[link to it] 31Mar04koha 2.0, no joke
Koha, the free Open Source library system just released their 2.0 version complete with a fully templated web interface and full integration with MARC. Take a test drive and tell me it isn't better looking and easier to use than whatever you are currently overpaying your vendors for. [catalogablog]
Aaron talks some more about good and bad parts to using IM at the library. I think I like using IM [even for work stuff] for some of the reasons other people hate it: I can carry on multiple conversations at once, I can make communication even shorter [no "Hi, this is Jessamyn, how are you..." and I have both my ears free. The phone seems to use up talking and listening for me, whereas reading and typing seem like more of the same input/output mechanism.
Stanley Kubrick's freaky library and card files.
The New Jersey Library Association -- you know, the ones who brought you Super Librarian -- are now having a design your own librarian contest [pdf], a contest I intend to try to win! [thanks carol]
U of Toronto's library school's student council president has a blog. I happen to know that the library school president at Simmons does too.
What happens when your site is the first hit for "instant message question answerer" on Google? Kids ask you their homework questions, duh!
The Vatican Library says that tagging their materials with RFID chips will cut the amount of time they need to close for inventory from a month to half a day.
[link to it] 30Mar04voting time at ALA
I just filled out my [paper] ballot for the ALA elections. I mostly voted for the progressive candidates, a few oddballs, and my pal Step Schmidt who convinced me to run for Council myself and whose entry about why she is running -- as well as her personal statement that was included with the ballot -- resonated deeply with me.
Sorry to sort of harp on this but you have no idea how excited I am to meet some other librarian blogger types. Jessica will be officially moderating BloggerconII's librarian session and she's discussing some of what she'd like to do there. Check in [and register] if you haven't already.
Aaron from The Bizz has a new attractive blog called Walking Paper where he is already tackling interesting library issues like his Keeping Your Computer Clean class and, my favorite, using AIM or other already existing chat services for virtual reference which Michael from Tame the Web has already mentioned once.
New State Library director in Hawai'i struggles with not enough staff and not enough money. [thanks brandon]
Due to what is being called a "critical staff shortage" the American Museum of Natural History Library's Speciall Collections are closed to the public.[thanks carol]
Michael also mentioned a talk that Jenny gave at CiL during the Dead and Emerging Technologies section. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, yes if your patrons are clamoring for it and your library can support it, things like wireless, RSSfeeds and roving reference librarians are must-haves. On the other hand, I look at our library with our 15 public access terminals that we can just barely maintain, our lack of any technology plan and the levels of connectivity of our patrons generally and I wonder how we get from here to there? And how much our desire for the shiny parts of these technologies led us into a system that we can't handle, and that leads us to give bad service to patrons? And I wonder how much of this change should be foisted on patrons and how much of it should be patron-driven or at least patron-focused? I have no good answers, and I'm happy that people are really pushing the envelope of using the technology to bring the best parts of libraries to the public. On the other hand, I'm acutely aware that small and rural libraries have to make very tough choices when they decide how to spend their limited money -- Vermont libraries get next to no state funding for the public library system -- and I'd like to see more of a focus on appropriate technologies rather than new-technologies-at-any-cost-in-any-situation boosterism. I guess that's my job.
[link to it] 28Mar04librarians v ashcroft 4ever
Found over at NITLE's blog, the nice folks over at the Internet Archive are suing over recent copyright revisions claiming that making public domain items retroactively copyrighted is not only wrong, it's unconstitutional.
One of my particular skills that isn't necessarily library related is being able to analyze systems and see where their weak points are. This can make me a bit of a pest around work ["well what happens if your plan doesn't work as expected... what is the Plan B?"] but I like to think that the stuff I design is more fault-tolerant than the average stuff. In the reference world, this is the difference between giving someone an answer versus a good answer versus "I don't know" as an answer. It can be tough to measure the cost of failure in this example, but it's not as tough in other situations. Susan Feldman talks about the high cost of not finding information.
What we canít do is measure the increase in creativity and original thinking that might be unleashed if knowledge workers had more time to think and were not frustrated with floundering around online.... Information disasters are caused not by lack of information, but rather by not connecting the right information to the right people at the right time.[lisnews]
One of the side effects of moving within anarchist circles is that you don't take the word "revolution" at all lightly. This has made the past decade rough in terms of palatability of advertising. Sometimes when there is particular envelope-pushing, I am at least interested in marketplace revolutions. Reality Publishing claims to be on the forefront of just such a revolution... everyone chips in for the book's publication, everyone helps write, everyone gets to share in the fruits of the labor. Their first project is about the Dean campaign. Nominally democratic [if badly copy-edited] I don't know if I would call it a revolution, but anything that challenges current business models in publishing is a good start.
Speaking of my job, I would like to chime in with a hearty "hear hear!" to this sentiment.
''Research-related issues are within our job parameters,'' said [librarian] Nevin Gussack... ``Signing people up and making up numbers [to log on], as a professional, is kind of demeaning. I don't like being a disciplinarian. I like being the purveyor of information. I would rather teach than be a policeman.''
Edible Book Festival coming up this Thursday.
[link to it] 26Mar04the librarian dreams of rare items
Do you have collector dreams ever, where you find one fo the world's rarest things? I used to have dreams when I was a kid stamp collector of finding an inverted Curtis Jenny stamp. Apparently, one librarian in Maine had this dream come true and was recently verified to be in posession of the world's rarest silver dollar. [thanks belva]
I think this naked lady is in a bookstore, not a library. [nsfw]
One of the good things about library work is that it gives you all sorts of interesting information inputs that you can do neat stuff with. A lot of librarians I know have some creative side project. If you live in the Springfield [MA] area you might be lucky enough to catch the Librarian DJs on WSCB. If you can't, their playlists are online, at their blog.
Speaking of zines -- here's an only slightly outdated list of zine libraries. The Independent Publishing Resource Center even has their zine catalog online.
Library that got expansion grant 17 years ago cannot move to larger quarters and shut the [expanded] library down completely until 20 years have passed. This happened in my town too, just recently. The town owns the building and due to some law or another, needs to use the building for town purposes. Thi sis usually how historical societies get such great digs, I reckon. [thanks jeanette]
[link to it] 25Mar04hi - 25mar

