Aug 16

Cartoon Medicine Show

I wish I could go see this– I’d love to see these cartoons.

From the silent era to the present, physicians, health professionals, governmental agencies, like the U.S. Public Health Service, and voluntary associations, such as the American Cancer Society, have sought to use motion pictures to advance medical science, train doctors and nurses, and educate the public.

“The Cartoon Medicine Show: Animated Cartoons from the Collection of the National Library of Medicine,” curated by Michael Sappol of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), will feature a rich sampling of rarely screened animated medical cartoons from the 1920s to the 1960s.

The film series will present a variety of medical themes and genres, including dental hygiene, physical fitness, physiology, mental health, malaria, venereal disease, cancer, radiology, biological warfare, and sanitary food preparation. Each evening will consist of 10 to15 short animated medical cartoons by animators both obscure and well-known, including Walt Disney, Friz Freleng, Zack Schwartz, Walter Lantz, and Shamus Culhane.

Distinguished film historian Donald Crafton and medical historians Michael Sappol and David Cantor will provide commentary. Donald Crafton is chair of the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author of Before Mickey: The Animated Film, 1898-1928 (MIT Press, 1984). Michael Sappol is a curator-historian at the NLM. His scholarly work focuses on the cultural history of the body, the history of anatomy, the history of medical illustration, and the history of medicine in film. He is the author of A Traffic of Dead Bodies (Princeton University Press, 2002). NLM historian David Cantor is the editor of Reinventing Hippocrates (Ashgate, 2002). His scholarly work focuses on the history of twentieth-century medicine, most recently the history of cancer.

Posted in Fun
Aug 14

Library Humor in The Onion

From The Onion

Dewey Decimal System Helpless To Categorize New Jim Belushi Book
August 14, 2006 | Issue 42•33

DUBLIN, OH—Members of the OCLC Online Computer Library Center’s Editorial Policy Committee, which oversees the Dewey Decimal System library classification system, were no closer Monday to assigning a definitive call number to the recently published Jim Belushi book Real Men Don’t Apologize. “With all due respect to the author, we remain unsure how to categorize this particular work,” said committee chair Leslie Buncombe, who, despite repeated readings, still wasn’t sure if Real Men was “an actual book.” “What is it? Autobiography? Self-help? We can’t even tell if it’s fiction or nonfiction,” Added Buncombe: “Too bad it can’t be shelved by its ISBN number. Maybe it’s Fantasy Biography? I don’t even think there’s a code for that.” If no decision is reached within the week, librarians may be forced to shelve it in the “phantom zone” between Jenny McCarthy’s book of marriage tips and novels in which a cat helps solve a mystery.

If you’re not familiar with The Onion and its brand of news parody, see this Wikipedia article.

Posted in Fun
Aug 08

Dump Mel (or at least mock him mercilessly)

So, K.G. Schneider (whose work and blog I admire) wrote a post on Free Range Librarian suggesting that the ALA should remove Mel’s READ poster from its catalogue.

I agree, and seem to be in the minority view on this.

I’m not suggesting that Mel’s movies should be pulled from the collections of libraries, just that READ posters aren’t a part of the collection. They’re promotional materials, and it is worth considering what it says about a library’s P.R. and marketing views to use Mel’s image.

In the spirit of compromise, perhaps Mel’s current poster could be replaced with this one (photoshopped by my brother):

Offered with a tip of my hat to Steve Cohen, who deserves to have a chuckle today.

Jul 19

GuruLib Creators Solicit Feedback: David Obliges (to the Chagrin of All)

(updated 7/20/2006: see bolded text at bottom of post) 

The problem with asking for my opinion is that you'll always get it.  Anyway:

The co-creator of GuruLib, Rana Basheer, left a comment in response to my post about GuruLib in which he solicited further comments about GuruLib.  How extremely cool is that?

Mr. Basheer, these are just off the top of my head.

