In the 4th grade, Thursdays were hot dog days at school. Volunteer mothers would bring the hotdogs to our classroom and distribute them. This might have been when I was deep into reading sleuthing books, but, in my conveniently sized group, I used to track who had ketchup or mustard on their hotdog and what was their hair color. I was trying to correlate mustard use with blond hair and ketchup use with brown or black hair. I remember being frustrated with those who partook of both and wondering how to classify them. It was hard to keep track of a third category in my head. That might have been shortly after I discovered that illustrations in books were not literal, that, somewhere in the world, there was a place that looked exactly like the illustration, even if it were a pen and ink drawing. That used to be a happy and intriguing thought.
I like data, like working with data, and even enjoy cleaning up data to a certain extent. Library resources and their use involve many, many spreadsheets, and the occasional accompanying interesting observation. When the library had digital humanities training, I worked with a group from several divisions to analyze library print book acquisitions. Looking at titles and later LC subject headings, we were trying to develop a way to analyze library collections in order to spot biases or deficits. The discussions and work we did to download, process, clean and interpret the data were interesting and sometimes maddening, but we felt we were doing good work and helping the profession.
Participating in the DH Reading Group, despite my extremely limited knowledge and practice, has been a great way to learn about DH and also academia, research, information management and interpretation, and even super heroes. It has been so rewarding to bond with others inside and outside of the library, share thoughts and observations, and in my case ask dumb questions. In spite of our busy-ness it is stimulating to stretch a little. Join us! In condiment and other worlds I’m still seeing bizarre correlations…
Margaret Hogarth is the Electronic Resources and Acquisitions Librarian for The Claremont Colleges Library. She has an MLIS from California State University, San Jose and a Masters in Environmental Studies from California State University, Fullerton. She has been a librarian since 1998.