Archive for Pop Culture

Library 2.0h noes!

Via my Facebook page:

“What kind of librarian are you?” with the result Librarian 2.0.
You were interviewed for the New York Times about the changing face of librarians, you’re in charge of your library’s Facebook page, and you hate working with old people. You enjoy showing patrons how to use the computer catalog and no longer make a bitch face when asked for help with self checkout. Patrons and coworkers see you as a breath of fresh air and someone who is full of good ideas, as long as you aren’t rolling your eyes at them. You are a next gen librarian, one who will define the future of blah blah blah. We get it. Remember, it’s still ok for libraries to have books in the building..

Oy. Before I complain about the term “2.0,” I just want to talk about the description of “me.” I was interviewed by no one, but thanks for the NYT shout-out. (If you are reading this, New York Times, call me!) My library had no Facebook page, no self-checkout and no bitch-face. I am an incredibly polite human being who wants books in libraries! In fact, I am pro-traditional-library (though I think that using new technology appropriately is important.) People need and love books, the physical objects. I am one of those people!

Now, I don’t want to belabor the point, but people people, not just nerds, have been using internets since, say, 1995. In 2002, System of a Down was using “software version 7.0” of… /trails off/ /looks it up/ Conversion? Eating seeds? Our city? At any rate, they were using software version 7.0. The version of Firefox I am using at this very moment is 3.0.10. Libraries, as we know them, have been around since the freakin’ 18th century, and the ancient-y civilizations had libraries.

How are we only on version 2.0?! I mean, it really gets me that we are only on the second release to begin with, but .0?! .0?!?!?!?!??!!!

If we’re going to be arbitrary about the whole thing, here’s what I’ve got:

Library 1.0: some guy collects scrolls and tablets in his home, in some kind of order
Library 1.1: other guys do the same thing
Library 0.0: Rome burns
Library 2.0: Rich 18th century nobles sponsor libraries
Library 2.1: Rich 18th century nobles sponsor university libraries
Library 3.0: Literate commerçants collect their Romans for easy access to Bawdy Entertainments
Library 4.0: Some other stuff probably happens
Library 5.0: 1876 — Dewey BLOWS EVERYONE’S MINDS!

Melvil!!!

Melvil!!!


Library 5.1-5.9.18: thence to now, revisions to Dewey + LCC, ad infinitum
Library 6.0: Computers take over
Library 6.1: What happened to all the card catalogs?
Library 6.2: Seriously, guys, is there any paper anywhere in this damn library that is not bound?
Library 6.3: Discs of various sorts with information people might use, usually shelved in reference section or housed in the back of books
Library 7.0: Internet BLOWS EVERYONE’S MINDS
Library 7.1: Search engines and online databases
Library 7.2: Wikipedia MAKES PEOPLE CRAZY AND BELLIGERENT!
Library 7.3: Whatever buzz-words people are using for the fact that a lot of young people can use computers

Library 7.3. There.

As a bonus, here are some other phrases besides “[insert noun here] 2.0” that will one day be used in historical fiction to gently mock those of us in the fin-de-20ème siècle and early 21st:

internet cyberspace (I actually found that phrase in a book! That was published! By a major press!)
Y2K
[any word].com (when you aren’t just giving someone a web address; this one is courtesy Nicole)
pwn (sadly)

Classy — Cal Edition

[I maintain that anytime someone says “classy” to refer to a person or behavior, there is no way to make it sound unironic. Here, though, I am making an adjective about courses that are being taught, and this is not intended to be a comment on the tackiness or non-tackiness thereof.]

Here are some classes I aspire to take:

Mixing and Remixing Information at UC Berkeley’s ISchool

Oh, man, this is so beautiful, I don’t even know what to do with it. 1) The title is gorgeous! 2) Using XML and web services to make already-available information more accessible, which is exactly my aim! 3) Course description employs the word “exploiting”.

Interface Aesthetics, also at Cal’s ISchool

I think that I’ve expressed my love for aesthetics a bit already, but I want to add, also, how important this is to me, in terms of ease of use and “exploitation” of pre-existing user instincts.

