Zombies vs. Libraries

Zombies vs. Libraries

The website for the 7th annual Joyner Library Paraprofessional conference is now live:


Our theme this year is Zombies vs. Libraries: Integrating Pop-culture with Library Tradition. Thanks to the sponsorship of the North Carolina Library Paraprofessional Association (and the help of Gloria Bradshaw, Tracie Hampton, and Christopher Turner from HR), this will be the first year that we will be offering two preconference workshops!

We hope to see you in Greenville this May!


NC EAD, part 2

Well, I was going to try to add all of these links to the freebase website, but I haven’t used that in so long that I forgot how to use it (but maybe I’ll get back to it another time).

In the meantime, I added all of my “NC EAD” bookmarks to the twine website instead.

Check it out, join, help it grow; it’s completely open, so do whatever.  Here’s the link:


I want my, I want my EAD

Controversial lyrics (from the song referenced in this post’s title) by Mark Knopfler aside, I have a few questions regarding the state of EAD in the state of N.C.

  1. How widespread is the adoption of EAD?
  2. Who’s not using the standard who would like to?
  3. Are there any plans afoot to create a regional EAD consortia (such as OAC, NWDA, RIAMCO, etc.)?  Please say yes; and secondly, wouldn’t it be great if such a consortia had an xforms powered admin interface for users to create and update records online? (I’m thinking of the “EADitor” Orbean Xforms project that Ethan Gruber has recently started to work on, regarding this last point).
  4. Is anyone carrying on the torch of NCBHIO and creating EAC records, now that that standard has arrived? (and since that standard essentially demands a consortia, in my mind, how is EAC affecting question #3?)

Unfortunately, I cannot even begin to answer questions 2 – 4 on my own, but I will attempt to quickly provide a start of an answer to my first question.  To that end, I went to the Society of North Carolina Archivists’ website, clicked on their links page, and then did a quick look through the “SNCA Affiliated Repositories” section.

And so, here’s an unannotated list of direct links to (mostly EAD) finding aids at North Carolina institutions (and, if anyone knows of a much better list, please let me know!):


http://library.bowdoin.edu/arch/archives/archives.shtml (bowdoin was listed on the SNCA Member Links page, but it’s not a college in N.C.)







http://www.foresthistory.org/ead/index.html (added to the list on 2009-12-09)











Also, if you’re using EAD in N.C. and don’t see your website listed here, please let me know.

Symphony’s problem with operators

I’d be quite alarmed if this hasn’t already been reported since SirsiDynix’s Symphony OPAC has been out in the wild for quite some time, but here’s an annoying “bug” that I just discovered today.

Search for near in any out-of-the-box Symphony OPAC and you’ll get yourself an error.  Now try with, adj, same, and even the Boolean operators or, not, & and (I’ll ignore “xor“, since I can’t think of any examples when I’d ever type that).

[digression: If you try to search for but (for, by, etc.), however, it will tell your that your search contains all stopwords.  And,  I’ll try to forgo the argument about whether or not a library catalog should remove so-called stopwords in this day and age, but suffice it to say that a user can’t find any albums by “The The” without moving beyond the default search form; and, in my opinion, a user should never have to do such a thing for such a simple search. ]

So, yes, the Symphony OPAC seems to have a problem with operators, but it’s certainly not likely that someone will search for adj.  If someone does, however, whether by accident or not, they shouldn’t be greeted with an error.  Instead, their query should be run as is, but on the results page there should also be a new <div>, placed unobtrusively, that informs the user that “adj” is also a proximity operator, and this is how to use it, should they want/need.

What’s worse, though, is that you cannot use near, with, same, or, not, and at the beginning OR end of any of your queries (exception:  you can use not at the beginning of your query without getting an error since that operator doesn’t require a first half of an argument, but it will still treat not as an operator).  And this, in my mind, is the real bug here.  You cannot, then, search for:

  • Near a thousand tables
  • Near eastern archaeology
  • The singularity is near
  • With wings like eagles
  • Same differences
  • Same river twice (but you’re fine if you include the stopword “the” at the beginning, since “same” will no longer be the first word in the query)
  • I love you just the same
  • Or else my lady keeps the key
  • Ready or not
  • Not philosophy (won’t search for the query “not philosophy” but will instead search for any record that doesn’t contain the keyword “philosophy”…  so, you won’t get an error, but you’ll get a LOT of results).
  • And then there were none
  • And the band played on
  • And you get the idea…

Of course, you can move beyond the default search values and use any of those proximity operators in conjunction with the “browse” (or “begins with”) radio button, but that should NOT be a requirement for using a select few query terms.  Or, worse, you could work around this bug, for now, by altering your search to something like this:

“and” then there were none

or even

the and then there were none

but that’s a pretty silly solution, as well.  In any event, I have no idea if this bug has been reported or not, but I am quite certain that it would be a very easy fix for SirsiDynix to implement, so I hope that they do so soon — that is, if they don’t already have a patch for this in the works.

