The Final Three Catalogs

July 27, 2006

For my next cataloging assignment, I have narrowed down the catalogs that I will examine. As noted previously, I think that analyzing three catalogs from different vendors will be the most productive route. So the three systems that I will compare are:

  1. North Carolina State University’s library catalog – Powered by Endeca’s ProFind
  2. Arkansas State University’s library catalog – Library.Solution ILS by The Library Corporation – Uses Aquabrowser
  3. UMASS Dartmouth’s library catalog – Endeavor’s Voyager system

Apathy & Annoyance Sets In

July 26, 2006

I am incredibly uninterested in school at the moment and trying very hard to motivate myself to finish my work. My class ends next week with a final exam for which there is no information. What do we need to study? What format will the exam be in? Do we need to memorize AACR2? Of course, this is after the last assignment is due (Monday, the 31st). At this point, there are way more answers than questions. There has been so little direction from the professor that is extremely hard to keep interested in the topic and even harder to care. Without any graded material, it is impossible to know where I stand and impossible to feel as if I can adequately prepare for the last assignment or for the final.

The good news is that I generally find myself in this type of mood every semester – right before the end. Final exams, papers, etc. are pretty stressful – and I constantly have to remind myself that the big picture will be worth it in the end. Ultimately, I will be a happy camper after August 4th with a few weeks to relax before the start of the next semester. I will have to take some time off from work to truly enjoy it – but wait, taking days off from work in August which is right before school starts is not an easy task. And, since the person who works for me recently resigned, I may actually be working many, many hours. ARGH!!!

The Initial Ten Catalogs

July 25, 2006

The Ten Catalogs for Assignment #3

  1. Ann Arbor District Library Catalog
  2. Arkansas State University – Beebe – Abington Library Catalog- Aquabrowser.
  3. Detroit Area Library Network Library Catalog- SirsiDynix
  4. Georgia Library PINES - Beta version of an open source integrated library system named Evergreen developed by the Georgia Public Library System.
  5. HELIN Library Catalog- Library consortium in Rhode Island. An Innovative Interfaces OPAC.
  6. North Carolina State University Libraries- Powered by Endeca. The system leverages the advanced search and navigation features of Endeca ProFind platform.
  7. Plymouth State University – Lamson Library’s Catalog – WordPress OPAC – under development.
  8. UMASS Dartmouth Library Catalog- Endeavor’s Voyager platform.
  9. University College Dublin Library Catalogue- A system on the Talis platform.
  10. University of Notre Dame Library Catalog- Ex libris’s Aleph

I tried to choose a variety of different library catalogs as part of my initial 10 choices. Although not required as part of the instructions, it seems to me that in order to analyze different features and search methodologies, the catalogs needs to be from different vendors. Personally, I think this is more important than the size of the collection.  Now, I have to start work on the assignment. I am without a doubt reading to have a couple of weeks off from school. More will follow . . .

The Third Assignment

July 24, 2006

The professor released the third (and final) assignment for my summer class today. The purpose of the assignment “is for students to develop a greater understanding of catalog construction as well as an appreciation of the consequences of catalog design decisions on catalog usability” (from syllabus). We are to identify 10 OPACs via the web – catalogs should represent holdings of relatively large collections (I’m not sure what exactly is meant by a relatively large collection). The 10 should vary in terms of presentation and feature set. After we review the 10, we need to narrow our selection to 3. We need to become familiar with the 3 catalogs and their features. We need to develop a comparative analysis of the chosen catalogs – addressing both general and specific features (testing catalogs with simple searches). Examinations should include search features, hitlist displays and presentation of individual records. The resulting written report should be no more than 10 pages which outline the strengths and weaknesses of the catalogs – commenting specifically on how successful the catalogs were in responding to users’ needs. Include comments on features that enhance or impact (positively or negatively) the user experience. We should also comment on potential improvements that would improve our experience.

Much like the other three assignments, this one is worth 25% of the final overall grade. The worst part is that we haven’t yet received our grades from the first or second assignment. It is so difficult to have any sense of how the class is going. I’m not sure where I stand. I am especially nervous about the paper that was due last week. There was so little direction – no firm guidelines. And at this point, the final exam is less than 2 weeks away. I think I might be panicking!!!!!!!!!

Spam Abounds

July 24, 2006

Spammers have finally caught up with this blog. I now have more Spam comments than posts – and I sense that divide will grow proportionately. The good news is that WordPress does a great job of catching it and keeping up with it all. Joy! I think I can not add Spam to the list of my pet peeves.

