Sunday, May 27, 2012

'22 Things' offers inside perspective on relationship with woman with AS

Cover: “22 Things a Woman with Asperger’s Syndrome Wants Her Partner to Know”
In previous writings I have lamented the absence of books about relationships that offer advice for and not about a partner who is on the autism spectrum. The dynamic that these books seem exclusively to address consists of a man who has Asperger’s syndrome and a woman who is neurotypical.

“22 Things a Woman with Asperger’s  Syndrome Wants Her Partner to Know,” by Rudy Simone (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2012) addresses the gender imbalance in these relationship books.

Simone’s own diagnosis gives her an insider’s perspective about being in a relationship with a woman on the autism spectrum. I found her book valuable in articulating my own challenges and gifts.

In her introduction, Simone says that since writing her first book, “22 Things a Woman Must Know if She Loves a Man with Asperger’s Syndrome” (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2009), she received many requests to write a companion piece about being in a relationship with a woman who has AS: “The requests were mostly from AS women. Females, whether they have AS or not, tend to want to figure out relationships. Trouble is, AS females are not so good at that.”

According to Simone, the man or woman who is in a relationship with a woman on the autism spectrum may need to “take the reins socially” and that person will “need to be sensitive to the special needs inherent in autism.”

(This dynamic is present in my husband’s and my relationship; like Simone’s male partner, my husband is far more adept socially. I rely upon him to explain nuances that I would otherwise miss.)

Simone’s book addresses 22 aspects of being a woman on the autism spectrum. Simone writes with humor and candor about control issues, moods, sensory challenges, repetitive behaviors, special interests and more. Simone stresses the importance of each partner treating the other person with honesty and respect.

I would recommend this book to both partners in a relationship in which a woman has Asperger’s syndrome. A foreword by Tony Attwood and illustrations by Emma Rios further enhance the book.

Disclosure of material connection: I received a review copy of this book.

Webster’s Dictionary app: an appreciation

Image: Handheld device displaying the Merriam-Webster Dictionary AppThis entry is by guest author Jonathan Donihue:

My wife and I just wanted to tell you how much we appreciate the Webster’s Dictionary App on my iPod Touch. For years we have kept dictionaries next to our reading spot at home, in the break-room at work, and even in the car.

We’re both avid readers (in fact, we regularly read to each other) and over the years we’ve consciously cultivated the habit of “looking up” words when we’re uncertain of their meanings or even when we became curious about their origin.

As you can imagine, carrying a dictionary with us everywhere we go can be somewhat cumbersome. And, of course, as our vocabulary has grown, so has the size of the dictionary. The Webster’s Dictionary iPod app has allowed us to continue expanding our vocabulary and with it our minds without breaking our backs carrying a 20 pound book. ;) Thank you!

We also want to thank you for the word of the day function. It’s obvious that you put a lot of work and imagination into it. We especially appreciate the examples and the “Did you know” portion of each day’s submission. Even if we’re already familiar with the proffered word, these precious little tidbits are often entertaining and informative and we feel, after we’ve read them, like we have a fuller apprehension of the color and richness of the subject. Again, thank you.

Jonathan Donihue
& Cynthia Parkhill

Friday, May 25, 2012

Lake County has new Poet Laureate

The opportunity on Monday to proofread a summary of the next day’s Board of Supervisor’s meeting exposed me to news that poet Elaine Watt would be sworn in as Lake County Poet Laureate for 2012-2014.

This was the first publicity the Record-Bee had received concerning selection of a new poet laureate and I posted the news on Twitter and Facebook.

That night, I asked my husband Jonathan, “What's the last name of Elaine from writer's group?” He said, “W-A-T-T” and I told him, “That's the next poet laureate.”

On Tuesday I tuned in via TV8 to a live broadcast of the meeting. I watched Watt accept a proclamation appointing her as Poet Laureate and then present her first reading in her new capacity. Congratulations, Elaine.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Community college tuition up to $46 per unit

In its May 2012 newsletter, the Community College Council of the California Federation of Teachers summarizes findings by the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues at U.C. Berkeley.

“California’s Economic Payoff: Investing in College Access and Completion,” finds that people who graduated with a four-year degree earn an average of $1.3 million more than high-school graduates over their working life.

