[link to it] 30Apr04Kevin Starr on retirement and more
Interview with California's newly retired state librarian, Kevin Starr.
Gay pride exhibits bug people in Anchorage again.
Municipal Librarian Art Weeks said he fielded at least a dozen phone calls from people who thought the material was inappropriate for the public library. But he disagrees. "This is a social issue of our day on which we don't all agree," he said. "A library is a forum for the exchange of ideas, and it's appropriate in that context." Weeks said the exhibit complies with the city's policy on library displays.
Librarian secretly serves jail time on a sex abuse charge while on holiday and sick leave from his job at the Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. He was subsequently fired.
I'm always embarassed when great content sources somehow escape my notice. Please go bookmark librarianactivist.org, right now.
Speaking of librarian activism, Greg from Shush, the conservative librarian blog, has been at the MA Library Association conference doing a little conservative library activism. Greg and I may disagree politically about pretty much everything, but he was personable when I met him, works a few towns over from where I grew up [and may very well represent the views of a lot of that community], and anyhow I'm always interested in people's activist awakenings, even if it's not for "my" side.
[link to it] 29Apr04hi - 29apr

Hi. I taught 12 seniors how to use email yesterday. Then I taught a searching class on our Heritage Quest database. Showed a patron what an ISBN was and how it works. Sent out 20 thank-you letters to people who signed up for library cards last week. Got an IM handle for the library [add rutlandfree to your buddy list]. Learned how to change the colors on our ugly OPAC. Friday I'm on the reference desk all day. It's been a good week to be a librarian.

We all know librarians are hot -- or some of them are -- but it seems that the book reviewers on Amazon.com know it too. [thanks jonathan]
[link to it] 28Apr04yay, it's late April
Like the Male Librarian Centerfold, I too am glad the tax season is mostly over at my library.
Let's just say it: the more money you spend building your Big Beautiful Library, the less you have to pay for staffing, and open hours.
When Seattle voters agreed overwhelmingly in 1998 to foot the $196.4 million bill for new and improved libraries all around town, I'm pretty sure they didn't expect they'd have fewer hours a week to enjoy the fruits of their investment. But that's exactly what has happened.... When voters approved [the downtown library], the library was open 70 hours a week.... Now, the downtown library is open 58 hours a week. [lisnews]
Walt Crawford's lates Cites & Insights is out and has a fascinating several page discussion of "backchannel communication" going on at conferences, speaker panels, etc. Based on one blog posting and comments and expanded from there, Crawford discusses the recent [in our sphere anyhow] trend of laptop-enabled audience members not only being online during a speaker but communicating via chat or IRC with other attendees, comparing notes and discussing the talk in progress in a more formalized way. This was built into BloggerConII, you can read the transcripts from the librarianesque session if you'd like. I definitely do this during Council meetings sometimes, and yet when there's a speaker at a conference, I often take special care to be at least one person in the audience who is paying attention, nodding and smiling at the right places, "getting it." I will always remember the guy from RUSA who did this for me during a difficult right-after-lunch talk in an overhot conference room with bad acoustics when I was struggling to hold people's attention; it was a kindness
Nancy Pearl speaks at Simmons College in Boston this evening. If you're in the area, I suggest stopping in, Nancy gives great book talk.
LII is having their annual user survey. Please help them out by filling out this ten-question survey by May 14.
The more documents are classified by our own government, the less The People have access to the information they need in order to be part of a functioning democracy. No wonder Bush & Co. want to replace the National Archivist with one of their own.
The Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO), a division of the National Archives, has released its report for fiscal year 2003, and it confirms what we've suspected: The government is classifying information at a staggering, sharply increasing rate. During the year, 14,228,020 documents were classified. This is an increase of 25% over last year.
[link to it] 27Apr04what is wrong with uk [and other] libraries?
How are UK libraries failing users? A new study entitled "Who's in Charge?" by charity group Libri proposes some questions, and some answers. Long document, but worth a read.
"Performance management is poor and planning is disconnected from the preparation of budgets. The extent and nature of the problems are such that the heads of library services do not have the authority to act and resolve them. Because costs in other areas are difficult to reduce,whenever savings are needed it is the book budget along with opening hours and buildings maintenance which bear the brunt of cuts. Alternatively, library closures are proposed, even though these measures inevitably result in a reduction in service to the public.Cost control is not directed so as to improve or maintain the service,but rather to avoid making difficult decisions with which public servants feel it unfair to task their staff." [thanks all]
The headline Heinz Museum cuts employees due to budget cuts deftly skips over the fact that most of those employees were library and archive staff.
Reducing library hours... makes sense because the number of authors, researchers, genealogists and students using the library is not growing. The number of people using the library's collections and images online has increased, he said. [thanks barbara]
Guy lives in NYU library to save money on insanely costly housing costs, gets caught, gets popular, gets a dorm room for rest of the semester. [thanks all]
[link to it] 26Apr04hunting the elusive bookmobile job
If you are still hunting for the elusive bookmobile job, there's one open in Vermont. Pay's not great, but the bookmobile is brand spanking new.
[link to it] 25Apr04hi - 25apr

