On this page: Introduction | Overview | Deeper | Design Decisions | Testing and Feedback | Credits | > to rest of site

This image at the end of any link indicates that the link takes you off the McClure/Manzarek metasite.

[As noted, this website was done in lieu of a Master's thesis in library and information science. Since graduating, I have disabled the "feedback" survey page but left the rest of this page unchanged, as history.]

Warning -- longwinded and attitudinal.
If you don't read the whole thing, at least
fill out the Feedback Form. Please.

Welcome to my Master's project!

If it doesn't feel like one, so much the better. The informality and engaging quality of the Web is one reason I think it can be used to lead people back into libraries -- which have an unearned reputation as stuffy. Only to someone who hasn't been in a library lately...

-- But that, unfortunately, includes a lot of people. Maybe you, if you're between 18 and 24 -- the group a recent survey found statistically least likely to think of libraries as having the information you need. First choice would be to ask a friend, second choice, the Internet -- libraries are 'way down there.

Let's take some time out before I make too many assumptions.
Please give me some feedback before reading the rest of this page.

(back to top)

Overview

In the case of artists like Michael McClure, who's been publishing since 1956, libraries may be the only  place to find his earlier work. Some of the poetry he and Ray Manzarek perform in concert comes from Rebel Lions (1984) and Selected Poems (1986), but a few pieces go back far earlier. And those books won't be available at Amazon.com or the other online bookstores.

But you can  find out of print books at libraries, along with those that are not mass market titles -- a category that includes most poetry. And if your local library doesn't have what you're looking for, you may be able to get it through interlibrary loan. Forget printed card catalogs: many libraries are moving to web-based, graphical OPACs, Online Public Access Catalogs of a library's holdings -- to a Nethead, searchable much more easily and in many different ways than the traditional printed card catalog.

Because the other great thing about libraries is cataloging. Librarians are information specialists, and catalogers are the hackers and programmers of the library world. Take a look at the "For Librarians" page of this site and click on MaRC record on the top navigation bar for an inside look at a catalog record. (MARC stands for MAchine Readable Cataloging record -- the form in which data for a particular book or other item is stored so that it can be downloaded by any OPAC, despite the many different systems out there. A little like the way HTML displays on many browsers, but differently on each.)

Extreme, yes? But every piece of information in that record is coded for exactly what kind of information it is. Most web search engines pick up your search term anywhere it appears on the web page, no matter how minor the reference. That's how you end up with 8,563,130 hits on "Michael McClure" (actual example from AltaVista, 2/24/99) some of which seem to have no logical reason for showing up and the rest of which mention McClure only as one of a list of friends of Kerouac or Ginsberg.

But MaRC records are metadata -- information about  the information in the book (or other form of information. We catalog websites, too). Better yet, the information is determined according to firm standards by a professional who is not about to misdirect your search by spamming. Since the goal in much of the Web world is to get as many hits on your page as possible, some web page designers can and will use amazingly dirty tricks to get you to a site that may have nothing to do with what you wanted. (One porno site that came up on a search for McClure and Manzarek used a long list of celebrities' names, printed in the same shade of blue as the background, so that you couldn't see them but a search engine would.)

(back to top)

 

Deeper into the Rationale:

For someone who can do effective Web searches (as distinct from surfing), searching an OPAC is simpler -- and more powerful. If you feel overwhelmed by Web searching, OPACs can be a lot easier: for one thing, you're not dealing with such a vast universe of information. And librarians will not spam you -- guaranteed.

Depending on the particular OPAC software, you may be able to search in a particular part of the catalog record -- like the table of contents, which are entered as MaRC Field 505. In a library with a strong music section, for example, you could find a particular song by Ray Manzarek whether it was on a Doors album, CD, tape, or flat plastic record, a cover version by another band, a single track in a Sixties compilation, or the soundtrack of the Doors movie.

