[link to it] 29Nov04hi - 30nov

Hi. I leave for two weeks in Australia tomorrow morning. I'm just polishing my talk on The New Librarians that I'll be giving on Saturday morning, hopefully in a well-rested state. While I'm gone, do you think you could figure out how to get Google desktop to index your library catalog? Thanks.

I'm not talking much about copyright in my talk, but I have been boning up on some of the Australian library community's responses to the Australia – United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) which passed in May. One of the things that AUSFTA did was "reduce differences" between US and Australian copyright law which, as you can probably guess, means the Australians get to tighten up their laws and bring them more in line with restrictive US laws that favor business uses of intellectual property over community and library uses. To this end, the Australian Libraries' Copyright Committee released this Statement of Principles [word doc] which says, among other things

The recent conclusion of the Australia – United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) threatens to fundamentally shift the fine balance in our current copyright regime. The “harmonisation” of Australia’s copyright legislation to that of the United States as required by the treaty may have irreversible negative impacts unless balancing provisions are also introduced. The negative unintended consequences created by the introduction of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act 1999 (DMCA) in the United States are well recognised by copyright experts and commentators around the world.. Careful consideration needs to be given to the implementation of treaty obligations in order to avoid similar outcomes in Australia,

How do you find out what political issues are coming up that affect libraries in Australia? Go to the ALIA web site, click "advocacy" subscribe to the RSS feed on this page. Just look at all the RSS feeds they have! The ALA web site search gets a lot of results for RSS, but it seems to be the name of a section of RUSA.

[link to it] 28Nov04networked, personal, fast and connected

'What is our strategy? We do not have a strategy. But the information flow in the blogosphere has its own Way. The Way is our strategy: personal, fast, connected and networked.' The quote comes from this article about blogging in China, but maybe, just maybe, could also be used to apply to libraries? If not now, then in the future.

[link to it] 27Nov04no bookshelves, no problem

How to build with books. Not for the faint of heart. [mefi]

[link to it] 26Nov04library law blog

Speaking of libraries and politics -- as I will be in Australia real soon -- some of our favorite legal librarians are working together on a Library Law Blog. Really engaging Q&A format for some posts, just raw information in others. Thick with good information, or, as they say "Not legal advice - just a dangerous mix of thoughts and information."

Not quite on-topic but definitely an article I wish every boss I ever worked with had read: How to manage smart people.

The following phrase is one of my favorite tools as a manager: “What do you need from me in order to kick ass on this project?” Asking this question of a report invariably scares the shit out of them. It’s a cut to the chase, where you, as manager, lay out on the table the magic wish list of possibilities, and asks them to put their cards on the table. If a good discussion ensues, you then have the opportunity to actually deliver some of the things they might need. All the pet complaints they’ve been harboring have a chance to surface, and perhaps, simply fade away in the face of your brutal honesty and openness as a manager.

I've been reading more writing by Australian librarians lately which, of course, I should have been doing all this time. Jennifer Cram writes great stuff, my favorite so far is Ten Questions to Ask About Filtering Software. Sharp questions deserving of serious answers for anyone who is considering filtering.

I'm sure you've all heard the maxim "the internet inteprets censorship as danger and routes around it" but did you ever wonder how? Paul Jones from ibiblio has been preparing a talk on Censorship on the Net and has put a short list of resources on his blog.

New regular feature at Resource Shelf: new librarian web domains. Anyone know the guy who registered nakedlibrarian.com?

[link to it] 25Nov04Top Ten Tips to Tackle Tech

Aaron has a great list of tips for making sure your tech works at your library. I can not stress #4 enough. If you want to provide public access computing and you don't have time or money to train the entire public on your weird banjaxed system, make the computers in the library work like the ones they use at home and at work, or provide clear instructions when they don't.

[link to it] 24Nov04the great librarian shortage debate

ALA's FAQ states there is or will be a shortage of qualified candidates for library positions. News articles support this assertion. It may be worth noting that their press kit about this shortage cites an article written January 1, 2002. Here are some stats from ALA's own placement center. Do these numbers jibe? New librarians know there is also a shortage of jobs, because they're looking for them. How do we explain the disparity between all these facts about the availability of library jobs? Here are a few ideas I have. Do you have others?

