Where's the Library?

Libraries are not just a place or a thing. Libraries are evolving!


Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on September 25, 2013

Wow–here it is the end of September! I’ve been doing a bit of reflection. It has been a journey these 18 years. Overall, a great journey. Met some wonderful students! Worked with some fine, and sometimes not so fine, people. Enjoyed the ride and don’t want it to end.

I truly love helping people find information.

I truly enjoy knowing that they appreciate my efforts.

I know they liked me showing them the paths so that they could replicate my efforts. They could “fine tune” what they found to work for their needs.

I have been blessed!



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Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on June 27, 2013

Why would managers not want to point the way? Why won’t management include the staff into plans? Why wouldn’t management want to hear dialogue from “those in the trenches?”

The best managers I have known, and I have known quite a few, always patiently explained the new territory. They tried to get everyone on board with the new directions. They listened to concerns and issues. They were not afraid of questions, challenges, etc. They embraced them, knowing full well that once almost everybody got on board, the new direction would snowball into a new era.

What does this have to do with digital libraries? Really a lot! Managers are always part of the picture. They have various titles, but they control what is valued. If something is not valued it is is usually trashed! This applies to all resources. The most valuable resource are the people who do the work. Staff may seem to be expendable, but replacing people is never easy.

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End of June

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on June 24, 2013

It is time to blog more, now that it is the End of June. June is a month of weddings and anniversaries. That is enough to make me want to write. Not because of the romance, but because I want to write from the heart.

How to preserve so much information? How to keep it in a viewable format? How to know what is important and what can be let go? These decisions are so arbitrary, yet they must be made. No one else wants to preserve anything unless there is money to be made. It’s all about the “bottom line.”

It makes me think about an aggregating database vendor. The publisher pulled their resources, so the vendor put a positive spin on it. They went out and collected obscure titles so that their “count of resources” would not drop. Yes, they were peer reviewed, but who were those peers? Misleading to say the least. So the decisions were made based on profit not quality.

Yes, I know peer reviewed, but they were not quality.

I disagree with that approach! I think that it is unfortunate that publishers, not those in the field are making those choices.

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Job interview

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on June 22, 2013

Interviewed for another job yesterday. They wanted experience in an area I don’t have, I have experience in an area they don’t have. Not expecting much out of it, but it would be nice if they actually were serious about me for the job.

I think I could bring a lot to the job for them. Wonder if they see it that way!

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The state of the library?

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on June 19, 2013

Libraries as a place.

Libraries are ubiquitous.

It’s all online.

We need to save things because everyone else is throwing things away.

All true!! All not true!! That is the problem with libraries. We don’t know what we are doing or where we are going. We have lots of good ideas, but does anybody really care? Oh maybe a few, but for now let’s all play on the Internet!!

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Where is the library going?

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on October 11, 2012

I thought I knew the answer, or at least had an inkling about where the library of the future would be. Now, I am not so sure. There are too many administrators, (not just library admins) who do not truly value the library. They see it as something that costs the institution money. Since when did services become such a commodity. Does everything have to be based on a profit?

Libraries help an institution make a profit by providing timely access to information. Without background information, it is difficult to make a knowledgeable decision. Government resources can provide statistics and background studies. Databases provide the literature that has been published on a topic. Librarians are the link to finding the information that is sought. Without librarians and libraries, we are left to the mercy of the “big corporations” who will filter what they want us to find and only what they can charge us to receive.

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Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on September 23, 2012

Interestingly enough the reference questions have been about finding the reserves, checking out books, locating a book on the shelves. Yes, it is a new school year, and this group has not yet learned our system. They will soon and be “old hands” at it.

Since they closed a computer lab, we are busier than ever. Our computers are constantly busy in the evenings, with people waiting to use them. Yes, we have a good crop of “flash drives” left behind.

This afternoon, I have helped someone find a book in the “stacks.” No student knows that term! Also, helped several students find some books; directed some to the circulation desk; explained where reserves are; showed how to use the copy machine; filled up the printers with paper; and the evening is still very young.  Believe it or not, I enjoy reference most of the time. It is one of the more fulfilling jobs in the library, in my estimation. Getting instant feedback for your efforts is always gratifying.

So, if you need some background information on Olympic Games or Beowulf, or need an article about II Chronicles, etc., stop by the reference desk or contact us online!

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Where is the Library?

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on September 19, 2012

It’s a question that is asked from time to time, yet the library is not just a building. The library can be found online, too. We are accessible. I’m sure you knew that, but people forget that libraries can be used remotely.

As long as you have “privileges” you can use the library from a remote location. That is a ‘life saver” for students and can actually be a “life saver” if the information is critical to your well being. Let’s hope that it is more metaphorically used than actually being out of necessity. See you at the library? Or maybe, you are seeing me at the library now. Maybe not physically, but we are connecting.

The building will close, but the library will stay open for research 24/7.

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Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on September 19, 2012

The library “As Place.” Yes, it is true this year, so far. Lots of students. Some just want to print a paper. Some assigned to the library to “study.” Some just “need a book.” (Oh yes, the typical question to approach a librarian and they do really need some help).

Encouraging signs of this new year are some of the assignments. What does this passage of scripture mean? Find a book and some articles. Another assignment, create a list of 20 controversial topics for possible research. The next step? Narrow it down to a topic to write about. These assignments expect the students to find information to support their topic. Then must ask for a book in another library (Interlibrary Loan) They may start with the broad searches, and then narrow down to a specific databases. They get to expand their horizons and to see what can be found. They are learning resources are available and then using them. How about that!!

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Reference and the New Library

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on September 23, 2011

You know some say reference is dead. They should come sit at the reference desk with me. Not that every second is busy, but people still need to discover resources. That is my job when I sit at the desk!

I show them ways to find what they are hunting. Sometimes I show them the library databases and the library catalog. I show them how to search to find “on topic” information. I show them subject searching in the library catalog. For example, if someone needs a book about William Shakespeare, they need to use the name as a subject, otherwise they will get all the books that contain his writings. If we use his name as a subject, then they get what other people had to say about his writing.

How is this related to digital resources? Some of the methods that I use to teach people lead them to digital resources. Databases contain digital resources. Library catalogs do, too.

I think we over-estimate people’s abilities to locate what they need. Most of the time, they do a quick look at Google and then think that is all there is. Google works for its purpose, but not to find specific information for a topic.

Oh yes, Wikipedia! It is a great starting point for many topics. Besides the encyclopedic materials, there are citations that can get people started toward the “right stuff.”

Reference is not dead, but those who want to kill it don’t appreciate what reference is all about! They do not understand or want to understand the “information needs” of the people who come into the library.

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2011 It’s a new school year!!

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on September 3, 2011

Hooray, the new school year has begun. We marched in our regalia for Convocation and watched as new faculty and staff were introduced. Looking at the faces filled with anticipation and hope is always uplifting.
Working in the library right now is more about helping people log on to the network, finding “the stacks”, and dispensing general information.
I am still without an assistant. I have been using student workers to help fill the gap until the status of my assistant can be determined. It is difficult to plan when you don’t know for sure the resources that will be available. Yet, I think I will proceed along the lines that all will work out.
My task, that I have assigned to me, is ERM. Electronic Resource Management. I hope to get our resources whipped into shape so that I can get on with other projects in the library.

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Trying to remember things from “Library School”

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on June 22, 2011

Sometimes I get busy with routine library work and need some tidbit that I know I learned in grad school. Now, I know I could go hunt it up, but sometimes it doesn’t seem important enough to go to the trouble to seek it out.
Yes, it is laziness on my part and I see evidence in our OPAC that I am not the only one who suffers from this condition. So, what should I do? I think that sometimes a person needs to decide whether doing everything “correctly” is worth the trouble of the pesky details, when most people don’t know the difference. Getting the information out and available is more important than dotting all the “i’s” and crossing all the “t’s”.

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Country Driving

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on June 18, 2011

A brief diversion to recommend a book, Country Driving: A Journey Through China from Farm to Factory by Peter Hessler. It is a non-fiction book. Hessler lived in China for a number of years and is a writer for The New Yorker and for National Geographic.

The book is arranged into 3 books, or sections. The first section is devoted to his travels around the Great Wall. He talks to people every where he goes and finds out a lot of the history of the Great Wall. The only historians for the wall are self-educated peasants who value the history of the Wall(s).

In the second section, he lives part-time in a village and gets to know the people there. Some valuable insights evolve about Chinese people as he tells us about his friends (and some who are not friends) in the village. He becomes observes and becomes involved in the village life. I learned a lot about education, culture, etc. in this section.

The third section is about the factories and the people in the Development Zone. He befriends some of the workers in the factory and the factory owners. While I didn’t think this section would be as good as the other 2, it held some surprises for me. The Chinese attitudes toward work and business were interesting.

I found some of my conceptions about China to be confirmed, but yet my impressions changed as I became acquainted with the characters in this book.

It is a fascinating read. I highly recommend it.

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Digital projects

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on June 8, 2011

Since I started this blog, I have been adding digital records to our library catalog (OPAC for all you librarians out there). When I was a library assistant, or technical worker, I added batches of e-documents that I got from Dataminer. I would filter records that were created in a previous month and then process them into our OPAC.

In our department, we tried several methods to upload them. Student workers checked to see if they were already cataloged and adding 856 fields with URLs. We tried dumping in the entire batch filtered for our library. We tried variations on the same idea. We still weren’t satisfied.

When I got to be in charge of the department, I experimented some more and now have a different variation. I filter the records at Dataminer by our depository number and then download the batch. Since some of the links include records to the GPO catalog, but not to the digital item, I don’t want to include those records. I use MarcEdit to make batch changes to the entire bunch and then upload them into our OPAC. It is not quite that simple, but it is not that difficult either. It takes some tweeking of the records and of the holdings codes, and I am done.

I used a similar process to batch load e-journals and ERIC records. I may write about them another day. Hope this jogs someone into thinking about a better way than I am now using and that they let me know. Until then, it is the best that I have come up with.

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It’s June and what to do??

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on June 7, 2011

Every summer it seems there are so many things that I would like to accomplish, like emptying 2 file cabinets full of old unused materials. Yet it is so hard to get to my projects. It is not for lack of trying. Sometimes it is the lack of time and resources, i.e. available workers, and sometimes it is other people’s priorities. You know the type, they dream up stuff for me to do because I have all this available time. They often are my peers, who convince the right people that this is something that “we” should do. Funny, the “we” is usually me, and my projects get to take a back seat. So far I am waiting on that to happen as it always does, every summer.

So back to the other issue, having the resources to get to my projects. I came back after Memorial Day and my week vacation to discover that I had virtually no workers at all. One worker who had agreed to work found the opportunity to more hours in her home department. That left me with one worker who wanted to work one hour a day! So I dug through the very few applications. Most of the applicants had another campus job and only wanted another hour or so, here or there. No real help for me there! I did see one promising applicant, who informed me that she had just decided to take a job at a summer camp. Lucky me, I now had one worker could give me one hour per day. Since my assistant is out having major surgery, not enough workers!

Fortunately, things have a way of turning out OK. The original worker didn’t get the expected hours, after all, so I now have some excellent help. Wish I could steal her, but that’s not likely.

As I said, things have a way of righting themselves, today one of my academic school year workers walked in wanting to have some hours to work! YEA!! A trained worker!! So now we can, at least, climb out from under the never ending mail! I actually started thinking about emptying those 2 file cabinets again!

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Yes, I really am back!

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on May 24, 2011

Today I am working on rewriting the work processes for student workers. I have 2 new students beginning work today. Both are library workers who need more summer hours. They work during of the school year in other departments.

If you have never worked in Serials, you will not realize the differences from other departments in processing, shelving, etc. in this ongoing, continuing environment. Part of the reason I love it! Serials never stop coming as long as we subscribe. It is not like a book that you order and boom, it’s here. That’s about it. Well not really, but my point being that if you get a weekly serial, you get it every week, whether you are there or not! If the publisher forgets to send, if the mail doesn’t deliver, if it gets sent to the wrong department, we try to figure out how come! We claim issues that don’t show up on schedule. We place them on the shelves and then go pick them up when people use them. It is an ongoing cycle.

The fun of serials is that they do change from time to time. That weekly periodical may decide to save money and only publish every other week. It may decide to change size, by that I mean taller, shorter, etc. It may change to a new name or simply add something to its name. For example, Businessweek, a long time standard added the words Bloomberg to the beginning of their masthead and title. Fun times in the serials world. Do we reshelve? Does it need new records? How do we explain it to our novice workers.

Seems I went off in another direction from whence I started. I think I am working in the right area, Serials. Once you think everything is going one direction, off we go! Yes, there is a lot more to talk about.

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Break time is over!!

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on May 22, 2011

Hi everyone–I decided to re-awaken my blog. I have been enjoying too much of a respite since I finished “library school.”
I have some thoughts that have been smoldering about libraries, processes, technology & more. So I think it’s time!!

I have been on vacation and tomorrow is back to work again. The Spring semester is over and Graduation is finished. My assistant is off due to surgery and I am not sure if I will have a student helper when I get back. (It was up in the air last week–student was trying for a better paying job! Can’t say that I blame her, but we do have some unofficial perks that the “private sector” does not, like understanding when there are exams to be taken or that a visit home is past due.)
Why am I writing about all this? Because it is a good time to review procedures and to identify what needs to be done and how it should be done. One of those steps we forget about as we slog along every day and don’t consider there might be better, or more efficient ways to accomplish our tasks. Also, maybe some of the tasks we are doing, don’t need to be done. Hmmmm….

I think more of the work flow can be accomplished by student workers and I intend to point more of the work their direction. We have bright students and they are capable of doing more than we sometimes expect them to do. So, tomorrow, I intend to begin rewriting the procedures!

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Snow and more snow

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on January 29, 2010

The library stayed open even after the campus closed. Why? When the campus is closed, so should be the library. Most students thought we were closed and it endangered those who needed to stay.

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A new school year–a new time!

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on September 16, 2009

It’s been forever since I have written to this blog, or so it seems. It was another world when I was a student and a library worker (soon to be a “real librarian”). Now, I am one and it is funny how it looks from the other side. I thought I knew, but it is not quite the same. I enjoy helping students find resources. Thank you, Dr. Van Fleet for the reference class. It should be mandatory for all future librarians.

It’s funny how each SLIS class has impacted me. It truly was a growth experience. I don’t intend to stop growing! Right now, I am experimenting with Twitter for library promotion. This summer, I worked on our library web page. I made some progress. It is good to have access again to the materials that are posted. I wish that I could upload the finished pages to the website, instead of having to edit them through the CMS (Content Management System). It is tedious to recreate html links and to have to explain to non-librarians where changes need to be made, and why. If your library allows more access to the finished product, you are lucky indeed. Unfortunately, those who are in control, do not realize that libraries have changed and “are not their father’s libraries.” Digital management is so important to library success!

I am back playing with Facebook, but it is more a personal project, much like my genealogy work. Yet nothing is a stand alone product. We are all products of all our efforts and insights. We don’t always realize it, but it is better when we do.

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Information Communication and Technology–It’s what the Internet is all about.

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on April 17, 2009

The Internet and Communication. Our readings for our class this week discuss how it all works together, using such things as TCP/IP, packets and connectedness. What I liked about reading Joseph Miller, is that he explains the terminology, rather than just talking about it.

It seems impossible with billions of IP numbers available, yet we are using up the available IPs. Yet Miller explains that not all of these IP addresses are available for all to use. Additionally, offices and homes are using up multiple IP addresses for printers, networked peripherals, with more items being added all the time. I looked around my office at work and realize that every computer and most of the printers have IP addresses. Additionally, the computers that the library patrons enjoy have IP addresses. Furthermore, I recently read about household appliances becoming connected to the Internet, but it didn’t seem significant until I read Miller that each of these appliances would need an IP address. So if my refrigerator needs “to phone home” or tell me that we need to buy milk, then it would need to connect to our home network, or to the Internet directly. Amazing!

Other facts that I found interesting, included the connections to the Internet, some I have used over the years and others I knew were being used. Miller kindly explained the differences, rather than using jargon to talk about them. I think that is what I like about Miller the most. Years ago, computer experts would not share their information readily, for a variety of reasons. Yet today, with information all around us, it seems that there is a gap between the very basic knowledge available about technology and the jargon filled expert knowledge. When a novice wishes to learn more about technology, it can be a daunting task to break through the barriers to understanding what the technology is all about. I think Miller should have been considered as a textbook for our class.

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The end and the beginning

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on April 14, 2009

One major milestone finished. I completed my portfolio and my defense successfully!! Hooray.

It was not easy, but I did not expect it to be. My portfolio is about my goals and my growth as a professional. My defense included a paper I wrote about digital collections. It seemed to be the best choice of my papers. I used so many things from my classes when I worked on that paper.

Funny as I have progressed through my classes, I find myself drawing from previous courses. It is a great feeling, yet it is humbling to realize how much more that is out there to learn and to know. I think that is part of the lifelong learning that we all like to talk about. The more we learn, the more we draw on it and the more we want to know.

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2009 Semester

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on February 10, 2009

Yes, it is finally here. I am working on getting my portfolio in shape to present and keep up with classes and work. Juggling it all is part of the cost, yet ends up being part of the reward.

I look over my approaching assignments. Another blog on another server. That will make me 3 blogs. One set up at the urging of my advisor, one set up for a class, now yet another one. Maybe they should talk to one another and make my life a little bit simpler 🙂

The cataloging project is underway. My teammate and I have settled on a thesis statement and proposal. We will submit and hopefully get approval on the first try. We are looking at the problems in bibliographic tools and the possible solutions in today’s technology driven world. No that is not the exact thesis, but we are looking at bibliographic tools and how they are not meeting the needs of the users. Are the possible solutions such as RDA, EAD, Dublin Core, and more, the answer?

There is a lot of literature out there. Those catalogers like to write!

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Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on January 26, 2009

Yes, there are some controversies out there after all. I have just scratched the surface and stumbled upon more than I bargained for. Some I care very little about, such as which tag goes where, unless it it my favorite tag, 🙂 which changes from time to time. It all depends upon what I am trying to do. Today I like the 780/785 tags. This group discusses tags that I have never seen before, so they must be very special tags indeed. As I learn about cataloging, maybe I will have some new favorites. At least I will hear about some secret tags!

Today the big discussion on Autocat was the Guardian post about OCLC claiming ownership of all the cataloging records. Interesting topic, but I think we are going to look at the OPAC and how it isn’t meeting the needs of the users of the library. There is a lot of discussion about where users start their searches. Funny it all ties back into the OCLC controversy in its own way. We will have to fine tune it. We, being myself and my partner on this project. Teamwork rules in library school!

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2009 New classes

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on January 25, 2009

Another semester and more classes. This time it is cataloging and information communication and technology. Cataloging is about controversies? I am to think about and write about controversies in my class. Now what could be a controversy in such a topic? Hmmm…

Wait and see. There must be something, or she would not have assigned it!

Posted in Library catalogs | 2 Comments »

A Selection of Web-Accessible Collections–Harvard

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on December 4, 2008

One of my classmates blogged about Harvard’s open access database for faculty. This site is a different effort. A Selection of Web-Accessible Collections is a fine example of digital efforts. Chinese Rubbings is one such collection, but on that caught my attention, and I don’t know why Is Contagion: Historical Views of Diseases and Epidemics. As I started looking at it, I saw the Spanish Influenza in North America, 1918-1919.

This was a pandemic and killed over 500,000 people during World War I. The collection is organized around other major outbreaks of disease worldwide. Obviously there was a real fear worldwide. According to the website the flu broke out at Ft. Riley, Kansas.

Cover up your cough and sneeze, Otherwise you’ll spread the disease.” From the U.S. Public Health Service, “Spanish Influenza” Three-Day Fever” “The Flu”, Supplement No. 84 to the Public Health Reports, September 28, 1918: 4.

Other diseases include Cholera, Plague, Smallpox, “Pestilence,” Syphilis, Tropical diseases, Tuberculosis, and Yellow Fever. What makes this a great digital collection, are the grouping of items that are digitized and the connections to the time are shown.

It is a great example of a digital library, in my opinion.

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Country Profiles and Country Studies

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on December 3, 2008

Believe it or not, the US government has lots of digital collections. Since I work with government documents everyday, I probably have a different perspective than many SLIS students. Government documents are not what you think they are. Yes, there are plenty of dull and dry and statistical docs, but there are plenty that are interesting. Take for instance the Country Studies. This is a “digital collection” of 101 countries that have been arranged, digitized and searchable through the Library of Congess. Since I am an armchair traveler, I enjoy browsing through this collection. Another link is the home page at: http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/cshome.html.

While they were published during the years, 1988-1998, they still occasionally appear in print. For example, this year the Country Study of Iran was published. Our depository recently received our copy. Some countries changed names during that timespan and some countries disappeared and others emerged. This is an interesting series because of the information about the countries tha is covered. There is more information in these pages than would normally be found in an Encyclopedia. The Country Studies digitized text in the Library of Congress and in Google. (Google’s has advertisements inserted)

Shorter and probably more interesting are the Country Profiles. Click on a country you want to know more about. There are maps and text in these profiles. They are fully digitized and are truly a “digital collection.”

As many of you know, government documents set the goal of becoming a digital collection. In many ways they have succeeded. Most new docs appear online and not in print.

