Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Monday, December 15th, 2008

Libraries of Early America: Project Announcement

I’ve posted the following announcement on several rare book/library/American history listservs this morning as the official rollout of the Libraries of Early America project, an offshoot of the Legacy Libraries effort specifically for libraries created in America before c. 1825. Note: I’ve “blog-ified” the announcement here by adding additional links.

Have you ever wondered what books Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson had in their personal libraries? How about 18th-century Virginia musician Cuthbert Ogle, or four generations of Mather family members? Or the most active female book collector in Virginia during the colonial/early national period, Lady Jean Skipwith?

A new project will make it possible to search, compare and study these and other Libraries of Early America. Using the book-cataloging website, scholars from institutions around the country (including Monticello, the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Boston Athenaeum, the Boston Public Library, the Library Company of Philadelphia, the American Philosophical Society and others) have begun the process of creating digital catalogs of early American book collections – the project covers anyone who lived in America and collected primarily before 1825.

Is your institution home to any personal library collections or library inventories/book lists? Have you run across early American library catalogs (manuscript or printed) in the course of your research? We have begun compiling a list of collections to be added and are happy to receive further submissions.

Also, if your institution’s holdings include books from any of the personal libraries already completed or underway, we would be very interested to hear of them so that the records can be added to the database. While it will be impossible to catch every single book ever owned or read by these individuals, we intend to make these catalogs as complete as possible, so every title helps.

For more information, links, and so forth, please visit the Libraries of Early America group page. Feel free to ask any questions or offer any suggestions you have on the project, and if you’d like to volunteer, we’d love the assistance.

Labels: Uncategorized

Friday, November 7th, 2008


A propos of Jonathan Rochkind’s suggestion that MARC records contributed to OCLC include their own viral, but freeing, license…

Source: xkcd. Whether it’s it or me, I find xkcd funnier every day.

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Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

OCLC deletes personal cataloging?

Something’s going on over at OCLC. And it looks very worrisome.

LibraryThing members who care about library data should gird their loins. Ditto those who support the Open Library project, and other efforts to free library data.

Note: Sorry I can’t give more details yet. I will when I can. So far it’s a mix of messages on AUTOCAT and phone calls I can’t disclose. Also, I’m figuring someone in the library world who has more access to OCLC communication will post about it soon. So far, no posts.

Updates: Will post ‘em here:

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Friday, September 12th, 2008

Open Shelves Classification Update: What We Are Working On

Our first priority is to set the top level categories for the OSC.

Many ideas have been discussed in the thread on this topic, now it is time to test if these categories actually represent the holdings of public libraries.

We need volunteers to take the working list of top level categories listed in the wiki (…) and look at online catalogs for public libraries. Most online catalogs will allow you to search by Dewey Call Number, so Laena is going through and finding the correlating Dewey Numbers for each of the top level categories. She should be done this later today and will post the information to the wiki. Please search by Dewey Numbers correlated to our top level categories and then report on the wiki how many books turn up for each category. You will need to figure out how to search using wildcards in your catalog so that you turn up books will longer Dewey Numbers as well.

Once we have this information, we can then evaluate if the working list of top level categories needs to be edited.

Labels: Uncategorized

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

BookFinder Report

The 2008 BookFinder Report is now out. The report, compiled by the staff of, a cross-site used-book search service, tracks hot used books.

On top of the “Arts” section for the fifth year—Madonna’s Sex. I’m not sure why. LibraryThing members rate it pretty poorly.

Then again, it’s bound in metal

Check it out:

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Wednesday, August 13th, 2008


I love the Despair, Inc. posters, so this library-related riff got to me.

Poster by Darien superstar John Blyberg (CC-Attribution); hat-tip Michael Stephens.

I’ve wondered if lamination and similar protective techniques in libraries don’t encourage the very disaster they anticipate—”Oh, the book has a plastic cover on it? I guess that means its okay if I read it while eating a meatball sub!”

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Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

Index Translationum

Anirvan, over at the Bookfinder Journal, stumbled over a book-translation database called Index Translationum* operated by—of all things—UNESCO.

