Comment on British Library Printing Guide

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I finished reading Michael Twyman’s THE BRITISH LIBRARY GUIDE TO PRINTING: HISTORY AND TECHNIQUES, my first book-length read in this area. My intention with this post is to bring attention to this item and the series because M. Twyman’s writing is ridiculously easy to read and I assume the others are just as easy. I plan to invest time in the rest of these books over the next several months. Some comment will be made here as the history of printing is part of the history of libraries, book arts and rare books and this writer is committed to mention of rare books, special collections (of which rare books and book arts are sub-fields) and libraries. The University of Toronto Press has published several more books in this series. A few of them are: THE BRITISH LIBRARY GUIDE TO BOOKBINDING: HISTORY AND TECHNIQUES by P.J.M. Marks, THE BRITISH LIBRARY GUIDE TO MANUSCRIPT ILLUMINATION: HISTORY AND TECHNIQUES by Christopher De Hamel and THE BRITISH LIBRARY GUIDE TO WRITING AND SCRIPTS: HISTORY AND TECHNIQUES by Michelle P. Brown.

Looking forward to learning more in this area and blog readers should expect mention of these works in the future.

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Noted Today on a 76-Mile Bike Ride

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In the area west and southeast of Washington, D.C is a grand trail that starts in the southeast at Mt. Vernon and continues along the Potomac River near Reagan National Airport and connects via Arlington County Trails to Washington & Old Dominion Trail all the way to Purcellvile, Virginia. Round trip, this is a 90-mile route. Please comment if this is not correct. But there is a section between Reston and Herndon in which roots have undermined the smoothness of the trail. In this case, they have created regular trail-wide cracks that cause an annoying bump every 25 feet or something. They look like roots that have caused cracks through which grass has grown anyway. This W & OD Trail is an amazing gift, but these little things slightly erode smoothness and speed.  C’est la vie. Not only that, it is amusing to see yet another effort by humanity (even with regular upkeep and attention) get slowly destroyed by nature’s relentless crawl against human artificiality. 

:>)

Bicycle Commuting Coach

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I have been riding my bike in all kinds of towns – Chicago, beach towns and in Washington D.C. Each space is different, each place has a slightly varied culture in how it reacts to and “allows” bicycle transportation. DC certainly has its own plan, as well as do Maryland and Virginia – the two states between which is sandwiched The District. I like to ride my bike and put in an average of 150 miles weekly. Have no fear, this summer will see an increase in those mile counts. The point is that I have gained experience riding and very much am an advocate of commuting via bicycle. But sometimes it takes encouragement and just a little advice to work it out. This might mean the rider has questions about clothing for all types of weather or does not feel comfortable with negotiating a certain type of intersection. 

Sometimes it only takes one time to ride with an encouraging person to “get” the ways of bicycle commuting. It’s such a fun activity and need not be scary.  Right now, and through this summer at least, I am making myself available as a Bicycle Commuting Coach on a per-contract basis. This just means that for a small fee, I will advise on clothing, lighting, picking routes and bicycle technique so that each rider can improve their bicycle commuting skills and have more fun as their overall confidence grows.

Thank you. 

Jesse. 
E-mail me: JL.taglich(at)yahoo(dot)com


PS: I am curious how people find this post. I am asking that whomever comes to this post, even if you don’t need my services, that you leave a comment on the page or send an e-mail about the path you took to get here. Thanks so much.

On the Radio and in the Library

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On Thursday, 12 April 2012, I was on the radio (Our Digital Future) at University of California – Irvine talking about librarianship and digital aspects in the field. Very fun. I got to talk about library school and bicycle riding (and the differences in the cycling scene between the DC Metro area and Chicago (where I used to live). But I also was given the opportunity to discuss projects underway at the Folger Shakespeare Library. Some of these projects are standard preservation and patron service projects. Great stuff indeed. But the Folger is also linking data to finding aids from their Luna Insight database, in which they keep their digital objects. Folger has a huge collection of digitized objects – full books, manuscripts, letters and all kinds of other rare materials. And they have the right team of professionals as they have staff who have been on committees deciding standards for a full range of rare materials. Folger is a highly professionalized place. And right now, they have an exhibit titled: Shakespeare’s Sisters: Voices of English and European Women Writers, 1500-1700 in the great Hall. 


