Posted tagged ‘Tim Spalding’


April 23, 2009

There’s nothing I could say today that could possible top this bit from Tim Spalding today:

Somehow institutions dedicated to the idea that knowledge should be freely available to all have come to the conclusion that knowledge about knowledge—book data—should not, and traditional library mottos like Boston‘s “Free to All” and Philadelphia‘s Liber Libere Omnibus (“Free books for all!”) given way to:

“No part of any Data provided in any form by WorldCat may be used, disclosed, reproduced, transferred or transmitted in any form without the prior written consent of OCLC except as expressly permitted hereunder.”

You can (and should) read the rest of the post here, it’s equally brilliant.

Another Blow

February 23, 2009

I’m not really here right now, but still had to post the ARL’s official critique of the OCLC records use policy.  As Tim Spalding comments, it’s really good and it shows that there are some major research institutions willing to come out against OCLC.


February 2, 2009

I realize this site is rapidly decending into being nothing more than Tim Spalding fan service, but I can’t help it if the man’s opinions tend to mirror my own.  His latest blog post is a bit on libraries, social networks, and homophily.  The post is in direct response to a Guardian article

The relevant bit is that library catalogs can contribute to this problem, and I’m going to extend that to the physical layout of our collections as well.  Very few patrons like to browse anymore.  By and large people expect to be able to come in, find the one book/subject they’re interested in, grab the relevant title and walk out.  To use Tim’s word, this system removes serendipity from the process.

Our catalog is designed to cater this behavior, and there are plenty of librarians out there taking the next step.  This is one of the reasons special collections can tick me off.  There are certainly reasons why a few of them (local interest) can be a good idea, but much of the time it just limits browsing further and ensures that some of your mid-list titles (or those that defy easy catagorization) will never be discovered.

Reject the OCLC Policy!

January 13, 2009

I know I’ve kind of beaten this issue to death here, but the OCLC record use policy is still scheduled to go into effect next month, and it’s still a travesty.  Furthermore, I think it’s still unclear to many just why they ought to be outraged by this.

Fortunately, Tim Spalding has once again come forward to explain just that.  In a new post at Thingology he goes through the legalese in the policy in a brilliantly readable way.  After reading this there’s no way that an OCLC member library could be anything less than horrified.

And if you want to speak up, then there’s actually going to be a forum now.  This Friday Karen Calhoun of OCLC will be participating in an open forum at the NYPL.  So if you can get to New York (sadly I can’t, as I will be participating in this instead).

Year In Review: Everything Else

December 16, 2008

1) American Electorate

Finally we do something right (for the most part, I’m looking at you California) in a national election.

2) Tim Spalding

My new idol, both due to the amazing creation that is LibraryThing and the critical eye he has turned on the library profession.  Now if only more people will listen.

3) Valve

The makers of Portal, Half Life, Team Fortress and my latest addiction, Left 4 Dead are doing more for good for video games than anyone at the moment.  In terms of writing, design, gameplay, and just plain fun there is no one better.  Just a shame that their Meet the Sandvich video didn’t quite live up to their hopes.

4) DC’s Collected Editions Program

DC may have stumbled recently with their modern publishing plans, but they still have the best reprint program in comics.  This last year saw the beautifully recollored Absolute Sandman, deluxe editions of all of Jack Kirby’s 70’s work, new hardcovers for Ex Machina, Y the Last Man, and the Grant Morrison JLA.  The highlight though is still their amazing showcase presents line, which along with volumes of their mainstays, has featured many of  DC’s more obscure comics that couldn’t support a volume in a pricier format.

5) Nick Cave

Dig!Lazarus!Dig! was yet another great album from one of the most unique voices in modern rock.  During this year at least he’s the one person whose music was never missing from my playlists.

6) John Oliver

The Daily Show/Colbert Report are still the best shows on tv (after maybe Doctor Who).  But the strongest element of them have been John Oliver’s regular reports.  The British triumph over us Americans yet again.

7) Rickrolling

The meme of the year, not much else to say really.

8) Rock Band 2

The winner of the music platform war this year to my mind.  Guitar Hero was about the challenge, but Rock Band was all about the music and the fun, making for an easy win.


Still the best webcomic.

10) Mario

Nintendo keeps the hits coming with Super Smash Brothers and Super Mario Kart.  On top of Super Mario Galaxy last year Nintendo is still doing right by their biggest franchise.

Breach of Trust

December 11, 2008

Tim Spalding’s at it again on autocat, but today I’m going to go off on a tangent to his main arguements against OCLC.  In one of his 4 posts in the latest digest was the following:

Yet many in the library world are convinced they need less sharing,
not more. Why?

This is a huge issue that very few people are talking about.  The whole point of being a librarian is to get information to people, and yet more and more we’re putting roadblocks in the way.  The OCLC record policy is just the latest instance.  

Let’s be honest, it’s often against our best interests to make things easier for our patrons.  If patrons can find the information themselves, than they don’t need us.  If they can get the information online then why come in and help our statistics.  If we make the content of our archives available than we can’t supplement our budgets with licensing fees.

But still to my mind anytime that a librarian works to prevent a patron from finding what they’re looking for it’s a violation of professional ethics.

The Dance

October 15, 2008

Still feeling sickly, but the Librarians who LibraryThing forum gave me a good laugh today which helped.  To paraphrase Tim Spalding, those who publicly embarrass librarians ought to be stabbed with pencils.

But on a more serious note, the forum went off on a valuable tangent comparing reference interviews to tech support calls.  I can definitely sympathize with all those who get annoyed at fighting through the idiot IT questions (yes it’s plugged in, yes I’ve tried rebooting, etc…) in order to obtain some real help.  What the forum points out is that librarians do the same thing when they’re behind the desk.  It’s a necessary evil really, but I don’t think we always consider the plight of a sufficiently advanced patron who may still need assistance from us.

I know plenty of librarians who do ask “what have you tried already?” as part of their reference interviews, but it’s really easy to skip that step.

Welcome aboard

August 5, 2008

Hooray!  Today Tim Spalding announced the co-leaders for the Open Shelf Classification Project.  This project has been in need of some direction, and now it looks like it’s getting exactly that thanks to some phenominal candidates with Laena McCarthy and David Conners.

Open Cataloging

July 14, 2008

The conversation revolving around the Open Shelves Classification project has been going for less than a week and it’s already become the best discussion on the cataloging I’ve experienced since I was in school.  But I must say my favorite piece of the conversation was when Tim Spalding brought up why he decided to start the project via the LibraryThing forum, “the people on AUTOCAT were dragging me over the coals for letting ignorant “users” do cataloging”.

Granted this has been a hugely contentious issue across the field, with many fearing the death of authority control if the system is opened up, or at least a severe drop in the quality of the work being done.  But what they keep forgetting is that whatever work we do is meant to be user driven, and thus the users must be allowed to have some input on the development of the system we use.  One of the many great things about the LibraryThing project is that Tim is actively campaigning for non-librarians to get involved with the process, and indeed when he asked for a few ringleaders to step forward the first responders were all non-catalogers, including a few non-librarians even.  So now I’m even more excited about the project.