Monday, August 14, 2006

Last Post Here

For the past several months, I have been maintaining this blog in two places: here and at Wordpress. Keeping both sites up to date has become a rather difficult task - one which I haven't been doing successfully. In light of this, I have decided not to continue the blog on both sites. As such, this will be my last post here. I do not plan to delete this site, but new posts will only be available at my Life as I Know It blog via Wordpress.

Monday, August 07, 2006

It is the Small Things That Drive Me Crazy

  • WordPress's new navigation bar doesn't display correctly in Internet Explorer 7 and that makes me crazy.

  • The bullets in my posts don't display correctly (or really at all) in Internet Explorer 7 and that makes me crazy. It took me a while to figure out that it was an IE thing - and not me.

  • Smelly garbage filled with eaten corn cobs that I meant to take out of the kitchen before I went to bed (and forgot) drove me crazy this morning (the corn was still worth it though).

  • The fact that August is already here and school starts at the college where I work before Labor Day is currently driving me insane.

  • The fact that the Red Sox blew a 6-2 lead in yesterday's game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (and that I watched them do so) drives my crazy.

It is the Small Things That Make Me Happy

  • I haven't received any SPAM comments on this blog in over two weeks.

  • I'm done with my summer class - and I don't even care about my grade (okay maybe this isn't a small thing, but it makes me happy).

  • I bought Pirates of the Caribbean on DVD this weekend. Watching this movie makes me happy.

  • We (my husband and I) finally had corn on the cob with dinner last night and it was delicious.

  • I'm happiest about the lack of SPAM!!!

Are There Rules to Blogging?

Iris from Pegasus Librarian writes "Funny to admit this nearly 150 posts into my blog, but I really don't know what I'm doing" in her blog post Blogging Confusion. I have to hope that most bloggers have asked this at some point - after all there are several places in the blogosphere where people offer rules or tips about blogging. They have made me question whether my desire to post on an subject would be outside the boundaries of my blog. However, I have decided not to pay much attention to them. Unlike Iris, I started this blog to detail my journey through graduate school - so there is a specific stated theme. However, what I have come to love about blogs is the mix about which people post - whether personal, library related or work related. So, I have lightened up on myself. What is appropriate??? I have no idea. I think it is probably easier to sometimes identify that something is not appropriate. However, I can honestly say that I don't think I have ever read something that I deemed inappropriate on any of the blogs that I read. I don't have any rules about my blog and I'm perfectly happy with that.

The Gender Issue

There have been some extremely thought provoking posts (see bottom of post for references to them) recently about the gender imbalance in technology related areas - whether those areas are jobs, conferences, workshops, etc. While the points that many of the women bloggers have made are quite valid (and certainly worth a read - as are all of the comments), these debates have made me think about the issue from an entirely different perspective - namely how sometimes we women (not all of us by any means) allow ourselves to be under-represented. I am a woman who works in a technical field - yet prefers to keep a very low profile. I would no more volunteer to speak about a technical topic (regardless of my expertise or lack thereof) than I would ask for a raise. Without a doubt, I am extremely quiet, intensely introverted and shy in groups of people that I do not know - even more so if the majority of the people are male. I like to think that I am not quite as quiet as I was in my younger years - that I have become a much stronger and more confident person. However, I still prefer to be in the background - away from the public debate - away from confrontation.

In college, a professor of mine (who was getting a masters in psychology at the time) once told me that I was a repressed female who subverted my intelligence because of my upbringing in both a family that was headed by a dominant male who did not prize intelligent females and a male-dominated society. He told me this because I could not tell the him that I deserved a good grade in his class and because I would deliberately not speak out in class. While this is a very formulaic assessment that has many flaws, there is some truth to it. I have to say that my father is incredibly supportive of me and encourages me to be more assertive. He would be heartbroken and angry that someone thought this to be true of him. In no way was it his intention to make me subvert myself for anyone. However, he is the person that our family life revolved around - to whom we all deferred. He was the breadwinner and my mother was the stay at home Mom (why this role is undervalued in our society is WAY beyond my comprehension). With this upbringing (and my own personality), I learned to do anything to avoid confrontation. I learned not to speak out too often because people don't like know-it-alls and they treat you different if they think you are smarter than they are. And I learned that I don't want to compete with people (especially men) because they often take losing very badly (this is a broad generalization - there are certainly plenty of women who don't like to lose too).

The point of all of this introspection is that I would no more offer to be a part of technology group or speak about a topic or do anything that would put myself out there. I'm pretty confident about myself in terms of my work in library systems. I am very good at my job. However, the recent discussions in the library world of blogs has really made me take a hard look at myself and the ways in which I allow or even encourage myself (and all women) to remain in the background. I need to speak out more often about things that are important, participate more in conversations about which I have something to offer and become a stronger voice. I have been content to defer to others, to make excuses for behavior that demeans women and to allow things to happen, without dissent, that I didn't totally agree with. I have to say a big thank you to all of the women who have been telling their stories, discussing this issue and opening up this debate - and making me think about where I stand on this issue - and where I should stand.

The Liminal Librarian

Library Web Chic

Free Range Librarian

Caveat Lector

The Days & Nights of the Lipstick Librarian

Solvitur Ambulando

Ramblings on Librarianship, Technology and Academia

Tales from the Shark Tank

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Searching North Carolina State University's Library Catalog

Notes on my experiences searching North Carolina State University's Library Catalog:

  • I did a search in the "search for words:" box leaving the default limiter to Anywhere for computer juvenile. There 106 results matching my search criteria.

  • On results display page, my first reaction is "where do I look?" "where do I go?" There is SO much (too much) information on this page. It took me a bit to be able to process this page and figure out what everything was.

  • From results page, I can limit my search to available items. This option is in small wording at the top of the results - very hard to see, but a nice feature.

  • Results are sorted by relevance. The user can change the sort order to Pub Date, Title A-Z, Author A-Z, Call Number and Most Popular. The most popular is a neat feature that I like.

  • The ability to do new searches is available on all pages - at the top of the screen in the top navigation area. Patrons can send their search to a variety of places - UNC-CH Libraries, Duke Libraries, NCCU Libraries, OpenWorldCat, Google Scholar or a Quick Article Search.

  • In results display, results default to full view - can be changed to brief view. In the full view, the Title, Author, Published, Format and Availability information is displayed. Local information is displayed - the library, location and call number. There is no availability information for online resources, but there is a link to the resource.

  • Above the results display, there is an area where patrons can browse their results by subject category (by call number).

  • Under the subject category on the left-hand portion of the screen, there is a box where patrons can narrow their results by several categories including, Subject: Topic, Subject: Genre, Format, Library, Subject: Region, Language or Author.

  • In the item display, there is additional bibliographic information and item information. On the right-hand portion of the screen, there is a link to browse the shelf (at NCSU or several other libraries). This is a cool feature which allows one to browse items shelved close by.

  • There is an option to use subjects to find similar titles - and 3 similar titles are displayed. There are also links to "more titles like this," "more by the same author," "save record," and "marc record."

  • I did a "search as words:" search limited to author index for "mark twain." There were 307 results. A search for "Twain, Mark" retrieved the same number of hits.

  • Using the "Search begins with:" search box in the author (last name, first name) index is akin to traditional catalog author searches - where the search needs to be inputed as "Twain, Mark." This brings the user to an "Index Hitlist Display" of authority-type records. This is just as confusing as in most library catalogs. Technically, it returns the same number of hits as using the "Search as words:" search. NCSU has two authority records for Mark Twain: Twain, Mark and Twain, Mark 1835-1910.

  • The advanced search allows for searches in words anywhere, words in title, words in author, words in subject headings or ISBN, ISSN. There are limiting options: Library, Language, Format, Published from and limit by format (government documents, reference materials, or all others). These searches restrict a search to the indexes indicated. They are fairly straightforward search options (if one is familar with OPACs). There is also an area to do boolean searches.

  • The browse tab allows users to browse the collection by subject. There is an option to browse new titles within the last week.

  • From the home page, there is a drop down box with the Most Used library resources: Catalog, Reserves, Find Articles, Journal List, Citation Builder, Tripsave and then the Top 10 Databases. This is a nice feature.

  • Overall, the keyword searching capability of NCSU is superior to most library catalogs. I would use this search above any of the others (except when looking for something specific in one of the other indexes). The other great part of this catalog is that it seems to be a seemless part of the NCSU library's web site. You do not feel as if you have left the library web site and ventured into a different system. I think this is the number one strength of the design and something other libraries should try to emulate. The biggest problem with this catalog is the overabundance of information and text that is displayed in the primary search results screen. There is way too much information for most people to be able to digest quickly by scanning the page. It takes definite thought and careful reading in order to familiarize oneself with everything that is offered.

Searching Arkansas State University - Beebe's Library Catalog

Originally written on August 4, 2006.

Notes on my experiences searching for information in Arkasnas State University - Beebe's library catalog:

Traditional catalog - Library.Solution 2.0 from The Library Corporation:

  • Using Search button from home page: I did a search using any fields containing the words computer and juvenile. There were 124 results. Many of the results were juvenile books in [computer file] format - which were not relevant to my search.

  • From the browse results screen, results can be sorted by Title, Author, Publication Date, Availability and Material Type.

  • The browse display has title, location and call number included and all are links.

  • Items are sorted by title.

  • Results can be saved. Can save checked items to a list or save all items to a list and can uncheck all selections.

  • There is a button to place a hold prominently to the right of every record listed in the browse results list. This is a nice feature. It is easy to see and fairly self explanatory.

