Spring has not really sprung

It is cold in Toronto. I bought the bike of my dreams in March and want to be on it all the time but it’s not ideal, as I’m lacking some critical cold-weather gear. Today was the quietest day of the year in the library, in that lovely intersession period where one could theoretically cartwheel around the map cabinets, if one only knew how to.

I finished up the aforementioned best course with a deep dive into the Prelinger Archives and what was probably the best paper/presentation combo I’ve ever come up with (not to mention best looking, eh). I never thought I’d find library work more suited for me than in the map library, but suddenly I found myself joining AMIA, rediscovering my love of broadcast media and ephemeral cinema, and creating a syllabus for a beautifully gonzo summer reading course on archiving landscape, again with Brock Silversides. It also just clicked, again, that the domain name I bought seven years ago emerged from a love of microforms.

During the day I’m working on the (huuuge) redesign of the Map & Data Library website, and two upcoming conference presentations: first, on the politics of my work as a map cataloguer at the TRY Library Conference at UofT. In June I’ll be heading to Fredericton for the Association of Canadian Map Libraries and Archives annual meeting, to speak on a workshop entitled Exploring Neighbourhood Change that I teach to highschool and first-year undergraduate students, introducing them to air photo interpretation and census data visualization with ArcGIS. Then I am going to Saskatoon with my library school (and beyond) bff Sheila Laroque where she can teach me how to drive at the age of 33 2/3.

Ken Burns’ Baseball, AV archives, and grief

Can I tell you how much this course is blowing my mind? It’s made me revisit so much of my previous scholarship, casting it in a much more positive light – I didn’t realize how much of my nervousness about my landscape research came out of being unsure how to position visual evidence – of course, everyone needs 18 months off their major research project to feel good about it. My first short report in the class, on Ken Burns’ Baseball, was the first thing I enjoyed writing in this program, and confirmed that baseball should continue all year round, so bad things don’t happen in the off-season…

p.s. I have kittens. As all of my previous cats have been named after streets in Los Angeles, I now have a cat named Vin Scully. Her sister’s name is Hope.

I spent an unexpected week off work watching the 18+ hours of Ken Burns’ Baseball, at first keeping it on in the background to temper the psychological shock of a sudden loss. I requested the DVDs from Toronto Public Library two weeks before, which arrived at my local branch out of order, so I watched them as such – moving from TV and couch cocoon to laptop in bed, its chronology folding in on itself as episodes doubled as distraction and sleep aid, with occasional notes tapped out on my phone in the dark. By the time I was able to watch the series in order, I had developed an understanding of Baseball as an archival assemblage, but entirely underestimated its power as a manifestation of American national myth, finding myself periodically moved to tears by its reverent reflections, and with my heart full of longing for the upcoming season. Continue reading “Ken Burns’ Baseball, AV archives, and grief”