Hi. Today is a link-dump day because I've been getting so much good stuff in email I've been filing it, waiting for a free day. Today is that day. Less talking, more blogging. Oh yeah, and I have a Creative Commons license on this site now. Still fine-tuning it, but the upshot is: use what you want for non-commercial use with proper attribution and a similar license attached to what you make, and it's fine by me.

My favorite link of the week, possibly the month. Librarian Tony Greiner tracks down a Time magazine sidebar article that went missing online, and in several -- but not all -- full-text databases. The sidebar was critical of invading Iraq and was pulled sometime right before Bush ordered the invasion of Baghdad. Greiner tries to find out why, and gets a weird collecftion of answers and non-answers. Mentioned over at info-commons a few days back.
The concentration of print media outlets into a few corporate hands remains cause for concern. Would this column appear here if Library Journal were owned by Time-Warner? It is vital that larger libraries continue to keep and use printed indexes and copies of the historical record.
State of Florida considers legislation to require filters on all public library computers, since 46% of FL's public libraries don't take Erate money and so aren't mandated to filter by CIPA. [thanks dsdlc]
Seems like the American Chemical Society removed the "quiet please" portion of their National Library Week campaign [though you can still see it on their t-shirts]. [thanks mita]
Libraries, Wired and Reborn. I really like the computers we have in our public library, thanks to the Gates Foundation, however technology without staff training and staff funding only reinforces the "computers are hard" myth at our rural-ish public library. [thanks all]
Religious parent objects to public library kids book "King & King" being on a shelf where kids can find it.
"By him finding that book and asking why two men were kissing in it, I had to tell him about the two men being gay, which is something we disagree with and not what God wants" [thanks eoin]
How to apply for a library job. From the library link of the day guy, John Hubbard.
Anyone can sign up to read the ALA Council listserv. Non-councilors just can't post [though they can ask Councilors to post for them]. Step has found directions for how to sign up for the list, buried someplace in the ALA web site.
One of these days I'm going to take a picture of all my library cards. For now, you'll just have to enjoy Jeremy's.
Einstein's librarian-girlfriend's diary found detailing Einstein's last years.
Librarians in Connecticut are leaving their union. [lisnews]
[link to it] 23Apr04USAPA might have prevented 9/11 says Clarke
Richard Clarke has seemed like a sane man recently, so I was surprised to read his talk where he emphatically stated that the USA PATRIOT Act is not just good law, it's an essential law enforcement tool. [thanks karen]
It is almost worth signing up for Nerve.com's premium service just so I could see the uncensored winners of the amateur photo contest "sexiest photo of someone in a library". You'll just have to scroll down and imagine what's under those strategically placed stars.
Most web sites seem to call today World Book Day but UNESCO is calling it World Book and Copyright Day ["celebrating the protection of intellectual property through copyright."]. Maybe it's because the International Publishers Association is a big partner? In the UK and Ireland, World Book Day was last month. Does anyone know why there is a date discrepancy?
Michael has a great short list of tips for giving presentations at library conferences. I agree wholeheartedly with everything he says [especially being prepared to do the material cold, and sitting through other speakers]. I even have a few more points based on my experiences...
  1. Being well-prepared includes being mindful of time limits. Even if you have a normal stump presentation, try to tailor it for the time you have available. It's good practice for you and polite to your audience who often has many presentations to attend.
  2. I always tell people to raise their hands if I use words they don't understand. This reminder gives me a chance to informally talk to an audience beforehand and lets me know if I'm misjudging their level of knowledge.
  3. Offer multiple ways for people to talk to you after your presentation. Not everyone feels comfortable asking questions in front of a large group, but if you stick around afterwards, or make your email/IM/web address clear, they can follow-up with you. I also put all my talks online so people can refer to them, or click through some of the links I had later on.
  4. I always try to thank the people who invited me or otherwise facilitated my being there. Conferences are often stressful for everyone involved and trying to be affable and low-maintenance as a speaker, as well as appreciative as an attendee afterwards can help ensure that you are invited back.
[link to it] 22Apr04hi - 22apr

