Friday, February 27, 2009

Pslam* (for Psalm*)

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;--

-- from Longfellow's A Psalm of Life

February 27th is the anniversary of the birth of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, born in Maine in 1807. He wrote about historical figures such as Paul Revere and Hiawatha, and was instrumental in popularizing poetry in the United States during the 19th century.

His poems are characterized by their gentleness, simplicity, and Romantic spirit, as well as their strong sense of meter, all qualities displayed in the above excerpt from "A Psalm of Life".

Pslam*, a misspelling of psalm*, is a high probability typo on the Ballard list, appearing 36 times in OhioLINK and over 260 in WorldCat!

Leanne Olson

(Photo from tobym's Flickr photostream)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Anlays* and Anlys* (for Analysis, etc.)

A 1999 movie Analyze This starring Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal (not to be confused with the 2002 movie Analyze That starring Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal ...) gives everyone more than enough to analyze.

No "Z" (pronounced "zed" north of the border as well as in other parts of the globe) in this typo, only a misplaced or missing "a". A little analysis will indicate what has gone wrong here. Both Anlays* and Anlys* are individual typos in their own right, but given that they are typos for the same word, we can justifiably treat them as one. Individually or collectively, their numbers place them on the B list of Typographical Errors in Library Databases. Anlays* appears 21 times in OhioLink; Anlys* appears 36 times in OhioLink.

Extracted, for AUTOCAT, from Typo of the Day for Librarians at If you have comments about the words selected, how they are selected, or the way the items are written, please contact Terry Ballard.

Cary Daniel

Image of Analyze This from Google Images

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Architecu* (for Architectu*)

“Architecture in general is frozen music.”
Friedrich von Schelling

The Taj Mahal is considered the finest example of Mughal architecture. The acoustics inside the tomb are such that a single note from a flute can reverberate five times, and the mausoleum’s white marble reflects different colours depending on the intensity of natural light from the sun or moon. It is a testament to love, having been built by the emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in childbirth in 1631.

A library can also be a place with interesting architecture. The Robarts Library (below) at the University of Toronto, for example, is infamous for its peacock-like design. Even stranger is the winner of the design competition for the new National Library of the Czech Republic, the yellow and purple blob pictured below.

When searching for errors in the catalogue, truncating the typo at architecu* will catch words missing the second T (architecure, architecural) as well as those that have swapped the T and U (architecutre).

Leanne Olson

(Taj Mahal photo from; Robarts Library photo from; National Library of the Czech Republic picture from

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Accc* (for Account, Access, Acceleration, etc.)

This is a fun one (that is, if typos can be fun), for I can't really tell you what accc* is a typo for exactly. While there are many words beginning with "acc", there aren't too many (actually there aren't any) beginning with "accc", that is, unless you search in your catalogues! There are 100 various permutations of "accc*" in OhioLink, which places this on the B list of Typographical errors in library databases. Now some of you will shout out, that 100 puts this word on the A list! Right you are, or would be, were it not for ACCC journal--the journal published by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission!

Most humorous of the 99, is the ironic:

Acccurate solutions, parameter studies, and comparisons for the Euler and potential flow equations / W. Kyle Anderson, John T. Batina.

One would assume, that whoever is looking for this title, might be just a tad more accurate.

From Google Images, a Saturn rocket just beginning its acceleration.

Extracted, for AUTOCAT, from Typo of the Day for Librarians at If you have comments about the
words selected, how they are selected, or the way the items are written,
please contact Terry Ballard.

Cary Daniel

Monday, February 23, 2009

Laboratoy, labortor* (for Laboratory)

Cloning is as inevitable as flight or electricity
- science fiction author David Brin

Today is the anniversary of the announcement of the birth of Dolly the sheep, February 23, 1997. Dolly was created in a laboratory and born in 1996, the first clone of an adult mammal. Her birth led to much controversy, and also much hope: the potential for curing diseases, providing organs for transplant, and reviving an endangered or even extinct species.

The latter was attempted with the birth of an extinct Pyrenean ibex (a type of mountain goat) in January 2009. Unfortunately, the goat died seven minutes after birth.

The moral dilemma behind these laboratory-generated animals is somewhat outside of our job as cataloguers, but successful cloning of our own—duplicating words with the correct spelling—is not. Laboratoy sits as a high probability typo on the Ballard list, and occurs over 150 times in Worldcat, and labortory (searching labortor* will also catch the plural) is even more popular, with over 200 hits in Worldcat!

Leanne Olson

(Photo of Dolly the Sheep from

Friday, February 20, 2009

Poision* (for Poison*)

Poision* is a typo of moderate probability on the Ballard list; posion* as well appears in Worldcat over 50 times. Either is an easy typo to make, with the right hand quickly typing all letters but the S—if the left hand hasn’t caught up, or hits a vowel too many times, your word is tainted.

