A Shameless Plug

As I’ve mentioned here before, I’m trying to get back into the game of fiction writing. Along the way, I’ve met plenty of awesome people who got involved in the game after I left, or never left and went on to do amazing things. Charles Barouch is one of the latter. We worked together years ago when we both wrote game review columns for Gateways magazine, which has long since disappeared into the mists of time.

Charles now had his own small press, HDWP Books, and is currently producing an intriguing short fiction series called “Theme-Thologies.” The idea is simple: create a theme for a book then find the best stories possible to fill the space.

I’m not in any of the books currently on the shelf but I am working to get a piece into one of the future anthologies. I do believe in the project and the staff and writers involved, however, so I’ll be putting some cash down for these titles. You may consider doing the same. If nothing else, let’s share this far and wide and get some exposure for these guys.

 Charles’s post as it appeared on his G+ account earlier today reads as follows:
I need $6
You are all nice people. I’m sure if I asked you for $6, just because I needed it — or even wanted it — a lot of you would reach into your pocket. I’m not asking for me. Well, not exactly for me…
Here’s my problem: I need to jumpstart the sales on Theme-Thology. These are really good books but we aren’t visible enough. Can you spare $6 to help 18 authors and artists?A Promise: From now until April 21st, if you buy the first two Theme-Thologies (total: $5.98) and post a review of either of them (on Amazon, B&N, or Kobo, or GoodReads), I will send you the first eBook from our new science fiction series: Interrogative: Tiago and the Masterless. Just post a link to the review at http://www.hdwpbooks.com/books/thankyou and the book is yours.A Prize: Additionally, from now until April 21st, if you buy any of the first three Theme-Thologies ($2.99 each), I will enter you into a drawing to win one of the following eBooks: one of five different Mike Reeves-McMillan books (City of Masks, Hope and the Patient Man, Hope and the Clever Man, Realmgolds, Gu), A Noble’s Quest by Ryan Toxopeus, Adjacent Fields by Charles Barouch, or The Tower’s Alchemist by Alesha Escobar.
Just buy the Theme-Thology of your choice and post at http://www.hdwpbooks.com/books/thankyou.● Already bought them? Post a review (on Amazon, B&N, or Kobo, or GoodReads) and I will send you the first eBook of our new science fiction series: Interrogative: Tiago and the Masterless and put you in the drawing. Just post a link to the review at http://www.hdwpbooks.com/books/thankyou.

● Received the Adjacent Fields signed, limited edition print book at Spectrum 2013? Post a review (on Amazon, B&N, or Kobo, or GoodReads) and I will send you the first eBook of our new science fiction series: Interrogative: Tiago and the Masterless and put you in the drawing. Just post a link to the review at http://www.hdwpbooks.com/books/thankyou.

Full Details Here: http://www.hdwpbooks.com/books/thankyou

Buy if you can, click on one of the share buttons below if you can’t.

WW1 Soldiers’ Diaries Now Online

From the Guardian:

First-hand accounts of trench warfare, gas attacks and battles involving horses and machine guns, are contained in nearly 4,000 diaries released online on Thursday to mark the centenary of the 1914-18 world war.

The diaries, digitised by the National Archives in a joint project with the Imperial War Museum, reveal the sheer stoicism and black humour that helped troops – on both sides – survive the slaughter in Belgium and northern France. They include accounts of the battle of Loos in September 1915, a notoriously unsuccessful and bloody offensive in which the British army used poison gas for the first time and suffered more than 60,000 casualties in less than a month.

An intelligence report of the army’s 12th division in northern France, dated 10 July 1915, records: “A brown paper kite was found on night 8/9th in front of the right section of our line … covered with German writing, of which the following is a rough translation: ‘You can fill your trenches with devils – we Germans fear nothing in the world, and we Germans await victory … Englishmen, how badly you shoot! You will be served as the Russians’.”

The message added that while German soldiers had “wine, sausage and meat”, the British were “hungry and thirsty”.

The entry goes on to discuss two cats and a dog that were apparently spying for the Germans (who knew?)

The diaries can be viewed at the First World War 100 Portal.

The best part–if there is a ‘best’ part about one of the bloodiest events of the twentieth century–is that the National Archives need volunteers to scan the contents of these diaries and tag points of interest in each entry. Historical attribution from your home PC sounds like a winning project to me.

ThirdScribe Launches Today

Today is February 17, aka President’s day, which used to be known as George Washington’s Birthday. As old timers will remember, we only got the day off (along with Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on February 12). No lumped together presidents’ birthdays, no week-long vacation from school. But today is still a holiday, so yea for a day off of work.

