Thursday, March 27, 2008

I Have Issues

OK, this is a really nerdy cataloger/librarian post. If any nerdy catalogers (like me) read this and have answers, I'm all ears! And if you're not a nerdy cataloger, I welcome your opinions too - if you can slog thru my jargon, which I'll try to keep to a minimum. I have two issues with assigning call numbers in the Library of Congress classification scheme. (That's the scheme most college and university libraries use.) I probably have way more issues than just two, but two is all I will talk about tonight.

First Issue: The LC scheme typically cutters a fiction series by author then title, not by author then volume number. Which means the books end up on the shelves in alphabetical order, not in the order the series should be read. If you're familiar with the way a call number looks, you have the first letters and numbers (before the decimal) which sends you to the correct subject. The second part (the first group after the decimal) is usually the cutter number for the author (it's based on a table, and allows a cataloger to assign a set number for every author's name). Then, for fiction, the last group is the cutter for the title. The first set of numbers below are ones I created. The second set are existing numbers for a different series of books. Now, as a patron, would you know which book to read first if you were interested in the two series below???

PZ7 .R79835 Har v. 1
PZ7 .R79835 Har v. 2

PS3562 .A315 A56
PS3562 .A315 L44

I rest my case. Though I should admit that there is a lot of disparity in the way fiction series are done - I've just shelved a lot recently that have numbers like the second set above and it drives me to distraction. (Yes, I know. Short trip!)

Second Issue: This one's more complicated. As far as I can tell, books written in foreign languages are ???!!!?? classed in the general area where texts about that language go. And oftentimes if that book is TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH, that English translation keeps the same call number. So a diary written in German about life in Germany during WWII is shelved with language books. HUH???????? In a mostly-English library (where we don't have many foreign language titles) that is just kooky (for many, many reasons). I think the translation - at the very least - should be reclassed where it goes as a subject.

Here's my example:
PC2064.K5 A3213 2003 This is the call number (ascribed by a national cataloging entity) for a book called The Lesser Evil, a diary of Victor Klemperer who was a Jew in Nazi Germany. If you look up on the "official" Library of Congress classification guide, that range of numbers (PC2001 to PC2600) is listed as Romanic Languages: French OK. The original book was written in GERMAN. There are three volumes in the diary series, and they're ALL listed in that class. Hello? Does anyone else think this is nuts? In fact, if you browse PC2064 by call number in the LoC catalog, you'll find books in several different languages... French (at least that makes sense!), Japanese, and German. I. Just. Don't. Get. It.

So, why wouldn't you:
a) if you're going to class the book by the original language, at least class it with the CORRECT language? (Germanic languages go under PD) and,
b) when it's translated into English, place it with the subject; in this case DS135, European History: Germany.

So, any catalogers out there have an answer for me? Any armchair librarians out there have an opinion? As a side note, I have two friends who are catalogers at the Library of Congress. I've emailed them to see what they think, and if they respond I'll let you know what they say.

So, here's the update. The book should go in History! It's only LITERATURE books that are classed with the original language. So books of or about literature originally written in French stay classed in the same place when they are translated into other languages. Which at least makes more sense than my initial supposition. The Library of Congress has the three volume set of Klemperer's book (as a single record, rather than the three separate records I listed above) classed in DS. Though apparently it's still a mystery how the separate volumes got stuck in the PCs. Another update will be forthcoming if a solution is ever presented!

Friday, March 21, 2008

A Prayer for Good Friday

Lord Jesus Christ, who for the redemption of mankind didst ascend the cross, that thou mightest enlighten the world that lay in darkness: gather us this day with all they faithful to that same holy cross; that, gazing in penitence upon thy great sacrifice for us, we may be loosed from all our sins, and entering into the mystery of thy passion, be crucified to the vain pomp and power of this passing world; and finding our glory in the cross alone, we may attain at last thy everlasting glory, where thou, the lamb that once was slain, reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

Come, Lord Jesus.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

M-O-O-N, that spells "moon"!

So, for my dearly beloved's Christmas-NewYear-Valentine-StPatricksDay-MemorialDay-Anniversary-Birthday present, I bought him a telescope. He had one in high school, and lamented its loss in a car fire on many occasions. Now that we live out in the country, we can actually see stars on clear nights. We can even - given excellent viewing conditions - see the Milky Way. So I bought him an Orion SpaceProbe 130ST EQ, a Newtonian reflector with an equatorial mount, along with a Barlow lens and a moon filter.

And of course, for the ENTIRE week after it arrived, it was cloudy. Every. Single. Night. But since then, even in 25 degree weather, he's been out there, figuring out the tricks to finding cool stuff in space.

I've seen Saturn, in person, as it were, and last night with the waxing crescent moon I got a good look at the Sea of Tranquility and the crater named Theophilus. (I wish I could say we took these photos, but we didn't. I found them online and they roughly approximate what we've seen!) I've been thoroughly enjoying standing (or lounging) out in the back field, looking into the heavens with just my eyeballs and learning the patterns to the stars, and the constellations, and how objects move over time.

It's something the philosopher and I can spend years doing together, so I'm looking forward to our astronomical pursuits. As he gets better with the complicated alignment and adjustment system on the 'scope, then he can teach me! We're also hoping to hook into a (relatively local) astronomy club. Hmm. I wonder how many amateur-astronomer-philosophers there are?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I know, I know ... those of you world-weary, long-time bloggers and book-loving, computer-savvy folk ... this is nothing new for you. In fact, I even distantly remember discussions about LibraryThing in comparison to other online book cataloguing sites. But for me (because I just discovered it) it's a Cool New Toy.

You'll notice if you scroll down a bit on my blog that I have a "From the Bookshelf" thingie on the left side. That's from my list of books at LibraryThing! (Though I wish I could take credit for the cool html coding that makes the book covers change every time you visit. Alas, LibraryThing assumes that folks don't all do computer kungfu and offer it to you in a nice, simple copy-and-paste version.)

You can share book lists, browse other's lists, find folks with similar interests, write reviews, and even - this is what sold me - link to the Library of Congress and add a call number to your list. And if you wanted to be even more nerdy, you can buy a scanner and scan your book barcodes in directly. Wow. I'm going to show this to the philosopher... {{wicked grin}} ...this will put his excel spreadsheet to shame.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

JAMBOG - Phase Two

I must solve the scenario below using four of the items (chosen earlier). (see here for full instructions)

Scenario: The president has just been kidnapped by terrorists. You, as the special agent, are transported to their stronghold. How do you rescue the president?

My items are:
Something COLD (the Andromeda Galaxy)
a TOOL (router)
a DRINK (tea, Earl Grey, hot)
a PICTURE (Starry Night)

First, two scene-setting points: 1) the terrorist stronghold is in the basement of the Museum of Modern Art (where Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” is housed) 2) this story is tied directly with my Phase One (and thank you for using the word "transported"!)

I contact the Enterprise using my Swiss army knife and a paper clip to turn my digital watch into an SOS signal. (Hey - that should at least count for MacGyver points!)

Scott utilizes the gravitational pull of the Andromeda Galaxy’s core to slingshot back to 2008, and then uses the ship’s transporter to beam Kirk and Spock to the museum where they will give me valuable assistance.

Kirk uses the router to drill through the lock on the loading dock door so we can gain access to the basement.

I call out “Can someone from maintenance help me with this painting,” prompting the terrorists to open the stronghold door. I wave for them to come help me move the crated “Starry Night.”

Hot Earl Grey tea plus blue oil paint scrapings (aged on French canvas for at least 100 years) make a volatile oil/acetate slurry, that when agitated by an aluminum rod (my paper clip attached to the router bit) creates a concussion bomb, rendering the terrorists unconscious.

The terrorists are tied up with the router power cord, and the president is safe!