroglyphs, pictographs, and hieroglyphics) were used by a great many tribes to commemorate events and to record stories, while in the valley of Mexico, the Aztecs maintained a large library of written works that may well have been the rival of the Royal Library at Alexandria. Written and oral. Side by side. [Is this library, I wonder, mentioned in the classes on history of the library?]

In the end, though, neither fared any better than the other. While European diseases and conflicts with explorers and settlers led to the death and displacement of a great many Native storytellers, superstitious Spanish priests, keen on saving the Aztecs from themselves, burned the library at Tenochtitlan to the ground, an event as devastating as the destruction of the library at Alexandria.

In each case, at Tenochtitlan and at Alexandria, stories were lost. And in the end, it didn't matter whether these stories were oral or written.

So much for dependability. So much for permanence.

Though it doesn't take a disaster to destroy a literature. If we stopped telling the stories and reading the books, we would discover that neglect is as powerful an agent as war and fire.
(pages 96-97)

The comments in brackets are mine.

And a couple of personal notes about this book.

When I read this book, I can hear my grandmother. She made wry comments like this author does, points that were sharp but tempered with humor that poked fun at oneself.

There is also a reference to another book I've added to my reading list: Robert Alexie's novel Porcupines and China Dolls.
It's the story of two children who return from Aberdeen residential school

...where the girls had been scrubbed and powdered [with delousing powder] to look like china dolls and the boys had been scrubbed and sheared to look like porcupines, and where each night, when the children cried in their beds, the sound was like a million porcupines crying in the dark. (page 116)

And I found that Robert Alexie has written another book, The Pale Indian . More information, including the entire first chapter, can be found here .

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

In Dusty Archives, A Theory of Affluence

This review, In Dusty Archives, a Theory of Affluence , published in today's New York Times, discuses Gregory Clark's belief that the Industrial Revolution occurred because of a change in the nature of the human population. People began, the author contends, to develop new behaviors including non-violence, literacy, long working hours, and saving, all required to make a modern economy work. There are those who disagree and their comments are included in the review. The book, A Farewell to Alms (Princeton University Press), comes out next month.

From my reading of the review I think there are some problems with his reasoning, but I'll reserve judgment until I can get my hands on the book and read it for myself. However, if you can't wait, check out the author's page . He provides not only the table of contents, but a number of sample chapters as well.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

The British National Archives Wiki

I came across this while wandering around, looking at fascinating posts about archives and archivists. This may very well be the first use and endorsement by a national government of wiki technology for its community of users. It's hosted by the British National Archives and intended for any user to inform other users and the staff of the National Archves about information that may not be captured through their descriptive tools.

Information Wants to Be Free

I've picked up a little phrase from each of my library school classes. An aside: One day I should make a list of them and post them. In one of my first classes the phrase was "information wants to be free".

Turning the ivory tower into an open book
, from the July 21, 2007 Canada's Globe and Mail, begins

This year, the University of Toronto's library system will spend $20-million on acquisitions. But less than one-third of that money will go to books. The majority will pay for the rising subscription costs of academic journals.

"It's alarming," says Carole Moore, the university's chief librarian.

Along with colleagues across the country, she has watched the price of the latest research skyrocket, with top titles such as medical journal Brain Research now hitting $21,000 or more for annual subscriptions. This, even as an increasing number of journals are available electronically.

All of which has sparked a hot debate among academics about who should own knowledge: Echoing the music and film industries, the two camps are polarized between those who argue for open access to research - especially studies funded by the public purse - and those who insist that proper collection and editing of research come with a cost.

More and more we will be going to open access journals.
(See this .) The directory currently includes 2,789 free, full text, quality controlled scientific and scholarly journals, 836 of them searchable at article levels, with a total of 142373 articles. Their goal is to cover all subjects and languages.

If vendors want to keep their markets, they're going to have to become more inventive and creative in what they offer libraries. Oh, yes. That's another phrase on my list from library school: value added.

P.S. And oh! how ironic that the newspaper allowed me to read the article free for a short time, but now wants to charge me C$4.95 plus tax to view it again with a time limit of 30 days!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Stories and Pictures

I like both stories and pictures. In that way, I've never grown up.

I've just begun reading a book by Thomas King entitled The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative. Of course, I also checked out all his novels that the public library has: Truth and Bright Water, Medicine River, and Green Grass and Running Water, and I'll write about those books in another of my blogs, All the Rest of My Life , but it is this, his non-fiction work, that I'm going to read first. He writes things I know, but were only wisps of thought, and tells me things I never thought of at all.

From the first chapter:

~The truth about stories is that that's all we are.

~ I am a listener to the language's stories, and when my words form I am retelling the same stories in different patterns.

~ Stories are wondrous things. And they are dangerous....for once a story is told, it cannot be called back. Once told, it is loose in the world. So you have to be careful with the stories you tell. And you have to watch out for the stories that you are told.

~ It was Sir Isaac Newton who said, "To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction". Had he been a writer, he might have simply said, "To every action there is a story".

And that's just in the first 29 pages.

