Archive for the 'Stuff' Category

C&I and The Project: A quick update

Posted in Cites & Insights, Stuff on September 13th, 2014

Just a quick update, also marking the last blog post I’ll do before I turn another year older…

The October 2014 Cites & Insights…

…will not exist. At least not as a separate issue. Most probably, the next C&I will be an October/November 2014 issue and will appear, with luck, some time in October or early November.

The project…

…is going swimmingly, I think. As of Wednesday, I’d have said “I’m sure”–but the last 300-odd journals in the Beall spreadsheet (the “independent” journals, because I checked them in publisher order) are slow going, as I should have expected.

For a bunch of journals with the same publisher, I can expect similar layout, the same place for APCs (if they’re hidden–some publishers are up front with them), the same possible shortcuts for counting articles. And for some “publishers,” I can anticipate spending very few keystrokes confirming that the “journals” are still nothing more than names on a web page.

The most extreme case of this came very early in the week, when I hit a “publisher” with 426 “journals,” only 20 of them having any articles at all. I usually consider it a good day if I can process 150 journals in all (usually doing 10 in the new DOAJ list followed by 30 in the much longer Beall list: the OASPA list has been done for a while now), an OK day if I process 100, and a great day if I can do 200. With that “publisher”, I managed 460 journals in one day, including 60 from the DOAJ list.

Given that Wednesday’s basically a half day and the weekend counts as a half day in total, here’s where I think I am:

  • I should finish Pass One on the Beall list by the end of this coming week. (Pass Two, a little additional refinement, should only take a week or so for all three lists combined.)
  • I might finish Pass One on the DOAJ list by the end of the following week–let’s say “within September” as a hoped-for deadline.
  • I can actually start working on Part One of the article(s) before the DOAJ list is complete, since that list should only enter into Part Two.

Then come lots of data massaging, thinking about the results, and writing it all up. I have no idea how long that will all take or, for that matter, how long the results will be. I’m aiming for somewhere between two 20-page and two 30-page essays, each constituting a C&I issue. My aim is notoriously weak.

I believe the project will be interesting and revealing. I know I’ve found some journals I might want to go back to and do some reading from…

Swan song?

At the moment, this project feels a little bit like a swan song. I don’t really have any major projects or book projects in mind at the moment. Oh, there are a couple of thousand–check that, 1,500–Diigo-tagged items waiting to be turned into various essays, but that’s just seeing C&I wind down. Or not.

It’s quite possible that new ideas will arise. Or I’ll start reading more, maybe finally join the local Friends and volunteer at the store or whatever. Or…

Anyway: Back to the project. 239 journals on the Beall list and 908 on the DOAJ list left to go; I’m sure a few of the DOAJ ones will disappear in the process (and I just deleted one duplicate title on the Beall list yesterday–a journal entered with two slightly different names but the same URL).

Graphic honesty

Posted in Stuff on August 27th, 2014

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Walt Crawford, August 20, 2014, Morgan Territory Regional Preserve

That’s me. By now, some of you may have seen smaller versions of that picture in various social media (Friendfeed, Facebook, Google+, Twitter), or the same version on my personal web page.

Technically, “Morgan Territory Regional Preserve” may be wrong–the picture may have been taken in the Los Vaqueros Watershed. We were hiking on the Whipsnake Trail, which is in both areas. It’s where the hiking group I usually spend Wednesday mornings with was a week ago.

When my wife saw the picture (one among several dozen posted as a “report” on the hike) she said it was a good one. I requested a copy from the photographer (Bill Leach, another hiker) and have now replaced my older picture with this one wherever I’m aware of an icon, avator or other picture appearing. (I’m sure I’ve missed one or two and will get to them when I see them.)

The previous picture was also from a hike, oddly enough also in Morgan Territory, but from two or three years ago. It replaced a considerably older picture.

I like using a current picture because it feels honest. (That this one is a really good picture doesn’t hurt.) It’s how I really look at very nearly 69 years old. I suppose I should have a snazzy younger picture ready for an eventual obituary (and actually we may have the perfect picture–oddly enough, not all that old), but I hope that’s a long ways away. I’ve seen enough authors and others who somehow never age in their publicity pictures; I’m not them, although I understand the urge.

