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Classics and Cornbread

Yesterday, I volunteered to help my friend, who is a first-year Latin teacher, chaperone her thirty-four high school students at OU Classics Day. This is a program sponsored annually by the OU Classics and Letters Department in which young classicists come to Norman to hear speakers, learn Greek dancing, and make Roman jewelry. They also get to hang out on campus and pretend they’re big kids. I think that’s the part they like best. It was really fun, and reminded me of the fun I had learning about Classical culture during my undergraduate studies in OU’s Letters department. I got to see all of my old professors, and my favorite one of all had grown a mustache. The mustache alone made my Thanksgiving break. The whole experience got me thinking about doing some graduate studies in Classics, which I do from time to time. It’s just a negative reaction to the travails of library school, I probably won’t do it, as I have solemnly sworn to attend no more school after the completion of my MLS. But I did find some really neat resources sponsored by The Classical Journal to help prospective classicists get started in their studies.

This page links to all of the American universities offering graduate programs in Classics. I always thought it would be neat to go to Tulane, but the real place to go if you’re a smartypants is Cincinnati.

There’s also information about upcoming graduate student conferences and opportunities to submit papers.

This is a helpful resource for doing scholarly research. The Classical Journal has digitized many of its scholarly articles. Some still must be accessed through the subscription database JSTOR, but there are a lot of PDF versions of articles on a range of topics from Latin pedagogy to literature that are available to everyone. The Diadochoi Project is a “wiki-style” resource which profiles professors in the field. There are over 5,000 entries, and the neat thing about it is that each one links to their published work in some way. This is good if you want to cite your teacher for the proverbial brownie points. This is their listing of OU professors, and fond we are of all of them.

I have to go make cornbread for stuffing now.


Pictures!

Two of my favorite things in the whole world (besides shopping and puppies and naps and coconut cream pie and my little sister and conversations with smart people) are history and photographs. That’s why I was so excited when I visited the beloved Google search engine today and it told me about the new LIFE photo archive which goes back to the 1750’s and is powered jointly by LIFE and Google. Turns out, if you add source:life to any search, you’ll come up with only LIFE photos. That might come in especially handy at the reference desk.

Besides being searchable, the photos are also organized by decade and by subject. So, there are three ways to find the LIFE pictures you’re looking for. I spent some time browsing by subject by year. I found some really fun pictures. Let’s check them out.

Audrey and Oscar!

Audrey and Oscar!

I found this one in the Academy Awards section. I’d sure like a dress like that!

Woody killin' fascists!

I found this one in the 1940’s section. I can’t help but go ‘Awwww…” when I see Woody Guthrie. Especially when he’s wearing a turtleneck! I bet that came in handy when he was hoppin’ trains!

Field trip!

This is the mosaic entrance into the museum on the grounds of the Frank Phillips vacation home outside of Bartlesville, Oklahoma. The picture is from June of 1949. I wonder if those kids are talking about how excited they are at just seeing real shrunken heads. That’s what I loved most about that place when I was their age.

This is a very useful digital collection. How nice of everyone at Google to help LIFE organize their archive of pictures so that they’re all easy to find!


A College Football Upset and Lima Bean Loaf

The day before yesterday, the esteemed “Big Game” Bob Stoops defeated Texas Tech 65-21. I was there, and it was cold, but I muddled through thanks to long johns and the fact that I (and over 86,000 others) spent a lot of the time doing this:

Since then, I’ve been thinking about Texas Tech as a school, and not just a football team whose coach tells the media following a horrible loss such as Saturday’s, that they lost because they “over-tried.” (The next time I fail miserably at something, my excuse will be “over-trying.” What a great idea!)

Turns out, the digital librarians at Texas Tech are trying pretty darn hard. They’re working on some great digital collections down in Lubbock. My favorite, since it is directly pertinent to my project in this digital collections course, is the Historical Cookbooks Collection. Most of these five PDF’s come from publications by the University of Texas Home Extension office in the early part of the twentieth century. I can’t decide if the recipes and tips are funny or just gross. Lima Bean Loaf? Peanut Milk Toast? Yuck city! But, it is interesting to read about the way people cooked and ate back then.