Information Access — this one is at Cal’s ISchool!

Exactly! This is the reason I want to go to such an innovative program! Basically: information retrieval practices, including new practices, and their social impact.

The Politics of Piracy, an undergraduate class in the ISchool

I am not sure if I’d be allowed to take it, if I were a grad student, but it is so exciting to me! It is what it sounds like. It is student-led and pass/no-pass. Lots of discussion. I think it’s an important conversation to be having. I think I especially need to be having conversations with people about this. I like the question “Is there such a thing as ‘good’ piracy?” Another question for myself: why do I not pirate, if there is any way for me to pay for something official, while not condemning others for piracy? And why are we calling it piracy, particularly since the pirated object is still available to others? And also if we don’t want people to do it, as pirates are widely considered to be “cool”? Were they foreseeing a (very near) future when pirates are passé?

Has the moment already passed?

Has the moment already passed?

The Library Scene Part the Second

Yesterday I talked about the Bücherrad(-rad-rad &cetera) portion of the awesome scene (in Neal Stephenson’s The Confusion in Wolfenbütten (thanks to Dani and Emily for the coding!), wherein Leibniz and Fatio explore the library that Leibniz inherited from Duke August and is now cultivating with his new-fangled cataloging and classification plans. Yesterday was cataloging. Today: classification.

“Observe– each book is identified by a number. The numbers are arbitrary, meaningless– a kind of code, like the names Adam gave to the beasts. Duke August was of the old school, and used Roman numerals, which makes it that much more cryptickal.”
Liebniz led Fatio away from the center of the floor toward the rugged stone walls, which were mostly barricaded by high thick ramparts covered in canvas taurpaulins. He peeled up the edge of one and flung it back to reveal that the rampart was a stack of books, thousands of them…

How hilarious would it be if that was what a library was, actually. A nice big pile of books covered in a tarp? Also, how funny is it to imagine that that is what digital information storage is like? A big pile of information covered by a tarp. Only here the tarp is that the stuff is invisible until you retrieve it? (Did I stretch that too far? Or JUST FAR ENOUGH?!)

Also, I love the shout-out to the arbitrariness of classification. Yes, it is organized in a fashion, but that organization, even if it is “intuitive,” i.e., sciency books together in Dewey in 500s, is arbitrary, because, of course, “500” doesn’t mean science anymore than “fhqwhgads” does, but also because where do we cut off science? Computer science is in the aughts. Medicine is in the 600s. We are cutting the whole damn thing into chunks, pretty much wherever we understand it. Which is why the whole thing is constantly in flux. When I left my last job, I left a list of reclassification projects, just as my predecessor had done; there wasn’t time in nine years to finish them all.

And, shout-out to Saussure, calling Adam’s naming of the animals arbitrary. I guess it would’ve been a bigger shout-out if he’d clarified that Adam also had to pioneer taxonomy at the same time by deciding which animals were different enough that they got their own names. (Incidentally, taxonomy isn’t just used to describe biological taxonomy but any kind of classification– ours included!)

Continuing:

“Now [the books] are in a heap, later they shall be on shelves– either way, how do you find what you want?” Leibniz asked…
“I suppose one would go by the numbers. Supposing that they were shelved in numerical order.”
“Suppose they were. The numbers merely denote the order in which the Duke acquired, or at least cataloged, the volumes. They say nothing of the content.”
“Re-number them, then.”
“According to what scheme? By name of author?”
“I believe it would be better to use something like Wilkins’s philosophical language. [ed. note: this is a reference to the language I mentioned that the Royal Society was trying to develop in which it was impossible to speak Untruth.] For any conceivable subject, there would be a unique number. Write that number on the spine the book and shelve them in order. Then you can go directly to the right part of the library and find all the books on a given subject together.”
“But suppose I am making a study of Aristotle. Aristotle is my subject. May I expect to find all Aristotle-books shelved together? Or would his works on geometry be shelved in one section, and his works on physics elsewhere?”
“If you look at it that way, the problem is most difficult.”