Last month I took a SOLINET class on Preserving Oral Histories . The instructor talked mostly about storage formats and digitization. The rest of it, the understanding why oral stories are so important, was left to others, others like Thomas King, to discuss.

Next month I'm taking another SOLINET class, this one on
Preservation of Photographic Materials
, another way we share what we know and think and feel, and reveal who we are.

This blogger , a photographer, wrote about photographs and prints a few weeks ago:

I don’t think there’s ever going to be a time where the photograph as a physical object becomes a rarity - a print is a lot more convenient than any current display device. As display devices become more paper like, eventually we’ll have smart paper - a sheet of stuff that’s capable of displaying images that has the look and feel of a sheet of flexible paper. At that point in our science fiction future, the distinction between a ‘displayed image’ and a ‘print’ disappears, really. So in the somewhat distant future, I guess we end up back with prints, albeit a more active sort than we usually think of, and the cost per displayable image drops close to zero.

Prints now can be digitally altered just like stories, when told orally, change in the telling.

I need to think more about this.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

End of the Semester

The summer semester ends tomorrow. I still have a few assignments to finish up for my government documents class. I spent most of yesterday at the Oregon State University Valley Library and that's where I'll be most of today as well. I noticed I was lucky in my choice of days to spend at the library as it was hot yesterday and it'll be hot again today, but the library is air conditioned.

I am getting very excited about my Archives Practicum. I will be working with the James A. Sewell Photograph Album, 1903-1905 . I will be responsible for processing, describing, digitizing, and exhibiting it.

I have ordered my textbooks for this class which consists of the Archival Fundamental Series II from the Society of American Archivists. The first one on my reading list will be
Understanding Archives and Manuscripts

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Future of Library Science

The new president of the ALA, Loriene Roy recently talked about the direction of the library science field and its training programs. She discusses library school/information school, the role of technology, the difficulty of dealing with changes, core curriculum, life long learning, the importance of evaluating information, the necessity of teaching skills, the role of paraprofessionals, chat reference service, and offers her opinion about Wikipedia in this podcast.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Fall Semester Classes, 2007

LI 835 Information Transfer in the Disciplines (2 credits)
LI 837 Teaching in the Information Profession (2 credits)
LI 873 Archives Practicum (3 credits) Oregon State University Library A

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Digital Scrapbooking

Next month I'm taking a distance learning class from SOLINET on Caring for Scrapbooks . I've been reading about digital scrapbooking, which are scrapbooks which exist only in digital form. There are web sites, software, and even a magazine . Photos can be altered, elements can be added, altered, or highlighted, and memories can be enhanced. What will happen when someone tries to donate a digital scrapbook to an institution? Will it be considered history? Or is it art?

In the introduction to their book, The Scrapbook in American Life (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2006),Susan Tucker, Katherine Ott, and Patricia P. Buckler, write:

“Most scrapbooks and their ephemeral content do not last and provide only a fleeting usefulness. They disintegrate and crumble. The leaves fall out. The enclosures drop off the page. Archivists, the most conscientious embalmers of primary materials, tend to neglect them because they are conservation nightmares. None of the solutions available will correct all the problems. Sometimes an archivist must destroy a scrapbook – take it apart – to save it” (p. 18)

And there's another difference between paper scrapbooks and their digital counterparts.

The Four Habits of Highly Effective Librarians

This Chronicle of Higher Education article, written by Todd Gilman and published a few months ago (but which I've just found), The Four Habits of Highly Effective Librarians , lists them as

* Openness
* Responsiveness
* Collaboration
* Communication

I think they apply just as well to archivists as they do to librarians.

Reading Archives

Reading Archives is on my list of blogs I read regularly. Hmmmm... and that reminds me that I really should add a blog roll list. The blogger is Richard J. Cox. a Professor in Library and Information Science at the University of Pittsburgh, School of Information Sciences and I read his book reviews avidly. I've just added Ken Dornstein’s The Boy Who Fell Out of the Sky: A True Story, John Ray’s The Rosetta Stone and the Rebirth of Ancient Egypt,Sara Paretsky’s Writing in an Age of Silence, and Anne Fadiman’s At Large and at Small: Familiar Essays to my must-read list based on his reviews.

I'm also dipping into his blog archives to find other great reads I've missed. The books on my nightstand are piled so high now, they're in danger of falling over but never mind. I'm having more trouble finding the time to read than finding space to put the books.

Learning with MIT OpenCourseWare

MIT OpenCourseWare is a wonderful resource for people who like to explore and learn new things. These courses, everything from mathematics to linguistics and philosophy, makes the course materials that are used in the teaching of almost all MIT’s undergraduate and graduate subjects available on the Web, free of charge, to any user anywhere in the world. It is not a degree-granting or credit-bearing initiative, but offers learning opportunities for anyone who wants to take advantage of it.

The UnOfficial Wiki of the 2007 Society of American Archivists (SAA) Annual Meeting

Take a peek at the SAA 2007 Unofficial Conference Wiki . I very much appreciate the efforts of those who have set this up.

