Fan of Full Fathom Five? Be sure to check it out at its new home!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Reference Extract

I'm watching Planning Reference Extract with interest. According to their site:

Reference Extract is envisioned as a web search engine, like Google, Yahoo and MSN. However, unlike other search engines, Reference Extracts will be built for maximum credibility by relying on the expertise and credibility judgments of librarians from around the globe. Users will enter a search term and get results weighted towards sites most often referred to by librarians at institutions such as the Library of Congress, the University of Washington, the State of Maryland, and over 1,400 libraries worldwide.

I wonder how it will differ from one of my favorite sites, The Librarian's Index to the Internet, which describes itself as:

Librarians' Internet Index (LII) is a publicly-funded website and weekly newsletter serving California, the nation, and the world...You can also search and browse our website for the best of the Web. We have over 20,000 entries, also maintained by our librarians and organized into 14 main topics and nearly 300 related topics.

Librarians building a searchable resource of credible sites. Such a good idea that LII began doing it in 1990 as a Gopher bookmark file. (Remember Gopher?) In the current climate, they keep going, despite budget cuts. I wonder now what the future of this valuable, almost 20-year-old resource will be?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The new Picture Library website from the National Maritime Museum (Greenwich) makes it much easier to find their images from remote locations than it used to be--some images, if you have a fast internet connection. The home page will load a horizontally scrolling row of images without the option to skip it, so if you have a slow connection, you may want to go directly to the subject & category search page or to featured collections. (I accessed the site on a fairly fast network, and grew impatient waiting for the home page to load through the course of my searching.) The site has a useful FAQ broadly outlining policies, but doesn't address what is on this site in comparison to the digital collections previously made available over the web and currently made available on other sites.

Browsing, I saw lovely photographs, objects, paintings--a wide range of items that have been imaged. When I went to the search page, however, and entered this search in the caption search box: "cat head"
my search retrieved one image, a portrait of Captain Sir Charles Hamilton. Apparently, this text is responsible for responding to my phrase search:

This half-length portrait in kit-cat format shows the sitter with his head turned to the right.

Since the FAQ doesn't include advice on constructing search terms, I'm inferring that they don't offer phrase searching. I then tried various terms and variations. I was hoping to find images that I had found through their website before, e.g., "PAD8643 Gaff, Cat Head, Driver Boom, Bow Sprit," a watercolor--but I didn't find it on nmmimages.

It is a great website. On a fast connection, it's easy to navigate, and if you see something you like, there is a link at the bottom directly to their print sales. But I'm not sure how useful the site is for the serious researcher--there are clearly more images available on the main NMM website, but how many more? We don't know. And images that are on the NMM Flickr site are also not appearing on nmmimages (when I looked).

The casual user, or pleasure browser, might enjoy nmmimages, but the casual user might discover more NMM images through a Google Images search by including the phrase "national maritime museum"--I know I did.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Ryan Harper has posted a beautiful photo of his on website,,, in the blog entry entitled Restrained. He took this lovely photo of chains at SF Maritime NHP (TIA: where I work), and it won first place at the Wasatch Camera Club's advanced open division.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

200 Jobs

On January 6, 2009, the Wall Street Journal published, Doing the Math to Find the Good Jobs: Mathematicians Land Top Spot in New Ranking of Best and Worst Occupations in the U.S. (I read about this on gCaptain's excellent weekly review, Maritime Monday.)

Interestingly, librarian appears as no. 43 of the top 200 jobs, beat out by Historian at no. 7. Museum Curator? Down at no. 66. Bookbinder appears at no. 83, and Photographic Process Worker at no. 90. (Are you still doing analog photographic reproduction at your museum?) Author? No. 93, but ahead of Photographer at no. 125, and Recreation Worker at no. 131.

As for the maritime trades, Stevedore makes an appearance at no. 175, and Seaman at no. 197. The criteria that go in to the ratings include: work environment, physical demands, stress, income, and hours per week. Of course, the intangibles are omitted. I don't think they asked people in the professions if they loved what they do.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Your Call Radio

Another favorite radio program of mine is KALW's locally-produced Your Call Radio. Several recent programs address issues of interest to the maritime and the museum world, and are a pleasure to listen to. The hosts are skilled at fostering interesting discussions while ensuring that the experts share background information necessary to understanding the issues. It's a live, call-in show, but, again, the hosts consistently foster an environment of civil discussion. If you like the shows below, consider tuning in--and participating. (A live stream is available via KALW's Listen Live page, and the show is broadcast Monday through Friday between 11:00 AM and noon, Pacific Time.

  • Commons: Who owns human cultural heritage? Guests: McGuire Gibson, Professor in the Oriental Institute and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at University of Chicago, and
    Sharon Waxman, journalist and author of Loot: The Battle Over the Stolen Treasures of the Ancient World.
  • What can we learn from the transformation of our oceans? Guest: Sylvia Earle, named a living legend by the Library of Congress, Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society, and author of Ocean: An Illustrated Atlas.
  • Global commons--Whales & sharks. Guests: Guests: David McGuire, conservation filmmaker, a field associate of the California Academy of Sciences and a shark advocate; Douglas Long, Chief Curator, Natural Sciences at Oakland Museum of California and formerly chair of the Department of Ornithology and Mammalogy at the California Academy of Sciences, currently teaching in the Department of Biology at Saint Mary's College in Moraga; and, Stan Minasian, a naturalist with the Oceanic Society.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

What Lies Beneath

The BBC's documentary series, The Changing World, aired another excellent program, What Lies Beneath. I heard it via my local NPR station, KALW (of which I'm an enthusiastic member) and the program was so good that I listened to it a second time.

Win Scutt, an archaeologist and broadcaster, is engaging and educational. This program is a must for anyone with any interest in underwater archaeology, and would even be interesting to land-archaeologists, as Scutt addresses the issues of the shifting shore over time. In many places, what was once land is now underwater, and the frontiers of many archaeological fields lie submerged.

For those intimately involved with the field, and confronting the current issues of law, ethics, and unprecedented access to sites due to advances in technology, it would also be worth a listen--this documentary brings these issues into the mainstream media and might well influence how they are discussed in the future.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Lecture: Balclutha in the movies

The Friends of the San Francisco Maritime Museum Library send along this lecture announcement:

Balclutha in the Movies
Saturday, January 10, 2009, 6:00 p.m. In the Maritime Library, Building E, Fort Mason Center. Donation:$5($4 Library Friends and SFMNPA) Reservations: 415-561-7040 or

Park Ranger Debbie Grace will briefly tell the story of Balcutha’s movie career, including Mutiny on the Bounty, with Clark Gable. Her introduction will be followed by a showing of Souls At Sea, a rousing story of the slave trade in the 1850’s. The movie stars the Star of Finland as the William Brown, and includes the Star of Alaska (ex-Balclutha) in a supporting role. Gary Cooper and George Raft are also featured.

TIA: This is the library where I work.