Second bit of good news: iTunes’ season pass for Season 3 of Game of Thrones earns its money today as the entire season is supposed to be available for download starting today. I’m crossing my fingers on that one; iTunes can be finicky when it comes to streaming multiple downloads, especially if several people on the same account but with different computers watch the same shows. Not to mention that if I’m downloading 10 episodes, everyone else who bought the season pass is doing the same thing.

Third, but hardly the least important bit of good news for today: Rob McClellan’s  book-centric social media network ThirdScribe goes live today. I’ve created book pages for the two library-oriented books I’ve contributed to.

I’ve been alpha testing Thirdscribe for the past few months; I’m pretty happily impressed with the design. It’s designed from the ground up to be a social media tool for books, authors, and readers. Authors and readers can choose from paid or free accounts, depending on the perks they want to be included with their setup. DNS hosting and transfers are available as is URL forwarding, and entire site migration is available for bloggers and website owners who want to go whole-hog into adopting ThirdScribe as their new medium of choice.

ThirdScribe uses a WordPress framework to manage various site admin rights, visual arrangements, and interactive facets. The thing to remember is that while Thirdscribe does include full-featured blogging tools (hey, it’s WordPress) it’s meant to be primarily a social network. Books have pages, authors and contributors, and sales links. Each one also has a forum which you set up at the time you create the book (or not, the choice is yours). Once your account is set up, you can check on your own books, modify the information about them more or less at will, then check out other members’ pages and see what books they’ve created pages for and who is saying what in their book forums.

Beyond that, you can synch your ThirdScribe network profile (but not your blog) to any social media platforms you already have, so that what’s posted in ThirdScribe is pushed to, say, Facebook and Twitter.

My testing has convinced me that ThirdScribe is something genuinely useful for books, and the people who read and write them. Meaning that I’ll be sticking with it for the forseeable future. I probably won’t be transferring this blog over to my ThirdScribe space simply because there are different people who read this than who are likely to want to talk about the books I like, but sure, there will be some cross-over as time goes on.

ThirdScribe is live, so take a good, long look at it. I think this thing has a bright future.

Event Announcement: Documentation in Tech Services

From Dan Lipcan et al. of the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

Dear Colleague,

Have you ever wondered how other libraries manage to keep track of all those local decisions, workflows, cataloger’s judgments, and exceptions to every rule?  So have we, which is why we are presenting “It’s Documentary, My Dear Watson: Documentation in Technical Services,” a program sponsored by the Thomas J. Watson Library.  The program will be held Thursday, April 3, 2014 from 3:00-5:00 pm at the Bonnie J. Sacerdote Lecture Hall at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and will be followed by a brief reception in the Watson Library.

We are purposefully leaving the topic broad to encourage creativity and variety but as food for thought some aspects we are interested in here are: the tools used (wikis, blogs, Post-it notes), success stories, disasters, public vs. private documentation, best practices, training interns and new staff, etc.

The format will be fast paced with 4-5 minute informal presentations from as many as 10 speakers, a sort of Pecha Kucha or Ignite talk style in an effort to get as many ideas flowing as possible for the discussion to follow.

If you are as excited as we are and would like to be a speaker please reply with the topic of your presentation, and whatever hardware or software you require (PowerPoint, internet connection, easel).

We will let you know by February 24, 2014 if you have been accepted as a speaker but all are welcome to join us for the discussion! Please feel free to forward to anyone you think may be interested and thank you in advance.

Sincerely,

Andrea Puccio

Dan Lipcan

John Lindaman

Tamara Fultz

I think this will be worth the time and effort to attend.

7 Uses I Can Think of for Google Glass

Google Glass just got some cool new glasses frames. This is a nice development, especially for those of us who are visually challenged enough to need prescription lenses.

Beyond the fashion sense (or lack thereof) involved in this, I decided that while the gizmo itself is still a bit on the goofy side, it became something to lust after when combined with a real-world application (read, “sight”). That led me to wonder whether it was being used in libraries. And that led me to to do a bit of searching to find that yes, indeed, libraries are putting the tools to the test:

Library Journal has this report concerning the uses that Colorado’s Arapahoe Library District has put their new equipment to, while OEDb managed to think of 6 things libraries can do with Google Glass. Meanwhile the folks at Claremont Colleges Library haven’t actually begun to use their new equipment but they are gearing up for an exploration of its uses a bit later this spring.

While I’m not a GG developer and the technical facets of developing for this type of tech are beyond me (for now), I do have a list of tings I’d ultimately like to see Google Glass do:

1. Call Number Linking: At the moment we have StackMap installed on our online catalog. It’s helpful, but it’s tough to carry a monitor off to the stacks with you. . Why can’t location maps be projected on a Glass screen that leads you to the correct shelf?

