Miskatonic University Press

Columns that are too wide in R ggplot2 charts

r

I just figured out how to fix a small problem that had been bugging me about charts showing annual circulation activity of items in our collection.

Let’s say I have a book that circulated in 2008 and 2015, but no years between.

library(ggplot2)
circ_data <- data.frame(year = c(2008, 2015), circs = c(10, 15))

ggplot (circ_data, aes(x = year, y = circs)) + geom_col()

That’s not right. Those columns are just too wide, the years don’t line up, and you can’t tell what’s going on.

The width option does the trick. The docs say, “Bar width. By default, set to 90% of the resolution of the data.” I don’t know why it’s so wide above, but setting it to 0.9 makes it look just right. (And note how nicely the axes look without any special settings—the defaults almost always do just what one needs.)

ggplot (circ_data, aes(x = year, y = circs)) + geom_col(width = 0.9)

If the x-axis is showing years then using width = "330" works, for example; the width is being measured in days, and that’s about 90% of 365 days. Depending on what units are being shown on the x-axis, some tinkering may be required.

Sabrina library

archie libraries

A large private library is shown in the Sabrina the Teenage Witch story “A Haunting We Will Go,” which originally appeared in Archie & Friends 20 (November 1996), but which I read in Laugh Digest Magazine 170 (December 2001).

In this story Sabrina and her little cousin Esmerelda visit the Wanderbilt mansion, which has been turned into a museum, showing how the family lived a hundred years ago. It turns out the place is haunted, and the ghost causes some trouble. Visitors are so frightened they want to escape, and so they run through the library to get out.

Running through the library.
Running through the library.

While doing so they knock over bookcases.

Knocking over bookcases.
Knocking over bookcases.

Personally, I doubt these bookcases were there in the original Wanderbilt mansion. It would be very unusual for a personal library to have bookcases set up this way (this is not the Morgan Library, even if it is named for the Vanderbilt houses), and the other panels in the story don’t show an enormous house. Perhaps they were added later, and the library is a modern design to give a good home to the family collection.

Further, it would take some effort to tip over bookcases like that, and a good library would have them secured to the floor. The situation portrayed here is very unlikely. If anyone ever does need to escape danger by running through a library, they should not worry that bookcases will tip over on them.

This story was written and pencilled by Bill Golliher, inked by Rudy Lapick, coloured by Barry Grossman and lettered by Bill Yoshida. It is copyright Archie Comic Publications.

Yesterday's Slow Scholarship Reading Group article

aaronsw code4lib libraries yorku

Yesterday the Slow Scholarship Reading Group at York University Libraries met and we discussed Baharak Yousefi’s recent book chapter On the Disparity Between What We Say and What We Do in Libraries. It’s from Feminists Among Us: Resistance and Advocacy in Library Leadership (2017), which Yousefi edited with Shirley Lew. (Disclosure: That was published by Library Juice Press, and a chapter I co-wrote will be coming out very soon in a new book from them. Details when it’s out.)

Abstract:

Uses Keller Easterling’s concept of infrastructure space to probe the discrepancies between what we state to be our core purpose and values and what we do in libraries.

Cat.
Cat.

Here’s one of the many bits that grabbed me:

Since the beginning of my work as a practitioner in Canadian libraries almost a decade ago, I have been interested in the details of how the culture and disposition of the profession is set, communicated, sometimes obscured, and policed in our everyday practice. More recently, after I became a middle manager with a significant amount of decision- making power, this interest became more pronounced as I struggled to reconcile the belief that our decisions are made in accordance with our values, policies, and resources with the reality that there are significant disparities between what we say and what we do. For example, at the 2015 Association of College and Research Libraries Conference in Portland, Oregon, a ballroom full of librarians sat listening to Lawrence Lessig talk about the tragic death of American computer programmer, activist, and open access advocate Aaron Swartz at a conference sponsored by library vendors who actively oppose Lessig’s call for equality and equal access to knowledge. There is something disconcerting about our ability to dissociate ourselves personally from our collective actions and responsibilities.

The article led to some great discussion. I recommend it, and if you like it, try getting some other people to read it and then get together to talk about it. If you work in a library, I bet you, like me, will see a lot of examples at your own institution of how what you say does not equal what you do.

Library meta-Archie

archie libraries

This is the most surprising yet I’ve seen of Archie Comics stories involving a library. In “Archie Andrews Where Are You?” the red-headed youth is late for a date with Betty, so she goes over to Veronica’s to see if he’s there, but he’s not, so they both go to see Cheryl Blossom to see if he’s there, but he isn’t, so they go to see if he’s at Jughead’s, and so on, as everyone gets involved in looking for Archie. In part two of the story, Jughead and Dilton go into what must be the Riverdale Public Library to see if he’s there. Note the old bespectacled white-haired female librarian in the background.

Jughead and Dilton look for Archie in the library.
Jughead and Dilton look for Archie in the library.

But get this: I read this story in Betty and Veronica Jumbo Comics 259 (February 2018)! The very comic Jughead mentions! He is talking about the comic he’s in! Does he know about all the comics in all their forms? Does he read about himself in the Jughead comics? What is real and what is fiction?

It gets weirder: it turns out Archie has gone to New York to Archie Comics headquarters. Betty phones the editor, who says, “He’s up here, Betty, trying to find out his future story lines.” The last page is a full panel of the Archie Comics office, full of various employees, with Archie chasing after two uncomfortable-looking young women.

This is a strange story. It was first published in Archie … Archie Andrews Where Are You? Comics Digest Magazine 100 (June 1995). It was written and pencilled by Dan Parent, inked by Rudy Lapick, coloured by Barry Grossman and lettered by Bill Yoshida. It is copyright by Archie Comic Publications.

Book Look

archie libraries

I came across a Little Archie story that mentions the Riverdale Public Library. This is “Book Look,” reprinted in Jokebook Comics Digest Annual 4 (1979). The librarian here is an old white-haired woman with pince-nez, like the one in “The Chompian.”

Copyright Archie Comics Publications
Copyright Archie Comics Publications

The title of the book is hard to see: it’s How to Understand Children. The gag is that Archie thinks Miss Grundy, his teacher, should have it. Now known as Ms Grundy, she is still teaching Archie and the gang in high school.

There are no credits on this comic, but it looks like it was originally printed in The Adventures of Little Archie 36 (1965) and was written and pencilled by Dexter Taylor. It is copyright Archie Comics Publications.

Three times In Advance of the Broken Arm

listening.to.art marcel.duchamp

Last week I posted Listening to Art 02.05, which was the third field recording of Marcel Duchamp’s 1964 version of his 1915 readymade In Advance of the Broken Arm. This one was done at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, England. Different versions of this same sculpture were what I used to launch Listening to Art: 01.01 was recorded at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa (pictured below), and 01.02 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

If you’re interested in art and follow podcasts, I hope you’ll try Listening to Art.

Photograph taken at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, in October 2016
Photograph taken at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, in October 2016

Greendale public library

archie libraries

Here’s another library mentioned in the Archie universe: this one is the Greendale Public Library, from the Sabrina story “Equal Rites” (first published in Archie Giant Series Magazine 243 (January 1976), but read by me in Betty and Veronica Double Digest 94 (February 2001). Greendale is near Riverdale, where Archie and the gang live.

Harvey runs to the library.
Harvey runs to the library.

In this story Sabrina and the others are decorating a Christmas tree when her boyfriend, Harvey Kinkle, drops by and thinks that some magic he saw was actually caused by a poltergeist. He rushes away to look up how to rid a house of a poltergeist.

“Equal Rites” was written by George Gladir, pencilled by Stan Goldberg, inked by Rudy Lapick, coloured by Barry Grossman and lettered by Bill Yoshida. It is copyright by Archie Comics.

Bruce Dickinson on Christmas University Challenge

music

I was delighted to see that Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson appeared on BBC Television’s Christmas University Challenge late last year, representing Queen Mary. The Christmas version is a slightly easier celebrity take on the regular University Challenge, which Canadians can think of as an extremely difficult university-level version of Reach for the Top.

Bruce did very well and contributed a lot to the team, and Queen Mary won, but didn’t make it through to the semi-finals because their score wasn’t high enough compared to other winners.

Bruce introduces himself.
Bruce introduces himself.

Bruce introduced himself thus:

Hi, I’m Bruce Dickinson and I graduated in 1978 with a Desmond in modern history, and I ended up being a heavy metal singer, an airline pilot, [also] I brew beer, and I’m just about to discover what does this button do at this quiz.

(A Desmond is rhyming slang for a 2:2 in the UK university marking scheme.)

Bruce recognizes Roger Moore quote.
Bruce recognizes Roger Moore quote.

Above, he has just buzzed to answer this starter for ten:

“Young man, with your devastating good looks and disastrous lack of talent, you should take any job offered to you.” This advice was given by Noël Coward to which actor, who died in 2017. The actor in question once described his range as “left eyebrow raised, right—”

Bruce cut off host Jeremy Paxman with the correct answer: Roger Moore.

In a later question, Bruce stared into space as he tried to remember the answer.

Bruce thinking.
Bruce thinking.

Here he is regretting that he didn’t recognize the Fine Young Cannibals song “She Drives Me Crazy.” However, he did know that Mick Ronson played guitar on The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.

Bruce misses a question.
Bruce misses a question.

Here he is answering correctly that nickel, like iron, is magnetic at room temperature (the only other one being cobalt).

Bruce knows his metals.
Bruce knows his metals.

Nickel, of course, is metal.

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