Hi. I used up all my hours at work early in the week so I have to stay home and do nice National Library Week things from home, like read! I reorganized my one real reading bookshelf today. See if you can see what classification scheme I used.

Karen Schneider and others have launched a NLW campaign to assist the imprisoned Cuban dissidents. This is one of the first approaches to this issue that I have seen that focuses on the plight of the prisoners themselves and doesn't make their librarianness [or lack thereof] the central issue. You can work on this project and not have to listen to a lot of polemic vitriol against ALA, you can just help. If you want to work for reform within the US Government and the Helms-Burton Act, this may not be for you. Check out their Freadom Project. Nice going, team.
The wonderful folks at Librarism, in addition to having the best [and only?] Pubic Library t-shirt, have also compiled this handy list of all of those "The x Librarian" [where x is a variable] websites out there.
Eli informs me that in addition to this being Earth Day, it is also International Special Librarians Day. Apparently, this holiday is 13 years old.
Macho Librarians With Guns a special subset of the toungue in cheek role playing game Macho Women With Guns.
"These ladies might have gone on to be typical Macho Women were it not for one distinguishing attribute: Intelligence. Operating under the joint authority of the National Library Association and U.S. Special Operations Command, these gun-toting librarians lead a never ending fight to promote literacy, recover overdue materials, and oppose censorship." [thanks daniel]
[link to it] 21Apr04hi - 21apr

Hi. I'd love to chat but I have to be at the library early. I'm working with the kids from the alternative high school to teach them to use the online catalog. They'll be getting credit for filling out a worksheet about online searching. Then I go sign people up for library cards at the mall. One of the high points about the outreach session from yesterday was getting to meet some of Vermont's bookmobile drivers [and some of their bookmobiles]. Neat programs, run on shoestrings [one that quoted prices run their entire 13-town route on $40K a year including salaries] doing all sorts of wonderful things. I'll do a more thorough write-up once this damned holiday week is over.

Why you can't use poison gas to keep patrons from getting behind the reference desk. [lisnews]
Those who read this site often will know that I rarely recommend that my dear readers buy anything. However, I am smitten with the lovely How To Be a Library Patron mini-zine and recommend you all scrounge up the dollar necessary to treat yourself to it.
Has librarianship survived?
I like to think that even if rooms full of books are no longer the most important sources of information, at least the principles of Librarianship are growing in importance, value, and respect. [thanks hanan]
President Bush using National Library Week to stump for the PATRIOT Act, calling it "essential law". [thanks bill]
Greg from Open Stacks is retiring as the editor of the Dmoz Library and Info Science Weblogs category [and not without good reason]. Any one else want to step up to the plate?
I swear I did not start this day thinking "let's think of some crappy things going on for NLW" but it is turning out that way huh? Next up is news that President Bush is agressively trying to replace the current Archivist of the United States with his own hand-picked replacement before his Dad's papers are subject to disclosure via the Presidential Records Act. There is also talk that he may not want some of the 9/11 Commission's records released. The Society for American Archivists is concerned. [thanks jes]
Another bummer for NLW, ALA reports that 41 states have had recent library funding cuts. They have set up a page to collect data on specific instances of budget cuts, feel free to share your funding miseries with them there.
This link has been making the rounds. San Francisco Public had been having a problem with vandalism. Over 600 gay and lesbian themed books were defaced and left inthe library with slips of paper advertising a bible radio station. The man who did the damage was finally caught, but the library was having a hard time deciding what to do with all the remains of the vandalized books. "Reversing Vandalism" was their solution and is available online and in selected SFO branch libraries. [thanks all]
[link to it] 20Apr04web access now!
Unabashedly Accessible. How I Run My Web Site Good. A few "slides" from my talk about accessible web design from the VT Department of Libraries outreach session today.
[link to it] 19Apr04hi - 19apr

Hi. Anyone who has not received some sort of ballot or ballot reminder from ALA and was expecting one, feel free to email me via the contact form and we can still get you an electronic ballot today or tomorrow.

