Tag: library science

Writing Updates

Before I get going: read my poem (and all of the other stories and poems) in the summer issue of Kaleidotrope.

On Tuesday night, I spent about 3.5 hours working in Scrivener and Aeon Timeline to verify dates for a story against a 35,000-year unity of time cycle, and I’m working in 3 different calendar systems — Objective Count, the Nåkeva Tveshi Calendar, and the Standard Count Tveshi calendar.

I knew I’d overextended myself when I reached 10:00 PM and thought to myself that I had burned the candle so long that there was hardly any wax left. It was the tail end of orientation season where I work, and the semester started on Wednesday. This weekend, I’m finishing up writing an academic article based on a conference lightning talk I presented this summer — due on the 7th.

On Tuesday, despite being fatigued, I pushed on until 10:37 PM simply because I was so deep in calendrical conversions that I didn’t want to spend time figuring out where I had left off. When I turned off my music, I felt fuzzy and hollow. Spent.

August and September are the most hectic periods in the calendar for most academic librarians, with additional rushes in October, December, whenever spring midterms happen (typically early March here), and late April/early May. Late August to early September — I declared in my bullet journal — is a month of organizing and completion for me. Rather than starting new projects, I’m using it to tidy up.

Being the type of person who commits to things and then finishes them means that I have to really watch not overextending myself early on, and Tuesday night is an example of a time when I was pushing myself a bit overmuch. I keep having to remind myself that I have all of September ahead of me to get things done. The first thing I did after considering what I need to do between now and December 31 to reach my goals was to make a document called Large Writing Projects and print it out so I’d know what’s on my plate and my estimated times to completion. It’s taped to the wall above my desk now.

I finished writing a shareable draft of A Matter of Oracles and sent it to a few close acquaintances and friends on my “hey will you read this?” list on Sunday night. Coincidentally, everyone I asked to read it works in libraries, and it’s about far-future library science. Then, I put a smiley face over its section on Large Writing Projects. After being on a panel at Conbust for several years about the depiction of libraries in speculative fiction, I decided that I really wanted to see what it would be like to write something (admittedly on the fantastical side of speculative fiction) that drew on my professional librarian background and created a realistic information environment. You can also see a bit of that in Epiphany, but not as directly; episodes/entries 18 and 38 have a lot of realism. There’s another episode in which a database Salus uses for work has an update that completely overhauls its interface, and that’s common, too.

Right now, I’m putting The Raised Seal in more explicit first person omniscient — updating it to be consistent with what I’ve decided to do in the rest of the epic has been smoldering in the back of my head. Tackling this will free up mental space for projects I want to focus on later in the calendar year, so it’s game on. I’ve just reached Chapter 15 out of 21, which plot-wise is where the shit hits the fan. Many of my longer works are like a Mono piece or one of Rachmaninov’s piano concertos in that they build slow-ish and then the climax happens and stays put.

Otherwise, I’m migrating some of my plain text worldbuilding, character, and story notes into Markdown (using MWeb) and LaTeX (specifically Overleaf). While I use Scrivener for single-story character sheets, locations, and the like, when I’m working on my epic, I need the same things over and over. My conlang documents are so nice and squeaky, and they’re a total breeze to consult when I’m in the middle of writing.

I’ve co-taught file management workshops and practice what I teach, so the worldbuilding notes are straightforwardly arranged — I can more clearly see where I can refine what I do to fit my workflow a bit better. It actually might not take as much time as I thought to fix all of this up.

I shared these stats on Twitter (from which I’m taking a hiatus; social media is very stressful, and I can feel my chest tightening and shoulders knotting whenever I log in), but this is what August looked like for me.

Screenshot of August creative writing time, totaling over 54 hours

One big change is that I discovered that RescueTime premium has a lot of features I want to use to track my time, so I started using it to look at the amount of time I was spending in Scrivener and other writing tools.

Screenshot of time spent in Scrivener, totaling over 47 hours, in August

I said this on Twitter, but I’ve seen people mention that it’s hard to feel productive when there isn’t a word count to measure — RescueTime helps me with that because I can see that despite not having written many new words this month, I’ve been doing a lot of revision. What is not included there is the time I spent reading/annotating some of my work using an app on my phone. That’s another few hours, which would bring the total to 58-60 hours for my creative work.

