Celebrating My Nerd-ness

Yesterday I had a nerd breakthrough.  I was actually very excited about solving a wordpress-archives.org audio player interface problem and wanted to high five someone.  Consider yourselves high-fived.

We’ve been continuing our quest over at the AAC to get digital content online without spending any money except in staff hours.  This week’s project was oral histories that have been recorded over the past few years.  The .wav files were converted to .mp3s using Audacity, I believe, and dvds were converted to .mpeg4s using Handbrake.  I wasn’t part of that activity, so I can’t tell you how it goes, except to say that it happened successfully.

I decided to use the Internet Archive to host the files.  Turns out they’d rather have .wav files, since the goal is to do preservation the right way, but I uploaded an mp3 file into their test collection, just to see how it all works.  I embedded their player in the library’s blogspot.com blog, and in the main website, and those worked just fine.  The problem was with the new version of blog, which I want to shift over here, to wordpress.  The archive.org audio player won’t embed properly in a wordpress page.  A bit of googling, however, turned up this solution:

  • Click on the Audio File 64Kbps MP3 link on the archives.org page for the recording you are working with
  • Copy the link into the wordpress page using this format (for example): audio=yourfileURL.mp3 Important: put [  ] to open and close.  I left them off so you can see the code.

  • (Note that this player won’t work here because I’ve left out our actual file, since we’re not live yet.)

So simple, but it works!  Woohoo!  I’ll show you our new blog when we go live.  Stay tuned.

Uncategorized, what we do

Beer In The Library: Use vs. Preservation

Of course, the above title isn’t about a Beer Library, where one might check out a vintage brew, or preserve it in a vault.  I wonder if that exists?  What I actually want to talk about is the golden rule of libraries: NO FOOD OR DRINK, and if it is ever appropriate to break that rule in a special library.  I was sorely tempted this weekend, but held the line so I could spend some time thinking it through.  Give ’em an inch and they’ll take a mile, y’know…and I want to choose which mile they can have.

This past week, the AAC hosted 40 climbers from 24 countries, about 25 editors from climbing journals around the world, and about 100 US climbers, and there was a Board of Directors meeting.  We had a couple of big parties, The Gourds played, and no one got to climb because it wouldn’t stop raining.  There were a lot of people in the building, and many of them had no idea how fantastic a resource this library is.  I wanted them to spend time here, so we kept the doors open as much as possible, and on Saturday night there were wet, cold people holding beers and they wanted to come in to hang out, read, and talk to other climbers about what they were reading.

Which brings us, once again, to a conversation about the nature of the collection (circulating signed first editions of route guides that come back with rocks and dust between the pages) and the nature of the people who are the primary patrons (men and women who take huge calculated risks in the name of adventure and exploration).

These are people who would use (and support) the library more if they knew more about it.  There’s a big push to make the library more relevant to the club members and to new members, and I think that will happen if the library is a fun place to be.  And, for the most part, the members are respectful of the library rules.  So…what’s the matter with a little beer or coffee when folks are gathered around the (non-functional) fireplace, talking about the places they’ve been and where they want to go?  Seems like the risk of a spill is far outweighed by the RL social networking – especially when you factor in the fact that it’s a small library, easily monitored; there’s very low relative humidity here, and very few insects.

I like the University of Minnesota Libraries policy.  I think we should get our logo on some adult sippy cups. No red wine and no food though.  And I think the idea of the circulation desk/bar might not be such a good idea either – there’s just no room for a kegerator.



Yoga again

Well, I’ve found so far that one difference between doing paper conservation and doing library preservation is that I sit in front of the computer more now. And it’s not ergonomic, so I contort myself to find ways to keep my knees from banging the desk and still be able to see the monitor and keep an eye on people who might be trying to leave with the valuable books in our open stacks.

Another difference is what I spend my time lifting. In paper conservation, it’s mostly big vats of water. In the library and archives, it’s dusty boxes. I’ve been doing a bit of nesting – opening boxes, drawers, closets – moving things from here to there – throwing away ancient and inappropriate book repair tapes and glues. It’s been fun, and there are treasures: Antlers! Rare board games! Paintings!

