word word, word is the word

March 28, 2017 Leave a comment

I love hearing about how different words came into being. I listen to A Way With Words via their podcasts (an interesting word in of itself). So it is understandable why I would scream at the television each and every time a particular commercial* is aired.

In this commercial, the “good ol’boy” explains that the word “howdy” really means “how’s your momma and all”.

NO NO NO NO NO NO.  That doesn’t even make sense for the shortening of that phrase!!!  You don’t even need a librarian to help you find the real origins (although a librarian can help you find authoritative sources).

Both Wikipedia and Urban Dictionary agree, Howdy comes from a shortening of “How do you do”?   Baylor University has a ‘howdy‘ party to welcome folk. Not to be outdone, Texas A&M University (TAMU) has a Howdy week as well as using the word “Howdy” as official terminology. Oh, and word to the wise: do not say “howdy” to someone at University of Alabama, especially during a football game.

*no, I am not going to post a link or tell you the product. I loathe this commercial and will not be a party to advertising that product.

Categories: words

Comfort reading

February 10, 2017 Leave a comment

I’m not the only one who does it, right? When in times of trouble, sorrow, pain (to be honest, times of joy and boredom too), I reach for a book. Not just any book but a ‘comfort’ book. An old friend who has brought love, life and learning to my world.

When I was very young, Toad and Frog always made me feel better – and there was nothing the Sneetches couldn’t teach ya. Anger or frustration made me reach for the Little House books and their tranquility. Adolescent angst gave me the greats (Blume, Danizger, Peck, etc.).

Now when I feel lost, out of control or just in need a of a good cup of tea I go to Christie or Wentworth. The need for love and laughter takes me to Andrews. A good scare where good wins takes me to Snyder. Oh, I  visit all my friends often – from Snicket to Rowling, Van Draanen to L’Engle, Grafton to Hess…heck, I could type for hours and not get them all listed.

I think I’ll go read a book.

Categories: books Tags:

musing on search behavior

January 26, 2017 Leave a comment

Posted to…oh gosh, I don’t remember, one of the many, many list servs I’m on, was a link to Truth be Told: How College Students Evaluate and Use Information in a Digital Age. It is a fascinating study.  What struck me was that nothing much has actually changed.

OK, yes, students are seeking information online BUT their first resource is still family/friends. This has always been true. The “phone a friend” option has been popular since Hector was a pup (as an old friend used to say). If you look down to the core of the information seeking behavior, the root is the same. The places have changed but the way we start hasn’t. We ask someone we think will know and move along from there.

I remember when I first learned about Usenet and BITNET (remember them? Oh Lord, I am old).  I remember going to one of the computer science professors and asking for instructions on how to use them and being told “there is none”. What? There were no instructions on how to use this incredible resource? This was in the days before Mosiac, back when we used “archie” or “veronica” to “gopher” things. It was incomprehensible to me that no instructions or manual existed but it was true. It was trial and error and everyone learned on their own.

Did you notice? I went to a live person to try to find out how to use something…My information seeking was to find someone…

When they go low, we go high

January 23, 2017 Leave a comment

Someone quite beautiful said that, and I add “and don’t repeat the lie”.

Ever watch the movie “Good night and Good luck“? It’s a 2005 film based on Edward R Murrow and McCarthyism.

Way back in late 1940s to early 1950s, the USA was battling the Red Menace. The Red Scare. The Reds. Heck, there are plenty of other movies about this as well as books (and here is my library link).  Basically it was the USA versus the Soviet Union (kids, that was what we used to call Russia). See, the Soviet Union was communist and USA was not. More than just ‘not’, the USA was vehemently anti-communist.  So much that fear of the “reds” was everywhere – really, fear of a nuclear war with another super power (Soviet Union).

Amongst that fear rose the junior senator from Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy. McCarthy built his career on exposing and persecuting alleged communists in the USA. He had “lists” of these people and threatened many.  At first, most folk were quite happy that he was crusading and exposing this threat. As time marched on, many saw this pursuit as a witch hunt. People had to watch what they said, who they said it to, and who they associated with. The threat was real. Many people lost their homes, their jobs and sometimes, their lives.

Along came Edward R. Murrow (and others). He went on to expose this in a very interesting and intelligent way. Instead of attacking McCarthy (a very powerful man), he instead showed it. Instead of saying “he is lying”, he showed the lie. He replayed the previous words of McCarthy that contradicted and countered the current words. He demonstrated by film clip how the junior senator was misleading everyone – he did not repeat the lie, he showed the facts.

So perhaps, if instead of repeating the lies, perhaps it is better to replay the facts. Show the truth. Replay the video clip. Again and again until all have seen. Don’t let the lie over rule the fact.

“When they go low, we go high” and we do not repeat the lie.

Categories: Uncategorized

Drug testing

October 29, 2016 Leave a comment

SOAP BOX ALERT! I am about to climb up and expound on the importance of knowing what you are taking (prescription and over-the-counter) and how they interact. Hyperbole aside, this is life and death information.

Years ago, my father had what appeared to be a seizure whilst in church. He was rushed to the hospital. I flew down and was there in time for the neurologist and his entourage to appear. The doctor proceeded to pontificate on how “the overweight elderly man” had “obviously an epileptic fit”. This was before having ever spoken to my father. The doctor then prescribed a heavy duty anti-seizure drug. I held the bag of drugs my father already took (he had heart issues, COPD, and asthma) and asked if the doctor could look to see if the new drug would be ok to take with the current regime. The doctor glanced in the bag (did not remove anything or look at any label) and said it would be fine.

Being a medical librarian, I knew there were many potential issues with drug interactions. Being a thinking human, I was concerned about a doctor doing no testing, no speaking with the patient, and determining the patient had a severe disease.

I asked my father to hold on taking anything until I could get back to my library and look into it. Thankfully he did not take the medicine. Thankfully because the new drug had a warning that taking X [his heart medicine] ‘may result in death’. I got my father into see another neurologist who tested and reviewed and found that my father had fainted (note the COPD, Asthma). My dad never had another problem with fainting and never had a seizure.

This is an extreme story, I know. Most doctors are not like this one. Most are caring and listening and concerned. But they are still human. So are you. Doctors ask what you are taking before they prescribe anything. Do you tell them of your vitamins? Supplements? Do you mention you are taking ibuprofen almost daily due to arthritis? You should.


Recently I had to go to the emergency room due to extreme back pain. I could not find any position that gave me relief. I dutifully recited the list of medication and supplements I take. I also noted allergies and that one of my prescription drugs prevented me from taking any NSAID (could destroy my kidneys).  The PA (Physician’s Assistant) came in and spoke with me. He very appropriately did many tests and the conclusion was “back spasm of unknown origin”. He prescribed medications. I reminded that I could not take NSAIDs. I left with the prescriptions and went to the pharmacy. After filling the prescriptions and before taking any, I read the pharmacy provided inserts. One of the drugs prescribed was a NSAID.

So SOAP BOX, I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to check your medications. Report EVERYTHING you are taking to your doctor and pharmacist. Read the documentation that comes with the medications. Not only do vitamins and supplements as well as other drugs have negative interactions with one another but some foods can interfere. For example, Grapefruit has several negative (up to and including death) reactions with various medications, especially heart medications.

Here are some excellent resources for you:

And my very favorite consumer health information source EVER:

MedlinePlus – information on drugs, supplements, and links to comprehensive information on various diseases, conditions, etc. Geared towards consumer.

Finally, there are resources for you to consult to get a speaker for your group or library.  The National Network of Libraries of Medicine has regional offices that offer training classes and has several outreach programs designed for consumers. I’ve been privileged to attend classes as a librarian as well as listen to a speaker at a disease support group. And they are FREE. Yep. FREE. Find your regional office and contact them to come talk to your group about how to find good medical information on the internet. Or how to find drug information. Or …well, go talk to them!

And please, I beg you, TELL your doctor and pharmacist about all medications and supplements you take. READ the inserts your pharmacy provides. And question. This is your life.


Vote in the USA, I vote in the USA

October 13, 2016 Leave a comment

Is it overly dramatic to say people died for our rights to vote? It’s true. And it is true for pretty much all of us. All assorted colors and genders. Took hundreds of years for us to all get the right and access to vote.

Voting. It is the time we the people get to select what we want for governing. We choose those who will do the work. We choose who will make the bills. We choose what laws come about. How? We vote.

Is it always pretty? Easy? Nice? Nope. This year is no exception, except maybe a bit more vicious and divisive … or is it just we have access to more of it? Anyone can tweetagram or faceblog long dissertations or brief sound bites on what they think or feel. They can even <gasp> present fiction as fact!

Perhaps you intensely hate the two primary candidates. Well, there are other options. It is true a third party candidate has never won. It is true that this often splits the vote so often the one you most loathed  gets elected. Still, if you feel passionately about that third party candidate and agree with what that candidate says AND believe that candidate has the ability, knowledge and wherewithall to be in office then vote.

If you feel you must select between the two primary candidates but dislike both, then you need to look further. Which one has the potential to get things done that you want done? Which one has the ability to work with others to accomplish goals? Which one has the knowledge of the legalities of office? Which one do you think might be less likely to deploy weapons of mass destruction (unless that is one of your goals in which case please go away now and stop reading my blog)?

I know which candidate I prefer. I know what I think of each of the candidates, including the third party candidates. I know that come early voting, I will be at the polls ready to cast my ballot.

And so should you.

[and yes, this is library related…most libraries get at least some funding from governmental bodies. Votes decide on this, perhaps not direct but certainly who you put in office ultimately makes these decisions. So learn about it and vote on it]

Categories: vote Tags: ,

Psst, THEY are cancelling it!

July 29, 2016 Leave a comment

ERIL-L has had an interesting chain – actually, they have several but I am looking at one in particular… “Publisher complaint – how would you respond?

Apparently an unnamed publisher/vendor representative complained to a faculty member of a university  (in email) that the library was cancelling <gasp> a resource!!! HORRORS!

This unnamed wanker* deliberately tried to incite the university faculty to make the library keep it! Said wanker even implied, no, I misread, SAID that s/he doubted the library had even told the faculty. Those mean, arbitrary librarians. Heck, they probably took time off from nibbling bon-bons to gleefully redline Extremely Important Resources.

Because, you know, we never ask or review or painstakingly detail usage, costs, overlap or anything else and we would never think (all on our own) to ASK faculty if something is useful to them. No. We just run amok (amok amok amok).

I hope this was just a youngster who didn’t know better but has learned from this experience. I hope it isn’t like the sales rep who came to my library years ago, without an appointment, then threw a hissy fit at the circ desk because I was not available to meet. He did this more than once … full walleyed hissy fit. At Circ. Both amusing and horrifying.

*technical term, learned it from my UK colleagues

Categories: humor, librarian

Spam spam spam spam

July 2, 2016 Leave a comment

Spamity spam! Sorry, got carried away  there …

Spam. We all get it. We all know there is NOT a Nigerian prince needing help. My personal email spam has an extremely high opinion of my libido. Still spammers gotta spam. They’re getting wiser about it. Now I get emails that purport to be from my very own company telling me to do things. And invitations from my professional social media account, again asking me to update information.  Spoofing they call it, pretending to be something they are not.

Still it surprises me that spammers are going old school and hitting the phones now. They spoof there too. I get calls telling me my credit card has problems – and they cite a company I do not do business with. And that my student loans are in trouble – which is amazing since I never had student loans (having gone to school when it was still semi-affordable). All of these calls come from real phone numbers – numbers that belong to an individual and it is completely legal! It is both amusing and frightening to get a call from your own phone number, answering to find that you are “behind on your student loan payments”.

