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August 19, 2004

EPA e-archive and EFF commentary

From EFF:

"The US Environmental Protection Agency is developing a new online system that will eventually contain records of all regulatory proceedings undertaken by all federal agencies, as well as provide the public with the means to submit comments online. Access to government documents is key to a functioning democracy, and EFF has been participating in the EPA proceeding to determine
the system's design (EPA Docket No. OEI-2004-0002). After attending public hearings, we submitted comments on Monday to supplement the record. We propose that the EPA enable bulk data retrieval and use modern technologies
such as web services interfaces and RSS feeds.

'We're glad that EPA is involving the public in the design of the docket management system. As advocates, we'll make extensive use of this system ourselves," said EFF Staff Technologist Seth Schoen. "The right technology choices here would help make the regulatory process much more transparent for the public.'"

See EFF's commentary to the EPA here [PDF].

The heartbreak of reference

This is one of those "What They Didn't Teach Me in Library School" entries.

My internship @ The AJC was wonderful. I learned so much, formally and informally. I was thrown into the fire, skill-wise, and I emerged the better for it. My co-workers were very helpful and very patient with me. 10 weeks of research does not an experienced reference librarian make, but I acquire a lot of skills and a lot of knowledge and a few new techniques.

And I was terrified.

When people ask me how I liked the internship, my answer is usually, "great/nerve-racking/fun/terrifying". Which sounds like hyperbole, but it wasn't. I was beyond frightened. I expected to learn a lot. I expected to make a lot of mistakes (including a few boneheaded ones). The idea of making a mistake that might be seen by over half a million readers was bad. The possibility of making a mistake that might keep a story from being seen by half a million readers was worse. There were times when being the person on phone duty made me almost queasy with dread. Mixed with homesickness, and for at least half of my time there, I had no idea whether or not I really liked the internship. Or the company. Or even the city.

This made it hard to blog about all three.

Eventually, my homesickness alleviated, I learned that I really liked some functions of the typical news library beyond research (more about that late), and I learned that I can do reference and that I still have a lot to learn.

To take someone as neophyte as I was (and continue to be) and put them in a position like that (with plenty of support, mind you) was a bold thing to do, and I thank the staff of the AJC news library for doing it.

But wow. Yeah. Nerve-wracking. No one ever told me that ...

August 16, 2004

It's over

My internship finished on Friday, I flew back to CA on Saturday. However, I don't go back to work until Sept. 1.

Downtime. What a wonderful concept.

August 15, 2004

Pay-per-use discussion

Rep. Rick Boucher was filling in last week at Lawrence Lessig's blog. His last post, from Thursday, talked about fair use vs. pay per use and mentioned librarians specifically:

Whenever I speak with librarians about fair use or the Copyright Act more generally, I inevitably hear them express concerns that we run the risk of becoming a pay per use society, one in which content is available only for a fee. I am concerned that the bookmobiles we all grew up with and their modern day equivalents will go the way of the eight track and the reel-to-reel, replaced by a world in which access to information will depend on the ability to pay and, worse, a world in which a payment gets you only a license to view or listen to something, not to actually own it.

The comments are interesting, and it's not too late to participate, if you are so inclined.

August 12, 2004

NARA's e-archive?

NARA is moving forward with developing an e-archive for electronic government documents. According to head of NARA/the nation's Archivist, "the Electronic Records Archive system that will be hardware- and software-independent and guarantee the authenticity of records forever."

In a word ... coolness.

August 06, 2004

I have a little list ...

If there are any former or current SJSU people reading this, I'd like your input.

A while ago, I created a Yahoo group for SJSU library students who were/are interested in special librarianship and/or SLA. Unfortunately, it never quite took off (and I blame myself for this). The group has been completely quiet for months now, and it is about to expire unless it becomes active in the next week or so.

Should I let it die? I think there's definitely a need for a forum for libsci students at SJSU who want to learn more about special libraries or are frustrated by the lack of opportunities to focus on special library topics in the current curricula. In fact, I know there's been a lot of frustration in the past ... people will talk about it off-campus, in person, in small groups. But I think if we want to build a case for bringing our interests into higher profile, whispered asides to 2-3 people won't cut it.

On the other hand, it doesn't have to be me who rallies the troops ... I'm not much of a troop rallier nowadays, so it might be better to clear off and give space to someone else who can make a success of it.

Your thoughts?

August 05, 2004

Administrivia 1.3.2

There are changes afoot.

Comments are going to be back on, at least for the newer stuff (I haven't finished closing older posts to comments, but I should probably go ahead and close the rest). I've add an extra step to try to stymie the spambots. If it works, great ... if not, I'll probably try adding a visual filter (basically, an image file with an embedded security code that must be entered as part of the comment in order for it to be posted).

I'll be trying out cosmetic changes here and there. And after many months of procrastinating, I've finally added categories to the posts.

If you run into problems with posting, display, etc., please let me know.

The Risk of Reading

From Mark Edmundson's essay in the NY Times Magazine of August 1, 2004:

Reading is indeed nearly boundless in its promise. It can effect changes for the greatest good. But it is worth bearing in mind that reading's promise is tied up with some danger, too.

To me, the best way to think about reading is as life's grand second chance. All of us grow up once: we pass through a process of socialization. We learn about right and wrong and good and bad from our parents, then from our teachers or religious guides. Gradually, we are instilled with the common sense that conservative writers like Edmund Burke and Samuel Johnson thought of as a great collective work. To them, common sense is infused with all that has been learned over time through trial and error, human frustration, sorrow and joy. In fact, a well-socialized being is something like a work of art.

Yet for many people, the process of socialization doesn't quite work. The values they acquire from all the well-meaning authorities don't fit them. And it is these people who often become obsessed readers. They don't read for information, and they don't read for beautiful escape. No, they read to remake themselves. They read to be socialized again, not into the ways of their city or village this time but into another world with different values. Such people want to revise, or even to displace, the influence their parents have had on them. They want to adopt values they perceive to be higher or perhaps just better suited to their natures.


Words are potent. Ten years after the fact, people often can't remember a grievous pain: ''Was it the right leg or the left that I broke?'' But a decade on, they'll remember every word and tonal twist of a painful insult. (Robert Frost once suggested that poems should have the force and intensity of rich insults.)

There is no doubt that the force of reading, the power of words, is not always a force for good. The abominable Marquis de Sade influenced many consequential writers in the 19th and 20th centuries. Often, you can only imagine, he made what was cruel in their hearts yet crueler.

Mr. Edmundson is also the author of "On the Uses of a Liberal Education," Harper's Magazine (Sept. 1997).

August 01, 2004

Good news/bad news

The bad news: I'm beyond inundated with porno/gambling comment spam. A few dozen at one pop, I can handle. Over 100 every day for a week is beyond me. So, I have turned off comments for now. I hope to reinstate them once I either a) upgrade MovableType or 2) switch to a new weblog publishing system (maybe Word Press?).

The good news: I won a year's membership to ASIST. Which means -- I belong to too darned many library associations (ALA, SLA, CLA, ASIST and AIIP). This, I'm sure, will change.