Miskatonic University Press

412 ppm


Two days ago atmospheric CO₂ jumped up to over 412 ppm (as measured at Mauna Loa and seen on GHG.EARTH). Not good.

412.63 ppm.
412.63 ppm.

York U job: head of science library / physical sciences librarian

code4lib libraries york

At York University Libraries, where I work, there is a search on right now for Physical Sciences Librarian and Head of Steacie Science and Engineering Library.

The deadline for applications is 2 June 2017. If you know a librarian with a background in the physical sciences who might be looking for a job, please send them the link.

I’m on the search committee, so I can’t give any tips, but I’ll point out a few things:

  • York University pays well. For historical pay equity reasons there’s a sort of grid that determines salaries based on the year one got one’s MLIS, so there’s no bargaining that will happen. Someone who got their MLIS in 2007, ten years ago, could expect to make about $120,000.
  • Librarians are in the York University Faculty Association (a union that takes social and progressive issues very seriously) and have academic status.
  • The benefits are good.
  • Americans are welcome to apply. (In Canada health care is publicly funded, etc.)
  • York University is an exciting place to work!
  • The strategic plan mentioned in the ad is a little hard to find on our site, so have a look.
  • There’s an affirmative action plan in place, and in this search we added this to the standard paragraph: “People with disabilities and Aboriginal people are priorities in the York University Libraries Affirmative Action plan and are especially encouraged to apply. Consideration will also be given to those who have followed non-traditional career paths or had career interruptions.” We mean it.

If you want to find out more about York and what the job would be like, email me at wdenton@yorku.ca and I can put you in touch with someone not on the search committee.

Close to 410 ppm


Atmospheric CO₂ is almost at 410 ppm, as measured at Mauna Loa and seen on GHG.EARTH.

409.82 ppm.
409.82 ppm.

Unconventional Perogies


Unconventional perogies.
Unconventional perogies.

If I ever publish a book of my collected verse, I will call it Unconventional Perogies.

The Frantics


The Frantics, the great four-man comedy troupe that did Frantic Times on CBC Radio from 1981–1984 (one of the top five best radio comedy shows of all time, in my books), is doing a Best of Frantic Times podcast. They say: “The idea behind Best of Frantic Times was to take the best of the 120 episode, 1000 plus sketches that were originally broadcast and turn them into a series of podcasts. We did not want this to be a trip down memory lane, though there will be a some of that, but a reintroduction to a show that is still funny today.” It’s as funny as ever. I recommend subscribing to the podcast to hear the best of the show in all its glory (and in good-quality audio, too). Check out the video clips on their site as well. I saw them live once and they were fantastic.

Duchamp, librarian

libraries marcel.duchamp

I’m reading Calvin Tomkins’s biography of Marcel Duchamp (Duchamp: A Biography) and today learned something new and surprising: Duchamp trained and worked (briefly) as a librarian.

In November 1912, for various reasons, Duchamp was fed up with painting.

Now, in order to concentrate his energy on the large-scale work that he had conceived in Munich, he decided to withdraw from all other artistic activities and to look for a job that would supplement the modest allowance he still received from his father. What sort of job? One that would not take up too much of his time, obviously. Picabia found the solution. His uncle, a bon vivant and man-about-town named Maurice Davanne, happened to be director of the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, one of the city’s most distinguished research institutions. With Davanne’s assurance of a future position, Duchamp enrolled that November in a librarian’s course at L’Ecole Nationale des Chartes. A library job appealed to him because it meant “taking an intellectual position as opposed to the manual servitude of the artist,” but he was not giving up on art. As he would later explain, “There are two kinds of artists: the artist who deals with society; and the other artist, the completely freelance artist, who has nothing to do with it—no bonds.”

I repeat: librarianship meant taking an intellectual position as opposed to the manual servitude of the artist.


A few pages later (from p. 110 to p. 119):

Having completed his course in library science at l’Ecole des Chartes, Duchamp started work as an intern at the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève in April or May. “It was a wonderful job, because I had so many hours to myself,” he said. “My hours were ten to twelve and one-thirty to three, and I got five francs a day. My father helped me, and I wasn’t married, so it was plenty.” Duchamp took advantage of the library’s research facilities during this period to carry out the only serious, sustained reading that he would ever do in his life.

This was at an important point in Duchamp’s artistic development. The implication is clear to me.

Vial of Paris air.
Vial of Paris air.

(Images are of two small parts of the magnificent De ou par Marcel Duchamp ou Rrose Selavy: Boîte-en-Valise, a replica of a box Duchamp made containing examples of all his art.)

Show notes


Let’s make “I’ll put that in the show notes” the new “Let’s take that offline.”

The Next Track


A few weeks ago I discovered The Next Track, a podcast “about how people listen to music today,” hosted by by Doug Adams and Kirk McElhearn. I really like it, and I’m working my way through many of the back episodes now.

I found it though a link from Peter Robinson’s web site, to the show where they interviewed him about music in his Banks novels. Some other past shows jumped out at me and I downloaded them:

Then I caught up with a bunch more, and I’m still at it.

Shows are about half an hour long and come out on Fridays. They’re very well produced and sound great. The two hosts have a lot of experience in the music business, and they have good radio voices, too. They’re both Mac users, so sometimes they get into detail about iTunes or something else I don’t care about, but that’s no big deal. Different episodes cover file formats, differences between streaming services, home media servers, equipment like DACs and amps and speakers, how the industry is changing, how composers work, and more: all angles of how we listen to music today.

Kawabata Makoto's guitar pedals.
Kawabata Makoto's guitar pedals.

Adams and McElhearn often mention musicians and bands, of course, though that’s not the focus. Their musical tastes overlap with mine: Miles Davis and Bill Evans, or prog bands like King Crimson, ELP and Yes. They’re a little bit older than me, I think, so generally their memories of things like buying records or what radio used to be like match mine.

At the end of every episode they mention something they’re listening to right now, and often I head over to Tidal right after to listen myself, most recently to Domo Arigato by The Durutti Column.

I’m going to suggest they interview Ben Ratliff about his book Every Song Ever: Twenty Ways to Listen in an Age of Musical Plenty. It would be a great match.

List of all blog posts