Friday, August 29, 2014

Refrenc* (for Referenc*)

Librarians are famous for their endless acronyms, but I hate to see us fall prey to the attendant lure of absurd terminology as well. There was an article posted to AUTOCAT recently about the fledgling Florida Polytechnic University and its library, which for some reason has decided to go "bookless." He added: "There are way too many buzzwords in this article, in my opinion." To me, the worst one by far is the so-called "success desk." I commented on this to a colleague who has lately grown weary of the exigencies of reference work and he responded: "It has a nicer ring than the 'failure desk.'" A friend at a local college library tells the campus has an actual "Office of Student Success." (It's probably right around the corner from the "Department of Doing Well in Class.") A coworker mentions the Syracuse City School District's newly renamed "Office of Talent Management" (formerly called "Human Resources"), which puts me in mind of a cigar-chomping letch in a 1930s motion picture studio glancing meaningly at the casting couch. I'm not quite sure what's going on here (other than the apparently innate impulse to keep "upgrading" the names of things, otherwise known as pointless euphemism), but it makes me wonder if maybe we've been watching too many American Idol-type shows of late, in addition to drinking the "self-esteem" Kool-Aid being served at most of our schools these days. And speaking of kids, lunch, and out-of-control acronyms, I think my favorite comment of all comes from a classmate of my niece's, who once wryly observed (no pun intended) that "LGBT" sounds sorta like a sandwich. (Bacon, lettuce, and tomato with Green Goddess dressing, perhaps?) All kidding aside, and with reference to OhioLINK and WorldCat, today's typo was found 29 times in the former, and over 1100 times in the latter.

(Photograph of the reference desk area inside the Pomona Public Library, ca.1900. Situated near the front entrance, the reference desk, a semi-circular wooden desk, greets visitors. A lamp, several books, a pile of paper, a filing drawer, and a stamper are neatly placed on the desk. Surrounding the room are large arches, supported by columns, allowing access to many parts of the library. At left stand a bookshelf and a shelf for card catalogs. Several desks, chairs and bookshelves can be seen in the center room. At right stands a statue of a woman wearing a toga carrying a bag of fruits. From the California Historical Society Collection, 1860-1960, and Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Colletive* (for Collective*)

I once told a date that I hated having to change someone's name midstream, as it were. I said I was like a "baby duck" in that way; whatever name I "imprinted on" was the one I'd be inclined to follow forever. (He waffled on his own preferred variant, but immediately started calling me "Baby Duck" and continues to do so to this day.) For example, I have a hard time adjusting to "married names" and find myself faintly disapproving when a person of longtime nomenclature suddenly decides to take a nickname or other "alternative" moniker without a very good reason. I've known my share of flaky and/or PC pseudonomists, but will pointedly exclude Zephyr Rain Teachout (the winds-of-change challenger to New York governor Andrew Cuomo and one who wants to throw out the new teaching standard known as the Common Core) because that's the actual name her Vermont parents gave her at birth. (Teachout is an old Dutch surname.) The collective noun (or "term of venery") for a group of ducks is a "paddling," which is sort of cute in a "cuz that's what do they do!" sort of way, but not nearly as funny as the one I would personally nominate if this were up for a vote. I'd like it to be a "charlatan of ducks," from a recent article on Slate about the way too many desperate college applicants, plus students trying to avoid charges of plagiarism, are succumbing to the temptation of MS Word's "right-click thesaurus." One poor clicking cluck wrote of hearing the "charlatan" of ducks in the distance, as that word had appeared there as a synonym for quack. Some other collective favorites include: a glaring of cats; a murder of crows; a memory of elephants; a business of ferrets; a charm of finches; a bloat of hippopotamuses; a scold of jays; a deceit of lapwings; a kindle of kittens; a barren of mules; a superfluity of nuns; a poverty of pipers; a gaze of raccoons; and a clutter of spiders. And ladies, remember, next time you're surrounded by a superfluity of men, just lean in and picture them as a "blush of boys" and see if that doesn't put your name on the map. (And while we're at it, perhaps we should start calling ourselves a girder, a girth, or even a girn, of girls!) Colletive* (which should really be called collective*) was found three times in OhioLINK, and 137 times in WorldCat.