Poisons can certainly cause confusion and difficulty typing. Metal poisons such as mercury and manganese cause nervous system damage, leading to motor symptoms, as well as harm to the brain. The saying “mad as a hatter” originated because of such poisoning: 19th century hat-makers used mercury salts to make felt from rabbit fur, a process known as “carrotting”.

Curiously, the famous Hatter at Alice in Wonderland’s Mad Tea Party probably did not have mercury poisoning at all: Lewis Carol likely based the character on an eccentric furniture-maker and mathematical lecturer who wore a top hat. Alice’s Hatter shared his eccentric extroversion, with no symptoms of the shaking hands, paranoia, or excessive timidity that characterized the mercury-poisoned hat-makers.

Leanne Olson

(Drawing of the Hatter from

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Relect* (for Reflect, Reflection, etc.)

"Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?" ... who's the smartest of them all? ... who's the (fill in the blank) of them all?

All bona fide questions, yet they do reflect a certain amount of superficiality. The properties of mirrors are such, that depending on whether your mirror is concave, convex, or a combination of the two, you might be very surprised to see how your image is reflected: perhaps not as fair, or smart, or ... as you originally thought.

Relect* appears 71 times in OhioLink, thereby placing it on the B list of Typographical errors in Library databases.

Cary Daniel

Image of mirrors from Google Images

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Resistence (for Resistance)

On this day in 1943, Hans and Sophie Scholl were arrested for their resistance activities in Munich, Germany. Up until this time, they had been involved in their anti-Nazi resistance activities for a couple of years. Their resistance group came to be known as Die weisse Rose (The White Rose). The plight and exploits of the Scholls and their fellow resisters have been portrayed in numerous films and plays, as well as books. Although well-known in Germany, the weisse Rose is less so outside its borders; however there are some exceptions.

Resistence (our typo) curiously does not appear on any list of the Typographical Errors in Library Databases. Were it there, however, it would be on the B list (those of high probability), for it appears 60 times in OhioLink and more than 400 times in WorldCat.

Cary Daniel

Image of Hans and Sophie Scholl from Google Images
Information taken from This Day in History

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Jean-Paul Sarte (for Jean-Paul Sartre)

L'écrivain doit donc refuser de se laisser transformer en institution.

(A writer must refuse, therefore, to allow himself to be transformed into an institution.)

Jean-Paul Sartre, refusing the Nobel Prize

In 1964 the philosopher and writer Jean-Paul Sartre declined the Nobel Prize in Literature. Sartre was the second author to refuse this laurel, after Boris Pasternak in 1958.

The Swedish Academy still considered the prize to be valid even though they could not present it to him at the awards banquet. Sartre’s name is included (with the correct spelling, of course) on the Noble Prize in Literature winners list.

Although "Sarte" places as only a moderate probability typing error on the Ballard list, when it does occur it provides quite the barrier to information access. A search for (Sarte and “Jean-Paul”) returns 41 hits in WorldCat. Over 25% of the typos are in the title field, with many others in the subject headings and contents notes--the latter often being the only access point for a book of papers that includes an essay by or about the esteemed Existentialist.

Leanne Olson

(Photograph of Sartre from Encyclopedia Britannica Online)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Affiar (for Affair)

Paul Simon wrote a song entitled "Thinking too much". In it he makes reference to analyzing a love affair. Just when we think we have it, we don't. Not that we shouldn't think, but often it's when we think too much that we make mistakes. Rather we should just let it happen as it is supposed to happen.

Such is the case with today's typo: Affiar. The "i" and the "a" are separated quite a bit on the keyboard. Perhaps because we are thinking too much about it, we stroke the "i" key first. As a matter of fact, it has been done 105 times in OhioLink.

This is one that originally appeared in the B list, but in actuality now must be promoted to the A list (those of highest probability) in the Typographical errors in library databases.

Cary Daniel

(Image of Paul Simon from Google Images)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Accidentl* (for Accidental*)

Today is Friday the 13th, so beware of accidentally letting a black cat cross your path, breaking a mirror, or wandering beneath a ladder.

Fear of today’s date is known as paraskavedekatriaphobia or friggatriskaidekaphobia. The origin of this Friday the 13th superstition is highly debated. Both the day Friday and the number 13 have been seen as unlucky throughout history: there were 13 diners at the Last Supper and at a disastrous banquet at Valhalla in which Loki was the uninvited 13th guest. In addition, the Crucifixion is said to have occurred on a Friday, and Friday was called the Witches’ Sabbath in the Middle Ages, since it was a holy day for pagan religions. Friday the 13th, then, might be a simple combination of the two ill-fated pieces.