  • As librarians retire their jobs are eliminated due to funding crunches.
  • As librarians retire, senior librarians take their positions and open paraprofessional positions for the librarians who moved up.
  • Retiring librarians' positions aren't always available to newer librarians with less experience, so jobs requiring experience stay open as library students look for entry level jobs.
  • Professional organizations misrepresent the true state of library employment due to optimistic outlooks and in order to stay relevant and keep their own doors open.
  • As populations move around, some libraries are serving smaller populations with the same staff. Other libraries are serving larger populations with the same staff. Increases in population do not always reflect increases in staffing due to tight money situations and the false belief that automation has reduced our staffing needs.
  • It is not in library schools' best financial interests to tell you that there are not many jobs available, or to take on fewer students to meet a reduced demand. There are many ways to interpret statistics, they choose ones that are most favorable.

I was consoling a friend yesterday who is an expert in online and database searching. "Everyone wants to hear about Google" he said "my job is becoming all Google all the time" I paraphrase, but we all know how it is. I've become increasingly leery of Google lately as they form more and more partnerships with fee-based publishers and vendors and also index their sites for Google's master index. Can anyone explain to me why a Google search for jessamyn ineligible academy [backstory] nets me five results, one of which is a PDF, with no accompanying "show as HTML" link, and flavortext that is from the article itself [or its abstract] that is not available via the linked site except through a subscription? I'm sure there's an obvious explanation -- like maybe the article was online for free and now it's not -- but why no HTML link, and where did that text come from if it's not in the linked page? I sent Google a note and trolled their FAQ for details, but all I can deterrmine is that, according to the current FAQ, Google isn't supposed to do that. I'd love to hear some reasons why it does.

Note from a reader, apparently Google Scholar may crawl full text, and show the abstract in the results, even if it only allows access to a citation. Is it too much to ask that Google have a way to avoid these fee-based results, or mark them somehow? I know how to remove PDFs from my search results, but not how to remove all non-full test sources. Even my library can do that. Then again, they're not trying to make money off of their search results.

About Google Scholar crawling the full text from certain publisher sites -- here's what a Google spokesperson told us today: "...where we have permission to crawl a doc we will do so, but will only show an abstract."

The titles that libraries are removing to remote storage facilities often are the same ones that have the least rich library records, thus dooming them forever to being less and less frequently accessed. What to do? Enter the Library of Congress Catalog Enrichment Initiative.

users who rely on browsing the library shelf for the purposes of discovery and selection risk missing more and more material that might be of interest. Anecdotal and transaction log evidence has it that few use the browse feature of library online catalogs, not only because it is uninteresting visually but because the information users need in order to select what they want is not present. Until recently there has been no recourse except to the stacks.

[link to it] 20Nov04hi - 20nov

Hi. The hardest thing about having a whole life and a whole blog is when you have to make choices between one and the other. I'm away this weekend at a wedding, I'll be back for a few days and then I'm off to Australia with indeterminate access for two weeks. Of course, these notices were more important in pre-RSS days to keep you from clicking through to my page, getting annoyed that I never updated, and then never coming back. In any case, there is always more to say and I think heading into what we affectionately call the "big blue room" for a few days can't hurt, can it?

[link to it] 19Nov04google scholar, some more perspectives

Jeremy at Digital Librarian has a few more words about Google Scholar [or as some are calling it, schoogle] that sums up a lot of how I feel about it. [see also: metafilter and slashdot]

We need to stop be re-active, and start being proactive. Our vendors are not going to move us forward in the ways we need; they are reactive to our needs, not to our future. It is very easy to be passive as a community, and to let outside forces map our route. It is much harder to take control of the wheel and do the mapping ourselves. But until we do, the "Where do we want to go today?" will continue to be the rhetorical question that is only answered by the company (or vendor community) that asks it.