(My own shot of a "charlatan" of ducks, paddling across the pool at the Empire State Plaza.)

Carol Reid

Monday, August 25, 2014

Demoliton* (for Demolition*)

What goes up must come down, but I had never actually witnessed the demolition of a building before, until the razing of the Wellington Hotel Annex brought down the house, as it were, last weekend. Actually, I didn't really see it but I did hear the loud bang and feel the rumbling boom beneath my quietly treading feet. (This supposedly exciting, if all too brief, event had been slated to occur last Thursday, but would have wreaked havoc with state-worker parking and other weekday traffic, so on the eve of destruction it was moved to Saturday, a day I happened to be scheduled to work at the library. Sadly, we weren't able to see much from the seventh floor as a large tower blocked our view; however, a friend got some awesome still and video footage.) In any case, no one was too sad about the loss. The annex was a spectactularly ugly building, unlike the hotel itself, which was gutted several years ago, with the promise that its facade would be incorporated into the new convention center. The Wellington Hotel was an Albany landmark, the signature center of Wellington Row. It provided lodging for father-and-son governors Mario (former) and Andrew (current) Cuomo, along with other local politicos; it also housed many State University at Albany students up until the 1980s. Bob Dylan stayed there once. So did Albany-born news curmudgeon Andy Rooney. When the hotel was destroyed in 2009, hundreds of feral felines (many of them "tuxedo cats") had to be rescued, spayed, and resocialized for potential adoption. Some were even given cool-cat names, like "Mario Wellington." While cats have been known to occasionally wreck the homes of their owners, at least in part, this may have been one of the few times that the good people of Albany went and ruined theirs. (Although if they were as charming as those in Esther Averill's classic children's book The Hotel Cat, I would hope they ended up in better ones.) Today's typo was found once in OhioLINK, and 118 times in WorldCat. Demolish any of these still lingering in your own catalog and start building from there.

(State Street entrance to the Wellington Hotel in Albany, New York, prior to demolition, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, August 22, 2014

Impovi* (for Improvi*, Impove*, etc.)

Is it rude to Twitter during sex? To go "omg, omg, wtf, zzz"? Is that rude? - Robin Williams
We recently lost a serious talent and a great heart with the death of actor/comedian Robin Williams. Williams made improvisation seem effortless, and many are feeling impoverished in his absence.

One of the tricks or rules of improvisation I was first taught is this: Never say “no.” Say “yes, and...” For example, if one actor asks, “Is this your briefcase?” the answer “No” halts the scene. The response “Yes, and there’s a bomb in it!” lets the scene continue and introduces a new element. Nothing shuts down a scene faster than negativity. Williams knew this, and even at his darkest moments, the heart of his performances (the “yes”) always shone through.

The International Business Times posted videos of nine of Williams’ best improvisational moments – if you need a laugh, check them out.  And now I'll leave you with a few words of wisdom:
No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world. - Robin Williams

Leanne Olson

(Photo of Robin Williams by Steve Jurvetson courtesy of Wikimedia Commons; Thank you to fellow blogger extraordinaire Carol Reid for the Williams quotes.)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Masterpeice* (for Masterpiece*)

On this day in 1911, the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre in Paris, France. It was a Monday morning, and surprisingly, Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece wasn’t noticed to be missing until Tuesday at noon. It was lost for two years, and finally recovered in the thief’s apartment mere blocks from the museum.

When the news of her disappearance was released, many people thought it was a prank – how could the most famous painting in the world just vanish? Denial turned to depression: Louvre Curator of Painting Jean-Pierre Cuzin said, "The public came just to see the void where the painting had been hung, just to see the nails which held her. Everyone thought that she was lost forever.” Following that were the jokes, including offers to steal the Eiffel tower and songs written about the theft.

