Thursday, May 3rd, 2007
Today opened with a joint meeting with the other half of the Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC): BIBCO. CONSER deals with continuing resources, and BIBCO deals with monographs. Both groups participate in creating authority records for people, places, corporations and series. Authority is a joint all-hands-on-deck activity.
We discovered at breakfast that another CONSER library representative was also saying at the same b&b, PF. He came down to breakfast after us, and was still sitting there when we left to catch the METRO. B and I were trying to give ourselves enough time to get a coffee before going into the joint meeting. Alas, today was not our day for the METRO. We missed the red line, watched it pull out as we reached the platform. Once we caught the next train and transferred to the orange line at Metro Center, heading for the Capitol South station that dumps us at the back door of the Madison Building, we thought out luck was getting better, as a train arrived just as we did. We were wrong. We sat on the orange line train an waited, watching our chance for coffee slip by. Ironically, PF caught up with us. Even more amazingly, he reached the meeting room in the Madison Building before we did. How did he do that?? Hmm…what does he have hidden in his backpack…a transporter maybe?
Anyway, today there were tables, and a much larger meeting room. Of course, being a joint meeting, there were also a lot more people. PF realized he forgot a pen. Like, forgot to bring one to DC with him. He had pencils, but no pen. So B loaned him a pen, and PF vowed to buy a new one during lunch.
The morning consisted of reports by various standing committees, an OCLC report that updated us on status of the merger of RLG and OCLC update, and a discussion of the one format both groups are responsible for (integrating resources). Also included was a speech by Beecher Wiggins on the reorganization of the various divisions in cataloging and acquisitions going on at the Library of Congress, discussion of adding non-roman text to authority records, and some really interesting demonstrations of software that automatically adds non-roman text to records. I realize that for most of you this means nothing, but let me explain. Every time something is cataloged, it is input in a romanized form, in other words characters are spelled out using the roman alphabet. This may not sound all that serious, but often meaning is lost in the translation, and it’s not a true one-to-one conversion. So, now that our software can handle it, we’re trying to add the non-roman text to the records. So when you catalog something in Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc., you put the title in twice: once using the romanized form of the words, and once using the actual script/characters. It looks really cool. Well, a few people got together and wrote a script to add the fields automatically, translating the romanized text into the characters and vice versa. For people like me, who don’t read or write, say, Korean, this is awesome. Amazing what software can do these days.
Anyway, it was a full morning, and we were reconvening as a joint meeting again after lunch before splitting off into our respective groups again later in the afternoon. Knowing that the afternoon was going to be just as full as the morning, B and I once again opted to leave the building and get some fresh air during lunch. We found our way to a Thai place on Pennsylvania Avenue, figuring some spicy food would help clear up B’s congestion (a head cold to make traveling fun) and perk us both up a bit after sitting for hours on end. So we ordered lunch, and had a rather bizarre experience. Our food came at completely different times, literally a good 10 minutes apart. The service just kept getting more and more bizarre, we had a hard time getting the attention of either one of the two servers. Additionally, the clientèle were equally as bizarre. One lady sat there and snapped her fingers at the server while we were talking to him. So he left us to talk to her and then never came back. How rude. But the food was good (although not good enough to make me want to go back and deal with the bizarre service again). I had a vegetable coconut curry dish that wasn’t too spicy but just enough to give my lips that “curry tingle” and make my nose run a bit. And bonus, they had mangoes and sticky rice listed for dessert. Alas, the menu lied…the mangoes weren’t good, so no sticky rice for us. Instead we stopped at Firehook Bakery & Coffee House for a treat. A delicious cookie. A really delicious cookie. I see more Firehook cookies in my future.
Returning to the room after lunch, we learned that PF really did buy a new pen. Two pens, actually, just in case one of them didn’t work. Which was a good thing, since one of them didn’t work. We sat there trying to stifle our giggles as PF wrestled with his new pen, trying to get it to write, only to give up and pull out the second one.
After a few more reports, the groups split, and us CONSER folks headed to our meeting room. Fortunately, this room also contained tables. Our afternoon meeting contained a report on the state of the ISSN. Always informative. This was followed by discussion of, you guessed it, the CONSER Standard Record. Today things got a bit more passionate, but that may have been the fact that there were more people present. After several hours of discussion, we finally adjourned for the day.
B and I left the meeting, deciding to head out for Kramerbooks for some well earned pints of Rogue Dead Guy Ale. Rogue ales are delicious brews made in Oregon, and hard to find elsewhere in the country, so finding them on tap is like gold. We took the METRO to the Dupont Circle station, exiting on the north side. As we stepped onto the escalator, we got about 10 feet and it came to a grinding, screeching halt. Nails on a chalkboard screeching, some shuddering, and then a complete stand still. A collective groan rises from the packed escalator. Two things to note: one, there are three escalators, two going down, and only one going up. Two, the Dupont Circle station is rather deep, it had to go under a streetcar tunnel. So imagine the stairmaster nightmare as we all started climbing. We earned our pints. We really earned our pints of Rogue Dead Guy Ale. We topped the night off by eating dinner in the Afterwards cafe as well. They make killer nachos, as well as killer desserts. Specifically the Cafe Nachos Grande Gigante. We ordered guacamole with them, and they were big enough for us to split as dinner, but not to worry, it was a balanced meal, with plenty of veggies including salad topping off the chips and cheese. These nachos are so much more than an appetizer, or “sharezie.” Dessert was a Dysfunctional Family Sundae. We thought the dysfunctional fit, given that CONSER is often very much like a big dysfunctional family in itself. But you love it anyway.
Ironically, on our way back home, the up escalator was working, but now both the down escalators were out of service. Sigh. At least we had a chance to work off that brownie and ice cream with some more stairmaster.