As I'm not going to the conference, one of the pages I'll be most interested in is the Session Coverage page.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Journal of Archival Organization

I'd heard of this journal but neither the Oregon State University Library nor the Emporia State University Library subscribe. I found the publisher's website and discovered that I could request
a free print sample
. I received my copy several weeks ago, but haven't had time to read it. The topic of the issue is "Archives and the Digital Library".

Today, however, I'm going to be spending most of the day in medical offices waiting and so I'm bringing the journal with me to read. I'm especially interested in the article about user studies and one about streamlined archival processing.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Oregon Library Association Scholarship

I'm in Portland, attending class, but I talked to John on the phone this afternoon and he said I'd received a letter informing me I'd won a scholarship from the Oregon Library Association .

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Catalog Card Maker

Portland This Weekend

I have a class in Portland this week. I'm looking forward to seeing my classmates and going to the Farmer's Market on Saturday.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

The Last Couple of Weeks

In the past few weeks, I've been working to catch up with my assignments. The conference in Idaho in May and then the one in Baltimore in June , interrupted my study schedule quite badly. I'm now caught up and I'm working on research for the few projects I have left this semester, as well getting ready for the presentation I'm doing in Wilsonville on July 20th.

I've volunteered to be on the Programming Committee for the American Indian Library Association which will tie in very well with being on the Program Committee for the National Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museum Conference , which will be held in Portland in 2009.

I've registered for several SOLINET distance classes including Introduction to Preservation (which will give me a nice jump start on my Emporia Preservation class which begins next month) and Preserving Oral Histories, both this month. SOLINET gives a very generous discount to students, so in August I'll be taking classes in Caring for Scrapbooks, Preservation of Photographic Materials, and Grants for Preservation. Then, in September, I start a distance learning eight-week class on Managing Copyright issues. The money for this comes from my Northwest Archivists scholarship.

I've begun working on an article I'm writing for their newsletter Easy Access about the Rare Books and Manuscripts Conference,From Here to Ephemerality: Fugitive Sources in Libraries, Archives, and Museums . This will be published in their September issue. I've also discussed writing an article with the editor of Archival Issues .

I've registered for a total of ten (!) credit hours for Fall Semester. My academic advisor is probably tearing her hair out at what I'm doing, but maybe she's figured out what John realized years ago: when I am determined to do something, it's best just to smile and get out of my way and let me do it. I am having so much fun!

And it's not "all work, no play". Check out my new blog, Small Comforts , and see what I do on the vacation days I give myself! I do take time to smell the flowers!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

The National Archives of the United States

I took this photo as we walked by on our way to the Jefferson Memorial.

National Gallery of Art

After the conference, John, Jack, and I took the train to Washington, D.C. We spent quite a bit of time at the National Gallery of Art, one of my favorite places.

This is the Vigin Annunciate made of painted wood by Pisan, c.1325-1350.

Tremont Grand

The Tremont Grand was the hotel where most of the conference sessions were held and about three blocks from the hotel where we stayed.

The Johns Hopkins University Campus

Johns Hopkins University

John and I returned from Baltimore earlier this week where I attended the RBMS Preconference . The sessions were held on the Johns Hopkins University campus one day of the conference.

These photos show Homewood, the door to one the buildings where I attended some conference sessions, and the JHU library (which doesn't look very impressive because most of it is underground).

Friday, June 15, 2007

2007 Oregon-Idaho United Methodist Scholarship and Award

I've been notified that I've been awarded the 2007 Oregon-Idaho United Methodist Ethnic Leadership and Scholarship Award. I am very honored to have received this and grateful for the help Pastor Sharon and her husband, Julian, gave me when writing my application.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Half-Way Mark

I had another class in Portland this week-end, the last one with most of the Oregon-7 cohort, as from here on out we'll be taking different classes based on our interests and the certificates we are seeking.

Perri brought us cake and orange juice to celebrate. Thanks, Perri!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Human Skin as a Record

Like many of you, I'm always reading several different books, fiction and non-fiction. Every once in a while the books (or in this case, a review of a book) I'm reading mesh in some way.

I've just finished the May 29, 2007 post in Richard J. Cox's blog Reading Archives which has a review of a book by Valentin Groebner, entitled Who Are You? Identification, Deception, and Surveillance in Early Modern Europe. The author defines it as being about the “histories and prehistories of identification and its documentation” (p. 8).

We identify ourselves and each other now mainly with paper documents--driver's licenses, credit cards, passports--but there was a time, before paper, when we used not just seals, badges, coats of arms, and notary signatures, but our very skin. Human skin as archives, if you will. Scars, birthmarks,and burns are all examples. As Groebner wrote "Once inscribed on the skin, no marking can be removed, but can only be supplemented” (p. 97).

Now it happens that at the same time that I was reading this review, I was finishing Laura Lippman's "What the Dead Know". In that book a character, who has no papers, no relatives who can provide DNA, no one who can attest to who her identity after so many years have passed, is finally able to prove who she is by a small scar on her arm. It is having that scar, that tiny imperfection, which allows her to claim her true identity.