Thomas Jefferson’s Green Library

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     Fairfax County Public Library system has built a useful, award-winning Eco-friendly library in the Arlington Blvd. Thomas Jefferson neighborhood branch.  It features red bricks on three sides and a wall of open glass on the Rt. 50 side – facing the main road and service street.

     I have three pictures snapped and collected @ Twitter – collocated under the hashtag: #jltaglichtjfcpl – of the external. Future potential for internal images. I simply want to quickly describe the building’s design features – attributes which are new in ideology and yet traditional in design thinking in library buildings. The first of these is the ease of access to the reference desk. It sits in the very middle of the floor where it acts simultaneously as point-of-service and Panopticon over the stacks and nearby computer terminals.

     The green-friendly wall of glass on the northern wall allows so much natural light in. I have written in the letting in of natural light to libraries before. This simple solution saves money on lighting (energy use itself is also theoretically reduced). But it also changes the texture of the light from fluorescent to something altogether different. Of course, it’s not as if light has not always played in a part in library design. Traditionally, light has been a part of libraries as representative of the light of knowledge and truth. But in this building’s case, much of the used and useful light comes from outside the library. I might suggest the “truth” here is that one form of truth (s) is dependent on other types of truth (s).

     This branch is not the biggest in the Fairfax County Public Library system, but it certainly is nearly the newest. It’s emphasis on open space, light and green-compatibility marks it as representative of current thinking in architecture and use-design. These features are not, however, the building’s only interesting elements.  It also features rent-able rooms and shelves for free community-oriented reading outside of the view of the stacks and the reference desk. I find this quite interesting because even though many libraries have rooms for community events set aside in his square footage, this building seems to turn locate the community stuff connected via the entrance of the building (all connected through the foyer) and yet NOT the stacks themselves. There could surely be more written more on this topic of design and the peoples’ use.

     Hmmm, as a library user of some regularity, I heartily recommend getting or renewing your Fairfax County Library Card and becoming a regular patron of this branch if it’s convenient. If not, at least take a visit (maybe via bicycle since it has access by a service road and has racks for many bikes by the front door) and see what you think.

     As always, dialogue is welcome.

     Thank you.

    

Reston Century 2012

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27 August 2012, I rode the Reston Bicycling Club‘s Century for 2012. It rained in torrents, I got lost a few times and had a blast pedalling through the Virginia countryside. Oh, I rode 131 miles total for the day. More than a century for sure.

Metadata and "Aboutness" – JOT and Tagging

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     Currently, The Neighborhood Writing Alliance is working on a project in which interns are adding sets of non-hierarchical keywords (sort of like a tag cloud in social media) to an internally accessible bibliographic database of the journal it has published for more than 20 years, The Journal of Ordinary Thought – Or JOT as it is called. The database is being created in a log-in controlled environ called CiteuLike. This application works like other reference-maintenance software available. Users, who are given controlled log-in web-based profiles, build collections and can add multiple levels of information to each bibliographic record. One of the types of information users can apply to records is tags.

     I am working as Metadata Specialist on this project, overseeing the work of the interns, editing tag-sets for better search potential and presenting examples through assorted instructional techniques best practices/policy for adding tags to the collection. One of the questions anyone who considers subject access in library catalogs is this notion of “aboutness”  – that of determining what a piece of writing or other cultural artifact is about.  In other words, if we could attach a subject to some cultural artifact, what would it be, how many subjects can one artifact have and how do we decide? To make matters more abstract, “subjects” themselves are also cultural products based on factors such as who might be in charge at the time, who is most likely to be the common users or viewers of said artifacts and whether there are requisite resources (money and other factors) at the time of creation of the bibliographic record to add or attach all possible permutations. For example, here is a link to a search for manuscript papers connected with Abraham Lincoln in Library of Congress’ holdings. If one clicks on Andrew Johnson Papers, 1783-1947, it is apparent the record contains a summary of that collection’s contents. This summary works to tell what the collection is about. On one level, this bibliographic record contains pure data referring to the collection. But on another level, the writing of the summary is a human-decided process that involves processing (thinking) and writing (also a human experience). It is not obvious what a piece of writing is “about” – even if the writer or bibliographic record creator states so – nor how it will affect the reader or viewer.

     These are the fun challenges in front of us on this project. It is underway and progress is being made. The document which holds the tagging Best Practices [which Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines as performances or forms which excel all others]* is being written along with some other helpful guidelines by way of examples with specific explanations. I think we will each learn a little something along the way.

