[link to it] 31Aug04weekend event - special library visit

When I made my plans to get out of town for my birthday this coming weekend, my only thought was to be somewhere in the Northeast Kingdom, on a lake, someplace that served breakfast. I didn't know that the place I chose was near The Haskell Free Library one of the more unusual libraries in the US [and in Canada]

One of the purposes of librarians is to help refer people to authoritative sources. When the bulk of "sources" were printed books, we could usually be assured that the editors and publishers performed a large amount of the vetting for us, and often reviewers and the opinions of other librarians or professionals would fill in the blanks in the cases of problems or questions. Online and/or open source versions of reference sources -- which can change on the fly, and lack many of the markings we traditionally associate with authority -- have become a new question mark in the world of librarianship, addressing the question "what is an authoritative source?" Jessica has been going over this on her scratchpad lately, most recently discussing this experiment in which deliberate misinformation was put into Wikipedia to see if it stayed. Upshot? The changes were replaced within hours. Does this prove that the Wikipedia is authoritative? Not necessarily, but it's one more data point explaining how the system works to people that aren't familiar with it, and one more data point to use with naysayers who think that having a resource be freely editable means that by definition it can't also be authoritative.

[link to it] 30Aug04maybe ALA just needs a minister of public blogs?

Karen shares her opinions about what ALA could be doing better with their web site, and with technology cluefulness in general. Her idea sounds like it might even be able to be implemented before the end of the year.

ALA just needs to be aware of and post to the existing meta-blogs. They need a Minister of Public Blogs to post, read, and interact with the blogging community (and maybe, just maybe maintain a blog). Then again, if we want to get big-picture about it, ALA needs to get clueful and a little lighter on their feet about new technologies. Not everything needs an Action Plan and a Vision Statement and a Matrix, plus a spring conference with the usual suited suspects jostling for eminence on something they barely understand.

As far as my unofficial survey of libraries using WiFi, I only got a few responses. Most libraries said they disable their WiFi when the building itself isn't open, citing security and bandwidth concerns. A few just leave their access point open and said they don't care who is using it. A few have patron-only authentication. Some are part of campus-wide systems where the library is one of many nodes and they do nothing particular as "the library" as opposed to part of the WiFi network. It's a whole new paradigm. Along those same lines, here's a column about things to consider when securing WiFI in a public library

Creating an RSS feed of the books you have checked out of the library, a neat tool from Peter R. Steven thinks he should contact Dynix and other vendors to show this tool off. I'd love to see it integrated into an OPAC but with our Sirsi OPAC, I'm just hoping for Netscape 7.1 support.

My pal -- librarian Chuck Munson -- has hit the big time and gives a small interview to the New York Times talking about anarchism and the RNC. Close readers will notice that he got his plane ticket to the RNC from getting bumped from a flight at ALA.

[link to it] 26Aug04maybe what the ala web site needs is blogs?

Michael would like to see the ALA web site have blogs. I would just like to see the site have a well-functioning search engine, not say things like "the content should be here in mid-August" in late August, and not have pages like this or this or an organizational FAQ like this. If you'd like to know what progress is being made, you can check the ALA Website Advisory Committee Documents and their list of weighted priorities and of course, the status report.

Aaron and TechnoBiblio discuss the results of AOL's Second Annual IM Survey and what it might mean for reference services especially in libraries that haven't chosen yet to do virtual reference. Now, granted, a "trends" survey is a different animal than an actual scientific survey, and AOL has much to gain by people thinking that it and other IM clients are fairly ubiquitous. However, it's hard to deny the numbers. I'm an old lady and I'm sure I send more IMs than I do email [although I also think that's a false distinction in many ways] and I would use it a lot more if more people I knew were using it. Remember, it's not just an AOL thing. There are many open source clients that you can use, even to chat with your pals on AIM. I would like to see some real numbers comparing libraries that use virtual reference software and libraries that use IM clients for chat reference comparing cost, usage, ease-of-use, and overall successfulness.

Speaking of virtual reference, I just realized that the issue of The Reference Librarian I edited that just came out is also available online with abstracts. There are some interesting articles about very different methods of providing "ask a librarian" services. Worth tracking down at your local library.

Rachel Singer Gordon has written a great feature article for Free Pint about writing for the library profession: where to write, how to start, and how to deal with rejection

As with anything in life, if you put your writing out there, you face the inevitable prospect of rejection. If you let the prospect of possible rejection paralyze you, you sabotage your own success.