Why am I posting this on a Wednesday morning when I should be on a hike? I just didn’t feel like it today; I probably skip one hike out of every four or five, either because of location (there’s one area I just don’t care for) or other reasons. (For those who know the east bay, today’s hike is also partly in Morgan Territory, but in a very different part of it–it’s a Finley Road hike, partly in Mount Diablo State Park, partly in Morgan Territory, with a little too much walking to get to and from the trailhead because there’s no parking anywhere nearby.)

One other note: Yes, that is a cheap floppy gardening hat rather than a snazzy Panama hat or other hiking hat. Why? Because I have a fat head, and this gardening hat is big enough to fit it. Most hats don’t.

No deeper meaning here.

 

Helpful hint for indoor cat owners

Posted in Stuff on June 23rd, 2014

If you’re like us, your cat(s) use(s) [a] litter box(es) (ours use two Booda enclosures) and you use scoopable litter (we’re very fond of World’s Best pure corn-based litter).

And when you scoop up their solid waste, it stinks. So goes into a bag and then a plastic bag, so that it doesn’t stink up the house before garbage day.

Which is great as long as you have plenty of produce and other leftover plastic bags lying around. Not so great if you don’t.

[Note: this tip might also apply to dog owners who aren't neighborhood jackasses--that is, who follow their dogs and pick up the dogs' presents from nearby lawns and sidewalks.]

You can buy poop bags, but they’re six or seven cents each–not bad if you need the compact little roll to take with you, but high if you just need one or two a day to deal with litter boxes.

We found a solution of sorts, if you have a Smart & Final nearby (or equivalent):

Bags on a Roll–basically, rolls of thin plastic produce bags.

The roll we got has 1,640 11″ x 14″ bags, .35 mil (about as thin as they come, which is desirable)…and cost $18.99. That’s 1.16 cents per bag. If we had three friends with similar situations, I think the cost would come down to less than a cent a bag (if you buy four rolls or more, they’re significantly cheaper).

Yes, they do have the standard thin-plastic-bag warnings printed down one side. For us, one roll should be a three-year supply, and takes up about the same space as a jumbo roll of paper towels.

Slice of life post

Posted in Stuff on June 15th, 2014

So today we decided to walk to one of the readily-walkable nearby wineries, seeing as how we hadn’t done that in a while, it’s a beautiful day (high 70s with a breeze), and it makes for a three-mile walk (round-trip), a little more exercise than our usual 1.3-mile daily “walk around the block.” And we wanted to see how this winery was doing.

We approach the winery–which is also a wedding and other event venue–and see a fair number of cars, at least a dozen, probably more. That’s OK; we’ve been in crowded tasting rooms before.

Walk into the tasting room. There are maybe four or six other people there (in addition to three staff).

So, two-thirds of the way through the tasting (their wines continue to improve), we mention the number of cars. And get a good answer

“There was a wedding here last night…”

and apparently some of the guests were enjoying themselves a lot. (There was mention of people dancing without shoes. The word “tipsy” was used, and another staffer said that wasn’t quite the right word.)

So there was a bus that picked people up and took them to–well, somewhere (the local resort? a local hotel? home?)

Thus, a bunch of cards left over from the wedding. Which will presumably disappear eventually.

Much better than having a bunch of drunken fools on the roads on Saturday night!

[For those familiar with some parts of California wine country: This is Livermore, the oldest California wine region. But not one of the best-known. 50-odd wineries & tasting rooms, but only two very large operations; most places are only open Friday-Sunday for four or five hours a day, although at least half a dozen, maybe a dozen are now open daily.

Oh, and the tasting prices: $5 for the standard flight of five wines (plus a bonus wine); $10 for the reserve flight of six wines (plus a bonus). Perfectly OK for the two of us to share one tasting (I only drink white, my wife mostly drinks red, and Livermore caters a lot more to her than to me).]

 

NAQ on me and public library research

Posted in Stuff on March 19th, 2014

A little followup to yesterday’s post–and if you didn’t already guess, “NAQ” is what a great many FAQ’s should really be called–that is, Never-Asked Questions.

