the library is the arsenal

Thursday, December 27, 2007


A community, a conference, an online journal. Check out all the links--chat, listserv, a blog--they even have a group.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Library Yoga

I drink Yogi tea every morning at work, because it's delicious, and because it gives me a fruity new age message on the tag every day to inspire me. Sometimes they seem really relevant and other times they just seem fruity. This morning's was surprisingly apt at first, until I realized I had misread "Live with reverence for yourself and others" as "Live with reference for yourself and others." I prefer the latter, obviously.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Dewey Browsing from OCLC

Rebecca Duvall, Professional Librarian, has pointed out to me the OCLC's "DeweyBrowser," in both its 1.0 and 2.0 incarnations. Becky & I agree that 1.0 is far superior to 2.0 at showing the DDC visually. Plus, I'm so over weighted word clouds.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Beautiful Book Space

An amazing example of an ideal book space...too bad it's a bookstore and not a library.

this is one of my favorite non-library related blogs.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

New Initiatives in Folksonomy

Google image labeler

Why isn't this a story about libraries?

From an article in the Marin Independent Journal about author readings and tuition-based classes at independent bookstores in the Bay Area:

I think the independent bookstore is the last holdout of the type of interaction that's dying in our culture; it's become the town square of old. Here, everybody can come together and trade ideas.
-Book Passage owner Elaine Petrocelli.

People who turn out for these events are looking for a place to discuss their ideas. Politically, people need a place to talk about these things. We're in a painful, provocative time. People are desiring companionship to talk about these important issues.

-Book Passage Director of Events Karen West.

It's the third place. You have your work, you have your home and there's the third place. For some people, it was the local bar. For an increasing number of people, it's the bookstore.
-District marketing manager for Borders Bookstores in the Bay Area, Cathy Meengs.

In some ways, bookstore events have become the events of choice for a lot of Bay Area residents who come to Point Reyes, not only to experience the natural qualities of the area but the literary offerings we've been sponsoring. Besides the author being the attraction, with the fundraising aspect people feel like they're also contributing something to the community as well.
-Point Reyes Books owner Steve Costa.

Why isn't the Marin County Free Library hosting these kinds of author talks and offering these same types of classes for free? Why isn't the library the place for this, the elusive third place?

To be fair, the Marin Co. Free Library has an active blog, a calendar of public events, and hosts book clubs. However, this is the events calendar for the Corte Madera branch, in the same town as Book Passage. I hate to get tough on libraries, but come on, there are 200 people showing up for author readings in your town. And Marin County is not an impoverished area, either. If there is a large community of well educated people in the community, why isn't the Library tapping into that community for support--with book readings as fundraisers? The book stores are doing it!

It actually hurt my feelings to read what these booksellers had to say, but it's not their fault. They're providing, as the article says, "an increasingly important service to the community." I just wish that a library was filling that role.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Finally! A Comprehensive Guide!

OMG you guys. I am so excited to have found this. If there were a ranking for the usefulness of my bookmarks, this would be way at the top. Probably number one.

Of course, I found it through Jenna Freedman's blog, because when you're as cool as Jenna Freedman, you just know about this kind of stuff, and throw it out there like it's no big deal.

She's totally right about Barbara Fister, by the way. For those of you who are interested in maps and libraries, this paper is probably right up your alley.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Multiple Interpretations

Politically Charged Prints Cause Talking in the Library

"It is at first mildly shocking to come upon such bluntly partisan artwork on a New York Public Library wall. Biting political satire is deeply a part of printmaking history — see Goya, James Gillray and Daumier — but handmade prints are no longer a significant form of political communication, and we don’t expect anything so brazenly tendentious in the public library context." --Ken Johnson, NYT 12/4/07

I would like to see Ken Johnson, in a blue silk Hawaiian shirt, do a tap dance within the area of the "tendentious" scale that he thinks is appropriately bipartisan for municipal institutions mounting exhibitions. He would look so beautiful, dancing there, with three places to heel or toe, four if you count that new slim volume on toasted white bread abstaining from jam.

Monday, December 3, 2007

long overdue. but no charges.

