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June 30, 2004

Recovering slowly

In addition to losing my shiny new laptop, I acquired/developed a cold while in Orlando. Basically, it's going to be a while before I'll be able to blog about the conference.

It was pretty cool, although way too spread out (at one point, relying on the shuttle bus, it took an hour to get 1) from an outlying hotel to the convention centre and immediately 2) from the centre to an outlying hotel in a different direction). I met lots of cool people. I learned lots of cool things. In all, I'm pretty glad I went, and since I don't think I'll be attending next year's annual, I'm sorry I'm going to miss it.

And now for something completely different: I remember recently seeing a metasearch interface for numerous quotations dbs. It wasn't Bartleby, it was something much bigger/broader. If any of you might have run across such a beast, could you leave the URL in the comments? Thank you.

June 26, 2004

Your bone-headed correspondent ...

... left her iBook at the security checkpoint at the Atlanta airport. Don't expect any updates for a while.

Otherwise, I'm having a pretty cool conference.

June 22, 2004

Orlando Prep

I've been remiss (yet again). Moreover, I let Walt Crawford scoop me with my own material. Good thing I'm not working on the other side of the news desk.

Anyway, I've finally uploaded the Collaborative Guide to the ALA Annual Conference. It's not very polished, but I wanted to leave everyone's "voices" as they were, rather than try to create a seamless document (at least for now ... if I do end up submitting it to some type of newsletter, it will undergo heavy editing, but I will retain credits for various contributors).

Other things:

I'm considering not taking my iBook with me. I'll feel a lot less important without it, and my notes won't be as good (which is a really frightening thought). But I don't really feel like lugging around the thing, especially since it's not likely that I'm staying somewhere with free Internet access and there's no wireless for us regular Josephines at the conv. centre. And, I won't have an excuse not to interact with the people I'm with during a panel/meeting (yes, I do--with malice aforethought, a smile on my lips and a song in my heart--tend to hide by my machinery).

My schedule is already changing ... I'll probably spend most of Sunday evening at the film double feature -- Willful Infringement and Fahrenheit 9/11.

Lastly, I'll be without email most if not all of the conference (Friday after 4 EDT until Monday night). If you want/need to contact me, you should have my digits ... if you don't, you should e-mail me before 4 pm EDT on Friday.

June 21, 2004

Wading into investigative research

In addition to the previous post on the "Backgrounding People" session at IRE 2004, I also attended and took notes on the following sessions (the notes are in pretty raw form, but I hope they're useful even if not aesthetically pleasing):

Backgrounding Businesses
Unlocking the Invisible Web

At the level of specificity of resources, it was pretty new to me ... not so much to some of my co-workers, although everyone who went seemed to get something useful out of the conference.

One of the things I talked about with a co-worker was the incentive (or disincentive) to add new tools. Because as cool as it is to find out about new stuff and astound and amaze your users with the information you're able to provide them ... the first question you ask yourself when learning about a new tool/interface/database/etc. is, "What's in it for me?" I know librarians are supposed to be very neophilic and early adopting and like, but truth be told: change can be wiggy. Moreover, it can be a bit of a bother. And when I find out about the next Big Thing, I'm going to try it if:

  • it adequately (or exceedingly) replaces something that has stopped working for me
  • my boss is making me use it
  • I really think it's the neatest thing since chocolate souffle

And while I don't believe that most librarians are as change-averse as yours truly, I wonder if these sorts of sessions/articles/presentations/etc. leave them anywhere near as boggled as I am. I mean, I am excited. But still a bit boggled. If I remember one or two tools and am able to integrate them successfully, I feel like I've accomplished something.

Am I a latent neo-Luddite or does anyone else feel this way?

June 19, 2004

Digital Preservation initiatives

From a press release issued by the NDIIPP:


Library to Work with Old Dominion, Johns Hopkins, Stanford and Harvard Universities

The Library of Congress has entered into a joint digital preservation project with Old Dominion University, Department of Computer Science; The Johns Hopkins University, Sheridan Libraries; Stanford University Libraries & Academic Information Resources; and Harvard University Library to explore strategies for the ingest and preservation of digital archives. The project is supported by Information Systems Support Inc.

The Archive Ingest and Handling Test (AIHT), is designed to identify, document and disseminate working methods for preserving the nation's increasingly important digital cultural materials, as well as to identify areas that may require further research or development. The AIHT is part of an initiative, led by the Library of Congress, to build a network of preservation partners through the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP).

The AIHT participants are investigating and applying various digital preservation strategies, using a digital archive donated to the Library by the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. The archive is a collection of 57,000 digital images, text, audio and video related to the Sept. 11, 2001 events. The transfer of these 12 gigabytes of digital content is being used to emulate the problems that arise in digital preservation and to test possible solutions.

This was covered by Government Computing News and also announced on GOVDOC-L.

Will this affect my once-and-future job in any fashion? Nope.
Will I have anything to do with this when I return to Stanford? Nope.
Am I still excited as all heck about this? Yep!

June 17, 2004

IRE -- Backgrounding people

IRE Session
Thursday, June 17: 11:20-12:20
Using the Web (and other online sources) to find people

Maloy Moore, Los Angeles Times
Alice Wertheim, AJC

Backgrounding people is an art, not a science
Inconsequential data can be key in discrimination

Maloy Moore:
Approach to finding people
Things to consider: what you know, what you want to find out and how much time you have to find the person
* What you know: personal data, contacts, associates
* Where to start:
- Voter reg databases have a lot of personal data -- name and address search (address search to find family members)
- Look for professional licenses
- Newspaper search (local and/or national) -- mention of political activity/donations, educational background/alumni activities
- Business records
- Property records (try to correlate names to associates found in preceding searches)
- PACER (federal docket and bankruptcy filings)
- Criminal and civil indexes (doesn't always provide info to determine that the records you find are of the person you're looking for)
Things to keep in mind:
* Names vary -- people use nicknames variably, middle names/initials variably; also, how will the databases handle pluralized and hyphenated/accented names
* Misspellings/variants happen -- be flexible
* Vital Check - web resource -- can verify the county where a marriage/birth/death certificate is issued

Alice Wertheim:
Assess what you know about a person before you start your search -- do you have the full name? Is the address you have business or residential?
Keep in mind variations in name
If you know the SSN, you have it made vis-a-vis fee-based services
Don't assume anything -- people don't always live in the town they work; people may own businesses on the side; famous people don't necessarily have unlisted numbers; property may be in a spouse's name
Start with what's free and amass whatever info you can, then switch to fee-based resources
When doing a name search on the Internet/on a search engine, put the name in quotes to search as a phrase
There are free resources for finding neighbors
The criss-cross directory is a good place to confirm/find basic details
Political donations databases
If someone has a website, check out the registration of the website (WHOIS)
University website directories are great resources to find: experts (and info on those experts)
Corporate websites (particularly the corporate/press section) are also rich in info
SearchSystems.net -- thousands of links to record databases by geographic records
Go with reputable, well-established databases, know how often they're updated
Military records: hard to get (impossible without the consent of the person), but findable
Criminal background checks -- varies from state to state; no one easy way to do such checks on the web; a lot of records require consent from the individual
School information -- high school info has different restrictions than colleges/universities due to minor status of students -- may be possible to look through old yearbooks at the school site with prior consent of the school; college info is easier to get, via registrar's office, etc.
Be careful and be thorough

What's NOT available --
Financial records, with the following exceptions: bankruptcy records/dockets
Local court records, to some extent (but there are some exceptions ... look into this for your area)
Medical records

June 14, 2004

Library stories for Kahle v. Ashcroft

The Kahle v. Ashcroft team is still looking for stories to use in its case challenging CTEA due to its effect on orphan works from 1964-1977. And now there's an easier way to submit a story, via a webform. And you can be as confidential as you want to be.

From the site:

To win the lawsuit, we need your help. We need more examples of people being burdened by these copyright-related barriers to the use of orphan works. You can help us if you have ever wanted to copy, distribute, perform, modify, sample, mash-up, or generally use an orphan work, but were prevented from doing so because:
  • The cost of trying to find the copyright holder was too high; or
  • You were unable to find the copyright holder; or
  • You were able to find the copyright holder and they refused to issue a license; or
  • You were able to find the copyright holder and you were issued a license, but you have a good story to tell about how difficult the process was.

Please tell us what the work is, what you wanted to do with it, and how we can contact you. We will follow up with you if we need more information about the nature of your harm. With your help, we can reclaim the public domain.

Specifically for libraries and those who work in them ... if you ever wanted to digitize, create copies or make certain material available for public access beyond its original format, but felt inhibited due to the above bullet points -- your stories are wanted, too.

Please spread the word. Thanks.

June 13, 2004

Clutch the pearls

This blog is not dead yet ... it was just resting its eyes. It feels fine. It feels happy.

Last week at the news library was about learning ... and one thing made it into my thickened cranium the hard way: I learned that Factiva does not have everything.

Mind you, I knew this objectively, somewhere in the recesses of my online searching training. But when push came to shove, I flubbed a search because I assumed that when I didn't find the needed articles that it was because I was searching incorrectly. Well, no ... but I didn't cut my losses and ask, "What other tool(s) can I use to find this?" Then again, this is what I travelled some 3,000-odd miles to learn, so this is okay.

The 2004 IRE meeting starts Thursday, and while I certainly won't be at the whole, or even large sections, of the conference, I should get in on a couple of sessions. I may take my iBook to write notes, but I don't plan on blogging the sessions because my notes will be an absolute mess.

In other news ... I've not been keeping up with other news. I hope to get back into the flow of keeping up with the library world over the next couple of weeks, before ALA Orlando. Speaking of which, colour me disappointed that Jessamyn won't make it to Orlando. I only talked with her briefly in San Diego in January, and I had hoped to get to know her a bit better this time around and be less fan-girlish. Oh well.

