Friday, December 14, 2007

One happy cat. . . "A" in Research Class

I am one happy cat! Dr. Brown graded our research papers, portfolios, and special project work already. That's a lot of reading. Now, it is my job to hawk the research to a publisher!

I had surgery in Portland on Tuesday and am very sore. More so that I dreamed. I can't even bend over and put on my own shoes. I wasn't expecting the pain to be so severe. I figured out a way to sleep in our bed that does not slam me when I try to get out. Last night I rested better than any night so far. So, I am doing light work--Christmas card addressing, writing email, journaling, and knitting some Christmas presents. I have Matt conned into moving some knitting books downstairs to make room for my professional books amassed these last two years. Whadda guy!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The end is near!

Just three more days of Finals Week and we are free birds for a bit. As usual, our students handled the pressure with grace and aplomb! Best wishes for good marks this term. Relax on break, be safe traveling, and enjoy some fun things! You deserve it.

I will be finishing my graduate work on Friday. Last night, after staring at periods, commas, citations, and the last paragraph so many times that I was second-guessing every little squiggle, I decided to end my misery and file my last two final projects. I think at some point you become ineffective as your own editor. So, those weights are off my shoulders and onto my profs. I hope they are charitable people! Now, the next step.....what to do with the rest of my life.

More about that later...when I start to breathe easier and really realize that the pressure is over.

Location is everything!

Patrons are having a lot of trouble finding materials on their own. They get the call number and title down just great! They don't check to see WHERE the material is housed. With all the special collections and various mediums in the library, the call number means very little without the location of the material being sought. I wonder if we should change the field on the OPAC to a flashing box or some sort of signal to get the patron's' attention. Maybe an audible "Hey! Do you know where you are going?" Something! If you have any ideas, let's hear them!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Getting Organized--Another Chance!

I know...I know..who wants to think of the new term when we are in the throes of finishing this one? But...over the winter break is a good time to let your stress seep out and renew your body and spirit! I am using the break to clear my head and organize my life in different ways now that graduate school is over (next Friday!) I have become a devotee of David Allen, the author of Getting Things Done (GTD). His methods of organization are designed to clear the stuff that keeps you awake at night, out of your head and into a "system." I have been working on perfecting my system but I still mess up now and again. More tweaking is in order!

Check him out on YouTube at: and his website is found here:

Lest you think his ideas are just for corporate geeks, think again. He can teach you to develop a system that can be designed to aesthetically appeal to you and you alone. It can be the thing you need to get it all together. It need not cost you money to buy an expensive planner, etc. There are people who devise all types of hacks to make their own systems. They are called DIYers (Do It Yourselfers) and their forums are found at:

Take some time to kick back over the break and think of ways to make life less stressful by getting organized. After all, the time you save is your own!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The FINAL stretch!

We are waiting for the final barrage of students to frantically throw together those last minute assignments. I saw poster boards yesterday all ready to go for a presentation, some heads together working on group projects. We are open until midnight over the next two weeks so come and get 'er done! Our staff awaits your bidding!

On Wednesday at 11 AM to 1:30 PM we are feeding our student workers in Room 114 to say "Thanks!" We appreciate their dedication to Pierce Library.

Oh, and 13 more days until Graduate School is over----not that I am counting or anything! Best of luck to all of us as we wind down the days until Winter Holiday!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Something's A-foot! Oh, it's me!

Last Wednesday's surgery on my left foot to correct a hammertoe and bunion went well. At least from what I could see in my twilight sleep! I heard the saws but figured it was happening to someone else, somewhere else. Amazing what drugs can do to make these procedures so do-able. Anyway, I overestimated my ability to bear pain and the prescription that I had did not cut it. Miserable night. I got better stuff the next day and all was well. I have had two nights of better sleep. Goofed today, though. I created a foolproof way to take a shower AND keep my foot dry. I don't know what happened except it did. I got out of the shower with a bag of water around my foot. Yikers! I quickly dried it off with a hair dryer but the boot is still dampish. I hope I do not get foot rot, or some such dreadful condition. I just have to get through until Monday's checkup. I want to go back to work!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, November 05, 2007

One more month of Grad School!!!!!!!!!!!!!

While this may be exhilarating to be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, Dr. Kusack reminded me once that the light could be a train coming at you! I can't afford to let down until December 7th so I am working every available free moment. Projects are still being assembled, readings still coming at me, and so much more to cram into my head. It IS exciting to look over the last two years while I create my portfolio to see all the work that has been finished and the topics that I have learned about. It is amazing that that much work has been amassed and it gives me a clear picture of my strengths of content and areas I would like to continue to grow in. I am so fortunate to have had so much support from colleagues, friends, and family to succeed these last two years in my studies. More accolades later. I owe so much to my profs and classmates at Southern Connecticut State.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Beyond the crazy!

Last full month of graduate school coming up...working like a demon on final projects. My research stats are finished and graphs made. Just the writing remains...JUST! I have learned one thing...writing a literature review is a bear. There is not much published in my interest area (small academic libraries and digital projects) so I had to think hard to make much sense of what was there. Now, I am concentrating on getting all the periods and captions and italics in the correct places in APA format to produce a publishable research paper. Yikes.