Hi. In gearing up for National Library Week I have been courting the community relations folks at both Wal-Mart and the mall to see if we can put up tables for our library card sign up campaign. You can tell how much I like my job if I'm making nice with Wal-Mart for it.

Steven Cohen from Library Stuff has posted about why he's been away from blogging for a bit, and about a bit of lifestyle change he'll be going through. Here's hoping things continue to improve.
New mom Priscilla Shontz has written a great new article for LISCareer: A Librarian without a Library: Staying Professionally Active While Unemployed. Most of her advice is also great for library sfhool students looking at ways to engage with their future profession while still in school.
I have always wondered if you can make geeks and librarians happy at the same time. At my library the answer is "not yet" but that may change, hopefully before my contract expires. Kendall Clark has a new article about classifiying one's personal collections in his series "Hacking the Library".
"If you're like me, you will never live the pure, weightless all-digital media lifestyle. Our media collections weren't born digital."[lisnews]
[link to it] 23Mar04hi - 23mar

Hi -- I went crazy with RSSing this weekend and set up Feedster feeds for my booklist and for my personal journal/blog thing, in case you're interested.

Cynthia Wilson is a photographer and a library school student and is interested in documenting real librarians for her book I am a Librarian. If you don't mind getting your picture taken and answering a few questions, please contact her via iamalibrarian.com.
The QE2 has the largest library at sea and the only full-time at sea librarian. There are other job opportunities for at-sea librarians as well.[thanks hanan]
Other superlative libraries include the Denver Zine Library with one of the largest library zine collections in the world. [thanks tammi]
"Where did the magazines go? How can I help?" Athens-Clarke County library system is sponsoring an adopt-a-magazine program to try to maintain its magazine collection after having to drop 150 subscriptions due to budget cuts. [thanks katia]
BloggerCon II [April 17, Cambridge MA] now has a time slot specifically for librarian bloggers lobbied for and organized by Jessica Baumgart, cool!
[link to it] 21Mar04something newish to say about library cats
With the exception of the "push to shush" action figure, my most received link would have to be ones about library cats, often to the same library cat page. I love the page, but try not to relink unless something really new is going on. Well, there's a new article out about library cats, and it's adorable. [thanks carolyn]
Howard Besser has some pictures up of the PLG team & others at the NYPL anti-war rally yesterday [warning, lots of big pictures].
[link to it] 19Mar04versed - ala bulletin worth checking out
One of my favorite colleagues during my brief tenure as a VISTA volunteer at Seattle Public was Tracie Hall who now directs ALA's office for Diversity. She's full of spirit and good ideas. Their office now has a bulletin, Versed, available on the website [bad URL, good content] that comes out five times a year and discusses best practices and skillsharing in library-diversity work.
Watch library history get sold to the highest bidder. More card catalogs for sale at UW Seattle [sorry, link no longer working, here's a Google cache]. At some level I'm sure we know it's a bit dorky to be in love with our furniture, but I like to think it's the little designer in all of us. Sure we make noxious flyers with MS Publisher and recycle clip art until it's fuzzy around the edges, but we keep our CDs in oak boxes that are 100 years old and steeped with history, and we know that literacy never goes out of style. [thanks leep]
If you keep up with the conservative librarian movement, there's a good chance that you may not be a frequent reader here and vice-versa, so you might have missed Rory Litwin's pretty interesting email on the subject of progressive librarianship that he posted in response to the anti-progressive posts going on over at shush.ws.
