My recent foray into the world of Facebook prompts me to write a hommage to Lynne Quist's excellent blog on the differences between American and British English, Separated by a common language. There was a very useful post there on differences in American and British educational terminology and school year nomenclature, but it didn't answer a question Facebook's terminology raises. My school and university were listed, so I could add myself, once I had realised that I should enter my university as my school and my school as my high school. But I was baffled and defeated by the requirement to describe myself as year of NNNN. Is this the year I left, or the year I started my so-called education at those institutions? Other irritatingly alien features of Facebook include the choices available to describe one's politics, restricted to 'very liberal', 'liberal', 'moderate', 'conservative', 'very conservative', 'apathetic' or 'libertarian'; these categories might make sense in the USA, but not elsewhere. Wisely, unlike the UK Census, the Facebook programmer's have left the many varieties of superstition well alone, so the religious views or lack of them may be described in free text. More positively, I found the relationship status amusingly flexible. Options are: 'single', 'in a relationship', 'in an open relationship', 'engaged, 'married', and 'it's complicated'. I wonder how many people choose the latter. I see I can also choose to describe myself as looking for 'friendship', 'dating', 'a relationship', 'random play' or 'whatever I can get'. I can't imagine that I will make much use of Facebook or of LinkedIn, which I also recently joined.
I installed the new version of the Google toolbar in Firefox, in order to use the web history feature. I was fascinated to see that, listed as it should be, first on the list of blog buttons I could add is that of the Abergavenny Petanque Club. Here is true fame.
The TLS reproduces D.J. Taylor's introductionto the forthcoming reissue of the Gorse trilogy, under the title, "the lost worlds of Patrick Hamilton". His phrase, "the laureate of the saloon bar", sounds derivative to me, and the jibe that Hamilton was a "doctrinaire Marxist" is unnecessary; I have never read a less doctrinaire Marxist writer, but otherwise Taylor is worth reading. Black Spring's edition is due for publication on 7 June, according to their website, though Amazon announce it for the 21st of the month .
I look forward to widespread panic after tonight's Panorama which will claim, misleadingly, that the use of wifi carries health risks. See here for a counterblast from the Guardian or this Pubmed search. For myself, I wish wifi networks were stronger. I am fed up with AirTunes cutting out when I try to play my music and I have totally failed to get my son's laptop to see the network at all. Wearing chain mail underpants while using wifi seems to me a small price to pay. Does anyone remember when Panorama used to be a programme of repute?
More than once, Tim Coates's Good Library Blog has claimed that large numbers of public library authorities pay CILIP subscriptions for their staff. He, and one or two commenters on his posts, claim that if this were not the case, libraries would have plenty of money for resources. Further, they imply that the underfunding of public library services under the current and previous governments is a figment of the imagination, that public libraries are in fact well-resourced, but that the money is wasted on salaries and CILIP subscriptions for overpaid professional librarians. There is a good case to be made for employers supporting their staff's professional memberships. But Tim's claims are wrong. I and others have asked Tim for evidence. I have worked in libraries for 29 years, in a variety of sectors of the profession, and have never had my CILIP, or before 2002, my Library Association or Institute of Information Scientists, subscription paid for me. It emerges he knows of "more than two" library authorities who pay CILIP subscriptions, but he declines to identify them. Over at Michaels's 025.04 blog* he has set up a poll. So far 231 people have voted, and only 4% have a CILIP subscription paid for them by a public library employer.
* The name, 025.04, is a librarian's joke, it being the Dewey Decimal classification class number for library operations.
I went to my local public library, Seaford library, part of East Sussex County Council's libraries. Through their website I can renew and reserve, using my ticket number and a PIN. The PIN was set when I joined, at a distinctly unmemorable number. "Please could you change it to something easier to remember?", I asked. "Oh no, we can't do that", was the answer. "Perhaps your headquarters can?" "No, nothing we can do." I used the web form on the e-library to send an enquiry to headquarters, which has gone unanswered. I don't have a detailed knowledge of the library system they use, DS's Galaxy, if I'm not mistaken , but I do know that even ten years ago, a very long time in library automation, I installed Sirsi's Unicorn at the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and library staff could easily change PINs for readers. While I'm on the subject, why on earth does the East Sussex catalogue only allow users to request items already in stock? No one library service can hope to satisfy the purposive reader, to use a phrase from my library school days, but to request anything not in stock obliges one to fill in a paper form. On some occasions, staff have even tried to tell me that is impossible to request items not on the catalogue. Library 2.0 is all very well; East Sussex readers have yet to experience Library 1.0.
Update: I eat many of the words above, for this afternoon I was contacted by Anita of East Sussex libraries. It is possible for branch library staff to change a PIN, and soon they will launch a new version of the online catalogue which will, inter alia, allow users to change their own PINs.