Tuesday, December 19, 2006

My temporary escape

Nearly everything we do these days involves sitting at a computer (it's the future!) so it's nice when you get to do some proper old-fashioned research. The Family Records Centre in London provides access to birth, death and marriage certificates and, while you can order over the web or by phone, you can only get a next-day service by going in person and searching though the indexes yourself. And it's an excuse to escape the office.

Where we've all been going wrong . . .

Came across "A Librarian's guide to Etiquette", a blog from a US librarian. Includes tips on answering the phone and how librarians should dress up for Halloween.

Google was around in the 60s shock

Came across this, which shows how Google still managed to cater for our searching needs even before the web was invented.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Head over heels for librarians

One from the archives - check out Tears for Fears showing their love for the librarian in their Head Over Heels video (not sure where the chimp comes in...).

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Continuing Professional Development

Sue Hill talked about professionalism in the info industry at Online Information a few weeks ago. It's all about attitude and work ethic, apparently - have integrity, try to excel at every opportuity and engage in Continuing Professional Development (courses, mentoring, joining a professional body). Some practical tips - be aware of 'hot' skills in the industry (think web 2.0 at the moment), write a skills list to focus on your strengths and highlight areas you need to develop, and formulate an action plan to see how you can advance your career.

Read about the conference on the Information Today blog.

People who work in the information industry

Listened to a Today programme debate on Radio 4 this morning about the serial killings in Ipswich. The debate (between Roy Greenslade and Tina Sanders) centred around whether the victims should be constantly referred to as prostitutes. The presenter said that it's an inescapable fact that the victims are all prostitutes, and that if all the victims had been (and here there was a slight pause, perhaps trying hard to find a diametric opposite) say, librarians we would all be calling them librarians. I came away thinking at least we now know what the exact opposite of a librarian is, even if we're not sure whether to call them "prostitutes" or "women who work in the sex industry".

Monday, December 11, 2006

All New Adventures of Librarian Flynn

This month heralded the eagerly awaited sequel to The Librarian: Quest for the Spear. In this installment our hero Flynn Carson attempts to uncover the secrets of King Solomon's Mines. The typically American over the top trailer is worth checking out just for the immortal last line: "You never what you'll find in the library." Unfortunately the New York Times is less than impressed by Carson's new adventure which is broadcast on the US channel TNT. Look out for another upcoming US mini-series starring Peter Krause of Six Feet Under fame. It seems Peter is ready to take on aliens in The Lost Room but is not yet ready to challenge the demon that is the librarian stereotype

The oldest profession in the 21st Century

In the interests of journalism I spent an hour this lunchtime browsing the punternet website looking for contact details for Ipswich prostitutes. Other than a couple of sideways glances from colleagues as I filtered through the sites of 40something BBWs (Big Beautiful Women) I didn't encounter any problems.

I was a little surprised that I could surf this sort of thing at work without anyone questioning it (though maybe the editor will pull me aside for a little word later), but it's a good thing professionally that my company doesn't block sites and stop me from doing my job. I bet librarians in the filter-obsessed US would struggle - most of the sites would be blocked by NetNanny or CyberPatrol.
See here for earlier discussion of filtering software.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Party season

Sore heads in the office today courtesy of the AUKML 20th birthday party last night. I'll post something a bit more serious later on but one interesting little fact is that 56 bottles of bubbly (not to mention all the other stuff) were consumed by around 70 people.

Monday, December 04, 2006


There was an interesting talk from Nigel Hamilton, CEO of trexy.com, at Online Information last week. Trexy is a way of saving your 'search trails', so you can access them again without having to rerun the search, and stores all trails in a database so you can check whether anyone else has done the search before you. It allows you to search any site that has a search engine built in (4,381 at the last count). And there's a goat involved somewhere (though not this festive one, under threat from arsonists). You can read more on the trexy blog.

Friday, December 01, 2006

From modems to mash-ups

Here is a great potted history of newspaper libraries in general and the one at the Guardian in particular. From World Reporter to Intranets and modems to mash-ups and integrated content. Appeared in December's Cilip Update