Not in the Cards
Nicholson Baker, author of the telecommunications-based novel Vox, is no technophobe, but he is fed up with the technophiles at the New Main Library. The one item Baker really wants to check out at the library -- its old card catalog -- is no longer available to the public. Baker has filed two requests to see the catalog under the Sunshine Ordinance, which requires that public records be made available within 24 hours of a request to see them. He's still waiting for a reply. "This was not a frivolous request," he says. "This has always been a very public document. If I have to go before a judge and all that junk, I will."
Baker filed the request to try to prevent City Librarian Ken Dowlin from abandoning the old catalog, with its 3-by-5 index cards, in favor of a new, entirely computerized system. Baker and many members of the librarians' union argue that the old catalog should be used to augment the electronic book-cataloging system, which, librarian Melissa Riley says, crashes frequently, leaving librarians flooded with requests for information. "Much of the material [at the New Main] is in compact storage and is unbrowsable," Baker says, "and there are books that are in the card catalog that are not on-line."
Baker takes his save-the-cards campaign public Thursday, May 30, at 6 p.m., speaking at the New Main on the catalog's value to scholars and what he calls the "anti-historical, crusading technocracy" driving Dowlin, who, we hope, shows up to ask what the hell anti-historical, crusading technocracy means.
Assemblyman John Burton rang us the other day to let us know that he reads -- and cares. Last November, SF Weekly ran a story documenting the state's inadequate regulation of conservators, the folks who tend to the physical and financial needs of people who can't tend for themselves ("Guardian Angels?" Bay View, Nov. 8). Among other flaws, the state doesn't track conservators from county to county, allowing those caught for fraud in one jurisdiction to simply move and set up shop in another county.
Burton subsequently introduced a bill that sets up a statewide registry for conservators. Under the bill, counties will be required to check in with the registry before awarding a conservatorship. The registry would also keep on file all verified complaints and convictions against conservators. Burton was clear when explaining why he introduced the bill, which passed the Assembly on the way to what is expected to be an easy ride in the Senate: "I read your story and decided we had to do something." Burton, however, refused to name his new creation the SF Weekly Memorial Conservator Registry.
Tails of the City
Hey, this is Dog Bites. Expect some animal news every once in a while:
A picture of two flop-eared rabbits appeared recently outside Spinelli's Coffee on 24th Street. Below a picture of the rabbits, the sign listed their best qualities, one by one: tame, good-natured, litter-trained, amenable, loving. No. 7 on the list was handwritten: "Tastes like chicken." Because this was, after all, Noe Valley, someone crossed out the gustatory comment and wrote, "That's mean."
Elsewhere on the animal beat: A family of raccoons was seen crossing O'Farrell Street late Tuesday night. No word on why or whereto.
And this is just in, from the newsletter of the San Francisco SPCA: Cindy, a feral tabby cat, was rescued but had an injured back leg. The bad news: The leg had to be amputated. The good news? The now-three-legged cat's health is improving "by leaps and bounds."