Portland Public Library up in the great state of Maine (vacationland), has this fantastic project where people make art books out of discarded library books. The best part is that they are cataloged and able to be checked out again, even through interlibrary loan. I interviewed Michael Whittaker, branch manager, for my paper. He is really enthusiastic about it, told me many libraries have repeated it, and uses phrases like "remarkably cool." Check one out if you need some art for the house.


The art is alright, but what's really interesting about this presentation of photographs is that it's organized and categorized using the Dewey Decimal System. It actually makes the photographs more interesting when you see them through the lens of the call numbers.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

artifacts in cataloging

it's been a while since my last post, and i'm even cheating a little with this one. passed along from Prof. Block, this is my new favorite website. of course.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Visual Dic

"Merriam Webster has created a new online "visual" dictionary. Its decent enough for certain topics, but at this time only has 6,000 entries and its selective. If you type in "Mona Lisa" nothing comes up. Its based upon the published version, so perhaps over time they'll add more."

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Interstitial Library

Let us try to give an account of this history that is yet to come.

The Interstitial Library was or will be founded at a dark time in the history of the United States by a group of radical librarians who found themselves thrust into politic action by the persistent incursions of the government against their ethos of freedom of information. Long associated with the forces of repression and conservatism, librarians emerged in the early 21st century as the custodians of civil liberties. The shushing gesture (the index finger raised to the lips) was adopted and recast as a gesture of fellowship among the radical librarians and their followers. This group of radical librarians called themselves the SHH or the Society of HH, for reasons that will become apparent.

The SHH reasoned on the basis of the Dewey Decimal System that if every book had a unique call number, and there were infinite call numbers, then there must be infinite books still to be written (in which case the world was not in such immediate danger of total destruction as one might have imagined from contemporary evidence) and furthermore an infinite library to contain them; that as the call number for those books lay between the books already on the shelves, rather than beyond them, the shelf-space for those books must also lie between them; that there was therefore a great amount of space between any two books, however snugly shelved, just as there were infinite numbers between any two numbers; that if the space existed, it ought to be possible to get into it, providing you had not eaten a big lunch.

The only thing I love more than library science is when library science gets together with calculus and art in new and fanciful ways.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Saad Eskander is super nice and soft spoken

Thanks, Cordelia and Pete for making me do it and for taking the photo. Cannonworks Auxiliary Committee RULES!

Alex Wright is super nice and cool

Alex's talk was good and I don't think I sounded to stupid when I introduced him, but I did strictly read from the paper in front of me. I wish you guys had been there to ask good questions (you guys besides Jen, who was there, obvi) but who wants to spend their Friday night at a lecture? Apparently Jean Hines and not many others.

Afterwards, Alex, the SILSSA officers and I went for drinks, where we talked about libraries a little, but mostly information architecture and other cool stuff like that. There was talk of Alex teaching 651 at Pratt. I think the consensus on that class is that we need more professors teaching it for variety's sake.

Julia Shameless Weiss

What a party. What a book. What a night.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Anne Elizabeth Moore is so F'n Cool

In case you needed a reminder about how awesome non-consumer culture is, or how necessary, here is a link to the link to the interview with Anne Elizabeth Moore, former editor of Punk Planet and the Best American Comics series, as well as all-around awesome woman, and now a hero of mine.

I'd link to the interview directly, but I'm all about spreading the gospel of Stay Free!, which is no longer a magazine, but still hosts one of my favorite blogs to check in with every month or so. They are such sensible, wild people. They also sponsored this, which means they can never do anything to make me dislike them ever again. Seriously, Carrie McLaren, come pull my hair and kick my shins. I don't mind a bit. (Rick Prelinger is on their board, btw.)

Anne Elizabeth (which are my middle name and my mother's middle name, respectively), will be in Cambodia until pretty much January 08. After that, I might ask her to come talk at Pratt about not selling out in the library if she happens to be in NYC.

Side note: Since reading this interview, I have come across a ton of great books by her publisher, The New Press, though none spring immediately to mind. I've just been noticing.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I'm learning processing!

You can too!

Ben Fry, my new ultimate hero, helped to create this great little open access item called Processing designed to help artists and designers and the like learn how to program. I emulated one of their examples and after a few mistakes, got it to work! I'm in geek heaven! Let me know if you guys want to know more. It's not really library-related, but it is cool.

