Wednesday, May 10, 2006

First off, may I wax poetic about THE INTERNET and, of course, Della, and my iPod/iTunes. I am so wired I feel like I'm plugged into the world. I now have iTunes on Della and I suddenly discover it has a zillion radio stations to plug into offering all sorts of music. Now I'm trying to find the radio who knows what I like but doesn't play me music I already own! I find myself wanting this access wherever I am. I am getting closer to the ideal of the Star Trek version of being able to say to the air "Computer..." I have to type and plug in and search manually now but some day...

Speaking of which there is a "lively" (read vicious) debate going on in the research library world over a report commissioned and published by LC of the future of cataloguing in the Google age written by Karen Calhoun. I cannot say in a public forum how much I disagree with what she has said. Research libraries do not have an audience or a responsibility to people who are interested in what they can get online by a Google search. Thomas Mann has written a countering essay on behalf of the LC union and it's one of the few good things the union ever did, even if he can barely keep his contempt in check. At the risk of raising ire, I think Ms Calhoun got a bit too infected by the management exercises she did while at OCLC and is now trying to impart them to a completely different environment. One of the things we had the most trouble with when hiring for OCLC was to tell people that OCLC was not a library (where they came from) but a corporation that had to think of pricing and income streams, etc. A not-for-profit company so we weren't out to make money but we had to make enough to remain financially viable. Ms Calhoun sounds like she learned that lesson and took with her into the research library world. She seems to have forgotten that serious researchers don't rely on Google searches. I had to lecture research library directors 15 years ago that keyword searches would not help with foreign langauge materials that had no subject analysis. Using LCSH correctly is not easy. I know because I have taught hundreds of cataloguers in how to use it but it's that best we've got now and we (the library community) have over a hundred years of effort invested in these records. There will never be a day when everything will be available in an online form and I have no desire for ebooks. While I really love being hooked into the network I also love books. My account at Amazon and the thousands of dollars spent at Dymocks and other bookstore contest to that. How could anyone who does research or even works in such an environment come up with the crackpot ideas she has described? One would expect better than a "give up cataloguing" argument from someone with the background she supposedly carries.

I will rant if I get up a bigger head of steam. Today is my non-work day and I spent the morning at the mall buying gifts (Mother's day nightie for MIL and books for Princess A) as well as other errands. Australians don't "do errands" I have been informed. They "go to the shops" but have no overall term for all those miscellaneous tasks. I understand that the Tourism people's "Where the body hell are you?" campaign has raised eyebrows. It's a supreme example of the irreverance of Australians and their use of the language we call Strine. After being immersed in it for 15 years I can no longer remember when I am speaking Yank and when I'm speaking Strine. I am inclined to say "I'm knackered" when worn out or pronounce a broken item as "buggered" but I still haven't adopted "lurgie" (random infection or "bug"). I still sometimes have to ask the Bear for translations and I often don't get cultural/historical references to pop culture or politics but my work at the NLA helps out a lot. While I have never seen an episode of "Neighbours" and don't know any of the characters, I know where it exists.

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