Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Wikipedia = authority?

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I recently came across this article about tagging and folksonomies and Wikipedia by Peter Morville. It's an interesting read, but I think I take exception to this bit:
Now, some old-fashioned librarians may claim that due to the pseudo-anonymous, multi-author nature of the Wikipedia, its articles have no authority. But they'd be wrong. Authority derives from the information architecture, visual design, governance, and brand of the Wikipedia, and from widespread faith in intellectual honesty and the power of collective intelligence.

Okay, aside from the fact that phrases like 'the power of collective intelligence' make my teeth hurt, I fail to understand how 'visual design' contributes to the authority of a resource. Information architecture as a contributing factor to the authority of a resource I can buy-- good information architecture improves the findability of data, and that (one would hope) leads to more consistent search results. I understand how governance and branding contribute to the perceived authority and/or reliability of an information resource. But I really don't get how 'visual design' would make a resource authoritative. Even after following the links and reading the articles on 'cognitive authority', I'm not sure how visual design contributes to it.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Oh no it isn't!

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According to this article on,
... Google is creating a comprehensive bibliographic database that it calls WorldCat to search for and find information formerly only found in libraries.

Hmm... I wonder what the folks at OCLC will have to say about that.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Terry Belanger wins MacArthur Fellowship

University of Virginia Professor and rare books expert Terry Belanger has been awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. I think it couldn't have happened to a more deserving librarian. He's done a lot to facilitate education about rare books librarianship.

There was a time when I had dreams of being a rare books cataloger, but then I realized that I'd pretty much have to wait for somebody to die to get a job in rare books cataloging and went off in other directions. I still wistfully survey the course catalog for Rare Books School from time to time, though.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Disaster recovery

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Like much of the U.S., I've been a little preoccupied with Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath lately, so I haven't had much to say about library, technology, or cataloging.

But I do want to take a moment to point to the Geaux Library Project, which is working to provide reference and other library services to Katrina survivors. See this excellent description over at Catalogablog.

Monday, August 29, 2005


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Karen Coyle has some interesting things to say about FRBR and the future of MARC. This dovetails with some of what I've been thinking about lately. At the very least, MARC standards are going to need a serious overhaul to reflect the kind of entity-relationship modeling present in FRBR and FRAR. I suspect that at the end of such an overhaul, the MARC standards would not much resemble their present form.

The bugaboo here, of course, is how to create a communications metadata standard for bibliographic data that will be backwards compatible with current MARC data while still taking advantage of entity-relationship models for data storage, communication, and retrieval. I think that our legacy data is both an incredibly rich resource and foundation for building library catalogs of the future, and the single greatest obstacle in the way of creating such catalogs.

I don't have a real answer to this issue, but I do suspect that beginning of finding a way to deal with this will be moving the MARC standards in the direction of accommodating entity-relationship data-models and effectively representing the relationships inherent in those models. That may provide a path toward maintaining the enormous legacy of bibliographic data libraries have already created while moving into more flexible ways of organizing and providing that information to users.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

A follow up

"City commissioners have reinstated their public library director who had been suspended after a registered sex offender and three boys allegedly used library computers to access pornographic Internet sites."

It's good to know that reason has prevailed, though it would be better if it hadn't happened at all.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

I love my job

I do. I wouldn't dream of leaving my current place of work anytime soon. But it would take a stronger soul than I not to daydream just a little about the potential of this job:
Dear librarians, Celebrity Cruise Lines Manager Edwin Rojas contacted me about finding librarians to work on their cruise ships for 6 month stints. Here's what I learned from Edwin (who can correct any mistakes I've made).
You would sign a 6 month contract and you would be assigned to a variety of cruises 7-14 days in length. You would work everyday in the library helping people find leisure reading, get their email, and plan their port activities mostly. You would work everyday, with time off everyday for lunch and dinner and an occasional block of time where you could visit a port. The pay is $1800/month plus room, board, and transportation. After 6 months you can take off 4-12 weeks before signing a new contract. Most librarians work 3-4 contracts. Summer cruises are mostly to Alaska, Baltic, and Europe. Winter mostly to Caribbean, Mexico, and South America.
You need a valid passport and a medical exam. If you are interested, or know someone who might be, send a resume to Edwin below.
Edwin Rojas
Manager of Entertainment & Cruise Programs Celebrity Cruises, Inc.
Phone: (305) 982-2771
(800) 722-5472, ext. 32771
Fax: (305) 982-2403

Why do scenes from the Love Boat keep floating through my head?