Librarians on the Telly!

In Australia, people can watch a show on TV called The Library. In the US, we have to watch it over the internet. It was really choppy when I tried to watch it last night, so I can't say whether this is a good or bad thing as regards librarian stereotypes, but I'm hoping for the best.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Visualizar, if you will, me in Spain.

I wish I were going to this amazing workshop in Spain. Check out the variously awesome data visualization projects they'll be collaborating on. Oh, and professional genius Ben Fry will be leading the team, just to make things especially special. If this weren't happening next week, I would be buying a plane ticket right now.

via We Make Money Not Art

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

State of the Art

Check this out from the lecture in my art librarianship class. I have included some highlights. Be sure to peruse DSpace and the UW Digital Collection--it is computer magic, my friends. The U-Dub has actually started tagging wikipedia entries to bring searchers back to their website. Check out Salmon (appropriately) at the bottom for the reference.
Oh, man, we should hang out sometime.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Monday, October 29, 2007

My People

Here is my new crush. I just can't keep my hands off of anything he writes!

And here is my new family. I'm going to have to get cracking on my application for membership.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Books n' books

We can't join, but we can go to the exhibits. I give you: The Grolier Club. Be sure to check out the library, it lets us in on the collection a bit. Just don't smudge your nose on the screen, they will politely but forcefully ask you to leave. The exhibit that the librarian at the Met is putting together is here , we are invited as Pratt students. I am totally posting. Thanks Jess!

If you have to live in Michigan....

Ann Arbor District Library in my home state has a neat feature on its website. In the catalog type in your favorite book and then click on the "card catalog image" link on the lower right. It's pretty cool. You can add notes and little scribbles on the old card. Who says nostalgia is dead? Nicholson Baker would be happy to see that, check it in LJ.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

another for billey

Developing a Shape-and-Composition CBIR Thesaurus for the Traditional Chinese Landscape
Tang Li


In the past decade, content-based image retrieval (CBIR) has been investigated extensively. Current research has suggested that the two elemental issues in CBIR, feature extraction and similarity measures, tend to be domain-specific. This paper develops a shape-and-composition CBIR thesaurus for Chinese landscape paintings dating from the Song to Qing periods (960-1911). The features were extracted from studying approximately 1,000 Chinese landscape paintings. The thesaurus emphasizes discrimination among object types in order to improve retrieval of relevant images. Therefore, it adopts not only basic shapes but also line and shape combinations. Furthermore, special shapes are developed for those object types that are either unique to Chinese art and culture, or are a peculiar shape that cannot easily be abstracted into basic shapes. Although it is domain-specific, the approach of developing and classifying the thesaurus may be applicable to CBIR of non-Chinese art images and CBIR in general.

Full text of the article.

From Library Student Journal.

student discount at metro

I can't go, but maybe you guys are interested:

Current library school students can attend this program for a special price of only $25.

Exploring Encounters with Chat Users: An Introduction to Virtual Reference
Date/Time: Monday, November 5, 2007 – 10:00am to 1:00pm
Location: METRO, 57 E. 11 Street, New York, NY 10003
Presented by Marie L. Radford, Associate Professor at Rutgers SCILS

Description: Is chat reference for you? What do chat reference librarians say about their experiences (positive and negative)? This interactive workshop will present the information you need to provide and evaluate virtual reference. Research reveals that many similar interpersonal skills important to face-to-face reference success are also present (although perhaps seeming to be a bit foreign at first) in the chat environment. Sample chat transcripts will be discussed and critiqued with focus on rapport building and relationship development. Expect an interactive and fun session that will enable you to develop confidence and improve chat reference at your library.

You can get the special LIS student price ($25) by registering online at with a credit card or mailing a check with the METRO registration form .

If you have questions or problems, be sure to e-mail Professional Development Manager, Kate Todd, at or call (212) 228-2320, x. 15.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

from my sister

Hilariously reinforcing stereotypes ("bun of patience") and showing a surprising amount of insight for a non-librarian ("Sorted Speech allows the librarian to speak sensibly in alphabetical or categorical words"). Though I wish "Sorted Speech" were actually the power to catalog everything you've said or heard. Then I'd remember what Kyle and I were giggling hysterically at on Wednesday night, and it would be filed under "Hilarious."