My pal Fred from ibiblio said he met Lennart Björneborn this week. I checked out his site and he's adapted Ranganathan's five principles of library science to the web world. Even though they are copyrighted [?], I'll include them here:

  • Links are for use – the very essence of hypertext
  • Every surfer his or her link – the rich diversity of links across topics and genres
  • Every link its surfer – ditto
  • Save the time of the surfer – visualizing web clusters and small-world shortcuts
  • The Web is a growing organism

Librarianactivist.org now has an RSS feed.

[link to it] 18Nov04Clinton Library opens, umbrellas confiscated

Some photos of the new Clinton Library.

Shirl Kennedy and Gary Price give us an overview of Google Scholar. A few quick facts to supplement their about page.

  • Google won't say what it does and does not consider "scholarly". My search turned up lots of books which then allowed me to do either a "library search" [worldcat, natch] or a web search [Google] for the title which I found strange.
  • no ads on Google Scholar pages
  • Some citation linking, some full text, same old problem of getting a good cite and then hitting a subscription database wall.
Upshot? Don't know. As a public librarian, I find less and less reason to dig around in scholarly archives. On the other hand, just as I fear that WorldCat searching will become inaccurately synonymous with "find it at a library" I don't want to see this filling in for "find it in a research paper" Librarians know the difference, does everyone else?

Why doesn't the library community band together to do some collaborative software development and free ourselves from vendor tyranny? If you just like to watch, keep an eye on the open-ils blog as they work through some of the decisions involved in creating a large library automation system.

Karen gives her feedback about the YahoOCLC toolbar gadget.

I wouldn't use Yahoo-see-el-see, based on this experience, because I don't trust it. I'll start with my local catalog and go from there. Still, in the realm of hot new cool tools, kinda fun. Though if users believe this is a trustworthy resource, but it's not leading people to YOUR local catalog, beware, beware. "Yahoo says it's not there!" Go ahead and talk yourself blue in the face about how your catalog works... it won't matter.

I have to say, I'm as likely to brag about how many feeds I'm subscribed to as I am to crow about how many people I've slept with (my age, weight and salary are fair game, however). Both numbers are a little on the high side and may reveal a certain lack of discretion on my part. The correct answer to the question "How many feeds do you subscribe to?" should always be "Enough."

[link to it] 17Nov04Bookmarks Magazine - I liked it

This whole "review policy" thing from a few days ago came about because I had gotten yet another press release in my inbox. I wrote back with a short but polite reply and asked to not be the recipient of any more press releases but sure, go ahead and send me a copy of the magazine. Got a polite and friendly reply and then a few days later a few copies of Bookmarks Magazine showed up in my mailbox. I was almost embarassed to like it so much because I hate being marketed to and, worse yet, I hate being accurately marketed to. In any case, the magazine is a review magazine more in the vein of Nancy Pearl's Book Lust -- which I am also reading this week -- than Booklist or Library Journal's reviews.

Their tastes run more to the independent, their layout tends more towards the creative, and their scads and scads of reviews are interspersed with interesting articles that give you in-depth coverage of an author or two; the Brontes and George Orwell were features in two of mine. One of the issues I read had an absolutely ingenious mystery section which included a graphical "historical mystery series timeline" as well as a US map showing the locations of many well-known fictional detectives with, of course, some capsule reviews of the books they appear in. Many of Bookmarks Magazines' reviews also come with pullquotes from other major review sources so you can balance their reviewers' perspectives with other well known "experts." Without blathering on, I have to say I was really pleasantly suprised at how much I enjoyed this magazine. I don't like most magazines aimed towards readers -- they're too ad-heavy and seem to exist for pushing product, not for fostering reading -- and this one was different. You've read my review policy, no one paid me to say this, go check it out if you're looking for book lust-ish recommendations, delivered bi-monthly.

Oddly, the small goverment folks and the big government folks tend to agree on the downsides to the invasiveness of the USA PATRIOT Act. An article from everyone's favorite Libertarian think tank, the Cato Institute.

Thanks to excessiveness in some provisions of the USA Patriot Act, the United States is reversing its global orientation from a beacon of freedom to the paragon of a surveillance society. [thanks jack]

Bookstore sorts all books by color for one week as an art project [more photos]. [metafilter

It's just an eye-candy sort of day. Here are some old photos of libraries from the San Joaquin Valley sent in by Michael Farrelly. [technocratic]

[link to it] 16Nov04kinja guide to netlib 2004

Got to stay home and mind the store while Internet Librarian is happening in Monterey? Richard Akerman has set up this Kinja Digest that pulls together the posts of people who are attending. If you're already an RSS fanatic, Kinja may not be what you need, but if you're curious about feeds and blogs but you're not quite sure how to get started, check Kinja out.

