Dwarsliggers – the future for the book?

Dwarsliggers. Dwarsliggers. Dwaaaarrrsliggers. Pretty fun to say, right? Even more fun – it’s the Dutch word for a special print of pocket-size books. These tiny books are the size of a cellphone and flip horizontally, with pages “as thin as onion skin.” And just like a cellphone, you can hold these tiny books one-handed and swipe the thin pages upward with the flick of your thumb.

If you find yourself intrigued by these mini horizontal books, you’ll want to know that they’ll be called Flipbacks here. I’m going to keep calling them Dwarsliggers, for obvious reasons (see above).

Image result for dwarsliggers

Dwarsliggers, only 8cm x 12cm, may revolutionize the book and how we read                        (Image source: here)

There has really been very little innovation when it comes to the design and format of the book. There were Pocket Books introduced in 1939, Armed Services Editions during World War II, and most recently e-booksDwarsliggers are an iteration that might seem “novel”, but might hold some ground moving forward.

The books are apparently very popular in Amsterdam and have spread across Europe. In the last 10 years, 10 million copies have been sold. Julie Strauss-Gabel, the president and publisher of Dutton Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Random House, discovered Dwarsliggers and immediately began planning to bring the books to the United States market. The first author to be part of the venture? John Green. As it turns out, he once lived in Amsterdam and is familiar with the format.

As a massively successful author of young adult novels, John Green might just be the perfect first author for the experiment. As previously noted, the mini novel’s design and format are clearly reminiscent of cellphones. It is Dutton’s hope that young readers, like the fans of John Green, will be drawn to this familiarity and be captured by the minimalist-aesthetics. As Green puts it, “It is much closer to a cellphone experience than standard books, but it’s much closer to a book than a cellphone. The whole problem with reading on a phone is that my phone also does so many other things.” In fact, recent surveys have shown that young people are driving the trend away from e-books. Researchers believe young readers are looking for a respite from technology, and are therefore markedly purchasing print material. In this way, Dwarsliggers might be the perfect concoction – offering a break from the digital, but reminiscent of the digital.  

Dwarsliggers made their debut in the winter of 2018. Be on the lookout.


Tina Chesterman (INFO 653-01)

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Posted in Books

Classification and Colonialism

In the 2017 article, “Classification Along the Color Line: Excavating Racism in the Stacks”, by Melissa Adler, library classification is explained as having been organized and universalized by men. Adler states that: “One of the ways that exclusion was legitimated and supported was through the application of evolutionary theory and principles.” She explains this by quoting Thomas Dousa’s theory that bibliographic classification stems from the principles of 19thcentury thinkers such as Charles Darwin, and that systematic racism has become the foundation of library organization. Alder argues that racism has been embued into information retrieval systems through classification and I would suggest the meta data attached as well.

These claims can be seen in something as simple as a comparison between hieratical classification, as employed by Darwin, and current library organization charts. It’s not hard to see why visually and theoretically these models have become so engrained in organizing information. Amanda Ros, also explores the problem of classification in the library, in her piece “The Bias Hiding in you Library.” Ros discusses her experience with different retrieval experiments that exemplified what she calls the white male assumption. In her article she shows through official Library of Congress subject headings the charts through which information is organized.


However, recently there have been moves to start changing these systems. The Xwi7xwa library in British Columbia is trying to change the way that they sort, store and share information. In 2019, Sydney Worth explains how the head librarian made this decision, in the article “This Library Takes an Indigenous Approach to Categorizing Books”. “When Littletree later began studying librarianship in graduate school, she found subject headings were part of the issue. Subject headings sort Native topics into the history-related sections of the DDC. As a result, Native peoples are treated as historic artifacts instead of a living group of people with present-day struggles.” A way that this change is being implemented is that “rather than shelving books alphabetically, X̱wi7x̱wa organizes their collection by geographic location. Books on coastal nations are grouped in one section, while information on northern nations are in another.”


