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Month: August 2009

EndNote Style for MLA 7th Edition

I waited through the summer hoping that an EndNote output style for the new MLA style would become available for download from EndNote. I waited a couple of weeks past the date when I actually wanted to install it on campus.

And then I waited a couple more weeks.

And then I set to work making my own.

As it turns out, EndNote may have stalled because the new MLA style requires a field that isn’t built into EndNote yet. Every single bibliographic citation in the new MLA style requires that you note the medium of publication. So “Print” for things published on paper, and “Web” for things published on the web, and so on. (Here’s an overview of the new stuff in this edition.) Well, EndNote doesn’t have a field for people to say what medium they’re looking at when they create a new citation. After much experimentation, I co-opted the “Label” field for this purpose, but I can see why EndNote was reluctant to do that. Labels are really supposed to be used for other things… hopefully things that my lit majors won’t need too much, but we’ll have to see.

Two other annoying things about this field are that there will be no way to populate them automatically with the other bibliographic imports from our databases (there’s just no way the database will know if the researcher ultimately sees a print or web version) and that it’s far, far down the field list in an EndNote record, so there’s a lot of annoying scrolling involved for every citation.

These drawbacks aside, I have a draft style that I’m willing to share (zip file). It’s definitely still a draft, so help with testing and troubleshooting is much appreciated.

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Medium Makes a Difference

My local NPR station has been pushing their new news site. They put headlines there, and ask questions for readers and listeners to answer, read off these responses on the air, and link to the various staff blogs. Not a bad idea, and not a new one either (and it makes me shake my head a little every time they say it makes a great browser bookmark and never mention its feed).So, all in all, not a bad site, if a little busy for my tastes.

What gets me, though, is that they’re having kind of a hard time publicizing the thing because it’s hard to pronounce distinctly. You see, the local NPR station is MPR, which is hard to distinguish from “NPR” in spoken form. And they keep saying to go to “MPRnewsQ.org,” which could also be “NPRnewsCue.org” or “MPRnewsCue.org” or “NPRnewsCue.org.” There’s really no way to tell by listening.

Coming up with catchy names for things is always hard, but it seems like this is the brainchild of a group of people who were communicating with each other in writing, or who had seen it written in a list before hearing it so that they could never remember a time when they were driving to work and wondering which of four versions of a URL they’d heard.

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It Happened One Day

Every year there’s one day in August when Summer work ends and Fall insanity begins. There’s no way to predict when this day will happen, and the transition takes place over the space of a few hours or even a few minutes.

Yesterday was that day.

And so today I set my alarm back and got to work extra early, packed a lunch that I could eat at my desk, prioritized my day so that I could spend the day working on things that can’t travel home and then pack the rest to bring home with me, took my first break at 4:15 to go see the new dorms on campus, took my second break to drive home when they locked up the library on me, and then spent the rest of the evening with papers spread around me on the couch.

On the up-side, I used InDesign for the first time today, and I can already tell that it’s far more powerful than I’d anticipated. I felt almost guilty for being so pressed for time that I only explored the few features that were most important to my project. I kind of want to take a graphic design/layout class, actually.

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Adventures with Archives

A researcher on campus asked if I could help him track down an obscure database, “The Bronson Database” compiled by a Berkeley professor in 1982.

It sounded to me like the kind of thing that would live in a pile of floppy disks in somebody’s desk drawer (since it wasn’t listed in WorldCat at all), so today I started tracking down exactly whose desk drawer might have such a thing.

After a full day of exchanges with everyone from a SUNY librarian to an English Prof at Berkeley, a Berkeley archivist finally came through for me. As it turns out, one copy of the database does exist…

… in a file folder…

… in an archive…

… IN PUNCH-CARD FORMAT!

The archivist noted that while they do offer a photocopy service, it would probably be impractical in this instance, but that my researcher could travel out to look at the cards if he wanted to.

I love archivists. And I love the idea of a punch-card database (though I’m sure that will disappoint my researcher).

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