Friday, January 28, 2011

Library Day in the Life Round 6 - Day 5

This post is written for Round 6 of the Library Day in the Life project where librarians across the world share details of their daily activities. 

Today I was back in the office even with more snow flurries falling outside.  This morning I spent a little time thinking about what materials would be needed for the library table at the Intern Fair.  Each year NPR hosts an Intern Fair where possible future NPR interns come and learn about the opportunities available. Being a former intern myself, I was looking forward to talking to students.  NPR's Library has a good track record with hiring former interns when positions open up and I've found that internships & fellowships are a great way to get a sense of what a specific job/environment entails.

Also this morning I spent some time catching up on ALA & SLA emails/duties.  I took the ALA Membership Meeting Survey and also posted some NMRT announcements on the various social media networks that NMRT has a presence on. I also turned down an appointment as chair of the SLA Technical Standards Committee.  It was hard to say no, but I have a wedding to plan and a huge project at work to implement. 

In the afternoon I did a shift at the Library table and met some interesting students.  Unfortunately, none of them were library students but it was nice to share a bit about what the Library does here at NPR.

The rest of the day was spent cataloging.  I leave you with a few more interesting stories from the day:
It has been fun blogging this week my daily activities. Even though round 6 continues through Sunday this will be my last blog post as I have the weekend off =)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Library Day in the Life Round 6 - Day 4

This post is written for Round 6 of the Library Day in the Life project where librarians across the world share details of their daily activities. 

Today started with a flurry of activity (no pun intended) due to last night's snow storm.  I woke up to find my cable was out which added a small wrinkle to my plan to work from home today.  I decided to wait it out and tried to figure out how to make my blackberry a modem for my laptop.  Luckily the cable was restored just as I was starting to figure out the modem directions I had found.

First up today was compiling more HERMES statistics and sending off an email to my colleague Kee would will compile the rest of the week's statistics over the weekend and send to News Management.

Next up was reviewing the comments made by the developers on the items that are in this release for Artemis.  It's exciting and nerve-wracking to see things coming together. As I've said in previous posts, NPR has many metadata fields and it's hard to capture them in a clean and simple interface.

I jumped onto a webinar hosted by Createsphere this afternoon regarding how to find key assets in your digital asset management system.  While Createsphere's content is geared more for IT and content managers, I have found we can easily apply the content to Library ILS systems as well.  Unfortunately the webinar wasn't that interesting and I decided to jump off and catch up with the archived audio later this week.

Just recently we've decided to hold status meetings twice a week for the Artemis project.  I had a quick 15 minute call with the team and did some follow-ups from the meeting.

The last part of my day was working on my cataloging backlog.  I wasn't able to get as much done because I'm on a laptop at home, but I did find a few stories that were interesting:
Best part of the day was working alongside of my fiance.  It was nice to have little conversations here and there in person and not over email.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Library Day in the Life Round 6 - Day 3

This post is written for Round 6 of the Library Day in the Life project where librarians across the world share details of their daily activities. 

As the latest snow storm made its way into the DC metro area, I spent the morning attending two regularly scheduled meetings. First was our weekly cataloging meeting.  Every week the library staff meets to talk about issues we might have found while cataloging or to discuss what subject terms or keywords to use for the latest breaking news event.  Most of our discussion this morning was about preferred name spellings for various persons in the news.  The second meeting was a bi-weekly data migration meeting.  The library staff is working on various data migration projects as part of the migration to a new database (Artemis).  These bi-weekly meetings are our way to check-in and discuss any new errors or conditions we've found while cleaning up the record sets we are assigned.

After those meetings I tested a new version of software that is being rolled out to the News staff.  I had reported a bug to the IT development team yesterday and they felt that this new version could fix the issue I reported.  They were correct.  I also spent some time pulling together weekly statistics for the HERMES database which myself and my colleague Kee sent to News Management to report on compliance of metadata standards.

In the afternoon, my goal was to work on the cataloging backlog I have waiting for me.  I was able to get through a show before we were given an early dismissal (due to the snow).  I ended up volunteering to cover the Reference Desk for the rest of the afternoon.  Luckily it was quiet for the rest of the afternoon and I was able to get more cataloging done before heading out into the storm myself.