Problems I see with GuruLib:

  • It isn't at all clear how to use the "Borrowed Items" function.  This may just be a problem of missing documentation, but if the interface doesn't reveal by playing with it how it is to be used, it needs further development.
  • One should be able to click an item on the shelf and mark it to be borrowed.  Marking it as to be borrowed should bring the user to a screen where the user can enter in the details of the borrower's name, phone number, and expected return date.
  • It makes sense to have some ads, but having both the ads AND the google adsense is sort of intrusive. Suggest that GuruLib use banner ads and/or context ads, but not both.  Also, the roll-over pop-up ads are unpleasant.  If they offered something more than just commerce, perhaps they'd be less so.

Features I'd love to see developed to expand GuruLib's usefulness:

  • Borrow a good idea from Librarything and make the site more social by allowing users to find other users with the same particular item, or to find other users with multiple shared items.
  • Add RSS feeds.  I have friends with great taste in books, films, and music.  I'd love for them to be able to provide a feed (that they can shoose to share publically, or to share only by invitation to particular friends) to let me know when something new has been added to their shelf (or shelves), and also see any tags, notes, or reviews thay may have added to the item.
  • How about being able to look up a movie from the shelf at IMDB with a single click.
  • I'd love to have a Firefox Greasemonkey user script (or full extension) that lets me click from IMDB, Netflix, or Amazon to add to my shelf at GuruLib.  Such scripts exist to link IMDB with NetFlix, so this should be not too difficult.
  • How about the ability to click on an item on someone else's shelf to automatically add the item to one's own shelf, one's Amazon wishlist or one's NetFlix queue?
  • How about a button (or context menu) for my browser that lets me "add this to my GuruLib shelf" from an item page at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, NetFlix, etc.?

Kudos to Mr. Basheer and his spouse, by the way, for developing a nifty new tool on their own.  I like stories of independent developers building neat stuff without corporate support.  Here's hoping it continues to evolve and improve!

Anyone else have thoughts or insights we can share with the creators of GuruLib?

Update, 7/20/2006: I have received a very nice email from the Basheers:

Thank you David Rothman for the patience. I agree with you that borrow item option is outrignt confusing. I will try to provide an option for the owner to set a book as borrowed as you suggested. My current implementation is the reverse way. That is, If a person wants a book from his friend he clicks on the borrow item link in his friends library to send a request to his friend to borrow the book. The friend will receive an email and he will then set the number of days the person can borrow his item.
I understand that is unnecessarily complicated. I will try to make it simpler. I really appreciate your suggestions for improvement. I will get to it one by one.
Thanks and Regards
Rana Basheer
Jul 18


So, I loved Librarything from the first moment I heard about it, but was bothered that it only covered books.

Just tried out GuruLib today. Still in Beta and a little cludgy, it seems a bit like a Librarything that can include DVDs and music

Still thinking about the neat things that could be done with this if they continue to improve the interface.  Worth checking out. 

Also interesting: Is it just me, or is the login area clearly modelled after Google login boxes?

Jul 06

Via NEXGENLIB-L: Best Geeky Job Description

Thanks to Jami Schwarzwalder for posting this to NEXGENLIB-L:

 class  DeveloperAcceptanceTest  extends  TestCase  {
   Developer  candidtate;
   Collection  team;

   public  void  setup()  {
       candidate  =  new  Developer();
       team  =  Interactions.getTeam();

   public  void  testTechnicalSkills()  {

   public  void  testGeneral()  {
       assertTrue(candidate.livesInIndianapolisArea()  ||

   public  void  testHumanBehavior()  {


class  DeveloperBonusAcceptanceTest  extends  TestCase  {

   String[]  bonusSkills  =  new  String[]  {

   public  void  testAcceptedCandidate()  {
       Collection  candidates  =  Interactions.gatherCandidates();
       Developer  toBeHired  =

       for  (developer  candidate  :  candidates)  {
           if  (candidate.equals(toBeHired))  {
               candidate.sendResume("[Click here for email]");
           }  else  {