Word. I think that it is pretty common for libraries to fudge the Dewey a bit to keep books by the same author together. Of course, not to the extent of putting geometry and physics together, but to the point of, say, simplifying a call number down to one or two decimal points beyond the whole number so they will fit. I had to do this all the time, and often it involved rearranging and reclassing things.

Also, the part about putting the books in numerical order of when they were cataloged or acquired reminded me of a story I heard about someone, in a library class, cataloging books by the color of their covers. (Actually, the books in my bedroom are arranged in color order. We haven’t cataloged them yet.)

And on–

Leibniz stepped over to an empty bookcase and drew his finger down the length of one shelf from left to right. “A shelf is akin to a Cartesian number-line. The position of a book on that shelf is associated with a number. But only one number! Like a number-line, it is one-dimensional. In analytic geometry we may cross two or three number-lines at right angles to create a multi-dimensional space. Not so with bookshelves. The problem of the librarian is that books are multi-dimensional with their subject matter but must be ordered on one-dimensional shelves.”
…[ed. note: this is still Leibniz]
“…Consider the following: Suppose we assign the number three to Aristotle, and four to turtles. Now we must decide where to shelve a book by Aristotle on the subject of turtles. We multiply three by four to obtain twelve, and then shelve the book in position twelve.”
“Excellent! By a simple multiplication you have combined several subject-numbers into one– collapsed the multi-dimensional space into a uni-dimensional number-line.”
“I am pleased that you favor my proposal thus far, Fatio, but now consider the following: suppose we assign the number two to Plato, and six to trees. And suppose we acquire a book by Plato on the subject of trees. Where does it belong?”
“The product of two and six is twelve– so it goes next to Aristotle’s book on turtles.”
“Indeed. And a scholar seeking the latter book may instead find himself with the former– clearly a failure of the cataloging system.”
“Then let me step once again into the rôle of Simplicio and ask whether you have solved this problem.”
“Suppose we use this codimg instead,” quoth the Doctor, reaching behind the bokcase and pulling out a slate on which the following table had been chalked– thereby as much as admitting that the conversation, to this point, had been a scripted demo’.

2 Plato
3 Aristotle
5 Trees
7 Turtles
2×5=10 Plato on Trees
3×7=21 Aristotle on Turtles
2×7=14 Plato on Turtles
3×5=15 Aristotle on Trees
[etc.]

“Two, three, five, and seven– all prime numbers,” remarked Fatio after giving it a brief study. “The shelf-numbers are composites, the products of prime factors. Excellent, Doctor! By making this small improvement– assigning prime numbers, instead of counting numbers, to the various subjects– you have eliminated the problem. The shelf position of any book may be found by multiplying the subject-numbers– and you may be assured it will be unique.”

Oh, man. This part is just incredibly rich. Firstly, I love prime numbers! In fact, one of my favorite things in the world is trying to determine in my head whether a number is prime or not! And I’m no savant; it takes work! Two, I love his classification scheme! It makes as much sense as any other, as far as I can tell, with the obvious problem that I will address below. Three, I think it is an interesting proposal to factor in the author at the same time as the subject, instead of, as both Dewey and Library of Congress do: subject first, author second. Fourth, people are still tackling the issue of multi-subjected books. And with the proliferation of subject headings (and their sub-headings), subjects are being broken down minutely (which I think is to the good of all involved), while the classification systems don’t have room to accommodate the growth (which I think is just the sad truth of it all. I can memorize a string of numbers up to ten digits pretty reliably, but that is mostly because of my cataloging work. I think most people do well with three to five digits, again, reliably. Also, where would you put a sixteen digit string on a book? Across the title?)