Cover image:
California's Economic Payoff
The state of California gets back $4.50 for each dollar invested in public higher education according to the report, which was commissioned by the Campaign for College Opportunity and co-released with the California Civil Rights Coalition and the California Chamber of Commerce.

In spite of these gains, why does college tuition continue to increase?

When I enrolled in Cuesta College for fall 2010, I paid $26 per unit. This month I enrolled in a four-unit summer course and owe $46 per unit.

The benefits of higher education extend well beyond the direct payoff for students and include substantial gains to the state, according to the Campaign for College Opportunity:

“California´s higher education investments pay off for all of California, not only for the individuals who receive a college education through increased lifetime earnings, but for the state in increased tax revenue and reduced costs for social welfare programs and incarceration.”

Download the complete report at

Outrageous ruling in teen suicide case

Lynne Soraya shared news via Twitter that a judge ruled for the school district in the case of a bullied teen who committed suicide. The parents of 17-year-old Tyler Long were profiled in “Bully,” a documentary about bullying.

Long had Asperger’s syndrome and the ABA Journal report stated,  his fixation upon following the rules made him unpopular with classmates.

In his ruling U.S. District Judge Harold Murphy found that Long was:
 “subject to severe and pervasive harassment as a result of ‘severe, nearly constant bullying.’ But he said the school district did not have a constitutional duty to protect the youth from harm by private individuals. And the school was not liable for disability harassment, he said, because plaintiffs had been unable to ‘meet the high bar of deliberate indifference.’”
This ruling is outrageous because, in my opinion, school districts should have a constitutional duty to protect all students from harm.

Mine is admittedly an emotional response; I was bullied and ostracized in school and was diagnosed in adulthood with an autism spectrum disorder. I believe my undiagnosed “invisible” disability made me vulnerable to peer abuse.

Murphy wrote, as quoted in the ABA Journal report:
 “This is an emotionally charged case with very difficult facts. There is little question that Tyler was the victim of severe disability harassment, and that defendants should have done more to stop the harassment and prevent future incidents.”
But according to Murphy, the plaintiffs cannot establish a claim under disability law absent a showing a deliberate indifference, “a difficult, exacting standard”:
“In this case, he said, the school addressed every incident of harassment, and worked to prevent future bullying.
“‘At best, plaintiffs’ evidence demonstrates that defendants’ harassment prevention techniques were not always effective,’ he wrote.”
Read the complete report at

Sunday, May 20, 2012

‘Disability Terminology: A Starter Kit for Nondisabled People and the Media’

Here’s a great re-share of a share by Lynne Soraya: an introduction to disability terminology for nondisabled people and the media. Originally authored by S. E. Smith in 2010 at, Soraya posted a link on Twitter this week.

Logo: Blogging Against Disabilism
I thought it worth resharing because it corroborates my sentiments for the Blogging Against Disablism project on May 1: that as a woman on the autism spectrum who is also an editor, I consciously think about the edits I make for accurate, respectful portrayals of people with disabilities.

According to Smith, a lot of people struggle with disability terminology:
“People want to use the right word, but they’re not really sure what the right word is, and sometimes some very intriguing circumlocutions and euphemisms are employed in the service of trying to be respectful.
“I thought I’d write a very brief primer on some disability terminology in US English, to familiarise nondisabled readers with the language that has arisen as disability rights activists fight for the right to self identify, to resist ableist language, and to confront problematic framings of disability embedded in the way we talk about disability. The disability rights movement is much older than many people realise and from the start, people were tackling, confronting, and challenging language. Respectful language is already here; it’s been developed, refined, and used by people with disabilities for decades, it’s just disseminating to the general population very slowly.
“It’s important to remember here that self-identification trumps all—if you are talking to or about a particular person, please ask how that person identifies or would like to be referred to.”
In my post, I shared ways in which I self-identify, sometimes as “autistic” or “aspergian;” other times as a “woman on the autism spectrum” as I did above.

The situation I was reacting to with my blog did not involve people who self-identify; rather, it involved agencies that serve people with disabilities referring to them as “the disabled.” I thought these agencies, if anyone, would use the respectful language that Smith is talking about.

Here's what Smith says about using terms like “the disabled” or “the handicapped”:
“Pretty much, any ‘the [disability-as-a-collective-noun]‘ or ‘[person] is a [disability-as-noun]‘ framing is inadvisable. People are not their disabilities. Thus, ‘I worry about how this law will impact the d/Deaf community,’ not ‘I worry about how this law will impact the d/Deaf’ and ‘my cousin has bipolar disorder,’ not ‘my cousin is a bipolar.’”
It comes with this caveat:
“For some disabilities, some people may choose identify themselves with a disability-as-adjective framing, using disability as a facet of identity; ‘Ming is quadriplegic’ or ‘Francesca is autistic’ as opposed to ‘Ming has quadriplegia’ or ‘Francesca has autism.’ Not all people identify this way, and not all disabilities can be applied as adjectives in this way. It’s better, when possible, to mirror the language someone uses. If you know someone who identifies as ‘schizophrenic,’ for example, rather than as ‘a person with schizophrenia,’ you could say ‘my friend is schizophrenic.’ Err on the side of caution if you don’t know how someone self-identifies: ‘my friend has schizophrenia.’”
Smith also addresses the use of terms such as “wheelchair-bound/confined to a wheelchair,” “suffers from/is the victim of,” among what Smith terms the “worst hits” among terminology used by well-meaning people.

Read Smith’s complete post at My original post can be found at

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Curated with social media: Davis Double Century

Cyclist Jim Baker photographed and posted this picture
 at the Middletown High School rest-stop with Twitter for iPhone
The Davis Double Century brings riders on a 200-mile trek through Northern California, including the County of Lake, on the third Saturday in May. Taking my cue from Digital First Media journalists, here is a “beat blog” on the subject of curation using sources gleaned from social media.

I noticed signs posted on a Lake County highway during my bus ride to work on Friday. I wanted to post authoritative information about the Davis Double Century as an advisory to motorists.

From the Davis Bike Club website, I located information about the annual ride. This is the organization that hosts the Davis Double Century.

From its site, I was able to cite a statistic that as many as 1,000 cyclists would be using Lake County roadways: that is the registration limit set by the Davis Bike Club.

Another valuable source was the Rides Chronicles first-person account from a previous ride. Reading this will give people an idea about areas and timeframe in which cyclists can be expected.

This writing takes place shortly after I witnessed cyclists passing through Middletown. From there, I expect them to ascend to Cobb on Highway 175. At Loch Lomond, the cyclists will descend into Lower Lake. Their route will then take them out Highway 53 and Highway 20 toward Cache Creek.

Readers can follow the route and can even view pictures on the Rides Chronicles site.

On the day of the ride, after observing several cyclists during my walks to and from the library, I performed a search on Twitter for posts with “Davis Double Century.” Among top results, I found a photo by cyclist Jim Baker within 43 minutes of its posting via Twitter for iPhone. The photo, which was taken at the Middletown High School rest-stop, is reproduced above.

In his caption, Baker places himself at 97 miles into the Davis Double Century. That gives Lake County residents an idea of where this county fits in within the entire route.

To recap, here are URLs with information about the Davis Double Century:

Reducing library access is wrong move

A few months ago I added my name to a petition asking the Obama administration to make school libraries a national priority. School Library Journal reported on Jan. 31 that the petition had surpassed 25,000 signatures needed for the White House to issue a response.

The petition was launched by Carl Harvey, a librarian at North Elementary School in Noblesville, In. and president of the American Association of School Librarians.

As SLJ reported, the petition specifically asks that school libraries have a dedicated funding stream in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to “ensure more students have access to the resources and tools that constitute a 21st century learning environment.”

The issue took on localized significance this week when the Record-Bee reported that the Kelseyville school board voted to lay off a library clerk. District Superintendent Dave McQueen is quoted as saying, “We were going to eliminate both (library clerks) because of budget deficits but decided to keep one.”

This leaves the district with one library clerk whose time will be divided at each school site.

This issue is of vital importance to me as a lifetime user of libraries. Given the widespread benefits they provide, I believe reducing student access to libraries is wrong.

Consider that school libraries provide access to the written word in a variety of formats; books, periodicals, online.

