Monday, May 31, 2010

Sir Lanka (for Sri Lanka)

On May 31, 1981, an "organized mob" in Sri Lanka burned the Jaffna public library to the ground after the Tamil United Liberation Front held a rally at which two policemen were killed. A three-day pogrom by police and right-wing paramilitary squads resulted in widespread havoc and ruin. Four citizens were murdered at random, a newspaper office and Hindu temple were reduced to rubble, and cultural artifacts were defaced and destroyed. According to Wikipedia, the burning of the Jaffna library was one of the worst cases of biblioclasm in the 20th century. Tragically, the losses to this library (at the time one of the largest in Asia with over 97,000 unique items) included ancient scrolls and palm leaf manuscripts, local historical records, centuries-old newspapers, and irreplaceable manuscripts. The burning of the library became an important symbol and radicalizing agent for the minority Tamil people who saw it as an attack on their cultural traditions, academic achievements, and very existence. The Jaffna library started off small in 1933 and (under the watchful eye of library icon S.R. Ranganathan) had its first major wing added in 1959. It has had several setbacks and phoenix-like resurrections since then, the latest one being in 2003. Sir Lanka (for Sri Lanka) got ten hits in OhioLINK today, making it a typo of "moderate probability" on the Ballard list.

(Jaffna Public Library, 26 February 2003, from Wikimedia Commons. In front is a statue of Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of learning.)

Carol Reid

Friday, May 28, 2010

Wok + work

Wok + work

We have a long weekend coming up, which means most of us don't have to go to work on Monday. Perhaps we will spend our time at a barbeque, but a few of us might decide we want Asian food. If so, we may prepare it in a wok. I find that cooking in a wok is not a lot of work. Nor do I think that typing "work" is so difficult, but apparently some people forget to type that "r." The easiest way to find this typo is to look for the two words together, although you could also try eliminating cooking-related words.

Bonus: Sign seen in the restroom of a Chinese restaurant: Employees must wash hands before returning to wok.

Liz Bodian
Chicago Public Library

Image of a wok from Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Boradcast* (for Broadcast*)

Art Linkletter died yesterday. Although I am too young to remember his shows, I'm sure many people who read this blog watched his broadcasts. He starred in several radio and TV variety shows and was known for prompting real people to say funny things.

Boradcast is on the moderate probability list, although I only found it once in the OhioLINK catalog and 72 times in WorldCat.

Liz Bodian
Chicago Public Library

Image of Art Linkletter from Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Apolgetic*, Apolig* (for Apologetic, Apology)

Today is (unofficially) National Sorry Day in Australia, when Australians have the chance to make an apology for the mistreatment of aboriginal peoples. I do not see a parallel day in the United States for American Indians, although one would certainly be appropriate. Both Apolgetic* and Apolig* are typos of low probability on the Ballard list. While the former is a simple case of missing a letter, the latter is related to how the word is pronounced.

Don't just apologize for the errors in your database; get out there and fix them!

Liz Bodian
Chicago Public Library

An image of an Aboriginal totem pole, from Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Junvenile, uvenile (for Juvenile)

If you've never read the blog Awful Library Books, you may not realize how outdated books in libraries can be. The most susceptible seem to be the juvenile books, which age faster than adult books. Kids will notice really quickly if the technology in the book is older than they are, or worse, older than their parents. The Library of Congress Subject Headings system makes it easy to find books for children, by putting a subdivision $vJuvenile literature, etc. at the end, but if the word Juvenile is misspelled, it will be much harder to find. Today's typos are examples of an extra letter, junvenile (found 12 times in the OhioLINK catalog and 138 times in WorldCat), and a missing letter, uvenile, which often happens (at least to me) when changing the delimiter marker from an x to a v.

Liz Bodian
Chicago Public Library

Image of the cover of a book recently posted on the blog Awful Library Books.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Dialy (for Daily)

This typo blog is one I try to check daily. Apparently, that can be easier to do than spell. Watch out for this typo, which involves a reversal of the a and the i (similar to a previous entry, Diary/Dairy). This typo appears only 7 times in the OhioLINK catalog, primarily in summary notes, and 101 times in OCLC.

Also be careful if you're actually trying to type dialysis, that you don't mix the letters up the other way. Dialysis may be done daily, or only a few days a week. There's no other connection, though.