IMLS has released the 2011 public library figures. Wouldn’t your work be more popular if you updated it?

To IMLS’ considerable credit (and I have only good things to say about IMLS and NCES), it put up its survey figures when they were available–not when it had its commentary ready. $4 to $1…is based on the 2011 IMLS data, the most recent available (and makes comparisons to 2009 in some areas).

Do you blame anybody for the lack of public library attention and sales?

Other than myself? No. I admittedly hoped for word-of-mouth publicity, since there’s not a lot I could do directly without spending substantial sums of money, but that clearly didn’t happen. Nor is there any good reason it should have.

Why were you doing public library research anyway?

First, because my heart is in public libraries (although, unlike my wife the librarian, I’ve never worked in one). I thought and hoped that an analysis making it fairly easy to show that public libraries are enormously good values even if you only count the easily countable, and that better-supported libraries offer even more value to their communities, would be valuable to librarians and consultant–and maybe to Friends, to help get better support for libraries.

Second (the selfish reason), because I hoped to get enough feedback and ongoing support that I could do some deeper number-crunching, including longitudinal research (time series), of aspects of countable public library performance that might be worth knowing about. I have a bias toward treating small public libraries as seriously as large ones, and I think that bias would be useful. (In case you weren’t aware: in 2011, three-quarters of America’s public library systems served fewer than 23,000 people, and more than half served fewer than 9,000. Most public libraries are small libraries.)

So why not keep doing it anyway?

First and foremost, because if only four librarians, libraries or others were willing to buy the 2011 book, I’m not reaching anybody with this stuff–and particularly not the smaller libraries. There’s not much point in doing it if it’s of no use. That may be the most important reason.

Second, because while it can be fun, it’s not enough fun to make large efforts reasonable with no income at all. If I had 1,000 fans kicking in $100 (just to be silly), or more plausibly 100 supporters kicking in $50 per year, I’d be inclined to ask them what they thought was worth doing…and pay a lot of attention to those wishes. If half or one-third of those supporters were public library people, I’d probably keep doing some of this, possibly even making it available for free. But I don’t see that happening: an Indiegogo drive was absurdly unsuccessful (and even then, several times as many people were willing to commit money as turned out to be ready to buy the book); my Cites & Insights sponsorship drive is stalled in neutral, having crept forward only 3% of the way toward a plausible goal.

Why don’t you line up a sponsor or grant support?

I did a little looking into grant possibilities. I have no institutional affiliation. Next question? (I could go into more detail, but that’s probably enough.)

Sponsorship would be a great idea. Dunno how that would happen, though–especially since I’m neither an extrovert nor an entrepreneur.

What next?

On the academic library side, I did find a way to make some pointed research both much more widely distributed and worth my time to do.

In general…well, I’m still doing C&I (for now at least), and there are always future possibilities…

Bitter or discouraged?

Bitter, no. Nobody promised they would buy this stuff. Nobody recruited me to do it.

Discouraged–well, obviously, when it comes to this sort of public library research.

Mostly a little disappointed.

Meanwhile, on to the supplementary research on aspects of academic libraries that may interest some librarians, in addition to the core research that’s already done and will appear in late spring. And, to be sure, to reading, TV, polishing the essays for the next C&I, hiking, chores, all that other retirement leisure stuff…

 

Some days you gotta dance

Posted in Stuff on February 12th, 2014

Emerging from the projecthole I’ve been in, at least a little, with an odd post…

Vacuuming today, wearing ear protectors with built-in headphones, playing the “mix tape” 6GB of my favorite 380-or-so songs (on a Sansa Fuze). I don’t much dance, and I don’t have much rhythm…but one tune got me going, at least a little. Not necessarily dancing, but moving at least.

You can see the title above (“Some days you gotta dance” if it’s too much work to look), but not the backstory.

To wit: I knew the version I was listening to was James Taylor’s cover, from his Covers album–but I didn’t know what it was a cover of. And with the tight Tower-of-Power-style horns absolutely driving the song, I assumed he was covering some black group, possibly mid-60s, possibly Oakland, certainly with horns.

So I finally checked today. And, sure enough, it’s urban blues–woops, country? Really? First recorded by Keith Urban, best known from a Dixie Chicks recording? From the ’90s?