Here are links to some of the interesting stories I cataloged this afternoon:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Library Day in the Life Round 6 - Day 2

This post is written for Round 6 of the Library Day in the Life project where librarians across the world share details of their daily activities. 

Today's activities was mostly meetings with a few data related tasks in between.

I started the day with helping a colleague complete a report request for our Development office.  I reviewed the stories aired on Tell Me More during the month of December and identified which were education related stories.

Next I fixed some older catalog records that had misspellings pointed out by one of our editors.

A few years ago I spent some time working in the Information Technology department on a company-wide software development project.  I became the product owner for a person name authority database (called Hermes) for the newsroom here at NPR.  Part of being a product owner entails training folks on the tool.  I spent 20 minutes or so today answering questions from a producer and intern on the Arts Desk regarding Hermes.

Every Tuesday morning and Thursday afternoon, my colleague Hannah and I meet with our contractors at Siteworx to get a status update on the implementation of the new archive database Artemis (can you see a theme with the database names?).  Today's status meeting was a little different because we were demoing to our executive sponsors the work we had done on the project over the past two weeks.  This meeting was the first time they got to see NPR data & fields within the product we are using (Collective Access).

After lunch I spent some time merging some records that weren't migrated correctly when our current archive database was implemented.  I was able to finish the listing of records (over 300) this afternoon which was exciting.  I also met with another one of my colleagues - Lauren - to review the additional records that she and I have been reviewing as part of the this data migration effort as well.  NPR's archive has over 40 years of records and the fields available and cataloging syntax has changed over those 40 years.  Therefore there are quite a few data migration related projects to get through before the next migration to the new system. In fact I found a few more queries that need to be run and the results reviewed as I went through the remaining records this afternoon.

Also this afternoon, I sat in on a demonstration from one of our digital engineers on how the audio that is broadcast is captured and split up into individual stories to be posted on NPR's website.  With the new archive database we are planning to offer preview & download audio functionality as the NPR staff are going through search results.  Part of this functionality includes actually creating digital files of our collection as well as establishing "born-digital" workflows for the archive.  This meeting this afternoon was just one step in a many-step process to understanding what actions are happening today in order to adjust them for the future workflow.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Library Day in the Life Round 6 - Day 1

This post is written for Round 6 of the Library Day in the Life project where librarians across the world share details of their daily activities.

I am a Broadcast Librarian at NPR headquarters located in Washington, DC. My main duties are to provide audio reference to NPR staff (i.e. looking for clips of movies, speeches) and cataloging the NPR produced content for reuse.  I've been at NPR for 5 years.

Mondays for me usually are spent on the Reference Desk.  Each of us take a turn covering the Reference Desk each week.  Part of the Reference Desk responsibilities includes processing CDs of the shows broadcast the day before into the collection.  Here at NPR the library is 24/7 so we use some low-tech methods for circulation white cards which we type & stamp. Also part of that processing includes printing the rundowns of a show which includes a brief description and order of the stories with a show. On Mondays, I process CDs from Friday, Saturday and Sunday as well as catalog copies of the Sunday Morning Talk Shows for NPR's Spoken Word collection.

Due to tomorrow night's State of the Union address, we had to adjust the audio we are going to capture for All Things Considered and make a new catalog record for the actual State of the Union and Republican response. I took care of those adjustments and notified our engineering center about the changes.

Some of the reference requests I received today included:
  • NPR audio coverage of the Challenger disaster back in January 1986 for stories to use on the 25th anniversary later this week
  • George W Bush speaking at West Point in 2002 which I found in our WAND collection - CDs of audio broadcast by the Washington Area News Distribution channel
  • Newsreel sound of marines storming the beaches in WWII to be used in a story on tomorrow's All Things Considered
  • Healthcare coverage from Nixon era days which required ordering reel-to-reel tapes from our off-site storage site at the University of Maryland
  • Trying to determine if we ever did a story on a gay history museum in San Francisco
In between requests, I caught up on some notifications from the system that tracks development work for NPR's new archive system (Artemis), fixed some duplicate records in the news production person authority database (HERMES) and fixed old catalog records that weren't migrated correctly the last migration.

Best quote of the day
Patron: Can you just help confirm because you have a masters degree in searching?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Midwinter Fun in San Diego

A warm breeze blew me across the country this past weekend so that I could attend American Library Association's Midwinter Meeting in San Diego.

While most of the sessions I went to were related to business for New Members Round Table (NMRT) here are a few notes from other sessions that I attended.

Author’s Forum – sponsored by ALA, Exhibits Round Table (ERT) and Booklist

David Levithan, Stewart O’Nan, Armistead Maupin and Susan Vreeland spoke with Booklist Adult Books Editor Brad Hooper.  While I wasn’t familiar with any of the authors (unfortunately), I wasn’t disappointed by this panel.  All of them were well spoken and shared interesting stories about their process and/or their current books.  Afterwards, I was able to get Susan Vreeland and David Levithan to sign copies of their last books.   More coverage on the forum

Newspaper Interest Group – ALCTS – Building Digital Newspapers

I didn’t know that there was a newspaper interest group within ALA.  Luckily this session (described below) was posted on multiple listservs.  There was probably 10-20 people at the session.  While the experience of Sarah, Vicky and Brian can’t be directly applied to NPR’s archive, it was interesting to hear others talk about their news archives.  All of the presenters mentioned the difficulty of News organizations actually sending content to some kind of archive – let alone having consistent (and accurate) metadata.

The Newspaper Interest Group discussion session at the ALA midwinter meeting will explore efforts to collect, archive and make accessible PDFs of contemporary newspapers.  Sarah Quimby will present on a recent project at the Minnesota Historical Society to start collecting newspaper PDFs in that state.  Vicky McCargar will survey some ways publishers currently archive born-digital content.  And Brian Geiger will demo software his center has started to use to allow California publishers to upload PDFs and convert them into METS/ALTO digital objects.


Sarah Quimby is the Library Processing Manager at the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul, Minnesota. She received her M.S.L.S. from the Catholic University of America, and has also worked at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library.

Victoria McCargar is an archivist and digital preservation consultant. Trained in journalism and information science, she worked in digital asset management at the Los Angeles Times beginning in 1993 and oversaw the development of the paper’s landmark graphics databases. Her day job is archivist at Mount St. Mary’s College, Los Angeles; by night she teaches preservation management in the San José State online library program.

Brian Geiger is Director of the Center for Bibliographical Studies and Research at the University of California, Riverside.  Among the projects he manages is the California Digital Newspaper Collection (CDNC), a freely accessible repository of digitized California newspapers, and the California Newspaper Microfilm Archive. For the last year the Center has worked to start a program to collect current newspaper PDFs from
ublishers and process them for inclusion in the CDNC.

Maximize The Value of the Research Library – sponsored by Ex-Libris

This session was titled Getting the Library Dog to Bark which was taken from a presentation done by David Shulenburger at a Library Assessment Conference in Baltimore this past year. Again the focus of the presentation (assessment in academic libraries) wasn’t relevant to NPR's workflow, but it was an interesting presentation.  Paul Bracke presented how Purdue Libraries went from de-centralized libraries to centralized libraries in order to align with the University goals better. Part of this realignment included rethinking end-to-end workflows without worrying about who was going to do the work.

ALA President’s Program – Ted Danson

When I first read what Ted Danson was going to talk about (his foundation Oceana and his new book –Oceana: Our Endangered Oceans and What We Can Do to Save Them) I wasn’t sure this session was going to be interesting. But I should have known that a comedic actor like Ted would have the audience laughing throughout.  ALA President Roberta Stevens interviewed him for almost 1 ½ hours.  While Ted is mostly a figure-head for Oceana, he does “get smart” (as he called it) from the scientists before going out and speaking about Oceans.  He also shared a little about his acting career in TV and Film.  More coverage on the interview

If you are curious to see pictures of San Diego, check out the Midwinter Flickr group.  I must admit it was hard to leave the lovely weather of southern California.

Here is a list of books below that I picked up in San Diego:
            Rebecca Hunt – Mr. Chartwell
            Tea Obreht – The Tiger’s Wife
            Ellen Sussman – French Lessons

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

CBR3-4: Major Pettigrew's Last Stand - Helen Simonson

*** Full Disclosure: I received a paperback copy of this book from Random House Readers' Circle Group ***

In her charming debut novel, Simonson tells the tale of Maj. Ernest Pettigrew, an honor-bound Englishman and widower, and the very embodiment of duty and pride. As the novel opens, the major is mourning the loss of his younger brother, Bertie, and attempting to get his hands on Bertie's antique Churchill shotgun—part of a set that the boys' father split between them, but which Bertie's widow doesn't want to hand over. While the major is eager to reunite the pair for tradition's sake, his son, Roger, has plans to sell the heirloom set to a collector for a tidy sum. As he frets over the guns, the major's friendship with Jasmina Ali—the Pakistani widow of the local food shop owner—takes a turn unexpected by the major (but not by readers). The author's dense, descriptive prose wraps around the reader like a comforting cloak, eventually taking on true page-turner urgency as Simonson nudges the major and Jasmina further along and dangles possibilities about the fate of the major's beloved firearms. This is a vastly enjoyable traipse through the English countryside and the long-held traditions of the British aristocracy - Publisher's Weekly
This book is a lovely picture of the English countryside and explores life in a small town.  I found myself cheering on the relationship between Major Pettigrew & Mrs. Ali.  I didn't enjoy the character of Major's son Roger.  The ladies from Major's club remind me of the "society" ladies from The Music Man with their pageants and misconceptions about people.  At the end there is an incident with Mrs. Ali's nephew and his future bride that seemed a little far fetched for me. I saw reviews that compared this book to Jane Austen and Romeo & Juliet - which I can easily see.  The story of the author is interesting as well.  Helen was a mother who took a writing class at the 92Y because she was bored with gardening and yoga.

CBR3-3: Miracles Can Happen - Mary Kay Ash

Book Club Pick - January

Mary Kay Ash, one of America's most dynamic businesswomen, lived her life with simple and timeless principles. Through her uncomplicated formula for success -- God first, family second and career third -- she achieved her dream.She inspired. She motivated. She cared. Mary Kay often said that if you expect great things, great things willhappen. So expect results. Expect success. Miracles happen. Mary Kay Ash knew when she created her dream company that its success would largely depend on the principles upon which it was founded. In her wisdom, she realized that by building a solid foundation, and never wavering from it, she would distinguish her company and set the stage for women to succeed for decades to come. Mary Kay herself said, "The Company bears my name, but it has a life of its own. The true success is the lives that have changed for the better." Today, the independent sales force wholeheartedly embraces Mary Kay's vision of enriching women's lives. Because she believed that women would understand and support her mission, her legacy will continue to grow, inspiring generations of women around the world to believe that miracles happen. -
 This book was originally written in 1981 and reprinted two more times after that.  Because of that fact, it was hard to really appreciate the statistics referenced because of how old they were.  I felt like the book read more like a self help book than a memoir.  I'm not a big makeup person and therefore had a hard time relating to Mary Kay.  I do admire her drive, ambition and leadership.  I think if I would have read this book at a different time in my career, I could have applied some of her tips.

Two quotes from the book that I liked:
  • p. 105 - A very good definition of a woman's needs.  From birth to age 14, she needs good parents & good health.  From age 14 to age 40, she needs good looks.  From age 40 to age 60, she needs personality.  From age 60 on, she needs cash.
  • p. 109 - When a woman behaves like a lady, she sets the stage, and as a result, men will conduct themselves as a gentlemen.

CBR3-2: The Book of Tomorrow - Cecelia Ahern

***Full Disclosure: I received an ARC copy from Harper Books ***

Sixteen-year-old Tamara Goodwin’s life is upended when her wealthy father commits suicide after realizing he can’t pay his debts. Tamara and her devastated mother are forced to move from a Dublin suburb to the countryside to live with Tamara’s aunt and uncle, Rosaleen and Arthur. Tamara chafes under Rosaleen’s domineering personality when her aunt tries to keep Tamara from seeing her depressed, isolated mother. Frustrated, Tamara ventures out of the house, exploring the ruins of the castle Arthur cares for and meeting the locals, including a sprightly nun and a handsome young man who drives around in a traveling library. Tamara comes across a book in the library that captures her attention. Its pages are initially blank, then they start to fill with Tamara’s own thoughts from the following day. Realizing she is able to not only read the future but change it, Tamara uses the diary to unravel the mystery at work in her new home. A veritable modern-day Gothic, Ahern’s (The Gift, 2009) engrossing new novel is filled with family secrets, intrigue, and magic aplenty - Booklist
What would you do if you knew what tomorrow would bring? Would you fix events if you could? Tamara Goodwin has that opportunity.  To me this book is Gossip Girl meets Harry Potter without the magic.  In the beginning, I was intrigued by the plot and the mysteries surrounding Tamara and her family.  The book has a bit of gothic themes, but also tongue-in-cheek look at teenage life and grieving for a loved one.