I rarely link to library programming ideas here, but I mist say that the Friday night events that the La Crosse WI library is holding for the wives of deer hunters really sounds like something libraries out this way should be thinking about.

[link to it] 15Nov04republishing scholarly articles without proper attribution hurts all of us

I recently published something in a journal put out by Emerald Publishing. According to a new paper written by a Cornell librarian, Emerald has been republishing journal articles across its periodicals without identifying the articles as having been republished. This is no good. They have published this response.

Simple keyword title searching has led the author to over 400 examples of this behavior, in 67 of the publisher’s journals taking place over a period of at least fifteen years. The publisher has claimed that it has ceased the practice of article duplication Libraries spend considerable sums of money to purchase academic journals. Skyrocketing journal inflation coupled with stagnant acquisitions budgets have resulted in massive cancellation in our libraries. The results of this research suggest that we may have collectively spent vast sums of money on duplicated materials from Emerald and didn’t know it. [lisnews]

As an outreach librarian, I try to figure out why people aren't coming to the library. Some of these reasons are obvious: can't park, bad hours, building too cold, don't read.... When I get to answers like "don't read" my next question is always "why not?" The answers are all over the map, but the one that drives me the craziest -- since I work with a lot of seniors -- is "can't find large print titles in anything that interests me". Now, our library has maybe a thousand large print titles, even some new ones, which is not a bad collection for a library our size. It's mostly fiction. Non-fiction circulates less, and it's also harder to get. Our largest request that comes to me is "more computer books in large type" followed by "more poetry" If you're blind in the US, you can get books on tape delivered to you for free, but you often can't choose the exact titles [think Netflix] and you don't get the tactile experience of reading which many people really like. According to the Royal National Institute of the Blind in the UK 96% of all books are not available in large print, audio or braille editions. They have started a Right to Read campaign complete with arresting graphics and sound clip by Michael Palin, to raise people's awareness of lack of access to reading materials for the blind and otherwise visually impaired. [pscott]

OCLC has really been doing some outreach. First off, remember that they have a blog. Second of all, they have managed to work out a co-branded Yahoo toolbar with a worldcat search embedded in it. I'd send you to the OCLC link but it's an annoying requesting-all-your-personal-info page, so I'll just link to Gary Price's comments and links about it. Lastly, and my favorite, they've got some top titles lists. Top ten, top 1000, top 1000 with all the cover art [giant page].

Maybe someone could give me some data, what level of markeet penetration does OCLC have? When they say "top 1000 titles owned by libraries" what is the difference between saying that and "top 1000 titles owned by OCLC libraries"? According to their site, they have 52,000 libraries worldwide [9134 outside the US], and according to the ALA, there are at least twice that many libraries in the US alone. The nearest "OCLC library" to me that has the #2 book, the Bible, is 40 miles from here. From there, I also found Project Gutenberg's Top 100 lists which tells a different story, somewhat.

I sent around some email about the Buffalo PL crisis yesterday and got this interesting note back from a Buffalo non-librarian resident.

The library closing here is political brinkmanship by the county executive. He wants an increase in the sales tax but has to go through this. It might happen to some extent, for a brief period of time. They are threatening to close the zoo, the symphony, etc. You know those things that the middle class and weathly have come to expect. There is a legitmate question as to whether there are too many libraries with the reduced population. But that is a different question requiring a different discussion.... The church we are attending, along with others, are aggressively advocating on behalf of the libraries.

[link to it] 14Nov04internet librarians + feed

Some of my favorite librarians gather in Monterey for Internet Librarian. Want to read about their various exploits? You can subscribe to the feed here.