For a bonus typo, search “Mono Lisa,” which we’ve blogged about previously.  To read more about the theft, read the story on

Leanne Olson

(Empty frame image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Artic (for Arctic)

A cataloguer on the AUTOCAT Listserv recently shared the worst summary note she'd ever seen in a cataloguing record. We found it to be so funny that it had to be shared beyond the email's audience.

This is from the bibliographic record for a DVD titled Journey to the Edge of the World:
Billy Connolly as he takes you on a voyage through the North West Passage, a legendary route deep within the artic circle that has periously thwarted explorers for centeries. In the journey to the edge of the world Billy retraces their steps and retells the history and predicted furture of this land, in his own unique and impassion style. The program captures the thrilling, emotional and exceptional experiences that Billy Connolly has encounted along his journey. He learns how to be a bear whisperer, goes panning for gold and discovers the finer complexities of the Inuit language. With breathtaking scenary and a kalideoscope of characters Billy met along the way, Journey to the edge of the world reveals a glimpse of a stunning land rarely witnessed by the western world, now bought to life with the help of a very special guide.

It's practically incomprehensible. How many errors can you spot? On first glance I find four in the first sentence, I assume it's supposed to read "Join Billy Connolly as..."

Any of the errors might be used for today's typo.  I went with Artic, no wildcard -- though note that it's valid in some Nordic languages ("Artic Cirkel") and that Artic can also refer to a type of tram, a brand of vodka, and a town in Indiana, USA, so don't make batch updates on this one.

Leanne Olson

(Image of a point on the Arctic Circle courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user Maltesen.)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Audting, Audt* (for Auditing, etc.)

I've been cataloging a lot of audit reports lately. The Office of the State Comptroller conducts what feels like an endless and unhappy parade of these, keeping an eagle eye on the budgets and practices of everything from cities, towns, and "populated places," to water, school, and fire districts. Generally, they include somewhat obsequious-sounding responses from the auditees, in which they thank the auditor for doing such a good job, and then promise to do a better one themselves next time. Every now and then, some actual criminal activity (embezzling and worse) is uncovered as well. Having lived in New York virtually all my life, I'm always surprised at how many of these places I've never even heard of, most of them requiring authority work. And like many other examples of "small-town America," their finances may be a bit of a mess, but their names are frankly adorable: Almond, Blooming Grove, Busti, Caroline, Deposit, Friendship, Hannibal, Homer, Lysander, Mamakating, Mooers (I picture it with lots of cows), Otto, Pitcairn, Red House, Romulus, Triangle, Tuxedo, and Victory, to name but a few. Speaking of which, one of our readers posted a comment to AUTOCAT regarding Wednesday's blog entry (which began: "I love unusual names. I started collecting them once just to keep from going insane..."). He wrote: "If you love unusual names, try this. It will make you go insane—with laughter." In honor of auditors and awesome names everywhere, above is a Matthew Brady portrait of Orange Ferriss, who was the Second Auditor of the U.S. Treasury. He hailed from Glens Falls, New York, a city that passed its last audit with "high marks and a few concerns." One of those had to do with the civic center, which costs quite a bit of money to maintain, "but officials said that bringing in high profile shows, such as Phish, will help keep it afloat." That prediction might have gratified old Orange, who went to college in Burlington, Vermont, home of the popular alt/rock band. A quick audit of the usual suspects found one case of today's typo in OhioLINK, and 32 in WorldCat. However, if we truncate our search to just Audt*, those figures jump to eight in the former and 619 in the latter.

(Hon. Orange Ferriss, Second Auditor, Treasury, ca. 1860 - ca. 1865, by Matthew Brady, courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration, and Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Dionysus + Dionysius (for Dionysius or Dionysus)

