deborah: Kirkus Reviews: OM NOM NOM BRAINS (kirkus)
Four days ago, I read the Kirkus review of Lara Avery's The Memory Book after seeing it linked on the Kirkus Best YA of 2016 list. I promptly placed a library hold.

One day ago, my hold came in at the library and I read this novel from the point of view of a teenager diagnosed with Neimann-Pick type C, a rare lysosomal storage disease which causes physical and cognitive degenerative symptoms.

Two years and two days ago, my sister died of Late Onset Tay-Sachs disease, a rare, adolescent-onset lysosomal storage disease which causes physical and cognitive degenerative symptoms.

So. That happened.


Some spoilers behind cut, warned for. )

In conclusion: Fuck Tay-Sachs. And Neimann-Pick, and Gaucher, and this whole shitty family, and all the rest of the rare diseases.
deborah: The management regrets that it was unable to find a Gnomic Utterance that was suitably irrelevant. (gnomic)
first she had on her own checkered cap, then a bunch of gray caps, then a bunch of brown caps, then a bunch of blue caps, and on the very top a bunch of red caps.

Apologies to Esphyr Slobodkina


(For those more in the loop of
  1. obscure fairy lore or
  2. Dungeons & Dragons baddies based on obscure fairy lore than on
  3. 76 year old picture books
the allusion was to me being a person who chooses to wear many hats. Any implication of being beleaguered by monkeys is purely coincidental.)

After several happy years at Safari Books Online working with Python, I'm moving on to other projects. For now, I'm moving on to a variety of open source projects. I hope to have the chance to talk about the bigger ones soon. As for the smaller ones, well. Expect pull requests from me soon!

Seriously, though. I'm trying to talk myself out of adding (imagine Allie Brosh-style self-insert here) Fix All the Accessibility Bugs! to my todo list. That seems like a Poor Life Choice.

Much love to all my Safari Co-Workers who've been mentors in my journey into Python Infested Waters. I'm sure I'll see most of you in my new spaces as well. Liza will be sad that I'm looking forward to having time for Perl projects again -- though probably happy to know that I'm a convert to the Python culture 100%, if only partially to Python-as-language. (You'll pry regexes out of my cold dead fingers, Liza. Well, pretty easily; you've seen my fingers. But out of my metaphorical fingers.)

W3C work isn't going away, especially not since my W3C colleagues have been making noises about increasing their demands on my time, you know who you are. And there's likely to be more children's and YA lit in my life soon, as well! More details will be forthcoming if that happens.


Further up and further in!
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
(Update: I found the abstracts (PDF). They give a really good overview of the conference.)

I spent the weekend of 4 July (happy birthday, Berthe Erica Crow!) in Bristol, at the fabulous first ever Diana Wynne Jones conference, put together by Charlie Butler ([personal profile] steepholm) and Farah Mendlesohn ([livejournal.com profile] fjm).

I presented my paper, "Disrupted Expectations: Young/Old Protagonist in Diana Wynne Jones Novels," first, so I didn't yet realize how poor the visibility of the room was, and I didn't stand up to give my paper. Based on what I saw in later papers, I realize this was a mistake. Still, it seemed reasonably well received. Hopefully there will be conference proceedings soon, though if not, I will be putting the paper up myself.

I am writing up some of my notes from the papers for my own future reference, although what I really wish were available were the abstracts, which give you a good idea of the richness of ideas which were discussed. My notes here are very very preliminary and aren't representative of anything in particular -- only for which papers I scribbled things in the margins which I can now understand. Descriptions of some papers I'm not writing up )

Tui Head: 'The Girl in Adventure Fiction' )

Ika Willis: 'Mum's a silly fusspot: the queering of family in Diana Wynne Jones' )


Martha Hixon: 'Power Plays: Paradigms of Power in Three Jones Novels' )


Jameela Lares: 'Discovery As Virtuous Action in the Fantasy of Diana Wynne Jones' )

Deborah Gascoyne: 'Why Don't You Be a Tiger? The Performative, Transformative and Creative Power of the Word in the Universes of Diana Wynne Jones' )


Jenny Pausacker: 'The Storyteller: Counsel in Diana Wynne Jones' )


