More water literature

California water resources and Internet Archive

I have a lot of bulletins from the California Dept. of Water Resources (DWR) in my library. And like any forward thinking librarian, I want to provide my users with links in the catalog to electronic versions of the reports whenever possible. But why scan something when somebody else has done it first?

I knew that UC Davis’ library was adding e-copies of DWR reports to the Internet Archive, so I checked to see if they had done the ones I had. When I got to the California Water Resources collection there, I discovered a nice surprise: they have an RSS feed. So now I don’t have to keep checking back all the time; I can just follow the RSS feed. (It looks as if they do more scanning in the summer, naturally.)

OK, you’re thinking, that’s great if I’m interested in California water. Get this: the Internet Archive has almost three million texts. There’s a good chance there’s a collection that will interest you and that you’ll want to follow what they post.

Southern Africa

The British Geological Survey has posted an archive of grey literature on Southern African groundwater. Grey literature (or gray literature) is documents other than books or journal articles. It includes conference papers, pamphlets, unpublished reports, theses and dissertations, etc. It doesn’t always end up in libraries (or on the Internet), and even if it does, it doesn’t always get cataloged properly. In other words, it’s lost for all intents and purposes. I think this archive will be a real service to the people and nations of Southern Africa, who might not otherwise find this information about their own region.

(H/T Aquadoc at WaterWired)


Cataloging inspiration

If you’re not a cataloger, you may want to avert your eyes.

Every year or so, I like to reread “Many Intricate and Difficult Problems that Torture the Mind”: Words of Wisdom for Art Catalogers in the Real World. It’s by Kathy Corcoran, who was then working in the library of the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Neb. It should be much better known than it is. Two other things you need to know:

  1. The quote comes from Sir Thomas Hyde, who worked to make a catalog for the Bodleian Library in the 17th century, and although Corcoran doesn’t believe cataloging is always easy, she doesn’t believe it should “torture the mind” either.
  2. This essay was apparently presented at an art librarians’ conference, but it’s not only for art librarians. Anyone who catalogs (or works with metadata in non-library settings) will find some wisdom in it

That said, I’ll just quote some of my favorite parts.

Remember that AACR2, OCLC, and MARC allow you to create minimal level records; these records are perfectly legal and acceptable and will get the books out there for your users. I have been very happy to see these minimal records on OCLC for example, not only for cataloging but also for interlibrary loan and verification.

Don’t let yourself agonize over your decisions. Just do something and let it go.


Your users don’t really expect you to do perfect cataloging but they probably expect to find library books in the catalog and on the shelf, and not in your office.


Reading Jesse Shera’s 2 Laws of Cataloging added to my relief. He said:

  1. No cataloger will accept the work of any other cataloger;
  2. No cataloger will accept his/her own work six months after the cataloging.


I was thrilled to come across this quote from Cutter’s Rules for a Printed Dictionary Catalog: “The convenience of the public is always to be set before the ease of the cataloger.”



  1. “The degree of difficulty in cataloguing an item is inversely proportional to its relative importance in your collection;
  2. “The degree of difficulty in cataloging an item is inversely proportional to its size.”


I’m convinced that there are books for which it is simply not possible to assign call numbers or subject headings that precisely and accurately describe the content.


[M]aybe it’s time to just decide on something, anything, and move on.


To get “unstuck” you could:

  • Create a minimal level record.
  • Choose a broader classification number instead of a specific one.
  • Put it in the artist’s file.
  • Do the best you can with subject headings.
  • And keep the cataloging flow moving.


  • Be liberal with additional cross-references, especially for local usage.
  • Be generous with content notes.
  • Create local authority records at will.
  • Add subject headings and added entries of local interest.


Each of our libraries serves unique patrons, with its own unique collections, catalogs, rules, practices, and needs.


Thanks to the Internet you can visit other library catalogs to see how others have cataloged different types of material. … Then use what you’ve discovered to develop your own practices. Express your cataloging creativity; it’s “your” catalog, relax!

Update: Title of article corrected.

A new climate conspiracy theory from Iran

Here in the U.S., we’re used to climate change conspiracy theories. They range from:

  1. It’s not happening
  2. If it is happening, it’s completely natural
  3. If it’s happening and it’s caused by humans, it’s too late to do anything about it
  4. If it’s happening and it’s caused by humans, technology will solve everything, and we won’t have to change our lifestyles

“Thinkers” in other countries have other ideas. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says Europe is stealing his country’s rain.

Of course, this is the same government that has made other irrational statements too numerous to mention.

Library and Information Updates:, Statistical Abstract, Special Libraries Association, INFOdocket and Other Sources of U.S. Government Data,, and other web sources for federal government data saw the budget that funds them cut by more than three-fourths (from $35 million down to $8 million) in the FY 2011 budget deal. But Rep. Darell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, says he can save some of the sites.

Statistical Abstract

Meanwhile, librarians are fighting to save the Statistical Abstract, City and County Databook, and other compilations published by the U.S. Census Bureau’s Statistical Compendia Branch. The Branch was zeroed out in President Obama’s FY 2012 budget. The American Library Association and Association of Research Libraries are asking Congress to restore funding. You can, and should, do the same. There’s also a group on Facebook and a petition on, but nothing is more important than writing your representative and senators.

Special Libraries Association

SLA has a blog going all this year, Future Ready 365, in which each day a different librarian writes about how she or he is ready for the future. You can read something inspiring everyday. And if you’re a librarian who feels ready for the future, you can tell the world about it. There’s also a Future Ready Toolkit with more resources.

Deb Hunt recently spoke about the web site: Revisit, OR “I didn’t know that was there!”


If you’re like me, you follow the work of librarian/web maven Gary Price. And if you’re like me, you wondered why the formerly prolific posts on his site ResourceShelf suddenly slacked off earlier this year. It turns out that Gary, and his writing partner Shirl Kennedy, have started a new site called INFOdocket, where they write about news of the library and Internet worlds. They also have a site called FullTextReports, which is just what it says: full-text reports in the news.

Water Updates: Clean Water Act guidance, climate change, water libraries

Clean Water Act guidance

The EPA has issued proposed guidance under the Clean Water Act, including a definition of “Waters of the United States.”

Some say the EPA shouldn’t issue guidance without going through the whole rulemaking process. However, recent Supreme Court decisions have muddied the waters, so to speak.

Climate Change

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has published two new reports on climate change and Western water. Many news reports wrote about one report or the other, but there are actually two:

A sampling of the news coverage:

The editorial writers at the Las Vegas Review Journal certainly didn’t read the report (or even their own reporter’s news article) when they wrote River’s problems can’t be blamed on global warming. I guess the Bureau of Reclamation is filled with hippie treehuggers.

Don’t want people to worry about greenhouse gases? Just stop publishing the data!

On the other hand, if you are concerned about climate change, and you’re involved in resource management, say, or local government, check out the Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange (CAKE). It’s filled with advice, case studies, directories of contacts, etc.

Water Libraries

UCLA will catalog a noted conservationist’s collection, Los Angeles Times, May 1.

When Ellen Stern Harris died of cancer five years ago at age 76, the pugnacious conservationist left a vast and chaotic collection of letters, research files, photos and publications.

Last Wednesday, a UCLA van pulled up to a chilly storage warehouse in West Los Angeles to pick up 28 cartons of materials, carefully organized by an archivist hired through Craigslist. Over the coming months, UCLA plans to digitize the contents to make them available online to scholars and others interested in California’s political and environmental history.

Considered to be the mother of the California Coastal Zone Conservation Act of 1972, Harris was an environmental activist long before the avocation became fashionable. When The Times named her Woman of the Year in 1969, columnist Art Seidenbaum called her “a modern kind of earth mother who fights for land, sea and air…a state official, a community organizer and a most uncommon scold.”

The Water Resources Center Archives is settling in at the University of California, Riverside, and California State University San Bernardino