I had been holding off on linking to the Web Tech Guy and Angry Staff Person video/blog post because I have mixed feelings about the idea generally even though I know it was a big hit when they showed it off at the conference. Then it hit MetaFilter and I found the discussion there helped me not only flesh out my own feelings about it but gave me a look into how other professionals from different perspectives saw it. Most notably, I was interested in this comment by Larry Cebula who works for Washington State and runs an award-winning northwest history blog.
I work for the Washington State Digital Archives. We have something like 80 million documents, mostly from Washington State counties, online and add millions more per month. After years of resistance the counties are really hopping aboard and have become great fans of our service.
But still we get these complaints and worries. It is even worse with archives than museums because so many county and local archives count on revenues for access to fund their offices. We are about to put up thousands of cases from county courts, some dating back to the late 1800s. But the county insists that we display only the top half of the first page of each record–and charge 25 cents a page for users to even view the records beyond that first half page! It is anti-democratic and eliminates many of the potential advantages of digital history, but there you have it.
Slightly related librarian topic over at AskMetaFilter, a question about questions: What questions do library users most often ask?
Me and the nice people from MetaFilter are starting an ambitious back-tagging project where a team of volunteers will be adding tags to the 42,000 posts that were on the website before we added the tagging functionality. We’re hoping that this will make it easier to track down double-posts and related posts and make browsing the site via tags a little more thorough. I envy sites like Flickr that have had tags since the beginning, doing it this way is hard and not at all optimal. In any case, if you have a MetaFilter login and would like to do a little volunteer tagging, please drop me an email or (preferably) an IM with your usernumber and I can get you set up.
I used up my April Fools energy making an April Fool AskMe page on MetaFilter. Those of you in reference positions may appreciate the jokes even if you’re not closely acquainted with the community. If you reload that page, you’ll get to the main page of AskMe as it usually is. The other site admins and I really tried for something that was mostly funny and not very confusing. I never like feeling that I spend the whole day on the first of April fending off bad jokes at my expense.
Simon Chamberlain’s VALIS blog points to a bunch of responses to the Wall Street Journal piece about what they see as aggressive weeding. He gives two nods to MetaFilter, one for the discussion about the WSJ thread [which I participated in] and one for a related thread in Ask MetaFilter asking when libraries started being so … noisy. One of my favorite things about these discussions is the interactions between librarians and non-librarians in a non-library setting. The other thing I like is that thanks to MetaFilter’s use of the XFN protocol I can link to every library worker I notice in these threads as a “colleague” and then keep track of their posts and comments. Look at all those librarians talking to each other, and to their once and future patrons.