My Acquisitions class is going well. Love the material and the chance to ruminate about the philosophy of collection and deselection, policies for development...all manner of practical processes to be learned for the real world of being a librarian.

All this, though, against the backdrop of what is happening at our university this coming week-- layoffs. We will get called in on Monday or Tuesday if our position is eliminated. Then, if you don't get a call, you may still be bumped by someone who has. The entire restructuring plan will be announced to the public on Wednesday- Halloween. Maybe we can all come to work dressed as the Grim Reaper to add a bit of levity to all the craziness!

So, if stress were a surplus item, it would be ON SALE at my house!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Another paper turned in!

Ever get so frazzled that you just stand in the middle of the room and disappear into thoughts that are unfocused and off-topic? I guess that is what is called hitting the wall. Luckily, a friend rescued me and made me go to a movie just to change the pace. I had been working on a serials paper for so long that I was no longer making sense. So, last night we went to see Michael Clayton at the local theatre. Just the ticket (so to speak) that I needed to come home and finish writing the sucker! It is not my best assignment but as Theresa says "A good project is a finished project." I learned a lot in the research about the status of serials acquisition (it is controlled chaos with lots of competing models) and so the assignment fulfilled its purpose. I am much better prepared to choose a subscription agent and to work my way through the morass of subscriptions and the balance of print to electronic formats.

Now, I have to re-write my research paper's literature review so that it resembles work from a human being instead of the random typings of a primate!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Idea Mapping

Everyone has moments (and mine are occurring more often these days!) when decisions have to be made, or I want to pause and gather thoughts, or work out all the elements of a project. There is a process called idea mapping, or mind mapping. I won't go into the history of the process but I can tell you that I would not be as successful in grad school without it. It is a process of brainstorming that gets all the ideas out and then helps you put them in a semblance of order leading to ACTION and COMPLETION of a task. Two worthy goals!

Here is a link to some explanation of it and some links to software to help. I am not advocating a commercial product because mind-mapping can be done with just pencil and paper but along with the ads come some great ideas on how to apply this process to your life. Pretty soon you will be so organized that you will know why and how you are coming and going!

Tony Buzan, the guru
Idea Mapping
Free Mind
Nova Mind
Inspiration-30 day free trial!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Pocket Agenda for Free

Have a planner but too big to carry around? Wanna be more mobile?

In my never-ending quest to get organized, I have hit on a system that works for me, Getting Things Done by David Allen. More about that later. In the process, I have met lots of fellow geeksters who are mad to figure out how to get through the day without missing something. One of them told me about this website:

It is a way to construct a mobile agenda, shopping list, formula list, to do list, etc. You put in eight mini-pages, by dragging in an order that makes sense to you, and print them out. Using the folding instructions, it makes a little book to slip in your pocket or purse. It is very cool! No more lugging around your big planner but yet it keeps your appointments, lists, to do list very close to you!

You can even download the PC software and customize it to fit your needs.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Conversion Experience!

No, no, no----not a religious experience---a file conversion experience. Zamzar is a web utility that allows you to upload a file to their server in one format and get it emailed to you in another---for FREE!!!!!!!! So, what is the big deal about that? Ever get a pdf form to fill out but you can't write on it? Zamzar! Converted so that you can and then email it to the agency, prospective employer, or whoever as a Word document! No more faxing those pesky pdfs that can't be edited! YES!

Here's the BEST part- it will convert WordPerfect to Word! That will save much heartache in the ERC this school year. Many students come in with WordPerfect files and we can't convert them. Now, we can. This will be wonderful!

The link is:

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Getting it Together!

Ah! The smell of carpet glue, the pssst of the coffee cart's milk frother, the students rushing about looking for Loso or is that time of year! I can't wait to see all the new student library assistants on Saturday for our training day. It is new start....a time to initiate lasting friendships and kick up some fun at work! We are soooooooooooo dedicated to exceptional customer service. I will be hammering that home constantly!

Ryan and David came in for coffee cart training and they are doing well. Kathleen comes in for training on the Observer Project and the archive work tomorrow. It begins!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Another life FIRST-frothing milk!

Yesterday, under the tutelage of Shauntay, I frothed my first milk to make lattes at our coffee cart, Magna Cum Latte. It was so cool! (or should I say 160 degrees!) The students practiced yesterday and did a magnificent job. Pierce Library is putting great effort into this project to make the library more like a living room for students and faculty to relax, research. and study. There will be promotions and coffee cards to track purchases toward a free coffee. Keep watching this space for hours and days. Tentative opening is September 10th at 7:30 AM or as soon as the cart warms up, until 11AM. See you there!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


The clothes are not what I would call hung up yet but at least everything is out of the suitcases. This included the excellent cans of Skyline Chili that will try to get us through the winter until another trip to Ohio brings more. For those of you not enlightened about Skyline Chili, you do not know what you are missing! A four-way can make your day!