Amber Pasiak

INFO 653 – 01

Posted in Cataloging, Classification, Knowledge Structures, Libraries, Uncategorized

It’s an Ad World

Facebook Expands Ad Archive to All Ads and Pages

Last October, in the midst and fallout of understanding the full scope of Facebook’s role in the 2016 election, they launched a political ad archive. Their goal was to provide more transparency around political advertising. This week Facebook announced it would be expanding the Ad Archive into an Ad Library to catalog all ads run by all Pages, not just political ones.

According to announcement, “The Ad Library offers information about who saw the ad, as well as its spend and impressions, and houses ads for seven years.” Tracking who sees what ads raises larger questions and concerns related to data privacy and targeted marketing – which is ironic given the circumstances that led to Facebook launching this in the first place.

The premise and interface of the Ad Library (linked above) is simple. The Library provides a searchable collection of all of the ads which are running, or have been run, on Facebook and/or Instagram. Enter a name, topic of organization into the search bar and Facebook will provide a list of relevant matches which it can show data for. There is also the option to choose a region filter from the top right, and Facebook will use this to highlight regional variants.

Facebook is emphasizing transparency between themselves, advertisers, and their user base. Page information will include, creating dates, merges, name changes and location of Page managers. They will also offer weekly, monthly, and quarterly reports that downloadable for anyone.

While the primary focus continues to be political transparency and ensuring the platform is not misused by politically motivated groups, this Library is a huge gain for digital marketers. Marketers can track how their competitors are promoting material and how audiences are interacting with different advertisement strategies.

Despite these concerns, there is a major benefit everyday users. They can check the source of highly shared memes or posts which share misinformation. Anyone can look up a Page’s information and share it which could make other users re-think using that Page as a resource in future. In a way, it’s the Snopes of Facebook.

The Library is still in its infancy but the aforementioned issues of data privacy and targeted marketing are concerning. How these are impacted, if at all, remains to be seen. It does, however, have the potential to become another tool to improve digital literacy and fact-check false reportage.

Janna Singer-Baefsky, INFO 653_02

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Posted in Archives, Knowledge and Truth, Libraries, Library, Open Data, Uncategorized

Have You KonMari’d Your Home?

Organizing Consultant and author of two best selling books, Marie Kondo, recently rose to fame after Netflix released a series called Tidying up with Marie Kondo. In this series she visits various American homes to help de-clutter the owner’s lives and allowed families to understand their relationships with their belongings better.

So what is the KonMari method?

Here are the main points highlighted in the Netflix special (and more in depth in her books, the life-changing magic of tidying up and Spark Joy). Keep in mind the methods used are based on a categories of things that are found throughout the home:

  • Clothing
  • Books
  • Paper
  • Komono (the kitchen, bathroom, and miscellaneous things)
  • Sentimental items.

Her methods aim to help individuals de-clutter their homes by tackling each of these categories first, and making sure that unwanted discarding items should always be done before you can organize the items you want to keep. Her method requires her clients to compile all of their possessions in into a big pile and go through each and every item. Items are kept if they “spark joy”, but should be removed if they do not.

Kondo’s categories for her de-cluttering method are specific to her work, but it is still an organizing system for personal belongings. Just like systems used in libraries and museum to categorize items within the collections, Kondo’s system allows her clients to be able to see what it is that they have in their collection of stuff and make informed decisions on keeping or discarding. The system that Marie Kondo created to help create a tidier lifestyle is not much different from a standardized system that helps researchers find a specific item in an archive. Her client’s collections are more unique to their personalities and are not accessible by the public unless they chose to open up their homes.

It is important to note that we all have some sort of organizational method we use for the possessions in our home. If we take Kondo’s methods out of the picture, and look at our own closets, we can see that we organize our undergarments separately from the clothing we wear for work, for hanging out with our friends, or for sleep. We organize our kitchens with cabinets specific for cooking spices, for our serving bowls or plates, and our utensils. Thinking about it this way, our need for some form of organization is already present even without a standardized methodology in place.

