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The Library Problem:

In March of 2006 my wife Mary and I owned about 3,500 books. We both have eclectic interests, voracious appetites for knowledge, and a great love of used bookstores. The problem was that we had no idea what books we had or where any of them were. We lost books all the time, cursed late into the night digging through piles for that one book we knew must be there, and even bought books only to find that we already owned them. There were books on random shelves, books on the floor, we were tripping over books when we walked up and down the stairs. In short, we had a mess.


Banned Books Week Dilemma

Our intention is to feature “a series of books that challenge our beliefs and test our commitment to free speech,” but on this post about Holocaust denial I found myself unwilling (and unable) to link to the free, online PDF full text of David Irving‘s Hitler’s War. And when we discovered it wasn’t in our collection (though it may have been lost/stolen, not replaced, and the record deleted), we decided not to purchase it.

Sometimes books are challenged. Sometimes they’re just not purchased.

Presentation: Faceted Searching and Browsing in Scriblio

I was honored to be a panelist at the LITA/ALCTS CCS Authority Control in the Online Environment Interest Group presentation of “Authority Control Meets Faceted Browse.” What is faceting? Why is it (re)emerging in use? Where can I see it in action? This program is intended to introduce the audience to facet theory, showcase implementations […] » about 500 words

Presentation: Transforming Your Library With Technology

ContentsYour library is more than books...your website should be tooYour website is not a marketing’s a service point.Culture is are our libraries.ExamplesPart of the Transformation Track, Transforming Your Library, and Your Library’s Future, with Technology, program coordinators Alan Gray and John Blyberg (both of Darien Public Library) described it like this: Technology can […] » about 600 words

Two Books On A Shelf…

Two books that just happened to be sitting next to eachother in the LC files: 001 47029455 003 DLC 005 20050826211147.0 008 761229s1946 xx 000 0 dut 010 _a 47029455 020 _a940.544 035 _a(OCoLC)2652163 040 _aDLC _cPBm _dDLC 042 _apremarc 050 00 _aD763.N42 _bR64 100 1 _aToonder, Jan Gerhard, _d1914- 245 14 _aHet puin aan […] » about 300 words

Open Source Software and Libraries; LTR 43.3, Finally

The most selfish thing about submitting a manuscript late is asking “When is it going to be out?” So I’ve been waiting quietly, rather than trouble Judi Lauber, who did an excellent job editing and managing the publication. Ryan and Jessamyn each contributed a chapter, and I owe additional thank yous to the full chorus […] » about 400 words

Poke Your Tech Staff With Sticks, And Other Ideas

What a difference a year makes? Jessamyn was among those sharing her stories of how technology and tech staff were often mistreated in libraries, but there’s a lot of technology in this year’s ALA program (including three competing programs on Saturday: The Ultimate Debate: Do Libraries Innovate, Social Software Showcase, and Transforming Your Library With […] » about 600 words

Usability, Findability, and Remixability, Especially Remixability

It’s been more than a year since I first demonstrated Scriblio (was WPopac) at ALA Midwinter in San Antonio. More than a year since NCSU debuted their Endeca-based OPAC. And by now most every major library vendor has announced a product that promises to finally deliver some real improvements to our systems. My over-simplified list […] » about 800 words

My Boston Library Consortium Presentation

Speaking Thursday at the Boston Library Consortium‘s annual meeting in the beautiful Boston Public Library, my focus was on the status of our library systems and the importance of remixability. My blog post on remixability probably covers the material best, but I define it as: Remixability is the quality of a system or data set […] » about 200 words

Moving and Shaking and Shimmy-ing

It’s sort of late by now, and others have been offering their congratulations to me for a while (thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you), but I only just got the paper copy myself and this morning had a chance to browse the list.

Mover & Shaker alumnus John Blyberg asked me if I preferred moving or shaking better, but now that I’ve seen the names and read the profiles, I can say I’m just proud to be among such a distinguished group.

Congratulations all, and thank you to all who nominated me. I am honored.

Who Will Be First To Put A MetroNaps Pod In Their Library?

MetroNaps started business in 2004 with a boutique in NYC’s Empire State Building, selling 20 minute naps for $14 bucks. The company has slowly been opening franchises around the world, but MetroNaps co-founder Arshad Chowdhury says overwhelming interest from office folks who wanted to install the pods on-site as an employee perk. So the company […] » about 200 words

This Blog Is For Academic And Research Purposes Only

This sign on a computer in the Paul A. Elsner Library at Mesa Community College caught Beth‘s eye and garnered a number of comments, including one from theangelremiel that seems to mark one of the most elusive aspects of Library 2.0. they know that none of their classes require gaming Excerpting the above as a […] » about 200 words

Parsing MARC Directory Info

I expected a record that looked like this: LEADER 00000nas 2200000Ia 4500 001 18971047 008 890105c19079999mau u p 0uuua0eng 010 07023955 /rev 040 DLC|cAUG 049 PSMM 050 F41.5|b.A64 090 F41.5|b.A64 110 2 Appalachian Mountain Club 245 14 The A.M.C. White Mountain guide :|ba guide to trails in the mountains of New Hampshire and adjacent parts […] » about 600 words

Presentation: Designing an OPAC for Web 2.0

MAIUG 2006 Philadelphia: Designing an OPAC for Web 2.0 (interactive QuickTime with links or static PDF) Web 2.0 and other “2.0” monikers have become loaded terms. But as we look back at the world wide web of 1996, there can be little doubt that today’s web is better and more useful. Indeed, that seems to […] » about 400 words

Linkability Fertilizes Online Communities Redux

I certainly don’t mean this to be as snarky as it’s about to come out, but I love the fact that Isaak questions my claim that linkability is essential to online discussions (and thus, communities) with a link: Linkability Fertilizes Online Communities I really don’t know how linkability will build communities. But we really need […] » about 300 words

Cataloging Errors

A bibliographic instruction quiz we used to use asked students how many of Dan Brown’s books could be found in our catalog. The idea was that attentive students would dutifully search by author for “brown, dan,” get redirected to “Brown, Dan 1964-,” and find three books. Indeed, the expected answer was “three.”

As it turns out, my library has all four of Dan Brown’s published books, including the missing Digital Fortress. The problem is that three books are cataloged under the more common Brown, Dan 1964-, but Fortress was cataloged under Brown, Danielle.

The problem is that cataloging is imperfect.

Yeah, it takes some marbles to say that, but the fact is that cataloging is a human endeavor. Humans make mistakes. The challenge we face is to build systems that tolerate error, and then make it easy to fix those errors when discovered.

ISBN1013 API Followup

A couple questions about my API to convert 10 digit ISBNs to 13 digits pointed out somethings I failed to mention earlier. First, the API actually works both ways. That is, it identifies and validates both 10 and 13 digit ISBNs on input, and returns both versions in the output. Example: 0811822842 and 978081182284-8. And, […] » about 200 words

Converting Between ISBN-10 and ISBN-13

David Kane asked the web4libbers:

Can anyone tell me what the conversion between ISBN-10 and ISBN-13 is, please. I need to write a little conversion program. Anything in PHP, for example.


“There is already an online converter:;” some pointing at Wikipedia on ISBNs, Bookland, and EANs; John Blyberg’s PHP port of the PERL ISBN-10/13 tool; some explanation that you have to watch the check digit, and discussion about why you’d need to do all this conversion.

Finally, Tim asked:

Someone should offer single and batch converstion as a free API, not an online form and an offer to have a “representive” call you for larger jobs.

Does anyone want that, or shall I?

And I answered: changed:

Same usage as xISBN and thingISBN. Returns empty result on invalid ISBNs.

Based on Blyberg’s code, incorporates some changes, may not be accurate. Poke at it, break it. Report findings, but don’t blame me if it returns incorrect results (I will try to fix the code/service, though).

Geeky extra: anybody know the Lat and Lon to Bookland? I’d really like to put this post on the map.

Library Camp East 2006

LCE2006 was a success. Let me quickly join with the other participants to offer my appreciation to John Blyberg and Alan Grey for all their work planning the event, as well as Darien Public Library director Louise Berry and the rest of the library for hosting the event.

Side note: Darien is a beautiful town, but we all have to learn to pronounce the name like a local.

Michael Golrick and John Blyberg each have a number of photos on Flickr, and I’m jealous of those like Lichen Rancourt who can live-blog events like this. I’m still digesting what I learned, but at least I can wash it down with a sip from my new LCE mug.

Further discussion will continue, as always, in the blogosphere, in the L2 Wiki, and just about anywhere else librarians gather.

In addition to all that material, let me offer some screenshots and notes from my short preface to the discussion about OPACs. (And, I hope my words were clearer than the pictures snapped of me at the time — vis: one and two).