Monthly Archives: August 2009

Strategic reading and bouncing

I was very taken by Timothy Burke‘s presentation at the first open meeting of the Library of Congress Working Group on Bibliographic Control. What was especially interesting was how he outlined a variety of ways in which he needed to interact with the literature. In his own specialties, he expected to have comprehensive knowledge of … Continue reading Strategic reading and bouncing


Digital environments provide many more opportunities for serendipity than print ones. Sure, there may be happy discoveries on the shelf or in a random group of items bound together. But the chances of happy discovery are multiplied in the web environment. Now, when I hear an argument based on serendipity, I usually assume that it … Continue reading Serendipity

On books again

‘Book’ is a big word. It has a lot of power as it is intimately bound up with our intellectual and imaginative histories. More parochially, the book is also strongly bound up with the professional practice and identity of the library and librarians. At a more prosaic (sic) level, the book is also interesting as … Continue reading On books again

Ebooks and/or digital books

I was in a meeting with a group of folks from research libraries the other week. I was interested in a particular terminological issue: ‘ebooks’ and ‘digital books’ were each being used in conversation. I asked was there a pattern of consistent use here. ‘Not complete consistency’ was the answer, but there was certainly a … Continue reading Ebooks and/or digital books

Counting titles and authors

The proposed Google Books settlement has created a strong interest in quantifying publications and authors, to get a better sense of the scale of impact. We have been looking at Worldcat and hope to publish an analysis later this year. Here is an issue that came up this week: how many print books were published … Continue reading Counting titles and authors

Twitterage again …

Here a few random thoughts on Twitter, nothing more … (me on twitter) … Scheduling. Because of the fugitive nature of the medium – tweets can roll out of your field of attention quite quickly – and because of the geographic spread of followers, I am much more conscious of the time at which I … Continue reading Twitterage again …

Worldcat Local usability results and FRBR

I posted a while ago about the potential benefits of sharing usability results between libraries, and there was some interest in Worldcat usability testing at the time. In that context, some readers may be interested in the following report which OCLC prepared for distribution at ALA: Some Findings from WorldCat Local Usability Tests Prepared for … Continue reading Worldcat Local usability results and FRBR

QOTD: small books

From Larry McMurtry’s reminiscences as a bookseller: Books: a memoir. At Booked Up one of our favorite eccentrics was a gentleman we called the “little book” man. Once or twice a year this customer would show up at the shop with a ruler and work his way around the main room, measuring the books. He … Continue reading QOTD: small books

Working around works

There is a significant – if little read – literature of cataloging theory. A recurrent theme is the balance between gathering like items, and discriminating between them. Managing similarity and difference in this way, and making sensible user interface choices, is not straightforward. The FRBR model represents a recent approach to a part of this … Continue reading Working around works