Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Blisspix lists songs about libraries and librarians and offers, if available, their lyrics. By the way: Tori Amos' new album is named "Tales of a librarian".
There is an interesting conference in Bielefeld in February next year: The overall topic is "Thinking Beyond Digital Libraries - Designing the Information Strategy for the Next Decade". Sessions include "Information Strategy for Universities and Academic Libraries", "Innovative Technologies to Access and Network Academic Online Information", "Intelligent Search Engine & Navigation Technology in Digital Libraries and Information Portals".
For me, the most interesting one is "New Services of Academic Libraries - Institutional Scholarly Publication Repositories" - a current topic in times of restricted budgets and increasing journal prices. The conference will be held in English and German with simultaneous translation.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Today, I had an oral exam in "library law" (comprises copyright law, media law, monumental protection, data protection, university organizational law...) which I passed with distinction, although having started to learn as usual on Saturday. Yes! By passing this exam, I finished the so-called "Grundausbildung für den Bibliotheks-, Informations- und Dokumentationsdienst" (~ basic education for people working in library & information science) provided by the Austrian National Library. I had only to do the legal thingies (constitutional law, administrative law, labour law, library law) - I was given credit for everything else because I had learned it before at FHIB.
Doing courses at the Austrian National Library is very nice... they have nice premises and very good lecturers. The seminars within the basic education costs 24 € per day for guest students like me as I didn't attend the whole training.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

"allzu große Vortrefflichkeit"

Yesterday, I spent a few hours browsing through older issues of the "Centralblatt für Bibliothekswesen". I found a lot of articles about the occupational image, job descriptions, troubles with salaries... Especially interesting to me are the texts about female librarians. For example, in 1939 Ernst Koch wrote that women librarians had a bad memory, that they weren't familiar with technical-scientific bibliographies and that they were incapable of accounting. His conclusion: He is proud of NOT having any women in the clerical grade in "his" library.
In the next issue, another male librarian, Otto Glauning, presented his view about female librarians in clerical grade (=middle-level service, "mittlerer Dienst"). In original language: "Unzulänglichkeiten waren nur eben soviel vorhanden, daß man nicht zu besorgen brauchte, sie möchten eines Tages wegen allzu großer Vortrefflichkeit auf einem feurigen Wagen gen Himmel geholt werden" :-)

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

I've found an interesting database via a link in the "Education Librarian Weblog": the "Science Fiction & Fantasy Book List". It is "a comprehensive bibliography of science-fiction and fantasy authors and their books" and is updated monthly.

Monday, October 20, 2003

There was an interesting case of bibliomania in Germany I read about in the Salzburger Nachrichten, in the mailinglist Inetbib and in Yahoo News: Because of an alleged pipe burst, the fire brigades opened a flat in Kaiserslauten. But they had troubles with entering, because the whole apartment, including the bathroom, was crowded with books up to the ceiling. Only to the kitchen which seemingly also served as bedroom, a small passage was left void. As the building was acutely impending to collapse, the fire brigades and the police had to remove several tons (!) of books and store them temporarily in a depot. When the owner came home in his also crowded car, he suffered a nervous break-down and had to be supervised by a psychologist, as he couldn't bear the evacuation of his beloved books.
Apropos: You can read an article in the magazine "Spiegel" about the "Messie-Syndrome" or Eugene Fields "The Love Affairs of a Bibliomaniac" online at the University of Virginia Library's Electronic Text Center.
ePSIGate is building up a database on national legal frameworks for the exploitation of Public Sector Information in the EU member states. ePSIGate, an Accompanying Measure funded under the EU eContent programme, is a portal whose objective is knowledge-sharing, alerting & advisory service targeted to the needs of all PSI stakeholders. There is a conference and a workshop named "Commercial exploitation of public sector information (PSI) in order to boost the private content- and multimedia sector" in Vienna on the 24th of October, 2003.

Monday, October 13, 2003

Nominations for the "Library Journal Librarian of the Year" are currently sought by the Library Journal Editors, "to honor a professional librarian for outstanding achievement and accomplishments reflecting the loftiest service goals of the library profession". I remember other rankings & ratings, for example the "Internet librarian Hall of Fame".
Ifyou want to read other library-related weblogs, have a look at the LIBDEX overview. There is just one Austrian library blog listed, namely the one of Horst Prillinger, a librarian at Vienna University. His blog is named "The Aardvark speaks".