2. RFID Linking: Scan a bar code with your eyes and watch the ILS register a checkout or a discharge.

3. Combine BookMyne with Google Glass: Since BookMyne is a SirsiDynix product (which allows you to search the online catalog from a iOS or Android powered device) you’d have to substitute your own vendor’s equivalent, but I think the application is there. The utility of building a similar type of functionality into Google Glass should be obvious.

4. Metadata Scanning: point Google Glass at a shelf of books that have been tagged with RFID sensors (or, since we’re talking about optical recognition technology, possibly just a call number tag) and watch the title, author, and borrowing history flow past your eyes. There’s no reason to stop there, either. If a book isn’t available you should be able to shoot an e-mail request for it or place it on hold with a spoken command.

5. Inventory Control: Metadata scanning taken to the umpteenth degree. The only difference would be the scale of the project. Except in this case, you’d scan a shelf of books visually and log them as ON SHELF. 30,000 print items in an hour? With a few people and the right tools, why not?

6. HelpDesk: Google Glass can already send e-mail; having the institution help desk on speed dial and a built in metadata cache fill in appropriate data about the nature of the request should be elementary.

7. Self-help instructional videos from the user’s POV: This should be a no-brainer, and it’s one of the uses that OEDb has already described in their blog post.

I’m sure there are other uses, but these are what come to mind as I go over my daily grind in tech services. I comprehend that this is a bucket list; I have no clue what level of attention SirsiDynix or other ILS vendors are planning to unleash on Google Glass, if any. But  I think that these are natural things to wish and work for as we progress from handheld devices into handless ones. The vendor that provides these new tools will clean up. It’s that simple.

Something to think about.

NYTSL Event:”Authority Control in an Out-of-Control World”

Yes, I know we had a bit of a snafu with the earlier posting of the NYTSL Fall Program–let’s just say that stuff happens, and leave it at that. Anyway, this one sticks:

NYTSL Fall Event Registration

Register Now for the Fall Event:

“Authority Control in an Out-of-Control World”

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Registration and Refreshments: 5:00-6:00 PM NYTSL Business Meeting & Program: 6:00-8:00 PM

Featuring:

Ethan Gruber, Web and Database Developer, American Numismatic Society Building Interlinked Prosopographies: A New Approach.

Ethan Gruber will discuss the development of xEAC, an open source framework for creating, maintaining, and publishing collections of EAC-CPF records using XForms, a W3C standard for editing XML in next-generation web forms.

Daniel Starr, Associate Chief Librarian, Thomas J. Watson Library, Metropolitan Museum of Art Daniel Starr will discuss authority vendors.

When: December 4th, 2013 5:00 PM   through   8:00 PM

Location:

The New York Public Library

Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, South Court Auditorium

476 Fifth Avenue (at 42nd Street)

New York, NY 10018

United States

 

Neil Gaiman Envisions a Future With Libraries

The wild and wacky world of the RFID gates gets ever stranger.

The short version is that a technician will be in today to attempt to finish the work last week’s technician began. The gates have some tracking ability but still do not alarm when a book passes through them. This after the new part we received was installed and the gear tested remotely by one of their better developers.

The long version is that I got one of the vendor’s troubleshooters to remotely log in to the gate reader. There is a possibility the gates need to be replaced. There is a possibility that our gate management software needs to be replaced. It is definite that a number of applications we’ve been running are no longer supported by the vendor. (The CircControl app we’ve been using is among these. Nice of them to tell us, huh?)

I’ve set up an appointment for them to log in with the developer that we’ve been regularly communicating with on problems concerning the gates, and they will do a complete test of everything we have installed.

There are days when I question why I bother to come to work.

In the meantime, this wonderful essay by Neil Gaiman on the future of libraries has been making the rounds of my social media networks. It deserves your full attention. Especially this bit:

I was once in New York, and I listened to a talk about the building of private prisons – a huge growth industry in America. The prison industry needs to plan its future growth – how many cells are they going to need? How many prisoners are there going to be, 15 years from now? And they found they could predict it very easily, using a pretty simple algorithm, based on asking what percentage of 10 and 11-year-olds couldn’t read. And certainly couldn’t read for pleasure.

It’s not one to one: you can’t say that a literate society has no criminality. But there are very real correlations.

And I think some of those correlations, the simplest, come from something very simple. Literate people read fiction.