In the library we are on skeleton crew as the staff finishes up summer vacations. We are kept busy by people visiting La Grande and wanting info about their deceased relatives. Since parking is free, they pile in here looking for newspaper articles, obituaries, and items donated in the past.

We continue to try to work on special projects in the spare moments. The Photo Archive project has halted since the personnel on that project are now holding down the service desks. The scanners are being put on other projects until the flow begins again from the photo archive personnel. The Observer Project is stopped as we lost our data-entry and indexing personnel. So, things are not moving as fast as I wanted them to. Working reference has slowed down my progress on the OH-GR Project. That time of year when Peter is paying Paul!

I continue to study Spanish, work on my summer grant proposal for Dr. Liu at SCSU, and play my heart out with The Summit Ridge Band in the evenings. Life is good!

Friday, June 22, 2007

We need YOU! Hiring at Pierce Library!

We are hiring for Fall 2007 as I write this! We have openings in most positions in the service areas of ERC/Circulation, shelving, shelf reading, and Government Documents. Our interview process is painless and quick-just about thirty minutes of your time. We do telephone interviews, too, so don't let the fact that you are in New York on vacation slow you down.

We are an excellent employment choice for work-study students. Your class schedule and other commitments are planned around when we work out a work schedule. We are very flexible to arrive at a schedule that supports you and your academic life.

Call 541.962.3780 for an application and interview time. Or write to and an application will be sent to you via email. Join the Pierce family!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Back in the saddle-again! Summer School at SCSU

After three short weeks of rest, I am back in school again. This time working on a Field Project for Dr. Yan Liu. I am writing a grant proposal for a digital library (topic undisclosed to avoid tempting an industrial spy!) I am finding it hard to stay focused with our school year winding down here and all the grad parties, recitals, potlucks, departmental hooplah. It is hard to serve all masters with equal energy! Thank Goodness I set a timeline and am using that as I would any course syllabus. To adhere to my own deadlines is discipline indeed!

DRAT! Opening documents from EOU email

Some students are telling me that they try to open Word documents from their email and in the ERC the computers default to WordPad when the document opens. WordPad does not reflect their spacing and format.

To avoid that, right click on the document in email and "save as target" to the Desktop. Open up Microsoft Word and then under the File menu, open the document on the Desktop that you saved and ta da! your formatting should be intact--just like you left it before you sent it through the campus email system.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Coffee Break Spanish...excelente!

I know, I know...multitasking is really not being efficient, so says the research but...I am not filling my head with the non-harmonic music that is piped in full-blast into the gym each morning! I found Coffee Break Spanish to be just my cup of latte. It is a fifteen-minute or so program that I download on my iPod (I subscribe so it is easy to get this free and automatically downloaded through iTunes every week.) It is conversational Spanish and the hosts of the show are Scottish. It is a different twist- cutting through the Scottish accent to get to the Spanish- but it is like getting two cultures at once! Profesor Mark teaches the Spain-ish dialect in the instruction but he often points out sounds that are different in Mexican or Latin American Spanish. I am so enchanted by the show that I am now a bonus member that allows me to download pdf forms of the lessons, flashcards, and bonus broadcasts that often have relaxation elements that are very effective in lowering your anxiety while learning vocabulary.

Encantada Coffee Break Spanish. Este es la URL link:

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Whole Lot of Powerpoint Goin' On!

I look up often to see what is going on out there and if I don't see FaceBook or MySpace, I often see some Powerpoint presentations being constructed. There were so many yesterday, I thought I was teaching a clinic on the product. I also learned a thing of two and if I am wrong, someone please tell me more elegant ways to produce the same results. In particular, when a creator wants to use chemical symbols that require a subscript as in H20 (I can't do that properly in this dinky word processor), you have to highlight the letter that needs to be "sub-scripted" and change it in the Font menu under EDIT. It is a bit tedious if you have a group of them to do. Anyone know a better way?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

New York Times Select Free!!!!!!!

To students and anyone with the .edu suffix on their email account., the New York Times Select is now free!!!!! Can't beat that price!

Go to, input your .edu email address and follow the
directions from there.

A subscription to TimesSelect includes:

* OP-ED COLUMNISTS Enjoy exclusive online access.
* NEWS COLUMNISTS Explore the perspectives of select columnists
from Business, New York/Region, Sports and The International Herald
* THE ARCHIVE Explore The Times archive back to 1851. Access up to
100 articles per month.

Get in the know---for free!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

One space or two after a period? Get hip!

It is time to drag yourself into the modern era! There is only one space after a period in modern typesetting (word processing.) In the old typewriter days, the characters were placed on the page with mono-spacing. That is why you had to use two spaces to make the sentence look as though it was ended. Now, though, characters are placed on the page by the computer using proportional spacing and the period carries it own extra space to signal the end of a sentence.

Don't believe me....just check out these sources: Modern Language Association (MLA) a short film

And the hangers-on:

if you just can't break the habit, go ahead and do your ol' thing and then FIND/REPLACE the two spaces for one space throughout the document. Fix all those holes that make your document look like Irish lace!

Monday, April 30, 2007

Scan the Man!

We have a new scanner in the ERC paid for by Tech Fees! Thanks to the student body for providing this station for your fellow students.

