Spring Cleaning

Part of linen room containing supplies for the three hotels from Flickr

“Part of linen room containing supplies for the three hotels” – Internet Archive Book Images flickr.com

I am a huge fan of Preservation Week. Not just because our Preservation Librarian brings baked goods to events, but because digital preservation should be within the reach of everyone. Family historians, amateur photographers: you don’t have to be a historian or pro photographer to create content worth saving.

My training in digital preservation has taken place over most of my professional life, and I hesitate to call myself an expert. Too much of the landscape is in flux, from formats at one end to digital preservation systems at the other. I’m pleased to see academic libraries moving in a positive direction, but we haven’t arrived. Even the Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative (FADGI to those of us who need to refer to it more than once a week) doesn’t have all the answers.

That being said, digital preservation is also perfectly possible for those who do not wish to devote the rest of their lives to the field. Little things, like knowing what digital files we have, where they are, and backing these files up regularly is within the realm of the family historian and the amateur photographer. As I was sitting in a Preservation Week webinar, munching my brownie and thinking how wonderful it is to bring knowledge of the central tenets of digital preservation to the everyman, I had a certain nagging feeling of unease.

Too much sugar? No, just a mild case of hipocrisy. I may spend my days working to build preservable digital collections, but at home my own laptop had been looking more like a teenager’s closet than the tidy warehouse pictured above. My OS was out-of-date, I had no idea what was in my downloads folder, and the date of the last backup was appalling. Bad librarian!

Am I alone? Do some of you also choose playing with your dog or watching a movie over the noble and necessary but less fun task of figuring out why you have so files with names like A2KRE5XYZ.pdf?

If so, here is my quick and dirty guide to preservation. This is not the professional-grade preservation I do at work, but the time-left-to-rub-the-dog’s-tummy grade preservation I keep up at home.

0.5. If you are worried you might get carried away cleaning out files, or you plan to do lots of upgrades, back up your entire hard drive. I do a hard drive backup and a cloud backup.

1. Corral your flash drives. Make sure they have stuff you want on them. Make sure the stuff you think is also on your computer actually is on your computer. Erase and/or copy to your computer as needed.

2. Fill your Trash folder. My big culprits are Desktop and Downloads, but you know where your nasty folders are. If you don’t know why it’s important, don’t keep it.

3. If you are feeling really ambitious, take a look at your Photos. I know I am not the only one who has far too many pictures of latte art.

4. Clean out your Applications/Programs. I had to upgrade my OS (always backup before doing that), and then discovered several programs I used as a student which either required a license (long expired) or that were no longer maintained. Into the trash they went.

5. Empty your Trash folder.

6. Marvel at the wallpaper you haven’t seen in years

7. Rub the dog’s tummy.

See? Not so awful. If you want more, visit the Preservation Week website, or go to your local library and ask the librarians for more. They’re very good at preserving others’ content, even if their own Desktop folders are a little messy.

It’s a Good Week

Snickers bar and a National Library Week 2015 bookmark

Candy and a bookmark. It’s a good week.

Happy National Library Week, everyone! Our admin team knows how to make their people feel special, and hand delivered little treats to all the faculty and staff.

The American Library Association‘s campaign this year is “Made in the Library.” I love the output of makerspaces, but my favorite items made in the library are librarian music videos.

Please tell me you have seen librarian music videos. Librarians + Pop + video camera = something hilarious and unexpected, every time.

Here in Kansas, the Topeka/Shawnee County Public Library has a new hit, but my favorite remains University of Washington’s take on Lady Gaga.

Banned Books

Celebrations, Reading


I don’t know about yours, but my September absolutely vaporized, taking with it the opportunity to blog Banned Books week properly.

For several years now, I have made a point of reading a banned book to celebrate my right to read whatever I want. Unfortunately, most books have been banned because they address big topics, and are consequently long and dense. While I adore long and dense books, the middle of the semester is not a particularly conducive time for reading them. So I usually read banned children’s books. This year, emboldened by the realization that I do like some graphic novels, I read Persepolis. It was a wonderful and thought-provoking story, and I loved how the clean drawings heightened the impact of Satrapi’s stories of her childhood. Although dealing with dark, violent events, she did not sensationalize her subject: the perspective was always of an adult remembering her childhood, never of the Activist On Soapbox.

Of course, now I need to read Persepolis 2.

ALA tells us that Persepolis was banned for “graphic images” (pause here to appreciate irony), but what about all those other banned books? At the beginning of the week, I helped build a Banned Books week display based on each of four themes named in the Banned Books series from Facts on File: Social, Political, Religious, and Sexual grounds.

Well, I tried to help. Unfortunately, my anthropology training kicked in, and everything became Social. Political opinions and appropriate expression thereof? Determined by the most powerful group in a society. Inappropriate religious beliefs? Society polices that one too. Sexuality and how much is ok to publish where? Society calls those shots too. Sure, in some cases that society is small–just a handful of noisy parents in one school–but if they want a book banned, they’ll try.

I had a lovely conversation with librarian leading the display about Censorship and Society, and then, feeling that perhaps I should do the job I had been asked to complete, used the Banned Books series’ judgement on whether banning was social, political, or religious. We ended up with a balanced display that was well-browsed and borrowed from. Score one for freedom of speech.

But the next day was in, I looked at the display, and my inner anthropologist got up on her soapbox to shout “It’s all social!”

What’s Your Community?


National Library Week 2013 Banner

The ACRL conference is a terrific lead-in to National Library Week. Get all the librarians pumped up on a mix of new ideas, camaraderie, and vender-funded coffee, and then send them back to their libraries glowing with the joy of librarianship. For the record, I bought my own coffee, but I got pretty hyped up seeing what’s happening in academic libraries and hanging out with my awesome librarian friends.

I’m really pleased this year’s theme is “Communities Matter,” because really they do. As a Horrendously Awkward Teen, my only friends were the ones I met in the library’s teen volunteer group. A few years later, my community was the extremely quirky group of library pages I worked with: the only thing any of us had in common was that each of us was extremely passionate about some utterly random thing. When I graduated library school and left the public library, I didn’t join a book club or a tutoring group, but I was was building a community. It was a community of librarians, sometimes awkward, most working in different libraries, always passionate about some random thing.

Who’s in your community?