I love unusual names. I started collecting them once just to keep from going insane during a couple of distinctly non-Dionysian jobs that involved dialing up large numbers of total strangers and annoying the hell out of them. I can still recall a few standouts, and enjoy repeating these to myself on occasion, but I rarely share this rarefied list, and never in print, out of what may be misplaced privacy concerns. Recently, I met a woman whose alluringly alliterative name is like an amazing melding of Amelia Bedelia, Rosa Rosanova, and Roseanne Roseannadanna. (She claims to not even like her name, it's her married name, and she shortens it whenever possible. But take my word for it, it's wonderful. It's like something both sturdy and aromatic you'd want to plant in your garden.) A Rose is a Rose is a Rose, of course, and let's also not forget that Violets are sometimes Blue. But enough about those people. I'm here today to talk about somebody else with an oddly great name: Dionysius Lardner. Born in Dublin in 1793, Lardner was a science writer who notably edited the 133-volume Cabinet Cyclopædia (a series about a vast array of things, to which, by the way, Mary Shelley was the sole female contributor). Lardner was a respected economist, cited in Karl Marx's Das Capital, and was instrumental in publicizing Charles Babbage's difference engine. He was both highly accomplished and remarkably visionary, but he also had a few scandals on his résumé. He seems to have had a penchant for married women, once getting sued by an irate husband for "criminal conversation" with his wife. Another time he got a railroad company off the hook by testifying that its faulty designs did not cause an explosion; lightning did. (It was later pointed out that there actually wasn't any lightning that night, but the "act of God" defense had struck a chord.) Dionysus was a Greek god, but Dionysius is the most common spelling variant found in library catalogs. There are seven proper names properly spelled Dionysus in NACO (one of which is a variant on Dion Boucicault, who was "probably" the son of Dionysius Lardner), compared with 241 for Dionysius. Dionysus alone yields 1076 hits in OhioLINK and "too many records found for your search" in WorldCat, but if you combine both terms, you get a mere eight in the former and 79 in the latter. I'll leave it to you to decide how best to divine these particular typos in your own databases. Here's how a variety of searches shakes out in ours:

Dionysius = 1694 in OhioLINK / too many records found for your search in WorldCat
Dionysus = 1076 in OhioLINK / too many records found for your search in WorldCat
Dionysis = 41 / 539
Dionysis + Dionysius = 2 / 10
Dionysus + Dionysius = 8 / 79
Dionysis + Dionysus = 2 / 5

(Dionysius Lardner (1793-1859), British scientific writer, 1833 or after, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, August 11, 2014

Porceed* (for Proceed*)

I recently had this, um, thing done. You know, like kind of a routine exam? Or sort of a medical procedure, or... Okay, okay, it was the dreaded colonoscopy. And let me proceed to tell you, you big bunch of babies, there's nothing to it! You have to drink an unseemly amount of liquid the day before, including Gatorade (or some other juice, water, or bouillon combo) mixed with a tasteless crystallized laxative, and you do have to go to the bathroom quite a bit, but that's the worst thing about it. Some folks are vaguely awake during the "conscious sedation" that precedes the procedure, but many don't feel or remember it at all. It's actually kind of weird to find that a stranger has been anally probing you for the past fifteen minutes or so, while you didn't even realize he was back there, but it's good for a chuckle or two with the nurses afterward, and then you get the best-tasting Saltine crackers and ginger ale you've probably ever had. I gratefully consumed these while waiting for my ride and doing a crossword puzzle, although it occurred to me at one point that perhaps I should be reading Dombey and Son instead. In case you missed the allusion there, it's from Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger. According to Franny: "He said he was—this is exactly what he said—he said he was sitting at the table in the kitchen, all by himself, drinking a glass of ginger ale and eating saltines and reading Dombey and Son, and all of a sudden Jesus sat down in the other chair and asked if he could have a small glass of ginger ale. A small glass, mind you—that's exactly what he said. I mean he says things like that, and yet he thinks he's perfectly qualified to give me a lot of advice and stuff! I could just spit! I could! It's like being in a lunatic asylum and having another patient all dressed up as a doctor come over to you and start taking your pulse or something..." There were six examples of Porceed* in OhioLINK, and 111 in WorldCat. Proceed with your usual procedure today and remove any typos you find.