You are a librarian. Reload, reload reload. OK!
[link to it] 18Apr04hi - 18apr

Hi. Today officially kicks off National Library Week. I don't know about you, but where I live libraries are closed on Sundays, as are most liquor stores and about 90% of everything else that isn't church. I had a crazy weekend in a good way. Gave two talks [or one talk twice] met some excellent librarians and library students and went to BloggerCon. Jessica has a few good notes. I had a good time there & learned some things, but felt overwhlemed trying to have a "conversation" with 30-40 people in the room, even though I fend for myself okay in such situations. More fun was lunch with some folks afterwards where we rehashed and debriefed about how we felt about the session, and blogs in general. Most fun was meeting all the excited happy Simmons students, friends, professors and others who came up and said hi before and after my talks. It's great to see people so enthusiastic about the profession, and good to have some good things to say to them.

"The nature of meaning in the age of Google" a paper by my former professor, Terry Brooks.
"Google may index billions of Web pages, but it will never exhaust the store of meaning of the Web. The reason is that Google's aggregation strategy is only one of many different strategies that could be applied to the semantic objects in public Web space. Hidden in the 'dogs' retrieval set of 14.5 million are special, singular, obscure, unpopular, etc., Web pages that await a different aggregation strategy that would expose their special meanings. To charge that Google has a bias against obscure websites... is to expect Google to be something other than Google. Google finds the common meanings. Many other meanings exist on the Web and await their aggregators."
xrefer plus also is offering a week of free access for National Library Week. Strangely, their normal offer seems to be for a free trial month. Here's some more information on what xrefer plus is.
I talked a bit about Ranganathan in my talk(s) and was pleased that so many people knew what I was talking about. I like him, his laws are sound. I forgot that "Karen Elliot had mentioned him in her classic essay "What I Really Learned in Library School"
If you can't quote Ranganathan's five laws of library science verbatim, you suck.
According to the info-commons blog, "ALA is investigating online community software." While I commend them for putting together an RFP [which they did not do for the website] I think jumping on to the online community bandwagon when there are still serious issues with ALA's online interactions with members [via the website, via balloting, via email lists, via opt-out initiatives] is a mistake that is going to cost more of ALA's money for less value and more confusion for ALA's members. But perhaps you disagree? Feel free to fill in ALA's survey and tell them what you are looking for. My suggestions: open source platform, ADA compliant, cross-browser/OS compliant, no email feature, strong privacy policy, no opt-out crap, preferably developed in-house so that it can be modified in-house in response to user feedback. Is that too much to ask?
Just in time for NLW... President Bush says that he intends to pressure Congress into renewing the parts of the USA PATRIOT Act that would have otherwise expired in 2005. [lisnews]
Some libraries are waiving late fees for NLW. Wish we'd thought of that at my library.
[link to it] 17Apr04hi - 17apr

Hi. Lord help me, I'm posting from Bloggercon. They are singing the Star Spangled Banner with Joey Villa on accordian. Just FYI, the talk last night went really pretty well. Notes are here. Don't read them if you're planning to see me this evening.

National Library Week starts tomorrow. Gale is making 24 of its databases free for the whole week.
[link to it] 15Apr04hi - 15apr

Hi. Please pay your taxes so the government can continue to fund public libraries, at least a little bit. My blogging class at PALINET was cancelled for May which is a bit of a disappointment. I think I was a bit naive going into it. PALINET solicited me to teach the class, but perhaps they were also expecting me to aggressively promote it as well. In any case, people didn't register, the class will not be taught, I have a free weekend, plus one blogging/RSS class all ready to teach if anyone is looking for one. Please say hello if you see me at BloggerCon.