Tiffany Chan, Info 653-02

Posted in Uncategorized

How Categorization Could be Key to Applying Brain Training to Real Life

Researchers from Brown University may have found a way to transfer learning from an activity to the real world.

Throughout the web, there are a plethora of apps and games that claim they can improve brain function and raise your IQ, however, the training offered only helps to improve function regarding that certain game. The real problem is figuring out how these skills can be transferred to real life situations, and this problem has gained so much ground over the past few years that researchers have even given it a name, “the curse of specificity.”

What researchers are trying to move past is the idea that training with a specific game will encompass other areas of cognitive function; even though you may be a master at a certain brain game, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be able to remember what you did exactly a year ago or list off every item on your grocery list. There’s a gap between transferring simple, cognitive functions to complex notions by improving cognition.

Researchers from Brown University may have found a way to break the curse of specificity, actively transferring learning from an app/game to everyday events.

The researchers from Brown conducted a study that focused on visual perception learning, which is based around neurons that are centered on processing an object’s features so that it can be identified later on. The study consisted of 12 undergraduate and graduate students who took part in a categorization experiment, testing a higher brain region that helps humans categorize everyday instances. To incorporate this higher function, researchers had the participants take part in categorization exercises before performing visual perception learning tasks, which had an incredibly positive effect when it came to transferal.

The begin with, participants were tasked with identifying and categorizing Gabor Patches, blurry striped circles, into two different groups depending on the angle of the stripes in the circle; this continued for five days. Next, the researchers tested the participants’ categorization abilities by piloting whether they could recognize the practice patches and if they were able to place patches in the same category.

Regarding the conclusion of the study, the participants experienced the most ease in recognizing patches they had previously practiced with, however, there was a significant jump in identifying patches in the same category as well, or, a transferal of learning. Due to categorization being such an integral part of being, rather than just a specific type of learning, its reach transcends specific stimuli, therefore having potential use for clinical purposes.

In order further explore this phenomena, researchers are hoping to explore how categorization can foster transferal using magnetic resonance imaging to record brain activity, utilizing participants as they continue to take part in visual perception learning training.


Shannon Mish, INFO 653-02

Posted in Uncategorized

Send in the Copyrighted Clowns: Thinking about the Clown Egg Register

Clown Egg Register blog post image.pngEggs from the Clown Egg Register (source)

There are many niche museums around the world—yarn, mustard, barbed wire, even toilet seats. But a niche quasi-copyright register? Of ceramic eggs with clown makeup painted on them?

The Clown Egg Register started as a hobby for Stan Bult, a London-based circus clown who would paint the face make-up of the other clowns in International Circus Clowns Club (since renamed Clowns International), an organization he helped found. And while it was originally just a pastime, the organization came to realize it was an effective and unique way of recording each and every performer who joined the organization. Today, the tradition carries on, and Clowns International has an officially designated egg artist, who paints the face makeup of and attaches elements of the costume of each clown who registers. The eggs have transitioned from acting as a mere record of easily-identifiable membership to acting as a copyright register for a clown’s individual design. The current curator of the egg archive notes that clowns are not allowed to use the same stage name or face makeup as another member, and should a strong similarity arise, Clowns International “would help a member to find a unique make-up of their own.”

With 300 unique eggs included in the register, it’s certainly big enough to warrant a cataloging system. As the register also functions as a museum display, it’s hard to track down its internal cataloging system, but I think the nature of the works themselves make an interesting case for the switch to RDA and a FRBR (or similar) model from AARC2 and MARC21. It is certainly a case of “take what you see and accept what you get.” This register also seems to highlight, albeit from an unexpected angle, the limitations of AARC2 and the need for the new elements in RDA, especially 336, 337, and 338. It appears obvious that these expanded categories are needed because they’re, well, clown eggs, but I think it’s worth breaking down in any case. And it’s a plus that classification stops at the item, rather than arguing a further dissemination about the origins of makeup design applied to the egg,

