Friday, February 29, 2008

Rcord* (for Record)

One night after closing time, Mary, an assistant at the New York Public Library, played by Parker Posey in the movie Party Girl, picks up a copy of the Dewey Decimal Classification and reads out loud: "Classification provides a system for organizing a universe of items, be they objects, concepts, or records." This clearly intrigues her, while at the same time acting as a lovely, jokey bit of foreshadowing: she is soon seen assiduously arranging and cross-referencing all of her disc jockey roommate's LPs. There are 21 records containing Rcord* in OhioLINK and will probably be a few crashing your gates as well. So first check out your "records." Then you can party, girl.

Carol Reid

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Balck* (for Black)

February is Black History Month, which makes it a good time to note that Richard Wright's Native Son, published in 1940, was the first Book-of-the-Month Club selection by an African-American author. Richard Wright and the Library Card, by William Miller, is a fictionalized account, based on Wright's autobiography Black Boy, of the way in which the young Richard managed to obtain a library card in the segregated South of the 1920s. (School Library Journal points out that the portrayal of the white librarian is too harsh to square with reality, but the book nevertheless shows the lengths to which this "black boy" had to go to gain access to the world of books.) I discovered 35 cases of Balck (and 52 of Balck*) in OhioLINK, about half of them being typos for black, while the rest are proper names that may or may not be misspelled. (Photograph of Richard Wright reading to his daughter Julia in 1944, from the Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Partnerhip* (for Partnership)

With a lucky seven occasions in OhioLINK, Partnerhip sounds like the sort of spaced-out speller we might've once counted ourselves fortunate to be joined at the hip to. OhioLINK also gives us a hit of Prtner*, four of Partener*, and three of Partnersip. Two was company, but three or more was a countercultural affair for those who sipped from that cup during the 1960s, although hippies apparently go back a lot further than that. Pictured here, circa 1887, are two very hip partners, Fidus—"perhaps the greatest psychedelic artist ever"—and his teacher Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach. (From the website Hippie Roots & the Perennial Subculture.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Langauge* (for Language)

It's difficult to gauge precisely what it is that makes us human, although hordes of anthropologists, linguists, and assorted "postmodernists" have given it the old college try. Many children fervently hope that their pets will go to heaven and many adults are aware that animals feel emotion. But until recently, with the exception of fictional characters like Dr. Doolittle, few people of any stripe believed that animals could understand human language. Lately, however, certain chimps are making chumps of us in that regard. OhioLINK stamps its foot 76 times for the typo Langauge*, considered "high probability" on the Ballard list. (Photo of Kanzi, the "super-intelligent" bonobo chimp, from Discover magazine.)

Carol Reid

Postscript: An attentive reader points out that Hugh Lofting's animals did not understand human language; Dr. Doolittle understood their languages.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Unkown (for Unknown)

Someone I know recently advised me that last names starting with the letters Unk– are probably typos, since he had never seen any in the course of his job. However, NACO contains over 100 such names, along with a dozen or so "Unknowns," including Unknown Artist, Unknown Biographer, Unknown Christian, Unknown Critic, Unknown D.J., and Unknown hand. ("An unknown hand" was another way of saying "Anonymous.") One of these, an Atlanta-based rapper, eventually shortened his stage name to Unk. You may also recall the Unknown Comic, who was featured on The Gong Show, but isn't listed in the name authority file perhaps because he was unable to write his way out of a paper bag. (There is a heading for the man who played him, though, Murray Langston.) The 1927 Tod Browning film The Unknown stars Lon Chaney as "Alonzo the Armless," in love with a young circus performer, played by Joan Crawford, who has a horror of men's hands, both known and unknown. ("Men! The beasts! God would show wisdom if he took the hands from all of them!") This film was commercially unavailable for many years until, at a 1973 screening at the George Eastman House, it was announced that an archivist with the Cinémathèque Française had discovered a copy five years earlier among some film canisters marked l'inconnu (films that were "unknown" because of missing titles). OhioLINK reveals 22 cases of Unkown and one of Uknown.

