At the Ref Desk (3/20/14): Sign that we're getting to the end of the Quarter: 'Just tell me what works -- I've got to hand in the paper in half an hour'. [more...]
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The World is My Reference Desk?

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sat, 1/5/13 (11:52am)

Um, the world is my reference desk? First day back!

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Messing Around with WordPress

Submitted by Leo Klein on Thu, 1/3/13 (9:54pm)

wordpress-logo-circle.jpg Yeah, I know: why bother? Still, I can imagine loads of instances where the client/friend/member-of-your-family just requires a simple site where they can add content on their own. In any case, it's open source, uses PHP and mySQL, etc. So, in a sense, it's family.

Anyway, I went through the "Famous 5-Minute Installation". It worked about as smoothly as a Drupal Install. No problems setting it up. The message at the end about expecting more steps and 'sorry to disappoint' was kind of cute. On the other hand, simply installing the thing is still a long way from actually putting something together that approaches a final product even for a simpler site.

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NYT Article: 'Libraries See Opening as Bookstores Close'

Submitted by Leo Klein on Thu, 12/27/12 (10:36pm)

Okay article I guess but is this news to anyone who's been in a library in the past 10-15 years?

"As librarians across the nation struggle with the task of redefining their roles and responsibilities in a digital age, many public libraries are seeing an opportunity to fill the void created by the loss of traditional bookstores.... Today’s libraries are reinventing themselves as vibrant town squares, showcasing the latest best sellers, lending Kindles loaded with e-books, and offering grassroots technology training centers."

What, no mention of DVDs? In any case, the original incentive was not to replace these 'traditional' bookstores but rather not to be replaced by them.

P.S. The term 'traditional' is a bit ironic since the 'big box' model of bookstores was a manifestation of the 1990s. "Traditional" for me means the mom-and-pop shops which existed before and (happily) after the rise and fall of the monoliths.

Perils of Outsourcing Your IT Expertise

Submitted by Leo Klein on Mon, 12/24/12 (3:51am)

This article on the differences between the Obama and Romney campaign operations has been making the rounds. I think the best approach to its catalog of hits and misses is a healthy dose of skepticism. I mean, did the fate of Romney's campaign really hinge on whether they put together a documentary film showing "how Romney had helped average people in personal ways"? Who knows? Anyway, what really caught my eye, was this comment about the organization of Obama's IT team:

As [Harper] Reed assembled his team, he insisted on being given leeway to hire some of the best techies in the country, from ­Facebook, Craigslist, Twitter. Moreover, he insisted the team be largely internal, rather than have the enterprise be divided up among outside consultants.

Meanwhile according to this great article in Ars Technica, the Romney campaign was stricken with a severe case of outsource-a-ritis:

... [T]he Romney campaign did what many corporations have done in tight times—it kept its IT budget in check and heavily outsourced technology relative to its budget, keeping only a few strategic efforts in-house. At the same time, top executives took care of their own base, bringing in their own companies and those of friends to provide key services. While it wasn't exactly a consulting feeding frenzy, the Romney campaign left most of its technological fate in the hands of outsiders—and even internal projects like Orca were dependent on quick fixes from outside talent.

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Current Cites for December 2012

Submitted by Leo Klein on Fri, 12/21/12 (3:01pm)

go to Current Cites
Current Cites for December 2012 is out! You can find the issue here...

Current Cites for December is out. I wrote about an interesting article on library staff magazines in the UK in the first half of the 20th Century. The author did a good job explaining the context of why such magazines were becoming necessary -- more complex systems of communication, transportation and information management, growing organizations, increasing wealth and leisure time for working people, all of which predated the computer/internet by 50 to 100 years.

An Offer I Can Refuse

Submitted by Leo Klein on Wed, 11/21/12 (1:23pm)

Sorry, Adobe but your emails offering me, 'All the CS6 you want -- just US $19.99 per month', is probably the dumbest thing I've ever heard. I'm frankly not interested in renting out software on a monthly basis.

Adobe_Students_ROICS6CCM19.99V2_300x250_img.jpg

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2012 Colloquium on Digital Humanities

Submitted by Leo Klein on Mon, 11/19/12 (3:23pm)

I'm not much of a numbers guy but I appreciated the first round of presenters at the 2012 Colloquium on Digital Humanities which took place this weekend at the University of Chicago. The theme was 'big data'.

Here Diane Cline (U. Cincy) is giving a talk on "The Social Network of Alexander the Great" and a major part of her presentation were lines of connections, shown on a graph, between Alexander the Great, people who he knew, people who knew him, people who knew the people who knew him, etc. -- all charted out as a series of spiraling lines and nodes.

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Proceeds of the day

Submitted by Leo Klein on Thu, 10/18/12 (7:52pm)

At the Reference Desk (actually in the workroom):

  1. OMG! 'Students Help Yourselves'? So unfair! What about us starving non-students? Strike! Strike!
  2. Then I turn to the table and see this wonderful home-made cake!
  3. Then a student brings over a burrito from some event just outside the library! At the same time, someone from Access Services says they've got a bunch of trays from yet another event and could I help clear them out? Are you kidding? Here's a picture of the final haul. It's too much!
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Current Cites for September 2012

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sat, 9/29/12 (12:11pm)

go to Current Cites
Current Cites for September 2012 is out! You can find the issue here...

I featured an article from the journal Electronic Library titled, 'An Analysis of American Academic Libraries Websites: 2000-2010'.

Mommy, What's a 'Manila Folder'?

Submitted by Leo Klein on Thu, 9/27/12 (6:54pm)

I just had to laugh when in this otherwise informative usability study on LibGuides, I came across the following sentence:

"In the EMU Library’s initial LibGuides implementation, the option for tabs with rounded corners was used to resemble the design of manila file folders and increase the association with the file-folder metaphor."

Do kids these days even know what a 'Manila folder' is?

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