It is All in One’s Perspective on Things

July 23, 2006

In my last post about becoming a librarian, I was trying to point out that we all need to take responsibility for our choices in life – for what we choose to become – for what we learn – and for what type of librarian we become. I admittedly am the type of person who chooses to dwell on the positive and prefers to view the world through a rose-colored hue. As such, I really enjoyed Iris’s post, Happily Sheltered, over at Pegasus Librarian. She wrote:

Maybe I’m living a sheltered life. Maybe I’m naive. Maybe I haven’t worked long enough to have the rose tint fade from my contact lenses. But as it turns out, I like it like that. I’d prefer not to get bitter. I’d prefer not to reach a state when everybody’s never-ending, half-hearted job search becomes perfectly acceptable workplace conversation.

Sure, there are days when nothing goes right, when you bend over backwards for someone and receive nothing but complaints, or when you’ve exceeded the legal limit of meeting hours per 15-hour work day. But this profession is WAY too exciting, challenging, rewarding, and generally cool for those days to warrant a place in our primary focus. What’s more, the disgruntled attitude is far too contagious to be handled safely, even in small doses. So I’m going to stop reading those blogs. I’m having way too much fun living in my happy-librarian bubble, and I want that bubble to last for at least the next half century or so.

I’m with Iris in that I want that bubble to last for the next 50 years or so. I do think it is important to be aware of what those who are disgruntled are saying – because there certainly are problems, issues, etc. And we need to be aware of the problems in order to try and resolve them. It isn’t just work in libraries that can cause frustration and anger. Life throws its own curve-balls. However, negativity gets very weary after a while, and I often have to distance myself from it in order to be able to maintain my own sense of optimism. I have made a conscious choice not to let bitterness and disillusionment overwhelm me. And it is nice to know that others feel the same way.

Learning to be a Librarian

July 22, 2006

All of these recents posts about skills needed to be a librarian and how to learn them have really got me thinking. Really, I think graduate school is important – I wouldn’t be spending money that I could certainly use elsewhere, if I didn’t think it was important. Grad school is where you learn about the nuts and bolts, the background, the history and the theories. These are important (although not always the most interesting material), but don’t always translate into the actual skills that you need to perform a librarian job day to day. How best to learn the daily life of a librarian??? Talk to one. One of the most wonderful things about online world is the ability to connect with people in a variety of ways. You can learn about the good, the bad and the ugly – and get realistic, real world visions into the world of librarians and libraries. I mean just reading all of the recent posts about skills needed to be a librarian (along with the fascinating comments) will tell you an awful lot. 

So, you want to be a librarian? Read up on it. Send an email to a librarian. Comment on the blog of a librarian. Ask questions. Get involved in the discussions going on in cyberspace. Join the newlib listserv or one of the many others. Many of the librarians who get involved in blogs and discussion lists love to talk about this stuff. Investigate graduate programs. Understand that the job market can be tough – people’s experiences trying to find work varies wildly. Try and get a sense of how many libraries are in your area and how often they hire. This may give you a sense of whether or not you will have to move to find a job. And, ultimately, take a hard look at why you want to be a librarian and then make a decision about what kind of librarian you want to be.

I don’t mean a public services, a cataloging, or an electronic resources librarian. I’m talking about becoming an engaged librarian who cares and understands that the patron is center of our universe. You will be responsible for what you learn and what type of librarian you become. Although I often get frustrated with apathetic and distant professors, I try to work around that to make the learning process far more valuable. You will have great professors, so-so professors and awful ones. There are classes and professors that require little or no work, and you can choose to fall into that rut or rise above it. I don’t always succeed at this myself – my job, my life, etc. sometimes interferes. Sometimes, I whine and complain about a class or a professor. But, I try – and I try very hard to get the most out my graduate school experience that I possibly can.

Blog posts about skills needed to become a librarian:

  • 20 points on excellent library customer service – A post by Steve at Blog about Libraries about excellent customer service in libraries. (July 6, 2006).
  • 21st Century Librarian: Further Thoughts and Your Comments – A follow-up post by Meredith Farkas at Information Wants to Be Free to her Skills for the 21st Century Librarian post. (July 20, 2006).
  • Are Librarians Customer Service Oriented? – A response by Steve from Blog about Libraries to Meredith Farkas’ “The 21st Century Librarian: Further Thoughts and Your Comments.” Steve argues that the role of the librarian is changing: “We just can’t afford to be “wait until they ask us for help” librarians anymore and we can’t assume that our worth is self evident. We know that we have a lot to offer and now it’s time to stop the handwringing and start strengthening the value that people place on us.” (July 21, 2006).
  • Internal Customer Service Skills – A post by Steve at Blog about Libraries which is a follow-up to his post entitled 20 points on excellent library customer service. Steve expounds upon his third point “Treat each other well and you will find that treating patrons nicely becomes easier.” (July 19, 2006).
  • LibraryLand Skills for Any Century – A post by Karen Schneider at Free Range Librarian containing a list of skills needed for those who work in libraries. These skills include cunning, impatience, pessimism, fiscal-horse sense, cajones [sic] and feistiness. (July 20, 2006).
  • LibraryLand Skills, Part Deux – A post by Karen Schneider at Free Range Librarian with skills needed to succeed in libraryland, including stubbornness, high grubbyness tolerance, be lucky, and know how to be in the moment. (July 20, 2006).
  • Shamelessly glomming onto meredith’s awesome post – A post by Sarah over at the Scattered Librarian in response to Meredith’s Skills for the 21st Century Librarian. Sarah writes “However, with those caveats, i stand by my initial post. We can have all the tech savvy in the world, but if we are not adding value by what we do and how we do it, and (at least) as importantly, putting forth a compelling message about the value we add to the communities we serve, it’s time to fold our tents and go home, because we don’t deserve to win the battle for eyeballs against wikigoogazon, et al.” (July 20, 2006).
  • Skills for the 21st Century Librarian – A post by Meredith Farkas from Information Wants to Be Free detailing skills needed by librarian, focusing on “big topic” items. Be sure to read all of the comments on this post.
  • Skills for Success – from Info*Nation – includes cloud tags of personal and professional competencies for librarians. Found via Infoblog.
  • Teaching New Tricks – A post from Joshua M. Neff at the goblin in the library. Joshua focuses more practically on the things he did and did not learn in graduate school. (July 18, 2006).
  • Technical Skills and the Librarian – A post about the technical skills that everyone who works in a library should possess. (July 19, 2006).

LibraryThing to Add Media

July 20, 2006

Given the tremendous popularity of LibraryThing, I really thought that I ought to check it out. It really is right up my alley – given that I have handwritten lists of books that I own. I hesitated about creating an account because I really didn’t need to get hooked on something else, but felt as if I needed to check it out while I was doing research for my paper on library catalogs. I, of course, created an account right before they started having some issues – and the system was a bit slow. When I finally got back to it (by which time it was working great), I definitely enjoyed the process of adding my books. I was incredibly disappointed when I tried to add my DVD collections and found out that I couldn’t. As such, I was THRILLED to read via that LibraryThing would be adding the ability to add movies and music later this summer. So, I guess I will just work on adding my books until then. Cool!!

TV Planner Online!!

July 20, 2006

Comcast has released a new web-based product called TVplanner (beta version) which allows you to search for upcoming tv shows (2 weeks). I am so excited by this!!! Admittedly, I am a wicked tv junkie who scrolls through the tv guide listing rather than surfs – and likes to plan what I am going to watch. This online version is so much easier to scroll through than the tv version. The search capabilities are much better – and the results are much, much easier to read. On Demand content is available – and again, is so much easier to read through than doing so on the tv with the remote control. The first time you visit the site, it ask for your zip code so that you can set your cable area. Very easy to use!!!!

Robert S. Taylor Web Resources

July 20, 2006

I’m going back over my work from the past two semesters to compile all of the resources that I used for my projects. This list the list of web resources that I used in my biography on Robert S. Taylor.