When scanning, it saves automatically to "My Pictures" on the C Drive or you can manipulate it to your flash drive.

Enjoy! The software is so easy that you will probably need no help from teh library staff!

Have at it!

Here's the technical skinny:

  • 48-bit color depth and 600 x 1200 optical resolution, 600 dpi
  • will scan up to 16 pages per minute
  • large scan bed : 11.7 x 17 inches (297 x 432 mm)
  • EPSON scan software and Adobe Photoshop Elements (manipulate the scanned image)
  • ABBYY FineReader 5.0 Sprint for optical character recognition (never retype another document!)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

We are wired! All over!

We have been wireless in the library for some time now but....the signal did not quite reach to the ends of the book stacks on the first and the second floor where the great tables and electricity are. They are sweet spots to study because the views are great and you are in the tree line. It is isolated and quiet. Now, the signal has been amplified so that wireless goes all the way there.


Monday, April 23, 2007

A conversion experience- NEW Microsoft Word!

I just had my first Microsoft conversion experience this morning. I tried to open a document that a colleague had sent me and I got prompted to go to: to download a converter for the new Microsoft 2007 family of Powerpoint, Word, and Excel. Expect to see this as more and more people upgrade to the new software. The converter is very easy to download and install so . . . no worries!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Scanning 'R Us!

We were given a long-bed Vista Umax scanner for use from a very-supportive patron Matt. We are so appreciative! We hooked it up to a PC on a station by the Reading Room. There are instructions there but it is quite easy to use. The software is under the Programs menu and it is called "Vista Scanner." You do have to change the settings to direct where it is saving and what format you wish to scan as. You can access thos settings by choosing the small icon on the top right-hand corner of the scanning window (it looks like a scanner.)

If you need help, just ask one of us friendly library staff members!

Oh, where, oh, where has the printer gone?

We (Sharon) was becoming deaf on the right side hearing the repetitive clickety-clack of the printer for the last couple of years. It had actually gotten worse the last couple of terms since some faculty have passed the cost of printing to the students and they are printing out tomes of Powerpoint lecture slides.

We also moved it to give patrons more room to stand when they print and it puts students closer to the other tools on the work table: stapler, hold punch, and paper cutter.

Hope you like it. We are getting some good comments over the change!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Cramming it all in my head!

I am down to the wire on a couple of BIG projects and I am running on excitement alone- I think! Certainly not running on sleep. I am working furiously on enough of the "oral history" project to have something to show on April 24th. Plus I have a repository paper to write and the final write up for Digital Libraries. Yikers! Where does the time go? Next week I may have to give up the New York Times Crossword Puzzle that steals time like a thief in the night.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Office 2007-Great stuff!

I had to download Office 2007 (trial version) because my old Office crashed and burned last week. I could not, for the life of me, reinstall it so….frustration turned to desperation and I downloaded a 60 day trial of Office 2007. I love it! Word is aesthetically pleasing to even look at. When you want to change a typeface or size of a font, indent…several options, a ghosty box appears over a word you have selected and you can change it right there. No more traveling clear to the top of the screen to make changes. Those of us with large monitors will appreciate not having to cover so much real estate.

It also publishes blogs like a dream. You write your entry and then it posts to the blog for you. Too easy! I also have been playing with Note—but I am not sure where the notes are going and how to get them back. More on that later!

I have a good playing gig in April-just in time to hand the money over to Microsoft! The price at Academic Superstore is just about manageable,

A caution—I have to remember to save "backwards" so that others can read it. There are also readers that I can send with documents to that others can read this version of Word. More later!

It certainly was not OUR Eastern time!

Summer school registration started this morning at 6 AM in Connecticut—that is 3 AM here! Cruel! I had to get up and register for my research class as it is the last required course and I needed to get it finished! In the fall, I will have two electives and then I am sooooooooooo finished! Oh, and the Capstone.

I was the 7th person to register for the class so I expect that if 7 people signed up at 6 AM (or 3 AM in my case!) that the class will probably fill soon. Early bird and all that. I am a bit apprehensive about this class. I took it once before in my first Masters' work and it was dreadful. We took our prof out to lunch on a riverboat on the Ohio River after the exam. Then three of us hoisted our textbooks off the side of the boat! It felt great. She laughed. (We were not very environmentally conscious then---nor did textbooks cost $100 for a paperback as one of my Digital Libraries book did this term-yikes!)


Best wishes to all the students at Eastern who are feverishly finishing the term in a couple of weeks. Sure have seen a lot of activity last week and today. It is always a pleasure to serve the most appreciative and nice students on the planet!

PastPerfect Software Review









Sharon Porter

ILS 655 Unit 3/4-Digital Library Technology Review

February 25, 2007







    In the lecture notes in Unit 5, elements of a desirable user interface were discussed in terms of feasibility, integration, usability, consistency, reliability, security and recoverability. PastPerfect software is a commercially-available software package used by over 2,750 libraries, museums, and historical societies to manage their digital library collections. Usability is the element most evident when working with this software. In their training sessions, the practical day-to-day workflow is acknowledged by beginning with "A man comes into your library with a box." Anyone who has worked in a library, museum, or historical society knows this scenario. From intake to dissemination, the designers of the software seem to know the daily routines of data entry personnel, librarians assigning metadata, historians writing narratives, and harried directors who have little time to compose thank you letters and track gifts and loans. Much care has been taken to manage the people side of the business of preservation. Tracking fund-raising, patrons, donors, and volunteers is also a feature of the software.