Taylor comes by it honestly: Look at Youtube and you’ll find a Crossroads episode with Taylor and the Dixie Chicks, which begins with that song, Taylor singing lead. (Apparently Keith Urban played guitar on the Chicks recording: everything connects to everything.)

And, you know, now that I’ve listened to the Dixie Chicks version(s) (the recorded one and the Crossroads one) and Keith Urban’s version…

Damned if I still don’t think this is a horns-driven urban pop song from the ’60s or ’70s. There’s just an edge to that version that the guitar-driven versions don’t have. (Also: Urban rushes the song.)

I’d point you to the James Taylor version, but the ones I see on Youtube are live versions without the tight full horns. They’re OK, but not the same.

Update next day: I don’t know genres for s**t and I’m not particularly up on recent music. Could be late ’50s rockabilly but with an infusion of more recent horn sections. Or not. In any case, to me, Taylor’s version (a) isn’t country and (b) is superior. Nothing against good country, to be sure.

 

Hello goodbye

Posted in Stuff on January 21st, 2014

So the Making Books series is done, for now.

Meanwhile, don’t expect much in the way of other posts for three or four weeks. I’m doing a two-month project in a month (or less), and it’s an important project, and that demands some attention.

There will be a March 2014 Cites & Insights right around February 1, because it’s already written.

Otherwise…well, see you when I see you. (Obviously not in Philly for Midwinter, but even if money and time allowed, I’ve done Philadelphia in January at least once more than suits me.)

Meanwhile, know what you could do if you care about C&I and think I offer a valuable service? Help underwrite it, right here. 

Codes and levels

Posted in ALA, Stuff on January 3rd, 2014

I haven’t written anything about the ALA Statement of Appropriate Conduct so far. In some ways, “Freedom of speech” relates to some of the issues, but it was mostly inspired by a separate, wholly ludicrous “controversy.”

I don’t anticipate that I will write much of anything about the Statement, and I am not tagging posts and articles toward a future essay about it.

Which does not mean either that (a) I think the statement is addressing nonexistent problems or (b) I’m in fundamental disagreement with the statement. Neither of those is true.

Of course there’s a problem

ALA conferences don’t have any instances of attempted silencing, sexual and other forms of harassment (verbal and otherwise), that sort of thing? Bull. I can’t think of a medium-to-large conference I’ve been to where I didn’t see at least one or two situations that were at least borderline harassment, silencing or unwanted attention. With 12,000 to 25,000 people and a huge variety of formal and informal social events as well as sessions, it’s essentially not possible that ALA conferences would be paragons in this regard, and they’re not. (Of course they’re not as bad as a lot of tech and entertainment and other conferences. That’s a different issue.)

More to the point, perhaps, many of the more insidious and dangerous instances won’t be visible, because they’ll be one-on-one.

Hey, I’ve even been the subject of attempted silencing and unwanted attention. But I’m also…well, we’ll get to that in the next section. Let’s say the odds of my being the subject of such stuff are maybe 1% of those of, say, a 25-30 year old woman.

The Statement strikes me as a reasonable start

I wrote about a proposed Code of Conduct in June 2007 (C&I 7:6). I didn’t believe the particular code made sense. If I revisited that issue now, I still probably wouldn’t believe the code made sense. (As far as I can tell, it disappeared without a trace.)

ALA’s Statement does make sense. It isn’t a solution for which there is no problem–there is a problem, and even shining light on the problem may reduce it.

Could it be improved? I’m not the one to say, but I’m certain that there will be efforts to do so. I’m certain the people involved in crafting it put informed and intelligent effort into it.

It’s not censorship. It doesn’t attack freedom of speech. (ALA isn’t the government, and the meeting spaces, exhibit halls and social events of ALA aren’t inherently public fora. In any case, I don’t see anything forbidding specific language. Telling people it’s not OK to intimidate or harass other people is quite a different thing…and I find the argument that this somehow impinges upon free speech unconvincing, to put it mildly.)

A number of people have written about this eloquently and reasonably. I won’t give you a list, but Andromeda Yelton has at least a couple of relevant, worthwhile posts. On the more general issue of appropriate conduct and the need for codes to deal with harassers, John Scalzi has done a fair amount of writing, as have others.

