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This week I had a user come to me frustrated because she was unable to find articles in a ProQuest database.  I noted that the journal issue she browsed only had a single article listed.  I knew this was an error, so I reported it.  This is what I heard back:

Unfortunately, it looks like ProQuest will not be changing this indexing error
because no content is actually missing. Here is the response from the ProQuest
Content Department:
==
This is a known issue. The method used to load some of the older content resulted in
some records loading to duplicate page collections. The manufacturing system does
not allow for documents to be moved from one collection to another. It would involve
a manual process of deleting and re-creating the records. Since no content is
missing no resources were ever allocated to clean up these issues.
==?

So basically, ProQuest is telling me that even though the data is completely useless since it is unfindable, that this isn’t a problem, because at least it’s there.

This makes me angry on a variety of levels.  Let’s go down the list, shall we?

  1. My user’s problem with locating content that they are paying for with their tuition isn’t important in the eyes of ProQuest.  After all, they’ve already got their money, so what should they care?
  2. Information quality control is of little to no concern for ProQuest.  They need to allocate their resources elsewhere.
  3. I should never bother reporting problems to ProQuest ever again, since they obviously don’t care about end users being able to use their products.

I’m sure I’ll hear from ProQuest on this one issue (hello power of social media!), and I’m sure they’ll resolve it in short order.  But that still won’t solve the larger problem of quality control or addressing errors in the system.

Working with technology, there have been plenty of times where I’ve had to manually update records and web pages.  It’s dull, tedious work, yes.  But I do it — as do all of us who work in information control.  We do it because we know that somewhere down the line, someone is going to need this stuff.  And the moment that an error is brought to our attention, we work on fixing it, because as information professionals we provide the best information resources possible.  Because that’s our job.

For those of you attending CIL2010, I’ll be at the Neal-Shumann booth on Monday, 4/12 from 2:30-3:15pm. Drop by and say hello!

The rest of my trip will be spent visiting with my sister, to see her all beautifully preggers before she delivers my new niece in late May!

I'm an author!I’m very pleased to announce the publication of my book A Social Networking Primer for Librarians, the seventh book in The Tech Set, a series produced by Neal-Shuman Publishers and edited by the amazing Ellyssa Kroski.

I’m very proud to be a part of this series, as it aims to provide librarians with a ground-up approach to a variety of topics.  It brings together big names in the library technology field (which I’m positively blushing to see my name included alongside!), and provides material both for beginning library workers all the way through experienced practitioners:

So order a copy for your library (or yourself!), listen to the companion podcasts and add your notes to the companion wiki!  I’m looking forward to interacting with readers on the wiki and right here on my blog!  So go check it out!

I’m 30 years old.  As of last Thursday.  Most of my life has happened in my last 30 years and nine months (Thanks Mom!) traveling around the Sun, and I’ve learned a few things, but one message has been nagging me the last month or two.

The life-changing experience.

I gave a bunch of money to Haiti back in January, and I’ve been sort of quiet since then.  If I could have raised money and awareness for Partners in Health while staying out of the spotlight, I would have, but hey–folks like a “personal interest” story, and I figured any discomfort I felt in front of cameras was nothing compared to what the earthquake victims were suffering.  I may be good at giving a presentation in front of a crowd, but being blind-sided by “thank you”s in restrooms and restaurants makes me feel weird.  But I overcame the squidgy feelings to encourage folks to keep spreading the word about PIH and the people of Haiti, no matter where I was.  Because that’s what you do when the message is important.

As soon as I announced the fundraiser, the immediate reaction from friends and family, beside disbelief, was worry.  “Wait, wait, wait.  That wasn’t *all* your savings, was it?” Or even worse (but adorable), when the earthquake happened in Chile, my niece Tori expressed her worry to her mom, afraid that I’d give away *all* of my money and have nothing left.  After my sister reassured her that other nice people would help take care of the folks in Chile, Tori felt better.  But sure enough, right after singing me her adorable rendition of Happy Birthday over the phone, she quickly asked, “DO YOU HAVE ANY MONEY LEFT, UNCLE CLIFF?”

Yes, sweetheart, I still have money.  I also now have hope, faith, and joy at the generosity of my fellow human beings.

The nagging question…

After it was all over, and things quieted back down for me (if not for the people in Haiti), I thought about the experience I had.  I figured out why people were so concerned when I told them my plan.  I realized that the money I donated represented something to people.  For those that worried for me, my money represented Security.  What happened to my Security?  Years of toil and hard work, gone to someone else.  That’s money that I can’t use to buy a car, a house, or a TV.  It’s money that I can’t spend on emergency medical bills, funeral expenses, or bail.  If things get bad, I don’t have that money to fall back on.

I have plenty of security.  People are my security.  My body and brain won’t last forever, but the love of my friends and family will.  So if I get in an accident, get sick, or any number of other things, I know that I’ll be well taken care of, no matter what happens.  Can I say that same thing for the people of Haiti?  No.  They have nothing.  And when I mean they have nothing, I’m not saying “they don’t have TV and drive-through burgers,” I mean, they have nothing.  I’ve seen pictures of children with nothing but the clothes on their backs.  Parents gone.  Family sick or dead.  In desperate need of food, shelter, and medicine.  That, my friends, is a lack of Security.

So yeah, I don’t regret my donation one bit.  Since I live rather cheaply and save most of my paycheck, I should be able to put all $10,000 back in the bank in a little over two years.  Two years for me, but a lifetime to families who would have died otherwise.

The take-home message:

We should all think about our security in the larger picture.

In the news and in friends’ lives, I’ve seen bank after bank, company after company fail due to corruption.  I’ve seen folks’ money–built up over years of hard labor–evaporate overnight.  I may have all the savings and retirement plans and tax-sheltered this-and-thats that I can get, but I still don’t put my trust in them, or in the system.  I put my trust and energy into loving and serving the people around me.  I know that they would sooner die than forsake my trust; I can’t say that about my bank.

If you’re still looking for a way to give, and want to double your donation in an instant, give to Partners in Health with the Firland Foundation! They’re donating a large chunk of their revenue to help out in Haiti, so click the link below to double your donation!

Firland Foundation will match 1:1 up to $25,000 in total donations made to PIH through Feb 28th.

The Firland Foundation (www.firland.org) has been working with Partners in Health over last few years, funding TB-related needs in their Haitian clinics. We are providing a match of up to $25,000 in unrestricted funds for PIH. Please help meet the tremendous and urgent need in Haiti by clicking on the link to donate directly to PIH.

The Firland Foundation provides meaningful employment for people with disabilities in a sheltered workshop producing high quality machined parts. Income from the workshop keeps it self-sustaining, and provides the resources for grant making. We fund grants directed toward research studies, clinical projects, educational programs, and advocacy efforts intended to improve the management and control of tuberculosis and other chronic respiratory diseases.