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I was excited to hear another story on NPR about the pending introduction of the so-called $100 laptop to the U.S. The computer is not yet really in the range of $100 – really it will be closer to $400 – but regardless, from the reviews I have heard it is a pretty robust computer for a pretty low price. It will definitely put other laptop manufacturers on their toes as it enters the competitive market. Additionally, the use of open source software on these machines and the technology to allow them to network with each other should put Microsoft and the internet providers on alert. So, as per all the hype, hopefully Nicholas Negroponte’s “One Laptop per Child” program truly does represent a victory in the battle against the Digital Divide. Maybe we can get these laptops into poor rural libraries as well as classrooms.
Of course, as critics of the program in third world countries have pointed out, many classrooms are still in dire need of pencils and books and are not quite at the point of being able to receive much benefit from laptops. Many of the educators in these countries have probably never worked on a computer. Which made me think about the basic information needs that sometimes get lost in the great technology shuffle. Cheap online publications and open publishing models will not replace the need for print journals (The Free Range Librarian recently had a good post about the need for small literary journals to continue to publish in print – reading them online is JUST NOT THE SAME EXPERIENCE). Poor libraries still need new books in addition to an influx of technology, and not just donations of outdated materials from wealthier communities. The bottom line is that while technology (particularly cheap technology) is a wonderful tool, it will never replace traditional information tools.
Well, I missed out on ALA yet again…anyone who went feel free to contribute some commentary. For the most part, personally I find more localized or focused conferences such as MPLA, VRA, or ARLIS to be more useful. Or maybe I’m just bitter about ALA’s virulent recruitment efforts.
After spending so much time last week setting up the ledgers and funds for the Georgia O’Keeffe serials collection, today I did indeed have to reinvent the wheel. Because we were booted out of the system abruptly last week, all the changes were lost. I had to recreate the whole thing, which was pretty frustrating. The good news is that I have a really good grasp on how the system works now and how to work with the subscription maintenance. After today, many of the titles are ready to be checked in.
Eumie also mentioned trying to get grant funding or some other source of money to add a position at the library…and that she would like to hire me, even if it was just for a temporary project. That would be an incredible opportunity. It feels good to know that I am making a real contribution there and that she admires my work. A job would feel even better, but I’ll take the admiration for now. And it’s good to have daydreams to sustain me while I’m waiting for the job offers to come.
Keeping up my zen outlook to this whole adventure, something will come along…
I definitely have a better grasp on Voyager after realizing that is a very strictly hierarchical database built upon the Access relational model. Unfortunately, rather than setting up the acquisitions/checkin workflow in a systematic step-by-step manner, the Voyager manual leaves the user to his or her own devices in figuring out the order in which the steps must be completed. If you miss one step, you can’t set up a record. It’s kind of like parsing an XML document – as long as the tags are perfect and nested in a precise hierarchy, your document will appear. If not, you must keep going backwards through the steps until the missing link is identified. This is somewhat different than how the Innovative Millennium system is set up, and takes some getting used to.
We ended up having to create a ledger and allocate periodicals funds before any titles could be maintained as serial records. If I had known this from the beginning, the process would have been much simpler. Now it should be fairly straightforward process to add the individual titles as line items. Why couldn’t they just explain that in the manual (another gripe from my inner indexer – the Voyager help manual is very poorly indexed and hard to search). I ended up creating a workflow document for the library to make the process much easier in the future.
As Eumie pointed out today, teaching myself a new ILS and creating a module from scratch will look pretty good on my resume. So…I guess frustration is a fair price to pay.
I also cataloged several records and created holdings and item records. It’s amazing how much I can get done if I only have to work 2 days a week and recuperate with long days hiking. I’m all for abolishing the 5-day work week, at least here in New Mexico.
I rode my bike out to Lamy yesterday, about 8 miles south. It’s a tiny little town with a railroad depot, dining car restaurant, and railroad/history museum. I started a conversation with the director of the museum, and he immediately mentioned that they are looking for volunteers. When he found out I’m getting my MLIS degree, he exclaimed “That’s exactly what we need! Someone to catalog our library!” So I got a tour of the collection, mostly historical books about trains. They mostly have books and a few videos, and no kind of organizational system whatsoever. Of course, against my better judgment my inner cataloger was reflexively inching towards the books, murmuring “must catalog and apply subject headings…” It wouldn’t even take all that much time to organize it in a very basic way, but for now my better judgment prevailed and I politely declined. If I have some free time later in the summer I may head back to Lamy.
In the meantime, I have started my internship at the Georgia O’Keeffe Research Center/Library. I really enjoy working with Eumie, and she is grateful for my “expertise” with automated ILS systems (I realize that’s redundant, but it just sounds silly to say “ILSs”). Eumie started out working at MOMA and is quite active in the ARLIS community. She is a great contact to have here, and even mentioned wanting to add a librarian position in the research center (fingers crossed, and drooling a bit). Though I haven’t worked with the Ex Libris Voyager system in the past, I figure it’s similar enough to Millennium that I should be able to figure things out. Of course, I’ve never automated a serials and acquisitions system from scratch, either. That’s the learning curve – a daunting but interesting challenge.