if i could…

…I’d submit this as an addendum to my job application:

Directors–do you have anyone else on your staff, besides the catalogers, who is capable of thinking about your catalog records as data, and not just catalog records? If you do, consider yourselves lucky, and please, treasure them. If you don’t, start investing in some training for those catalogers, because you’ll need them and their expertise, no matter what happens and no matter what external services you see in your future.


Oh, and this too:

As the field of cataloging changes(and man, oh man, is the field changing!), the commitment to being lifelong learners increases in importance. We have to stay engaged in the conversation about the future of Technical Services, but we can only do that if we’re in-the-know about current and future trends.

But don’t just learn new things, put them into action! Change your workflow. Teach a class. Improve your cataloging. Ask your supervisor if you can incorporate a new format into your work.

Showing both the initiative to learn something new and the willingness to incorporate what you learned into your existing workflow raise your stock in your library. You become someone who takes initiative and someone who is not afraid of change.


…says the girl who taught herself Ruby over a few weekends so she could wrangle SerialsSolutions e-books MARC into submission.

average age at receipt of phd=33

I’m going to be right on track…

One thing is clear from the data: This is not a field that produces Wunderkinder, bright young things who make their mark at a precocious age. In fact, some of our sample members have kept their best wine until last. Creativity in academic information science is clearly not the preserve of callow youth, and no one pattern of productivity characterizes the innovators in our sample. (p. 1954)

— Cronin, Blaise and Lokman I. Meho. 2007. Timelines of creativity: a study of intellectual innovators in information science . Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 58 (13): 1948-59.

back to the everyday.

So my literature review for comps has been distributed to my committee members. It’s a tome [1], so I feel a little bad about dropping in the collective lap of my committee. But it was a very useful paper for me to put together.

One of the things I argue in this paper is that the predominant conception of everyday life in LIS is limited in its negativity. In her dissertation [2], Jenna Hartel surveyed everyday life information seeking (ELIS) studies and found 80% of the ELIS-related studies in her analysis focused on information seeking in either compromised everyday life situations such as illness or crisis, or in the everyday lives of populations seen as marginalized or disadvantaged.

This problem-centered orientation also pervades much of information behavior research outside “the everyday.” Information need has typically been conceived of as “having a problem” that information can help you solve. Our models of information behavior are full of anxieties and gaps and anomalous states.

In a recent paper, Hartel and Jarkko Kari argued for a shift of research attention to the higher things in life, which they define as “usually positive human phenomena, experiences, or activities that transcend the daily grind with its rationality and necessities” [3, p. 1132]. I concur that LIS has a taken a negative view of information phenomena and that as a discipline we should also attend to the role information plays in the the higher things of life.

However, they contrast the higher things in life with the “lower things” of the everyday, described as “relatively drab, uninteresting, and involuntary basic events that dominate people’s behavior” and “dominated by conformity, rules, rituals” (p. 1131). This is where I disagree. This view may be the going thing within LIS but we need not keep it.

I argue, citing works in sociology and critical studies, that everyday life does not exclude the pleasurable and the profound. There are myriad ways in which people bring the pleasurable, the profound, and the creative into their everyday lives. Michel de Certeau views the ordinary person in everyday life as an active, creative individual making and seizing opportunities, triumphing over imposed order, and making joyful discoveries [4, p. xix]. This is what makes life worth living.

It is with all of this dancing in my head that I stumbled upon this article in the NYTimes: Unboxed: Can You Become a Creature of New Habits?

Yes we can, and it is good for us:

Rather than dismissing ourselves as unchangeable creatures of habit, we can instead direct our own change by consciously developing new habits. In fact, the more new things we try — the more we step outside our comfort zone — the more inherently creative we become, both in the workplace and in our personal lives.

This bodes well for my creativity, as I am the queen of instituting new habits which are inevitably replaced with new and different habits. Heh.

Anyway, the connection with notions of the everyday is that even our habits are not thrust upon us. We can design our everyday routines creatively. Of course there are always constraints (money, limited time, the need to sleep at some point even though Provigil exists); but, we are not cogs in a drab machine. That everyday life provides us with opportunities for higher things, and not just a tedious daily grind, is supported by a further quote from the article:

The first thing needed for innovation is a fascination with wonder…But we are taught instead to ‘decide,’ just as our president calls himself ‘the Decider’ … to decide is to kill off all possibilities but one. A good innovational thinker is always exploring the many other possibilities. … You cannot have innovation…unless you are willing and able to move through the unknown and go from curiosity to wonder.

Ah, this last bit brings to mind some of Henry Miller’s rhapsodies:

The prisoner is not the one who has committed a crime, but the one who clings to his crime and lives it over and over. We are all guilty of crime, the great crime of not living life to the full. But we are all potentially free. We can stop thinking of what we have failed to do and do whatever lies within our power. What the these powers that are in us may be no one has truly dared to imagine. That they are infinite we will realize the day we admit to ourselves that imagination is everything. Imagination is the voice of daring. If there is anything God-like about God it is that. He dared to imagine everything [from Sexus, I know not which page].

How amazing the everyday is! And when did I become such an optimist?

But if anyone asks, I’m going to chalk up the length of my lit review to innovative thinking and the need to explore many possibilities and connections. It’s not just that I appear to be constitutionally unable to write concisely.

1. Final version was 171 pages, citing 663 sources.
2. Hartel, Jenna. 2007. “Information activities, resources & spaces in the hobby of gourmet cooking.” PhD dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles.
3. Kari, Jarkko and Jenna Hartel. 2007. Information and higher things in life: addressing the pleasurable and the profound in information science . Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 58 (8): 1131-47.
4. de Certeau, Michel. 1984. The practice of everyday life. translator Steven Rendall. Berkeley: University of California Press


As library and information scientists, we do not have a tradition of focusing on normative problems in which we can approach a line of inquiry with some measure of certainty. We cannot be sure that our areas are well defined and that our problems are important. We have no central theory or body of interrelated theories we can view as “middle range.”

In light of this discussion, it would appear we are currently focused on the application of conceptual frameworks rather than on the generation of specific theories. Drawing on bits and pieces from a variety of sources, we construct propositional statements that appear to have some bearing on problems arising from the occupational work we perform.

Chatman, Elfreda A. 1996. The Impoverished Life-World of Outsiders. Journal of the American Society for Information Science 47, no. 3: 193-206.

something for this information addict to remember.

your brain is a teacup

…Your brain does not obey Moore’s Law. It’s aided by it, for sure. But the truth is. there’s only so much you can pack in there… (from Steve Rubel’s Micro Persuasion)

Despite my fondest wishes, I have finite attention, limits on how much can be stored in short-term memory, and requirements for getting stuff into long term memory.