These information packages were not “born digital,” but digitized by the collectors at Texas Tech. For whatever reason, the originals were not scanned, possibly due to their poor quality. However, there are some pretty cool pictures that are probably scanned originals that go with a few of the articles. There is a hand-drawn diagram entitled “PEANUT: Not a True Nut,” which tells the composition of the peanut. Apparently those suckers are 2% ash. Who knew? Maybe that’s just what they thought in 1918. Anyway, I can’t show it to you because it’s a PDF file. It would be nice if it were such that I could link you to it, because it really is amusing. I think PDF files are a little bit cumbersome and not as easily manipulated as embedded pictures or links. Maybe everyone “over-tries” at Texas Tech.

There are a lot of other art and architecture digital collections at TTU Libraries, but they want you to pay tuition or something to look at them. Bummer.


The ALA Website…

One of the most important aspects of a collection, digital or otherwise, is that its developers take into account the audience for which it is intended. The website maintained by the American Library Association is a digital collection which at first would seem to be aimed at only information professionals. However, the information it provides is useful to prospective librarians, informed United States citizens, and people who simply love the library and know it is useful to them for lifelong learning. The Website has just been re-organized, and it seems its a little bit incomplete in parts, but I feel confident that it will be complete and its usefulness will be maximized shortly. Let’s take a look at what it has to offer.

Since this blog is concerned mainly with the creation and maintenance of digital libraries, it is encouraging to know that thet ALA website will soon have resources available on blogs, periodicals, and zines, which are web-based information services and can be part of digital collections. In addition, the site will soon offer information on joining a special arm of ALA called LITA, or the Digital Libraries Technology Interest group. This group will provide collaboration on issues linked to “standards, archiving, infrastructure, and technology refresh.”

National Libraries Legislative Day is scheduled for May 11-12, 2009. Here you can watch a video about the issues on the table this year, and learn how to get involved in lobbying your delegates to vote in ways that benefit our libraries and information centers.

If you decide you want to be a librarian, these are the things you\’ll have to know, they’re also called “core competencies.” This is how much money you\’ll make. (Don’t get too excited here!) Here you can find out the educational paths you’ll need to take to become a librarian. If you’re already a librarian, here are some ongoing professional development and learning resources which might be helpful to you.

Everyone loves the “READ” posters which are sponsored by ALA. This one is probably the most popular right now, since Twilight-mania has taken hold! I’m not going to lie here, Bella and Edward sort of creep me out. It won’t stop me from reading though!


What do librarians wear?

I passed my comps! This means I am just that much closer to being a real librarian, and in honor of Halloween, I think we should take a look at some librarian Halloween costumes. Of course, the only reason I have gone through the past two years of graduate school is to be objectified by drunken sorority girls during the month of October. This is what they will be wearing on Campus Corner this year…

Evidently, spectacles=information professional...

Evidently, spectacles=information professional...

This “librarian” may have an exposed midriff, but at least she thought to put on pantyhose, which completes the ensemble and adds a ladylike touch. My reference question to her would be “How do I get abs like yours?”

Prepare yourselves, guys. The next librarian Halloween costume is pretty astounding.

Guess what her favorite book is!

Guess what her favorite book is!

Here’s an easy way to provide readers’ advisory services… write the recommended titles on your inappropriately short skirt! What a way to boost circulation! Unfortunately, the pearl necklace isn’t included with this costume. Figures, since it’s the only component of the whole ensemble which exudes any sort of class.

This costume is the most to my liking.

Modesty coupled with dry humor. A rare combination on Halloween on a college town!

Modesty coupled with dry humor. A rare combination on Halloween on a college town!

Maybe I’ll wear this to work on Friday. I’ll put my pearl necklace with it though, so everyone will be able to discern what I am dressed up as!


With Limited Success

Even though it seems like I have been on leave from blogging for the past week, that isn’t really the case. I have been trying to dig up something, anything on censorship and/or challenges of digital collections. I haven’t had any luck at all, and I am just going to attribute it to my own bad research skills. However, I did go ask at a certain reference desk and was accused by its attendant of simply “Googling.” This caused me to flounce out of the library, jump on my bicycle, and speed home to stew, because I had actually been trying.  There is plenty out there about repressive governments who censor the Web in its entirety. This initiative by Amnesty International to examine types of information filtered from search engines offers good information about this issue. Public libraries filter the Internet access of children. However, I am interested in challenges of digital collections supported by any type of library. Does it happen the same way it happens to a physical information package? Who would the censor complain to, exactly? Obviously ALA\’s Freedom to Read Statement includes digital information packages. Maybe it’s never happened, but I doubt it. I’m still pretty interested, so I’m going to keep looking.

Until then, read this terribly depressing post from American Thinker. Randall Hoven starts out well enough, until he quotes “part of the job description of a librarian” and then asks “Couldn’t anyone do that? What special expertise is required to go through journals and select?” It makes me want to stamp my little foot and scream. People just don’t get it. And Hoven actually gets worse toward the end, read the rest of the post, but beware it’s a little nutty.

I’ll be back later.


Sarah Palin is everywhere. If you don’t know who she is, stop reading and crawl back into your hole. There’s no hope for you. This lady can field dress a moose, and she has pretty shoes. No one likes her standard updo, but that half-up, poofy thing she does for “special occasions” is one spectacular feat of engineering. (Is there a pop can under there?) You know all about her, so I will spare you the re-hash of the details of her life that are being thrown at you against your will daily. But we do need to talk about one thing. She’s a book banner. These allegations should be unsettling to everyone, but they’re especially so to those of us with training and background in the field of librarianship. We’re simply wired to balk at the mere mention of a book challenge, especially one by someone who is currently running for the second highest office in the land. How could she? What was she thinking? She only has the right to censor the materials access of her own five children, not everyone else’s! And look at all these books! AND THESE! Hang on, people, don’t get your Spanx (they’re great, I bet Sarah wears them!) in a wad. This twelve year old turn of events is terribly blown out of proportion by the Internet and the media. (The fact that there are several different lists, one of them on MySpace for goodness’ sake, of books she had removed circulating the Web should be your first clue.) It is almost as bad to call someone a censor with little evidence as it is to actually be one. Our friends at American Thinker have kindly set the record straight for us.

Now that we’ve calmed down and adjusted our Spanx, we can calmly talk about censorship, since it is still an important issue. Today I began wondering if anyone had ever tried to censor a digital collection. I poked around on Google a bit and found no mention of a challenge to an information package that was part of a digital collection supported by a library. I searched academic articles and still didn’t really find anything. Sure, some libraries filter their Internet access, and most give parents the option to disallow children from using the Internet. But, has there been a case of a library customer raising a ruckus over an item in an actual digital collection? Maybe it’s because they’re too boring to offend anyone. Surely that isn’t it. I suspect it has more to do with my substandard searching skills. I’m going to try and find something to share on this subject, I promise.


The Golden Hurricane, not Hurricane Gustav

Since the first two digital collections I have shown you are Oklahoma-related, I’d rather not get too crazy and try something new. I’m too old and set in my ways for things like that. Instead, let’s see what’s going on with the digital collections at University of Tulsa’s McFarlin Library Department of Special Collections and University Archives.

I remember in high school, I dated this older guy who was a terrible pseudo-intellectual, and he would always mention the James Joyce Collections at T.U. in conversation (I’m positive he did this instead of trying to tell people he had actually read Ulysses, because no one would have believed him.) Anyway, I thought of that when I got this assignment, and wondered what parts of that collection had been digitized. Turns out there’s not much, just this riveting slideshow of some of the collections’ first edition covers. It’s a bit like watching paint dry, or reading Ulysses. Moving on.

The Digital Collections at U. Tulsa are rich and varied. The V.S. Naipaul Archive is interesting in that it is still growing. Mr. Naipaul himself keeps the last ten years of his papers since he is still a working writer, and the oldest materials are transferred every two years. The archive itself is not digitized, but its holdings are outlined.

Let’s talk about some more pictures, shall we? The Maps of the American West collection contains scanned images of seven maps including an 1844 map of the Indian Territory, Northern Texas, and New Mexico. Maximize it. I dare you.

The Photographic Archive of the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 is interesting, but terribly sad and a little bit graphic. I ignored the disclaimer and perused it, and it was no fun. Just lettin ya know.

It appears that the librarians at McFarlin are working on adding newly scanned items to their collections, and they are encoding new finding aids using Encoded Archival Description, or EAD. I completely understand it all and you will too after you read this lovely paper.


