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Posts Tagged ‘research’

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to get back to blogging after the long hiatus. I took a break after school, and had a tough time launching back into regular posting.

Riots not Diets, from flickr user gaelx

Anyways! One of the most exciting reasons I haven’t been posting is that I have been reading all about Fat Studies. My good friend and coworker Kate and I will be presenting on information bias inherent in academia surrounding fatness, and especially focusing on the impact in cataloging. It’s also been really interesting looking at the links between disability studies, queer studies, and fat studies.

Currently, academia and society both medicalize fatness, turning it into a disease (which it’s not, for many reasons). One of the many problems with this is that talking about the sociological or anthropological aspects of Fat Studies becomes almost taboo in conventional academia, and body positive books end up being cataloged under “Obesity,” clearly labeling all fat people diseased. We’ll also be looking at very “unacademic” sources of information like zines and blogs, and talking about how perfectly valid information can be gleaned from them.

There’s so much to this that hasn’t been explored yet. If you’re interested in reading up on Fat Studies, Kate has a great list of resources on her blog.

Kate and I will be presenting at the Sarah Lawrence College Women’s History Month conference (March 4th and 5th, 2011) which will be all about body politics. Check it out!

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The main problem that I find myself continuously running into while answering reference questions on the Internet Public Library (IPL) is the kinds of references I have to use. I always go to databases, print materials, all of these paid subscriptions since that’s what I learned to search

The IPL is a public library, and doesn’t use subscription databases. I get very frustrated having to limit my initial searching to the free stuff. I’ll use Google Scholar, which in itself is free although many of its results are not free, and have to skip these great articles in favor of the free ones. I can’t even check JSTOR, or ERIC because I just want to use those materials.

I don’t know what I’d do if actually working in a public library. I feel stripped of my search skills! I suppose this is why I plan on staying in Academic libraries. Has anyone else who worked in public libraries dealt with this? How did you manage it?

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Have you ever had that irksome problem where you found a Latin place name and cannot figure out what its modern name is? Or perhaps the opposite – you know your manuscript was written in what is now Friuli, but can’t figure out what the Latin name is (it’s Forojuliensis, as everyone knows)? Well, be irked no more! The Orbis Latinus will solve all these problems! It also has a handy list of German and Latin abbreviations (or Abkürzungen) followed by their English translation! Other handy similar links include the Cathedral Library Catalogue Names of Printing Towns, since many of those towns were listed in an obsolete Latin in their printed works.

All of these useful links and more were found at the RBMS (Rare Books and Manuscripts Section) of the ALA, which I can’t believe I never saw until today. Includes everything from plain ol’ dictionaries and calendars (including one to easily convert Roman dates into modern ones), to a complete list of popes, to histories of books and printing, to every reference you might need when dealing with or cataloging or even just reading rare books and manuscripts (including all of ABC for Book collectors by John Carter and Nicholas Barker as a pdf!) . I think I’m in love.

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I’m pretty new to the world of blogs, and especially to the world of librarian blogs. Turns out, there are a lot of good ones out there not only with some interesting, and often humorous, things to say, but with some nice research links. Here are a couple:

  • Lisa Gold: Research Maven. A new blog by Lisa Gold, who does research for Neal Stephenson, about her research. She’s also a rare book expert and a writer. So far she has some great links and good advice, including this gem: “Research is like treasure hunting, and to do it well you must be skeptical, curious, discriminating, persistent, and willing to look beneath the surface.
  • The Annoyed Librarian. Very ranty and perhaps a little controversial, most of the information on this blog is pretty relevant to current issues in the field, it seems.
  • The Zenformation Professional, on the lighter, more narrative side of things. A librarian in Oxford (Ohio) who has some interesting stories…
  • @ the Library. Recommended on a couple of other blogs as a realistic view into the daily dealings with patrons.
  • Library Praxis. Written by two fantastic reference librarians Maria and Emily, Library Praxis writes about library issues of today! Intriguing and with some good ideas.

This is just a short amount of the huge amount of library blogs out there – if you have any favorites that I didn’t mention, feel free to note them in a comment!

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Research

Cut up missal in evening – hard work,” – Ruskin in his diary, 1854

I’ve been doing a lot of research, both for work and fun, on the destruction of manuscripts, mostly during the Victorian era, for collages. Most of the articles and books I’m finding on the subject are interesting and well-written, and I thought I’d share some of them with you:

  • Medieval Alphabet Soup: Reconstruction of a Mosan Psalter-Hours in Philadelphia and Oxford and the Cult of St. Catherine, by Judith Oliver, from Gesta, Vol. 24, No. 2, (1985), pp. 129-140. This article is particularly interesting, since it tackles the problem of how to reconstruct a manuscript that’s been so destroyed.
  • Disbound and Dispersed: The Leaf Book Considered, by Christopher de Hamel and Joel Silver, particularly the essay “A Legal and Ethical Look at the Making of Leaf Books” by Michael Thompson.
  • Connoisseurs and Medieval Miniatures 1750-1850, by A.N.L Munby. A good source about the people who collect these things.
  • Books, Collectors and Libraries: Studies in the Medieval Heritage, by N.R. Ker. Not necessarily about this particular issue, but good background to the field. Talks about how unwanted manuscripts were turned into wrappers for other books.
  • Cutting Up Manuscripts for Pleasure and Profit, by Christopher de Hamel. At one time a lecture, now a fairly short (25 pages) book that reads very well and gives a good, modern account of this dastardly practice.
  • John Ruskin the Collector, by James Dearden, from The Library, 5th Ser., XXI (1966), 125.
  • Enemies of Books, by William Blades. Really, really fantastic book about those who destroy books from 1881- one of the enemies is “ignorance.” In the “other vermin” section, the list of vermin includes “the black-beetle, the Croton bug, lepisma, codfish, rats, mice, and the Westminster Abbey Library.” Even better, it’s available for free online!


If you know of any other good books on the subject, feel free to post them in the comments!

(Note: I added one more title, which just arrived for me via ILL. De Hamel is quickly becoming a favorite of mine)

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