To use examples from the OPAC at my alma mater, San Jose State University's School of Library and Information Science, a search by author for "McClure, Michael " gets you 16 records, including books by other people for whom he wrote introductions. The same search by keyword looks at different parts of the record and finds him in an anthology of six Beat poets. Try it yourself at
Clark Library at SJSU

(back to top)

Design Decisions

You may have noticed that in most cases, I've put links on the left margin, either at the beginning of the paragraph or on a separate line, like the example above. This makes them easier to find for blind or partially-sighted computer users than links embedded in the middle of the text. In fact, many screen-reading programs, braille conversion systems, and other forms of assistive technology tear apart the web page at the source level, pull out the links and rebuild the page, arranging all the links on the left margin so the user can just scan down, rather than "reading" every word on the page to find the links. (For older users or those with partial vision, I've made the base font larger than standard for ease of reading.)

This also makes it easier on text-only systems. Don't laugh: there are still plenty out there, especially in under-funded public libraries and schools. That was also the reason for avoiding frames, Java, and other special effects that don't work with a low-end system.

Low-end systems are why one of the first design decisions I made was NO BLACK BACKGROUNDS. For one thing, you can't print them out: white letters on white paper are, shall we say, less than legible. For another, colors vary from one computer system to another (let alone from one terminal to another!) and the saturated colors that seem okay against a black background on the designer's desktop may blend right into that background on the user's. The color scheme of the McClure/Manzarek pages uses fairly high contrast, and avoids the colors that pose problems for the colorblind. The blue/red/purple convention for ready, active and visited links is familiar to most users, and according to the User Interface Engineering group is the single most effective navigational aid in their extensive usability tests. And all these colors come from the "browser-safe" palette.

The better the web designer's system and tools, the less likely the end user is to see all that hard work display the way the designer intended. That's why I tested on a variety of platforms and equipment -- Mac and DOS, Netscape and Microsoft Explorer and AOL, the fast machines on T-1 lines at the Exploratorium and the slow, text-only terminals at the San Francisco Public Library's North Beach branch. I gave you the sizes of multimedia files, but no prediction how long they would take to load, because I knew they would load differently on different systems -- and you'll know what 1.3 MB means on the one you use.

But this doesn't mean I've caught all the possible elements of design that could cause problems for people using these pages. If you catch one, please let me know at

(back to top)

Testing and Feedback

In fact, feedback on any aspect of the site -- content, navigability, graphic design -- is still needed, since this is  an academic project. If you didn't fill out the feedback form at the first link, here's another opportunity:

The Feedback Form, one more time

This site is intended to be useful to people interested in Michael McClure and Ray Manzarek. If it's not, I need to know. It is not and doesn't pretend to be a Doors page. For accessibility reasons, it may never be flashy and "cool." But it should offer a solid grounding from which to find more information on these artists. If you feel it's falling short, please tell me how.

Thanks for your input.

(back to top)

Credits

This project was originally intended as a collaboration with Dinah Sanders of Metagrrl and Inkspot Books. I still wish we'd been able to work together. Several of the design concepts, especially the "you are leaving this site" icon, were inspired by her work.
http://www.metagrrrl.com

In the first two semesters of laying groundwork for this project, I participated in a class and then a seminar on human/computer interface issues with Alison Head, author of Design Wise. My research with Dr. Head on computing for the disabled strongly influenced accessibility design decisions for this site.
Design Wise

Nancy Olson, the oracle of cataloging non-book resources, encouraged me to include a MaRC record (and has added greatly to my understanding of MaRC) and Patricia Horn Fell ruthlessly checked and double-checked that record.

Much of the actual web page was built in the Learning Studio at the Exploratorium, with advice, feedback, and kibitzing from Rose Falanga, Deb Hunt, Ron Hipschman, and Laura Quilter, background music by Richard Brooks, and tai chi stretch breaks from Tania Chan.
The Learning Studio (and don't miss the rest of the Exploratorium, the best science museum on or off the Web!)

(back to top)

 

About Ray Manzarek

McClure/Manzarek Home Page

About Michael McClure

For Librarians

About this site (you are here)

Site map