Friday, November 14, 2008

It's all Greek to some folk

So the invitation to present a paper at The International Conference on Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Libraries, (QQML2009) arrives in the email. So off to check out the website, and it all seems bona fide. A conference in Crete. Never been to Greece, and have to wonder if my chronic monolingualism would be a barrier.
I'm still recovering from being asked in Washington "what language to you speak in Australia", went I was asking directions to the Space Museum - seems I was apparently asking about the "spice" museum.

Anyhows, out goes my email, asking what the arrangements are for covering travel and accommodation expenses. Sheesh, it never hurts to ask, does it?

Apparently, "conference presentations would be Theoretical and Technical papers, Case studies, Applications, Collaborative projects targeted at a wide range of audiences". Gee, how would library humor and Warrior Librarianship fit into this?

Truth be told, though, I've amassed a what some folk would consider an interesting collection of bizarre statistics relating to libraries. The professional journals don't seem to cover operational issues such as how many times you have to tell some people what the rules are for mobile phones in libraries.

And as for analytical methodology, statisticians would never sleep soundly again if they knew how librarians' hard data has to be transcribed into a format understandable to the average 5 year old; not to mention comprehensible by those who make decisions on those little things, such as budgets, priorities, the information landscape in the 21st century, technology and its role in information storage and retrieval, the stressors for contemporary information professionals, etc.

By the way, the 5-year-olds are way out in front in comprehension. And they're not even Greek.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

From control to chaos, or maybe the reverse?

Now here's a dilemma; from the dictates of high order organisation - spine labels in some sort of standardised position, the fiction/non-fiction dichotomy, and let's not even mention AACR2 (unless you're a professional cataloguer (in which place go for it!) - to the 'controlled randomness' of scrap booking. Can there be room in one life for both?

Having almost mastered the skill of 'letting go' of straight lines and edges for scrapping's sake, the Big Dream Plan for the library sort of demands an ultra-extreme austerity of visual impact.

Probably best not to mention the feng shui catastrophe of my office. Never mind the ideal of having some running water in the proper corner of the room (a full-size Trevi Fountain replica would have been my first choice, but it wouldn't fit), or a picture of a mountain in the other part (which at least would be 'doable'). The shelves overflowing with the backlog of end processing are going to have to be cleared; not to mention the self-positioned trip hazards over the floor.

And yes, thanks for thinking "she should be doing that anyway". Very helpful. It often seems that more stuff gets into my office than goes out. Maybe it feels safe in there, or likes the ambiance?

But the stock-standard downside of a major clean-up is the problem of location identification - "finding stuff" after a Thorough Tidying. For some reason, this isn't a problem in the stacks, but once I 'file' my stick-it notes and other important information (which for some reason gets written on paper the size of oxygen molecules) they become very difficult to relocate. I believe this is most probably caused by mysterious cosmic powers executing "The Revenge of the Trees".

So with the feng shui-ness of positioning perils, I'll also be facing the wrath of air and water if I don't get the polarity right, or I somehow inadvertently create conflict between the Qi and Niao, or any of those similar pitfalls that can be cut-and-pasted off any website. Chaos will reign supreme.

Which I guess will leave my office in pretty much the same state it's in now.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Just another day at the office ...

You know how when you get inspired to "dream no small dreams" (either Victor Hugo or Gothe, depending on the infallable Internet!) and you just have to go roll your sleeves up and get stuck right into it, and then the whole thing sort of snowballs?

I'm sure that it's not "just me", but I could be wrong. I often am.

Stage One of the Library Refurbishment Project is well under way. Sure, I seemed to have spent a lot of time under desks with a screw-driver, but then who doesn't? They teach us how to do all that stuff in Library School, right? Not. Sure would be helpful though ...

Monday, November 10, 2008

What's the opposite of "l'esprit de l'escalier"?

I can never remember that phrase, "l'esprit de l'escalier"; to think of a great come-back, only at a time when it's too late to use it. Now I'm trying to find the opposite.

Is there a phase meaning to have said something really witty (or possibly something exceptionally trite or droll ), but having forgotten what it was when someone sends you a photograph of the moment? For example, like in this photo taken by one of the organisers of the Kevin Hennah Conference ...

Can anyone help with either the phrase or what I might have said?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

How to treat a cat with bubonic plague?

Now that's a question that would keep a lot of folks awake at night; not to mention trying to figure out what you might need to know if you suddenly (and presumably unexpectedly) had to care for an elephant.

What about if (for reasons best known to yourself or your treating Mental Health Care Professional) you wanted to buy some melted sand from the first atomic bomb blast? Goodness knows how many of us have pondered the procedure for undocking a damaged shuttle from international space stations so a rescue vehicle can dock. You can just never tell when you might need that sort of information, can you?

Many thanks to Ted Ives, CEO of Find How Incorporated, for pointing me to the answers to these and many other questions that reduce our productivity and give us migraines. Find How is the first Family, School and Library Friendly accredited search engine.

Well worth a look, even if the accreditation is self-awarded. Their Wild and Wacky Search Results should at least provide an Emergency Laugh if you're on a tough shift. Unfortunately though, some schools won't be able to access it, as it's Not The Preferred Search Tool as Determined Through the Mysterious and Secret Policies of the Powers That Be.

And don't get me started on that!