[ed note: Fatio: ]”I predict that you will find success, Doctor Leibniz, and that one day there will rise up, in Berlin, Vienna, or even Moscow, a Knowledge Engine on a titanic scale. The shelves will extend for countless leagues and will be crowded with books all arranged according to the rules of your system. But I fear that I could very easily become lost in the bowels of that place. Looking at a shelf I might see some number, eight or nine digits long. I would know this to be a composite number, the product of two or more primes. But to decompose such a number into its prime factors is a notoriously difficult and tedious problem. There is a curious asymmetry about this approach, in other words, lying in the fact that to its creator the structure and organization of the great library will be clear as glass– but to a solitary visitor it will seem a murky maze of impenetrable numbers.”
“I do not deny it,” Leibniz answered without hesitation, “but I find in this a sort of beauty, a reflection of the structure of the universe. The situation of the solitary visitor, as you have described it, is one with which I am familiar.”

Beautiful! Of course it is insane to imagine people walking around doing complicated factoring in their heads in order to figure out what the hell section of the library they are in. But! Is it somehow more intuitive for people to find themselves at the end of the 700s looking for books about sports? People may be less lost if they have spent a lot of time in libraries or if they are familiar with the process of looking up books in catalogs and then scanning the shelves for that particular call number. But, honestly, if one were a “solitary visitor” to a library (one that didn’t explain on the ends of the stacks what kinds of books are housed within), how easy would it be for one to find a book on the subject of one’s choice or even to determine what section one was in? What would intuitive classification look like? And how would we shift to it?

In closing, I just want to say how indebted I am to Neal Stephenson for entertaining me thus and for awakening parts of my brain that had been long un-exercised. And, of course, the materials I have been quoting are copyrighted to the teeth, and I hope I have been applying fair-use in my blogging. (A subject I have yet to explore, which I know I REALLY MUST!)

The Library Scene

So, I am in the middle of The Confusion by Neal Stephenson, the second book in The Baroque Cycle. I know I keep talking about these books, but I am right now totally engrossed. I can’t read anything else. (Except for websites and trashy magazines.) Also, I haven’t been sleeping well for about six months and twenty-one days, and I have been experimenting with getting up at 5:00 (or whenever I wake up) and reading in the Serenity Room until I fall back asleep.

The other night I was delighted to find:

“Leibniz and Fatio at Wolfenbuttel” (actually, there should be an umlaut over the “u.” Anyone interested in cracking WordPress for me to tell me how to umlaut it up?)

The context: Leibniz is Leibniz. (Also, man, that is not who I was picturing!) Fatio is Fatio. And what is happening here is Fatio, a “very” “close” “associate” of “Isaac Newton” (oops, the last one didn’t need quotes), is visiting Leibniz to do some “investigating,” of which sort we don’t yet know. And Leibniz takes Fatio to the library he is creating and describes to him his vision of the future:

“Behold, the Bucherrad!” [ed. note: there’s an asterisk leading to the footnote: “Wheel of Books”] Leibniz said.
Viewed end-on, the Bucherrad was hexagonal, and nearly as tall as Fatio. When he worked his way round to the front, he saw that it consisted mostly of six massive shelves, each one a couple of fathoms long, bridging the interval between hexagonal end-caps that were mounted on axles so that the whole apparatus could be revolved. But each of the six shelves was free to revolve on an axis of its own. As the Bucherrad spun, each of those shelves counter-rotated in such a way that it maintained a fixed angles with respect to the floor, and did not spill its load of books.
Going round to the other end, Fatio was able to see how it worked: a system of planetary gears, carven from hard wood, spun about the central axle-tree like Ptolemaic epicylcles. [ed. note: like you do.]
Then Fatio turned his attention to the books themselves: curious folio volumes, hand-written, all in the same hand, all in Latin.
“These were all written out personally by one Duke August, a fore-runner of the lot you just met. He lived to a great age and died some twenty-five years ago. It was he who assembled most of this collection,” Leibniz explained.
Fatio bent slightly at the waist to read one of the pages. It consisted of a series of paragraphs each preceded by a title and a long Roman numeral. “It is a description of a book,” he concluded.
“The process of abstraction continues,” Leibniz said. “Duke August could not keep the contents of his library in his memory, so he wrote out catalogs. And when there were too many catalogs for him to use them conveniently, he had woodwrights make Bucherrads– engines to facilitate the use and maintenance of the catalogs.”
“Very ingenious.”
“Yes– and it is threescore years old,” Leibniz returned. “If you do the arithmetick, as I have, you may easily demonstrate that to hold all the catalogs needed to list all the world’s books would require so many Bucherrads that we would need some Bucherrad-rads to spin them around, and a Bucherrad-rad-rad to hold all of them–”
“German is a convenient language that way,” Fatio said diplomatically.