PS. My new goal is to become the most hooly of hooligans. Look out.

Friday, October 19, 2007


Forgot about this paragraph in Sexy L, until proofing just now:

"Audrey regaled her female co-workers with horror stories of the swampiness of New York heat waves as an attempt to diffuse the jibber jabber threatening to pick apart the rich stock of romantic details she was now holding to herself. The tactic was quite obviously accounting for a certain frustration among the constituency of the library’s staff area, especially in the cataloging department, where discussion of Audrey’s date seemed to be transforming marc records into something entirely more epic. Librarians were just as in to dirt as Ladies Who Lunch—they were just more inclined to draw parallels to classic referents. Audrey could tell that several women were just dying to whip out a quote suited especially for her, undoubtedly from either Lady Chatterley’s Lover or Portrait of a Lady."

Thursday, October 18, 2007

library remix: the slideshow

The kind folks at Metro have made the Powerpoint presentation from the workshop I went to last month available online. Enjoy!

First Post!

Random stuff that may be of interest to you three, because of your particular histories/passions (more later....):



TaggerSteve Museum

Digital Libraries


from: David Wagner


I got my art degree at the University of Minnesota and lived in Minneapolis for many years, the Paris of the Midwest. I'd be living there now if it wasn't so cold in the winter
and hot in the summer. It's a wonderful town.
The wonderful downtown library on 3rd street was one of my major hangouts
(even at night - the new Federal Building across the street has an enormous
layout of granite slabs that became a big scene for performance artists,
skateboarders, street theatre, and most important, girls.) and had
voluminous stacks. I know about the fireplaces now - I am a public art
consultant, and was involved in some of the art in the library. I remember
getting blank stares when asking about where the books were going to be
stored. I visited the library in late February and it is very pretty, but

The library I am building here will be called the Library of the Sky. A
reference to the land here, which is spectacular big sky country, and to my
own particular background in aviation, art and history. I have been
involved in many projects, usually public art, that incorporates wind,
aviation, air, and sky. I also have a considerable collection of American
and Asian fiction.

I had a couple inspirations for my library. One is my very close friend,
Jim Wells, who was the director of the Washington County Library system in
the Twin Cities for many years. He always had an unconventional approach to
book and film collection, and especially, the way it was accessed. Needless
to say, never very popular with the Library Board, or with some of the
librarians (he forbade the use of Google by his librarians), but he retired
a couple years ago and now sends me a large box of books every few weeks.
I was also very impressed with the Prelinger Library in San Francisco. I
lived in Oakland for the last 6 years, and I happened into their non
descript building because I got lost looking for the studio of an artist I
was working with. Their approach to collection layout, dependent on context
and proximity, was eye opening to me. I didn't know you didn't have to use
the Dewey Decimal System.

Jim and I are still formulating a way to approach this. I am planning to
purchase a large chunk of the collection of Tal Streeter, a New York
minimalist sculptor who retired here in Santa Fe recently and a very old
friend of mine, and this has made a change in the way we are looking at the

But I enjoy your concept very much. Let me know if you accept books from
donors and what is the best way to do this.

You're right - The Hell Hole was written by a husband and wife team. Their
photo inside depicts a fun loving couple - cocktails, cigars, and palm trees