PastPerfect Software Contact Information

    PastPerfect is the flagship of the Pastime Software Company, Inc. located at 300 N. 300 N. Pottstown Pike, Suite 200, Exton, PA 19341. Their business telephone number is 610.363.7844 and the Sales Department can be emailed at The company was founded in 1998 and remains a small company of about eleven employees in their single location. The main contact person is Vice-President Brian Gomez. Their internet address is and their toll-free telephone number is 1-800-562-6080. Version 4 has just been released and the pricing is $795 for a single user license but members of AASLH (American Association for School and Local History) receive a 20% discount. Network upgrades are available for 2-5 computers at $450, 6-10 computers at $800, 11-25 users at $1,100 and for 26+ computers it costs $1,400. The company maintains a client list and map on their website under the Resources tab with links to online projects.

    Upon a cursory walk-through of the software screen, it would seem that the product is designed for museums. The detail in the Objects Module is extensive and the Contacts activities with pledge collection abilities underscore its utility in that realm of work. However, the Library, Photo, and Archive modules are just as deep in detail and supportive of activities you would expect in collecting many types of materials aside from realia. The software is aesthetically appealing. Even the data-entry screens don't seem like work. Pull-down menus, use of authority files, and links to the Library of Congress Thesaurus for Graphical Materials-Subject Terms and the Getty Union List of Artist Names and Art and Architecture Thesaurus websites aid in data-entry. Authority files are customizable for local definitions to help speed up data entry processes.

    After evaluating objects for inclusion into the collection, the Accession module allows the user to temporary take custody of the item, describe the item(s) and print a receipt for the donor. If the item is kept for the collection, accession activities are managed in this module: assigning it an accession number and completing a Deed of Gift and Thank You letter.

The Basic Four Modules

    The cataloging of an item begins in the Objects, Library, Archive and Photos modules. The Objects catalog is chosen from the main menu. There are different screen views for Archaeology, Art, Geology, History and Natural History. Each type of object will bring up a specialized screen. For example, the natural history screen presents taxonomic choices but in the case of art objects, provenance fields are presented. Chenhall-approved names of objects are accessed through a Lexicon as an authority file. Site information can be described here for archaeological, geological, and paleontological sites and sensitive site information can be password-protected. Repatriation processes are included in this module for noting items that are subject to review, investigation, and disposition. Appraisals are recorded here as well as the condition of the item. Authority files are used to speed data entry for people, classification, subjects (using the Library of Congress Thesaurus for Graphical Materials), and search terms. Dublin Core metadata is generated here and the AAT online button accesses the Getty Museum's Art and Architecture Thesaurus (Library of Congress, 2007) (Getty Museum, 2007).

    The Photos Catalog has specialized fields for describing photographs that includes details of the size, negative number, and film size of the photo. Again, the Authority files aid in data entry. Classification is based on a photograph classification system, a finding aid, developed by the Bishop Museum in Honolulu and is organized in a hierarchical system. There is event detail to add for the photographer, the studio, the medium, and storage location fields (Bishop Museum, 2007).

    The Archives Catalog is the area where unpublished materials are catalogued. Examples of materials are manuscripts, oral histories, videotapes, personal papers, maps, music collections, and other documents. Items may be catalogued singly or in collection sets. In this module, conditions of access are defined that restrict or affect access of the item for its use, reproduction, or publication. Finding aids that relate to the item may be identified along with how to obtain a copy. Materials that are associated are described, such as copies or other related materials in the repository. There is multi-level linking to help organize series of documents with a parent directory. Music collections are described in this module with specific fields for track number, composer, artists and their associated instruments, song title, and composer. The genre, a scope and content abstract note, recording label, and recording media may also be defined. Oral histories are catalogued here with notes for applicable restrictions, narrator and interviewer information, transcriptionist, and donor release forms. Links may be made to the audio files for playback while viewing the record but it requires the additional Multimedia Upgrade.

    The Library Catalog is designed for a non-circulating library and describes newspapers, pamphlets, books, and periodicals. Some specialized fields include information found in the CIP (Cataloging in Publication) but cutting and pasting from WorldCat for older titles, or original cataloging is allowable. The Dublin Core and Library of Congress website buttons are available in this module as well (Parr, Hilton, & Danner, 2004).

