by Gabriel Farrell
Coordinating Editor, Issue 13
Dark forces lurk in the fields of librarianship. The stagnant ponds of outdated systems surround us. We battle the dragons of inconsistent metadata, ghastly beasts like bureaucracy and inertia, the ruthless warlords who call themselves vendors in a niche market, and the arcane magic of ancient formats. At times, our swords and shields may seem no match for the challenges of this bleak world.
But I beg of you, do not despair, fearless venturer! For herein lies records of others who likewise explore the uncharted lands betwixt the kingdoms of data and technology. Read these words and rejoice in the camaraderie. Sip at this stream of knowledge and receive sustenance.
In our first conte, “GroupFinder: A Hyper-Local Group Study Coordination System,” brave souls Joe Ryan and Josh Boyer deliver a stirring account that could only have come from those accustomed to the travails of that baffling dimensional plane known as the academic library. May we all achieve the vigor with which they renewed their campaign after each focus-group fracas they fomented with the scholars of our age.
A number of our parables relate quests for rare gems and runes to enhance that most powerful object born of alchemical sorcery: the mobile device. The renowned Graham McCarthy and Sally Wilson reveal their familiarity with the infernal gadgets when they unleash a stunning spider’s web of technologies in “ISBN and QR Barcode Scanning Mobile App for Libraries.” Narrators of code nonpareil, Denis Galvin and Mang Sun also carry us deep into the fray with “Using Web Services for a Mobile OPAC.” If, in addition, you hope to harness the puissance of mystical tablets for your oracular companions, immerse yourself in the good James MacDonald and Kealin McCabe’s “iRoam: Leveraging Mobile Technology to Provide Innovative Point of Need Reference Services.”
“Implementing Time Travel for the Web” paints a landscape never dreamt of until now. It recounts the twisting road taken and the uphill skirmishes fought by Robert Sanderson, Harihar Shankar, Scott Ainsworth, Frank McCown, and Sam Adams, a truly formidable band. Their lofty and audacious goal, to rend the very fabric of time, may unravel the lives of peasant and noble alike.
Renée McBride seeks lost treasure among antediluvian ballads in “Look What We Got! How Inherited Data Drives Decision-Making: UNC-Chapel Hill’s 19th-Century American Sheet Music Collection.” Let her regale you with her epic struggle to transform the moldy texts using every weapon in her pack.
In a similar vein, “From ISIS to CouchDB: Databases and Data Models for Bibliographic Records” depicts Luciano G. Ramalho as he faces ISIS, the sister-demon of MARC, in his crusade to free the lore of old from its esoteric prison. His target, the incalculable majesty of semistructured records, is magnanimous indeed.
Our own Timothy M. of the clan McGeary plunges us into the heat of the great game with “Applying Lessons from 8 Things We Hate About IT to Libraries.” His vision of Susan Cramm’s eloquent saga is bespoke for our library world, where a single misinterpreted word can lead to tumultuous uproar within the empire. Another interpretive recitation among our generous offerings is “Book Review: HTML5: Up and Running,” in which Mark Cyzyk channels Mark Pilgrim with tidings of new armaments in the browser melees. Learn to wield them before they are wielded against you.
Have you forgotten, my dear ladies and lords, what blessed and dreadful events unfolded at this winter’s bawdy festival? Or mayhap an engagement with a fang-toothed kobold chieftain kept you from attending? If either be the case, or even if neither be, feast your eyes on the excellent annals penned by Bohyun Kim and Elias Tzoc at “Conference Reports: Code4Lib 2011,” our final breath in this spring missive.
Before I go I feel I must implore you once more. Please, brave champion, press your steed onward into the long night. Follow your destiny down the mysterious passages in the labyrinths of books and code, then return to tell us all that you have seen and heard. We will dutifully journey from village to village spreading the tales of your heroic deeds.