Liz Bodian
Chicago Public Library

Image of the Daley most Chicagoans are used to, Mayor Richard M. Daley , from Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Alluminum, etc. (for Aluminum)

Hydrangeas come in pink and white around these parts, but I was first made aware of this flowering bush during my many summer vacations as a kid on Cape Cod. There all the hydrangeas (which seem to pop up in almost every front yard) are blue. It's not that pink is for girls and blue is for boys, but boy oh boy, what a beautiful baby. Not to make you blue too, but there's really no way to grow these strikingly cerulean blooms in your own garden, unless you assiduously treat your soil with aluminum sulfate or happen to have dirt that is highly acidic and rich in that mineral. We found six examples of Alluminum in OhioLINK, and one each of Alunimum and Alumimum. Don't stay mum about this typo and don't get me started on the way our British friends both spell and pronounce aluminium ("for so we shall take the liberty of writing the word, in preference to aluminum, which has a less classical sound").

(Photo of a blue hydrangea in Dalat City, Vietnam, by Nguyen Tan Phát, 2008, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Betweem (for Between)

Betwixt and between. Begin the beguine. You take the high road and I'll take the low road. Celts have always been partial to peripatetic paradoxes. In addition to beautiful churches and castles. Weem (from the Scottish-Gaelic word uaimh, meaning "cave") is a village near the town of Aberfeldy in the county of Perthshire, Scotland. It claims a 16th-century castle where Bonnie Prince Charlie once slept on his way to the Battle of Culloden in 1746. It has a medieval church that houses funerary monuments of the Menzies family. Plus, there's a pub and hotel there. So if you ever find yourself between a rock and a hard place, you might want to stop for a bit to gather your wits in Weem. We got seven hits on Betweem (for between) in the OhioLINK database today.

(Old Parish Church of Weem, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Accompaning (for Accompanying)

You've all heard the expression Two's company, Y's a crowd? Well, perhaps that's not exactly how it goes, although that is essentially what's going on with our typo of the day, which is crowding out the letter Y. Today's typo was found 33 times in the OhioLINK database. The night that Peter Pan flew in through the nursery window in search of his shadow, and invited the Darling children to accompany him to Neverland, he might have been hoping for Wendy, and not John and Michael too. But as things turned out, the three pajamaed neophytes made for fine company. And the celebrated Maude Adams made a fine Peter Pan when the James Barrie play opened on Broadway in 1905. "Maudie" Adams made her stage debut in her mother's theatrical company at the tender age of nine months and was a seasoned actress by the time Barrie tapped her for the part of Peter Pan. Many other women have played the unchanging boy throughout the years (in fact, the role was the exclusive domain of grown-up gamines until the early 1980s), but Maude Adams remains the one who "never grew up" in our collective imagination.

(Maude Adams as Peter Pan, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Coperat* (for Cooperat*)

Back in my day, cops were called "pigs," but this pic of a ratty-looking little anarchist causes me to wonder if there might be cop rats (with tiny rubber bullets and wee cans of pepper spray) out there as well. Banksy is a graffiti artist believed to be from South Gloucestershire, England, and to have been born in 1974, but his real identity has long been unknown. His style is similar to that of Blek le Rat (Xavier Prou), known as the "godfather of stencil graffiti art." Regarding Blek, Banksy says: "Every time I think I've painted something slightly original, I find out that Blek Le Rat has done it as well, only twenty years earlier." We found out that there were 18 cases of Coperat* in OhioLINK today, but we're not going to cop an attitude and rat out the perpetrators. We would suggest, however, that you take a stand against bibliographic anarchy by cooperating to stamp out this typo.

(Banksy Anarchist Rat, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, May 17, 2010

Interpet* (for Interpret*)

Pets can bring couples together in the best of times, but they can also come between them. In the wonderful "Thin Man" movies starring William Powell and Myrna Loy, the dog Asta seems like an indispensable accessory to their love: indeed, when Nick and Nora Charles eventually have a baby, it's a bit of a cipher compared to the pooch. While pets can occasionally wear out their welcome or be the cause of a marital split, it's just as likely that weary lovers will decide to stay together simply because they can't bear to share custody of the canine. (This scenario is amusingly depicted in the 1960s novelty song "I'll Take the Dog" by Jean Shepard and Ray Pillow.) Interpet* is a "high probability" typo, according to the Ballard list, with 94 hits in OhioLINK.