Oh dear God! I realize that this is fictional dialogue, but the truth of the matter is that Leibniz presaged the library cataloging system, as it is used today. We have a series of engines doing the work of storing the abstracts (though most library records don’t include 520 fields and should!), and we have a series of engines to organize those engines, etc. And, in this country, the Library of Congress does the work of collecting “all” of the books published in this country, and OCLC does the job of collecting “all” of the records for published books around the world (that are submitted to them) (which is a lot) (most?).

At any rate, this is all making me think about the origins of library and information systems as we use them today. They don’t seem to me to be intuitive so much as prescribed, and their roots are from the Eighteenth-Century Enlightenment obsession with organization of knowledge and learning. Like I said on Friday, this is the era of the encyclopedia and strangely, relatedly, of landscape gardening, wherein the wild becomes tamed by the careful pruning and defining of terms and plants, respectively. So, the entire basis of library science, as we know it, is based on the assumption that knowledge is this big mess (probably true) that we can organize (maybe?) and classify (??) and control (non).

If not that, then what?

[Next, part II of the Library Scene, wherein complicated and confusing classification systems emerge and the shortcomings thereof are revealed–]

Why I Run, Why I Drum, and What It Has to Do With Work

As I write this, the crowd is still cheering for me. ‘Cause I just killed “Drain You” (Nirvana) and “Girl’s Not Grey” (AFI, who are noisy, so, warning). On Rock Band (2!!) During the workday.

Of course, as one who is currently looking for a job “workday” = flexible, but I try to keep my work limited to the 8 to 5 hours, as much as possible. I like that I can go for a run or play the drums during the middle of the day with no real fuss. It keeps me sane.

Yes, I said that. I need Rock Band (warning: audio), drum lessons, running, and their ilk to keep me sane, just in general. Right now, though, I need them to keep me sane during the workday. I had the privilege of working in a place where I could run during my lunch hours (which is one of my top lines around my next job), and it kept me sane then too, but right now, in this stressful situation, it is crucial that I a) stop what I am doing and do something completely different, b) do something physical, and c) have real fun (as opposed to reading something fun, which is also awesome but not what I am talking about here.)

a) All right, stop what you’re doing!

Cause I seriously am about to ruin the image and the style that you’re used to. I am a seriously hard worker, and my tendency is to keep on going “until I’m done” or to do “just one more thing.” And it is pretty neverending. There will always be one more thing to do, until, you know, I die. (Sorry to get morbid there, but it is true.) (Oh, hey, maybe I should turn off the AFI?) (Apparently not.)

I know this about myself: unchecked, I will work until I cannot do another thing, and then I will be ruined for the day or I will get sick or my body will somehow, lovingly, force me slow down. You know, like when you (I) get (got) sick for a week (and a half)? It is so much better when I stop myself before I get that far, and it is easiest for me to stop if I actually like what I am stopping for.

b) Man In Motion

(Jacob mentioned this song in a recap I read today, and I was like, OH GOD I LOVE THAT SONG in all caps and everything. In my head. Sigh.)

I think differently when I am flailing about. And when the scenery is changing. When I am doing something routine and physical at a steady beat. Don’t know why this is. Scientists do. I just know it works.

I can be freaking out because Yahoo thinks I’m a spammer ’cause I can’t read their damn squigglies and I can’t send off the resume I just fixed for the hundredth time and I don’t even know if it is a good resume at all anymore and imagine that in all-caps, because I don’t want to scream at you (again.) But when I put on my shoes and my feet hit the pavement, I start to think different things, even if they are like, Hey, is that group of high schoolers going to run me off the sidewalk? or, Wasn’t there a mailbox here last month? Eventually it turns into Yay, a dog! or, OH MY GOD I LOVE THIS SONG (if wearing iPod Shuffle). And for some reason, when I turn around to head home, I am always thinking something completely different and awesome than when I went out.

