April 23rd, 2011 Brian Herzog
This was an interesting question, but what impressed me most was my own ethnocentrism.
A patron came to the desk, asking for help in locating the Statue of Foundation of Tenochtitlan. The statue commemorates the initial founding of Tenochtitlan by the Aztecs, which later grew into Mexico City - so, a fairly significant statue. He said he knew it was in Mexico City, but he wanted to know the exact location, so he could visit it when he went there. He said he had been looking for days online, but was coming up empty.
My first thoughts were to search online and also check our Mexico travel books. Since he was convinced there was nothing available online, we walked down to the 917's and started checking the indexes of all our guide books. We checked under Statue, Foundation, and Tenochtitlan, and found nothing - really, nothing at all, except Tenochtitlan entries referring to the Aztec ruins sites.
At this point I began to question whether he had the name correct. We came back to the desk and searched on Statue of Foundation of Tenochtitlan, which lead to a Wikipedia photo of the statue - so it seemed he had the name right. A few other flickr photos came up too, and I checked them all hoping they would be geotagged, and we could find it on a map that way, but no such luck.
I tried a few more searches, all the while with the patron saying he tried the same thing and saw the same unhelpful websites. I could tell he was getting antsy and frustrated, so I told him I could take his name and number and keep looking, and I'd contact him when I found something. He was happy with that, and was appreciative when he left.
The rest of the day was very busy, so I could only search in bits and pieces as I had time. However, driving to work the next morning, it suddenly struck me why we couldn't find anything: we had been searching with English words for a Spanish-language phrase.
When I got to work I put my (obvious and long-overdue) breakthrough into action, translating from English to Spanish, and then searching on Estatua de la Fundación de Tenochtitlan.
Reading through (as best I could) those results, I noticed most websites refered to it as "Monumento" rather than "Estatua," so I did a new search for Monumento a la Fundación de Gran Tenochtitlan.
Again fumbling through those sites with only the Spanish I learned from Sesame Street, I found http://www.joyasdemexico.com/cgi/index.php?Section=ArqCivil&Op=2&seleccion=DFederal which, using Ctrl+F on the page for Tenochtitlan, led me to this paragraph:
Al oriente de la plaza, el Palacio Nacional, construido sobre las ruinas del Palacio de Moctezuma. Al sureste de la Plaza el edificio de la Suprema Corte de Justicia que anteriormente fue el Mercado del Volador, es la sede del poder judicial. Frente a la Suprema Corte de Justicia, el interesante monumento que rememora la Fundación de la Gran Tenochtitlan.
Which translates to:
East of the plaza, the Palacio Nacional, built on the ruins of the Palace of Montezuma. Southeast of the Plaza building of the Supreme Court formerly the Mercado del Volador, is the seat of the judiciary. Faced with the Supreme Court, an interesting monument which commemorates the founding of the Great Tenochtitlan.
That seemed like enough to go on, so I searched Google Maps for Palacio Nacional Mexico City, then looked Southeastish to find the Supreme Court building, and then zoomed in as far as I could and looked around the streets for the Monument. I found the likely spot and switched to Google Street View to verify - and it was it.
I called the patron, he gave me his email address, and I emailed him the link to the monument's location.
Oddly, I looked in our Mexico travel books under Monumento, Fundación, and even Estatua, but this statue doesn't seem to be included in any of them.
The funny thing is that, Mexico had never really been on my places to visit, but now I'd really like to go there.
And for those keeping track, behold, more evidence that the internet doesn't mean the end of libraries. Not only is everything not on the internet, but even when it is, not everyone can find it.
Tags: Estatua de la Fundación de Tenochtitlan, libraries, Library, location, map, mexico, mexico city, Monumento a la Fundación de Gran Tenochtitlan, public, Reference Question, Statue of Foundation of Tenochtitlan, travel
March 3rd, 2009 Brian Herzog
Library Journal recently released its list of America's Star Libraries. The rating were based on data collected in 2006, and, on the whole, was pretty interesting.
Jessamyn brought up some good points about the relevancy and awkwardness of it, though beyond her post and a cursory reading of the LJ article, at first I didn't pay much attention (other than to see how my library ranked in the Google spreadsheet version).
But then a coworker of mine pointed something out which got me to take a more in-depth look. She said:
Did anyone else think it was weird that LJ used per capita figures to rate a library and 8 of the 11 commended [Massachusetts] libraries were vacation destinations?
Her point was that per-capita numbers are unduly inflated in vacation spots, as tourists boost the stats when they come in to check email, catch a storytime or author talk on a rainy day, or check out beach-reads on guest cards.
I am a visual person (and like maps), so I plotted the New England star libraries in Google Maps. It turns out that an easy majority (but not all) can be considered vacation spots - near either the ocean or ski areas. I'm not trying to detract from these libraries, or to imply that they're not playing an important role by serving (my) vacationing patrons. It just seems that the data used for these ratings is a bit skewed. So double congratulations to landlocked flatlanders like Dover and Newton - you guys must definitely be doing something right.
The authors did touch on this, and the article's various online components also offer useful information. But if a library wants to improve its rating, the way to do that seems to be to pick up and relocate to either the coast or the mountains.
May 15th, 2007 Brian Herzog
When I upload photos to flickr, I always try to place them on the map, if appropriate. When I started a flickr account for my library, I noticed that there was a problem with the map.
I work at the library in the town of Chelmsford, MA, which is situated right next door to the city of Lowell, MA. Lowell is much bigger, and if it had a "metro area," Chelmsford would be a part of it.
However, after having lived her for a couple years, I know that the two communities are very different. High school rivalries, traffic problems - heck, I even hear Chelmsford library patrons complain about Lowell patrons and the Lowell library. Community loyalty here runs as deep as the Merrimack River.
So, I was sort of startled to see flickr claiming that all the photos mapped for the library's account (which were taken in Chelmsford) were listed by flickr as "Taken in Lowell, Massachusetts" (as circled in red in the photo above).
When placing photos on their map, flickr encourages you to place it as locally as possible. Because of that, I was surprised to see their local locations that inaccurate. I wrote to flickr, explaining the situation and asking if they could be more accurate with their map. Here's the response I received (from two different flickr support techs on the same day, two days after I sent my message):
We are aware that there are some locations that might be reflecting an adjacent city or town, or an incorrect place name. In some cases a place name might reflect a town name that is no longer in use. Flickr uses map data from Yahoo! which in turn is provided by third party providers (most online maps you see are sourced this way).
We are developing methods to allow you, the knowledgeable member, to be able to contribute to local adjustments. We don't have a particular date in mind when we would be able to offer this, but please understand it is something we hope to provide in the very near future.
Not exactly the "hi, we're flickr, and we can do anything" kind of response I was hoping for, but I do understand the issue. I guess I just have to hold on until this feature becomes available, and explain to our patrons why it looks like the Chelmsford Library is actually in the city next door.
chelmsford, chelmsford library, chelmsford ma, flickr, flickr map, lowell, lowell ma, ma, map, mapping, maps, mass, massachusetts
Tags: chelmsford, chelmsford library, chelmsford ma, flickr, flickr map, lowell, lowell ma, ma, map, mapping, maps, mass, massachusetts