(Cropped screenshot of Asta from the trailer for Another Thin Man, 1939, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, May 14, 2010

Comunity, Comunities (for Community, Communities)

The roses red upon my neighbor's vine
Are owned by him, but they are also mine.
His was the cost, and his the labor, too,
But mine as well as his the joy,
Their loveliness to view...

(Poem by Abraham Gruber, which I found hand-copied into a notebook of my grandfather's from the 1920s.)

It's spring planting time and community gardens are terrific places to do just that. My own community has nearly fifty of these verdant little havens of flowers, herbs, and vegetables, popping up in vacant lots and city parks, each uniquely charming and abuzz with the birds and the bees. Comunity (for community) had sprung up 22 times in OhioLINK at last visit, and Comunities seven. Join with your neighbors and promptly weed these typos from your catalogs.

(Photo taken by participant/team Corn Fed Chicks as part of the Commons:Wikis Take Manhattan project on October 4, 2008.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Pulbic* (for Public*)

The closest I could come to a decent pun on today's typo was the mathematical term pullback. You can look it up if you like, but suffice it for me to quote directly from Wikipedia: "The notion of Pullback in mathematics refers to two different, but related processes: precomposition and fiber-product." Its "dual" (which I suppose means its opposite) is either pushout or pushforward, depending on which "notion" you're referring to. It all puts me in mind, a little, of the Doctor Dolittle character the pushmi-pullyu, a cross between a gazelle and a unicorn with two heads facing in opposite directions. (This helpfully allowed the pushmi-pullyu to eat and talk at the same time without violating etiquette: "Our people have always been very polite," says one.) There were 24 cases of Pulbic* in OhioLINK this morning. Put your heads together and push (or pull) this typo out of your own OPACs.

(Portrait of Hugh Lofting, the author of Dr. Dolittle, courtesy of Wikimedia.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Lvoe* (for Love*)

There are a lot of ways to spell love, according to Alvy Singer in the movie Annie Hall ("I lurve you, I loave you, I luff you...") and a lot of ways to sell it too. I am especially fond of the phrase "pitching woo." It sort of sounds like what it is ("Woo hoo, I'll pitch, you catch!") or perhaps, a bit more ominously: "Let me pitch you this idea, sweetheart, and if you like it, there might be a bridge in Brooklyn I could sell you." The typo Lvoe* casts its spell eight times in OhioLINK, which makes it one of relatively low probability. (But often, just when you least expect it, look out below!) Lovers sometimes look (or feel) as if they're all elbows, but even with a couple of wings thrown into the mix, no mere physical impediment, it seems, can get in the way of true love.

(Cupid and Psyche, 1817, from Wikimedia Commons. As usual, click the pic for a closer look.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Contib* (for Contrib*)

Given the titular force with which Sidney Poitier's character emphasized his name and honorific in the movie They Call Me MISTER Tibbs! (a campy 70s sequel to the classic In the Heat of the Night), he most likely wouldn't have been too happy with the misspelling Tibs either. The Poitier persona was both passionate and precise. He was also handsome, soft-spoken, principled, and the very essence of cool—perhaps especially to longingly liberal, but de facto segregated, teenage girls who were White Like Me. Over the years, I fell madly in love with Sidney Poitier (mixing the personal and political) in Lilies of the Field, A Patch of Blue, and (be still, my Lulu-imbued heart!) To Sir, with Love. Contib* turns up 76 times in OhioLINK, so let's all contribute to ridding our catalogs of this all too frequent typo.

(In case you haven't already figured it out, that's Charlton Heston, James Baldwin, Marlon Brando, and Harry Belafonte in front, plus Sidney Poiter standing a little ways behind them, at a civil rights rally in 1963, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, May 10, 2010

Senoir* (for Senior*)

Like most senior citizens, Pierre-Auguste Renoir suffered some physical impairment in senescence, mainly rheumatoid arthritis in his hands. This condition affected him mightily (contrary to myth, he did not need to have the brush strapped to his fingers, though he did require an assistant to help him grasp it), but this did not ultimately prevent him from painting. He joined forces with a younger accomplice in order to continue sculpting and employed a moving canvas or "picture roll" to facilitate the making of oversized paintings—activities he could not otherwise manage with such limited mobility. Renoir lived from 1841 to 1919, which means he produced the charming self-portrait to the right when he was 69 years old. The artist enjoyed painting plenitudinous women as well as painting en plein air, both of which probably did a lot to keep him feeling young at heart. There are six cases of Senoir* in the OhioLINK database today (and two of Junoir*).

