privacy: a preface

I have a long, thoughtful post that’s still mostly in my head about online presence and privacy, and someday I’ll get it all down in print (or pixels, or what have you)–probably about the same time I catch up on reading Cites & Insights (Walt, it’s not even 2006 yet! Slow down! :-)). In the meantime, though, I offer these prefatory remarks.

I just added some old pictures to Flickr. The quality is not that great–many of them were originally Polaroids, and then I scanned them–but they have a certain sentimental value, and it’s kind of neat to be able to see them out on the web. When I was uploading them, though, it occurred to me that being around and available online is not for everyone. Not everyone wants to put themselves out there, and I feel some responsibility for not forcing them on to a stage they didn’t want to be on.

It’s true that almost no one can avoid being online somewhere–if not through Google, then through ZabaSearch or one of the other online white pages. But there’s a difference between that and having snapshots of yourself with bad hair out in the world. Maybe that will change–but for some of my friends and family, it hasn’t changed yet.

So while I have no problem letting you see one of my poor ’80s fashion choices or letting you know who I voted for in 2000, or explaining how I got arrested, or even telling you about the time they couldn’t find my cervix, I know that’s not for everyone.

All this, really, is by way of explaining why, if you’re one of my Flickr contacts, you’ve been upgraded from “contact” to “friend.” Everyone can see pictures of me; I’ve made the ones with other people in them friend only, which lets my online community see them but keeps them at least a little bit private. If you’re not listed as a friend or contact, it’s not because I don’t like you; it’s just because I haven’t gotten around to it (or I don’t know who you are). But feel free to add me, and I’ll reciprocate–and then you too can see poor-quality photos of my friends and family in front of my tree. Oh, the excitement!

book notes

Jessamyn West pointed the other day to a piece about lifehacking books by writing in them, with apologies to librarians. It brought to mind a bit from Roger Tory Peterson that I quoted in a paper I wrote about DRM and e-books last spring:

Roger Tory Peterson, author of the classic A Field Guide to the Birds wrote, when the book’s second edition came out, that he was always happy when people showed him their copies of his book.

“It is gratifying to see a copy marked on nearly every page, for I know that it has been well used. Although the cover is waterproofed, I have seen many copies with home-made oilcloth jackets; I have seeen copies torn apart, reorganized and rebound to suit the owners taste; others have been tabbed with index tabs, or fitted with flaps or envelopes to hold daily check-lists.”*

Nothing new under the sun. (And if you really like reading about how to lifehack your books, if you haven’t picked up a copy of Anne Fadiman’s Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader, do so soon!)

And on a final note, you can now comment on Apres moi le deluge.

*Roger Tory Peterson, A Field Guide to the Birds (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1934): xviii.

this past week. . .

I finished up a collection development project for LIS 721, Library Materials for Children and discovered the existence of phantom reviews. I used Baker & Taylor’s Title Source II to help locate some books and reviews, and my partner used Follett’s Titlewave, and then we’d go look up the full citations for the reviews we found. . . or at least we tried. Let’s say that for one title, B&T said it was reviewed in the July 2000 issue of Booklist. I would dutifully go to Dominican’s databases and start searching for the review. I couldn’t find it by author, title, keyword, or date. I then tried going more directly to the source and looking through the Booklist indexes (which exist somewhere on the ALA website, though naturally now I can’t find them). No luck there either. It was time to get serious. I hit the stacks. I grabbed the microfilm and spent half an hour or so scrolling through Booklist from July 2000 and from November 2000, when Follett claimed it was reviewed. No cigar. And this happened again and again, not just with Booklist, but also with School Library Journal, VOYA, and others. My partner, meanwhile, was having a similar experience with Books in Print, Book Review Index, et al. I wrote my professor. Were we going crazy? Apparently not. She said she’d noticed this problem before. We did the best we could. A few days later, I mentioned this to my professor for LIS 745, Searching Electronic Databases, who pointed out that Baker & Taylor and Follett are, after all, in the bookselling business, not the bibliographic verification business. Still, it’s maddening. My adventures in bibliography were not over, though.

I turned in my final project for LIS 745, Searching Electronic Databases, which was a 25 item annotated bibliography on the subject of state guardianship programs for adults, prepared for my client, the Iowa Substitute Decision Maker Task Force, a group of people (including my mother) who are trying to establish such a program in Iowa. The week before, I did my final presentation on the project. I found many beautiful pictures with which to illustrate my presentation via the Creative Commons search on Flickr. I’m a big believer in giving people things to look at when presenting, but it does make for a monster-sized PowerPoint, which convinced once again that I really need to learn the S5 and/or Jessamyn West version of slides. . . I thought about doing it for this presentation, but as time was beginning to get short, I thought perhaps that would be an untenable exercise in procrastination.

I began the morning of my 30th birthday by oversleeping. I am hoping that this was the last gasp of the past decade rather than a sign of the decade to come. I finished up and turned in the paper on virtual readers’ advisory for LIS 763, Readers’ Advisory Services. Thanks to everyone who commented on my previous post on the topic, and thanks to all the biblioblogosphere folks who’ve created, written about, or fantasized about how we could make OPACs more useful and interesting. Not surprisingly, I found much more material for this paper by searching blogs than I did by searching professional journals. “Folksonom*” as a search term in one of the LIS databases turns up one citation (“Metadatering door de massa: Folksonomy,” by Sybilla Poortman and Gerard Bierens), which looks really cool, but unfortunately it’s in Dutch, which I can’t read. Partly, of course, this is because I was writing about stuff so new that it simply hasn’t made it in to professional literature. In fact, the very afternoon at work before I turned the paper in, I read a couple of new things I wanted to add. But I stopped, went to class, turned in the paper, listened to some cool book talks, and so completed my third semester of library school. One more to go!

And now it’s winter break, which I plan to spend a) reading, b) working some extra hours at my dog-walking job, c) sleeping, and d) getting serious about the job hunt. Expect more on the first and last of those in future entries–I’m also planning to a bit more blogging, now that I have a few weeks free from one of my obligations.

IM RA etc.: technology for readers’ advisory?

I’m writing a paper for my Readers’ Advisory class about the present and future of of online readers’ advisory. I’ve been doing research in the usual academic sorts of places, but it just occurred to me that this would be a good question to bring to the biblioblogosphere.

So, if you happen to read this and use or know of anyone using online resources for RA, leave a comment or e-mail me at lauracrossett at hailmail dot net. “Online resources” could mean anything from plain old websites to newer social software–blogs, wikis, IM, and so forth.

The paper is due Thursday night, but I’m getting interested in the topic and may try to turn it into an article of some sort, or at the very least a blog post, so late contributions are welcome.


index this!

Walt writes that he is done with C&I Volume 5. If you’re a reader of Cites & Insights, you’ve probably already downloaded and printed out the latest issue, as have I (though I haven’t read it all yet). I was particularly delighted, however, to be able to download and print out the index [.pdf] to the whole volume.

I love indexes (or indices, if you prefer). So far as I know, the C&I index is the first one in which I appear, which gives it a certain added appeal, but I like pretty much any old index.

For one thing, an index is kind of a paper version of a tag cloud. Go pull a biography off the shelf and flip through the index. Chances are that some terms will have several lines of pages listed after them, while some will have only one or two. Some will also have sub-index terms underneath, rather like the sub-subjects in the OPAC tag cloud that everyone’s been talking about. I’ve also always thought that a good index reads rather like a bit of found poetry.

And then, of course, there’s what I have always considered to be the greatest literary reference to indices: Chapter 44 of Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, called “Never Index Your Own Book.”

“It’s a revealing thing, an author’s index of his own work,” she informed me. “It’s a shameless exhibition—to the trained eye.”
“She can read character from an index,” said her husband.
“Oh? I said. “What can you tell about Philip Castle?”
She smiled faintly. “Thing’s I’d better not tell strangers.”

Want to know what? Well, as we say in my readers’ advisory class, if you want to find out, you’ll have to read the book.

Technical notes for this entry: I’m trying Blogger for Word for the first time. We’ll see how it works. [Update: I wrote this in Word, but I’m going to be posting via Blogger, since so far as I can see, Blogger for Word is not for Mac. Furthermore, I was unable to cut and paste from Word to Blogger, so I had to cut and paste to Text Edit, then cut and paste from there to Blogger, then put in all the links again. Poopy.] I consulted several books in the course of writing this entry—a dictionary, because I was curious about whether there was a preferred plural form for the word index (not really, though indexes was listed first in The American Heritage Dictionary, Second College Edition, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1991), which was what happened to be closest), and a copy of Cat’s Cradle, because I couldn’t remember the exact title of the chapter, and because I wanted to use a quotation. I know there are many wonderful online dictionaries, both free and fee, plus of course that handy Google operator, define: X, but I never think to use them. It did occur to me to try out Google Book Search to see if Cat’s Cradle had been scanned, which it doesn’t seem to have been, though there are plenty of books that reference it. A search for “never index your own book,” however, did turn up this little gem, which I’d love to read. Google, oh, Google, why do you not synch yourselves with Find in a Library?