Just a little something fun for your Monday…
As library students, we are constantly trying to come up with innovative ways to get people interested in the library.
Check out this awesome article where these people have created mini-libraries in order to promote community and interest in reading. We could probably learn a thing or two…
One of the recurring themes of any intro to library/reference class is ‘user needs’. User needs: the ability of the librarian to anticipate and accomodate the information needs of their users.
In fact, the very first article in the ALA Code of Ethics is to ”provide the highest level of service to all library users through appropriate and usefully organized resources; equitable service policies; equitable access; and accurate, unbiased, and courteous responses to all requests.”
Yet, sometimes we forget (or I forget, anyway) that not all of our users are twenty-somethings who use the term ‘googling’ in everyday vernacular, nor are they academic professors trying to write a thesis.
Furthermore, not all of our users are fully capable of performing searches completely on their own.
In his article ‘The Changing Face of Search‘, Tony Russell-Rose brings up a good point: “A much ignored issue in search is that of accessibility and the needs of disabled users.”
I know a woman who suffers from multiple brain injuries as a result of a car accident. This accident left her vision and cognitive abilities seriously injured, resulting in permanent disability.
Because of her brain injuries, she requires large print books and cannot operate a standard computer. Search engines must have audio assistance and large print in order for her to use them.
So as we’re thinking of ways to construct useful search functions for our users, let us not forget those who need a little extra accommodation.
If you’re like me, then library school might have ruined your ability to do a Google search.
My friends constantly make fun of me for putting the most obscure things into Google search and expecting to get the right answers. I try to explain that all my reference classes have trained me to use things like Boolean operators and specificity so sometimes it’s hard for me to be very general.
But Google doesn’t work in terms of extreme specificity. Google isn’t geared towards librarians who are looking for some random 15th Century document on basket weaving. Goggle is for people who want to find the nearest gas station with a car wash.
Different people see the world in different ways. The idea of having general users tag or comment on archival materials isn’t the worst idea, because people who didn’t spend two years learning about reference and metadata and whatnot might have a fresh perspective on materials that need to be identified.
It’s kind of like a Google search. My friends are Google pros because they think in very general search terms, and when you’re looking for general information on archival materials, then that’s not such a bad thing.
I was thinking about David and Dr. MacCall’s comments on my previous post and it got me thinking about Wikipedia.
We all know what Wikipedia is. It’s an online encyclopedia that anyone with an account can edit.
And if you think about it, it’s kind of one big social metadata extravaganza.
I’ve been doing a Wikipedia project for the museum where I’m interning where I’m editing pieces of art in the museum’s catalog in an effort to direct online traffic directly to the museum’s website.
And I’ve learned, those Wikipedia people are crazy strict about the content that’s used. I mean, I could upload a picture and in about three minutes someone will take it down and report me for some reason or another.
This brings me to Dr. MacCall’s point about having some sort of metadata specialist as a middle man between the people who comment and tag and whatnot, and the actual metadata. There has to be someone who understands the process of finding useful and accurate information so that there is some sort of standard for what’s out there.
It cracks me up when people think the information I’m using is sketchy, because I’ve spent the last two years intensely studying how to use accurate information. So the next time someone reports me for the information I post, I’ll just have to politely explain that I am, in fact, the middle man of Wikipedia metadata.
I’m fascinated by this idea of ‘social metadata’. It’s brilliant, really. Why wouldn’t we get friends, acquaintances, or even total strangers to help us identify archival materials? I mean, we are constantly tagging, commenting, identifying information for each other (think Facebook). Why would we not apply the same principles to library work?
The blog post I read that got me thinking about this used the example of a picture of a dairy farm. No one in the library could figure out where the picture was taken but, serendipitously, a librarian’s husband used to work on the farm and when she showed him the picture, he identified it immediately.
This morning I was reading Anna’s blog post on the FRBR model and how artistic it is. I commented that I remembered this model from one of the required Intro classes we had to take.
What I also remember from that class is the heated discussion we had about the ethics and classification of objects within the FRBR model.
(Basically the model goes like this: A work is realized through expression which is embodied in a manifestation and is then available as a copy.)
In other words, somebody thinks of a story and then writes it down as a novel which becomes published and then published some more. That’s how I understand it, at least. Obviously its probably much more in depth, but whatever. It’s Tuesday.
The problem comes when you have multiple expressions of the same story. For instance, an author thinks of a story and so writes it down. It is then published. Then someone decides it should be a movie and writes a screenplay. This screenplay gets picked up by some Hollywood producer and all of a sudden it’s a movie.
So should we catalog the book and the movie together on one shelf, since they both stem from the same idea? Or do we call the movie a totally separate manifestation even though it branched off of the same expression?
For example: let’s take the story of ‘Emma’. Jane had an idea. She wrote Emma. It was published. Hundreds of years later, that glorious book became a movie starring Gwenyth Paltrow. BUT a few years after that, Alecia Silverstone came along and did Clueless, which is based on the story of Emma. So should we catalog them altogether since they come from the same idea?
I obviously don’t know. I do know, however, that I’ve never seen anyone get so up in arms over library science things as the day someone said the book version and the movie version of ‘Harry Potter’ should get the same treatment. Who knew FRBR could be so edgy?
In honor of the Academy Awards…
Check out this awesome book jacket project made for the special greenroom at the Oscars.
Who knew Hollywood could read??
…. I really liked this article from NPR. With all of these discussions about libraries remaining relevant in a technological society, I think this is a good example of what a relevant library can look like.
When I think about the perfect library (for the purposes of this tiny post, we’ll just assume that I’m talking about public libraries), I think about a place that not only houses the books and provides information, but also features community theatre, chamber concerts, arts classes, etc. A kind of renaissance library, if you will (which, you will.)
When I was growing up we always went to the Hoover Library in Hoover, AL where I remember seeing plays, attending concerts, even watching ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ at Christmas time.
I don’t know. I think Rhode Island is doing it right.
I was reading Rori’s blog post this morning and would like to expound on her argument of quality vs. quantity in reference to digital preservation.
I love to shop. LOVE it. And I am a firm believer in shopping for quality rather than quantity.
For example: I have this little black dress. It is the most perfect little black dress in the history of little black dresses. It hugs in all the right places without making me feel like a floozie. It can magically be both semi-casual and super-dressy, depending on accessories. Even on my most blah-feeling day, I can put this dress on and feel like the sexiest, most confident, most beautiful woman in the room. I’m pretty sure this dress is a gift from heaven itself.
My little black dress was also a pretty penny when I bought it five years ago. Now, the most important part of that last sentence is the phrase “five years ago”. See, I could have bought a cheaper dress that would have ultimately lost its shape due to cheaper fabric and faded due to cheaper coloring and it would have worked for a while. But I would have had to buy another black dress and another, ultimately spending what I originally paid for the more expensive dress. But because I invested in quality rather than quantity, I ended up saving money.
When you invest in quality over quantity, you’re saving more in the long run because you are ensuring that what you buy will last for years to come. The same is true for digital preservation. Wouldn’t it make more sense to invest in high-quality standards now rather than going for quantity, only to have to spend more money to re-digitize, etc. in the future?
Read the original article in question here. This guy.
…then I highly recommend you read this article from our assigned readings.
Sometimes, unless you’re some sort of metadata savant, metadata can get confusing. There are like a bajillion different schemas and sometimes you can only use one particular schema and sometimes you can link some of them together, yada yada yada. Confusing.
Sometimes I just need authors of some of these articles to be very straightforward and say, “This is what this means and this is how it’s used.” So thank you, Rebecca Guenther and Sally McCallum for doing just that.