Carol Reid

Friday, February 22, 2008

Finsihed (for Finished)

As this week's postings head for the finish line, we will leave you with one that you probably won't need to worry about. Finsihed is on the lowest level of the main library typos list at This means that it was only found once in OhioLINK when it was discovered. It is a good example of an inverted letter typo. In nearly all such cases, the two letters involved are on opposite sides of the QWERTY keyboard, making it a left brain vs. right brain issue. There are only four of these in WorldCat, and one record makes it clear that the mistake is in the orginal. You could find more than 200,000 of them in Google, but thanks to a little-known limit you can only see the first thousand.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Busness (for Business)

Once again we turn to the most common form of typo in a library catalog - a missing vowel. The letter I is by far the most common offender. This error is found on the B, or high probability, section of the main page of typographical errors at That means that the word was found at least 16 times in the OhioLINK catalog. Although there are many variants of business to be found in those pages, none has been selected to date as the typo of the day. As always, we suggest that you check the record for context before making a change. After all, somebody may have written a book about finding your inner busness.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Philosphy (for Philosophy)

This morning's selection is from the A list of Typographical Errors in Library Databases at, meaning that the error showed up in more than 100 records in OhioLINK when it was discovered. This is the classic typo - a missing vowel near the end of a multisyllabic word. Words like this often make it past proofreaders because the MARC records usually have the word spelled correctly as well. It can be found more than 1.5 million times in Google. Chances are it is in your catalog. However, we suggest that you check carefully for a "sic" in the record since it could have been spelled incorrectly on the title page.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Adresses (for Addresses)

Typos of the word "address" were addressed several times last February, so we'll make it a February tradition. This is found on the B list at the main compilation of library OPAC typographical errors at, meaning that the error was found in the OhioLINK catalog at least 16 times, but no more than 99. Checking this morning, we found more than 100 hits in OhioLINK but quickly noticed a number of non-English titles. Limiting to English, we got the count down to 66 and then noticed that a number of the titles were pre-1920. This made us suspect that the spelling used to be valid, so we limited again to titles after 1930. The likely typos now numbered 18. If you truncate to adress* using the same limits, the count climbs to more than 50, so this is worth checking out in your library.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Agreee (for Agree)

We wanted to start a Monday on the downslope of winter (unless you live south of the Equator and the opposite is true) with something positive, so the word agreee jumped out at us from the "C" division of Typographical Errors in Library Databases at, meaning that it was found between 8 and 15 times in OhioLINK at the time of its discovery. Going to the source, we found 55 hits for agreee in WorldCat, but this was tricky because many of these were non-English titles. As always, we suggest that you check things out before any change is made to a MARC record based on what you read in these pages.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Unted (for United)

"Untied States" (which appears in OhioLINK 21 times) is a classic typo and one I just stumbled across in the 2007 book published by McFarland, Fool's Gold: Why the Internet Is No Substitute for a Library. (This case in point could similarly be called "Why Spell Check Is No Substitute for a Proofreader.") Unted is found 17 times in OhioLINK, with unt itself popping up in the dictionary as another word for the European mole. (Here's one looking utterly unty, and in a thoroughly untied state, courtesy of photographer David Cole.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Encout*, etc. (for Encounter)

One of my all-time favorite films is 1945's Brief Encounter, based on a play by Noel Coward and directed by David Lean. Described by one critic as containing love scenes that are "among the most touching and sensitive ever filmed," I first encountered it in medias res in the pre-cable days when TV would more or less show one movie at a time and, without even knowing what it was, immediately fell in love with its cinematic charm and theme of desire undesired. Along with one case each of Ecnounter* and Enconter*, I counted 12 instances of Encout* in OhioLINK—although one turned out to be a French typo for envoûtant, which means "enchanting." In brief, this film is certainly that. And shall always call to mind the image of Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard, who manages to complicate matters while removing that mote of dirt from her eye, like the second n from the word encounter.

Carol Reid

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Funtion*, Fuction* (for Function)

Most functions aren't that much fun. Frankly, some suck. Today's typos are like trying to squeeze into an ill-fitting suit: one or two letters have got to go. Funtion* makes an appearance in OhioLINK 74 times, Fuction* 33 times, and Fucnti* four times. Don't be a dysfunctional misfit. Go and have a good time. (Picture of Eloise having fun at a Hollywood function, thanks to Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Wirtten, etc. (for Written, etc.)