The best resources are here to stay and somehow manage to make their presence known again and again.

,

A Thought on Linguistic Diversity and Classification

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I have a tendency to believe linguistic diversity is also a sign of knowledge diversity and am very frustrated with attempts to globalize knowledge into one vast pot. I point to the impact of global mass communication content and technologies, the lack of allowing the “other” to truly be and the impact of the World’s most widely used library classification system, Library of Congress Subject Headings. I am not taking a stance against The Library of Congress. I live in America and make use of their diverse resources regularly. Also, their main building is a work of architectural art. No, I question standardization of “knowledge” at the expense of diversity and questions. It seems to me that if we classify all the world’s knowledge under one system (which is not the mission statement of the Library of Congress), then we have declared globally what everything in the world is “about.” This action is accomplished by all kinds of groups around the world who write indexes to be LC compatible. But if those local knowledge resources and populations have to use another “aboutness” structure other than their own, have they not committed a kind of murder of their own knowledge system? Believe me, this is a bit scary. I am not sure that we can separate “knowledge” from “questions.” I note this point because it seems to me to state up-front what something is about has already annihilated many potential questions – and thus knowledge types. How can this tendency sit well with ongoing questioning? Somehow, I feel this happens because we are afraid of uncertainty. This is not an overshadowing fear in this context, but a fear nonetheless. Surely it is different for different people. But why should we be afraid of conflicting and disagreeable classifications in information organization?

HopStop Transportation Data Image

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The Moral: Ride your bicycle.

HopStop infographic

Kitschy Halloween

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Every year, the population of America (maybe other parts of the world), takes on the responsibility of decorating stores, houses and their bodies with all kinds of color schemes indicative of cultural and religious celebrations of “holiday” and Holy Days. I can’t run down the whole list of colours of course, but some of these are blue, white, gold, green, and red – a spectrum which takes into account something found in Christianity, Judaism and Kwanzaa. Festivus does not have a strict colour scheme. Or rather if it does, it fails to follow the rules of kitsch unless it makes fun of that kitsch (a form of cultural commentary perhaps?). But here we have only looked at colour schemes.

Other forms of kitsch are of course the burning of candles, trees, red fragile ornaments hanging on those trees and statues of all kinds. I can’t say the degree to which each person or family who uses these items in their respective celebrations does so for reasons of faith, religion (as faith and religion may not be the same thing) or other conforming societal forces. It matters not of course, but most of these celebrations have at least on their surface a veneer of joy, togetherness, family and love. I can’t think of any late-year winter celebration that does not fall into one of the categories (if not all). And there in lies the rub.

For when we look at these “holidays” (as opposed to “Holy Days,” which is really quite different methinks), we find default images on repeat yearly from the largest of retailers to the smallest of apartments. And when marketing schemes get involved, well, kitschy-ness just goes through the roof). There is a deep emotionalization attached to most of these repeated images and objects. And we have not even talked about the radio playing on repeat (almost literally) the same songs for countless hours every year. One person hugs and cries in happiness and another person feels warm & fuzzy inside for at least a few days every year. And a good thing too because this is such a hard world every other day.

But let’s not think life gets better really because not only do we have to BUY most of these objects/images yearly, but the increase of gifts and cash transactions also increases the types of crime that occurs during this most wonderful kitschy time of the year. But the point is that these images, objects and popular songs repeated yearly are safe. We like this type of sameness and I am labeling it “kitsch.”

If we step back two months in time before this approaching time of the year, we might ask ourselves if Halloween is also a time of kitsch. I mean, we hear some of the same songs in October, we search after the same kinds of movies at the same time each year and we decorate stores and apartments in the same colours (black, orange, white, and maybe red for blood) each year. Does this not encourage us to think of Halloween as a form of kitsch? Well…no! The reason is because burning candles do not suddenly jump up and scream in their user’s face while burning pumpkins chase lone travelers through covered bridges onward toward oblivion, elves do not crawl out of coffins and steal your life’s source while vampires do rip through your esophagus and drink your blood and men in red suits do not eat your flesh while zombies do look for humans to consume.

No images from this approaching “most wonderful kitschy time of the year” will cause you harm, but Halloween has lots of spirits and shadowy creatures that will, despite being repeated each year in cards and movies, shake the ground right from under your feet. There’s no way that experience is kitsch.