Kyra Jucovy: 'Little Sister Is Watching You: Archer's Goon and 1984' )


Caroline Webb: 'False Pretenses and the Real Show: Identity and Performance in Conrad's Fate' )


David Rudd: 'Building Castles in the Air: (De)construction in Howl's Moving Castle' )

Finally, I can't over emphasize how wonderful the conference was socially and intellectually. The level of the conversation (sitting around talking about books we've all read what other smart people) was fabulous, and meeting people whom I previously only known on the Internet, via the DWJ mailing list, LJ, or both, was just amazing. Not to mention the people I'd never known online before either, who I really did meet for the first time.

I don't want to get into naming names because then I will miss somebody and feel appallingly stupid, but [personal profile] steepholm and [livejournal.com profile] fjm of course, although for neither of them was my first time meeting them, because they have both been previously lovely hosts to the wandering American in Britain at various times. And Hallie and Katta and *brain explodes from effort of not naming everyone awesome that I met*... Also, thanks to Gili, I now have Archer's Goon in Hebrew.

On a separate note, two of my friends -- one of whom, you might have noticed, just ran an amazing conference on Diana Wynne Jones -- won Mythopoeic Awards! Congratulations, Charlie and Kristin!
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
Oh, happiness. The open access, peer-reviewed fan studies journal Transformative Works and Cultures has just released its debut issue. A large crowd of volunteers and contributors has worked very hard to make this happen -- neither editor of the journal has institutional support, so their achievement is particularly impressive.

Of course I'm thrilled about adding a new open access journal to scholarship. Both the social sciences and humanities have far too few OA journals. And of course, I'm particularly smug about some of the things I brought in. DOIs might not seem such a big deal to those of you who are librarians and archivists, but think about how difficult it can be to have your library's databases provide links to material on the open web. And of course, from a preservation perspective DOIs will keep our articles accessible even if the infrastructure changes. For example, if we change our backend software so it is no longer the Open Journal Systems, our URLs might change but our DOIs will remain the same. Once we have the requisite number of published issues, I look forward to seeing our journal indexed in a large variety of indexing and abstracting services.

But one of the most exciting things about this journal is that it is fully multimedia, taking advantage of the online medium -- and of the journal is prepared to stand behind its assertions of fair use for some of the multimedia clips used. For example, Francesca Coppa's "Women, Star Trek, and the Early Development of Fannish Vidding" embeds both images and video, and Bob Rehak's "Fan Labor Audio Feature Introduction" includes audio clips from a workshop discussion at the 2008 Console-ing Passions conference that was inspired by the Gender and Fan Culture discussion (in which I was a participant) and Henry Jenkins' blog in 2007. And even the journal software itself encourages participatory culture; the software allows (and we encourage) commenting by readers.

Press Release )

The call for papers for No. 2 is available as an .rtf file here. Do disseminate widely!
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
After having been fairly publicly snippy in Roger Sutton's blog, I feel a need to explain myself. For one thing, Roger Sutton is a big macha in children's literature and I... well, I'm not. To a certain extent, you could even call him my boss; at least, the book I just put down to write this post was sent to me courtesy of Horn Book Guide, who will pay me to read and review it. Moreover, Roger is a very intelligent man for whom I have a lot of respect, and it feels weird to have people sending me e-mail saying "thank you for what you said to Roger!" And finally, I don't want to come off, as Elissa said, as a Trekkie angry at SNL Shatner's "get a life". I think Roger raised a lot of points, some good and some less so, and I do want to address them.

Audiences for reviews )

Remembering the implied audience )

Because children's books are better: sentimental blathering or trufax? )

Am I missing something in the world? )
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
At the end of June, I will be leaving Brandeis to accept a position as Digital Resources Archivist at Tufts, and I'm experiencing major seller's remorse. Not buyer's remorse -- I am extremely excited about joining the team over at Tufts Digital Collections and Archives -- but seller's remorse. I don't want to leave my baby, my digital collections, with so much exciting work going on here.

The fact is that in only a year we've built the digital collections here from the glint in the milkman's eye to a robust and scalable program which will be ready to launch in a few weeks. What I'm most proud of is that I think we've built something which can live just fine without me while they hunt for a replacement, and what I am most upset about is leaving for somebody else all the great ideas for projects we've been forming as we've approached the finish line: Institutional Repository; ETDs; special faculty projects; integration with the University photography department. So all of you out there who read this humble blog and might have the skills to foster my baby? Apply for this job. The Brandeis Digital Collections deserve the best.

So, Tufts. Why am I so pleased about a position which looks like a step down? I'll be going from driving the entire digital collections initiative at one university to being responsible for a small component (management, ingest, and maintenance of digital objects) of the digital collections at a roughly equivalent university. (Not to mention that I will be moving from DSpace to Fedora, and so far, I very much prefer DSpace.)

Over the years that I've been working, I've learned something startling about myself: I'd rather be a small fish in a big pond than a big fish in a small pond. Which is not to say that I would rather be a peon or cog in the machine -- anything but. Everyone who knows me knows that I am chock full of opinions. But I want learning opportunities, mentors, people to teach me things. At the best working environment I ever had -- The Company Formerly Known As, as we like to call it -- I was smack in the middle of a large group of people which included both some of the best mentors I've ever had and some really terrific entry level people who were eager to learn. There was the opportunity to teach and learn from my peers.

I've had a great time over the last year at Brandeis learning by doing, learning by screwing up, learning by attending classes, learning by attending conferences, learning by reading blogs and mailing lists and conference proceedings. I've had my trial by fire, and now it's time for me to get some solid mentoring. The conferences I've attended over the last year have been chock full of presentations by people in the group I'm about to join. Now is my chance to really learn from people who've been doing this for a long time.

Also, I would be lying if I didn't admit that proximity to my home and a walking commute played a large part in my decision to change. One of the advantages of working in a university is gaining the University community. As a car-free person, I'm so distant from Brandeis geographically that I can't take advantage of that community. At Tufts, I can.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
I've been seeing occasional resumes from librarians who've paid more attention to whuffie than to skills. Conference presentations, published papers, and frequent contribution to mailing lists and bulletin boards -- but an inability to answer direct questions in an interview. Candidates who are excited by the potential offered by new technologies and Library 2.0, but who can't talk about the practicalities of library work, even after several years work in a library. The whuffie might get a foot in the door, but it doesn't get anything after that. If it's clear there's no substance to a candidate, we don't continue with that individual.

I find this fairly reassuring, as I've been thinking lately about my own career and what I'd like to do with it. I've been given the opportunity to have a shift at the university's reference and information desk -- a fairly low-profile opportunity, as such shifts generally are. And I love it. Today I helped two students find the resources for semester-long projects, while showing them how to recognize from a citation whether something was a journal or monograph, how to read our catalog system to see whether or not we have the resources electronically or in print, how to find government documents... It was fantastic.

I know many people who are loaded up on social capital are *also* people of substance. But it's good to remind myself that the relationship between social capital and substance isn't 1:1, and that it's fairly easy to see when there is nothing behind a good dose of social capital.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
This is a repost of some thoughts I once put elsewhere which I'm reframing because of recent discussions about women in libraries and technology at Dorothea's and Bess's and Karen's and Rachel's. I'm also posting this because after spending the weekend with multiple generations of Haverford and Bryn Mawr alumni, I got to thinking about computer science education for women.

cut for length (1800 words of frustration) )
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
I've just come back from a conference, and even though it wasn't a library conference, I think it's interesting to post about here; in fact, there are some issues that arose at the conference which I think are of interest to librarians. Console-ing Passions is a feminist media studies conference. While there is ostensibly a focus on new media, most of the panels I attended had to do with traditional forms of interacting with more traditional media, such as television, news media, and the like. Even many of the panels which focused on the Web treated the more static forms of media still created by an editorial team. Don't get me wrong, many of the panels were extremely good and I enjoyed the conference, but there wasn't a lot of emphasis on social networking. Facebook and Myspace got mentioned in passing several times, but I only went to one panel (decides the two fanfiction panels with which I was involved), which really focused on user-created content. That panel had two papers about message boards and one about identity creation on Friendster.

I think there's a good space open for a crossover conference that covers issues of social networking. From a literary analysis perspective I'm primarily interested in the texts which are the product of social networks; as a librarian I am interested in various forms of communication and information sharing that social networks enable. I assume media scholars would also be interested in social networking but that's not my field of expertise, I'm afraid.

In any case, it was absolutely wonderful to me my fellow panelists in person, when before I only knew them online (and in the case of [livejournal.com profile] kbusse, on the telephone). Everyone had great things to say, and I've great ideas about this paper and more. Now I just need to find an OA humanities journal to submit the paper to. *g*
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
I'm finishing up a paper which I will be presenting at Console-ing Passions in a few weeks, and I'm trying to maintain both the longer, reference-full version for later publication as well as the panel version. I feel like I should be putting my scholarship where my mouth is, which means I should be looking for an open access or green journal for publication. But for some rather obvious reasons, there is much more pressure to produce open access year-reviewed journals in the sciences than in the humanities, and the papers I write are such niche publications anyway. I need to find an open access humanities journal which will take a literary criticism article of the type that is usually only interesting to media and culture studies people. This will be an entertaining research project.

On an entirely nonlibrary related note, today is turning out to be an entirely hands-free day for me, mostly because I was an idiot over the weekend. You know, dictation is wonderful, but it really hurts my brain when it's the only way I'm allowed to control a computer. It's not difficult, it's just exhausting. Its neural exercise, and it hurts.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
Recently, I had an extended interview for a job for which I was ultimately rejected. I don't know who did get the job, but I'm sure I'll know soon enough. You see, this interview was to become Somebody in the library world. The person in this position will be a Mover and Shaker in the world of librarianship and technology. She'll have the opportunity to see potential improvements in librarianship and make them happen, to change the rules, to be part of the paradigm shift. I'm sure in the coming years I'll see her name at conferences, in books, on papers. And I'll be a little jealous every time.

As luck would have it, my next interview -- before I'd even been rejected from the Somebody position -- was to be a Nobody. A cog in a library system, about 6 steps removed from any reference or research or information. My job would be to make life a little more efficient for those who make life more efficient for those who enable the people who do actual library work. And what I discovered, when I interviewed for the Nobody position, was that I'd been corrupted by the interview for the Somebody position. While I'd not gone into librarianship in the hopes of fame and fortune, suddenly I found all other library positions paling before the reflected glory of my unrealised Somebodyness. All my unrealised hopes and dreams (the novelist I'll never be, despite my mother's constant pressure; the open-source revolution I never made; the PhD I never got; even the BNF I'm not) brought to light in all their unattractive, spotted, warty nakedness. Suddenly the simple library jobs for which I'd dropped my career, gone thousands of dollars into debt, and changed my life seemed petty.

It's hard getting my perspective back. I remind myself that it's easy in this day and age for a smart person to become Somebody if she so chooses. I have this blog: if I think of clever and world-shattering ideas I can post them. I'm a programmer: if I don't like existing library software I can write my own, better software. I'm literate and intelligent: I can write articles, attend conferences, and generally make a Somebody of myself. But only if I want to. It's not going to happen because an employer tells me so, but only if it's so important to me to become Somebody that I do the work.

Is it that important to me? I don't know. I'm happy enough in my life, and don't generally think I need to be on the forefront of changing the world. I don't want to be a name everybody knows, though I'd certainly not mind the private satisfaction of knowing that the Somebodys out there owe some small measure of their success to me. (I always did crew in high school plays. Does it show?) It wouldn't have occured to me until I interviewed for the Mover and Shaker position and realised the idea thrilled me. (And terrified me, in equal measure.)

I have to remember that being a librarian is, by definition, being Somebody. Remind myself of all my old lessons in social justice and community activism. Think globally, act locally, and all that. And I do remember, usually. Except late at night, when I'm trying to sleep, and I'm drowning in might-have-beens.

Note to self: Self, remember how [livejournal.com profile] parenth_blog and [livejournal.com profile] mirith convinced you to become a librarian? It was because they showed you how much you'd love reference, and they were right.

Self answers: Doh! I forgot. And Self gets back to the busy game of looking forward to reference and instruction at a conventional librarian position.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
Here's some introductory information about who I am. Who's that girl? )
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