Thank you.

 – Jesse.

PS: As always, dialogue is welcome. 

* Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Ed. Springfield: Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, 2001. 108, 912

James B. Hunt Library in Norwegian

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     James B. Hunt, who held the office of Governor for the state of North Carolina in the spot of 69th and 71st has an institute named after him (the Hunt Institute Tweets) – and now a library.  He established his legacy in the state for emphasizing and promoting education. Now, North Carolina State University has named the newest addition to their collection of libraries after him. The building is in-construction currently, but the design plans exhibited thus far have this image as its future. 
     I am not an architect, obviously, but I just want to draw attention to this new library being built in the United States on the east coast because North Carolina State University is known for being an engineering school made of red bricks as far as one can see. The campus even has a brick-yard in a place used daily by thousands of students year-after-year. Image from here. And this library is something different.
  
     A Norwegian architectural firm named Snøhetta won the contract (or whatever method was used to get the right deal for the University). And a good thing too. The influence of Scandinavian architecture added to the NCSU Centennial Campus is only beneficial because it breaks up the aesthetic of that campus quite well. Plus, it looks from what I could see from outside the construction site and from the officially released images that this library will let in a lot of natural light. The history of libraries has seen a lot of metaphors of light tossed about. Why not? But this does not contradict the stated purpose of this library building. The James B. Hunt Library has plans to be the  “best learning and collaborative space in the country.” Obviously, this library’s impact will be felt most directly by the NCSU community, but maybe I too will get a chance to do some research inside its well designed walls. Just wanted to let the library world know about this one while it’s in-progress.  
PS:  There are a few good food joints in the area of the library as well as coffee (which every library researcher needs). 
Thoughts or Comments on the Library are welcome. 

Networked and Networking – 2 Questions

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Wikipedia defines Business Networking as, “a socioeconomic activity by which groups of like-minded businesspeople recognize, create, or act upon business opportunities.” Of course, there are all kinds of other networked human beings who use a similar approach to accomplish goals or tasks that may not on the surface be about business. But Wikipedia seems to have no such entry.  The Riley Guide defines Networking in its own way – which has more to do with humans finding ways to interact with other human beings.
My life as a library worker, volunteer and intern with plans for a lifetime of work in libraries is one that will surely require more and more networking in order to learn new techniques and best practices, gather information about potential projects and to increase the odds of finding the perfect next job necessary to accompany each new stage of my professional development and skill set. There are lots of suggestions as to what tools produce the best results in this area. Within library-dom, there are plenty who say that staying abreast of events and discussions within professional associations produces quality results. I am of course referring to associations such as American Library Association, Society of American Archivists, and Special Libraries of America among others.
I am very interested in reactions – which leads me to my first question: Does anyone have real stories (hopefully about library work) to share that show examples of how networking has grown your professional persona and added to potential (past occurrences or planned) for new jobs or projects? Any productive response that encourages dialogue on this topic is appreciated and can be added as a comment in this post.
There is, however, a second interesting aspect to Networking – that of connected computers. Two years ago, David Fincher directed the very popular and slightly controversial film, The Social Network. Hard to believe that it has already been two years. Since then, obviously, Facebook has entered a new phase of its business model, that of increasing its levels of advertising within its popular platform and floating itself onto the Stock Market with its IPO. But one of the constant mantras spouted by the character named Mark Zuckerberg in the film is that he really wants to connect people. But what happens as the film progresses? Well, most of the groups of people, even supposedly good friends, fragment as the plot moves toward the ending credits. Slightly ironic, but definitely amusing and worthy of note at least for those interested in film. One can’t say this is inevitable. But one can say that the first thing actually connected via Facebook is computers. And in so being connected (networked), Facebook, as only one such platform, has become widely used for promotion, company blogs and updates from all kinds of institutions (including libraries). This shows me there is still a hierarchical aspect to this technology – social media and networking platforms both – which may prove a limitation to internet based networking and knowledge dissemination as a whole.
This brings me to my second question: Does anyone have real examples (hopefully about library work) they can share on how networked computer or internet-based networking tools specifically have grown your professional persona and added to potential (past occurrences or planned) for new jobs or projects? And, again, Any productive response that encourages dialogue on this topic is appreciated and can be added as a comment in this post. 

Thank you.