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Some of Murphy's Library Laws (found within the humour section on the IFLA website):
- When a teacher recommends a library book to a student, you can be certain that the teacher has checked out the only copy and has lent it to a friend in Peru
- Make 17 subject headings for a book and you will find that you should have made 18
- If it's a good book, it's out of stock. If it's an excellent book, it's out of print
- If you made the system foolproof you discover that everybody has suddenly become geniuses
- No matter how long you keep an article or piece of information you will never need it till you throw it away
- Students always require a 400 word article for a 500 word essay

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Attention, advertisement: My best friend Barbara Mayer, a trained kindergarten teacher, offers something called "Bilderbuchkino" (~ picture-book cinema) to children who are between three and eight years old. What is that? The pictures of the book are projected on the wall, and the story is read to the children, who are thus able to see details in the pictures and are fascinated by the huge projection. It is a nice idea to have for birthday parties, kindergarten, public libraries... If you are interested, please have a look at her website and contact her for details.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

I'd like to recommend to you the magazine "New Scientist". New Scientist has terrific stories and amusing columns like "last word" (Q & A on everyday scientific phenomena, e.g. "Why are the ends of your fingernails white?") and "Feedback" (Strange but true tales from the world of science).
This issue's cover story deals with infinity. Quote: "In anyone's book, infinity is paradoxical. If your bank has an infinite number of pounds in the vault, you can pay in one pound, take out a million and the bank won't have lost any money. And that's just the beginning. There's even a way you can take out an infinite number of pounds and the bank still won't have lost any money. Confused? You should be. When we start thinking about infinity, we are on dangerous ground. But it's not just philosophically threatening - it's also a problem in maths. Mathematicians would gladly banish the infinite from their minds, were it not for one thing: infinity is far too useful to do without…" (Source: New Scientist Print Edition e-zine, 29 September 2003)
I've just finished an article I wrote with a colleague (well, let's say: my colleague wrote it with me), and I've just sent it off to the editor. Nice feeling :-) The text is named "Electronic governmentality in Austria: 'Governance Work' between self-bureaucratisation and central surveillance" and will be published in the book "e-Democracy: Technology, Law and Politics" edited by the Austrian Computer Society OCG.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Last Monday, I attended a DDC (Dewey Decimal Classification) introductory course during the ODOK conference in Salzburg. It was really interesting, and I think that the possibilities DDC offers (for example facet indicators) are useful. But then a fellow student pointed to the following article: "Hotel Being Sued for Using the Dewey Decimal System" (via Slashdot)
It says that OCLC is suing the Library Hotel in New York for trademark infringement. The cited Library Hotel "in New York City is the first hotel ever to offer its guest over 6,000 volumes organized throughout the hotel by the DDC. Each of the 10 guestrooms floors honors one of the 10 categories of the DDC and each of the 60 rooms is uniquely adorned with a collection of books and art exploring a distinctive topic within the category or floor it belongs to." Nice place to be :-)
I think it might be dangerous to subdue oneself to OCLC's business practices - maybe libraries will be awaited by the same problems they currently have with electronic journals... What if Austrian libraries change their shelf classification to DDC, and suddenly OCLC imposes a price increase that libraries can't bear with their increasingly limited budgets...

Monday, September 15, 2003

A few reading recommendations:
- Chuck Zerby: The Devil's Details. A History of Footnotes. Touchstone 2003
- Katia Roberto / Jessamyn West (eds): Revolting Librarians Redux. Radical Librarians speak out. McFarland 2003
- Heather J. Jackson: Marginalia. Readers writing in books. Yale University Press 2001
A few listening recommendations:
- The Librarians: The Pathetic Aesthetic. The authors of this quite funny CD don't seem to be librarians themselves, but they also sell T-Shirts showing the imprint "the librarians" as well as a picture of spectacles, which my colleague and me bought at once and wear at library events.
- Kate Bush: Sensual World. An album I didn't like at all when first listening at it, now being addicted to it. Special recommendation: the song "Reaching out".

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

James Gunn wrote an essay about "Libraries in Science Fiction" wich can be found here.
Believe it or not - you can study Science Fiction! The University of Liverpool offers a M.A. programme: "The course provides a framework for the study of a broad range of Science Fiction texts in their formal, stylistic and thematic characteristics. At the heart of Science Fiction lies a speculative energy which will be examined in relation to such critical and theoretical issues as gender and the limits of the genre. The course material will mainly be twentieth century and written in English, though European writers such as Yevgeny Zamyatin and Stanislaw Lem will also be considered." (website)
Also in Liverpool, there is a great & big SF library, the "Science Fiction Foundation Collection". "The Science Fiction Foundation Collection is the largest collection of material relating to Science Fiction in the European Community and one of the two or three most important outside the U.S.A. It was established as the research library of the Science Fiction Foundation, created in 1970 by George Hay with Arthur C. Clarke and Ursula Le Guin as patrons. It has been built up over the years thanks to the generosity of writers, publishers and fans and is well established as the most important centre for study and research in science fiction within the UK." (website)

Monday, September 08, 2003

There was an exhibition called "Zukunftsbilder" (~ pictures of the future) in the Wiener Stadt- und Landesbibliothek (~ library of the city and province of Vienna). You'll find some information in German on this website, for example about the Austrian SF author Erich Dolezal, utopian films, social fiction, the history of SF, Thomas Morus' "Utopia", Perry Rhodan...
I'm currently reading the SF novel "Krakatit" (picture) by the Czech author Karel Capek. There is the chemist Prokop who discovers and develops explosives; his fellow student Tomesch who wants to sell Prokops formula; atomic energy seething in everything; a humankind which can easily destroy itself... a very thrilling book, written in 1924, published 1940 in English and 1981 in its German version in the GDR. I bought the book on a flea market, but there are several books of Capek still available in German and English, for example "War With the Newts" = "Der Krieg mit den Molchen" (picture), the trilogy "Hordubal; Der Meteor; Ein gewöhnliches Leben" (picture), "R. U. R. and the Insect Play" (in which the word "robot" apparently occured for the first time)...

Friday, September 05, 2003

Fed up with books

I never thought I would ever say something like that, but currently I'm quite fed up with books and libraries :-| The library I work in moved to new premises in August and was merged with another library. It is really difficult to unite two organisations that had developed independently - it's really a clash of cultures... We have a new shelf classification, so we had to apply new labels to about 11,000 books; and we will get a book-security system, so we had to glue security stripes to all these 11,000 books, and then we had to carry the boxes with journals and books around on the ground floor and up to the first floor *yawn* So I really need a vacation...
Well, certainly that doesn't prevent me from reading at home. Yesterday it was a great delight to read again act 2, scene 3 from "Much ado about nothing" (William Shakespeare), especially nice when you remember how Kenneth Branagh, Denzel Washington, Robert Sean Leonard et al. play it in the splendid picturisation from 1993. It's really one of the most funny, most eloquent texts I've ever read.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

The work place of my dreams is certainly the MIT Science Fiction library which is by its own account "the world's largest open-shelf collection of science fiction". The website is here, the catalogue here.
There is also an interesting library in Germany, the "Phantastische Bibliothek" (phantastic library) in Wetzlar which collects science fiction, fantasy, horror, utopian literature, myths, fairy tales... Here's the website.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Yesterday in the mailinglist INETBIB, Karl Dietz pointed out bibliographies about science fiction published in the German Democratic Republic. You'll find a pdf document with bibliographic references here and more information about German science fiction here.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Something interesting for SF-loving librarians (there are loads of...) I found browsing through the LibraryPlanet Weblog: "Star Trek fiction" is an authorized Library of Congress genre heading. Here's the proof.
By the way: I remember some occurences of librarians in Star Trek:
- First, there was Mr. Atoz in the Classics episode "All Our Yesterdays" - what a wonderful name for a librarian: "a to z" (picture).
- Second, there was the USS Enterprise librarian - planned in "Star Trek: Insurrection", but cut out. The role of a librarian would have been impersonated by Lee Amone-Briggs.
- Third, I just read that Lt. Mira Romaine, a friend of Scotty in the Classics episode "The Lights of Zetar", apparently also was a librarian: "Lt. Mira Romaine, a librarian whose assignment at the Memory Alpha library is disrupted when the staff is found dead after an energy phenomenon moved through the station" (source)
- Fourth, a monkey librarian :-) occurs in the text "Star Trek vs Star Wars", fan fiction written 1997 by David Hopper, which is published here.
If you can think of more Star Trek stuff featuring librarians, please tell me.
The Republic of Austria runs about fifty so-called "Austria libraries", in which literature from and about Austria is collected. Most of these information centres are situated in Eastern European countries, from Albania to Russia. On a new website, information about the Austria libraries is provided. This includes addresses, contact persons, a virtual library with bibliographies...
If you suddenly feel itchy feet, have a look @ the "Bureau for International Library Staff Exchange", LIBEX, which can be found here. I personally would like to work some time in Romania, but I'm afraid I'd have to learn a lot more Romanian. Romanian is a beautiful language, but at the moment, my ability is very limited: I can count from one to twenty, and I can master very important sentences like "the shower doesn't work" or "quick, call the ambulance". By the way, a lot of information about Romania can be found with "Karpatenwilli" at this website.
A nice dialogue I once overheard in a university library:
Benutzerin gibt zahlreiche Bücher zurück.
Bibliothekar: "Ein Buch fehlt noch".
Benutzerin: "Oje, das hab ich vergessen. Wie heißt es denn?"
Bibliothekar: "Gedächtnistraining"

I'll try to translate:
Female library user brings back numerous books.
Librarian: "There is still one book missing".
User: "Alas, I forgot this one. Which book is it?"
Librarian: "mnemonic training"

