Author Archives: Jonathan

Three Digitization Projects for 2013

One of the biggest personal projects I’m starting this year is the digitization of many family documents. I’ve selected the following three collections that are a good combination of being easy to digitize and personally meaningful:

WH diaries

My grandmother wrote daily diary entries from 1932 through 2003. The diaries are rich with family history and personal information, but are also a good source of information about daily life in southern California–she also writes about the movies she and her family went to see, and what she thought of them. My grandmother was a librarian, as I am, so I get a special thrill reading about her professional activities (ordering LC cards, taking classes in Taxonomy, etc.).

LLR bound correspondence

One of my paternal great-grandfathers, a ship broker, kept bound copy-books of his business correspondence. Nineteen of these volumes remain in the family, most an average of 300 pages long (a few are 500 pages, and a few considerably shorter). In addition to a wide variety of business correspondence related to ship brokering, he includes several letters to the foreman of his farm in Connecticut, near where I used to spend summers as a child. The volumes begin in August, 1906 and end in May, 1928; so far I have found mentions of the RMS Titanic, RMS Lusitania and the outbreak of WWI in Europe.

Update: There are nineteen extant volumes, not twelve. I also changed the dates covered.

LLR 1902 European trip negatives

I found a couple hundred medium format b&w negatives taken by my great-grandfather. I don’t know if they’re all from the same period or not, but most appear to have been shot during a 1902 trip to England and France. They were stored in an uninsulated pantry for several decades in envelopes lined with cardboard, and as a result the condition of the negatives varies: some of them appear fine, and several others have become brittle and stuck to to each other. Assessing the condition and preservation needs of these negatives (let alone their capacity to withstand digitization) is outside of my expertise, so I’ll be taking them to a consultant for assessment and, if possible, digitization.

I’m a librarian by training, not an archivist. The last thing that I want to do is damage my family history documents in the process of trying to preserve and digitize them. In thinking about and planning these projects, I was pleased to find and consult Preserving Local Writers, Genealogy, Photographs, Newspapers, and Related Materials, edited by Carol Smallwood and Elaine Williams. I’m also considering purchasing:

  • The Unofficial Family Archivist: A Guide to Creating and Maintaining Family Papers, Photographs, and Memorabilia by Melissa Mannon
  • How to Archive Family Keepsakes: Learn How to Preserve Family Photos, Memorabilia and Genealogy Records by Denise May Levenick

“My side is on the side of the human being”

“The natural world has such a secret power for me, it is such a source of strength and affirmation. . . . But then there are human beings, too, and they, too, are beautiful and treacherous and full of such mystery. God knows we need someone to tell us the human is beautiful these days, and we need to hear over and over again that even in our ugliness we must be loved into something more than ourselves and more than ugliness. My side is on the side of the human being, and the human being moving in nature, which is spirit; and nothing else seems important to me, and if I thought I could not spend my life laboring to perceive and to understand and to clarify what happens to us in the world, then I would want to die.”

William Goyen, Selected Letters, p114-115.

Book review: Serving LGBTIQ Library and Archives Users

Serving LGBTIQ Library and Archives Users: Essays on Outreach, Service, Collections and Access
edited by Ellen Greenblatt

This volume is a sequel of sorts to Cal Gough and Ellen Greenblatt’s Gay and Lesbian Library Service (1990). It covers the same ground as its predecessor, updating and expanding topics, as well as introducing new ones–most notably the impact of internet technologies and access for library services and patrons. There’s a little bit of something for everyone!

The book is well organized and easy to navigate, with a good index. Unfortunately, its size and the tightness of the binding make it a little unwieldy to hold comfortably with one hand, but the text is not especially small, so it is easy to read.

Overall, I’m very impressed with the breadth and, to a lesser extent, the depth of the collection. Any anthology is going to vary in quality across its contents somewhat, but these are with one exception very readable and informative chapters and profiles. There are a few minor typographical errors, including the hilariously appropriate ‘lisbian’. (p82)

The highlight of the book for me was James LaRue’s thoughtful letter to a parent who had challenged library material. His considered response should be mandatory reading for all librarians and library students, as it clearly, rationally and unequivocally lays out the case for why his library felt the book needed to be included, while respecting the complainant’s values. Thankfully, the letter is also available to read on LaRue’s blog.

Recommended

OCL Staff Development Day Live Tweet Archive

I’ve collected my Ocean County Library Staff Development Day 2011 tweets into this handy post, removed the #oclstaffdev11 hashtag and tweaked a few things for readability, sorted them in chronological order, and included links to the original tweets (if you want to respond there). Enjoy!

Prologue

Fun fact: the weather’s so nice today that I thought about playing hooky. (link)

Award-winning 2/14 display design: “Blind Date with a Book” (wrap it in paper, put barcode on outside). Start a book romance? (link)

Keynote: Libraries and Our Future

Keynote about to begin: Libraries and Our Future, by Drs. Schement and Radford of Rutgers. (link) Continue reading

A Year of EULAs

It is a truism that people do not read end user license agreements (EULAs) before accepting them. As Jeff Sauro mentions in his post at Measuring Usability, not only are such agreements long and boring, but they also present a single legitimate choice for the end user: agree to the terms and proceed to use the software or service, or decline the terms and do without.

I confess to not spending much time poring over every EULA. As an undergraduate philosophy major, I can certainly understand the need for precision in language, especially when describing a contract between two or more parties. But there’s something to be said for clarity, too, as well as communicating in plain language. One of the hardest assignments I was ever given was to write a coherent philosophical argument in a single paragraph. In such a tightly constructed document, it’s important to find not only the right word, but also the concise phrase.

Compare one (admittedly dense) paragraph with the many pages of obtuse legalese in each EULA.

Starting June 1st, I’m going to track the license agreements that I encounter over the next year and save a digital copy of each, compiling them in order to get a total page count. Why? Mostly it’s an effort to make visible something that typically goes unseen. What usability issues are there in accessing, reading, and understanding these agreements to which we are (nominally) legally binding ourselves? What if anything does this suggest for library services? Finally, the librarian and latent information designer in me wonders about EULA reform.