(With the drums, this tends to be: if Rock Band, I AM AWESOME! if drum lessons, OH MY GOD THIS IS THE GREATEST!) (Apologies.)

c) [I can’t think of a “fun” song]

Reading is really fun. As is watching TV. And reading internet. Facebook. This is a list of things that are not quite enough for me, in the course of a day, to actually relax and get out of my head. I have to be doing something with my body that is so totally unlike work I cannot possibly confuse it with work.

Like, if I were a bike messenger, watching TV would be very different from my job, so it would be a fine break. But going for a bike ride mightn’t work as well for me.

Watching TV is like watching computer screen. Reading is reading, for whatever its purpose. So, if I start flailing my limbs about, my body is like, OH! Not Work! I remember this! Sometimes it doesn’t start out being fun for me. Sometimes I have to kind of push myself and be like, Self, is trying to navigate the Missoni site enjoyable to you, or would you rather change into a Life Is Good shirt and be among your peers on the sidewalks.

I vote for peers!

You can’t go back…

you can never go back.

I’ve been thinking about my last post, and I am seriously asking myself what I did before the internet existed. And I realize that what I did was live a completely different life.

I am actually in that gap between Gen X and Gen Y, and basically, I get to decide where I want to land. So, I was in high school when people started to use e-mail, and it wasn’t until I was well into college that I started to use the internet for some of the things I do now: to find out what happened on TV last week when I wasn’t looking; to download music; to chat with people; to take quizzes that end up pissing me off; and to watch videos.

I don’t know when I made the transition into using the internet as my primary reference tool (by, in descending order of frequency, typing a question into Google; checking Wikipedia; IMing someone; or using an online database) and my primary mode of communication. It was a slow progression, aided by my purchase of a laptop in 2006. Like I said yesterday, I didn’t really do any of these things before the internet. If I didn’t know something, I either called my sister, looked in the encyclopedia (which has the same number of errors, at least in nature articles, on average, per entry as Wikipedia), or said, eff it, who cares.

Now, though, I don’t want to wait, I don’t want to say eff it; I want to know where my high school biology teacher is, I want to know whether Sufjan Stevens ever says anything in interviews about his sexuality, and I want to know whether what I felt was really an earthquake and if so, where it was. My brain is now attuned to this, and I really can’t go backwards here, nor do I want to.

So, are you?

So, are you?

So, here’s where libraries come in: libraries, as research institutions, are operating from an old model. This model says that librarians are the keepers of the knowledge, and yes, that they can show patrons how to do their own research, but that there are certain places where reliable knowledge can be got, and few valid sources. Which, I get. There are things that are “empirically true,” and there are reliable sources.

BUT! This is like the spider/starfish thing. Telling people that the spider has all the knowledge is presumptuous at best. I am looking for instant gratification, in terms of information. And I know that print media or even up-to-the-minute databases aren’t going to give me quotes from Alf.

Which is why I see the role of reference librarian shifting toward something more like information-evaluation librarian. (Note to self: come up with pithier name for job.) People have a clearer idea how to search for information on their own, and how to contribute their own information to the collective wisdom of the internet, but many people don’t have the skills to differentiate between reliable and unreliable sources and information (which is why Snopes (make sure you’ve got pop-up blocker enabled) is awesome and necessary). I envision library and information science professionals as instructors but also as creators of new search engines, new ways to index, and how about something so new I can’t even imagine what it is! Give us some new code that will blow our minds entirely!

(I just want to acknowledge that I am coming from a really privileged position, what with having a computer, and internet access and, hey, even basic literacy, not to mention computer literacy. So, as a result, I get to have another code to use to figure things out. And I think it should be available to everyone who wants it.)

