the library is the arsenal

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Herman Melville: Fan of Librarians

From Moby Dick:

EXTRACTS (Supplied by a Sub-Sub-Librarian).

It will be seen that this mere painstaking burrower and grub-worm of a poor devil of a Sub-Sub appears to have gone through the long Vaticans and street-stalls of the earth, picking up whatever random allusions to whales he could anyways find in any book whatsoever, sacred or profane. Therefore you must not, in every case at least, take the higgledy-piggledy whale statements, however authentic, in these extracts, for veritable gospel cetology. Far from it. As touching the ancient authors generally, as well as the poets here appearing, these extracts are solely valuable or entertaining, as affording a glancing bird's eye view of what has been promiscuously said, thought, fancied, and sung of Leviathan, by many nations and generations, including our own.

So fare thee well, poor devil of a Sub-Sub, whose commentator I am. Thou belongest to that hopeless, sallow tribe which no wine of this world will ever warm; and for whom even Pale Sherry would be too rosy-strong; but with whom one sometimes loves to sit, and feel poor-devilish, too; and grow convivial upon tears; and say to them bluntly, with full eyes and empty glasses, and in not altogether unpleasant sadness--Give it up, Sub-Subs! For by how much the more pains ye take to please the world, by so much the more shall ye forever go thankless! Would that I could clear out Hampton Court and the Tuileries for ye! But gulp down your tears and hie aloft to the royal-mast with your hearts; for your friends who have gone before are clearing out the seven-storied heavens, and making refugees of long-pampered Gabriel, Michael, and Raphael, against your coming. Here ye strike but splintered hearts together--there, ye shall strike unsplinterable glasses!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

My new sideline?

I came across a healthcare site called Organized Wisdom tonight in a roundabout way, and I was curious about a healthcare website with a cool name like Organized Wisdom, so I checked it out. It turns out, you can apply to become a "guide", and get paid to create informational "WisdomCards" about different healthcare issues (diseases and conditions, drugs, alternative therapies, etc). This seems like a great way for soon-to-be medical librarians to do some reference work and really dig into sources, which I may want to do after a semester of "Online Health Databases."

So then I started to wonder, how do they pay people to put all this free information out there? The answer, of course, is advertisements. Still, they seem to have a strict editorial policy keeping the ads separate from the "wisdom." Hmm...

Of course, beyond my own personal interest in getting paid to do reference work online, this does seem to bode well for reference librarians. This is a chance to do some good public service work, provide much-needed, quality information to the public at no cost, and get paid to do it. Am I overlooking the negative aspect? Can this model be applied to other fields as well?

Friday, April 4, 2008

retrospective censorship of information

this is bullshit. providing access to information IS NOT the same as endorsing or promoting its content. any librarian worth their weight in catalogs cards know that!