Posts Tagged 'Library'

Hushing Librarian

Found at Waxin’ & Milkin’.

Mercedes-Benz banks on library humor

I think it’s rather frivelous to debate how libraires, librarians, and their patrons are portrayed in our (and other) cultures. I just think it’s sort of awesome that libraries are still, in our collective unconcious, associated with intelligence.

Also, I quite shamelessly go to the library to get coffee. All the information I really want I’d have to research myself. =\

Pitt upgrades Zoomify interface for Audubon’s Birds of America

I wrote an earlier post about the University of Pittsburgh Digital Research Library’s newest image collection, Audubon’s Birds of America. In it, I criticized their use of the tool Zoomify to display their scans of John James Audubon’s famous set of ornithological plates. If you take a look at the collection now, you will notice that the Zoomify window can be resized by the user. Although not a complete fix, this feature certainly makes the website more useable; I applaud the DRL for implementing the change.

There has been a discussion – here and over at PhiloBiblios – about the $300 fee for ordering a print from the collection. Was Pitt using Zoomify to control the rights to their images by limiting the public’s access to the full images? The move to improve Zoomify has waylaid this fear, in my mind. If anyone wanted to, it would be relatively easy to grab an entire plate to either print (at a place like Kinko’s) or post on the internet. However, it is important to note that the University stresses “Digital files are not for sale.” [1] (The bold is theirs.)

Now the question seems to be whether the print Pitt offers is – to put it blunty – overpriced. And if so, if it is ethical for Pitt to overcharge in the name of recouping their digitization expenditures. (They do seem to have a monopoly on the business. If you take a look at eBay, you’ll find that the online auction site is flooded with small, low quality Audubon reproductions starting at about $10.)

My response to this is that Pitt claims their reproductions are near facsimile quality. (With that said, I’m sure Walter Benjamin is rolling over in his grave!) This means that, in all likelihood, printing these images does cost significantly more than one would suspect. Although I can’t offer any figures on how much materials and labor cost, I don’t think the ratio of actual to sales price is obscene. (Nothing like the markup associated with CDs.)

As for the fee helping to recoup losses, Pitt hasn’t attempted to justify the price using this trope. (Although if they were to comment on the price, I’d wager this would be the first defense they’d employ.) As I don’t think the price is exorbinant – you are purchasing a high-quality luxury good, after all – and because I like the idea of libraries branching out to become more economically sustainable, I don’t have a problem with this. There is a (mis)conception that academic libraries are black holes when it comes to money: the budget/grants go in and “nothing” comes out. I guess this could be used to accuse me of adopting a business mindset when it comes to library management. I don’t think that’s necessarily true, however.

On a slightly related note, I’m seriously considering having the little buggers on plate 134 tattooed on my flank. Talk me out of it, library folk! ;-)


1. University of Pittsburgh. “audubon_reproductions.pdf.” Audubon’s Birds of America at the University of Pittsburgh. University of Pittsburgh. (14 March 2008).

Library Rage

Parker Posey as Mary in Party Girl

After several afternoons of repeatedly shelf-reading those floppy Moody’s / Mergent Bond Records, I find my library ire levels skyrocketing. Happily I can mediate library rage through Art; my internal reaction has been dramatized in this video between 2:03 and 3:27, an excerpt of Party Girl featuring Parker Posey. (Clicking will take you to YouTube. This particular video doesn’t allow embedding.)

My actual responses involve organizing and flushing the serials. And not “down the drain” flush, the arranging “with adjacent sides, surfaces, or edges close together” kind.

  • Birckmayer, Harry, Daisy von Scherler Mayer, Parker Posey, Anthony De Sando, Guillermo Díaz, Donna Mitchell, Liev Schreiber, Omar Townsend, and Sasha Von Scherler. Party girl. Culver City, Calif: Columbia TriStar, 2003.

Carolyn Ulrich, Library Luminary

Libraries Luminaries is a feature that aims to increase the visibility of and promote discussion about the founders and innovators within the field of library and information science. Today’s personality: Carolyn Farquhar Ulrich (1880-1969).

Imagine a woman described as “absolutely correct in taste and style” with a “cultivated voice” and “goodlooking appearance”. (Wiegand 137) One might assume this woman was a celebrity. In fact, it was a librarian: Carolyn Ulrich, the originator of Ulrich’s Periodicals Index. Ulrich’s excellence in regard to her person as reflected in this peer evaluation – an echo of Samuel Green’s ideal female library worker – correlates to her overarching achievements in the field of serials librarianship.

