progress and pages turning

I did not completely move into my new office Sunday evening despite massive looming deadlines and extreme desire. Progress was made and I believe I will be able to move in soon, but more must be accomplished.

Quite a few pages were turned this past week and some of them were enjoyable and some have left me happy I turned them, but disappointed in the final result.

Containers for Patios (AHS Practical Guides) Containers for Patios
by Val Bourne
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My husband and I are great fans of DK travel guides. I found this book to be enjoyable for the same reason I enjoy them — clear and enjoyable photographs and explanations. I now have a deck and flower boxes. I have no idea what to do with these spaces and am craving inspiration and information. This book delivers. I’ve unfortunately lived in a concrete jungle for too many years and have forgotten much of the green information I once just knew. This book helps jog my memory and provide the creative starting point I need. The photos do not disappoint in the least. I like the layout and enjoyed flipping through the example themes. My only complaint beyond this not being a longer book is that it doesn’t use the (traditional?) zone information I’ve come to find in most modern gardening literature, but (and this could be a British thing because of the imprint) it uses an icon system indicating sun and soil preferences and hardiness. Sure I can cross reference, so this isn’t a really a big deal. If you are looking for inspiration I really suggest you check it out.

Babel-17/Empire Star Babel-17/Empire Star
by Samuel R. Delany
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Interesting. I am still working my way through my thoughts based upon my education of cognitive science and linguistics. It was a fun enjoyable read, especially when contrasted with the next title. ;)

From Polders to Postmodernism: A Concise History of Archival Theory From Polders to Postmodernism: A Concise History of Archival Theory
by John Ridener
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I hesitate to review this title, I received it as part of Library Thing‘s Early Reviewer Program. The title and blurb sounded interesting so I went in for the lottery to “win” a copy. Since I received a copy through this program, my obligation in return is to write a few coherent words about it after reading. My hesitation stems from that while a portion of my graduate degree includes the word Archive, I am not sure if I possess the tools to make an informed decision and properly give this book its due.

Yet, this I can say: I believe it is yet another book suffering from an unfortunate subtitle. If one were to believe it, within its mere 184 pages, one would expect to find a comprehensive and comprehensible look at archival theory in general. Cox argues that this is a good introductory text on the major theories (Reading Archives: Archival Theory), yet I hesitate. While the major schools are mentioned to some depth, I am frustrated that no other voices or localities are heard. Furthermore, I felt that while some key aspects of the theories were expressed in detail (p 52, Jenkinson’s definition of archives), this reader was left with a gloss of the material that felt dimmed and incomplete.

Each theory is organized into its own chapter and for the most part left in isolation there. I found it difficult to build upon and to compare and contrast the evolution of the theories, despite Ridener’s assertion that “at almost every turn, one can contrast the two theories” (p 69). While I’m sure the material is there in order to perform this analysis, I believe it is disjointed and lacking a focus in its portrayal. Furthermore I found the strict chronological path restricting, though I’m not entirely sure why. I am thankful that Ridener makes a strong point that it is technological change that has driven most of the changes in Archival Theory over the years, as that is the largest challenge facing Archivists today.

It is the final 18 pages, consisting of the whole Conclusion, which I found to be the most tightly written and comprehensive of all the included text. It is here that Ridener concisely lays out the theories and (to the limited degree afforded by the length) contrasting view points. Additionally, there are views here which are not touched upon elsewhere in the text and I would have liked to see these points expanded after receiving a strong basis of the theories from which they spring. It is these examples which form the strongest evidence to the evolution of this new Questioning Method and the challenges modern Archivists face in an age of yet more rapid technological change.

So is this a good introductory text to Archival Theory as Cox has suggested? I believe yes, when supplemented with other readings and discussion. In isolation, it cannot stand on its own.