Why I’m not the one to write about this

  •  I’m a middle-aged (OK, aging) straight white male of mostly Anglo-Saxon/Northern European extraction who grew up in a healthy family, never went hungry and have no obvious disabilities*. I operate at the lowest level of difficulty (or did until I turned 60 or so and ageism became a factor), so maybe I’m not the one to be arguing these things.
  • I’m no longer an active ALA participant. It’s unclear how often I’ll be attending any ALA conferences in the future (or whether, for that matter), for fiscal and other reasons, so this doesn’t affect me directly.
  • There are plenty of library folk who (a) are more directly affected, (b) operate at different levels of difficulty, (c) write and think as well as or better than I do.
  • I have no reason to believe that what I say would carry much weight.

So that’s it: Probably all I’ll say about this. Not because I don’t feel strongly about it, not because I’m not reading about it.


*Introversion may be a slight disadvantage in some work and professional areas, and may make me a bit more likely to be shouted down, but it’s far from being a disability or a real level-changer.

Walking half a mile to school

Posted in Stuff on November 21st, 2013

Today’s paper (yes, it’s still the paper, even if I read it on a Kindle) has the usual weekly “what’s not working” feature.

This time, it was a particular city bus line (not my city) that is apparently somewhat unreliable at one particular time of weekday mornings.

The problem? If the bus wasn’t there, some kids would have to walk to school. A school described as “more than half a mile away,” which presumably means less than two-thirds of a mile away.

Half a mile? Really?

I’m not inclined to say anything negative about today’s kids (although this may be about today’s parents). There may be many reasons why we seem to be suffering an explosion of overweight, getting even worse among younger folks. But one reason is probably a general lack of ordinary exercise–like, for example, walking.

Half a mile at my full walking pace is an eight-minute walk. But I walk fast. Let’s say 12-14 minutes. I’m guessing that’s less time than it takes to stand there waiting for the bus, ride the bus, and walk to school from the bus stop. And, while it’s not a lot of exercise, if done twice a day it’s more than a mile, which is at least a decent start.

This is where I should bemoan that when I was growing up we walked three miles each way to and from school, in the snow, uphill in both directions. That isn’t true, of course. I lived fairly close to my elementary school–more than half a mile but probably less than a mile. A little bit of downhill going, uphill coming back, but not enough to be significant. (The daily “walk around the block” my wife and I take–every day except hiking Wednesday–includes a *lot* more and steeper uphill. It’s also around 1.3 miles.) Never, ever in the snow: In the nearly 16 years I lived in Modesto, it only snowed once with the snow sticking for more than an hour, and I was a high school senior at the time.

Half a mile (or “more than half a mile”) is really too far for schoolkids to walk? That seems sad.

Making Book 9: Technical Standards, Second Edition

Posted in Stuff on November 18th, 2013

With MARC for Library Use, the virtues of a second edition were clear: the book was widely used, format integration made a big difference, there was lots of new material to cover—and a 6″ x 9″ book is generally more readable than a single-column 8.5″ x 11″ book.

With Technical Standards: An Introduction for Librarians, the case wasn’t quite so clear. The first edition did well but was no best-seller. The underlying information hadn’t changed all that much.

On the other hand, the book was a few years old and—as founding editor of Information Standards Quarterly—I was now much more familiar with NISO’s structure and workings. People within NISO argued for revising the book rather than withdrawing it, and G.K. Hall agreed.

The new version omitted the discussions of selected ANSI X3 standards that were in the first edition—but also, unlike the first edition, discussed every NISO (Z39) standard, including draft standards and standards under review for revision or deletion.

The book appeared in 1991 (sleeved hardcover and paperback) and was current through early 1991. I produced the camera-ready pages in Zapf Calligraphic using Ventura Publisher. It did acceptably well, as I remember. My involvement in technical standards started waning about that time; no third edition was plausible.

Crawford, Walt. Technical Standards: An Introduction for Librarians, Second Edition. Professional Librarian Series. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1991. ISBN 0-8161-1951-1. ISBN 0-8161-1950-3 (pbk.)


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