  • On the left-hand portion of the screen, there seems to be the status highlighted in bright green: non-checkout, available, etc. Computer files have a status of non checkout. This is an odd wording. Computer files can't really be checked out. This makes it seem as if one cannot use the item.

  • There is a nice feature in this catalog. Above the status, there is information that reads "Found as . .." - can be "subject, title," "author,title," etc. This information tells the user where the keywords were found (in what indexes). I found this to be very helpful. I wish other catalogs had this feature.

  • Search box to allow user to perform another search (or the same search) are on every page - at the bottom.

  • In item display, user can return to the results list via a button. There are next and previous links to broswse through the items in the results set.

  • In the item record display, the Title, Author, Annotations Link, Excerpt Links, Imprint, Physical Descript., Subject, Index, and Electronic Resources link are displayed. Author, Subject and Index items are hyperlinked to allow for browsing these indexes.

  • The Annotations, Excerpts, and Character Information links (buttons) are to enhanced content provided by Syndetic Solutions. This information displays in a pop up window. The Annotations link brings up a pop up window with a short description of the work. How is this an annotation? This wording is confusing. These buttons are also displayed in the initial browse results screen.

  • Of note: There is information about item availability "This item has been checked out 0 times and currently has 0 hold requests." This print is very small and note terribly noticeable under the bibliographic information. I have never seen checked out information in the record, but could be useful to users.

  • There is a button on the top of the screen which allows users to see the history of their searches. Users can click on these searches to perform them again.

  • There are also buttons in the top navigation bar to see MARC display, to download MARC record and to save item citation to list.

  • I did an author search for "Mark Twain" using the contains option. There were 61 results - there were 61 results when I did the same search as "Twain, Mark." I think this is a very important feature. There are no confusing see also references when the author search is performed first name last name.

  • Browse option from the home page - links to more traditional library catalog search options - here author searches must be performed last name, first name. A search for "Mark Twain" will bring up see also references pointing the user to "Twain, Mark."

  • User can browse through several indexes including Title, Author, Subject, Notes, Publisher, Series, Local Call Number, Dewey, GPO, ISBN, ISSN, LC Call, LCCN, or LCCN2004.

  • The Combination option from the home page allows users to use Boolean operators in their searches. This is a complicated search option with three different terms and different options for putting the terms together.

Searching via Medialab Solutions' Aquabrowser:

  • Main page has one search box - labeled "Enter your query." Search can be restricted to all locations, ASU - Beebe or ASU - Searcy.

  • There is very little on this home page. The letters ASU do appear in the discover area on the left-hand portion of the screen. Otherwise, there is little branding for the school or library. Also, there is no link back to the library web site.

  • I did a search for computer juvenile and retrieved 14 results that were ranked by relevance.

  • There is a tag or word cloud on the left-hand portion of the screen in the "discovery" area. Users can click on the words in order to broaden their search for related items.

  • The browse display lists the Title, Series Title, Author, a short description, and the subject information. No local information about the item (call number, location or availability) is given on this page. This is disappointing. Users are forced to click on the item to see the item display to get availability information.

  • Clicking on the item, brings up more of the bibliographic information along with call number, location and availability. There is a link to return quickly to the hit list (original browse display of results).

  • On the right-hand portion of the screen, are several options to refine the search. The results are broken down into format, author, subject or series. Users can choose to see the results in book or movie format, see results by a particular author, subject or series. This feature is wonderful. It allows the user to see how many items are in the collection by author, subject, series or in book, movie, serial, or computer file format.

  • In the discovery pane (word cloud), words offered are offered from associations, translations, discovery trail, spelling variants and thesaurus terms.

  • Aquabrowser is very easy to user. I was very happy with my search experience. I do wish that there was better branding on the page - and wish that local item information appeared in the original browse display. The items retrieved in my search were much more helpful than in the search I performed in the traditional catalog.

I Think I'm Done

Originally written on August 4, 2006.

The final exam for my summer class consisted of a fake title page and verso from which we had to write a full bibliographic, MARC record. In addition to the descriptive cataloging fields, we were instructed to use the SCSU library catalog in order to assign a LC classification number and LC subject headings. I was able to finish most of the descriptive cataloging last night, but had to wait until this morning to work on the classification number and subject headings. Violent thunderstorms ono Wednesday evening caused tremendous damage in the surrounding towns taking down telephone polls and trees. As a result, our power was shut off yesterday around 2PM - and did not come on until 9PM. I admit to being a bit worried about the possibility of not being able to complete the final. As a result, I was up bright and early this morning to make sure that I would be able to finish. So, I think I will go eat some lunch, then review my bibliographic record and email it to the professor. Can it be true??? Am I really almost done for this semester??? Can I start to celebrate???

The Final Exam has been Posted

Originally written on August 3, 2006.