By the end of the book the mysteries & characters wore on me. I'm not sure Tamara learned anything or grew as a character throughout the book.  The dialogue was witty and the main plot was an interesting concept.  The book was a quick read, but I still felt unsatisfied at the end.

CBR3-1: Best American Nonrequired Reading 2010

David Sedaris's unflappable inventiveness translates, in the first section of this anthology, to a smattering of pieces with giddiness, daring, and heart. A particular highlight, by Wendy Molyneux, earned his award for "Best American Woman Comedy Piece Written by a Woman" and is guaranteed to set off snorts of delight with each re-read. In the second section, as in previous years, Eggers's picks prove solid and balanced, if expected. Rana Dasgupta's superb article, exploring India's new wealth and subsequent fallout, as well as David Rhode's profound and gripping account of his seven months as a Taliban hostage reflect not only the literary achievements of 2009, but also the horrors and complexities of these current times on. Meanwhile, Tea Obreht's "The Tiger's Wife" and Kurt Vonnegut's "The Nice Little People" embody the ageless miracles of surprise and originality that comprise the human imagination. - Publisher's Weekly
My finance LOVES this series and after hearing him describe some of the stories in this collection I decided to read it.  I wasn't too impressed with the first part which focused on ephemera, poems, patents, etc. From the second part I enjoyed the following stories:

Burying Jeremy Green by Nora Bonner (from 'Shenandoah') - story of 5th graders acting out scenes after a runaway prisoner escapes and has a standoff with police in their playground. Interesting look at children processing a traumatic event like that.

Man of Steel by Bryan Furuness (from 'Ninth Letter') - story of a boy who see's a commercial about coincidences and starts to have "superpowers" seeing visions.  He predicts his father is going to die one night which causes events that make him realize these visions aren't real.

Vanish by Evan Ratliff (from Wired) - story of Evan disappearing for a month while Wired offered a contest & $5k prize if a reader found him.  In the end Evan's love of soccer & gluten free pizza leads the readers to him.

Seven Months, Ten Days in Captivity by David Rohde (from New York Times) - story of how David was kidnapped and escaped by the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Review: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter - Tom Franklin

Edgar Award-winning author Tom Franklin returns with his most accomplished and resonant novel so far—an atmospheric drama set in rural Mississippi. In the late 1970s, Larry Ott and Silas "32" Jones were boyhood pals. Their worlds were as different as night and day: Larry, the child of lower-middle-class white parents, and Silas, the son of a poor, single black mother. Yet for a few months the boys stepped outside of their circumstances and shared a special bond. But then tragedy struck: Larry took a girl on a date to a drive-in movie, and she was never heard from again. She was never found and Larry never confessed, but all eyes rested on him as the culprit. The incident shook the county—and perhaps Silas most of all. His friendship with Larry was broken, and then Silas left town. More than twenty years have passed. Larry, a mechanic, lives a solitary existence, never able to rise above the whispers of suspicion. Silas has returned as a constable. He and Larry have no reason to cross paths until another girl disappears and Larry is blamed again. And now the two men who once called each other friend are forced to confront the past they've buried and ignored for decades. -
This book was another book that I "heard" about on Twitter. I found an ARC copy on the giveaway shelf at work.  I was immediately caught up in this book when the main character is held at gun point in the first chapter. The plot in the present day was so moving that it was hard to be interrupted with the flashbacks to build on the background story. 

The writing was very moving and painted a picture of a small town in Mississippi as well as captured the racial tensions apparent in the south as well.  I did figure out the mystery before the main characters did, but I thought the revealing to the characters was framed well.  The ending was "happy" but sad at the same time.  I would have liked maybe one or two more chapters to find our how the main characters adapted to life after the main catalysis. 

I thought the author captured a "loners" life well.  The reader definitely sympathizes with Larry even though the whole town is against him.  I'm surprised he didn't move away after all the allegations. I liked that Silas' character was human and could be identified with. His actions spoke louder than words.  The author definitely captures how human contact and friendship can look past race especially at a young age.