Friday, November 30, 2012

Muddy Thoughts, 11/26

No muddy thoughts this week.

Reading thoughts, Dec 3

* Privacy in libraries is a very important thing. Your patron record is private; the information contained within cannot be released to anyone without a court order. There is a law in at least 40 states that requires the court order; most libraries, however, have that policy in place in their bylaws.
* The Patriot Act has tried to reduce the rights of libraries to keep their patron data private. Libraries have fought back again this.
* EPIC = Electronic Privacy Information Center; reports on news about data privacy and governmental spying. Formed to report on the Total (Terrorism) Information Awareness tracking system, which spies on citizens for the government. Clearly totally illegal, right? The TIA stuff?
* Even though people strive for privacy, it is mostly an illusion. There's a GPS in your car, your phone. Cookies track what you do on the internet. RFIDs pay your tolls, check out your books, buy your coffee. Unless you live off the grid, in the woods, possibly in a bunker - someone is probably watching you right now.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Muddy thoughts, 11/19

No muddy thoughts this week.

Reading thoughts, 11/26

Social Software and Library 2.0

* social tagging: relatively new phenomenon that allows users to tag things on the Internet for their own personal use. Allows others to see their tags and use them as well.
* social tagging sites include, Connotea, CiteULike, and Pinterest (a visual bookmarking site), among others.
* "folksonomy" - a taxonomy created by ordinary folks by collaborating together. Allows people to create their own controlled vocabulary.
* it's very difficult to catalog the Internet. Social tagging is a good way to start.
* a few academic libraries are trying out social tagging. University of Pennsylvania and Stanford University are both administering programs.
* a risk with social tagging is something called "spagging" - spam tagging, which is basically malicious tagging (likely by bored teens and Internet trolls)
* a wiki is a multi-author, collaborative software, often used as an encyclopedia. Wikipedia is the largest wiki in the world.
* wikis can be created for any purpose. There are a number of free wiki software options:,, and so on. They are fairly bare-bones, but if you pay, there are better versions.
* the use of wikis in libraries is becoming more common. They can be created as staff manuals, training documents, and teaching tools.
* East Tennessee State University has been very successful using a wiki for their Library Instruction Program. All of the librarians who participate in the instruction program add to and edit articles in the wiki.
* using digital materials in libraries is becoming much more common. However, many of these collections suffer from a lack of publicity - no one knows they exist. Social media can alleviate this issue.
* to have a successful social media blitz, the librarian must first listen to their patrons, to find out what their specific needs are, and what kinds of social media they use. Google Alerts are a good place to start, as well as Twitter and
* they must also be an active participant in the social media. You can't just be a benevolent dictator, demanding that your patrons read what you tell them to. There must be interaction between the parties. There needs to be transparency as well - no bad press for the library.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Muddy points, 11/5

No muddy points this week.

Reading thoughts, November 12

* Information providers have attempted (for many years now) to transform the variety of digital publications and collections into "true" digital libraries.
* There is a big difference between simply providing access to digital collections and offering digital library services.
* 1994: federal programming for digital libraries, called the Digital Libraries Initiative (DLI-1), funded six projects in the digital libraries. 1998: DLI-2, more funding added for more projects.
* With the advent of DLI, three interested parties came forth: librarians, publishers, and computer scientists.
* The concept of digital libraries has been hard to accept for some (more traditional) librarians. The feeling of "loss" with regards to their collections (and their non-physicality) gave many librarians pause.
* Journal publishers took the opportunity to charge elevated prices for their digital publications; this resulted in many libraries having to reevaluate their subscriptions and make cancellation decisions.
* Even though the collections look different, the work of the librarian is still basically the same: organization, collation, and distribution.
* Institutional repositories are a great way for universities to take control of scholarly publishing on campus. Costs have dropped dramatically, making institutional repositories possible for most colleges to afford to set up.
* MIT developed D-Space, an institutional repository software that is open-source and widely distributed, in 2003. It is not the only software available, but is the most widely used.
* Can be termed as "a set of services that a university offers to the members of its community for the management and dissemination of digital materials created by the institution and its community members." (Clifford Lynch, "Institutional Repositories," 2003)
* Once a university's IR is set up, they might consider outreach in the community. Helping to establish a community archive/repository would be excellent PR, and would be very valuable to the community that they serve.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Reading thoughts, 11/5

* XML stands for eXtensible Markup Language
* subset of the Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) defined in ISO standard 8879:1986
* makes documents interchangeable across the web - it's a language that every browser can decipher
* however, it is not HTML or CSS language, nor is it a template for web design
* XML is a formal language that computers use to talk to each other about the components of documents (all kinds: books, memos, etc.)
* though it is NOT HTML, it surprisingly looks a lot like it. :-)
* based on the concept of "documents" composed of a series of "entities"
* users create their own definitions of what tags mean, and then code that into the document schema
* the original XML schema language is the Document Type Definition (DTD); however, this is kind of bulky and awkward and many web designers are not fond of it. Many other new schema languages have emerged that are more favorable, such as RELAX NG.
* there are many different types of elements that are used in XML schema. Some are simple, and contain only text. Others are more complex, wherein elements can be combined together into a single element, or can even be empty.
* an example of a complex element that contains other elements:
* string data types are used for values that contains character strings. The string data type can contain characters, line feeds, carriage returns, and tab characters.
* even though you CAN code your own XML, it's much to your benefit to use an editing software. It can help catch your errors (like forgetting to close elements) and can also help guide your work.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Muddy points, 10/22

No muddy points this week.