David Wagner
4007 Old Santa Fe Trail
Santa Fe, NM 87505
Tel 505 795 5286

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Discovery Report #4: Jess

Peter Brantley, a regular contributor to O’Reilly’s blog, Radar, recently posted his notes from a workshop he attended in his role as the Executive Director for the Digital Library Federation, whose aim was to discuss and create a model for dealing with online footage coming out of the Iraq War and other places. This footage is obviously often violent and shocking, and many online archives and websites have been asked to remove such material. The question is complicated not only by the mission of archives to collect and make documents (especially those of historic importance) available to the public at large, but also by questions of rights, privacy, censorship, social and personal responsibility. In the end, the group decided that the archival mission of maintaining an accurate historical record and access to information should be of primary concern, though user feedback would determine whether certain videos and images should be preceded by a warning or removed altogether. The comments at the end of the post continue the conversation, wondering if the term “terrorist” isn’t a relative one in times of war, to which Brantley responded with a graphic description of one video (preceded by a warning), and a firm declaration that such actions, no matter who performs them, are terror, that war is terror, and that it is the duty of archivists to preserve documentation and access to that documentation in the hopes that they will be informative, potentially even enlightening.
In a case like this, where the mission of archives of any type is called into question by an urge to protect, self-censor, or respond to public criticism, it is heartening to see a thoughtful discussion take place among professionals. Archives and other repositories of digital information have an especial vulnerability to public scrutiny since their contents are more widely and easily accessible. I am glad to hear that the participants in this workshop came down on the side of transparency, conservation and preservation rather than following in the footsteps of a media that has yet to show the American public what is happening on the ground in Iraq, either because of outside political pressure, or a sense of self-censorship and misplaced propriety. It is important that the terrors and horrors of war are preserved, studied, and openly available to the public, especially in the case of a public that is funding a war. The question is, as it always must be in any kind of information center, who decides what is information? Who decides what is valid, and what can be accessible to all? In the end, if libraries, archives, and other repositories of information are to maintain the democratic ideal and serve the public good, the urge must be towards full disclosure of information. For the sake of future generations, if not our own, it is of vital importance that a record of this war is preserved, and with this war, more than any other, there is an opportunity to maintain nearly immediate access to the record of the war, and from many more vantage points than ever before. Archivists and other information professionals have a duty to posterity above all else. They should be sensitive to information that is potentially dangerous, even lethal, and provide disclosure about potentially upsetting, traumatizing information, but above all else, they must preserve the public record for study, and whenever possible, to check the record for authenticity.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Open Library

Open Library is a digitization project, much like Google Books, only with librarians. In other words, my dreams come true.

Here is their page regarding librarianship. They're working on a new schema, calling it futurelib. This all seems a little bit pie-in-the-sky, but I tend to run on the optimistic side myself. I signed up for their listserv on my Pratt email. I'll let you know if anything good comes up.

information as art

Click the title above for one thing. Click here for another.

Friday, October 5, 2007

a blog about blogs about libraries

Shoot the Moon

"Books, films, and other informational materials are the weapons of this propaganda effort; THE LIBRARY IS THE ARSENAL. "

-Eric Moon, 1965

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Libraries and the Long Tail with a Technical Divide

In this article, Dempsey analyzes how the “long tail” effects libraries that operate within the online environment. He briefly explains what a long tail means, how this impacts libraries, and suggests ways to improve the current system. Chris Anderson coined the long tail argument in his October 2004 article for Wired magazine. There he explained that huge online distribution businesses (such as can sell more items from hard to find niche markets than it will from frequently requested items in popular markets. The number of niche items far outnumbers the orders placed for popular items. Dempsey applies this argument to the library, which contains “the full range of what has been made available as well as what is now available.” For the library to sustain a long tail and subsequently a viable future, it must employ a number of tools similarly employed by online search engines and large media distribution businesses. These include the unification of search systems, analyze catalog use and circulation, “provide transaction support” and utilize an increasingly semantic web. The key as Dempsey puts it “is about make it much easier to allow a reader to find it and get it, whatever ‘it’ is.”
I actually enjoyed this article and agreed with many of Dempsey’s opinions and suggestions; however I take issue with his assumption that everyone is has internet access or at the very least a computer. His long tail library would serve only the technological elite, leaving the digitally divided behind. He cites Ranganathan’s Five Laws of Library Science, (1- Books are for use. 2- Every reader has his or her book. 3- Every book has its reader. 4- Save the time of the reader. 5- The library is a growing organism.) and suggests the use of semantic systems as way to advance them. It is amazing and incredibly useful technology, but we cannot forget how these continuous changes will affect those not plugged into the network. How libraries will respond to their needs?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

information architecture needs semantic structures

An interesting slideshow about the relationship between semantics/ontologies and IA.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Library Remix: The Report

Cannoneers: My slightly edited post on the Moodle for my KO, my report follows.

