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.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Repackaging Information

One of the classes I'm taking this summer is on repackaging information and I've been reading books and articles on information design, visual information, usability and accessibility, and web design. Our first assignment was to find some citations to books, articles, and websites appropriate to add to the readings selected by the instructor which dealt with how a specific user group used information. The user group I chose was Native Americans and this is what I found:

Patterson, L. (1995). Information needs and services of Native Americans. Rural Libraries 15(2), 37-44.

Native American artists use art and storytelling to bring cancer statistics to life. Retrieved May 27, 2007 from here

Simpson, L. (2000). Stories, Dreams and Ceremonies—Anishnaabe Ways of Learning. Tribal College: Journal of American Indian Higher Education, 11 (4), 26-29.

Patterson, L. (1992). Understanding and appreciating the unique needs of Native Americans. Multicultural Aspects of Library Media Programs. Libraries Unlimited, 54-60.

Model village/The University of British Columbia. Retrieved May 27, 2007 from

Marsden, D. (2004). Expanding knowledge through dreaming, wampum, and visual arts. Journal of Aboriginal and Indigenous
Community Health 2 (2), 55-74. Retrieved May 27, 2007 from

Rhodes, R.W. (1998). Holistic/teaching for Native American Students. Journal of American Indian Education, 27 (2). Retrieved May 27, 2007 from here

Native American information users tend to prefer to receive their information orally, through storytelling, as well as visually, through observation and through art, and from tribal (community) and holistic perspectives. There is also a preference for information that is presented through a spiral process, rather than through a lineal one, and in a way which allows one to have time to absorb it.

Northwest Archivists Conference

The Northwest Archivists Annual Conference was held this year in Moscow, Idaho on May 18-19 and was entitled "Dynamic Archives: Preserving the Past and Speaking to the Future". The sessions I attended were on Building a National Archival Network , Research and Analysis in Archival Theory and Practice, and Archivists in a Web 2.0 and all left with a great deal to think about.

The photo on top is the Student Commons on the University of Idaho campus where the conference was held and the second is of our friendly and very helpful conference registration clerk.

I've put photos about our trip to Utah on one of my other blogs, All the Rest of My Life.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

OSU Library Archives

I'm working both Saturday and Sunday afternoons at the Archives this week-end so that I can attend Dynamic Archives: Preserving the Past and Speaking to the Future , the annual conference of the Northwest Archivists next weekend to be held this year in Moscow, Idaho where I'll accept my scholarship award. John is taking a few days off work and going with me and we're planning on an adventure as I've never been in Central Oregon before.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

My Summer Plans

I've added another class to my schedule:
LI 838 - Information Transfer and Government Resources

I won't be working this summer but it's already shaping up to be an exciting and fun filled three months!

Along with taking seven credits of classes, I'll be going to the Northwest Archivists Annual Conference next week, going as my church's representative to the Oregon-Idaho United Methodist Conference in Salem in mid-June, the 48th Rare Books and Manuscripts Preconference in Baltimore the following week, making a presentation at the Oregon Library Association Staff Support Division Conference in Wilsonville on July 20th,and taking some archives classes through SOLINET using my Northwest Archivists Scholarship award. I also hope to find time to continue doing the research for a paper I'd like to write for Archival Issues .


Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Digital Learners

I was in Portland last week-end, attending a class in Print and Electronic Reference. Our guest speaker was Caleb Tucker-Raymond, the Statewide Digital Reference Coordinator of L-Net , Oregon's on-line reference service. Users are provided the opportunity to chat or email their questions.

A good majority (about 60%) of the users are grade K-12 students. (You can find more statistics about L-Net here .) It would be interesting to find information about what percentage of teachers are aware of, use, and encourage their students to use this kind of reference help. See this for a discussion about students as digital learners and this for a list on YALSA about how libraries can engage their younger learners.