The list futurelib, a forum for librarians in spe, was recently set inactive by the founder. There are a few other lists for future librarians:
- librarian_wannabes: "Discussion group designed to help up and coming librarians through the trials of graduate school and new jobs" (hosted by Yahoo). The founder says: "If you are studying to become a librarian, have an desire to become one or already one and feel that you can help others through, come join in"
- nextgenlib: an discussion list that was created for “the next generation of librarians,” primarily those under 30, though its members range in age from the early-20s into the 30s (hosted by Topica)
- fhib-bid: This is a list for all students and alumnae/i of the university I work at who are interested in library and information science (hosted by Yahoo)

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Science Fiction - it's hard to explain why this genre fascinates me that much. I think it started when I saw the Star Trek Classics as a child. The series created an own universe in which my thoughts could easily settle in... Apart from Star Trek, I like to read German science fiction which was written in the first half of the 20th century or earlier. It's quite thrilling to see what writers of that time thought how the world would be in our time. Some predictions came true, others seem ridiculous and unimaginable still today.
Short time ago there was opened a new chapter in SF for me: Last term, I attended a seminar about lesbian literature at the University of Vienna. Together with two colleagues, I wrote a paper about lesbian and feminist science fiction & fantasy. Here is a shortlist of literature we discussed, maybe you "acquire a taste for it":

Claudia Rath: Die Midlandprophezeiung (German)
Katherine V. Forrest: Daughters of a coral dawn; Daughters of an amber noon
Mary Gentle: The Book of Ash
Star Trek episodes "The Host", "Rejoined", "The emperor's new cloak"
TV series "Buffy, the vampire slayer"
Stephanie Kuhnen: Dita (German short story)
Francoise dEaubonne: La satellite d'amande (French) = Das Geheimnis des Mandelplaneten (German)
Marion Zimmer Bradley: Darkover (three books from the series: City of Sorcery, Thendara House, Shattered chain)
Magliane Samasow (recte Martina Schaefer): Die Tafeln der Maeve (German)
Diana Lee: Die Geliebte der Woelfin (German) = Bodice Ripper (English)
Gerd Brantenberg: Die Toechter Egalias (originally Norwegian)
Elisabeth Vonarburg: Chroniques du Pays des Meres (French)
Nicola Griffith: Ammonite
Nicola Griffith / Stephen Pagel (ed): Bending the landscape (collection)
Marge Pierce: Women at the edge of time

I also maintain a list at the German amazon website.
I know I'm a bit early (or late, that's in the eye of the beholder) - but if you want to send some e-cards on librarian day (which takes place, as you certainly know, on the 15th of April) here is a nice website to do so. You might find the texts on the cards a bit exaggerated, but hey, librarians ARE definitely cool, aren't they?

Austrian monastic libraries

I'd like to draw your attention to a website about Austrian monastic libraries. It was compiled by Andreas Hepperger, who wrote his master thesis in library & information science about this topic. The website includes a bibliography, a list of currently 95 libraries (with adress, contact details, website,...), news, the complete master thesis... Here's the link.

Friday, July 25, 2003

I found a nice section about librarians in the Star Trek novel "Star Trek Log Nine" by Alan Dean Foster:
[for a better understanding: Captain Kirk & Spock had just been circumvented by armed natives on a foreign planet and had been bereaft of their weapons, tricorders and communicators]
"There are times, Mr. Spock", Kirk went on, staring in amazement at his now empty hand, "when I think I should have been a librarian".
"There are those who believe the task of librarian would be equally challenging, Captain", Spock responded as the circle of lowered spears grew denser around them. (...) "Though it is undoubtedly less dangerous..."
I just read an interesting quote about librarians in the mailing list "futurelib":
"I really didn't realize the librarians were, you know, such a dangerous group ... They are subversive. You think they're just sitting at the desk, all quiet and everything. They're like plotting the revolution, man. I wouldn't mess with them"
said Michael Moore

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

I'm collecting articles, books, websites dealing with the occupational image of librarians. The list can be found here: Bibliographie Berufsbild BibliothekarIn. It comprises literature about job descriptions, librarians in fiction and on the screen, librarians and their role in knowledge management, education, job titles, careers, advancement opportunities... If you have any hints about literature I haven't yet included, please send me an e-mail.

Friday, July 18, 2003

Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my blog! I will post stuff about libraries, librarians, books, writing & reading that I come across during my work hours or leisure time. Who is "I"? My name is Monika, I'm a librarian from Austria and I work in a library of a so-called "university of applied sciences" which educates future librarians, documentalists, info and knowledge managers - well let's speak of "information professionals", that's easier. This university is situated just a few kilometres from the Hungarian border. Before being trained as a librarian myself, I studied german literature & language at the University of Vienna. I haven't finished yet, but hope I will in the next few terms. So welcome again at library mistress's place.