So, not to belabor a point, but the final post in this "man gets hassled by cops for using WiFi outside of a closed library" is up. In a weird turn, the Atheneum has now posted a policy saying, in essence, their WiFi hotspot isn't supposed to be used when the library is closed. Am I missing something here? Isn't it easy enough to just shut it down if you don't want it to be used? Or password protect it after hours? Are the police going to enforce this policy? Is there any legal precedent for that? What's going to happen when the whole island becomes a hotspot? Or is this enforcement of free WiFi supposed to drive people towards the pay services? I'd be really interested to hear from librarians who offer WiFi: What is your policy for patrons using WiFi 1) outside the library, and additionally 2) when the library isn't open? Thanks.

[link to it] 24Aug04smartfilter not so smart

Cardiff libraries [in Wales, in the UK] finds that patrons can not get to the web page for the city's Mardi Gras event because SmartFilter -- the same filter mandated in all of Georgia's schools and libraries -- thinks that the site is pornography. The site URL does have the word "gay" in it, though the page itself is completely family friendly. Librarian.net is characterized as "politics/opinion" by the newer SmartFilter and "politics/religion" by the older version. Check your own URL. [infothought]

More from the fellow who was told by the police to not use his laptop + WiFi outside of the Nantucket Athenaeum. [lisnews]

[link to it] 23Aug04library of unwritten books, redux

I had a post a few weeks ago about the Library of Unwritten Books project. Apparently, it has its own website. If you're in England or Scotland, keep your eyes open for their book-boxes. [thanks owen]

Man gets hassled by the police for using library's WiFi while seated outside the library. Apparently you need to be inside to use the wireless signal, so said the policeman anyhow. As you know, I have also been guilty of this, slap the cuffs on! [update: this guy didn't seem to have any problem doing the same thing...] [thanks shannon]

[link to it] 20Aug04an interesting exchange about Sirsi

If any of you were at all curious about follow up to the link I posted a few days back [about the link to a Republican web site appearing on the "hot links" section of all iBistro OPACs, a Sirsi product] I swapped a few emails with Sirsi Central about it.

You know, I know this is just me having a hard time getting with the program, but I really miss being able to look at the card in the back of a library book to see how many times it had circulated. I liked the idea that this information was available to both staff and patrons, as if information about the public library books somehow belonged to the patrons as well as the staff. I liked knowing when my books were due by looking in the book, not keeping a little slip of paper that represented all my books. I liked not having to be sure to remove that piece of paper once I was at the library so that some other patron wouldn't find my reading list tucked into one of those little pockets that we still put into our library books, even though there are no cards to go in them now. Sort of like what this author says.

RB: I like the story about how you like to go to libraries and see how many times your books have been circulated.

CM: Yes, you can’t do that anymore because they all have computers. It used to be fun, driving across Ohio, to stop in a small town and go in a library and pull a book off the shelf—and they were always all there. And look and see that it had been taken out every four days. [thanks rachel]

Kapolei [HI] Library opens four years after the groundbreaking ceremony. [thanks brandon]

Another beautiful essay by Michael McGrorty on this whole library vs Google thing.

[T]he earth has only the one moon. While the Internet will confirm that fact, it does a lousy job of explaining why that is, either in literal or figurative terms. The Internet does a lousy job of explaining anything, but that isn’t surprising since it hasn’t any responsibility, no code, no direction and is bound to no constituency.

Radical Reference wants you to help perform reference services [on site or remotely] during the upcoming protests at the RNC. They're specifically looking for people with foreign language experience or who work in law and/or government libraries. The RNC starts in less than two weeks.

[link to it] 18Aug04hi - 18aug

Hi. At long last the "Ask A Librarian" issue of The Reference Librarian that I edited has been published and is getting some okay reviews. Since the issue was put to bed in the middle of last year, it's not really discussing cutting edge technologies, but since these things catch on in fits and starts perhaps it will teach people a thing or two.

[link to it] 17Aug04Digital Bookmobiles [kitaabwala]

We all know about Brewster Kahle and the Internet Bookmobile [I hope]. Here's how the project is working out in India.

An excerpt from that controversial Playboy interview with Sergei Brin. You'll notice he never mentions Google Answers.

PLAYBOY: Librarians must hate Google. Will you put them out of business?

BRIN: Actually, more and more librarians love Google. They use it. They do an excellent job helping people find answers on the Internet in addition to using their book collections. Finding information still requires skill. It’s just that you can go much further now. Google is a tool for librarians just as it’s a tool for anyone who wants to use it.

You all know how much I love political activism, but is it strictly kosher for an OPAC vendor to be making partisan political statements with the links they add to content-included catalogs? Check the Hot Links section on the Lackawanna County System, for example.

Please read what the LibraryLaw Blog has to say about being in compliance with some arcane copyright law requirements. Does your library have someone designated to receive copyright complaints?

