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CATALOG AT HOME!

Posted on 11 March 2010 at 5:34 pm in Musings.

What’s the ultimate library geek accessory (well, aside from a tattoo)? Your very own card catalog, of course! It carries all the retro-chic of vinyl record players, 35mm cameras, and typewriters, plus that something extra-special that reveals your affinity for books and the Dewey Decimal System.

Holy Names University in Oakland is selling two vintage cabinets. A quick survey via Google suggests they should sell somewhere in the amorphous hundreds-of-dollars range. If you’re not in Northern California, various other libraries are selling off their cabinets on eBay.

The narrow drawers are perfect for a variety of crafty purposes, like skeins of yarn or children’s art tools and toys. Or you could fully catalog your home library if digital tools like LibraryThing aren’t your thing. Alternatively, you could use it to house your cocktail recipes.

Card Catalog Candy
A wine country candy shop’s card catalog, courtesy Adina Leitner

What would you do with your own card catalog cabinet?

THE THIRD & THE SEVENTH

Posted on 8 January 2010 at 4:28 am in Reviews.

While Avatar has changed expectations for CG rendering in major Hollywood blockbusters, the following short film “The Third & The Seventh” obliterates limitations placed on independent and solo animators. It is 100% computer generated, yet many elements are utterly lifelike. Quite simply, it is the most photorealistic CG animation I have ever seen, and it was produced by one man, the Madrid-based Alex Roman. And it prominently features libraries.

Roman’s goal was to highlight architectural art through CG rendering, but his effort far exceeds that limited ambition, with his use of movement, music, simulated timelapses, changing light, and shifting focus lifting this work into the realm of genuine art itself. Of particular interest to librarians and archivists are the library and institutional spaces he highlights, internally and externally. One such example used is the Shiba Ryōtarō Memorial Museum in Japan — its awe-inspiring spaces are stunning even in the stills contained in Roman’s online portfolio. The video then brings this towering space to life.

The film features recurring themes of analog technology — film and film cameras play a narrative role, and the tone of the piece is established by early shots of fluttering polaroids and card catalogs. The images and music serve as a beautiful requiem for the passing of the old into the digital world of the new. There is an empty concert hall, then towering library stacks — full in one library, empty in another. Each space is highlighted in a breathtaking way. The wordless film is not without an arc; perspective and light shift as the film goes on, and ultimately the heightened reality moves into a certain magical surrealism (that seems to be an inspirational nod to René Magritte).

Please make use of the “Full Screen” option on the embedded video to properly appreciate this artwork, and allow for the 12:29 running time. You will not soon forget watching it.

The Third & The Seventh from Alex Roman on Vimeo.

If you click through to Vimeo, you can also watch various previews and “behind the scenes” videos Roman produced.

Credit for turning me onto this video is due Adam Whitehead, British-based author of the outstanding speculative fiction, film and game review blog The Wertzone.

CATALOGING COCKTAILS

Posted on 7 December 2009 at 9:59 pm in Musings.

This Friday night, my wife and I will be hosting some thirty-odd current and alumni students from San Jose State’s School of Library and Information Science for a graduation party in honor of all those who’ve completed their degrees this Fall (which, yes, includes me).

I’ve always been amused by the defensiveness I see from some quarters when it comes to “stereotypes” about librarians. Of course I understand the argument about how changing technology and information needs are altering the nature of the MLIS degree, and I know the core skills of the librarian are constantly in evolutionary flux. My own skillset, interests and education are all reflective of a 21st century librarian. But since when did a good argyle sweater become something to be ashamed of? Heck, even pop stars are mimicking librarian style these days (and I rock a good argyle whenever I can).

So for this party, we’re organizing a bit of a throwback: we’ll give a special doorprize to the best librarian “drag” worn by an attendee — sweater vests, lead-pencil hair buns, the works. And I borrowed a typewriter, bought some index cards,  and pulled out the hole punch to create a cocktail menu on a set of catalog cards:

Complete Set

Of course, cocktails aren’t something you’d typically catalog for a library. So I used a little creative license: “The Great Gatsby” has been cataloged under its namesake novel’s Dewey Decimal call number, and the Library of Congress Subject Headings for the “Bloody Mary” have more to do with an English monarch than they do tomato juice. Here’s the complete set (10, one for each class under the DDC):

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