(Colonoskop pant, 24 June 2008, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, August 8, 2014

Afica* (for Africa, African)

The western African nations of Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria are all struggling with deadly outbreaks of the Ebola virus. A common misconception about Ebola is that there’s no cure for it and no surviving it, and even if the truth is scarcely more comforting—the mortality rate for this species (Zaire) can be as high as 90 percent but is currently hovering around 60 percent—health officials are spreading the word that people who think they’ve been infected should seek treatment. At the opposite end of the spectrum are those who completely deny that Ebola exists. But adopting this extreme position will certainly not help the more than 900 souls who have died so far.

Afica* is a high-probability typo. There are 28 English-language entries in OhioLINK and 264 in WorldCat.

(Educational poster from the CDC Ebola page)

Deb Kulczak

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Engilsh (for English)

The other day I was browsing through the pages of a well-known mail order catalog, and I spied a T-shirt with this message:  “I’m fluent in three languages—English, sarcasm, and profanity.”  Who knew?!?  Perhaps the proficient among us should start listing these linguistic skills on our résumés!  At the very least, the knowledge should be a real confidence booster.

However, our claim to fluency will lose cred if we can’t spell the names of our languages.   Engilsh is a typo that even native speakers make with some frequency—there are 12 instances of just that one variant in OhioLINK, and WorldCat has 68 entries.

("The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things" by Hieronymus Bosch, from Wikimedia Commons.  Fortunately, sarcasm and profanity are not among them!)

Deb Kulczak

Monday, August 4, 2014

Blooo* (for Bloom, etc.)

Summer is the time for algae blooms in Lake Erie, and this year is no exception. Over the weekend, the authorities in Toledo, Ohio declared a state of emergency, advising people not to drink, cook with, or bathe in the city's water.  As reported in the Toledo Blade, the culprit is microcystin, a toxin that is harmful to humans and other animals. Over 500,000 residents in the Toledo area alone rely on the lake for their supply, and as you can imagine, there was a run on bottled water at local retailers. Stores as far as a hundred miles away are sold out, and the National Guard has been busy distributing this precious commodity. But all sense of humor has not been lost—the Blade has been using Twitter hashtag #emptyGlassCity for its reporting on the crisis.

While the typo Blooo* is not exactly toxic to library catalogs, it nevertheless affects their health. There were 4 instances in the OhioLINK database and 133 in WorldCat.

Deb Kulczak

Friday, August 1, 2014

Evelat* (for Elevat* or Revelat*)

It's been known to happen before in my building, but in more than thirty years there, it had never happened to me. While I was working at the library a couple of weeks ago, I got trapped in the elevator. Ironically, I didn't even have my crossword puzzle with me as I was just going down to to the lobby to meet a friend who had stopped by to view an exhibit a coworker and I had recently installed about the 1939 and 1964 New York World's Fairs. Incidentally, I hope that those elevated conveyances at the World's Fair worked a little better than this scary ride in my own fair world! (Um, no offense there, Elly. You're usually a delight.) I was kind of glad at first that there was no one in there with me. No overly chatty or panicky coworkers, no sketchy or bitchy patrons (it happens). But then there was nobody there to keep me company either. I suppose the worst part was having nothing to read, and the best part was not having had to pee. I recited Kubla Khan, first to myself and then out loud, and then tried a few other poems I had once had down, though it seems not so much anymore. When it came to The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe, after stumbling through the verse that starts out, "Ah, distinctly, I remember," I found that I no longer could. (It was bleak in there, but it wasn't December.) Getting stuck on stanzas started to make me think of getting stuck between floors, so I finally sat down and began writing this blog entry instead. Although quite the revelation, in a way, the whole thing was really just boring, if perhaps no more boring, really, than a typical summer Saturday at the library can be. So I counted my blessings, then counted them again, and eventually, after an hour and twenty minutes had gone by, the elevator man arrived and rescued me. There were three cases of Evelat* in OhioLINK today (two of which were French typos for élévation and the other one an English typo for revelation), and 68 in WorldCat. Be on the lookout for this one in your own catalog and if you find any examples of it stuck in there, get them out. And speaking from personal experience, I'd say the sooner it's done the better. In other words, see you later, elevator!

(1964 New York World's Fair, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid