Melvyl launched a new Ex Libris system on August 1. Though most of the features remain the same, there are some improvements, a major one being the combination of the book and periodicals databases. Non-U.C. users can take advantage of many of Melvyl's added-value functions. Users who create a user ID and password have access to "My Workspace", which supports the ability to save personalized information for use in the current and future sessions. Profiled information can include preferred display options, the user's e-mail address, timeout settings, etc. The Melvyl system can save one or more records from different searches in multiple (named) save lists that can be displayed or output using print, e-mail, or download.
You can also customize how search results are displayed, including long, custom, tagged, or MARC. (In 1996 I used Melvyl to import free MARC records for my library.) You may access the Update service, a current awareness service that automatically performs user-defined searches on a regular basis and e-mails you the results, also saving them in your Profile. Other features: Limit search to electronic resources only; phrase and proximity searching; call number searching; combine books and periodicals (CAT & PE) in one database; browsing (heading searches); optional command line interface; and downloading to citation management software like ProCite and EndNote.
This piece followed another on the book rescue at Johns Hopkins' Peabody Library followed esxtensive water damage. It was a reminder of disaster preparedness plans I've had in place, but have thankfully not had to test. The Peabody's vendor for the rescue, freezing and drying process seemed to perform excellently, and I'm making note for future reference. Two pieces on a national radio show about books and libraries!
George Carlin on the Comedy Central show "Tough Crowd", one of my favourite shows: "If you ever took a look at a librarian, you'd see why we need pornography in libraries." Jeez, and I really liked George Carlin.
After reading this, I've decided to order all of my copies for gifts from Chapters books in Canada. With the exchange rate the price will be about the same, and I'll drop a note to Scholastic stating my reason for doing so. I know that libraries were pushing for publishers to make greater use of recycled, non-polluting paper, with some success ... I'll have to check what's up with that. Libraries have the power to influence this.
It was in the mid-eighties in Canada that all government agencies and most businesses began using recycled paper and envelopes. Living in the States, I'm bewildered that all government and business-issued mail continues to be on non-recycled, bleached white paper.
I will be getting to further comments on the SLA and InfoToday conferences, this week for sure.
Marylaine's key message to librarians was to stand up and claim your rightful place in the digital space: Reclaim the right to select; build our own search engines and digital libraries; train for change; use and become expert in the users' tools of choice; preserve digital data; always be current in your knowledge of copyright and privacy; continue working to bridge the digital divide; and, of course, continuously retrain so as not to be blind-sided by the next new technology. She spoke of the book chapter she wished she'd included, "The Library as Place," about the importance of the library as a multi-use focal point of communities, and how the changing nature of the book need not mean a diminishing role for the library. In emphasising the importance of marketing all that one's library or information business has to offer, Marylaine said something that I really liked in reference to her own success: "If you're first, you don't have to be best." When Marylaine has ideas she acts on them and sees them through to completion; she doesn't wait around to see what others think: She does it.
Always remember, the best is the enemy of the good. (That's from my own mentor and former boss, Elaine Bruce. I'm still trying.)
To come, on "Digital Rights Issues," presenters Christopher Kenneally of the Copyright Clearance Center and George Pike, Assistant Professor of Law and Director, Barco Law Library, University of Pittsburgh School of Law. And Tom Reamy of the KAPS Group on "Knowledge Architecture: People, Skills, Roles, Services, and Tools."
The conference was definitely worthwhile, however, and I've seen improvement each year since I first attended in 1996. There are now few vendors among the primary presenters, which can present problems in terms of bias, unintended or not. The biggest problem this year was the severe drop in the number of exhibitors; I'd estimate that there were 75% fewer than there were a few years ago, which can only reflect the drastic cutbacks in corporate budgets and the high number of bankruptcies among smaller vendors. And shame on you, Lexis-Nexis, for not being there! And you, too, Factiva! Both Nexis and Factiva have hundreds of staff in NYC, and to not set up at least a small booth is a disservice to the profession that makes them consistently profitable. Congratulations, Dialog, for being there. I'm sure the fact that SLA is in NYC next month is a reason for some vendors blowing off InfoToday, but for the attendee, InfoToday has much more to offer in terms of the variety and quality of the sessions and workshops. I was told that attendance was down, though I didn't find it to be noticable. More to come about InfoToday 2003.
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"So, leave us free, SLA, to preserve culture and protect democracy and rational discourse without our intentions being confused by your oxymoronic "corporate libraries." (Rory Litwin, Library Juice 6:8 - April 3, 2003)
I'm a librarian who's worked in academic and public libraries, as well as a range of special libraries including law, finance, foundation and other non-profits. My own preconceptions fell away quickly as I gained experience in various special libraries. I had many of the misconceptions that Litwin seems to hold, and a special library was the last place that I wanted to work. Living in NYC, however, I did want to pay my rent, and I also became aware that the corporate libraries in the city could provide me with invaluable experience to take back to an academic library environment.
I can say confidently that the range of skills, breadth of learning, and daily demands required of most special librarian positions goes far beyond that of most public librarian positions, and many academic positions. Here in New York City, in fact, MLS recruiters will confirm that public libraries are where many otherwise unhirable librarians end up; I have had staff, temps and interns who couldn't handle the numerous demands of a special library, and they are all now doing well in NYC Metro area public libraries. In my almost ten years in special library positions, I could never have been so thoroughly challenged had I stayed in what remains my "dream" job, as an academic arts& humanities librarian. In special libraries, I have had titles including Director of Information Resources, Information Services Director, Senior Information Specialist, Research Analyst, Research Librarian, Researcher, Archivist, and yes, Librarian. My commitment to the educational, ethical, and political aspects of librarianship have never flagged, and it has been difficult and rewarding to realise my commitment to these values in a corporate environment.
There is clearly some bile behind Litwin's inappropriate remarks; it is not uncommon for non-special librarians to be envious or bitter about the considerably higher salaries we earn. But do they realize that most special librarians would consider a 45-hour work week a luxury, let alone the 35-38-hour week enjoyed by most public and academic librarians? I rarely worked fewer than 55-60 hours/wk before my current position. That said, I look forward to returning to my academic library roots for the final 10-15 years of my working years, and I'd jump at the opportunity to return to a university library.
I could go on and on, because this Library Juice piece sure does have me angry.
Can I stay awake tonight for the annual reading of Dante's Inferno, at the Cathedral of St John the Divine? Official description: "New York poets and writers will read "Inferno" by Dante Alighieri during the vigil on Maundy Thursday, the very hours Dante intended the events in this masterpiece to take place. Free admission, from 9 pm to midnight." Would that I still lived but two short blocks from said cathedral! How I miss the old neighborhood ... Speaking of old neighborhoods I miss, Slate's "Well Traveled" series does a piece on Montreal. The author writes about Mordecai Richler, the Plateau, the Canadian Centre for Architecture, where I worked for a year, and many other things that remind me how fortunate I was to live there and how I'd love to go back. Is it a coincidence that the coolest (and coldest) large city in North America also has the worst economy? No jobs mean low rents and cost-of-living, and low rents allow the highest percentage of creatives of any major city, and all those out-of-work people have lots of time to write, make art and music, and theycan stay out all night cuz there's not a lot of 9-5 in MTL. Canada's universal health care and social and cultural programs also make it possible for more people to earn livings as free-lancers. Oh Canada.