Exposure to news media at my high school library helped me to become engaged with my community. Fiction and non-fiction books at elementary and high school libraries promoted recreational reading and the chance to explore subjects and interests that appealed to me.

How much more information is accessible to students in an unending barrage; librarians promote information literacy so that students become knowledgeable consumers.

Students who are left to fend for themselves in navigating information options will be placed at a disadvantage. Students on the wrong side of the digital divide, without access to information on the Internet, will be disadvantaged all-the-more.

I was lucky growing up to have a public library located in my hometown and a mother committed to making sure I had access to the public library each week.

Public and school libraries provided me with access to information as I needed it. They played an important role in enabling me to cross the digital divide.

Students at Kelseyville schools do not have a public library alternative. There is no public library in the greater Kelseyville area; if students need to supplement or find an alternative to the school library, they will have to travel to Clearlake or Lakeport.

School libraries also provided me a haven from constant teasing and bullying. If school libraries are closed, what safe haven will be left to students who are bullied and ostracized?

I know that money is tight, but school officials need to find a solution that doesn’t reduce students’ access to libraries.

McQueen mentions two statewide tax measures that are likely to qualify for the November ballot. I agree with McQueen that these tax measures are crucial to educational funding.

As reported in the Record-Bee, McQueen said the district would possibly bring back the library clerk if one or both tax measures are passed.

I also agree with Harvey that the White House petition is “not a silver bullet.” Library supporters must continually advocate at local, state and national levels.

Read staff reporter Kevin N. Hume’s article at

Read SLJ coverage of the White House petition at Read Harvey’s blog entry about what happens next at

Friday, May 18, 2012

‘Join the Journalists’

An honors English class has just made its way through the Lake County Publishing newsroom, where I gave a brief overview of Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts that I curate for the Record-Bee.

While few present had experience with Twitter, several students were active on Facebook and at least one student admitted having a Pinterest account. I was glad to tie their social media use with the news media’s presence on their favorite sites.

The Record-Bee places “digital first” emphasis upon its reporting the news.

In September our parent company, MediaNews Group, appointed John Paton as its CEO and entered an agreement with Digital First Media to provide management services. The “digital first” emphasis is shared by our sister newspapers.

This afternoon’s visit was good practice for next Wednesday when we invite the community to “Join the Journalists,” 6 to 8 p.m. at the Soper Reese Community Theatre.

The workshop is free and is intended for people interested in submitting written materials, video or photographs for inclusion in online and print publications.

RSVP to Managing Editor Mandy Feder at 263-5636, ext. 32, or

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Etonic Dragonzilla, Jr. bowling shoes

My birthday gift arrived today: my very own Etonic Dragonzilla, Jr. bowling shoes: black with yellow dragons that will look awesome with my bowling shirt. I look even more the bowling superhero now!

Team bowling: nearly a superhero

The Lake County Record-Bee Killer Bees
From left to right: Jeremy D. Walsh, Cynthia Parkhill,
Kevin N. Hume, Shawn Garrison and Kelly Thorn
Being on a league bowling team is the next best thing to being a member of the Justice League or some other superhero cadre. You'll just have to take my word for it, because I am so not kidding. I rank league bowling with superherodom.
Awesome dragon-enhanced shoes

Maybe it's because we all dressed up in matching shirts. We were the only team that did and I think it made us stand out: black polos with the Record-Bee's name on the front and the emblem, "Killer Bees," on the back.

I personalized my shirt by adding fringe and strung beads.

Team sports wasn't something I enjoyed until bowling with the "Killer Bees." I was always picked last and missed out on that team camaraderie.

But with bowling, any disparities among level of ability is evened out by our handicaps. We only ever compete against our own best scores.

In that sense, I made an improvement: I entered the league with a 67 average and ended with an average of 70. That may not seem like much but to me, the gain shows definite improvement.

I'd wanted to bowl in a league for months before joining the "Killer Bees." I'm grateful to former publisher Gary Dickson for organizing the team and to my teammates, Shawn Garrison, Kevin N. Hume, Kelly Thorn and Jeremy Walsh, for supportive and positive camaraderie.

