Sunday, October 21, 2007

Library Geekiness

So Mrs. Chaka and I went to a Librarian's conference yesterday. Quick show of hands: how many of you are surprised? How many books did we come home with? The person who answers closest to the correct number will receive a single kudo.

Most of the books we obtained were for a theological library to be started in Liberia. As part of the conference, we were learning about software that can be used to make an electronic catalog. The goal is to get started cataloging the books here in the States, but to do it in a way that will be helpful as the library grows and presumably integrates with other libraries in Africa. I keep thinking that there ought to be freeware that does this. There are sites that let you build an electronic library (LibraryThing, Google Books) and some fairly cheap software, but none of these options use the standard database fields for real libraries.

I always wondered why Library Science was a master's degree. I'm beginning to get an idea; librarians are plumbing depths of geekiness hitherto unimagined by your very geeky narrator. Database management, that distant shore of nerddom on which I have never desired to land, looms large on the horizon.

I'm most disappointed in Google Books. I mean, two years ago, it wasn't possible for me to read the entire contents of copyright-expired books, scanned and searchable, without any cost to myself. But I'm over the wonder and amazement of that, Google. Now I'm wondering why you haven't included all of the MARC records with all of your books. Let's get the lead out, ok?

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