"Unlike the average mainstream liberals, progressives are strongly motivated by some of the same values that motivate you: honesty, integrity, human dignity, a view of the world as fallen and in need of salvation, a suspicion of commercialism and its influence, etc."
[link to it] 18Mar04hi - 18mar

Hi. Last month at the library I taught an email class and 25 people showed up. This month my email class netted three people, two of whom had been at the last class. The vagaries of the library world still mystify me some days.

I expect to be able to use the MT blog categories to bring back my library reviews one of these days, but not yet. So, here is a list of the libraries I went to on this trip: I also went to The Strand which, while not a library, is one hell of a bookstore.
Interesting though ponderous essay about what we can divine from the future by observing the LoC. A postmodern look at the future of information.
"I am unsure what marks off knowledge in the digital age from an earlier, Gutenberg-era episteme. Is there a difference in how we know? Is sifting through a bunker of diverse materials heaped on a desk so terrible different than linking together multimedia resources through hypertext? How?" [thanks robert]
Speaking of categories, I don't even have one for "humor" what does that tell you...? The livejournal hydra has sprouted another interesting librarian group [that I found because they are hotlinking to all my naked librarian pictures] which brings us this parody.
I can see you're on the OPAC,
you want me to teach thee,
boolean techniques that freak these boys,
it can't be bought,
just know the operators can be used,
in parentheses.
[link to it] 17Mar04tell a library story
I had a friend who had a tattoo that was a hobo sign for "tell pitiful story" Today I found a site that shows you how to tell a library story [I was looking for library-themed computer wallapaper and settled on this]. Here's hoping your library stories aren't pitiful.
[link to it] 16Mar04hi - 16mar

Hi. Back from New York. I learned a lot of neat stuff at Columbia and I really really hope that they will make the talks available online at the same time as I really really doubt they will do so. Crossing fingers...

Technobiblio is more polite than I am so I will just say this: charging $25/day per user for wireless Internet access at ALA is total bullshit. Not that I am such a junkie that I will whine and complain that I can't get my fix, but it is out of scale for a) the actual cost per user of providing this service and b) what other equivalent vendors charge. I don't need wireless throughout the whole center [though it would be nice and far from impossible technologically] I'd just like a few hotspots where I can sit with my laptop and check my email. Shorter lines at the Internet cafes [where one well-placed wireless router could accomplish all of this for $99 for everyone forever] and happier people who can use their own software. It's astonishing that this is such an impossible endeavor to do well, or even to approach realistically.
Jessica Baumgart is trying to put together some sort of librarian blogger event at BloggerConII which will be in Boston/Cambridge the weekend I'll be down to speak at Simmons. Anyone else interested in getting together? If so, sign up [it's free, free as in $0] and email Jessica.
I love lists. These lists are great: The Top Ten Things a new Sci/Tech Librarian Should Know. I am sorry I missed this in Toronto.
9. You might get a lot of colds (working with the public).
10. You won't be expected to do everything you promised in the interview.
11. Your colleagues are just as clueless or insecure as you are.
ALA is sponsoring a READ poster contest to highlight their new $99 make your own READ poster CD. I did this myself a while back. Here is me and the Alternative Press Index, my reading material of choice. Man my hair grew fast.
[link to it] 15Mar04hi - 15mar

Hi. I'm staying someplace in what I think is the "upper west side" here. I went to a meeting of the Progressive Librarians Guild last night which was really fun. Met some cool library students and librarians and said hello to some old friends. If you're interested in progressive issues and you'd like to know more librarians, look these folks up, especially if you are in the NYC area. A lot of good thinking going on there, dues are cheap and you don't have to be a member of ALA. [site hosted on Libr.org which as a new store up and running]. I got a Brooklyn Public Library card which may allow me to hassle smartie BPL librarians with "ask a librarian" questions in the afternoon hours.

[link to it] 13Mar04hi - 13mar

Hi. My talk went well and is available in the very-slimmed-down slide format here. It was really exciting to get to hang out with a bunch of super-smart librarians who mostly "get" technology and hear what they had to say and what they were working on. I was the only public librarian in the room which I found quite amusing. People seemed to like my talk. The keynote by LoC librarian [and former private investigator?] Thomas Mann was unforgettable and I'll try to sum it up in some notes later. No WiFi at Columbia, though there is WiFi through the walls of my friends' Brooklyn apartment. Updates spotty for a few days.

[link to it] 10Mar04hi - 10mar

Hi. With great power sometimes comes great responsibility. This was in my inbox today. "Dear ALA councilor-at-large, please tell the person in charge of designing these to stop looking at these. It's derivative and therefore embarassing." In other words, we're approaching National Library Week, aka the first anniversary of the ALA website!

So in case you didn't look at the links in the intro paragraph, let me spell it out for you: The ALA National Library Week posters look like iPod ads. A lot. Someone mentioned to me that maybe this is ALA's way of "pushing the envelope on fair use" by inviting lawsuits. More copy on the ALA site reads "Bright colors and all-inclusive silhouettes invite everyone in your community to celebrate at your library.... This timeless design is not dated making it perfect for long-term use." I think "all-inclusive" in this case means that with everyone silhouetted, you don't need to worry about racial or perhaps even gender equity. Plus you don't need to pay models. Smart! Now I don't know about you, but I see a videocasette in that banner as well as headphones that are already out of style even where I live. Timeless, indeed.
[link to it] 8Mar04"Your Public Library: Just Another Defenseless Victim Zone "?
In response to Toledo Ohio's new concealed carry law, the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library will be posting signs letting patrons know that the library is exempt from the concealed carry law. [thanks chris]
I was sort of excited when I went to ALA and saw that ALA Presidential candidate Barb Stripling had a blog. I was a bit less excited to see it not really go anyplace. I appreciate the effort, but I'm not sure if a failed attempt beats a lovely ALA presidential candidate website with no blog. I'll be endorsing Michael Gorman for ALA President though I do appreciate the work of both candidates.
My new favorite blog this week: A Library Writer's Blog. Information about writing opportunities. Sort of like the job postings blog, but for writers, maintained by Corey Seeman who also maintains this page about PC health.
Not all scintillating, but this list of 101+ commonly asked library interview questions can help get you started on your job search.
It's National Library Worker's Day on the 20th. Do something nice for your library worker. Might I suggest something like advocating for equitable pay, as opposed to yet another plate of cookies?
[link to it] 7Mar04hi - 07mar

Hi. I just got back from Massachusetts where I helped my sister clean out her office [what else are librarian sisters for?] and wished my Mom a happy birthday and taught her how to use RSS to read the Boston Globe. If you're in Manhattan this Friday consider poking your head in to the Columbia symposium. According to the symposium notes "We are extending invitations to librarians from Brown University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New York University, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, Rutgers University, and Yale University." That's eleven invites, but there's twelve people on the program.... hmm. Oh yeah, the other person is me!