I have the final exam in hand - and approximately 30 hours to complete it. I am taking a half of vacation day today and all of tomorrow off to work on it (This is assuming that I can get out of work today. We had major thunderstorms last night which led to power outages on campus - and power outages lead to all sorts of problems for computers and networks). Fortunately, I feel a bit better about it having seen the exam. It makes sense - and although, I think it will be difficult, I feel prepared.

Happy Places During Study Breaks

Originally written on August 2, 2006.

Orient Beach, St. Marten

Originally uploaded by ScruffyNerf.

I've been having fun playing with vacation pictures while on study breaks. They make me happy - which helps me get back to studying (ok, maybe they don't help me get back to studying, but they do make me happy). I actually have been studying for a while tonight, but I don't feel as if I'm prepared for the exam. I have no idea what to expect - other than we will be asked to catalog a fake book. This class has been frustrating in so many ways because I just feel disconnected from the material. I need another vacation!!

More Things to Do to Avoid Studying

Originally written on August 2, 2006.

Sunset at Maho Beach, St. Maarten

Originally uploaded by ScruffyNerf.

Bigger is better!!

Things to Do to Avoid Studying

Originally written on August 1, 2006.

Maho Beach Sunset

Originally uploaded by ScruffyNerf.

This picture makes me happy - and studying does not make me very happy. I have a feeling that this class will never end - and that even if it does, I'm not going to do that well. ARGH! It is amazing what things I'm getting done while avoiding studying.

Working on My Paper in St. Marten

Originally written on August 1, 2006.

Working on Paper in St Marten

Originally uploaded by ScruffyNerf.

In honor of finishing my last paper for my summer class, I thought I would post this picture of me writing my Robert Taylor biography while on the beach in St. Martin in March of 2006. I had much more fun writing the biography on the beach than papers about the catalog at home!

No Homework or Computer Tonight

Originally written on July 31, 2006.

I finally turned my paper in about 20 minutes ago. I'm done with school for the day, and I'm on way home from work. I need to start cramming heavily for my final later this week. But for I'm done with everything computer and school related for the night. I definitely think a break is in order.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Third Assignment is Done

Yeah! I finished the third assignment for my cataloging class with 24 hours to spare. I am SO ready to be done with school right now. I definitely have to spend this week studying for the final. We will be able to acess the final on Thursday morning - and then have until Friday at 6:00PM to finish it. I will admit to being very nervous especially given that I didn't do too well on the first assignment. I did feel better when some of my classmates admitted to having difficulty with it also. Meanwhile, I have added the paper on making the library catalog more user friendly to my eportfolio site for those who expressed interest in reading it. Enjoy!

Searching UMass Dartmouth's Library Catalog

Notes on my experiences searching for information in UMass Dartmouth's Library Catalog:

  • Most irritating feature is the 10 minute time out. Several times I had to restart my search because the system had timed out.
  • Basic Keyword search: Did a search for computer AND juvenile in Keyword Anywhere. There were only 7 results. Results can be sorted by Title, Author, Publish Date, and Publish Date Descending.
  • Post Limit Button on page with search results. Can set limits: Language, Location (Archives, Special Collections, Electronic Archives Finding Aids, General Collection, Periodicals, and Reference Collection), Date (several options =, <,>, range), Medium (Map, Computer File, Globe, Projected Globe, Microform, Nonprojected Graphic, Motion Picture, Sound Recording, Text (Eye readable), and Videorecording), Item Type (Book, Serial, Archival Manuscript, Music Score, Map, Nonmusical Recording, Computer File, Software, Kit, Mixed Material/Collection, Mixed Material, and Visual Material), Place of Publication and Publication Status (Currently published, Ceased Publication, and unknown). What is the difference between Medium and Item Type? I think this is confusion. There is definitely some overlap in the two categories which makes it unclear which limit to use. I also thought the Publication Status confusing. I assume that this is intended to limit Publication Status of serials, but am not sure. And why unknown?? There is nothing to indicate on the page whether or not this limit refers to serials.
  • Back to results of Basic Search (7 items). Results are sorted by Title. One initial browse results screen, the Title is listed (hyperlinked) along with the call number and item availability.
  • Records can be saved and exported in various formats, can be emailed.
  • Individual record display: Lists database, Title, Primary Material, Publisher, Database, Location, Call Number(hyperlinked to Call number index), Number of Items and Status. One odd thing - in the browse display the status reads available, but here it reads not charged. I assume they are the same thing. This is confusing.
  • Each item page has a navigation bar with Holdings, Bibliographic, Table of Contents, Linked Resources, and Marc Format. The holdings tab is the initial/default display. The bibliographic display shows more of the bibliographic record. The table of contents links to the items table of contents - if it has one. The page is blank if not. The Linked Records icon takes the patron to any linked resources. From a brief examination, I did not find any items with linked resources. The Marc Format link displays the bibliographic record in MARC format.
  • Each display page has the options to save records in select formats (full record, brief record, EndNote Citation, Latin 1 MARC, Raw MARC, and UTF-8).
  • Previous and Next buttons in order to navigate between results.
  • Once perform a search, the History link in the top navigation bar becomes active. This link will allow a user to see a page will all of their searches (from one session which remember times out after 10 minutes of inactivity) and click to re-execute them.
  • Title/Author/Subject/Call No. Search tab: Many different search options are available here.
  • I did an author search for Mark Twain. Presented with results page - browse of author index in the Ma's. No see also references to remind user to search last name, first name. No search box offered on this page, must return to library catalog home in order to redo search.
  • Author search for Twain, Mark returns browse results for all authors matching Twain, Mark. Twain, Mark, 1835-1910 is first. Were 140 results. Not readily apparent where to click. On left, is an icon reading Note/Ref. Click on this icon reveals see also reference for Twain, Mark including Clemens, Samuel, 1835-1910, Snodgrass, Quintus Curtius, 1835-1910, and Louis de Conte, 1835-1910. I had to use back button to get back to author results for Twain, Mark.
  • Back on author result page, next to Note/Ref icon was a hyperlink appearing as such [1]. I clicked on this to finally be presented with the results of items written by Mark Twain.
  • At this point, the Headings link on the top navigation bar became active. Clicking on this returns one to the author browse screen for Twain, Mark.
  • From browse screen, records can be marked to be saved and exported. The column with the check box is not labeled, however.
  • From Title/Author/Subject/Call No. Tab - did a search for computer juvenile in Keyword Anywhere AND with Relevance index. This search returns the same results as the Basic Search function, but items are ranked with relevance. There is an additional column for relevancy. There is no easy way to return to browse display. Back button does work.
    From Title/Author/Subject/Call No. Tab - did search for computer juvenile in Keyword Anywhere OR with Relevance index. Had 8889 results.
  • Did a search for computer juvenile search in Keyword Relevance Search index. Results are the same as in Keyword Anywhere OR with Relevance index.
  • Search for Ivanhoe in the Left Anchored Title index. 4 results were returned with Title (short title) starting with Ivanhoe. Interesting to note that the Author index was highlighted in these results. The 4th item was a videorecording without an author - there was no link to the item display in this case. Doing the same search in the Title Keyword AND index returns the same 4 results - in this case the title is highlighted rather than the author (so one can click on all 4 results).
  • I did a search for journal chemistry in the Journal Title Keyword AND index. This brings up all journal/serial titles with journal and chemistry in the title.
  • Command search with relevance - I never found a search strategy to work here. Every search I tried returned a system error "system couldn't interpret search." I have no idea what this search strategy is for.
  • Name Title Browse searches author index. If you search for Shakespeare, William, a listing of all records with Shakespeare as author are displayed with the titles of the item records. Putting a title keyword in the search strategy brings the same results as without the keyword. I thought this would have been an author/title search - but not really.
    New Titles tab - a cool feature that patrons can use to list new titles by certain criteria. Can display recent titles in a variety of ways.
  • There is no way to limit ones search to available items.
  • Overall impressions, I think that Basic Search functions well. There are too many options on the Title/Author/Subject/Call No tab - and too many of them are labeled with confusing terms. Keyword Anywhere AND with Relevance, Keyword Anywhere OR with Relevance, Keyword Relevance, etc. You need to do a couple of searches before their function becomes clear. Some search options still don't seem very clear to me. The ability to limit search to available items would be useful. The author indexes are also confusing. When searching by author, it takes longer to get results.

Some Grades are in

I finally got an email from the professor of my cataloging class with grades on both assignments. Unfortuntely, I didn't do so well on the cataloging assignment (not flunking bad) - but am not terribly surprised. I really had no idea what the professor expected in terms of access points (added entries for 4XX and 7XX). I used added entries in some examples, but not all in order to hedge my bets. So really, I guess I did as well as could be expected given the circumstances. Fortunately, now I know exactly what he was looking for - and it makes sense. He also was clear about what type of cataloging examples will be all the final. I will be able to better prepare for that. The good news is that I did well on my paper about creating user friendly library catalogs. This makes me feel much more secure about the paper that I am working on right now.

Information on Endeca's ProFind and Medialab Solution's Aquabrowser

Aquabrowser Library- Medialab Solutions:

  • Ability for patron to Search, Discover & Refine
  • Results are ranked by relevance
  • Search interface locates results using associations, context and spelling alternatives generated from a library's OPAC based on search query
  • Compares search terms to metadata in catalog
  • Creates a visual "word cloud" which creates "suggestions for patrons to discover new information and help them formulate a query." Includes most relevant associations, foreign language translations, spelling variants and synonyms. Taken from (July 29, 2006).
  • Refine options: Patrons can refine their search results by limiting the results based on format, subject, author, category or genre.

