Monday, May 19, 2008
Unfortunately, all but one of the original contributors to the blog have departed from the University of Chicago library system. I'm not sure what that says about the fate of this blog. I've heard about the updates for the addition, so maybe I or someone will post about that. In addition, I plan to keep in touch with Emily, so perhaps news (and photos?) will trickle in as time goes on.
Matt's last day was last Friday. I was invited to his good-bye lunch at Salonica, and since I no longer have any academic obligations except turning things in, I decided to go. It was really nice seeing everyone again! I think I will have to visit more often. Good luck Matt, and let us know how Columbia's library fares in comparison to "ours"!
I leave you with this photo:
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Monday, September 03, 2007
CHICAGO (JRL) -- University of Chicago Library employees scattered about campus on a hot Thursday afternoon to enjoy various events offered on Library Staff Day. Among these employees, Emily Raney, Kei Hotoda, and the elusive Matthew Hacker put two-and-a-half heads together, as team "Sam Is For Lovers" (to commemorate fallen hero/co-worker Sam) to complete the 4th Annual Staff Day Scavenger Hunt. Indeed, the University of Chicago is known for the extensive and difficult annual Scav Hunt for college students, but "who has time for all that theoretical, imaginary numbered list of crap to do?" says Hotoda. She and Raney gathered as many answers as they could without setting foot outside of the Joseph Regenstein Library, largely due to laziness, carelessness, and the weather. They even admit to poking around the Cataloging section for answers, but mostly in vain--Cataloging Supervisor Janet Fox remained tight-lipped throughout most of the hunt.
One task was to come up with a haiku about the new addition to the Regenstein Library. In honor of their responsibilities for making sure the new addition has a strong and solid foundation, Raney, Hotoda, and Hacker made certain to do project manager David Borycz proud. Hotoda attributes what is basically the punchline of the haiku to Hacker, thus inducting him into team "Sam Is For Lovers." ("Otherwise, he was being selfish--exploring the secrets of the Reg, and with all due respect to Sir George Rumsey, learning how to use Picasa, and about some autumn festival," claims Hotoda.)
The shelves are overflowing
Why play tennis here?
After a long day of hunting for answers, a picnic turned into chaos from the torrential rains, and devilishly long commutes home due to fallen trees on the tracks, the results came in: Raney, Hotoda, and Hacker had come in fourth place. Their prize included a $15 gift card to basically Seven Ten and all the glory that securing fourth place in a Library Staff Day Scav Hunt can offer to bright and good-humored workers.
Thursday, August 09, 2007
The University of Oslo library. "Very Norwegian-looking" according to a friend of mine. They didn't let me inside.
Library in Berlin where the Nazis had their book-burning bonfire. No longer a library, but still... epic.
Memorial to the Nazi book burning. It doesn't look like much, but it's a room sunken in to the ground with lots of empty bookshelves.
The Royal Library of Belgium in Brussels. I have more super-exciting library photos, but I'll save them for later so we all don't get sensory overload. I wish you could've been there!
Friday, August 03, 2007
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
I met Matt while working in the Bookstacks Department during college. Over the past two years, I have invited him to my parties where I personally served him drinks in the (the) Schlitz goblet, mooched his Parliament Lights at the Cove in my pre-lung-collapse days, and listened to his stories about growing up in southern Indiana. I, along with my colleague Sam, have decided that with a man like Matt Hacker in it, the world is a lucky place.
Sam (SM) and I (KH) took some time out on a pleasant Friday afternoon to interview Matt, so that the world may know more about him.
KH: Okay, Matt. What do you do that is related to the ASR [Automated Storage and Retrieval] project?
MH: [Laughs]…I make sure that the books that are going into storage have records, so that the ASR is not a black hole.
KH: A black hole. Mmhmm. What would you say is your favorite part of your job?
MH: I like that I've been permitted to use my own discretion in organizing the project I was hired to complete. I invite the challenge to establish a method for this work which will ensure efficiency and accuracy as we come ever closer to housing titles in an automated storage system.
KH: So your official ASR nickname is the “Whiz Kid.” We’ve all noticed that Excel is your niche, with your hidden columns, fourteen colored associated tabs and whatnot [see right; click for larger image]. What is your history with Microsoft Excel?
MH: I used Excel for high school physics lab reports.
SM: I did that, too.
KH: I never took physics. [For some reason, everyone laughs.] [Mumbles] I did take astrophysics, and used Excel for that.
MH: We are gelling as a team as we discover our past.
KH: Indeed. So how did you get to using Excel more recently?
MH: I inherited an Excel workbook from my supervisor of data accumulated over the past year. I was told to fill in the blanks, but the only information in there were titles and online backfile sources.
SM: Skeleton workbooks.
MH: Mmm. [Pauses] I started looking for information to fill in, and when I couldn’t find it, I made it up.
SM: [Laughing] So Elsevier doesn’t exist!
MH: That’s right; [grinning] Elsevier is a character from a fantasy novel!
SM: What do you think about learning organizations? We posted on Chris’ blog about them, for a class he took. What are your thoughts on the matter?
MH: What’s a learning organization?
SM: Who knows.
MH: I like to learn about organizations, and I like to organize my learning. So I’ve always loved learning organizations.
KH: That's a good response. I agree with you. Now let’s get back to your recent, increased activity with Microsoft. How did you get involved with Access?
MH: I was convinced that the ASR project could only be carried out in its most efficient and accurate form by Access, by creating a database—shoutouts to George Rumsey. When I conferred with supervisors and trainers, they agreed. Access and I also dated for a while during high school.
KH: What went wrong?
MH: We were moving in different directions. She said I was moving too fast. I disagree.
KH: That's a timeless quote. Who is that man who works in the same room as you?
MH: Andras. A-N-D-R-A-S. Same root as “Andrea” or “Andrew”—etymologically, it means “man” in Greek.
KH: Oh, like “anthropology”?
MH: Right. [Writes it out in Greek for KH.]
KH: So, can you explain “ontological dependence” in layman terminology?
MH: The thing which is ontologically dependent on the other doesn’t exist if the other thing doesn’t exist.
KH: So does that just mean that two things are dependent on each other?
SM: So that’s important to his Excel sheets because the things in the workbooks are often ontologically dependent on each other.[Not-present ER says in KH’s imagination: "Well, isn’t it nice to always know everything, Quiet Storm."]
SM: So we have to end this interview with something like, ‘Currently reading…’ What are you currently reading?
MH: Moby Dick.
KH: Are you serious? I tried to read that twice and didn’t get into it, although I’d like to.
MH: I’m 300 pages in.
SM: Make sure to put that in there so everyone knows he’s really reading it.
KH: [Writes it down; thinks back to the few pages of Moby Dick she read.] So what do you think of the relationship between Queequog and Ishmael?
MH: I like it when my foreign friend smokes in bed with me also, so I understand.
MH: I want my colleagues, friends, and fans to know only this: Rinse, and repeat. Always. Each and every one is already cooler than a polar bear's toenails. I think this message will accomplish more. [Originally, his message was “Stay cooler than a polar bear’s toenails.”]
SM: We need to know your inspirations.
MH: Bob Dylan…Kaiser Wilhelm II…and Wayne Gretsky.
SM: Not Ted Koppel?
MH: No Ted Koppel.
KH: [Scribbles "Ted Koppel" and then strikes it with an X.] Thank you for your time, Matt.
***And that was our interview with Matt. Stay tuned for more exciting interviews with members of the ASR Crew and related staff!