The search engine is early-90s bad, but the results are decent. Here are all the translations it knows of my wife’s The Mermaids Singing:

Carey, Lisa: L’île aux sirènes [French] / Catherine Pageard / Paris: Presses de la Cité [France], 1999. 331 p. English: The mermaids singing
Carey, Lisa: Havfruenes sang [English] / Elsa Frogner / Oslo: Egmont Hjemmets bokforl. [Norway], 1999. 253 s. Norwegian: The mermaids singing
Carey, Lisa: L’île aux sirènes [French] / Catherine Pageard / Montréal: Libre expression [Canada], 1999. 331 p. English: The mermaids singing
Carey, Lisa: Jeg kan høre havfruer synge [Danish] / Ulla Warrern / Kbh.: Lindhardt og Ringhof [Denmark], 1998. 242 p. English: The mermaids singing
Carey, Lisa: Merineitsite laul [Estonian] / Uta Saar / Tallinn: Perioodika [Estonia], 2000. 284, 1 p. English: The mermaids singing
Carey, Lisa: Das Lied der Insel : Roman [German] (Vollst. Taschenbuchausg.) / Gabriele Gockel; Petra Hrabak / München: Droemer Knaur [Germany], 2002. 347 S. English: The mermaids singing
Carey, Lisa: Das Lied der Insel : Roman [German] (Vollst. Taschenbuchausg.) / Gabriele Gockel; Petra Hrabak / München: Droemer Knaur [Germany], 2001. 347 S. English: The mermaids singing
Carey, Lisa: L’île aux sirènes [French] / Catherine Pageard / Paris: France loisirs [France], 2000. 294 p., couv. ill. en coul. English: The mermaids singings
Carey, Lisa: Merenneitojen laulu [Finnish] (ISBN: 951-0-22963-6) / Eva Siikarla / Porvoo, Helsinki, Juva: WSOY [Finland], 1998. 360 s. English: Mermaids singing
Carey, Lisa: Merenneitojen laulu [Finnish] (ISBN: 951-643-934-9) / Eva Siikarla / Helsinki: Suuri suomalainen kirjakerho [Finland], 1998. 305, 1 s. English: Mermaids singing

There are some clear dups, and its missing the Dutch translation, Luister naar de zee (known to LibraryThing). Still, it’s pretty good.

The various FAQ pages on the site aren’t very helpful. Does anyone know where it comes from and who’s really making it? Is someone parsing MARC records from national libraries? Is it done by hand? The logo suggests CDs are involved. Can I buy them? I get a dump of the data?

*As a former classics scholar the name caught me. Was this the return of “international Latin”? (And if so, is the Foreign Service looking to hire?) Alas, the Index dates from 1932.

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Saturday, June 7th, 2008

J. K. Rowling commencement address

Be sure to check out J. K. Rowling’s Harvard Commencement speech:

UPDATE: Check out this Morning Edition story on Harvard students unhappy with her selection. One can only hope they experience failure the failure recommended by Rowling.

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Friday, May 2nd, 2008

Penn Libraries make movies

Penn Libraries have put out a series of library movies: LibClips.* They are simultaneously terrifying and dangerously hysterical. The musical numbers take the cake, in my opinion.

You must go watch them now.

My favorites:
“Get it with BorrowDirect+” (he harmonizes with himself!)
“Find it a Click Away” (who hasn’t wished they were a floating head before? Man, can I relate)

Finally, I appreciate the captioning at the bottom. Makes karaoke easier.

But where is the aria for PennTags?

*hat-tip, my friend Adrienne

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Saturday, April 26th, 2008

The Algorithm, Doctorow, Fungus

“The Algorithm” made two assumptions about me, one very flattering and one not.

First, Facebook believes that I may “know” author and internet hero Cory Doctorow.

Perhaps Mr. Doctorow actually knows some people I “know” on Facebook (but don’t actually know). That’s possible. Or maybe it’s just flattering me.

Meanwhile, Google’s GMail algorithm thinks I have toenail fungus.

I can usually figure out why Google is serving me up an ad. Read an email from Abebooks and it serves up flights to Victoria, Canada, where they have their headquarters.

But I don’t know what confluence of keywords suggested this. Was it my wife telling me about Liam’s swim class? We all know pool dressing rooms are fungal paradises. Anyway, it has me worried. Google has some powerful technology. Maybe I have do have toenail fungus!

Oh, and check out the end of the ad, “Written by a well known auther.” Ouch.

Labels: Uncategorized