ALA Council has been discussing the hybrid election a lot this week. If you voted in the ALA elections, whether electronically or with a paper ballot, and wouldn't mind letting me know how you found the experience [easy? hard? fun? unfun?] I could pass on some data to my Council colleagues. Thanks.
[link to it] 14Apr04hi - 14apr

Hi. I'm working on finishing up my talk for the Simmons folks, so I've been a little scarce around here. This will probably continue for the remainder of the week. A few little notes. I have a Gmail account. This means I get advertised to even more than in the rest of my daily life. You can see what I mean here. The only messages in my inbox are about cheese, see my ads? Yes I'm concerned about privacy, having read the privacy policy, program policy and the terms of use. I'll report more when I've had it for more than half a day. In the meantime, read Mark Pilgrim's report on how accessible Gmail is [not very], and send your cheese-related email to jessamyn at gmail dot com. Here's an interesting quote from the World Privacy Forum's open letter to Google [pdf]

The lowered expectations of email privacy that Google's system has the potential to create is no small matter. Once an information architecture is built, it functions much like a building -- that building may be used by many different owners, and its blueprints maybe replicated in many other places. Google's technology is proprietary, but the precedents it sets are not.

Speaking of Google, I have very mixed feelings about the librarian Googlebomb meme that is going around now. On the one hand, it's fun and LoC and LII deserve positive attention. On the other hand, another recent Googlebomb -- the one for the word "jew" -- was done with significantly less good intention. One of the new paradigms we need to deal with in the Internet age, is the authority question. It used to be easy to trust the authority of print materials because they remained static. Once the encyclopedia is printed, unless someone rips the pages out, the information is inviolate. You may or may not agree with it, but you know that everyone reads the same words. Citing a web site for your information involves a "date accessed" indicator and, if you're really being careful, a cached copy of the page. Information changes. While this fluidity is more indicative perhaps of the "real world" of information, I feel that my job as a librarian is to use the tools effectively and be aware of their accuracy. While I find the planned outcomes of the librarian Googlebomb amusing and generally positive, I ultimately feel that it's a cheat -- a way to use tech-savviness to affect sources that others feel are more objective. If the Googlebomb precedent hadn't been set already, I feel that librarians would not feel that this was an appropriate way to manipulate an index. Ultimately, this is Google's responsibility to deal with, but shouldn't we be helping?

