What I’ve been up to these past few months

Time flies when you are a habitual project starter. July and August were both crazy. My time spent in Virginia, and then immediately after in Colorado Springs, was an amazing, once in a lifetime thing, that reminded me why I’ve taken the path that I have and helped me refocus myself. The first leg of my two week intensive book tour was at the Rare Book School, where I took a course on the basics of bibliographical description. The class was intense, the instructors excellent, and the experience as a whole was just as amazing as everyone says it is. There’s a sort of bliss that comes with being surrounded by people who not only love what you love, but are so mature in their love that you are constantly in awe of the vast depths of knowledge to which one can plunge in pursuit of it.

The students in my bibliography class joked that we would never be able to explain to other people just what it was that we had been doing all week, because it was so esoteric, but for me one of the great things about getting to really understand a subject is that it makes it easier to help other people understand that subject. That part of my personality has gotten me in trouble for being a bit of a know-it-all at times, but when something is interesting it’s really hard for me not to tell everyone all about it.

And, in fact, I got a chance to apply my new found education immediately after my week at Rare Book School ended, when I flew out to Colorado Springs to work as staff for the Colorado Antiquarian Seminar. This year the faculty was trying something a little different, and gave seminarians a challenge to “Adopt” two books and spend the week applying what they were learning to the cataloging and description of those books. Collation (describing how all the pages and leaves are put together in the binding) was not explicitly part of that, but after Terry Belanger’s talk on collation everyone turned to their adopted books and started struggling to put their new found knowledge into practice. What I had spent a few books of study and a week of lab time on, the CABS folk were attempting to do after 2 hours of instruction.

And they did remarkably well. A lot of people were a little intimidated by the terminology and notation in the beginning, but I was still in COLLATE ALL THE THINGS MODE and was practically begging people to ask me questions so we could collate something together. Occasionally we would come to something a little complex and I would say it wasn’t necessary to get too deep into it, which only resulted in them going to Terry, who would sit down and do it all, no shortcuts. I should have known better than to think that CABS folk wouldn’t want to know it all.

Over both weeks I ended up meeting some amazing people, refocused and reinvigorated myself, and drank more beer than I usually do over the course of an entire year.

Since then I’ve been occupying myself with the usual endless list of projects, which are below if anyone is interested.

Complete:

A few weeks ago I finished working on the digital catalog of Thomas G. Thrum‘s library for Librarything. Thrum was white man who moved to Hawai’i at a young age, and is primarily remembered as a folklorist and compiler of almanacs. His library was recorded by an anonymous bookman, most likely as part of estate proceedings after his death, and the majority of the books appear to have found a home at the University of Hawai’i. When his project came up I couldn’t resist snatching it up, since it was so closely connected to my alma mater, and the catalog looked straight forward enough, but it actually ended up taking some time to get everything written out.

For one thing the bookman who recorded the library did so with a shortlist only, and one in which he was in the habit of truncating titles to the point where it took some doing to find out just which “Report” was being referenced. The second problem was in the obscurity of some of these titles, particularly with the serials. I would say that almost half of Thrum’s books had not been previously cataloged on librarything, and many were not in enough libraries to pop up doing a broad search. A number of times I had to use the UH library system catalog to find the item, and then bring that information back to librarything. But persistence paid off, and now if you want to know what a scholar of Hawai’ian folklore from the 19th century liked to read all you need to do is go here.

I also managed to watch all 140 some episodes of Hunter X Hunter. It can’t be work time all the time.

Ongoing:

Notice I only really have one thing “finished.” Such is my life. Recently I’ve been working on:

  • Getting 52 books read by the end of the year. I’m currently at… 17. Haha… ha… ha… Well, that’s still a decent average for me. I haven’t actually hit 52 ever, even though I always say I’m going to aim for it.
  • A worldbuilding toolkit. For almost ten years I’ve been managing a “contest” of sorts where participants have been challenged to answer a series of prompts about different aspects of an imaginary world that they create. The platform that I had been using was not optimal for this sort of thing, so I’m migrating it to something I have more control over, and in the process I’m fleshing the whole thing out into more of a toolkit. With 400+ original prompts to migrate, and a lot of editing work required to get them into the new format properly, this is a project that will take some time.
  • I’ve picked up Japanese again and am making my painful way forward with it. Trying to work back to fluency is both painful and gratifying. I’m hating myself for how much I’ve forgotten, but it’s surprising how much I’ve managed to retain. My biggest hope is that my next step in life will be utilizing Japanese more centrally, but for that to happen I need to get serious.

Upcoming:

  • NaNoWriMo is in a month. I haven’t won in a very long time, but I’m getting tired of the dry spell.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *