Hi. I'm a little tired and have been taking bad notes, though I did see the Power of the Napkin Sketch work wonders this evening. Both Eli and Fred have some good commons-meeting-oriented notes on their sites. There may also be some notes on Peter Levine's site. There likely won't be any wrap-ups here because 1) Fred and Eli did such a good job I see no reason to be redundant 2) my big picture thinking about the whole commons issue sums up a lot of what people were talking about, unhelpfully, as "details" 3) I'm already halfway to Australia in my mind, even though I'm not going for a few weeks now.
Hi. I had a great time at the Dartmouth conference which has to go down in history as one of the best-run conferences I've been to. People stuck to time limits, were generally interesting and engaging, had stories to tell, kept to the topic and I saw a lot of informal talking and chitchatting during the two hour long lunch and poster session. I got to meet a contributor to Revolting Librarians Redux, meet some other new folks, talk to some folks I knew and learn a few things. I'm on my way to Cerritos California for the Workshop on the Information Commons that, alas, has no web site, but you can read the bibliography that we got [in print and online]. So, posting will be sparse and I'll likely not post much in any big way until after the election so I figured I'd leave you with one link and one quote that came over the Council listserv this week. The link is to Michael McGrorty's presidential poll results from his admittedly unscientific polling, plus his always insightful commentary. Lastly, this from Boston Public Library president and fellow Councilor Bernie Margolis
Very rough notes from the Dartmouth Conference are online now. I'm heading out for Indian food. One side benefit of leaving the state is that going out for "ethnic" food doesn't automatically mean Italian.
I just posted a short chat interview with Matt Haughey the Creative Director of the Creative Commons project about copyright and librarians and music.
The ALA web site FAQ has returned after an 18 month absence. You might recall that I reported it missing in June of last year, replaced by a "how to use this new web site" faq. Of course, the handy URL http://ala.org/faq still goes someplace else. There are also a few other ALA FAQ's hanging around the site including this one which occupies the coveted FAQ position on the sidebar. Don't try looking for FAQs in the search engine [which is due to be replaced within a few months, woo hoo!] because since the word FAQ is in the footer text, a search for "FAQ" will bring up every page on the site. Councilors just got a report from ALA president Kieth Fiels about, among other things, the web site stating [emphasis mine]
Glenn Fleishman talks about wifi in libraries. His overall impression is that libraries who offer it are tending towards offering it only to patrons. Michael Sauers also has a small list of wifi in libraries and elsewhere. When I talked about the wifi issue at the Nantucket Atheneum, I received a lot of email from librarians spelling out what they were doing with their wireless access. Most made it available only to cardholders, a few had open nodes and a few even turned it off at night. I have two "local" college libraries with wifi, one has a campus-wide open node, one just started using MAC authentication with a backup login procedure if you're a guest. Some places like Boston Public Library require cards but make cards available to [I believe] anyone in the state.
While I think the jury's still out on the possible perils of providing free unmetered wireless access -- by which I mean no big lawsuits yet -- I see one potential downside to limiting access to cardholders. Login/registration solutions such as those offered by FirstSpot and BlueSocket and others cost money including ongoing maintenance fees and create one more layer of technology between us and the patrons we serve. There are times when this is necessary, but my own personal ethos says that we need to be very careful with each new technological hurdle we put between our patrons and the services and information they want. We do this with cost, trying to limit financial barriers to library services; lets make sure we're doing it with technology as well. I'd like to see some good justifications for making wifi patron-only, as opposed to, say limiting upstream and downstream transfer limits or using monitoring software like AirMagnet or others. We have already seen the copyright arena become a battleground with people self-censoring because they're not sure what the rules are. We're supposed to be the experts, let's act like experts.
There will always be software and hardware vendors who wants to paint a worst case boogeyman scenario about why we need to buy their security products. I'd hope that librarians will educate themselves enough about the technology and the culture surrounding it that they can make informed decisions that value openness and access not fear and vendor hype. [stuff]
Aaron's posted a brief transcript of one of the text messages he got at the library which uses a lot of IM-speak. Let's remember that the more people use IM, the more "ask a librarian" sessions can seem like another place to chat and goof around. We already have the problem of library students and other people "testing" the system. Is there a problem with virtual reference only working as long as it doesn't become too popular?
Jenny is back on the scene with a Movable Type based site. As you may or may not know, this site runs on Movable Type as well. I've got other sites running on WordPress, Blogger, or even just old hand-coded goodness. In preparation for the Information Commons symposium this weekend, I've been thinking a lot about online products versus online content. We all know how smart Jenny is technologically, and yet she was temporarily brought down by non-functioning software. Jessica is also a smart cookie but has been drowning in comment spam. I like to think I'm pretty bright, but I'm dead in the water when ibiblio goes down, or gets a DoS attack.
How many times do libraries say their internet connection isn't working when what they mean is Internet Explorer has been taken over by browser hijacks? How much do we wince when we see AOL advertisements claiming to be able to "fix" the internet? In my beginner email class, people have a lot of questions about attachments, thinking that "the internet" is causing their frustrating attachment woes instead of conflicts between proprietary software. Wouldn't you like to read a news article that described a new virus in terms of the operating systems and/or software that was vulnerable instead of just painting the danger with the widest possible strokes? There's a larger point here, beyond just pointing out deficiencies. As librarians, we need to be able to deliver information. If the technology is keeping us from doing that, we should hope that we're not so married to the information delivery mechanism that we can't retool and endrun and deliver the goods, not just say "computers are hard" or "we've got a licensing agreement" or "this software doesn't do that" and throw up our hands. It's been fun watching folks grapple with this in their weblog worlds, I hope we can apply the same troubleshooting and solutions to our libraries as well.
Hi. I received a very nice and sincere apology from the bad-review lady, in case anyone is wondering, and I'm sorry she decided to take her blog down, a move which I neither suggested nor desire. I wrote her back saying that while I admire people who speak their mind, in a small community like ours sometimes discretion is the better part of writing in a public forum. And, as someone who has gotten some serious hell for shooting my mouth off online, I certainly sympathize. I'm off to the Vermont Bloggercon, I'll let you know how it goes.
Extreme makeover, librarian version. No, I am not kidding.
What we think about when we think about personal libraries, some thoughts from librarian Tracy Seneca.
Less than glowing review of Revolting Librarians Redux hits the blogs. Unlike the previous review which I felt had some good points, this one just seems sort of pissed off that the book wasn't what the author was looking for. There's nothing like listening to librarians complaining about complaining librarians. I especially appreciate the snotty things she had to say about my sister's illustrations which I actually liked. On the brighter side, her copy will probably be for sale soon, maybe you can get a cut-rate copy if you haven't read it already. She's also one of those NextGenners looking for work which is enough to make anyone grouchy.
I figure anyone who wanted to bookmark Library Dust has done so already but I feel the need to draw your attention to Michael's holiday selections which, while not always in good taste, are pretty amusing to me
My friend Chuck0, perhaps the best known anarchist librarian has posted the notes from a post-ALA talk he gave in June: Meet the Anarchist Librarians. Chuck is a very good writer and he's thought about these topics a lot. Even if you're not into the whole radical politics thing, I think you'll enjoy his article.
What does he mean by self-censorship? Check out this ISP example from Copyfight
Another post on the subject of public fora. Aaron has finally told the story about the cancelled showing of Farenheit 9/11 that was supposed to happen at his library.
Guantanamo Bay Prison library reading preferences lean towards Harry Potter. The prison "librarian" and Air Force translator spent ten months in solitary confinement over spy charges including one charge of taking two souvenir photographs.
Big fun news this morning.... I'll be giving a keynote speech at the Australia Library and Information Association's New Librarian Symposium in Adelaide Australia in December. I had been invited last month but funding was going to keep me on this side of the pond and giving a talk via videoconferencing. I just got word that the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Library [part of the larger institute] will be sponsoring my travel so I can give the talk in person. I've never been to Australia. I've never given a keynote talk. I've never been in the Southern Hemisphere. I guess now is as good a time as any to see if I'm on a no-fly list, huh? More from me as the situation develops. Anyone with local knowledge or who is a member of ALIA, feel free to drop me a line.
I'm not a NextGen librarian though I am often in the market for jobs, the same as they are. I've been thinking a lot about library schools increasing their acceptance rates at the same time as available jobs are seriously dwindling. Andrea and I were chatting about this on the way back from the library tour.
"Do you think you should be able to go through library school nowadays without knowing how to use a computer?"I'm not even sure who said what. I feel that the profession has enough experienced and able librarians who may not be tech savvy. The shift in the profession is leading us towards more and more technological solutions to library problems. I don't think everyone has to be a systems librarian, but everyone should be able to competently troubleshoot a public PC and/or use their own computer for basic office and reference tasks at a bare minimum. The next step is letting the NextGens -- or anyone who wants to really -- really apply these skills to the workplace environment.
If anyone asks you about the whole "libraries and weblogs thing" anytime soon, just send them straight to this page and then ask "any questions?" I bet there won't be, except maybe "why don't I know more about this woman?"
I read about the review of the new book The Librarian a few days back and paid it no mind. Then I got the following email and while I think that flaming the author would be in bad taste, a pleasant email from a modern-day librarian setting him straight might not be out of line.
Speaking of books, I am very much looking forward to reading Dismantling the Public Sphere: Situating and Sustaining Librarianship in the Age of the New Public Philosophy once I can get my hands on a copy. Check out the rest of the latest issue of Progressive Librarian including a [deservedly?] lukewarm review of Revolting Librarians Redux
While I despair of ever getting decent headlines on newspaper stories about books, the words A modern book burning did catch my eye. The story is about Lynne Cheney, wife of the current VP who objected to the content in a pamphlet being published by the Department of Ed. The pamphlet entitled "Helping Your Child Learn History" [old version here, currently out of stock] apparently refers to the National Standards for History Guidelines which advocates a more "lumps and all" approach to history which encourages expanding the history focus to include the contributions of women, minorities, radicals and other less-popular figures of their times. Good news as well as bad news. As a result of her criticism, the Department of Ed, destroyed 300,000 of the pamphlets.
Stockton [CA] City Council is giving close scrutiny to the library focussing on age-appropriateness of unfiltered internet access and graphic novels like Phoebe Glockner's A Child's Life which they called a "how-to book for pedophiles" while at the same time objecting to its being available to children. Librarians agreed and removed the book from library shelves entirely. Glockner, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan, has a few words to say about this on her own blog, and asks for advice. [thanks dan]
Hi. Welcome Seven Days readers! I'm taking my folks on some last-gasp foliage tours this weekend so don't expect to hear much from me for a few days.
I am feeling better so I am messing with Google Print. Andrea inquired whether, in addition to showing us places where we could buy these books, Google Print might use its comfy relationship with OCLC Worldcat to also show us where we could borrow these books. The reply she received was not encouraging. Tara has more info on Google Print from a discussion with a Google rep. Google does specifically say they are not a library in their FAQ.
A few other things you might want to know about Google Print...
- Publishers can join for free. Google serves their "relevant" ads next to publisher's content & splits the ad revenue with the publisher. I was pleasantly surprised to see a book by McFarland [my publisher] available.
- Google print currently only accepts -- and dismantles -- print copies of books and cannot currently accept pdfs or other digital formats. This will be a great bar trivia question a few years from now "which company destroys the most books? Google!"
- Google claims that "pages displaying your content have print, cut, copy, and save functionality disabled in order to protect your content." and yet that's not strictly true [see figure 1 and figure 2] The page image actually displays as a background image in a weird inline stylesheet, but it's just a jpg with a URL like any other image on the web. More explanation here.
- Tara has a few more tricks up her sleeve. Can't afford Library Journal? Read it via Google Print.
- According to Jason Kottke's non-scientific method, Google Print had about 8,000 titles on December 2003. This was back when you could search for the acronym ISBN in the URL, limit results to Google Print, and get a title list. There's no longer a handy ISBN in the URL, you'll notice his title links from that entry no longer work.
- Once you're looking at a book, searching for a word like "the" can give you a rough idea of how much of the book's content is available
- scary line in publishers terms: "Google may retain and use for its own purposes all information You provide"
Want to keep your loved ones close to you [and your books] even in the afterlife? How about these book shaped urns? [thanks jude]
Hi. I appear to be allergic to leaves, or something else about this wonderful weather. I've been home sick for a day or so -- sick like no-typing sick -- but I'm on the mend and have managed to toss up a few pictures from the Fall Tour of Libraries that Andrea and Corey and I went on this weekend.
Marylaine has a short astute piece on the importance of younger librarians to the profession.
The name Itinerant Librarians and the concept it embodies has always appealed to me, sort of like the MyBrarian idea. I'm not sure I agree with the Distributed Library Project assertion that traditional libraries don't foster community [ours does, in at least some ways, I am sure of it] but the project concept is fascinating nonetheless. [thanks jude]
Gary Price interviewed in Library Link. He's been asked so much about Google and librarians, he's got a good answer handy.
GP: Google and other web engines are fine for certain types of searching. However, it's not the best choice in some situations. The challenge for us is not only telling people about what Google and other web engines can offer but also showing them what's not available. Likewise, we can demonstrate how to be a better web search engine searcher. This is valuable info for many people. Why? With the help and knowledge of a good information professional we can help to save the time of our users. This is a commodity everybody wants to have more of.
Bad things that happen to book drops. Does the person asking this question seem like anyone in your library?
Library worker in India comes to work in his underwear demanding to have his temporary job made permanent.
I have no idea what this is, but perhaps you can help out? patronized a semi-annual publication about the lives and labor of librarians.
While I think it's going overboard to sic collection agencies on people for overdue fines, having this man show up on your doorstep just to pick up the books you haven't returned might not be all bad.
After all the huffing and puffing about the USAPA and our rights versus national security, it's going to be interesting to see how the case of the little library with the book with the sketchy bin Laden quote in the margin turns out. Looks like it's pretty well stalled for now since the library doesn't keep borrower records more than a week. Nothing to see here, move along. [thanks all]
State Library Illnesswatch: Alaska State Library hours are being cut in half though they're still available full time via phone and [I'm guessing] email.
Andrea looks at Cantfindongoogle.com a list of failed searches. When people ask me, as they often do "how do librarians stay relevant in the age of Google" I tell them that Google is a very powerful tool that very few people know how to use well. I've been reading Tara's Web Search Garage lately and even I'm learning more about how to massage information out of Google. Sometimes it's as simple as explaining to the patron that if you're looking for LTD Consortium, it's going to be pretty important to use both words. Or maybe telling the patron who is trying to find the Boston Museum of Fine Arts that the key word to include in her search is "Boston." This is second knowledge to me, and many of us, but it's not to my patrons. Google is so fast and so useful that I've taken to remembering some web pages just by the search terms that I can use to find them, since I can never remember their URLs. I'm also pretty good at ballparking whether some information that I need either can or can NOT be found in Google before I waste a lot of time looking. That's powerful stuff, and a useful skillset, so it's good to remember that some people don't have that mojo, either because they haven't learned, don't care, or give up too easily.
Library Web Accessibility at Kentucky's 4-Year Degree Granting Colleges and Universities a paper by a Kentucky web development librarian. Guess what, despite the fact that the ADA pretty much mandates accessible web sites, we're not seeing them.
Wine librarians meeting, coming up soon.
I almost never link to new blogs with less than a few weeks of posts in them, but Glenn Fleishman [you may know him from such hits as isbn.nu] has a proven track record and is a delight to read. His new blog ISBlogN which tracks the "authority problem" with the ISBN system for most people's real-world search needs. He's got big plans, it will be fun to watch them unfold.
Hi. I was invited to go to the ALA's Office for Information Technology Policy's Workshop on Libraries and the Information Commons today. It's in Cerritos CA at the end of the month and I'm going to try to make it. If anyone else is going or has some pointers for Info-Commons type stuff to read in the meantime, please let me know about it. I'll be starting with the Washington Office's Issues Page first of all.
From my friend the law professor. "Last night I went to a discussion among a famous local Rabbi (who is also a professor), Jamie Gorelick (member 9/11 Commission and former Assist. Attny Gen. for Clinton), and Viet Dinh (G-town law prof, former AA General for Bush, author of the USA Patriot Act, and poster boy for conservative causes...). Viet made a comment at one point that I think you would like -- he said what he had learned from the response to the Patriot Act was 'Don't mess with librarians.'"
Karen Schneider has a great post summing up some of the major problems with the existing E-rate discount program and why libraries and schools might be better off lobbying for a different solution than reviving this one.
Library ELF is a little beta web service that will tell you when your library books are due and send you email reminders to return them. This is, of course, something vendors should be doing, but many aren't. My only beef? How about offering a plain text email option, or maybe just an RSS feed alert instead? [catalogablog]
This article asks more questions than it answers... how the heck did this library lose so much money in one year that it now has to sell its Normal Rockwell paintings to stay solvent? [thanks michael]
Film librarian Steve Fesenmaier has written a lengthy review of the film "Save and Burn" about the destriction of libraries and the corresponding destruction of culture. Can anyone help me track down independent information about this film other than this review and the posts that cite it?
Libraries still not buying porn, or even books that seem like they might be porn. While I object to the misuse of the word schizophrenia this article otherwise has some good points about what librarians say versus what they do in their own librarias as far as sexually explicit books are concerned.
It's sort of flattering to be Feedster's Feed of the Day twice in two weeks, but I bet it's just because they have a lack of strong authority control and spelled it once with an uppercase L and once without.
Nancy Pearl's action figure is outselling all the other action figures at Archie McPhee. This means that in at least one sense, she's more popular than Jesus. More factoids about her in this interview. [lisnews]
Another Food for Fines program from last year at the Metropolitan Library System in Oklahoma County. [thanks emily]
A few bad apples may be spoiling the E-Rate program that provides Internet and phone service to a large amount of the country's schools and libraries. There are tighter spending rules, a lower mandatory contribution from the telcos [thanks FCC!] and possible delays on cash outlays extending into 2006. Now might be a good time to contact your elected official and make sure they are aware of this issue and actively working to resolve it. If E-rate money isn't forthcoming, what does that mean for CIPA? [thanks rebecca]
Hi. I'm off for a long weekend. If anyone is interested in checking out the Fall Tour of Libraries next weekend, seeing Bernie Sanders grousing about the USA PATRIOT Act in the evening, and hanging out with me and bookmarklet co-conspirator Andrea, drop me a line.
If you like Library Juice, Rory has put together a "Selections from Library Juice" page which is a best-of sort of thing. If you don't know Library Juice, this is a good place to start getting acquainted with it.
Another library's take on the food for fines idea. [thanks ann]
One academic librarian's personal search for what she terms an "emotionally healthy" academic library to work in. Check the list of characteristics of emotionally UNhealthy libraries. Does yours qualify? Could it be fixed?
Flashing some skin in a public library in Manhattan. No, that link is not safe for work.