An unlikely place for campaigning: in the subject lines of pirate ebook titles. From alt.binaries.e-book.technical. [thanks clint]

Infopeople has done the seemingly impossible. They have created a library catalog tutorial that works with just about any online library catalog. It's a little generic but I found that even though my OPAC at work is pretty much nothing like the one they illustrate, people can still understand how to map from one to the other. Point your users to it, it's really helpful.

My friend Steve -- who is married to a real live librarian -- compiled a list of eleven graphic novel/comic titles that libraries should shelve. The idea caught on and now TangognaT [holy crap I never noticed that was a palindrome before!] has collated those lists into one uberlist.

[link to it] 16Aug04our work and why we do it

Sometimes people ask me what my job as an outreach librarian is like. I can now tell them that it's a little bit like this, though not entirely, I also work at the reference desk

RIP Janet Foster Danbury Public Librarian, the librarian who once said "I can't believe I'm getting paid to have this much fun." [thanks rebecca]

[link to it] 15Aug04Cites & Insights updates via Atom feed

Walt has started a little blog page to post announcements when he's done a new issue of Cites & Insights. It includes announcements and brief tables of contents. You can subscribe to the Atom feed if that's what deweys your decimal.

For anyone who has ever contemplated the "cheeseburger in the library" dilemma [summed up thusly "If we're just going to be everything the patrons want, why not serve cheeseburgers with our books and DVDs?"] you will enjoy
Barbarians at the Gates of the Public Library: How Postmodern Consumer Capitalism Threatens Democracy, Civil Education and the Public Good. I'm about on Chapter 5.

Soon after I had begun working for a large, urban public library in 1992 I was invited to talk with an elderly administrator who was about to retire after a long career which she began as a children’s librarian. She was aware of my previous teaching experience and in the privacy of her office she explained to me that education was not the mission of the library. “I consider myself an entertainer,” she said, “not an educator.” But in fact she taught me a great deal, because she instigated a process of reflection lasting many years in which I have tried to understand the meaning of her words. What is the difference between education and entertainment? Did entertainment replace education as the mission of the library and if so, why? [lisnews]

So nice to see my long-time e-colleague Deb Wassertzug looking lovely and interviewed in Gawker. [thanks all]

Well, looks like someone else got to hear Kerry mention the USA PATRIOT Act, John Perry Barlow.

had a conversation with Kerry. It was pretty disheartening. I asked how he felt about civil liberties. He said, "I’m for ’em!" That’s great, but how do you feel about Section 215 of the Patriot Act? He said, "What’s that?" I said, it basically says any privately generated database is available for public scrutiny with an administrative subpoena. He says, "It says that?" I say, "You voted for it!" He says, "Well, it was a long bill...." [randomwalks]

If you were a government depository library that destroyed those DoJ documents when they asked you to, and then they changed their mind, and now you'd like fresh copies, there's a page up on the DoJ web site where you can order them. In case you were wondering what all the hubbub is about forfeiture lately, this site will give you an activist overview of the controversy.

Tired of librarians talking about the USA PATRIOT Act? Then you both will and will not like Librarians For Bush which does talk about USAPA a lot, but from a different perspective.

[link to it] 12Aug04if you got to choose, what OS would your public library use?

Something to chew on... say you were designing a public library from the ground up, and had no major funding hurdles. Would you still go with Windows? What else could you use? A slashdot discussion. [unalog]

[link to it] 11Aug04hi - 11aug

Hi. Small change. If I'm thanking a source that I think maybe everyone doesn't already know, I'll try to include a link. So, today's link to the Web4Lib post, is from the Crafty Librarian blog, part of one of the best looking little web sites out there.

Okay let's just say it straight. Having our OPACs say "Check shelves" when a book is supposed to be checked in is not much better than saying "Dream On" right? An amusing post by Karen on Web4Lib. [crafty]

In addition to your REF shirt [I'm wearing one today] the well-dressed librarian might also wear a Librarian pin. I'll buy mine when the price drops to something a bit more reasonable, or when Fredflare starts accepting barter. [thanks pauline]

So they're gearing up for the RNC in New York. I do not expect to be going etiher as a "blogger" or a protestor though maybe I can answer some questions for Radical Reference. It seems like the bag-checking on the ferries are getting a bit out of hand. I can see weapons being dangerous but -- and I can't believe we're going through this again -- books?! What book? This book. [thanks chuck]

So, since Clark Atlanta is phasing out its library school, what does the future of Library education in Georgia look like? You might recognize Dr. Ismail Abdullahi as being an ALA Councilor. [thanks tim]

[link to it] 9Aug04I Love You, Madame Librarian

Kurt Vonnegut loves librarians, especially lately.