I signed up for the class offered to students by Metro at a steep discount, and was pleasantly surprised to find that the class addressed a lot of the issues we'd been reading about for class (especially the Calhoun report--long but worth skimming). So timely! I thought I'd share some of the info I got there since it relates so well to our readings this week.

The class, called "Library Remix: Putting Library Resources Out Where Users Live & Work," was taught by Matt Goldner, the Executive Director of End User Services at OCLC. We began with an overview of the information environment, the usual statistics about who users turn to first for their information (84% start with Google, Yahoo!, or the like, and 2% start with libraries). It turns out that people do overwhelmingly use libraries, but that they view them less favorably than online search engines. Why do people love search engines? They're simple and they fit themselves into user workflow. Libraries, Mr. Goldner says, need to build their services around user workflow--deliver our collections, services and community (three things that students, at least, say they value in libraries) to the user, on the network, and at the point of need. How?

* Aggregate services around the users:
Discover resources, services, expertise
Deliver items to users where they are
Share and collaborate expertise, recommendations and experiences
* Leverage resources
Expose collections and resources
Utilize existing delivery systems to seamlessly provide delivery options
Deliver to users, wherever they are
* Simple searching & intelligent indexing systems
Give users the info without them having to know library workflow systems
Users share, contribute, participate

We broke off into groups and read articles on various "web 2.0" applications (social networking, tags, etc.) as they related to other businesses and discussed how they could relate to libraries and presented to the group. My notes fall off a bit here, but a few things stuck:

* Perpetual beta library--throw things out there, see what sticks, don't be afraid to make mistakes
* More transparency, make things more readily available

We then broke out into groups again and played around with various "discovery systems" (online library catalogs). More notes from that:

* Librarians ask the OCLC for lots of specialized search functions and indexes that users don't use, don't know how to use. Reference librarians do need this stuff, but users don't. (This strikes me as the strength of MARC and comprehensive cataloging rules--they help librarians. We need to keep in mind that they aren't necessarily useful to the user, though. It seems obvious, but I don't think it is to everyone.)

* The Queens Library catalog uses AquaBrowser, is amazing.
* NOVELNewYork (NY Online Virtual Electronic Library) is a NY State site that licenses journals & databases for the whole state. You can log in using a NY Driver's license or (more confusingly) your NY library card, which then sends you to your local library catalog. Using a driver's license, you can get into the NOVEL system itself. This is a pilot program for the Statewide Internet Library project.

* (Side note: one of the women in the class was on the committee of the Rethinking Resource Sharing Initiative, which sounds like a really interesting project, worth checking out.)

Then Mr. Goldner used as a case study for a catalog search that brings itself into the workspace of the user. They've syndicated their information, and shared a lot of that with Google, Yahoo!, and MSN Search. They use FRBR to consolidate the repeat entries. Users can search on Google for a book and find it on WorldCat. makes this process repeatable, however, OCLC expects it to mostly be re-used in other domains. They have created a downloadable search box that you can paste into your website, with good results.

Then we got a great preview of WorldCat Local, a new project that is in pilot testing in Washington (click on the name above to give it a whirl). The program uses the information but tailors it to the local library. Locality is given a higher relevance rating in returned search results. Users can request items from the page, initiate ILL if necessary. You can post reviews of the books, link to social bookmarking sites, and so on, interacting with the library catalog and hopefully making it better. Pretty neat stuff, and they still have a lot of ideas about how to make it even better!

I highly recommend checking out some of these online catalog systems and comparing them to each other and to, say, Google or Amazon. I think the WorldCat projects are pretty innovative. I'm curious about how they're dealing with metadata, but didn't ask. I'll try to follow up with Mr. Goldner if I can and let you know if you're interested.

Another side note, related to the BookSwim site (the one that sends you books like Netflix): Danish libraries have been doing home delivery for ages. They actually lose far fewer books this way. OCLC is working with a handful of libraries in Montana on a home delivery service (free!) and find that they're also losing fewer books than when people actually walk into the library. ILL is similarly better in terms of higher retention levels for books. Interesting.

Alright Cannonworks, do your thing!

CANNON 1: Information as Antelope

starting with the most controversial.