You can't put it more plainly than this "After January 1, 2005: Your Library Will Close" Buffalo and Erie County NY libraries are looking at 80% budget cuts. They have very good advocacy pages set up like this "contact your legislature" page, but is it too late? I know that sometimes libraries consider closing [along with turning off the OPAC] as a tactic to raise awareness of funding cuts and their affect on libraries, but having a budget that is cut 80% really does seem like an irrecoverable budget slashing, doesn't it? The budget is being debated and acted on this week, contact your local officials. As a side note, do you know why the county needs more money? It's not because citizens are getting a tax break, it's to cover rising Medicare costs.

Stephen posts about a new book about social networking written by my friend Christian Crumlish who was also a blogger at the DNC.

[link to it] 13Nov04a note about book and product reviews

More and more lately, I get books in the mail. I thought it was about time I had some sort of stated policy about this. My FAQ nonwithstanding, if you have a book you think I would like to read, feel free to drop me a line if you actually know who I am and can explain why you think I would like it. I've read almost all of the books I've gotten from colleagues and strangers alike (Tara's Web Search Garage is the one outstanding because I keep using it) and have put reviews up on my book review page. If I discuss anything in this blog that could possibly be seen to have a "go out and buy this" implication attached to it, I will clearly state that I got a free review copy or was contacted by the author or publisher about the book, either here or in the review. Exceptions to this are "current awareness" links to things I read about on other blogs -- Library Elf comes to mind -- if I also hear from the publisher/company, I might neglect to mention that fact if it's not germane to why I'm linking to it. That said, here's my policy, such as it is, which I'll link to the FAQ.

librarian.net review and promotions policy

  • If you would like to send me a review copy, please email me and tell me why you think I would like it. I prefer short succinct messages to copied and pasted press releases. I delete 9 out of 10 copied and pasted press releases.
  • I cannot guarantee I will read every book I get. I have read most of the books I have gotten so far.
  • I have no review mechanism on any of my sites for reference works, magazines, movies, or software. Unless there is some very specific library angle -- better than "librarians should buy this for their libraries" -- do not send me these.
  • You can keep the promo materials that get sent with review copies, I tend not to read them. Do not put me on an announcement list. Do not add me to any mailing list without my explicit permission.
  • Reviews, if I read the book, good or bad, will be posted to my book review page, not on librarian.net. I will mention, as I usually do, where I got the book. Reviews will rarely contain links to other web sites.
  • There are "buy this book" links on my reviews pages that go to Powell's. I receive a small associate fee if you purchase items using these links which I think is 7% of the purchase price. In the lifetime of this program, the links have brought in $55, total. Powell's is not the cheapest online bookstore, but they are worth supporting, in my opinion. However, please consider the library as your first option.
  • Unless I have contributed to a book or the author is a good friend of mine, I practically never make new book announcements on these pages and I don't intend to.
  • I accept no payment of any kind for anything on this site with the exception of rare specific promotions that are clearly marked, such as the "buy this bumpersticker" auction. The site is hosted for free on ibiblio's servers and updated during non-work time using free software. If you feel the need to contribute, send me links, or a postcard and/or unused [preferably interesting] postage that I can use to send out my postcards.
  • If my rules are too rigid, or this is not what you were looking for, you may want to consider bookslut, bookzen or biblioblog.
Here are some examples of reviews of books that have been sent to me: The Anarchist in the Library by Siva Vaidhyanathan, The Flame Tree by Richard Lewis, Codex by Lev Grossman.

As an example. I wrote a chapter for Priscilla Shontz's book The Librarian's Career Guidebook. You can see a page from my chapter here and more excerpts on the page on her site.

Welcome back to the web Copyright Advisory Network

Sometimes, on the weekends, when the sun is shining in and I've had a lot of coffee and all is right with the world, I think about what kind of library I'd have, if I had my own library. This is, of course, crazy talk. Libraries exist in communities, they're not started or maintained by egomaniacal librarians who need a new project. So, this is a thought exercise. I honor and respect the traditions that libraries are steeped in, I'm just curious about what elements of our new technological reality could be useful to the sorts of institutions libraries are. Here are some things I've been thinking about, in that regard.