Special thanks to my mother for letting me use her left-handed, eight-pound ball.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

'The Speed of Dark' by Elizabeth Moon

The newest edition to my list of recommended books about autism is The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon, available through the Lake, Mendocino and Sonoma County libraries’ catalog.

Moon is the author of several fantasy and science fiction novels. The Speed of Dark is the story of Lou, a man on the autism spectrum who works for a pharmaceutical company. His characteristics of autism enable Lou to identify patterns for his employer.

This book was brought to my attention through a comment by Julie Trebat in response to my list.

Autism book list has new address

"All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome" by Kathy Hoopmann

For a couple of years I've curated a list of books that I think beneficial to people who are on the autism spectrum. It presently resides at this blog.

The list originated as part of my discovery of what it means to be on the spectrum after being diagnosed in adulthood. Its intended audience is people who may be new to their own diagnosis and who seek more information.

I first posted the list as a note on my Facebook profile and later on my public page. Each move was intended to make the list acessible to a wider readership.

A person shouldn't have to "friend" me, shouldn't have to have a Facebook account, to be able to access the list.

When I began blogging, it seemed a natural step to migrate the list to this blog for its accessibility via subject-tagging.

A blog with tags like "autism," "Asperger's syndrome," "autism book list" and "books" has a greater likelihood of being found by a potential reader than a note passively sitting on a Facebook page.

The list includes both fiction and non-fiction and contains references to books that can be found in my Lake County library, as well as books that can be found via

Through, the reader can seek a book in thousands of library catalogs and have the results sorted by geographical distance from the user.

I hope that libraries seeking to serve patrons who are on the autism spectrum will consider adding these books to their collections.

The list can be viewed at Watch for additions as I gain awareness of other valuable books.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

People really do blame the victim

Comic strip in four panels. In the first panel, a fluttering pigeon with the head of a man says, "I find it difficult to feel sorry for you as so many students like you have never really made an attempt to be part of the student body." Listening to him, a human-looking cat thinks, "Wow ..." In the second panel, the pigeon says, "You simply stand to the side and criticize what you didn't understand and never tried to correct." The cat thinks, "Verbal put-downs ..." In the third panel, the pigeon says, "This article ... will reach a lot of alumni and only make it more difficult for you to return for any of our All-Class Reunions." The cat thinks, "And threats of social exclusion!" In the fourth panel, the pigeon says, "The word will get out ..." The cat thinks, "Where'd he learn to bully so well?"
Original cartoon, generated online using
At the invitation of a friend of mine, Anat, I read a post by guest blogger Angie Tupelo, “Allies and Pseudo Allies,” on “Your Passport to Complaining (is your willingness to do something about it)” by Paxus.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Young Adult services at Napa City-County Library

The Napa City-County Library offers a teen program that is headed by a young adult librarian, James Mah.

While he said there is no formal mission statement, a definition on its website comes close: “Napa City-County Library’s Young Adult Services are dedicated to providing materials and programs to teens in Napa County. Our Young Adult collection includes popular and informational books, manga, video games, DVDs and audio books” (Napa).

Teen services include activities and opportunities for volunteerism. Some recent activities include a teen video game tournament and a recently-formed teen book club. Meetings began April 2 with Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games.

At the next meeting, on May 30, teens will discuss Battle Royale by Koushun Takami. The premise of the story, as outlined in a flier promoting the book club event, seems similar to The Hunger Games: a third-year high school class will be forced to fight to the death until only one survivor remains.

During my visit on May 5, brochures and fliers were promoting upcoming teen activities including a teen movie showcase on May 25, the teen summer reading program, which begins accepting sign-ups on May 29, and the next Awesome Alliance of Justice (teen advisory group) meeting on the first and third Wednesday of every month.

Services that were promoted include online help with homework and a new study center at the main library that serves both children and teens.

Asked if there are specific policies that govern teens, Mah said there are not, because he doesn’t want to see segregated rules. Teens are affected by the same rules that govern patrons as a whole.

Mah described the Awesome Alliance of Justice as a combined focus group and brainstorming session. Participating teens help to plan events for teens and provide advice about how the library provides teen services. The website invites any interested teens to drop in and participate (Napa).

Other types of volunteer activities are detailed on an application form that asks teens what sort of volunteer tasks they would be interested in doing: shelf organization, cleaning, book reviews, distributing fliers, office work and “other.”