This month's Nerve photo contest: sexiest photo of someone [or some people] in a University or Public library. Sometimes I am glad that most of Vermont is not online, and hence will not be patronizing our library for the purposes of this contest. [thanks daniel]
[link to it] 4Mar04hi - 04mar

Hi. The interview that I did with Jonathan Crowhurst in Free Pint about the USA PATRIOT Act and the war on terror is up today.

Update: SFPL RFID forum is tonight. If you're in the SFO area, please consider going.
[link to it] 3Mar04hi - 03mar

Hi. I am working on my ten minute panel presentation for the Columbia gig next Friday. My topic: "Honoring Tradition, Embracing the Future. How we keep current with evolving educational, technological, and cultural trends, while maintaining our traditional reference skills and our commitment to public service" [I did not write that] I'm planning something to do with collaborative information systems and maybe put in a few good words for sites like Web Junction. Or I may just focus on how "cultural trends" lately include turning the public library into one big place to check email and play games online. I am not suggesting that this isn't a good role for the library to fill, just that in Vermont we don't have staffing or systems or enough of a technology-aware culture to appropriately deal with it. There are many many reasons why giving someone access to an hour on an Internet-enabled computer is different than handing them a book. Maybe I'll just spend ten minutes listing them....

When Miss Eli graduates, I am sure she will get this technology/library thing working right. Here is her summary of Roy Tennant's SLA talk about XML. All acronyms identified, mouseover to learn.
Sethf is right on the money. Remember how I said that 350 pages of "pornography" that everyone is always telling us about, belong to me, thanks to N2H2 and their stupid overblocking? This is something like that, only it's the lawyers talking, look out!
"As librarians, we have to smell twice as good." more loveliness from the now-more-rural well dressed librarian.
The "Books not Bombs" National Day of Action is tomorrow, the 4th. I'd love to say I was planning something, but I just heard about it. While the action is fairly wide in scope, the USA PATRIOT Act is definitely on the agenda.
Library Juice offers a list of paper topics to get library school students and faculty really thinking about library issues. It had been posted before, but now will be updated from time to time.
"What does "agribusiness versus farming" offer as an analogy to commodified versus community-based information and communication?"
San Francisco Public Library tells voters it will hold a public forum to discuss RFID technology before it goes on the budget and then ... doesn't.
"City Librarian Susan Hildreth ... downplayed the decision to include RFID funding in the library budget, because the action can be reversed at a later Library Commission meeting."
[link to it] 2Mar04hi - 02mar

Hi. I resigned from the ALA Website Advisory Committee today, preferring to focus my website reform efforts from within ALA Council. I haven't been feeling that effective lately, and my personal threshold of "how long I think I should have to wait for change to come" is significantly shorter than most people who are used to working for ALA. This made me impatient and grouchy and not a helpful team player in the long path to getting the ALA website accessible, functional and user-friendly. As always, I encourage people to send feedback to the ALA webteam, as I have constantly done, they really are trying to make the best of a bad situation.

The Constant Reader is four years old this week.
When I worked for The Princeton Review, one of the things we used to tell students was that the only thing that really significantly correlated with test scores was income. If you had more money, you'd generally do better, no matter how you had done in school, how much you studied, whatever. It definitely motivated kids to prepare for test, but it also made me really sad. Now that standardized tests are becoming mandatory, people in Florida have noticed that better libraries mean better scores, even as the amount spent on most of those libraries is "pitiful". [thanks mac]
Vermont library company Fields of Knowledge wants to help people track down the best sources of information, not just the highest ranked on Google. Their project, The Infography is a searchable database of bibliographies created by experts. Some examples: bees, bats, Polish Americans. I have some reservations about the anonymity of the experts, but overall this is an interesting looking project.
Reported here earlier about the Massachusetts Horticultural Society having to sell off their book collection for financial reasons. They sold the bulk of it to the Chicago Botanic Garden. Other rare books were sold at auction where they were dismantled, colored, and sold as illustrations.
"Albert Burrage bequeathed his collection to the Massachusetts Horticultural Society with the good faith expectation that it would be held there in perpetuity. While the ultimate villain is the person who put the knife to the book, the Christie's sale represents a fundamental betrayal of patrimony." [thanks allen]
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