Friday, October 13, 1307 is also said to be the day that hundreds of the Templar Knights were arrested, later to be tortured and executed—so perhaps the coupling of Friday and the 13th as unlucky was not so accidental after all.

Accidentl* is a typo of high probability on the Ballard list, though some of these hits are transcriptions from titles pre-1800s. Many of the other occurrences are in the plot summaries of detective films: characters in library catalogues seem to be constantly “accidently” witnessing murders.

Leanne Olson

(Black cat photograph from Bianca Inez’s Flickr photostream)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Comtem* (for Contempt, Contemporary, etc.)

Contemporaneously (one of the et cetera above) to "penning" this typo, I'm preparing to venture eastward to lead a workshop on the whys and wherefores of Library of Congress Classification. While some have contempt for LCC, it does superbly organize material AND describe material, if one is so inclined to use it that way.

Many simply employ it as a means of shelf location. However, just as there are typos with words, there can be "typos" with classification numbers. It's very easy to transpose or omit letters and numbers. When this occurs, no one is the wiser. For those who tend to browse in the stacks, it does mean certain items will be missed. Contemporaneously, some items otherwise not found, might be. Such is serendipity.

You will find a mere 130 of this typo in OhioLink, thus placing it on the A list (those of highest probability category) in the Typographical Errors in Library Databases.

This should be familiar to a good many of us:

Image from Google Images

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Enlightment (for Enlightenment)

February 11, 1847 was the birthday of a man who brought much enlightenment to the world: American inventor Thomas Alva Edison. Edison individually or jointly held a total of 1,093 patents—the world record. His inventions included the phonograph (his favourite), the motion picture camera, the electric lamp, and the telephone speaker and microphone.

Edison passed away on October 18, 1931. The New York Times’ obituary for Edison can be read online, a beautifully written tribute to the inventor’s achievements.

Enlightment has over 400 hits in WorldCat (over 200 in the title field) and 42 in OhioLINK, making it a typo of high probability on the Ballard list. Your catalogue searchers will be enlightened as to the presence of these resources in the library collection only when these typos are fixed!

Leanne Olson

(Image of Edison’s light bulb from Encarta Encyclopedia Online)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Troubador* (for Troubadour*)

Since never again I'd be happy
nor would I know happiness, without you;
I'd take
such a way
that I'd never be seen by men again;
that day
I'll die,
brave lady, in which I lose you.

--translated excerpt from Kalenda maya by troubadour Raimbaut de Vaqueyras
The troubadours, lyric poets from southern France, northern Italy, and northern Spain, flourished from the late 11th to late 13th centuries. These poets often held a knightly rank, and wrote about courtly love, at times setting their poetry to music appropriated from sacred songs or local dance melodies.

The troubadours had a massive social influence and even occasionally partook in politics, being highly favoured by the courts and given freedom of speech. In this way they could be seen as the ancestors of 1960s troubadours, folk singers such as Bob Dylan.

The word troubadour comes from the Occitanian trobar, which means “to find” or “to invent”. It’s your job as a cataloguer to find the typo troubador* in your catalogue, and avoid inventing new errors.

Troubador* is a typo of high probability on the Ballard list, but not all of the hits returned are errors: the company Troubador Publishing, based in London, England spells its name without the second u.

Leanne Olson

(Troubadour image from

Monday, February 9, 2009

Univerist* (for University, Universities, etc.)

Typo of the Day for Librarians
Univerist* (for University, Universities, etc.)

This one is the typo near and dear to my heart, for it's the one I make as a general rule. Many of us work at universities. So one might think this would be a natural, one typed out so many times that it could or should be on "speed dial", if not mental speed dial. If only we could program our brains the way we program our computers. That's just a tad futuristic, even for me. Who knows, in 5, 10, or 15 years, we may be able to do just that.

We aren't there yet, evidenced by the number of times this occurs -- 298 times in OhioLink as a keyword (perhaps this should be a super category unto itself). As it is, you will find this typo on the A list of Typographical errors in library databases.

An image of Heidelberg Universitaet in Germany (from Google Images)

Cary Daniel

Friday, February 6, 2009

Meterolog* (for Meteorolog*)

Red sky at night,
sailors delight

Red sky in the morning,
sailors take warning

Weather forecasting has been attempted by humans for thousands of years, with versions of the above proverb occurring in the Bible and in Shakespeare.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle is considered one of the fathers of weather prediction, having written the book Meteorology around 350 BCE. Some of his knowledge was quite impressive: he described an early version of the hydrological cycle, for example. However, there were also major gaps in the way the ancients thought about weather: Aristotle did not believe that wind was moving air, and he supposed that the west wind was cold because it came from the sunset.

Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere may be getting a little tired of meteorology this time of year, with its predictions of cold, cold, and more cold. To make ourselves feel better, let’s look at the forecast for today in Yellowknife, Canada: -31°C (-24°F). Well…at least it’s sunny?

Watch out for stiff, cold typing fingers: Meterolog* is a typo of the highest probability on the Ballard list, occurring over 140 times in OhioLINK.

If you’re interested in weather, the Library of Congress has a fascinating page about the veracity of the “Red sky at night” adage.

Leanne Olson

(Red sunset at sea in Italy photograph from RayDS's Flickr photostream)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Intrum* (for Instrument, Instrumental, etc.)

Typo of the Day for Librarians
Intrum* (for Instrument, Instrumental, etc.)

As an instrument for today's typo, we bring you Intrum*. As I provide background about this typo, I'm listening to Johann Nepmuk Hummel's Concerto a Trombe Principale (Trumpet Concerto in E Major) streaming over the Internet. This concerto contains more than a few passages requiring a most dexterous fingering from the trumpeter, far more so than is required to type Instrument or Instrumental. Be that as it may, Intrum* occurs 104 times as a keyword search in OhioLINK and 3 times as a subject search (with one of these 3 appearing in 23 different bibliographic records).

As alluded to yesterday, correctness is important in order to lead researchers to needed material. It's instrumental that we persevere.

Not the type of trumpet you play, but at least the black mushroom makes for a tasty soup on a cold winter day, whilst listening to Hummel's Trumpet Concerto in E major.

(Image from Google Images)

You will find this typo in the highest probability category in the Typographical Errors in Library Databases.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Mangm* (for Management, etc.)

Typo of the Day for Librarians
Mangm* (for Management, etc.)

Interesting sounds, that [g] and [ji]. That insignificant "e" takes on greater significance, especially when it's not there.

We assume (perhaps incorrectly) that searchers are speeling (sic) correctly when they search, thus the purpose of the Typo of the Day. If our data is displayed incorrectly, then those searching correctly are far less likely to retrieve what they search, much less what they need.

How we manage our data (typos included) becomes increasingly important. What with so many records being loaded en masse without passing by the human eye, without a concerted effort to "fix the wrong", searchers and researchers may very well miss that seminal work.

There are more than a few of this typo in OhioLink, in fact 171 instances of Mangm* as a keyword search, and 15 instances of Mangm* as a subject search.

While we may not be able to fix 'em all, we can manage to do better, IMHO.

Sometimes trying to work on typos resembles herding cats, albeit without the scratches.

(Image from Google Images)

This many instances of "Mangment" place this typo in the A list (those of highest probability) in Typographical errors found in online library catalogs.

Cary Daniel

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Minerolog* (for Mineralog*)

Mineralogy, the study of minerals, is an easy term to misspell. One might hear the ending as “ology” and automatically type it with an o; remembering the word in two parts as “mineral-ogy” rather than “miner-ology” might help. Minerolog* scores a high probability on the Ballard list and occurs over 500 times in Worldcat!

In other superlatives, quartz is one of the most abundant minerals in the Earth’s crust. The amethyst (February’s birthstone) contains more iron oxide (Fe2O3) than any other quartz, and the beautiful purple colour seen in the photo is believed to come from this high iron content.

The name amethyst originated in the Greek word amethystos, meaning “not intoxicated”; the Greeks believed the stone protected its wearer from drunkenness. Perhaps a cataloguer who finds his or her fingers slipping into typos one too many times might try keeping a little amethyst at the desk?

Leanne Olson

(Amethyst photo from The Smithsonian's Department of Mineral Sciences)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Archael* (for Archaeology , Archeology, etc)

Typo of the Day for Librarians
Archael* (for Archaeology , Archeology, etc.)

It's surprising what you find when you dig around. Such was the case in 1989 in Newark, Ohio, when excavators expanding a golf course, unearthed some fossils of mammoth proportions. Okay, it was not a mammoth, but rather a mastodon, aka Mammut americanum. Although not a mammoth, the mastodon was quite large in its own rite. It's amazing the sort of organic material peat will preserve. I attended an academic presentation on the "dig". And recall the speaker saying, that a leaf unearthed with the mastodon, aged (to put it mildly) right before their eyes upon exposure to air. While not organic in nature, preserved for far too long is today's typo.

Digging around a bit found 189 occurrences of Archael* in OhioLink. Archaeolgy does have an alternate spelling, that is to say, of Archeology. So, while the "a" is optional, the "o" is not.

A link to all things mastodonial from the Academy of Natural Sciences.

This typo is in the A category of highest probability in the typographical errors found in online library catalogs (

Extracted, for AUTOCAT, from Typo of the Day for Librarians at If you have comments about the
words selected, how they are selected, or the way the items are written,
please contact Terry Ballard .

Cary Daniel