From their description, I thought the Awesome Alliance of Justice and the other volunteer activities to provide just the sort of win-win that is described in our text: “The library gains teen input, interaction, and perspective; the community benefits from teens who have had valuable work experience; and teens profit from their involvement in activities that increase their work experience and opportunities that help build assets” (Gorman 320).

The teen services also relate to teens’ developmental needs as described in our text: the volunteer programs offer teens an opportunity to take on responsibilities. Book club, video game and teen movie activities help with the shaping of identity by allowing teens to express these interests.

Asked if he knows what young adults expect from their libraries, Mah said that polling has indicated many teens are unaware of the library and its services and they don’t know what to expect beyond knowing that it has books. Some of the ways in which the library does outreach includes working with the county’s school librarians: sending fliers to the schools. In addition to enlisting them for outreach, Mah said the library also works with school librarians so that its collection compliments the school districts’.

There is a weekly market in which the main street in Napa is shut down and the library has a booth. On one day during the market, the library’s booth will be devoted to teen activities.

Mah said he is also going to talk with school librarians about the library’s summer reading program.

Asked if there is something that teens would like the library to do that it is not doing, Mah said the library possesses X-Box and Wii and teens would like the library to provide the third major console: the Play Station 3. Mah said he has also received requests for book series, food and activities like a rock wall.

The teen collection is housed in its own room. During my visit I looked at the room and it included fiction, nonfiction and periodicals. These latter included Marvel comics and manga. There were cafe-style booths to sit at. There are laptops available for use but only when Mah is present.

Mah said the library received major donations from local businesses, which was how it got the room; before that, young adult collection occupied shelves in the regular part of the library.

The teen area is reserved for teen use; while an adult may go and retrieve a book, adults are not supposed to hang out in the teen area so that teens will feel comfortable using it.

The young adult program has its own budget. Mah said it is guided by the general collection plan of the Napa City-County Library, which is geared toward popular works.

The success of teen programs is measured by attendance. Mah said that poetry slams have been successful in the past. One blowout success got teachers involved as well as teens. Other popular activities include the video game tournament and a food fair.

Works Cited

  • Gorman, Michele and Tricia Suellentrop. Connecting Young Adults and Libraries. 4th ed. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2004. Print.
  • Mah, James. Personal interview. 5 May 2012.
  • Napa City-County Library. “May Book: Battle Royale by Koushun Takami. Teen Book Club. Flier. Print.
  • ---. Napa City-County Library Teen Volunteer Application Form. Application form. Print.
  • ---. “Teen Volunteer Opportunities.“ County of Napa — Napa City-County Library — Teens. Web. 5 May 2012
  • ---. “Young Adult Collection and Programs.” County of Napa — Napa City-County Library — Teens. Web. 5 May 2012

Originally compiled for a Cuesta College class assignment, LIBT 118, Connecting Adolescents with Literature and Libraries

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Cataloging Futures: A response

In its Jan. 5 entry, Cataloging Futures ( announces a change in focus upon XQuery and MarkLogic Server for digital collections in libraries (“Cataloging Futures takes a new direction”).

XQuery responds to an increasing need to classify or “query” data that has been created in the XML format.

As explained by W3C, “XML is a versatile markup language, capable of labeling the information content of diverse data sources including structured and semi-structured documents, relational databases, and object repositories. A query language that uses the structure of XML intelligently can express queries across all these kinds of data, whether physically stored in XML or viewed as XML via middleware” (

MarkLogic is “an enterprise software company powering [more than] 500 of the world’s most critical Big Data Applications with the first operational database technology capable of handling any data, at any volume, in any structure,” according to its website at

While I don’t entirely understand these applications, the blog’s direction seems to reflect a desire by its author, Christine Schwartz, to stay current with industry developments.

Much of Schwartz’s blog is very technical in nature, with reproduced examples of XQuery code included in recent posts.  Aside from these portions, for which I lack the relevant experience, I found the blog to offer thoughtful reflections upon developments in the industry.

The Jan. 4 post about Code Academy’s Code Year opportunity was interesting because it reflects a field of study that I believe will benefit me in both my present occupation as a social media curator and in my library studies.