Endeca's ProFind Platform - Endeca

  • From Andrew K. Pace's My Kingdom for a OPAC article in the February 2005 issue of American Libraries. Available via American Libraries Online. Endeca creates "muti-relational" index where results are refined on the fly to match patron limits. Has fast searching with guided navigation.
  • From NCSU's press release - Endeca platform uses information retreival scheme whic integrated searching and browsing. This combinationis meant to allow people to continually define and adapt their search strategies based on their own determination of relevancy. Contains a dynamic navigation scheme.

Friday, July 28, 2006

DOPA & Libraries

Like many others, I generally try to stay away from political issues. However, the passage of DOPA in the House of Representatives has the potential to have such a major impact on the way that libraries do business. Jessamyn West has a post over at that summarizes many of today's blog posts regarding the passage of DOPA. I think all are worth a read. I would add a post by post by Don Wood at Library 2.0 - Tell Your Senators Why DOPA is Bad for Libraries. Don Wood offers some great ways to help and get involved. (Found via Tame the Web).

What Makes a Librarian

In a post aptly titled Librarian - Just a Title over at Library Stuff, Steven M. Cohen discussed how he learned a lesson that one doesn't have to have an MLS to be a librarian. In many ways, it doesn't seem as if this should have been such a revelation. However, it isn't a sentiment with which everyone who holds an MLS agrees. It is difficult to hold a professional librarian position without an MLS. This I can speak to from experience. Often times, people who hold an MLS find it very difficult to accept ones without an MLS in professional librarian positions. I can certainly understand - and even sympathize - with their point of view. They worked hard to get their degree, many have spent a good deal of money for ite and worked hard to get their job. I'm sure there are many other reasons as well. Regardless of being able to understand their point of view, it is an attitude with which it is often very difficult to deal. Often when you meet librarians at conferences, workshops, etc., they ask right away where you work, what you do and inevitably where did you get your MLS. When you mention that you don't have an MLS, they often ask why, are you thinking of getting it, you should consider going to such and such. There are even some that really do not want to deal with you once they discover that you do not possess the degree. Fortunately, I have only encountered this attitude a couple of times (and really look forward to not ever having to deal with it again when I complete my degree).

Sadly, people with this attitude are missing the fact that the best person for the job is the best person for the job regardless of educational attainment or experience. In my case, somebody (who has an MLS) thought I was the right person for my current job despite my lack of MLS. I can't or shouldn't allow others to undermine my belief that I am good at my job or that I deserve it. I try and remind myself of this when I do encounter people that question my abilities or right to my job. I think it is important to note that such questioning can come from both sides of the MLS divide. Library staff members who have paraprofessional jobs (and do not have MLS degrees) can also be critical - sometimes even more so than those with degrees. This can make me fell as if I don't always fit in on either side of the divide. It is a tremendously difficult position to be in. Do I call myself a librarian or not? My current title is Head of Library Systems rather than Systems Librarian in order to subtlety convey that I do not possess an MLS. When I meet people casually, I tell them that I am a librarian. People outside of libraries don't care about such idiosyncratic distinctions. However when dealing with people who work in or around libraries, I am careful to note that "No, I am not technically a librarian." Admittedly, I will be happy when I complete my degree and won't have to worry about such technicalities anymore.

Having said all that, this is not specifically the reason that I am going to graduate school to get my MLS. I don't personally believe that the degree itself will make me a better librarian, but I do believe that the process of learning and being engaged about learning will. Something I intend to continue beyond my current stint in graduate school. Ultimately, I am too young to not get my degree. I have found my calling in life and want to continue working in library systems. One never knows what life will bring. I don't think it would be wise to assume that I will work in my current job for the next 30 odd years until I retire. If I didn't get my degree, I think I would be doing myself a great disservice. And that is the bottom line, I'm going to graduate school for myself because the degree itself won't be what makes me a librarian.

North Carolina State University's Library Catalog

Information from my preliminary examination of North Carolina State University's Library Catalog (web catalog is powered by Endeca's ProFind Content Management System):