Add-On Modules

    To amplify features of the software and to more easily disseminate the collection, add-on modules are available. The Multimedia Module ($370) allows users to attach, view, print images, and link multimedia documents to records. These documents can be digital audio or visual, web page, Microsoft Word,
Excel and pdf files. PastPerfect also will allow the user to acquire images through most digital cameras and scanner directly into the software. The Virtual Exhibit add-on module is $375.00 and produces HTML webpages from selected records or the entire website with search capability. It can then be hosted on the user's server or a hosting service is available. The hosting service, PastPefect Online, has a $248 set-up fee and charges $410 for annual hosting. An additional 10,000 online records sell for $236. MWeb software supports the online collection and features advanced search capabilities and Click-and-Search, an alphabetic browsing feature. Strategic Planning is the company that has developed MWeb, a proprietary software they would not share information about, but they provide a list of examples of websites using their search software (MWeb, 2007). Barcode printing is available in a module selling for $79 that includes the most common barcode formats, Code 128 and Code 39. It also supports Codabar, Interleaved 2/5, UPC (both EAN and JAN), and UPC A and E. The EZ-MARC module is $95 and allows the import and export of MARC data to library catalogs. Scatter-Gather is an essential add-on for situations where a user is working off-site so that the data can be merged with the parent site. This would be useful for field work and for working at home (Pastime Software, 2007).

Technical Requirements

    The data-entry station requirements are unremarkable using a 600 MHz Pentium 3 or equivalent CPU with a Windows 98, ME, NT, 2000, XP operating system of 128 MB RAM. Forty megabytes of storage space is needed for the program and 5 MB is needed for every 1,000 records. The local area network (LAN) can be Windows NT, Novell, or the Network Neighborhood that comes with the Windows operating system. The software is a simple self-installation.

Technical Standards

    Metadata can be added using the Dublin Core standard and it can be exported to XML for viewing and sharing. To describe man-made objects, the software uses Chenhall' s Revised Nomenclature, a museum standard that is a hierarchical classification system published by the American Association of State and Local History (AASLH) (Canadian Heritage Information Network, 2007b). The software uses the Library of Congress Thesaurus for Graphical Materials for Subjects, a thesaurus of over 6,300 terms for indexing visual materials (Library of Congress, 2007). To describe photographs, a thesaurus from the Bishop Museum of Honolulu, based on their experience with over one million photographs, is used to assign content (Bishop Museum, 2007). There are over 100 pre-inserted authority files to help with data-entry for author, classification, collection, content, creator, material medium, object name, people, photographer, places, print size, storage location, and subject fields. Authority files are also user-defined as data is entered into the records, such as the Contacts file. Many of these files are pull-down menus for easy data entry. MARC data can be imported and exported to aid in data entry and dissemination.

The Archives are compatible with International Council on Archives ISAD(G) standards. Relational, hierarchical, network, and object oriented data structures are featured. Underlying the database management software is Microsoft Visual FoxPro SQL handles the query language. The character sets are Extended ASCII and image formats supported are TIFF, JPEG, and BMP. Data can be imported from ASCII-comma delimited, tab delimited, DBase, Excel, FoxPro. Data can be exported to ASCII-comma delimited, tab delimited, DBase, Excel, FoxPro, Excel/HTML, XML, Dublin Core XML, Microtext, MARC21 (with the add-on module mentioned earlier)(Museum Documentation Association, 2007). The maximum number of concurrent users of the system is not set by the software, with 78 recorded from the largest installed system. The largest record can have 255 maximum fields and the largest installed system has 200,000 records but is, again, not limited by the software. Recommendations for data backup are outlined in the software documentation and a button on the Main Menu accesses the options available.


    In addition to the functions of each main module, data for PastPerfect can be converted from Access, Argus, ASCII, dBase, DIF, Excel, Filemaker Pro, Foxpro, MARC, MCMS, Mimsy, Minaret, Paradox, Q&A, Snap for DOS, and Snap for Windows. Each catalog record has an update history including the date, time, and the user who last made changes in the record. Records can be noted for approval of a supervisor. User-defined function keys can cut down the time used to input today's date, name of the institution or collection, or any other data phrase that is used regularly. In acquisition management, registering an item develops and maintains an immediate brief and permanent means of identifying an object. It also establishes the right of ownership. All associations with a person, place, and event are preserved. A numbering system assures that each item has a unique identification number to track that item through all the processes of the software. Temporary custody status of an item can be converted easily to a permanently owned item, a loan, or an item to be returned to the owner. All of these end results triggers a donor letter to the owner reflecting the status of the item. Up to four donors can be linked to a single item. De-accessions are tracked as well. People biographies may be established to ascertain the relationships of donors, the subjects of photographs, or the creator of documents. Catalog records can be associated with that person's biography.

    The interface is clean with links clearly marked for the various functions of the software and the four main modules. The data entry screens are surprisingly neat considering how much information is organized in each screen and the amount of resources and links used to help catalog the item. Navigation is clear and consistent from screen to screen, module to module. Exits are clearly marked and warning messages are appropriately given for permanent changes to items, such as watermarking a photograph. Searching is called "Research" and is accomplished by choosing all catalogs, keyword, lexicon, people, and search term as parameters. Boolean logic is used to search through the catalogs, one by one or collectively, and by keyword. The keyword search includes a "sounds like" parameter.

    The Reports function includes over 200 built-in customizable reports and also includes a Report Maker utility for designing your own reports. Print previews are available. There is also a place to store any custom reports that the user may have commissioned from the software developer.