Reading Thoughts for 10/29

* CSS stands for "Cascading Style Sheets" and is a way to express programming language for HTML, XHTML, and XML.
* HTML was not originally designed to show stylistic choices. Although those kinds of things were added to HTML, it's clunky. CSS solves this problem.
* CSS rules have two parts: the selector (the element you want to style, like fonts or tables) and the declaration(s) (colors, sizes, etc.).
* You can add comments into your CSS code by delimiting them with /*COMMENT*/ - these are only visible in the code and won't show up on the published webpage.
* There are three different ways to insert CSS: external style sheet, internal style sheet, and inline style.
* You can also have background properties in CSS - images, colors, etc. You can format your links, and you can change the font styles and colors as well.
* CSS is particularly awesome for tables - they have a much more polished appearance than regular HTML tables.
* "The CSS box model is essentially a box that wraps around HTML elements, and it consists of: margins, borders, padding, and the actual content."
* You can group or nest selectors.
* Writing CSS code seems pretty simple if you already know how to code HTML.
* You can write code by hand using a text editor, or you can use a web design tool (like DreamWeaver) to write the code for you.
* Styles can be carried from page to page, or you can attach parts of that style to different pages in your site.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Reading thoughts, 10/9

*LANs: local area networks
*computer network that connects computers in a limited area (school, home, office, etc.)
*fast data transfer rate
*ethernet and wi-fi are the most common ways to build LANs
*proliferation of personal computers in the late 70s/early 80s required linking computers together in the workplace
*Novell Netware, big name in the business, 1983-mid 90s

Computer Networks:
*collection of computers and other hardware components interconnected by communications channels that allow sharing of resources and information
*classified by several different characteristics : transport medium, communications protocols, scale, etc.
*early networks: military radar system (SAGE), airline reservations systems (SABRE), Dartmouth, MIT, General Electric, Bell Labs
*modern communications would not be possible with computer networking
*you can communicate with others, share data, etc. Possibly insecure (can be hacked fairly easily), tricky to set up
*wired technologies: twisted pair wire (slow), coaxial cable (medium), optical fibers (fast)
*wireless technologies: microwaves, satellites, cellular systems, spread spectrum, infrared, global area network
*internet protocol suite (TCP/IP), the foundation of all modern networking
*network topology types: bus network, star network, ring network, mesh network, fully connected network
*resilience : the ability to provide and maintain an acceptable level of service in the face of faults and challenges to normal operation

*stands for "radio frequency identification"
*like a barcode in that it can identify an item uniquely, but is read by an electromagnetic field
*can be read through multiple layers of stuff (like book covers)
*hundreds of different kinds on the market, customizable for many needs
*libraries are good users of RFID because they get multiple uses of a tag, unlike merchants who use them only once
*RFID could have a positive impact on a libraries return on investment, do they make patrons happier?
*tags need to be durable for use in libraries, they get used repeatedly

Monday, October 1, 2012

Muddiest points, 10/1

No muddy ideas this week. I'm finally understanding metadata! So, thanks. :-)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Reading thoughts, 10/1

*bibliographic software tool
*you can sort and format your references in several different ways
*create custom groups
*"online search" - search remote databases for articles from within Endnote
*"cite while you write" - key feature of Endnote.

Dublin Core:
*The Dublin Core Metadata Initiative is an international effort to foster a consensus across disciplines for discovery oriented description of diverse resources.
*RDF: stands for resource description framework, the metadata architecture for the web
*in a medium as big as the world wide web, you cannot rely on the shared cultural understanding of concepts of creditorship. Precision is a key facet of metadata.

*literally means "data about data"
*the construct has existed as long as humans have organized info, it's just digital now.
*content, context, structure
*metadata terms I've been using in Pitt Partners: VRA Core, ULAN, CCO, TGN, XML
*so it's very popular in the art history field
*no single standard that can describe all things
*crowdsourcing and user-generated metadata has started to arise
*metadata is not static, it will continue to accrue throughout the life of an object

Monday, September 24, 2012

Muddiest points, 9/24

I felt pretty good about the database lecture. My only question is why do you really need to query databases? It seems to me (as a heavy Excel user) that you could find the information you need by selective searches/sorts of the spreadsheet. Like with the example of finding the lines in the spreadsheet with a certain vendor ID, wouldn't it be faster to just sort the table by vendor numbers?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Readings thoughts for 9/24

* Database : organized collection of data, typically organized in a helpful way.
* Database systems are managed by quality (accuracy, availability, usability).
* Virtually every technology uses databases.
* A database must be functional to qualify as a database management system (DBMS).
* SQL = the language of databases. It's not the most elegant, but it's cheap and easy to use.
* Database technology has kept current with technology in general.
* DBs work within other computer systems. An attempt in the 70s and 80s tried to build stand-alone DBMS but they were expensive and awkward.
* There is so many different kinds of DBs. I had no idea!
* Entity relationship model (ER model) : an abstract way to describe a database.
* Proposed by Peter Chen in 1976.
* Entities : things capable of independent existence with unique IDs. AKA nouns.
* Relationships : connect entities to each other. AKA verbs.
* Must be structured data (semi-structured data won't work)
* 3 normal forms : no repeating elements; no partial dependencies on a concatenated key; no dependencies on non-key attributes.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Muddiest points, week 3 (Multimedia)

I am curious why color representation on computer screens uses red/green/blue, when printers and other media use cyan/magenta/yellow/black. Why is there a difference?

Are there really "frames" in digital video? I thought frames were an analog concept, where a movie camera took actual photographic images at 24 frames/sec rate. Is it a terminology thing, or do digital video cameras use frames anyway?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Muddiest idea, August 27

I didn't have any muddy ideas from lecture today. I thought it was a solid introduction. We need a bigger classroom, though! It's super cramped.


Hello lovely library people! This is my LIS 2600 blog.