  • Initial Search page: Keyword search options to "search for words" or "search begins with . . ." The "search for words" search can be limited via a drop-down box to Anywhere, in Title, in Author, in Subject Headings, or ISBN/ISSN. The "search begins with . . ." search can be limited to Title begins with, Journal Title begins with, Author (last name first), Subject begins with, Series begins with, Call number, or Gov Doc number.
  • On the home page, there is a Hint box with links to Search other Catalogs and Search Help.
    There is a link to Search the Collection link which takes the user to a different search page where one can search the catalog, find articles, find Journal titles, find Reserves, find Databases, Browse Subjects, links to Special Collections, links to other collections, and links to Reference tools. While most of these services are outside of the library catalog, they all appear to the user as one system.
  • The catalog has tabbed options for searching: Search, Advanced Search and Browse.
  • The Advanced Search page has several more search options. Users can search by "Words Anywhere," "Words in Title," "Words in Author," "Words in Subject Headings," and ISBN/ISSN. There are optional search limits available: Library (Online Resources, D.H. Hill LIbrary, Design Library, Natural Resources LIbrary, Textiles Library, Veterinary Medical LIbrary, Satellite Shelving Facility, Special Collections (D.H. Hill), Learning Resources Library, and African American Cultural Center Reading Room), Language, Format (audio recordings, books, CD-ROMs, e-books, electronic resources, filmstrips, journals and serials, electronic journals, kits, manuscripts, maps, microforms, newspapers, scopes, software, theses & dissertations (NCSU), videos and DVDs, and slides), date range of publication and include document type (gov docs, reference materials, all others). The document types are all checked, so I assume that by unchecking they would be removed from the results pool?? Are there only three types of documents? I find this a bit confusing. There is also the ability to do Boolean searching on this page. Hints are available telling patrons to use quotes for exact phrases and that boolean operators are ignored in keyword searches.
  • Browse tab: Patron can browse titles by subject - broken down by call number area. There is also the ability to browse all new titles received within the last week.
    There is a "get answers now" link which takes one to a page about getting help from reference librarians on every page.
  • In the top navigation image, there is a link to log into one's library account. This image appears on every page.
  • Note, I found it very difficult to figure out how to return to the library catalog's home page. There is no obvious way. The "Search the Collection" link is on every page - however, this does not return on the catalog home page. I eventually discovered the link the catalog home page in a drop down menu with the "Most Used" resouces.

Arkansas State University - Beebe's Library Catalog

Information from preliminary examination of Arkansas State University - Beebe's Library Catalog (ILS is Library.Solution 2.0 from The Library Corporation (TLC) - additional use of Aquabrowser):
  • Library catalog home page has several options: Search (refine searching to obtain more precise results), Browse (expands searching by viewing results alphabetically/numerically), Combination (search titles, authors, subjects and/or notes simultaneously), Patron Review, Online Help and Aquabrowser library search.
  • Main search page: There is a search box with several options. One can find information from certain fields (Any fields (default option), Titles, Authors, Subjects, Notes, Publisher, and Series) that begin with, contain (default option), closely match the words, stem from or sound like the item being searched for. Results default to 20 per page. The user can change from preset numbers in a drop down menu. Searches can be limited to locations: All branches, Abington Library (ASU - Beebe's library), and ASU Searcy library. Users have the option to limit search to available items only.
  • Browse search page: Users can search for a keyword and browse the results by Title (default option), Authors, Subjects, Notes, Publisher, Series, Local Call, Dewey, GPO, ISBN, ISSN, LC Call, LCCN or LCCN 2000+. The ability to return a specific number of results, limit to select locations and limit the search to available items only is also available (available on every page).
  • Combination Search: (name itself is quite confusing). This appears to be the place for boolean searching. There are three search boxes which can be combined with AND, OR or NOT in one of three indexes: Title, Author or Subject Note. Each of the three search boxes is labeled term 1, term 2 or term 3. Under the search boxes are the options to group terms like (term 1 * term 2) * term 3 or term 1 * (term 2 * term 3). Again, there is the ability to return a specific number of results, limit to select locations and limit the search to available items only.
  • Patron Review page contains a place for the user to log into the system. It appears that this is only in order to request items (not to check circulation record, etc.).
    Online Help - There are fairly extensive help pages.
  • There is top navigation menu with several options: Home, Help, Search, Browse, Combination, Reading Programs, Set Limits, Logon and Patron Review. Search, Browse, and Combination link to the same search pages that are offered from the home page. The Logon and Patron Review icons technically go to two separate links, but appear to be the same page. The Home icon takes the users to a different page than the initial catalog home page (This is a bit confusing since the page has some different options).
  • The Set Limits icon links to a limit page where a user can choose several additional limits: date range, language, format (book, serial, kit, projected, printed music, manuscript music, sound (music), sound (non-music), printed map, manuscript map, computer file, 2-D graphic, mixed material, artifact, manuscript, archive, and any non-print), and collection (Arkansas Reference, Audio Books, Audio Visual, Circulating, Computer Media, Electronic Equipment, Electronic Collection, Instructor Reserves, Inter-lib Loan 3 wks, Inter-lib Loan 4 wks, on order, Reference, Reserve Collection, Serials, Special Collection, Special Status and Technical Services).
  • From the second catalog home page, there is an option to do a Visual search. This option presents the user with 15 images (a baseball, a basketball, a sailboat, a car, a god, an elephant, a football, hockey players, a plane, a train, a farm, a cow, the Grand Canyon and a pig. Clicking on one of these images will present the user with a list of items about that item.
  • Aquabrowser link - On this page, there is one simple, search box. Searches can be limited by location: All, ASU Beebe and/or ASU Searcy. There is a link to help using Aquabrowser.
  • Note that there is no link back to the library home page or the regular catalog.