  1. What if our catalogs were an overgrown version of really good personal library software instead of some sort of awkwardly-scaled version of very powerful all-in-one ordering/circulating/cataloging enterprise software? Check out Delicious Library, from that link, and tell me your patrons wouldn't love it. [see also: usability & assessment]
  2. What if you could use the collective experience of your patrons to add to the library's knowledge base? Have patrons add reviews, suggest their own supplementary "subject headings", use the library web site for interactivity not just passive reception of library content.
  3. What if the items in your library catalog had fixed URLs so patrons could link to library records from their web sites when discussing items the library has, sort of like IMDB has short, linkable human-friendly URLs? What's the book equivalent for IMDB, and don't say Amazon because you know it's not true.
  4. We'd be open when people wanted to use the library, not just when librarians wanted to work. How would we know? We'd ask them. [some surveys: here, here, here and here]
  5. In my library, we'd fix your computer for you. We'd work the information booth at your event. We'd answer your questions any time and any place, not just when you come to us and wait at the reference desk for us to be free. We'd save your time, even if it sometimes meant sacrificing our own.
Obviously changes in the economic reality of libraries or shifts in the work/home paradigm would need to occur before we could really do some of these things, but others just require a change in mindset, or a shift in priorities. A girl can dream, can't she?

I'm not sure exactly what an Internet Administrator is, but ALA is hiring one. I am really really curious what this job pays, especially given the quirky description.

This position will provide user support for 24/7 mission critical applications needed to run a large diverse Web site and other Internet-related services, to include using remote administration and alerting tools to provide on-call support as needed, as well as responding to user requests for information. Primary responsibility will be to respond to user questions about the association’s Web site and online services. [emphasis mine]

[link to it] 11Nov04examples of "on the fly" reference

One of the things I am known for, for better or worse, is doing "on the fly" reference work at places like Burning Man, the WTO and the DNC. I'm happy to be one of the inspirations for the Radical Reference project that bloomed during the RNC and is still going strong. Since I had an extra day off this week in addition to my usual two, I've been doing more of this. I thought I'd share a few examples since the more we equate our problem-solving and information-finding skills with our chosen field of librarianship, the better it will be for us and our profession.

  • helped Alison Bechdel get her RSS feed working on her Dykes to Watch Out For blog via IM
  • After getting an email that told me that the ALA-WA office's library copyright web site had been hacked, got on IM to a few people to spread the word, found someone who knew how to fix it, he called them, and helped them log in to their hacked site and take it down.
  • Someone posted a question on a web site I frequent about getting a back issue of a magazine from someplace more quickly than from the publisher. After some savvy reference interviewing, I figured out that she only needed one article from one magazine. I found it using Expanded Academic Index [available online from my library] uploaded a pdf and gave her a link to it.
My point, and I do have one, is that this isn't just me who is able to do this. Many librarians can. They save people time, money, frustration, and face. We should be communicating that every chance we get, so here's me, doing that.

[link to it] 10Nov04hi - 08nov

Hi. I updated my Five Technically Legal Signs page with the addition of a reworking of one of the signs submitted to me by a graphic designer and some small formatting changes and an explicit Creative Commons License.

Everyone needs to make personal decisions about how much weight to give a particular piece of information, particularly if that information conflicts with something you think you already know to be true. I often put it this way "You love your boyfriend and hate the Yankees. Your boyfriend loves the Yankees. Do you re-evaluate your boyfriend, or re-evaluate the Yankees. Or both? Or neither?" Put another way, if the New York Times prints something that goes counter to your beliefs, do you believe them because they're an authority? What if it were Wikipedia? What if it were an Indymedia site? What if it were your neighbor, or me? In any case, articles on this topic fascinate me. The Harvard Business School has published one recently called The Hidden Cost of Buying Information where Francesca Gino's research strongly suggests that people overweigh the value of information that they have paid for.

Gino's results are based upon an experiment where subjects were asked to answer different sets of questions about American history and were provided the opportunity to receive free advice as well as costly advice—the same advice, as it turned out. Gino's conclusion: When the advice is costly, subjects are more inclined to take it into consideration and use it. And that conclusion can have profound consequences for consumers, managers, and organizations in their decision making, she says. [lisnews]

My library serves a patron base of roughly 30,000 so we're not eligible for the Library Journal award for the Best Small or Rural Library in America but perhaps you know one that is?