I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength or their powerful political connections or their great wealth, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and have refused to reveal to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles. So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House or the Supreme Court or the Senate or the House of Representatives or the media. The America I love still exists at the front desks of our public libraries. [thanks dave]

[link to it] 7Aug04more on the Boston Public Library

I guess my DNC blog was enough of a paean to the Boston Public Library but I found a link to this BPL tribute page from Larry Nix who runs an interesting postal librariana page in addition to his regular librariana pages.

[link to it] 6Aug04the library of unwritten books

As many of you may or may not know, Richard Brautigan's book The Abortion was one of my major insirations to become a librarian, in the hopes that I can one day live in the library that I work in. That book has inspired others to do different things, like the Library of Unwritten Books for example.

The project, called the Library of Unwritten Books, is the brainchild of Sam Brown and Caroline Jupp, who have been travelling around Britain collecting tales from ordinary people they meet on the street. Using a converted shopping cart that doubles as their "mobile recording unit," the pair ask strangers if they have any ideas for books. They then convert each narrative kernel into a précis only a few pages in length. [thanks iboy]

Attention librarians, please do not buy any compilations of overpriced public domain titles from the likes of e-reader unless you really, serioously, want someone to charge you four dollars to copy a free text onto a CD for you.

An idea whose time has come: Radical Reference. Originally planned for the RNC protests, it has already expanded to fill other pressing radical informationneeds. Here's a recent article from the NY Sun about it. A little more information at the NYC Indymedia site. Now that's more in the MYbrarian model, don't you think?

[link to it] 3Aug04history vs accesibility, one town's problem

Is removing a stacks wing to make a public library more accessible the same as turning a church into condos? A storm is brewing over the Amesbury Public Library in Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners has kept a list of libraries around the state that have destroyed or altered their stack wings to improve their buildings. The commission has endorsed these demolitions because they have allowed libraries to provide access to the disabled, meet earthquake codes, eliminate fire liabilities, and use limited sites more effectively. [linkoday]

[link to it] 2Aug04nudes!

The American Nudist Research Library turns 25 this year. See also the Toni Egbert Naturist Law Library.

Live nudes would seem to provide more reliably strong effects than photographs of nudes. The American Nudist Research Library has nudes of both varieties, a bounty that should be of interest to scientists. And it may be instructive to librarians elsewhere who lament that people don't visit libraries the way they used to.

Nancy Pearl retires from Seattle Public Library this week to spend more time reading, and other things.

The Christian Science Monitor takes on the media conclusions to the NEA "reading in crisis" report, finding some other folks to place the blame on.

Publishers and writers can blame TV, the Internet, and the media all they want, but the problem lies squarely with them. They need to activate their marketing and literary imagination in order to promote their books, as well as the act of reading, in new ways. They, more than anyone, need to be organized keepers of the reading flame.

Incidentally, one of the things I took away from the DNC was the importance of stressing the importance of voting, especially local voting. While I'm pretty critical of the ALA's register to vote @ your library campaign -- which should be called the "print out and mail this form at your own expense but only if you have an email address, otherwise you're completely SOL @ your library" campaign -- there are local elections where voting makes a huge difference and apathy can cost you money, no two ways about it. Pop Goes the Library has some good program ideas for mixing pop culture and democracy at your library.

Election years have unlimited potential for library programming ideas. From displays of books on the electoral & campaign process to town hall meetings to voter registration drives, libraries have the opportunity every few years to play an active role in being a go-to informational clearinghouse for voters.

This directory of state prison librarians [and libraries] is an essential resource for anyone concerned with library service in correctional institutions.

[link to it] 1Aug04Obama on reading and anti-intellectualism

Another observation stemming from the DNC. Obama's speech [which you can read it its entirety here] disussing anti-intellectualism, further discussed by the New York Times. Librarians take note.

"Go into any inner-city neighborhood and folks will tell you that government alone can't teach kids to learn. They know that parents have to parent, that children can't achieve unless we raise their expectations and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white."

Librarian starts her cross-Iowa bicycle ride to raise awareness of the public library funding crisis.

"When times are tough, legislators need to know how to spend our money. They need to know that people value their library services and want them funded. It's not that hard to write your congressmen and tell them you support your library." [lisnews]

Google Guide is a site that helps nvoice and experienced users learn more about how to effectively use Google. The author has written How to do Everything with Google and has released this tutorial site under a Creative Commons license. Apparently she did some serious research on Google Answers to prepare.

Linda Barry chimes in on the mundanity of Summer Reading Programs. I like our summer reading program, frankly, but maybe the librarian always does.[sorry about the ad, thanks tammi]

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