(Renoir's Self-Portrait, 1910, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, May 7, 2010

Seatle (for Seattle)

On May 7, 1977, the American racehorse Seattle Slew won the Kentucky Derby, on his way to winning the Triple Crown.

The horse was named, naturally, for the city of Seattle. “Slew” comes from the sloughs (slow-moving channels) loggers used to move heavy logs. His owners thought the spelling, slough, would be difficult to remember, so they changed it to Slew.

Looking down a list of the names of Derby winners is quite interesting. Themes quickly appear: many horses are given combative names featuring speed or strength, like Assault, Cannonade, Exterminator, and Jet Pilot. Other names recognize the inherent gamble involved in horse racing: Bold Venture, Spectacular Bid, and Genuine Risk.

Then, there are those names that stick out for being different and slightly perplexing: horses called Needles, Ponder, Macbeth II, Iron Liege, and Behave Yourself.

Leanne Olson

(Photo of Slew with Paul Mallory as a foal at White Horse farms on August 5th, 1974, from

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Dalai Llama (for Dalai Lama)

I wonder if the Dalai Llama might be a cousin of our other animal friend, Salmon Rushdie?

Now, for this post I could write about the important work the Dalai Lama XIV has done…or I could share with you some trivia about llamas.

Llamas are, like the man himself, usually gentle creatures. However, when overloaded, they will lie down, spit, hiss, and kick. And since they weight around 250 pounds (113 kg), they can kick HARD.

Llamas have a gestational period of 11 months, which sounds like a long time until you consider the elephant (18-22 months). The llama, like the alpaca, does not exist in the wild—they were possibly bred from guanacos during the time of the Inca civilization.

Leanne Olson

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Seige (for Siege)

We've all felt under siege at one time or another, I'm sure. And it's never as fun as building snow forts to defend from enemies on the playground.

Outside of a real war, we can be under siege from family members, work projects, or, in my case, tent caterpillars. Last summer, hundreds of the tiny monsters crawled all over my house, and I found myself very glad of two sets of locked, glass sliding doors protecting me. (Why locked? Because it's not that far out of the realm of reality that those little guys might learn to turn a door handle.)

George Romero put the siege concept to great use in his film Dawn of the Dead, with humans barricading themselves in a shopping mall against the hungry zombies lurking outside. The 1978 film was a commentary on consumerism and excess, but I'll admit it mainly makes me think, whenever I go to the mall, "Where is the best place to hide from zombies? Just in case..." It's always best to plan ahead.

The errors in our library catalogues can make us feel surrounded and helpless at times, but starting small can help: vanquish seige, a typo for siege, from yours now! Be careful to stick with "seige" and not "seige*", or you may nab a few author's names by mistake.

Leanne Olson

(Movie poster from Wikipedia.)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Initialisms always get me. They’re different from acronyms in that they don’t spell out a word, so it’s much harder to notice when you’ve made a typo. I’m sure I’ve typed “HMTL” more than once; I know for sure that I’ve misspelled “URL” as “ULR” at least a few times. Perhaps mixing it up with household cleaner CLR?

Tim Berners-Lee (pictured here) invented HTML, or hypertext markup language (not hyper markup text language) and the World Wide Web. If you’re interested in the future of the web, check out his short talk at TED.

TED is a website that brings together brief (10-20 minute) presentations by giants in technology, business, journalism, and entertainment, and every time I visit, I lose myself online, spellbound for hours.

Leanne Olson

(Photo from

Monday, May 3, 2010

Spectrocop* (for Spectroscop*)

The album cover for Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, with white light separated through a prism into a rainbow, is a famous example of spectroscopy. The rainbow on the cover is also seen by some fans as a way to link the album with the film The Wizard of Oz—when both are played together, synchronicities seem to occur between the lyrics, music, and action on the screen.

The prism and music are linked in another way. When Isaac Newton began his prism experiments, he noted that the spectrum of colour was continuous, but separated it into 7 colours, like the 7 notes of the musical scale: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.

Spectrocop* is a typo of moderate probability on the Ballard List.