I’ll post some photos of the stuff soonish, but for now I’m busy getting ready for the AIC Angels, sorting through the generous donations from Hollinger, Metal Edge, and Talas. I’m also planning a Friends of the Library talk on our publisher’s bindings, which I’ve already posted about here; creating a digitization policy and procedures manual; setting up our Flickr page; developing a basic book repair program; attempting a preservation budget; and daydreaming about a conservation lab in one of the store-rooms – and running the day to day of the library, fielding reference questions, checking out books, and reading about famous mountains and climbers. I’m having a ball.

Now to the point of this post – no time for yoga class. BUT – I found the Yoga Journal’s practice podcasts! I did the one on sidebends this morning and it was really really good. Everybody do it!


Still adjusting – Please hold

I just wanted to check in with everyone who reads this blog, to let you know it is not dead. I do plan on posting all kind of things related to preservation and conservation. It’s just that I’m still trying to figure out where things are and how things are done at the AAC Library. Note the chunk of Matterhorn on the floor at the far right of this picture.  And the fireplace in the distance.  It was functional till just last month!  I’m pitching for a video fire to replace it.

library front desk

I’ve completed my second week of work and am busy mulling over preservation and access priorities. The collections need all kinds of attention all at once, and there is a lot of interest in the materials from many fronts. I’ve answered reference questions about: the best time to go helicoptering in Patagonia; how to find a climbing guide in thy Pyrenees; located topo maps of the Lakes District so a researcher can connect the poems and the altitude gain; found alternative expeditions to Tibetan routes closed due to the political upheaval; and located a 3/4 profile portrait of Sir Edmund Hillary so an artist could sculpt a trophy.

I’m developing a presentation for the Friend’s group on our publisher’s bindings, many of which have really interesting mountain-related designs – I plan to scan the covers and post on the Library blog at some point. Here are a couple not-so-great pics to whet your appetite:

A. Smith Mont Blanc covergilded mountaineering cover

And then there are the issues of a poorly functioning HVAC system, a shelving construction campaign, the magnetic and film media that desperately needs attention, and the development of a digitization program. And cataloging. The upcoming AIC Angel’s project. Starting a book repair program. Fundraising. Having a long range plan in hand is unbelieveably helpful as a starting point for my own planning, and as a method of communicating the issues to other departments. It’s all pretty exciting and challenging and interesting. Stay tuned!

Uncategorized, what we do

Your Attention Please…

I have an announcement. Everyone settle down. Now..

I am very excited to say that I am the new Preservation Librarian for the American Alpine Club (AAC) in Golden, Colorado. The collections are focused on mountain environments and mountaineering, and include rare books, maps, photographs, archives, and realia. The AAC and Colorado Mountain Club‘s Bradford Washburn American Mountaineering Museum is opening to the public this weekend, and that should increase awareness of the Library holdings. The opening lineup looks really fun and I’m sorry to miss it, but I am looking forward to all the stuff that comes after that!

Looks like I’ll have to start climbing again. Yea!


The glamorous life of a travelling conservator

I got my first librarian job because my spoken word performance troupe was invited to read at a Colorado librarian conference, and I just happened to have a poem about wanting to be a librarian.  After a year of that, right about the time I was trying to decide if I wanted to leave my small mountain-town home and become a library and archives conservator, my book club happened to read The Sixteen Pleasures, which gave me the impression that this career would allow me to travel the world doing interesting work.  In some ways, that has been true.  I got to go to Spain, and live on the grounds of a castle, and work on early parchment and paper documents.  I’ve managed to build some travel into my work in the States, too.  I just got back from Colorado, where I’ve been doing some preservation planning.  And I got to go snowshoeing with family and friends and two of my favorite dogs.


So, in celebration of work allowing for happy moments, I will now inflict upon you a poem I wrote before I went back to school, but is still true, 7 years later:

Like Hiking In Clownshoes

(for shelley)

My friend is

far ahead and

the dogs glance back


why I am so slow

and the mountains

lean down a bit

to see what

is making all that


but I thump

my way up

joyfully swearing

at snow covered


each footprint

at least 3 feet

long and the sun

pats me on the

shoulder, there there

and I go on


but the trail is

so beautiful and

I’ll be damned

if I’ll let these


trip me up