P.S. --> I still can't find Transmet 9! I found the first graphic novel I've ever checked out from a library (a benefit compilation about HIV/AIDS from the late 1980s called "Strip AIDS USA") but I still can't find the penultimate volume of Spider Jerusalem's adventures. I think I may just wait until I get home and if my favourite comic book shop doesn't have it, I'll order it from Amazon.

June 07, 2004

The Baby News Librarian

1st day on the job. Many introductions, followed by a small tsunami of guidelines. Sat in on a newsroom meeting and watched the jargon fly over my head like acrobats at the circle.

After lunch, I got a badge (with a really cheesy--Camembert, to be exact--grin) and a tour of the building. And then ... for my last hour and a half, they put me to work with a microfilm reel. I think my online searching teacher would weep with the irony. (Actually, I'll be getting extensive training in Factiva and LexisNexis soon).

The newsroom is tuned into CNN (only 2 blocks away!), but the Features area has soap operas playing on the televisions. Not that it has anything to do with my job, but it makes me smile.

I still need to find a source of quality coffee in immense quantities that's not Starbucks. Many would argue that the first qualifier automatically leaves out Starbucks, but I'm not sure I'd take Dunkin Donuts coffee over the Seattle Mermaid (no slight on DD ... I haven't had it in years; if it's the same quality, then I don't think I'm being unfair).

Hey, coffee is very, very important for information retrieval, analysis and dissemination. Crucial, even. That's what I learned in 3 years of library school ...

June 05, 2004


Yes, yes, trademarks are different than copyright, but still:

It's kinda funny, depending on what side you're on ...

Atlanta-Fulton Public

Well, I'm now in Atlanta. However, I had a bit of a snafu at the local library.

I was in downtown (the 5 Points area, to be exact), and decided to check out the main library on one of the Peachtrees in order to 1) see if I could get a temporary (or otherwise) library card and 2) use an Internet terminal to find a comic book store (I'm missing just one volume of Transmetropolitan ... the second to last volume [note: the URL will take you to a site with naughty language and visual bits not considered appropos in polite society ... there may be nudity as well, but I dunno]) and 3) get the general lay of the land.

From the outside, the lay of the land is simply a concrete square. Tall, brown and very concrete. Inside, the first floor had 6 concrete pillars, 3 approximately 2-3 feet from the front entrance and the others along the back wall in parallel. Tall ceilings, green and off-white walls, and the circulation/privileges area took up the middle space. There's a security guard on duty and you have to present any bag/backpack for inspection.

There are Internet kiosks on the first floor, between the information desk and the circulation area (the info desk is in the northwest corner), but you need a library card to log on. So, I go to the information desk and ask if all the library terminals required a library card for usage. The lady behind the desk answered yes, and said that I could get a PC card from Circulation.

I'm slow. I managed to interpret "PC card" as "temporary library card" or library card for temporary/homeless residents. I don't believe that I'd qualify at any point for a real card, but I'd just like something that will let me use the library's online resources and something to take back with me to CA.

After a long wait at the Circ counter, I finally talk with a lady who informs me that the computers upstairs are down, and so they aren't giving out PC cards to people outside of the jurisdiction and that people with library cards are the first priority to get PC cards when the computers come back up, except for the computers behind me that are up, but those are the only ones.

Have I mentioned that I'm slow? Particularly when in a new city? I am agog; I just stare at the poor woman. I think the words "temporary library card" pass my benumbed lips at some point, but I truly don't remember all that well. She stares at me implacably.

I do remember seeing a sign that if someone outside of the Atlanta-Fulton County area wanted a library, there's an annual, non-refundable $75.00 fee, $50.00 for senior citizens. Reasonable if I planned to spend the year here, but sense I'm not spending even a quarter of that amount of time, this seems to be a bit much.

Does anyone know how to go about getting a temporary card for the Atlanta-Fulton County system? Obviously, I flummoxed the magic words that would have gotten me safe passage ... your help is appreciated.

June 01, 2004

Orlando bits

Some hot, fresh links:

Info on a Mickey Mouse demo at ALA Orlando.

Library Journal's picks and pans for ALA Orlando programming.

My own semi-frenzied schedule. Earlier today, my former advisor and I were trying to work out if I'd have the time to scam, I mean take advantage of discounted books for sale at the Exhibit Hall. Since I leave the day before the last day, I doubt it. Darn. I'm so looking to save some pennies on books about copyright (more on that soon).

I don't know if I'm taking my iBook ("Abelard") to Orlando. I'm thinking that I'd rather travel light since I'm going to be literally all over the place. However, I type much faster than I write and having notes to cut and paste might be personally useful. We shall see.

Are you going to Orlando? Do you wanna hook up over some blessed (or profane) caffeine? Let me know.