“Catalogers work with massive amounts of curated bibliographic data, and being able to manipulate it in new and different ways and in ever increasing amounts is key as we move forward into the bibliographic future and the world of linked data and the semantic web.”

Another post concerned a shift in information roles from “catalogers” to ‘information ninjas” (June 24, 2011). It piqued my interest because of a similar shift in the role of traditional journalists to curators of information across a variety of platforms.

Some emerging responsibilities that “digital ninjas” will face include “Moving away from traditional records file and library classification systems and making innovative use of more consumable methods of classification such as metadata and social tagging.”

As a library or media professional, I view myself as a curator of information, whatever form that information may take. I use whatever classification will provide access to that material.

For example, on Twitter, hashtags create access points for following a particular story. Twitter users who self-curate their posts with the use of an agreed-upon tag can engage in conversations (tweetchats) among multiple users.

I see social tagging similarly in use in the publication of blogs. Authors generate descriptive tags for the subjects of their posts.

A person who reads one of my blogs about “libraries” and then wants to read more, can click the tag to bring up only those entries that are linked to that tag.

A word cloud displays tags in varying sizes that relate to frequency of use. A viewer can thus see which topics I most frequently blog about.

I believe that in this emerging future, there will still be a need for professional catalogers.

Physical collections still need to be organized in ways that have continuity and facilitate sharing of materials. If every library used different tags to define their collections, how would anyone find anything at any other library than the one that he or she is used to? How would libraries share with each other?

I think user-generated tags will enhance, maybe alter, but not entirely replace the use of standard classifications.

This essay was submitted in response to an assignment in LIBT 104: Organizing Information in the Cuesta College Library and Information Technology program.

I edit for people-first language

Blogging Against Disablism
In what could be considered as much a beat-blog about editing as it is “Blogging Against Disablism,” I would like to discuss an edit that I frequently make to press releases submitted to my employer, a Northern California newspaper.

Often when I receive press releases from agencies that serve people with developmental disabilities, I am surprised that these agencies refer to their clients as “the disabled” or “the developmentally disabled.”

Surprised because I thought the respectful, widespread practice was to use people-first language in an effort to combat harmful stereotypes.

When I encounter press releases that refer to the “the developmentally disabled,” I edit them to instead describe their clients as “people with developmental disabilities.”

I take as my guideline, the Associated Press Stylebook. Where it is silent on subjects that pertain to people with disabilities, I consult a style guide that has been prepared by the National Center on Disability and Journalism:
“When describing an individual, do not reference his or her disability unless it is clearly pertinent to a story. If it is pertinent, it is best to use language that refers to the person first and the disability second.”
 What is at stake with depictions in the media? Here’s a quote from the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities:
“Historically, people with disabilities have been regarded as individuals to be pitied, feared or ignored. They have been portrayed as helpless victims, repulsive adversaries, heroic individuals overcoming tragedy, and charity cases who must depend on others for their well being and care. Media coverage frequently focused on heartwarming features and inspirational stories that reinforced stereotypes, patronized and underestimated individuals' capabilities.
“Much has changed lately. New laws, disability activism and expanded coverage of disability issues have altered public awareness and knowledge, eliminating the worst stereotypes and misrepresentations. Still, old attitudes, experiences and stereotypes die hard.
“People with disabilities continue to seek accurate portrayals that present a respectful, positive view of individuals as active participants of society, in regular social, work and home environments. Additionally, people with disabilities are focusing attention on tough issues that affect quality of life, such as accessible transportation, housing, affordable health care, employment opportunities and discrimination.”
For readers who are unfamiliar with my blog, I would like to explain that people-first language isn’t just a professional exercise for me. I think about its implications when describing myself.

As a woman who is on autism spectrum, I might use the words “autistic” and “Aspergian” to describe me and my tendencies. On other occasions, I may describe myself as “a woman with autism” or “a woman on the autism spectrum.”

Because I reside on the autism continuum, I think personally about portrayals in the media and implications of using a label like “developmentally disabled.”

As an editor I consult the style guide and make my edits accordingly to promote accurate, respectful portrayals of people with disabilities.

Additional resources for people-first language:

This blog is part of “Blogging Against Disablism,” a web project for May 1.