    Indispensable for public library, museums, and historical associations is the Contact and Campaigns functions of PastPerfect. The Contact database tracks members, donors, pledges, memberships, volunteer hours, planned giving, giving history, and contact information. A contact's email address is linked to the computer's email program for quick messages. The Campaigns function tracks the goals, membership, and pledges of fund-raising programs, complete with a thermometer to indicate progress. Initial pledge and reminder letters are found here as is an Excel spreadsheet for managing campaign expenditures. From these areas, contacts can be assigned to an array of lists for specific letters and for printing mailing labels.

    A small feature, but one that points to the developer's understanding of how people work, is the small icon for the "To Do" found in the main modules and on the Main Menu. Many workers work in environments fraught with interruptions. The sticky note function allows workers to communicate among themselves or to leave notes for themselves. In the four main modules, the sticky note has a pull-down menu to flag that record for special treatment, such as items that need to be checked by a supervisor or to have dates verified.

Technical Support

    There is a free thirty-day support period after purchase but PastTime Software, Inc. also offers a first-year support option for $299 for a single license and $372 for network users. Customization of the software and for reports is arranged by one percent of the clients. Custom forms and reports cost $50 an hour for development and the typical job runs from $50 to $250. Data conversion rates are also $50 an hour with the typical conversion costing $400 to $800. Training modules are available for $119 per module for management training, membership, reports and the Report Maker, and Virtual Exhibit with a per diem of $300 per day plus expenses. The user guide is a free online download and the bound volume is $20. It is well-written with useful screen shots and helpful discussion on the practical aspects of setting up systems and how to save time in data-entry. The manual narrative is a clear explanation in layman terms about classification systems, lexicons and what they do, search functions, and various other terms and processes that volunteers may not have encountered before working in a cataloging environment. There is a newsletter that is produced six times a year and also a discussion forum is online for users' to contribute tips and ask questions. Free upgrades are posted monthly. Versions are offered for no charge but the newest major upgrade to Version 4.0 was $300. The telephone and email response is excellent in content and timeliness (Canadian Heritage Information Network, 2007a).


Observation and Comments

    After training for two days and working with the evaluative copy of the software for a few weeks, the software gets high marks for its integration, usability, and consistency. The screens are all organized to make sense and are kept consistent from module to module. Great care has been taken to reduce the data-entry time that is instrumental in keeping volunteers and data-entry workers from becoming fatigued. It is easy to learn and remember. Recoverability is an issue to be considered (McCray & Gallagher, 2001). With the data export functions featured in this software, the raw data can be exported to other management systems if the company falls apart and there is no more support of the product. Since the data is structured to professional standards, the issue of proprietary restrictions of the item descriptions is addressed. In terms of the security of the data, users are assigned various layers of security by the supervisor so as to protect sensitive data (pledges and personal contact information, for example) and to keep a volunteer in an area for which they have been trained.

    PastPerfect is a package that would get an institution up and running with an aesthetically-pleasing interface and solid user services for retrieval of data with a minimum investment of time and expense. The cost of the software in terms of the range of functionality and ease of operation is a value. Larger institutions who have their own technical staff could adapt the HTML code to customize the interface and add some user services to the online presence. Provisions for purchasing a copy of original photographs might be one service to add. Examples of online collections powered by MWeb and PastPerfect are found at to illustrate that the standard look and feel can be branded to look unique. The Amelia Island Museum ( is a nice example of how the search engine works.

    Although there are few reviews in the library literature about this product, an unscientific study in our region shows that most of the libraries, museums, and historical societies in this part of Oregon are writing grants to secure funds or outright purchasing PastPerfect software to manage their collections. Given the extensive range of types of mediums and materials that are addressed in the development of this product, the software can adapt to tasks of institutions small and large, with experienced cataloging staff or not. With a well-planned workflow and timeline, this product would enable a library to produce a digital library with a minimum of training and frustration. The results of the cataloging and description of the items produces data that brings resources to the end user in an efficient and pleasing manner.


Bishop Museum. (2007). Archives: Photo Collection. Retrieved February 27, 2007, from


Canadian Heritage Information Network. (2007a). Collections Management Software Review: Product Reports-Pastime Software Company, Inc. Retrieved February 22, 2007, from


Canadian Heritage Information Network. (2007b). Vocabulary and classification. Retrieved February 26, 2007, from


Getty Museum. (2007). Getty Vocabulary Program (Research at the Getty). Retrieved February 26, 2007, from


Library of Congress. (2007). Thesaurus for Graphic Materials I: Subject Terms (TGM I). Retrieved February 27, 2007, from


McCray, A. T., & Gallagher, M. E. (2001). Principles of digital library development. Communications of the ACM, 44(5), 49-54.


Museum Documentation Association. (2007). MDA Software Survey: PastPerfect. Retrieved February 22, 2007, from


MWeb. (2007). PastPerfect Online. Retrieved February 28, 2007, from


Parr, M., Hilton, R., & Danner, J. (2004). PastPerfect Software for Museum Collections. Exton, PA: Pastime Software Company, Inc.