Anyhow, if you want to try this out, of if you’re really ambitious and think that you can find any other bugs worth reporting, here’s a list of libraries using Symphony that I’ve compiled:


Unfortunately, it’s hard to dertermine a static link to Symphony OPACs, so most of those links will take you to a timed-out session.  Once there, though, you can get back to the main search page usually just by clicking on “OK”, and then starting a new search.

[ update: I just checked a Sirsi Unicorn library catlog, and it also seems to have this same issue on default, keyword searches.  So apparently this is a carryover from that legacy system (we were previously on Dynix’s Horizon, which did not have the same issue by default; at least not that I’m aware of).  So, in hindsight, I guess this is a Unicorn bug, which makes me certain that it’s already been reported, but I really wonder why it exists.  Indexing a default query in this manner seems very strange to me.  Certainly they could just require their operators to be followed by a special character, such as “#”, or even just  not treat any boolean or proximity operators as operators when they appear at the beginning or end of a query.]


If that doesn’t qualify as a strange blog-post title, I don’t know what does.

Anyhow, I just wanted to say how nice it was to visit the Carolina Digital Library and Archives department (CDLA) at the Louis Round Wilson Library in UNC-Chapel Hill.

Louis Round Wilson Library

Louis Round Wilson Library

Natasha Smith, the head of the Digital Publishing group, invited our entire Digital Collections department to visit them on the morning of May 20th. While there, we were able to demonstrate and discuss with them the behind-the-scenes processes of our Digital Repository, and we were also able to hear and see a lot of interesting projects that CDLA is working on. To mention just one, for brevity’s sake, I’ll say that I was very excited to see a superbly designed online template for a finding aid to a collection that has now been digitized in its entirety. So, definitely keep an eye out for the new Thomas E. Watson Papers finding aid once it is unveiled.

During our discussions, we also got on the topic of EAC (or Encoded Archival Context), which is a standard that I’ve definitely wanted to see developed more fully after first hearing about it just one year ago. It was nice, too, that Richard Szary was in the room, since he was one of the original working group members of the EAC standard while at Yale (though I wasn’t aware of that at the time).

In my mind, EAC would be a perfect candidate to be deployed with something like Metaweb’s Freebase.  Sure, we could still export valid XML files for the preservation of the information (as the standard should still adhere to the original Toronto Tenets), but I think it would go a long way to have this information available on an easily editable and transferable platform.  I’d love, for instance, to be able to pull biographical and relational information about people mentioned in our finding aids via something like their Metaweb Query Language, and also to dynamically generate a list of “related collections” available elsewhere, at other institutions.

Anyhow, Maggie Dickson, the Watson-Brown Project Librarian, mentioned the NCBHIO project, which is something that I had never heard of before.  Here’s a link to their website, NCBHIO, which isn’t entirely functioning anymore, but it is the only website devoted exclusively to a collection of EAC records of which I’m currently aware, at least.  If there are more out there, though, I’d love to hear about them.  I have heard of a few European institutions already incorporating EAD and EAC, but I’m definitely not aware of anything else like this.

In any event, in order to learn more about the standard, I went ahead and used Wget to download all 59 EAC records that are still currently hosted on the NCBHIO website (hence the strange title for this post).   Hopefully I’ll have some time this summer to study those files some more and perhaps even create a few EAC records myself.

Until then, if anyone else is working with EAC, or anything like the EATS project (here’s a blog post about that), which was developed by the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre, I’d love to hear more about it.

The happiest Swede in Paris (and Nadal deserved better)

I’ll avoid making any puns, but how is it possible that I just had to watch THE greatest upset at the French Open this year (and possibly ever) on ustream?  The quality was so poor I could barely see where the tennis ball was, but at least I could witness part of the action.  I honestly would’ve waited to watch the match if it was broadcast anywhere on TV here, but it wasn’t even shown on the Tennis Channel.

I anxiously await the death of cable television.  Long live the illusion of “user control/interaction” that is the internet.

LITA Camp presentation on EAD

And here’s a much shorter post about LITA Camp so that I can post my presentation, post-hoc sytle.

I had arrived in Dublin ready to talk about the EAD redesign project that I’m currently involved with at ECU.  However, there wasn’t anyone in attendance that worked exclusively in Special Collections or Archives, so I opted to attend a breakout session on Institutional Repositories rather than to host my own on EAD.

After the conference, I figured that I’d just post a link to my powerpoint presentation.  However, the powerpoint that I prepared was pretty useless without my notes attached, so I then decided that I should record a shortened version for a screencast.  And here’s the result:

And, in order to be a good creative commons citizen — since I skipped my last powerpoint slide in the screencast — here’s a list of the images that I used:

If you have any comments or questions, just let me know.