As a depository, we struggle to identify our selections and provide links from our catalog, OPAC, to the new publications online. (That is our metadata to the digital depository collection!). We use a PURL (Rersistent Uniform Resource Locator) that keeps the link alive to the doc, even if it moves. The PURL is a service of OCLC. As most people know, web pages move around. Metadata such as a PURL keeps the links alive. This is the PURL to the Country Study of Iran http://purl.access.gpo.gov/GPO/LPS40299. That PURL probably will not work without the referral from the library catalog where it was taken. However, thanks to PURLS we can keep links to the government documents digital collection alive.

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NPS digital collection

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on December 3, 2008

The National Park Service is one of my favorite Web site and digital collections. Yes, I think it is a digital collection. Lots of images, mingled with text. Interactive. Seems to be intuitive, so that I don’t have to think about what to do. (Another good resource—Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug.) With your mouse, hover over a state and see an image of Federal Park Service land in that state. I think digital collections should be that way, easy to manuver.

Here is a little tour I took. The resources on these pages are set up for educators, but are interesting for all to see. The Website is transitioning, so even more digital images should soon be available.

For other learning styles (think Dr. Lester’s class 5053), there are sounds of nature.

Click on the picture to hear the sound.

Bringing it back to the NPS page and then home to Oklahoma.

Chickasaw National Recreation Area

National Trail is the Trail of Tears, National Historic Trail.

Oklahoma City National Memorial

Washita National Battlefield

This digital collection is interactive and interesting. Since I like the outdoors, it is fun to see (and hear).

The National Park Service has done a great job in setting up this site. Makes me wish they would include even more for me to see.

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Grand-daddy of digital collections

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on December 2, 2008

Maybe not “the grand-daddy” of digital collections, but I don’t know what actually is the oldest. This is definitely one of the first digital collections that I ever saw. The NARA collection, otherwise known as The National Archives of the United States still continues to impress. I went back recently for a look-see and found that it has simply gotten better.

Originally, it was a bit tricky to navigate. Yet with lots of time on my hands, it was worth it to see the images that were contained in the collection. I searched by names and places and saw lots of images.

Today was easier. I discovered that today’s document, or document of the day, was from Project Bluebook. This image is of the actual report by the pilot who saw a UFO on Nov. 27, 1957. Wow!

Pilot sights UFO

or how about a link to that page?


Even more profound, the document was linked to more information about UFOs and to background information about Project Bluebook. The metadata explained the image and provided a means to additional information. Before I took digital collections, I did not realize that metadata could perform in this fashion. Yes, I know MARC records can refer to other MARC records, but not as seamlessly as this. The digital collection is superior and has images of the documents that made this country what it is today. Yet what impressed me today was the progress that has been made with digital collections. Oh, I will definitely be back to see what else has been digitized and how they have done it.

Here’s the link to America’s Historical Documents. Take a minute, or even several. This is the stuff that makes digital collections worthwhile.


The digital vaults with 10 billion records looked promising, at http://www.archives.gov/nae/index.html 

and they have selected more than 1200 for me to see. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see them tonight. the server did not want to co-operate when I tried it. Maybe the server will co-operate when you do.


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Privacy and digital collections

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on December 1, 2008

This semester I have been inundated with articles and WebPages. I am not complaining, because I found a lot of useful information in the deluge. One such article proved more thought provoking than anticipated. This article is about privacy and research on health conditions that may exist in family groups. My paper was about genealogical files, so this article didn’t seem to relate at first glance.

Yet something compelled me to read it, and I could not put it down. Cook-Deegan discusses the issues of confidential information being disclosed about family to researchers. As the family files were built, secrets were disclosed about family lineage. Since the research was being conducted about a condition, the researchers hoped to publish it. Some family members objected to publication for various reasons, even though the persons who were actually involved in the situation gave their permission. It becomes a matter of ethics and privacy when disclosure is sought. How that question is answered depends upon the researcher.

Genealogical files that are”simply family history,” if there is such a thing, contain gems like Cook-Deegan describes. Some examples: Children who are adopted and don’t know it. Previous marriages that have not been disclosed. Other “family secrets” that might be OK to tell in a family gathering, but not broadcast in a global forum such as the Web. These are important issues that digital collectors should think about when writing about family history. There are no easy answers.

Cook-Deegan, Robert Mullan. 2001. Privacy, families, and human subject protections: Some lessons from pedigree research. The Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions 21: 223-237.

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