about (1)

It is difficult to write a good short bio; it can be difficult to share a good detailed one. I doubt this will turn out to be either, but I feel like I should write one anyway. To put it euphemistically, I am currently “between things”; to put it more literally, I am currently on the job market. So I can’t yet rely on a job title to carry information about myself. Instead, I’ll say something about my background and my interests.

I have graduate training and experience (and masters degrees, even) in history, archives, and library and information studies. I also have work experience in journalism (I was an intern at Talking Points Memo) and open government/transparency (through an internship at the Sunlight Foundation). I’m interested in pretty much everything that goes with that background: history, archives, libraries, information and especially access to information, journalism, politics, government. I’d even say I’m interested in bureaucracy but I don’t want to sound boring.

In the last few years, I’ve also become really interested in computers and technology. I’m not going to chase every subject that has the word “digital” in it, but I’m certainly interested in digital preservation, digital archives, digital libraries, digital history and the digital humanities – you get the point. I’m learning to code and getting more and more comfortable with Linux (Ubuntu) and free and open source software every day. As someone who did a bit of programming in junior high and high school (Logo and Pascal, those were the days), but then spent years using computers mainly for word processing and web browsing, it’s been an interesting experience.

Anyway, this is my personal website and personal blog, and even though I could probably assign it a call number, give it a few subject headings, and place it in a taxonomy somewhere, I’m not going to classify it. The odds are pretty high that what I’ll write about will be consistent with the interests I’ve just talked about.

Since there’s not a lot of content here yet, you might want to check out these posts if you’re curious about my writing:

A post I wrote for my old blog reacting to Nicholas Carr’s original “Is Google Making Us Stupid” article. This is the only post from the old blog that I’ve copied over onto this blog. I just like it for some reason.

A “this day in history” post I wrote about the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution during World War II that appeared as a guest post at The Edge of the Aemrican West.

Something I wrote about Brandeis and the history of transparency at the end of my internship at the Sunlight Foundation a few years back.

And for the library crowd, something I wrote on my old blog about subject headings. This one might not sound the most exciting, but it was once called “high-quality library nerdery” on twitter, so there’s that.

Finally, a meta note: You may have noticed that this is an “about” post rather than an “about” page. I’m going to try a bit of an experiment. As time passes I’m likely to want to update my bio. Rather than keep changing the page, I’m going to write new “about” posts each time and then keep the old ones. This might not happen often, but it could be interesting. Four years ago I would not have even thought to mention computers and technology.

Categorized as about, meta

recall numbers

I still remember the old card catalog at the main university library. I don’t think I ever used it. My mom worked in the cataloging department and sometimes I’d walk by the rows of drawers on my way to the reading room, where I’d sit and read children’s books or Garfield comics while I waited for her work to end so we could go home. Once, during a summer when I’d been at the office more often – probably after some regularly scheduled daytime activity – someone pushing a shelving cart stopped me as I walked through the cataloging department with a kid’s book in hand and, perhaps thinking I was enrolled in a course on children’s literature, asked: “Do you go here now?”

A few blocks away, in library automation, my dad and his colleagues eventually put the card catalog out of existence. When it was finally dismantled, library staff were given the option of carrying the old cards home. Even now, decades later, you can still find catalog cards in my parents’ house, usually by the phone, the blank sides serving as scratch paper for notetaking.

I’ve grown up around libraries, but until recently I never seriously considered working in one. I’m still not sure I ever will. It would be easy to draw a direct line from my experience as a grad student in history, spending much of my time in libraries and archives, to my current position as a graduate student in the field of libraries and archives, but it wouldn’t be right. I’ll explain why in a later post.