Department of “Thanks for pointing that out!”

From a conference report in Ariadne:

It was asserted that online public access catalogues (OPACs) must be rapidly transformed from antiquated browsing interfaces with crude search tools useful only for locating specified materials into intuitive, aesthetically pleasing search tools which produce high-quality search results and aggregate similar resources, in a similar way to commercial book retailers.

Oh, really?

OK. I’ll slot that in next week sometime.

November 3, 2006 at 11:28 am 1 comment

Wouldn’t it be cool if….

Much talk on some of the library lists and blogs I read about personalized recommendation services, and about the tension between patrons who want to preserve their borrowing history and libraries who need to protect patron confidentiality.

So wouldn’t it be cool to put the tools in the hands of patrons to manage their own borrowing history? LibraryThing provides recommendations based on the books you include in your library, and allows you to add books to your library by importing files with embedded ISBNs. So adding ISBNs to the “My account” information in the catalogue would be a simple way to enable that. It’s probably do-able, but it would clutter up the display for everyone else, and the point of it wouldn’t be clear to most users.

It would be even cooler if the library catalogue allowed you to export your current “My Account” information. Especially if you could use that export capability to populate LibraryThing and Zotero or Refworks or whatever other citation manager you use.

It would be even cooler if — at the time of chargeout — the system would automatically e-mail you a “receipt” with enough information about your items to allow import.

It might be even cooler if clicking on a link to an electronic resource in the catalogue could be treated as a chargeout, and would generate a similar e-mail receipt. But on the other hand, that might just freak people out.

November 1, 2006 at 4:02 pm 2 comments

Web services in Libraries

A couple of documents have been floating around in the past few days that give me hope that someday I will understand where the library world might be able to go with Web Services and Service Oriented Architecture.

Links are here so that I can absorb them again on a day when the brain is less clouded.

Disruptive Library Technology Jester has a really interesting series of posts on SOA. His analogy of a transportation system is a really useful one, I think.

As well, there’s a NISO report on “Best practices for designing Web Services in the library context.” Mm-mm. Niso-ey goodness.

September 26, 2006 at 2:10 pm Leave a comment

$2.19, or, My career as a Mechanical Turk

Amazon owes me $2.19 for my outstanding efforts at identifying addresses and storefronts in bad photographs of American streetscapes. Yes, it is true. I am a Mechanical Turk.

Since I was earning a meagre 3 cents a photo, I now feel a great kinship to sweatshop workers everywhere. We work hard for minimal pay, but we’re a Proud People. I’m particularly proud of the photo I found of the hugely obese man emerging from a Burger King in Reno. Or maybe it was Miami. I forget.

But today, alas, the photos were gone, and in their place, a new task. We Mechanical Turks are expected to identify the artist’s name on various album covers. My first task was to choose between “Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians” and “Lombardo, Guy.”

Now, I am a librarian by training, and I started out as a cataloguer. I’m pretty sure that GL&HRC is a Corporate Body and should be given the entry here, but I have to admit that it’s been a few years. I’d probably have to consult AACR2 and maybe LCRI and whatever else the Cataloguing Kids are using these days in order to be sure.

And even if I’m right, I’d want to create a cross reference from Lombardo, Guy. Should it be a “see” reference or a “see also” reference? Well, I’d need to do some research on whether GL ever recorded without his Royal Canadians. And then I’d start to wondering whether the Royal Canadians ever recorded without GL. It seems like it would have been really ungrateful of them, and impolite; if they really were Canadians, they wouldn’t have done that, would they? But even if they didn’t, maybe we should give them a “see” reference as well.

And for all this, Amazon was going to pay me the princely sum of 2 cents per authority record! Less than I got for the photos!

I think my Mechanical Turking days are over. I can’t handle the pressure. Now, how am I going to spend that $2.19?

December 1, 2005 at 8:41 pm Leave a comment

My ears are bleeding!

One of the joys of my morning is listening to Music and Company on CBCfm (I’m sorry CBC; I know you want to be like the BBC when you grow up, but I can never remember which station is Radio One and which station is Radio Two).

And the best part of the week is, of course, Tuesday at 7:30, when Tom Allen announces “Cage Match!”

The idea is that two pieces of (classical) music go head-to-head, and we get to vote on the “winner.” How many times in your life do you get to express a wholly uninformed opinion on which cello performer you prefer? This is one of those wonderful opportunities for Concequence-free Uneducated Snobbery, like crashing a wine-tasting and talking sagely about Oakiness and Raspberry Nose. (Though you only want to take that comparison so far, because for a soprano, say, oakiness and a raspberry nose would probably not be good things).

But back to my point.

Today’s cage match was shockingly horrible. I am fortunate that I was at a stoplight when Placido Domingo began singing– a duet with John Denver! And then Luciano Pavarotti started up on “My Way” with Frank Himself.

It was horrible. Obviously very few people listen to CBCfm, because cars were not veering off the road, and people were not jumping from windows.

November 15, 2005 at 9:04 am Leave a comment

Distro inferno

I spent a lot of the weekend looking at Linux LiveCD distributions on my laptop– burning, booting, and trying to get them up and running without actually going to the bother of reading documentation.

I am such a newbie at this, and it’s all really a waste of time, since my job requires at least one proprietary piece of Windows-based software that is not likely to be ported to Linux any time soon. But I do like to tinker.

What I have learned:

  • DistroWatch.com is really a fabulous discovery, and I can tell I’m going to be wasting a lot more time here.
  • Gentoo 2005.1: Way too cool for me. You have to know what you are doing and actually build this baby to install it. You can almost smell the balsa wood and airplane glue coming off these folks (does that date me?).
  • SimplyMEPIS 3.3.1: I really liked this one, and was able to get everything up and running pretty fast. Biggest peeve: I can’t get the little weather icon in the launchbar to display in Celsius. (Canadian Whiner!) I’ll be back.
  • Mandrivia Discovery 2006: Couldn’t figure this one out at all, and kept getting booted into the shell. I must be missing something.
  • Linspire Live 5.0.69: Quite lovely, and so easy it seemed like cheating. Extra software like Lphoto and Lsongs (based on guess what?) are nice features. It looks like it would be expensive to actually install Linspire, but it’s a nice place to visit.
  • Ubuntu 5.10: Ubuntu uses Gnome instead of KDE as a graphical interface (I probably have my terminology all wrong here), and I prefer it. KDE is a bit too cheerful and friendly for my taste; and all those ‘K’ words. Konsole? Spare me.
  • Kanotix 2005-03: This one came highly recommended by DistroWatch, but on first glance, I don’t think I see the appeal. I’m going to have to give it another look.

November 13, 2005 at 10:10 pm Leave a comment


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