  • Barbie Report -’s copy of the report of the U.S. Department of Justice entitled Klaus Barbie and the United States Government: A Report to the Attorney General of the United Stated Government, August 1983. The original pdf version is available from the U.S. DOJ. Taylor recruited Barbie to work for U.S. military intelligence while he was stationed in Germany after WWII.
  • A Documentary History of Hampshire, 1965-1975Vol. 1, Chapter 14- Library and Computer Use – This chapter contains two documents written by Taylor when he was library director of the Hampshire College Library: The Hampshire College Library (1969) and Computers and Computer Use (1969).
  • For Whom We Design Systems – Robert S. Taylor – Information given by Robert Taylor when he was included in the Pioneers of Information Science Scrapbook by the planning committee for the 1998 Conference on the History and Heritage of Science Information. Some biographical information is included.
  • History of Information science Technology 1960s - There is a reference to Taylor in relation to the “Science Information Specialists” conferences held at the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1961. “Robert S. Taylor (1976) said that this was the first time that a distinction had been made between specialist and scientist and between information technology and information science. He also said that these conferences had a significant impact on the establishment of the School of Information and Computer Science at Georgia Tech, the Center for the Information Sciences at Lehigh University, and the program in Information Science at Drexel University.”
  • Information needs- From a web site entitled “Core Concepts in Library and Information Science (LIS) by Birger Hjorland. Hjorland discusses concepts from the following article: Taylor, R. S. (1968), Question-negotiation and information seeking in libraries. College and Research Libraries, 29, 178-194. “Robert S. Taylor’s theories (1968) about the mental development of information needs have been rather influential in LIS He describes the development of information needs as a relatively independent development “in the head” of the users. It has a continuous development and go through some phases termed Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q4, going from an “unconscious need” over a “conscious need” to a “compromised need”. Taylor’s theory have been discussed by Hjørland (1993, 1997). It is argued that information needs probably do not develop continuously because a given piece of information may disturb the under standing of the problem underlying the need. It is also claimed that what develops “in the head” is not the primarily the need but knowledge about the problem-area, which causes the need. The implication for Hjørland (1993/1997) is also that the concept of knowledge interests(known from Habermas, 1968) is a better framework for the understanding of information needs and their development compared to the cognitive framework.
  • Information resource management: manager of data, information, and knowledge- by Dr. Zenona Atkociuniene, Faculty of Communication, University of Vilnius. In the paper, Taylor’s value-added spectrum for information processed is discussed.
  • International reader in the management of library, information and archive services compiled by Anthony Vaughan [for the]General Information Programme and UNISIST. – Paris: Unesco, 1987. – x, 672 p. – 30 cm. – (PGI-87/WS/22). Taylor is quoted in chapter 7 – Evaluation and Change- in a section on the Definition of a Library. “The two philosophies currently in fashion assert as a basic principle that the library is the centre of a school, college or university. This principle seems to us unacceptable. It is not the library (one of a number of functional services) that is the centre of a teaching institution but rather the main agents of education, i.e. the teachers and students. We agree entirely with the great American librarian Robert S. Taylor, who says that such a principle is simply a metaphoric platitude. Together with the student-learner, the most important agent in a teaching establishment is the teacher. Taylor’s comments on the library-college approach are also worth quoting:

    One recent and growing idea, the library college, though bold and challenging, is not the answer at this time(…). It represents a basically naive and early – too early – attempt to solve a very large and complicated problem. It is a rhetorical rather than empirical approach.” 

  • Judas Among Us: Who Betrayed Jean Moulin?- From a website dedicated to Jean Moulin and the French Resistance. A summary of a report by Klaus Barbie to Taylor detailing Barbie’s capture of Jean Moulin is given.
  • The Making of Library (1972) by Robert S. Taylor – The work written by Taylor to detail the making of the Hampshire College Library.
  • Nazis, Operation Condor, and Bush’s Privatization Plan - An article by William F. Wertz, Jr. in a March 25, 2005 issue of Executive Intelligence Review. Taylor is mentioned as Klaus Barbie’s recruiter.
  • Robert S. Taylor Biography – My biography of Taylor written for ILS503 – Foundations of Librarianship in March 2006.
  • A Tour of Information Science Through the Pages of JASIS- by Marcia J. Bates, Guest Editor – Published in the Journal of the American Society for Information Science, vol. 50, no. 11, 1999, pp.975-993. This article contains selected article titles from JASIS and its predecessor American Documentation. Two of Taylor’s articles are mentioned: “1982 Value-Added Processes in the Information Life Cycle Robert S. Taylor 33 (5): 341-346. Energy, time, and money must be invested to change useless data to productive knowledge, a value-added process” and “1962 The Process of Asking Questions Robert S. Taylor 13 (4): 391- 396. Four levels of question formation may be isolated and analyzed…”
  • University students information seeking behavior in a changing learning environment – How are students’ information needs, seeking and use affected by new teaching methods?- by Eeva-Liisa Eskola, Department of Information Studies, Abo Akademi University. In this paper, Eeva-Liisa Eskola discussed Taylor’s concept of information use environments.
  • What is Information Science and How is it Related to Library Science? – A lecture on information science. Robert Taylor’s definition of information science from a Library Journal article (v.88, pp. 4161-4162) is summarized:
    1. The study of the properties, structure and transmission of specialized knowledge;
    2. The development of methods for its useful organization and dissemination.

    He suggested that a focus on the information sciences could represent a change in the library from a “sophisticated but passive warehouse to a more dynamic institution.”


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