So those are a few quick updates. I’m doing a lot of stuff, #Lexember will be upon us before you know it, and there’s a thing I will talk about excitedly in a few months, but happy September, and may Demeter and Kore bring you the blessings of the harvest season. 😊

When a Librarian Writes Conlangs

I saw a question on Twitter that was posted on Metafilter about words for librarian in “geek languages,” which was retweeted with a #conlang hashtag. Right now, I’m not sure if the original poster intended this to be mentioned in the conlang communities. I mean, there are popular geek conlangs, and then there is the vast ecosystem of conlang work happening … but it’s my birthday, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Classical Atarahi

Earlier this year, I drafted a novella about a librarian on Atara, so it’s about library science in a far-future setting. Classical Atarahi is the international prestige language on Atara. I do have a rich vocabulary to describe librarians because I needed to develop some poetic-sounding metaphors for what librarians in that society do.

As a secondary concern, I want the novella to fight back against tropes and misunderstandings about librarianship in a broad sense. If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen me occasionally get angry about novelettes, novellas, and other stories that conflate libraries and archives or that place library science in a dusty realm of books. (And there is some great historical fiction about librarians, but that still leaves those of us in the profession after about 1970 out of pop culture’s conception of what a librarian is.) As an academic science librarian in 2018, the only time I routinely touch books is when I read them on my lunch break. A librarian working in 1918 couldn’t do my job without training and vice-versa just due to how much the professional skillset has shifted.

So what does this mean about far-future library science? Well.

The Classical Atarahi word for librarian is derived from the word for datum (the singular form of data). Atarahi societies have always had computing infrastructure. They have always had some level of AI processing. Librarians in Atarahi society work in tandem with AI routines, human archivists, and other information professionals to deliver information services. They are a public service for everyone, from firms and companies to private citizens and families, with a complex referral system.

Amil is the word for datum in Atarahi, pronounced /ˈä.mil/. The plural form is amilenta, /ˈä.mil.ən.ˌtɑ/. The formal word for librarian comes from the term amiyī hekwakabī, data-plunger. Library science on Atara is filled with metaphors about diving, plunging, and immersing, much like the surviving esoteric text from Greco-Roman Egypt called The Book of Thoth, which makes allusions to hunting and trapping for scribal work. The commonly-used Classical Atarahi word for librarian, amiyas, /ˈä.mi.ˌjɑs/, is the word amil put in the same adjective-as-noun form that is used for personal names.

Note that the vocabulary above doesn’t include archivists. Library-archive hybrid places typically use amiyas to describe their employees. Archivists are called something else.


Classical Atarahi is not the only language for which I have developed this vocabulary. Narahji, an Ịgzarhjenya language, has separate language to describe its data flows (which includes both fiction and nonfiction scrolls/books, maps, poetry in various media, qualitative/quantitative data, et cetera) from its archival information. The terminology related to archives and archivists is related to the Narahji verb for to remember. The terminology related to librarians is related instead to words describing datastreams, information flows, and discovery systems.

Niphtora /ni.pʰtoʊ.ˈrɑ/ is library science. A librarian is a niphtorakri /ni.pʰtoʊ.ˈrɑ.kʼri/, and a library is kisaiga lịniphtora /kʼi.sa͡ɪ.ˈgɑ lɪ.ni.pʰtoʊ.ˈrɑ/, library building. The prefix lị- changes depending on whether kisaiga is a subject or direct/indirect object. In pre-conquest Narahja, while city libraries often contained archives, most archival content was found in specific archival institutions or museums. The exceptions were national libraries, which had strong archival collections.


Finally, the Tveshi language actually collapses librarians and archivists together into a single term. (I talked about this in #Lexember, too.) A library or archive is called an innodå /ĩð.ˈoʊ̯.dɔ/. A librarian or archivist is an innodåkouri /ĩð.oʊ̯.dɔ.ˈkʼou̯.ɾi/.

Unnodå /ũð.ˈoʊ̯.dɔ/ is the word for an archive if one wants to be specific, and it can be suffixed with -kouri to make it clear one is talking about an archival professional. Oinnodå /ɔĩ̯ð.ˈoʊ̯.dɔ/, library, can be suffixed in much the same way. The reason for this is that the national libraries in Tveshė are also the country’s archives, so while a library campus may (and often does) include multiple buildings, they all organizationally fall under the same bureaucratic structures.