Did you know that it isn’t immediately obvious that a hyphenated last name is alphabetized by its first letter? I’m going to start alphabetizing my last name by one of the letters in the middle. Because that makes perfect sense. (Dear Mom and Dad, I had no idea that people are so stupid when it comes to hyphenated names. Thank you for not giving me one.)

But wait. Check out this excerpt from an alphabetized list of chemicals from the EPA (40 CFR 372.65):

Chemical name CAS No. Effective date
Abamectin [Avermectin B1] 71751-41-2 1/1/95
Acephate (Acetylphosphoramidothioic acid O,S-dimethyl ester) 30560-19-1 1/1/95
Acetaldehyde 75-07-0 1/1/87
Acetamide 60-35-5 1/1/87
Acetonitrile 75-05-8 1/1/87
Acetophenone 98-86-2 1/1/94
2-Acetylaminofluorene 53-96-3 1/1/87
Acifluorfen, sodium salt [5-(2-Chloro-4-(trifluoromethyl)phenoxy)-2-nitrobenzoic acid, sodium salt] 62476-59-9 1/1/95
Acrolein 107-02-8 1/1/87
Acrylamide 79-06-1 1/1/87
Acrylic acid 79-10-7 1/1/87
Acrylonitrile 107-13-1 1/1/87
Alachlor 15972-60-8 1/1/95
Aldicarb 116-06-3 1/1/95
Aldrin[1,4:5,8-Dimethanonaphthalene,1,2,3,4,10,10-hexachloro-1,4,4a,5,8,8a-hexahydro-(1.alpha.,4.alpha.,4a.beta.,5.alpha.,8.alpha., 8a.beta.)-] 309-00-2 1/1/87
d-trans-Allethrin [d-trans-Chrysanthemic acid of d-allethrone] 28057-48-9 1/1/95
Allyl alcohol 107-18-6 1/1/90
Allylamine 107-11-9 1/1/95
Allyl chloride

See those two that I bolded? I’ll be back when I’m done crying over the end of the world as I know it.


And now, a break for vegetables

Easiest recipe in the world, proven so far for eggplant, broccoli, and mushrooms:

1. Cut vegetables in small pieces, put in 9×13 baking dish, toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

2. Roast the hell out of the vegetables.

3. While the veggies are cooking, boil a pot of pasta.

4. In one smooth movement, drain the pasta, take the veggies out of the oven, dump the pasta on top of the veggies, add a pretty big glob of goat cheese, and smoosh it all together so that the cheese melts all over the pasta and vegetables.

5. Serve.


Jessica wrote this morning about abbreviations in librarianship. You should go read her post. And maybe the rest of her blog, and her twitter feed. She’s one of the people I want to be when I grow up. Her post reminded me of a brief anecdote:

When I became a member of the ALA (American Library Association), I also became a member of a roundtable/section or two.  Do I remember which? No, of course not. My interests are too varied and it was all I could do not to join them all. I didn’t know what I would get out of membership in said roundtable/section.

Fast forward a few months and I get a random publication in the mail. Let me say that since I’ve become a member of the ALA and of AALL (American Association of Law Libraries) my mail has quadrupled. The DCBar generates nowhere near the volume of mail that each of these organizations generate. I get lots of mail from vendors. And this random publication looked, I thought, like a catalog. I didn’t recognize the name of the sender, and it sounded more like a company name than anything else: GODORT.

I opened the “catalog” and saw some writing, and thought maybe it would be worth skimming. Which is when I realized that it wasn’t a catalog after all. It had interesting stuff in it. I realized GODORT must be an organization of some sort, but I’d never heard of it, so how did they get my address? Or know that I would be interested in it? WHAT IS GODORT DARN IT??

I read half the publication before I found a notice to members of the GOvernment DOcuments RoundTable. Protip: name your organization in your publication. Maybe on the cover. Or with the post office disclosures on the inside front cover.

A rich white man who won’t miss the library

This weekend there was another “woe is us, libraries are obsolete” post by a rich white man. (Who, if his comment about looking down on the library from his apartment on W. 53rd wasn’t enough of a clue, touts his everyman *cough* status in a comment to Magpie Librarian’s blog post, when he reminds us that he founded a company that was bought by the New York Times Companies.)