Some helpful advice

via Aziz Ansari

I try not to give advice, but I am glad that Poetic Prophet does. I learned how to use a computer around the same time I learned how to write. Our school had some awesome grantwriters, and I can only assume that is how we got Atari 800s in the computer lab, in the early ’80s. I grew up using computers, and I see a definite generation gap between people in my position and those who learned computers later.

A bunch of these, minus Burger King cups = Computer Center, 1983

A bunch of these, minus Burger King cups = Computer Center, 1983

I think the language analogy is apt; just as it is easier to learn languages while your brain is still developing as a young kid, it is easier to learn to use a computer at that age. Computing ends up seeming intuitive, rather than being something you are constantly “translating” into and out of. An e-mail is not an electronic letter, and a chat room is not an e-mail, and a web page is not a newsletter. I know this for the same reason I know how to use grammar in English; I’ve been practicing the concepts, if not these exact iterations, since I was a child.

Which isn’t to say that these things can’t be learned. Just as you can learn a language at any time in your life (I didn’t start learning French until college and ended up majoring in it), you can learn to use any technology you care to. I think the key here is to learn. Even those of us who come by this more instinctively need to learn and apply new knowledge. I had to learn html, just as I originally had to learn DOS, just as I now need to learn css. If you scoff because you are just using the internet casually, I completely understand, but I think that even a little bit of learning can a) make things a lot easier, b) help you to use the technology more effectively, and c) keep you from accidentally breaching the rules of nettiquette. (Sorry about that: I can’t stop smushing words together!) (Good starter book on e-mail = David Shipley’s Send: The Essential Guide to Email for Office and Home)

I agree with PP, though, that the best way to learn this stuff is to look around and play around and learn by doing. You might need some basic stuff to get you started. I do not recommend asking your children for help learning this. There are plenty of books on the subject; ask at your library, rather than purchasing books, as this kind of stuff is ever-evolving. But get online yourself and start playing around. See what you like, what kind of aesthetic appeals to you, and bookmark some pages. Follow links and see what else is out there and bookmark some more pages. Remember when you were a kid and you had to write a report on something that interested you? Choose something that interests you and do some online research about it, find communities about it, and read blogs devoted to it. (Again, here is where a good reference librarian comes in handy.) Okay, /end advice

E-mail. Looking at websites. Searching the internet. Using social networking media (and I include forums in this category). Creating your own blog or webpage or site. All learnable. All doable, no matter your generation or experience level. We can all use these tools more effectively, no matter where we are starting from, if we are willing to learn– from reference librarians, from experience, from other users, and from rappers.

For more information:
The Real Heart-Juice to Social Networking from Mark Silver’s Heart of Business Site
Obsolete Technology Website (to learn more about Atari)
Blackalicious’ Alphabet Aerobics and Chemical Calisthenics (warning: audio) (to learn more about life through rap)

Please do not revoke my library card!

Berkeley Public Library sent me a bill! Apparently I had hidden a book from myself in a bag on the closet door, returned everything else, and brushed my hands off all comedic-style, like, there we go! Patrons of the Berkeley Public Library System, I am sorry for keeping Career Guide to America’s Top Industries (331.702 C18a 2004) past its due date. You will note it is now “Recently Returned”!

Two things I learned:
1) I am an imperfect library patron;
2) Libraries are a “top industry,” on account of the number of librarians and library paraprofessionals retiring or about to retire.

I fell into cataloging in my (very) early twenties. I thought, I’ll just do this for a while and earn my degree. (I worked at a college and got tuition remission.) Nine years later, I was, like, wait, am I still doing this? I took a palate-cleansing break, working on an organic farm in Maine and then taking care of animals at a small local theme park.

Awesome donkeys I used to take care of!

Awesome donkeys I used to take care of!

And now? Well, I guess I am still doing this. I applied to library school for the fall, and I am applying like mad to library and library-adjacent jobs. I have had some time and space to think more about libraries and the future of information.

Thoughts which I will share anon…

To tide you over: a vision from the future of librarianship (as underwritten by IBM)