The Clown Egg Register would also be a fascinating example of the breakdown of FRBR’s Group 1 entities. How would you apply WEMI to this copyright archive? An approximation could be as follows, though it gets a little squirrelly, as the makeup design transfers mediums:

  • Work: Clown (as costume/persona)
  • Expression: Clown’s makeup design (abstract)
  • Manifestation: Makeup on clown (physical)
  • Item: Clown makeup on egg

Group 2 entities are also interesting here as the creator of the work is the clown, as is the realizer of the expression and manifestation. But the person who paints the makeup onto the egg, who enters the design into the copyright register, is the one who creates the item. Clowns International is the organization that co-owns the item, at the very least by nature of its housing. Luckily, the FRBR Group 1 entities account for additional contributors at each stage, and the unlimited number of author /contributor fields in RDA will help note all of these in their separate roles (as well as the clown’s stage and legal names). The main question I’m left with is: would the authorized access point be the clown’s stage name?


-Maddy Newquist, INFO 653-02

Posted in Uncategorized

This Library Takes an Indigenous Approach to Categorizing Books


I recently came across the article “Transformative Praxis – Building spaces for Indigenous self-determination in libraries and archives” by Australian Indigenous archivist Kristen Thorpe.

She talks about working in traditional institutional contexts, her encounters with “traumatic and biased records and information,” and her role as an archivist in sitting with other Indigenous people as a supporter, contextualizing and parsing these records and taking on the anger and grief of people whose historical and continuing record has been systematically altered or erased.

She then outlines an actionable plan to create Indigenous user-friendly spaces in Australian libraries by consulting Indigenous catalogers and using Kaupapa Maori theory to guide organization.

Here is the link to her excellent article: http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2019/transformative-praxis/

Reading her article led me to explore what work was being done by and for the Indigenous people on this continent to decolonize library and classification systems. After a little googling, I found the X̱wi7x̱wa Library.

The X̱wi7x̱wa (pronounced whei-wha) Library in British Columbia catalogs based on a newer version of the 1974 Brian Deer Classification System, a cataloging system built by Kanawhake librarian Brian Deer.

This cataloging system groups books by geographical area, so for example, books on coastal nations are in one section and northern nations in another.

The Brian Deer system also reflects tribes’ preferred, internal names versus the colonizer-imposed names under which material about each tribe is routinely cataloged in Dewey and LoC classification.

Acting Head Librarian Adolfo Tarango explained,“Westerners use their labels, so it makes tribes invisible. This is a way of reestablishing identity and saying these are our names and these our people.”

Additionally, the X̱wi7x̱wa librarians hope this library will be a welcoming learning experience for non-Indigenous users to understand the importance of decolonization for people impacted by the colonial bias of Western classification systems.

Owen Cobey – Info 653-01

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Posted in Cataloging, Classification, Libraries, Library, Uncategorized

Internet Archive to Preserve Google+ Posts Before Shutdown

Google+ was initially launched in June 2011 with the goal of competing against other social media networks like Twitter and Facebook. At first, Google+ received a surge in user signups but over time users spent less time on the site compared to other social media websites.

In February, Google announced that it will be permanently shutting down Google+ on April 2, 2019. The reason for this shutdown is due to low usage and an inability to live up to the company’s expectations for the service, according to an article on The Verge. However, not all is lost, the Internet Archive is currently immersed in preserving public Google+ posts before it closes down forever.

The Internet Archive has begun preservation of the Google+ posts by archiving them and backing up the data with a virtual archiving tool called “Warrior” which will download the posts and archive them. However, the Internet Archive is not preserving everything only posts that are currently available to the public.

If you are interested in preserving your Google+ posts, contacts, and comments before the shutdown, Google has a tool called Google Takeout that allows you to create a downloadable archive file of your data.


Zane Castillo, INFO 653-02

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Posted in Archives, Preservation

by Hugh McLeod

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Pratt Institute School of Information