An Old Fashioned Recipe Box… Digitized

Now it’s time for me to discuss yet another example of a digital collection with you. If you aren’t already obsessively reading the quirky, irreverent musings of this NEOK (that’s Northeastern Oklahoma, remember that because I won’t explain again) ranch wife on her blog like I am, then you’re missing out. The Pioneer Woman muses daily on all aspects of her disgustingly idyllic life on a ranch in Osage County. If you start reading this thing and decide you want to move to Osage County because everything there is just ducky, you should probably read or go see “August: Osage County” by Tracy Letts so that you understand that the area around Pawhuska, America really isn’t as disgustingly idyllic as ‘ol P-Dub makes it seem. Deep breath. Back on track.

As much as I love Pioneer Woman’s photographs (sometimes they make me teary, I grew up around there and I miss the landscape of Green Country) and humorous/poignant/well-written vignettes it’s her extensive collection of recipes that really floats my boat. They incorporate step-by-step photographs, so they’re great for visual learners or people who have been in college for six years straight with only two summers off and are tired of reading. When she organized them (yes! organized!), it really made my little almost-a-librarian’s heart go pitter pat. Let’s check it out. P-Dub’s Recipe File is organized by category like every good old fashioned recipe box. Appetizers, Breakfast/Brunch, several different categories of dessert (that’s an important one), soups, potatoes (the woman lives on a cattle ranch, what else are you gonna serve with beef?), and one of my personal favorites… Cowboy Food and Cowgirl Food. Everyone knows cowboys and cowgirls don’t like the same food! Another really great section is the How-To. Here, Pioneer Woman imparts her wisdom on important cooking methods like chopping onions (I want to challenge her to a race!), cutting a pineapple, and flash-freezing. If you’re not into the whole organization by categories thing, you can always look up her delectable recipes by alphabetical order in the archives. But then you lose that nostalgic, old-fashioned recipe box feel, and why would you want that?

Look at that. I’ve blogged my way straight to dinnertime again. I’ll show you a third example of a digital collection tomorrow, and I promise it will be as riveting as the first two.


Let’s Start With a Little Football…

My name is Laura and this blog is a direct result of my enrollment in a graduate level course at the University of Oklahoma called “Digital Collections.” Once a week, I will blog here about different aspects of collecting and organizing information packages digitally. If you’re lucky, I’ll include some entertaining anecdotes from my fascinating life here in East Norman. 

The first assignment is to find three digital collections to share with the class. I had a great time finding these. Everyone loves digital collections. They love them almost as much as they love… OU FOOTBALL! In honor of the Sooners’ 57-2 trouncing of Tennessee Chattanooga, the first digital collection we will inspect is the Photographic History of Sooner Football, housed digitally by the University of Oklahoma Libraries Western History Collections. Only a small part of this huge collection is digitized, but there are still many photos to peruse. I especially enjoyed the Cheerleaders and Mascots section, since it includes a picture of Mex the Dog, who was the OU mascot in the University’s early years. I’m sure he was great with the crowd, and it is part of Sooner lore that on the day he passed, a grand funeral procession was held, and he was interred behind the Sig Ep house where he still rests. Probably a fabrication, but a good story nonetheless.  Also of note, it appears that Pistol Pete, who is shown posing with OU’s now defunct Little Red, was actually uglier in the seventies than he is now. You be the judge.

Those genius librarians at the Western History Collections did a great job picking the action shots to digitize for all the world to see. They included all the greats like Heisman winner Billy Sims, former Congressman J.C. Watts, and Uwe Von Schamann, who is still a Norman celebrity due to the kick, and quite possibly, his beautiful mustache.

The really great thing about this collection of digitized photographs is not just all the amazing Sooner football nostalgia we true fans can soak up without leaving home, it’s the collection in its entirety. It contains 250,000 photos which document nearly the entire history of Oklahoma state since it is only one hundred years old. Although it is not 100% digitized, the Western History Collections’ photographic holdings can be searched through the OU libraries’ online catalog and prints of varying sizes can be ordered directly from the collections.

I know I promised discussion of three digital collections in one post, but all this talk of football has made me in desperate need of a hot dog. I’ll be back later to make good on that promise. Boomer!