July 29, 2014

The Thing About Programming


Sometimes I’m shocked to realize that I’ve been writing software for over 30 years — longer than some of my younger colleagues have even been alive. And people who know my code are shocked as well, that so much time could pass and my code still sucks. But I have an excuse: programming does not […]

The Importance of the Unforseen Purpose


I first came into contact with the importance of the unforseen purpose as a teenager. For whatever reason I had decided that I wanted to make a mobile or hanging sculpture. At the time, my bedroom where I was going to hang it was about 12′x12′ but with a 12-foot tall ceiling. I decided to make […]

A License to Skill


In many of the talks that I have given over the years I have taken pains to point out a key fact about library budgets: the vast majority of any library’s budget the budget for most libraries goes to staff. Usually I use this as a way to put investment in computer hardware in perspective. […]

When You Free the Data From MARC You Are the Roy


Code4Lib is a unique place. I don’t know of another space like it in the library world. It has inside jokes all over the place, from the love of bacon, to the poking of fun at OCLC as an organization and me as an individual. Both myself and my employer (OCLC) are good for it, […]

Today We Are Poorer

A "friendly" debate.

Last night I heard about the untimely and sudden death of a professional colleague and personal friend for whom I had only the utmost respect. Tragically, Rich Wiggins is with us no more. And we are so much the poorer for it. There will be others who will write a better biography. There are others […]

“The MarcRecord”


A while back (just about a decade ago actually) I gave a presentation wherein I used a number of quotes and illustrations from Lewis Carroll’s Alice books. One of my favorites is this exchange: “But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked. “Oh, but you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re […]

The Life of a High-Functioning Introvert


Please forgive me, upon occasion I dip into highly personal topics that do not focus on digital libraries. Since this is one of those times, you may wish to avert your eyes. Yesterday at ALA Midwinter I ran into someone I knew who was active in LITA and she asked me why I didn’t show […]

Exploring Digital Libraries with Karen Calhoun

I was a fan of Karen Calhoun’s work even before we happened to both join OCLC on the same day in 2007. And although she subsequently left OCLC while I remained, we have kept in touch. One of the projects that Karen took on when she left OCLC was a book on digital libraries. But […]

A Wellcome Trove of Images

L0033500 A Navajo man in ceremonial dress representing the Yebichai g

The highly regarded Wellcome Library in the United Kingdom has released a new web site with over 100,000 digital images for viewing, and in some cases, downloading. The images include “manuscripts, paintings, etchings, early photography and advertisements,” as well as contemporary images. Unlike most web sites that provide access to digital or digitized images, the […]