Registering with the Do Not Call list does not stop these spoofers. Block the number and you may find you are blocking a friend. And if it your number, you may get tons of calls from upset people who have been getting telemarketer calls from your number.

So what is the answer? I have none except for diligence. Do not give personal information to someone who has called you. Instead, look up the number (do not use the number they provide) and call back to ensure it is legitimate before providing information. Likely you will annoy whomever is calling you – remind them of the potential issues of simply giving this information to anyone who calls.  An annoyed person is much better than a lost identity.

Categories: privacy, theft

Mac less

June 21, 2016 Leave a comment

Sad news in the world, J McRee Elrod has died. I thought about writing “shuffled off his mortal coil” or something witty but, I just cannot.

Mac was an incredible man. I met him via the AutoCat list serv. Mac consistently, kindly, and with aplomb answered all questions that came across with his gentle, but firm southerness (he was not shy about expressing his opinion). He founded the Special Libraries Cataloguing. His cheat sheets helped me many a time. When I was a cataloging trainer, these were always on my resource list. When I organized an online RDA conference back in 2011, he was one of the first people I asked to speak. He very graciously did.

There is quite a bit out there about Mac, some written by Mac and, most recently, an attempt for a Wikipedia page about Mac. All can be boiled down to … a wonderful, kind and knowing man who was glad to share his knowledge. I never had the pleasure to meet Mac in person but still hold him in my heart.

Mac will be missed by cataloging community and, well, everyone who knew him.

ARN: 44330

User study-ish

June 19, 2016 Leave a comment

Yesterday I conducted a very unofficial and hugely informal user test to see how the young ones search. I explained to my subject that there were no wrong answers, I just wanted to see and learn how non-professionals search. I’m way too far removed from the experience; as with cataloging I cannot help but know the path to follow. The following is what happened [note I am not naming names because that makes it seem so much more official]

Subject was (and is, I suppose) a recent college graduate.  I provided a topic and asked “please find two peer reviewed articles and one book that you might use as a source as if you were writing a paper on the impact of Jimmy Carter’s presidency”.  I asked “please go to your library website to start the search”.

Subject went to unnamed university library website, logged in [yay still worked after graduating!] and put in search terms. What search terms? Subject typed “jimmy carter impact” in the search box provided. No Boolean, no truncation. Subject did not use any of the limiters available (such as ‘limit to peer reviewed’). Results were quickly scanned. Anything of interest went into a new browser window to review. At one point subject stumbled on google scholar and asked “WHERE HAS THIS BEEN THE LAST FOUR YEARS?”  I explained the history, basically been around since 2004. Groans met my explanation, subject noted “knowing this would have been very useful!”.

I watched the subject go outside the library website for each item of interest. Subject took any citation of interest (actually, just the title) to the open web to find it. Once found, subject scanned the content quickly to see if it would answer her “impact of jimmy carter’s presidency”. Subject never varied search terms nor used any other tool on the library site.

I asked “what does peer reviewed mean?”  Subject noted this meant “a scholarly article”.  Uhm, yeah, sort of …

I asked “if you had to cite an article found in APA style, how would you do it?” . Subject went to a new browser window and opened the Purdue OWL site, explaining this was the site used since high school.

As we finished, I showed the subject the features on the unnamed university library site where the limiters, citation builder, etc. all reside. I noted these are all within the areas the search began but were skipped/ignored. I further explained that all the full text that had been ‘discovered’ on the open web were due to the library purchase – because the subject logged in to the library website, the proxy took effect and full text was found. Subject was astonished and wondered why this was not shown to students. I asked if they had any library instruction – “well in one class we were shown JSTOR”. I asked why the library site was not used more, subject said “I’ve just always done it like this”.

Now, is this typical? I have no idea. I just asked one person to do this and had no formal method of testing. It does make me wonder though and and pushes me to the belief that library instruction needs to be part of the school experience – from kindergarten on up really, with new bits and parts each year to build upon, like we do with grammar, math, etc…