Fiction has two uses. Firstly, it’s a gateway drug to reading. The drive to know what happens next, to want to turn the page, the need to keep going, even if it’s hard, because someone’s in trouble and you have to know how it’s all going to end … that’s a very real drive. And it forces you to learn new words, to think new thoughts, to keep going. To discover that reading per se is pleasurable. Once you learn that, you’re on the road to reading everything. And reading is key. There were noises made briefly, a few years ago, about the idea that we were living in a post-literate world, in which the ability to make sense out of written words was somehow redundant, but those days are gone: words are more important than they ever were: we navigate the world with words, and as the world slips onto the web, we need to follow, to communicate and to comprehend what we are reading. People who cannot understand each other cannot exchange ideas, cannot communicate, and translation programs only go so far.

The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. And that means, at its simplest, finding books that they enjoy, giving them access to those books, and letting them read them.

I don’t think there is such a thing as a bad book for children. Every now and again it becomes fashionable among some adults to point at a subset of children’s books, a genre, perhaps, or an author, and to declare them bad books, books that children should be stopped from reading. I’ve seen it happen over and over; Enid Blyton was declared a bad author, so was RL Stine, so were dozens of others. Comics have been decried as fostering illiteracy.

His response: Bah! There are no bad books, there is nothing below one’s reading level, and there is no book that cannot be taught as an act of literary statement.

Read fiction. Read it all. Enjoy every moment. Encourage others to do that same.

On the days I wonder why I bother, this is why I keep showing up.

Read the whole thing here.

Finally, a Library Display

As you surmised from the title of this post, I owe you a library display. Here you go.

photoRS

The theme for October was “Monsters: Real & Imagined” so we worked to find a selection that we felt was worthy of the idea.

The obvious choices included the historical references: biographies of Joe Stalin, Adolf Hitler, and Mao Tse-Tung were inevitable, as were the books on applied psychopathy (People of the Lie by M. Scott Peck, and The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein, among others.) Haunted, by Chuck Palaniuk actually dealt with ghosts, and Grimoires, by Owen Davies, dealt with the practice of harvesting them in fact and legend. Monsters in America, by W. Scott Poole, deals with the American obsession with ghouls, ghosts, and assorted beasties. Mary Shelley’s classic Frankenstein, and Judith Halberstam’s Skin Shows deal with gothic horror and the technology of monsters.

 

 

I’m particularly proud of the title card:

photoRS2

There’s some duplication here: Stalin, Hitler, and Mao, for example. Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter was a nice touch, though I think Brian Cox did a decent job of playing the same character in Manhunter.

Classic monsters from the 1930s on the left (note the closeup of Karloff as Frankenstein on the right), followed by zombie art. Personally, I didn’t think that Bernie Madoff belonged among serials killers, but I wasn’t prepared to argue, either.

I can’t take credit for including Toshiro from The Grudge, Michael Meyers from Halloween, or Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance from The Shining (that goes to Kate with some backup from Emma) but I did insist on using Heath Ledger’s Joker. Not to detract from Mark Hamill’s career as the voice of the Joker, but Ledger’s Joker scares the crap out of me.

Emma insisted on including Faye Dunaway’s Joan Crawford, and we all agreed on including Charlize Theron as Aileen Wournos from Monster. And the creepy little girl with the explosion in the background has been making the rounds on the intarwebs; it seemed wrong to exclude her.

Tomorrow, I’ll post my notes from last week’s SirsiDynix NYC User’s group meeting.

Rumble in Da Bronx

I’m out of the office, due to the fact that SirsiDynix scheduled their annual NY Users’ group meeting for today. It’s basically a day-long schmooze fest where we (the NY Users of SirsiDynix products) get to listen to the company’s execs pitch new products and updates planned for the old ones. It’s also a chance to catch up on news form other members of the local tech services community.  Oh, and they feed us. That’s a big draw.

So, I’ll head to Fordham, and sit, and listen and ask a few questions of my own (600+ selections included in the Reporting Module and there’s still no way to break out circulation stats from a select list of ItemIDs? What’s wrong with you people?) and wonder if anyone else there is considering dropping Symphony Workflows for something a bit more  .  . . well, a bit more integrated. Like, for example, OCLC WorldShare.

See you next week.

NYTSL Fall 2013 Evening Meeting and Program: “Authority Control in an Out-of-Control World”

Save the Date for the NYTSL Fall 2013 Evening Meeting and Program:

“Authority Control in an Out-of-Control World”

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Registration and Refreshments: 5:00-6:00 PM

NYTSL Business Meeting & Program: 6:00-8:00 PM

 

The New York Public Library

Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

South Court Auditorium

476 Fifth Avenue (at 42nd Street)

New York, NY 10018

 

More information and pre-registration will be available soon at www.nytsl.org.

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