update: Steven appears to have called it off.
[link to it] 13Apr04library strip club -- with shower room
Is it possible I haven't linked to the Library Strip Club yet?
The club actually does have volumes lining the entrance, but the clientele come here for a different type of learning experience. And they visit often enough to keep The Library busy even on school nights. [thanks andrew]
What's your library doing on September 11th? How about working with other libraries nationwide to "to create a day of engagement, a day of conversation, a day of democracy."
This may be the only time I link to a puff piece about the Laura Bush, but it was too good to ignore. Sirsi, the vendor that many of us use for our OPAC services at our libraries has managed to get not one, but two egregious typos in an article about the First Lady... or should I say the Fist Lady? Maybe they've just got a Democract doing data entry? As my friend Michael says "there are no such things as hunting accidents" in Vermont, does anyone really accidentally type "pubic library"? Apparently the "fist lady" appelation is not that tough to come by, neither is "pubic library".
" I think everybody loves Barbara, and still loves Barbara Bush. She was a terrific fist lady"
"Offering her own philosophy on living, the woman who was called Fist Lady to the World leads readers on a path to confidence, education, maturity, and more."
"Lucy Hayes was the first Fist Lady to have graduated from college." [thanks owen]
[link to it] 12Apr04Open Access explained and made plain
If you're interested in Open Access, or perhaps you'd never heard of it before reading Jason Griffey's paper, the Open Access blog is a great place to start learning. It's a group blog and has one of the best content-rich "about this blog" pages as well as a helpful acronym-definining "about the Open Access movement" pages [from the smartie librarians at Earlham, natch].
Another terribly useful library blog: RFID in libraries.
The Open Access glossary page leads to all sorts of wonderful other pages including this one: "The (Refereed) Literature-Liberation Movement" with a longer article linked at the bottom "For Whom the Gate Tolls? How and Why to Free the Refereed Research Literature Online Through Author/Institution Self-Archiving, Now" The implications for libraries and librarians are obvious. Can anyone say "serials crisis"?
It has been a while since I checked in on the Bellydancing Librarian. Now there is a whole gallery of other bellydancing librarians too!
The Anti-Adventures of a Gay Male Librarian, where else but at Gaylibrarian.net
Speaking of free-as-knowledge [nod to Melvil Dewey], here is an old speech by Bruce Sterling about the intersection of money and the public good, and the benefits of Deep Archiving, when he spoke to LITA in 1992.
People talk a lot about the power and glory of specialized knowledge and technical expertise. Knowledge is power --- but if so, why aren't knowledgeable people in power? And it's true there's a Library of Congress. But how many librarians are there in Congress?
[link to it] 9Apr04comments on the article from yesterday
Fred over at commons-blog has some good critique of Jason Griffey's article from yesterday.
Isn't it great that as librarians we have such good stuff to read online? For today's assignment, please read "Lawfully Surfing the Net: Disabling Public Library Internet Filters to Avoid More Lawsuits in the United States" Even though I date a law student, I'm all in favor of fewer lawsuits.
If you’ve never heard a librarian sputter, just get one talking about CIPA and staff computers. Many librarians correctly determine that, since all staff are adults (with the exception of any under 17 who should be treated differently), they have the right to disable the filters....Why install them in the first place, many argue, causing untold hassles in maintenance and sometimes significantly increased fees? This is a reasonable position. Yet the text of the law says "any of its computers with Internet access" [thanks raizel]
ALA is partnering with ebrary to get the full text of American Libraries online. It was not quite working yesterday. Today it seems to be working. To get there, follow these easy steps
  1. Go to http://www.ala.org/
  2. Click the link to American Libraries. This takes you to http://www.ala.org/al_onlineTemplate.cfm?Section=alonline
  3. Click the link on the side that says "Read American Libraries on eBrary" which takes you to http://www.ala.org/ala/alonline/alonlineebrary/alonlineebrary.htm
  4. log in
  5. Click the link that says "search the full text of American Libraries on eBrary"
  6. Click the link that says "Click here to search American Libraries online with eBrary"
note: some of these steps can be avoided if you are smart enough to click on the current issue of AL in the upper lefthand corner of the American Libraries main page.
note: do not click on any of the header links once you are using ebrary. Bad things happen.
note: all appearances to the contrary, ebrary is properly written in all lower case.
[link to it] 8Apr04your assignment for today
The assignment for today is to read this "The Perils of Strong Copyright"
"For all the talk that the American Library Association does in regards to Open Access and freely available information, here’s the truth of the matter. A chart showing how a few ALA publications compare to Creative Commons licenses." [unalog]
The ALA web site is one year old. Karen Schneider has some okay things to say about where she hopes the site is going. From a councilor's perspective, I can see where progress is being made. From a user perspective what I see is not all that different from what I saw a year ago. A search engine that barely works, pages and formatting that appear and disappear without warning [anyone seen the Member and Customer Service Center lately? all I see is a login box], lack of responsiveness to member email, and an overall sense that no one in charge really "gets" the web. Smaller insults include a really hard-to-use navigational structure, "shorter" URLs that aren't, and clunky design accentuated with ad hoc elements that seem to exist for proof-of-concept rather than to be functioning parts of an overall web site. On the bright side, I thought the online elections went pretty well. Then again, I got a paper ballot.
I'm not sure I like how the National Chemical Society is celebrating National Library Week. [thanks dawn]
[link to it] 6Apr04hi - 06apr

Hi. I've been down with the crud this week, sorry for the absence. I've also been preparing a few talks coming up [to say nothing of the "how to use the library databases/email" classes I teach] so any available brainpower I have had has been going to that.

The Prince Rupert Library has a web site devoted to their plans to design and build a new waterfront library. My favorite part? The unusual libraries section: book bikes, book boats, book trains, you name it. [thanks thomas]
An odd and potentially dystopic poem about technology and libraries is part of OCLC's 2003 Environmental Scan report to their membership.
My Vision
To get to the library site,
type on the computer you’re on,
in the address box at the top,
www.libraries.com [thanks doug]
As the Eclectic Librarian mentions, she too has a radio show.
Blogwithoutalibrary.net has its own domain now and -- one of my favorite new online content bits in '04 -- a set of lists of libraries with blogs, broken down by type of library and... it just keeps getting better... an RSS feed for each list.
Library Underground is back with a slightly different URL as well.
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