Now, I actually thought that he made a good point in his post. That is, if one read it twice and spent a lot of time pondering it, and why did he throw in a comment about book burning, and I’m going to be critical of the critics. In other words, his good point was not at all immediately obvious.

His good point was essentially this: we are getting rid of libraries, and what’s the difference between getting rid of libraries and burning the books that would be inside them?

But I don’t think he meant to make that good point. He hasn’t been to the library in 15 years. He won’t miss the library. Why should anyone go to the library? The Web is free! Google has everything! Why rebuild the public library as a gathering space (note that our rich white man of the hour quotes the architect who designed the to-be-built replacement branch on this point and conveniently ignores the word “just” in the statement that “it’s not really about just being a repository of books”) when there’s a Starbucks on every corner?

Why go to the library?

Because a home Internet connection is not free. Because not everyone lives in a physical setting where they are able to have an Internet connection. Because not everyone has a home. Because computers are not free.

Because Google doesn’t have everything, not by a long shot. Want to read the latest bestseller? Not going to find the full text online. Want to read an article from most scholarly journals? Not going to find the full text through Google. (At least not for free.) Because even what Google does have (and of course, Google doesn’t “have” anything*, it just links to pages) might be hard to find. Because not everyone has the advantage of a Williams College education to be able to craft effective searches. Because it can be hard to evaluate  the quality of a source.

Because the latte I had on Friday morning cost me $4.72 and not everyone can afford that. Because Starbucks** doesn’t offer storytime or arts and crafts or a safe space for teenagers to go after school to do their homework. Because Starbucks doesn’t offer book groups. Because Starbucks doesn’t prepare kids for a college education. Because baristas aren’t librarians.

But you know why else one should go to the library? To see that not everyone looks like you, talks like you, reads like you, or — let’s face it — smells like you.


A collection of voices on this topic:


*Google has a lot of stuff: metadata and code and money; those aren’t what I’m talking about here.

**Sorry to harp on Starbucks here. My $4.72 latte wasn’t even from Starbucks. I hope it’s obvious that none of this is intended as criticism; Starbucks isn’t supposed to provide the same things as a library!


Today in statutory interpretation

I was looking today to see if I could delete a paragraph defining “District” as “the District of Columbia.” Somewhere, though I can never find it when I want to, there is a section of the D.C. Code that defines a bunch of terms and says they are supposed to apply throughout the Code. I wanted to see if “District” was among those terms. Since 1. my research skills are unbelievably inefficient for someone going to library school, and 2. I can never find that section of the Code that I was looking for, I decided to do a search for “District means.” 164 results (though some of these are phrases that end with the word “district,” like “historic district”). Of course.

It turns out, though, that District doesn’t always mean “the District of Columbia.” So the rhetorical question is this: is there a difference between all the different things it means? Those are:

  • the District of Columbia
  • the District of Columbia government
  • the government of the District of Columbia
  • the District of Columbia government, its agents, or its designees
  • within the geographical boundaries of the District of Columbia

For the record, the section of the Code that I was looking for was 1-301.47.

May vs. Shall

In our laws that establish agencies, we generally have at least two of the following sections: authority (of the director or of the agency), functions, powers, and duties. Apparently there is a legitimate argument that a law that says “the Director shall do X-thing-that-follows-up-on-Y” is pretty meaningless unless there is another section somewhere else says that “the Director may do Y.”

Now imagine that agency B was merged into agency A without corresponding amendments to agency B’s establishing law. And then imagine that you are trying to “clean up” agency A’s establishment law without making any substantive changes. And then finally imagine you come across this:

Powers, duties, and functions.

The Office is authorized to:

Require … that [entities] file reports as the Office may require.

Okay. So… we’re just being redundant here with the two “require”s, yes?


The news today (if by “news” one means “things posted the Internet”) is that society pages don’t like to feature ugly people.

It was quite by coincidence that in doing some legitimate research today I happened across a society column from 1882. All of it is quite fantastic (it is Miss Grundy’s Notes from the Washington Post on November 5, 1882, if you want to see for yourself), but a few notable items are these:

“Rotten Apple is the latest fling in color.”

“Senator Mahone did not have ‘room’ enough at the Portland and has gone to the Arlington. He wants the whole of Virginia.”

“Commodore English’s rose-bud daughter Miss Frankie, is a debutante this winter.”

“The Chinese minister’s wife, who is with him here, is his second wife. She is only seventeen years old, and is quite pretty.”