UMass Dartmouth Library Catalog

Information from preliminary examination of UMass Dartmouth's library Catalog:

  • Tabbed search options: Basic Keyword (default option), Title/Author/Subject/Call No., Course Reserves, UMD Journal Locator (not ILS product), New Titles.
    Navigation under logo at top of screen with several options: Search, Headings, Titles, Patrons, Login, History, eResources, UMD Library, and Help. Headings, Titles and History links are not active. eResources link leads outside of the library catalog.
  • Basic Keyword search: Three basic search boxes with and, or and not options. These searches can be completed in Keyword Anywhere, Title, Subject or Author indexes. Results default to 50 per page - this can be changed to other present numbers: 10, 20, etc. There is a link to a movie to help patrons locate books in the library. There are alos links to a Virtual Catalog site and to the library's interlibrary loan department.
  • Title/Author/Subject/Call No. search tab: There is a search box labeled Find This. Results can be limited to several indexes: Keyword Anywhere AND with Relevance, Keyword Anywhere OR with Relevance, Title Keyword AND, Subject Keyword AND, Journal Title Keyword AND, Keyword Relevance Search, Author Browse, Left Anchored Title, Call Number Browse, Subject Browse, Date Seach (left anchored), and Name Title Browse. (Upon first glance, these options seem very confusing. I'm not exactly sure what they mean. Hopefully, what these searches do will become clear when I actually start to do searches). There is also a quick limit option to limit material to after 1990, after 2000, videorecording, serials in English, and Main Library.
  • Course Reserve tab allows users to search for reserve material by instructor, department, course number or section number. On this page, there is a link to the library's ereserve system and a link to the UMass journal locator (both are non ILS systems).
  • New Titles tab: Patron can select location, but UMass Dartmouth library is the only location offered. There is the ability to choose the period for new books: last week, last 2 weeks, last 3 weeks, and last 4 weeks. The results can be sorted by call number, author or title. There is also a search box for patrons to search for something in the new titles (this is optional).
  • Patron/Login links on navigation menu: There are two links which allow patrons to log into the library catalog. Each link (patron and login) seem to take patrons to the same place. This seems a bit confusing.

The Final Three Catalogs

For my next cataloging assignment, I have narrowed down the catalogs that I will examine. As noted previously, I think that analyzing three catalogs from different vendors will be the most productive route. So the three systems that I will compare are:

  1. North Carolina State University's library catalog - Powered by Endeca's ProFind
  2. Arkansas State University's library catalog - Library.Solution ILS by The Library Corporation - Uses Aquabrowser
  3. UMASS Dartmouth's library catalog - Endeavor's Voyager system

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Apathy & Annoyance Sets In

I am incredibly uninterested in school at the moment and trying very hard to motivate myself to finish my work. My class ends next week with a final exam for which there is no information. What do we need to study? What format will the exam be in? Do we need to memorize AACR2? Of course, this is after the last assignment is due (Monday, the 31st). At this point, there are way more answers than questions. There has been so little direction from the professor that is extremely hard to keep interested in the topic and even harder to care. Without any graded material, it is impossible to know where I stand and impossible to feel as if I can adequately prepare for the last assignment or for the final.

The good news is that I generally find myself in this type of mood every semester - right before the end. Final exams, papers, etc. are pretty stressful - and I constantly have to remind myself that the big picture will be worth it in the end. Ultimately, I will be a happy camper after August 4th with a few weeks to relax before the start of the next semester. I will have to take some time off from work to truly enjoy it - but wait, taking days off from work in August which is right before school starts is not an easy task. And, since the person who works for me recently resigned, I may actually be working many, many hours. ARGH!!!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Initial Ten Catalogs

The Ten Catalogs for Assignment #3

  1. Ann Arbor District Library Catalog
  2. Arkansas State University - Beebe - Abington Library Catalog- Aquabrowser.
  3. Detroit Area Library Network Library Catalog- SirsiDynix
  4. Georgia Library PINES - Beta version of an open source integrated library system named Evergreen developed by the Georgia Public Library System.
  5. HELIN Library Catalog- Library consortium in Rhode Island. An Innovative Interfaces OPAC.
  6. North Carolina State University Libraries- Powered by Endeca. The system leverages the advanced search and navigation features of Endeca ProFind platform.
  7. Plymouth State University - Lamson Library’s Catalog - WordPress OPAC - under development.
  8. UMASS Dartmouth Library Catalog- Endeavor’s Voyager platform.
  9. University College Dublin Library Catalogue- A system on the Talis platform.
  10. University of Notre Dame Library Catalog- Ex libris’s Aleph .

I tried to choose a variety of different library catalogs as part of my initial 10 choices. Although not required as part of the instructions, it seems to me that in order to analyze different features and search methodologies, the catalogs needs to be from different vendors. Personally, I think this is more important than the size of the collection. Now, I have to start work on the assignment. I am without a doubt reading to have a couple of weeks off from school. More will follow . . .