Writers, while they self-evidently can write, can not always spell, or type, or write very well. And, of course, we all make typos. Yeah. Gimme a T. Gimme a Y. Gimme a P.... OK, where was I? Let's see, there are 23 instances of Wirtten in OhioLINK and nine of Wirter*. So let's all rite this wrong and let the moving finger that writes move on. (Non-writers often say a picture is worth a thousand words. Here is one by New Jersey artist Adams Wirt Garrett, 1908–2000, from AskART.)

Carol Reid

Monday, February 11, 2008

Musem, etc. (for Museum)

Most folks muse from time to time, and lots of 'em muse while using the word "um." Musem (without the um) is exhibited 31 times in OhioLINK and viewed as a "high probability" typo on the Ballard list. We also find 11 examples of Musum, four of Musems, and one of Mseum. The word museum means "shrine of the Muses." (Picture of the Musée du Louvre from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, February 8, 2008

English Enlightenment

Englig* (for English* and Enlighten*)

“Englig” is a high probability typo that will lead you to Enlightenment! Variations of typos I found in OhioLINK are: Englightenment, Engligh, and Englighment. "English enlightenment" is not a subject heading but could be a topic of interest to catalog users. I entered keyword searches for "english englig*" (found 3 hits) and "englig* enlightenment" (found 20 hits). Hits found with typos in the search are an indication that your users may not find all records associated with the correct spelling of the words in the search key. (BTW, in my own catalog, I found 1 hit under " Englig*"--the "Englig" was [sic]. Whew!) What's in your catalog?

Wendee Eyler

Thursday, February 7, 2008

“Dicover*” the typos in your catalog!

“Dicover*” for “Discover*”

A motivational poster featuring Homer Simpson says: “Discovery: No one knows what they can do until they try.”

I urge you to do a little discovery in your online catalog today to find typos such as “dicover” or “dicovered" or “dicoverer" or “dicovers" or “dicovery.” You won’t know what you can do until you try.

Wendee Eyler

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Fun with “Constu*”

Constu* for … construe or constructing or consulting or costuming or constitution or ???
You may construe that Constu* is the typo root of a single word that has only a few word ending variations. Check again after constructing the search. You may be consulting several different words that are costuming in disguise as constitution. The following list shows some of the typos you may find if you truncate the search as Constu*.


Wendee Eyler

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Dirty “Polictcs”!

Polictc* for Politic*

What typo would be appropriate for Super Tuesday, or "Giga Tuesday," "Mega Giga Tuesday," "Tsunami Tuesday," or even "Super Duper Tuesday” when 24 U.S. states hold primaries and caucuses to elect delegates to officially nominate presidential candidates at the national conventions? And the answer is … "Polict*" (for Politic* and anything else you can find). Make the effort today to clean up dirty "polict," "polictical," "polictics," "polictics," and "policty" in your catalog!

Wendee Eyler


Monday, February 4, 2008

“Acess” Denied!

“Acess” for Access

Typos in bibliographic records skew search retrievals—an “Access Denied” message may as well display because the user is denied access to all records associated with the correct search terms. “Acess” for “Access” can be found in the title field, subtitle, contents note, and subject headings, which are key fields for keyword searching. If you really want to clean up the nitty-gritty for “Acess,” look at MARC Tag 538 - the System Details Note - where you will find a major share of “mode of acess” and “current acess” and a few “internet acess” notes.

Wendee Eyler

Friday, February 1, 2008

Nuclar, etc. (for Nuclear)

If the president goes "nuke-yoo-lar" one too many more times, we may ultimately end up seeing it listed as an alternative pronunciation in the next edition of Webster's, but for now it is still a mockable solecism. In any event, and regardless of how one pronounces this word, there remains only one way to spell it. An inspection of OhioLINK unearthed evidence of incorrectly spelled nuclear proliferation: Nuclar (nine times), Nucler (five times), and Nuculear (once). Nucular also appeared on two records, but is clearly a deliberate misspelling in the book Going Nucular: Language, Politics, and Culture in Confrontational Times, by Geoffrey Nunberg (see his fascinating "Fresh Air" commentary). (Drawing of our pronunciation "decider" from the Greenpeace web page entitled "Abolish Nuclear Weapons.")

Carol Reid