Pastime Software. (2007). PastPerfect 4 Features. Retrieved February 22, 2007, from



Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Foo-Foo La Roo---go easy on the perfume!

Some ladies and gentlemen are wearing WAYYYYYYYYYY too much perfume and cologne. One patron just about knocked me silly a few weeks back. I could hardly catch my breath. She asked me for help and I think I did not treat with my usual exuberance because I could not breathe! Musk is so hard on some folks that often doctors have it posted in their offices asking patients not to wear it.

A little goes a long way! Go easy!

ERC Printer cannibalized itself!

Holy Moley! The printer in the ERC has huge ISH! As it turns out, the fuser turned on itself and tried to eat its way out. Not a pretty sight. So, strategies to cope may be:
--research but send the articles to yourself by email
--save them to a flash drive
--print out your papers in the lab on the third floor
--send them to me and I will print them out for you (
--realize that being a Luddite is not all bad!

The part will be in tomorrow so Koby, our brave repair person will have it snapped back into shape on Wednesday.

Thank you for your patience. This is the first time this printer has been down in two years.

Friday, February 02, 2007

It's crying time again! Pitfalls!

Two calamitous items this week:

1. We only support Microsoft Word here in the library. If you expect to print it here and you do not have Word at home, save as "RTF" or cut and paste it into an email to yourself. Some word processors even let you "Save As" and Word is in the list. Or...try an online word processor like Zoho Writer that is just like Word only it is online and you can save your work online to print out wherever you find yourself working next. Too cool!

2. Files cannot be saved on the library computer. They will disappear by the next day. Buy a flash drive, email docs to yourself, access your EOU server space....just don't depend on saving to our hard drives.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Bonkin' Biblio! Espresso Machine for Books!

Now, I have seen everything! An ATM or a coffee machine approach to getting a paperback book. There are machines now (at $50,000 each--let's buy two!) that access a database for the book (usually in the public domain) , print it, glue and bind it and spit it out at you! Here's the Fortune Magazine article that talks all about it!

Just more being on a long flight with only the SkyMall Magazine to read. Or, needing Huck Finn for a paper and the library does not open until 9 AM! Or Aunt Tessie's birthday is tomorrow and she really loves poems of Emily Dickinson. You can even print and bind your own private musings or the latest Great American novel you wrote last week!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Historical stock quotes- The Skinny !

So, you missed the stock quote that you need for a project? A quick source is found at

Type in your stock's symbol in the "Get Quotes" search box (there is a look-up feature there if you do not know it) and the page will refresh with your company's current stock prices. There is a link to "historical quotes" and you can pull-down the menu to the date you wish, Voila---step back in time and find the opening price, daily high, closing price and volumes traded. Very cool!

Quick and Dirty SIC Codes

We've been working a mile a minute these days! Ordering time! But, in all the crazy stuff, I noticed many students asking for SIC codes to do an assignment for a business class. We have a book in the library titled Standard Industrial Classification Manual and it is located in the Reading Room HF1042 .S73 1987. There is also a link to it on the internet at:


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Zip through research with Zotero!

Zotero is a great new web browser helper that allows a student to collect, manage and cite research sources from the browser itself. There is a cool demo available at:

Check it out! The best feature: it is FREE!!!!!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Slow Learner--Knives on Board

Just returned from a stressful trip to Ohio. Once I got there, I had a great time with family. Getting there was the problem. The first flight didn't and so we were asked to come back the next day to Portland airport. By the next day, all the parking lots were full and we had to park in the last remaining area- the airport terminal parking at $24 a day! Nothing like jacking up the trip expenses by paying triple rates to park and having to buy another night in a hotel.

Then, the real fun began. I was"'selected" for special security screening again. I say, again, because this happens to me almost every time I fly now. i have a habit of having multi-tools in my purse. Last time the TSA got my very expensive USB data drive Swiss Army Knife. I had heard on NPR that blades less than three inches were permitted...wrong. So, I lost that one last Christmas. I carry multi-tools because I am a musician and computer nut and need tools from time to time. This time, I had searched my purse and carry-on for banned items. As a knitter, I had many tools and several sets of knitting needles with me. Lo, and behold....there was a Swiss Army multi-tool so deep in my purse that even I could not find it. TSA did. So, the inquisition continued with me having to step into a glass chamber and just as I was setting my feet in the correct positions as directed, the machine went off jetting air in all directions at my body. I was caught off-guard and almost shrieked. I was so angry by then that I started crying. They examined all my arms and legs and the compression garments that I wear were a concern. Then my bag of gels was not the right size--I had grabbed a gallon size one at home and they have to be quart size Ziplocs. I wonder if Haliburton owns ZipLoc. Emerging from the security area, i was a mess.

Aside from wearing a bathrobe through airport security, you just have to keep up with the newest level of paranoia before you fly. So, I got busy doing some research and found a Leatherman Fuse that has no knife!!!!!!! It is on my birthday list! Here's a link to it!

Happy I feel any safer? Absolutely not. The rules are arbitrary and only provide the drama of security.