Education and career:

Little is known of Ulrich’s early and personal life. However, biographers do know that she was born in Oakland California on August 16, 1880. She attended high school in Brooklyn NY, where she exhibited a fondness for languages. This type of eclecticism, driven solely by an intellectual impulse, typifies the life of Ulrich. After graduating she applied and was accepted into the Pratt Institute’s art program, but stayed with this course of study for only for one year. According to Wiegand, Ulrich’s interest in librarianship was cultivated at the turn of the century. (136) Sans formal training, Ulrich became an assistant at the Brooklyn Public Library in 1906. She would remain in this position until 1912, when she was promoted to 1st assistant. Between 1912 and 1914 Ulrich completed courses in literature, Chinese, and Japanese art at Columbia and NYU. However, recognizing a New Woman-esque need for further education in her chosen profession, Ulrich joined the ALA in 1916 and matriculated into Pratt’s library certificate program in April of 1917. During her education, Ulrich was recognized for her aptitude in “executive work and organizing”. (Wiegand 137)

Upon her graduation in 1918, Ulrich became the Chief of the circulation department and branches of the Bridgeport Public Library in CT. The library’s 1919 annual report revealed increased circulation due to her organizational changes. Her job requirements also involved binding, an asset to her future career in periodicals. (Wiegand 137) During this time Ulrich also founded programs that resonate with the socio-historic era in which she moved; she developed traveling libraries for factory workers and Americanization classes for immigrants. From Bridgeport, Ulrich returned to New York City in 1920 to head NYPL’s circulation department. Two years later she was promoted to Chief of Periodicals, a position that she held until her retirement on April 30, 1946.

Carolyn Farquhar Ulrich (1880-1969)
Carolyn Ulrich. (Patterson 79)

Contributions to Library Science:

Ulrich’s legacy cannot be reduced to her education or the posts she held. Rather, one must examine her interaction with the profession. In 1920 she served as an assistant instructor and lecturer in several library schools. Active in the ALA, she attended many conferences and often gave speeches. One such occurred in 1926 on the “Future of Periodical Work” and was addressed to the ALA’s Periodical Roundtable. Ulrich would later chair this Roundtable between 1927 and ‘28; in the former year she spoke on the topic of “A Current Periodicals Room in A Metropolis”. Ulrich’s involvement with the ALA would continue to flourish. In 1931 she served as the Acting Chair of the ALA’s Periodicals Section and in 1935, three years after the first edition of Ulrich’s was published, she aptly served as the chair of the Joint Committee on the Standardization of Periodicals. This focus on connecting information seekers with periodical information would continue. In 1941 Ulrich addressed “Some Problems Presented by Current Development in the Periodicals Field” at the Boston ALA conference. (138) Many of Ulrich’s speeches were later published in scholarly journals. Although not known for her writings, she was a prolific author and wrote on many topics. At the height of her career in the early forties, Ulrich was also serving as the chair of the ALA’s Serials Section, the representative from the American Standards Association, and was the liaison between the ASA and ALA to the International Standards Association Committee on Documentation. (Wiegand 138) In 1947, Ulrich edited the fifth edition of her eponymous index, the “postwar edition”; this was to be the last version she contributed to. (138) Ulrich died on 22 November 1969 at the home she shared with Marion Cutter in Winter Park, FL. (Wiegand 138, AB Bookman’s Weekly) When her obituary appeared in AB Bookman’s Weekly, an large advertisement for the 13th edition of Ulrich’s was only a few pages away. See the ad here. (AB Bookman’s Weekly 120)

Carolyn Ulrich was a vibrant, intellectually rigorous woman. Her personal quest for knowledge has taken on many forms, as evinced by her lifelong interactions with Art and languages. Ulrich’s work in the field of library science still resonates within the communities thanks to her magnum opus, Ulrich’s Periodicals Index, with which “her name is forever bound”. (AB Bookman’s Weekly 122) This priceless periodical reference tool has taken on several incarnations in its path from Ulrich’s ink-and-paper brainchild to the contemporary electronic database Ulrichsweb.

  • AB Bookman’s Weekly 45 (January 19, 1970): 120, 122.
  • Patterson, C. D. “Origins of systematic serials control: remembering Carolyn Ulrich“. Reference Services Review 16, no. 1-2 (1988): 79-92. (Note: The image in this post came from the print copy of this article. The online version does not reproduce said image.)
  • Wiegand, Wayne A., ed. Supplement to the Dictionary of American Library Biography. 1990. Englewood, Col.: Libraries Unlimited. 136-138.
Further Reading:

A Simple Test

This will be the first entry until we decide it’s stupid.

In the meantime this can serve as an example of what our posts will look like with a substantial amount of text. Well, that requires that I must continue to type regardless of whether or not I have anything to actually say.

Today I took books from the free book cart at the library. They are pieces of a collection of Encyclopedia Britannica from 1911. They have really awesome maps of countries and states in them. I’m thinking about just grabbing all of them to get the maps out. Maybe tomorrow I will have time to do that.

I’m not sure that I like how the WordPress editor automatically jumps down a paragraph every time I hit enter. Perhaps, if I become more comfortable with my postings, I will start using Scribefire again.

Well, that should be enough for now.