What can you do with a wiki? Well... Here's what I have been working on lately, wikiwise

  • I've been keeping up the Opac Manifesto. Feel free to add anything you can think of, I'm putting this one to bed this weekend. Some version of this will appear in Searcher magazine
  • Some friends of mine are looking for housing during ALA Midwinter and I decided to try out a housing share page. Again, contribute if you have anything to add.
  • My Australia notes page. This is locked, but you can see how an online scratch pad might be useful.

[link to it] 9Nov04Ashcroft resigns

John Ashcroft -- the man who called librarians "hysteric" -- has resigned.

“The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved,” Ashcroft wrote in a five-page, hand-written letter to Bush.

I'm still working on it but my talk in Australia is going to have something to do with the overlapping of the personal, the political and the professional arenas in a librarian's life. We've all seen this issue popping up all over the place. Marylaine has written a very thoughtful piece about librarians taking sides in partisan politicking this week. It's a sticky wicket issue. As you all know, I am a fairly politically active person. However, I also try to be scrupulously fair at my job within the boundaries of the standards we set in my library, boundaries that were in place well before I got there. Those boundaries include protecting patron privacy, sometimes to the inconvenience of law enforcement, and supporting free access to information (i.e. unfiltered internet in most places in the library), sometimes to the inconvenience of our more sensitive patrons. I'm not talking about law-breaking, I'm talking about someone who is uncomfortable seeing a teenager looking at pictures of women in bikinis, or someone who doesn't think the library computers should be used for games or chat.

What to do? We respect and honor all of our patrons, but at the end of the day many of our professional rules are going to be seen as somehow politicized, and people are going to take that personally. I only speak for myself here, but I think that one of the things our new net-savvy networked society has shown us is that there's no such thing as a public institution that exists in the absence of politics. People vote to fund us, how can we pretend to not have an opinion about how they vote?

Introducing First-Year Student-Athletes to the Library: The Michigan State University Experience.

...contrary to stereotype the student-athletes had a higher graduation rate than the rest of the student population. Despite this, a program was started for the special population of student-athletes because it was believed that the student-athletes needed more library help due to their extensive athletic schedules. The program was well received and in evaluating the program the student-athletes found the program to be successful.  [shelf]

Good news, Library Juice has an RSS feed. Rory has also lowered the markup on his cafe press items to only ten cents aboive Cafe Press minimums so if you wre contemplating ap urchase, now's the time.

B9 d++ t++ k+ s u f- i o+ x+ e++ l- c--
What? How? Who else?

I wish everyone could work out their trademark and copyright animosity as well as The Postal Service and The US Postal Service have. Witness this ugly series of events [with follow-up] concerning a copy of Gone with the Wind that used to be on a Project Gutenberg Australia site.

The world's protection of creative content may eventually settle at around the same level, say, life plus 70 years, [Mitchell's heirs' lawyer] said. The danger, he added, is that the most restrictive governments will be the ones setting that level. "National laws are going to infringe on copyrights around the world," he said.

[link to it] 8Nov04hi - 07nov

Hi. Sorry to be scarce, I've been reading a lot and working a lot. Today I taught some senior citizens how to use a word processor [hint: typewriter metaphors work well] and tried to find ways to do outreach to the convent. I'm also finalizing my plans for the Australia talk and moonlighting at one or two other things, including one fun library web site Movable Type upgrade/design assist.

I wanted to point out an interesting collaborative information gathering exercise that I recently witnessed in the online world. The question "Why can't I find photos of Abu Ghraib torture using Google Images?" When I ran into the issue, it had shown up on the group weblog MetaFilter where many interesting pieces of information came out fairly quickly

  • try AltaVista, it works better for this
  • Yahoo no longer licenses Google search results
  • some other ways to search if you want to find those images
  • making and testing hypotheses about how often Google Images updates its archive
  • an actual email from someone at Google explaining the problem
  • feedback from someone using the Google Search Appliance explaining what they found
  • links to a larger Slashdot discussion
  • a Google Answers question asking the same question of their "experts"
If you follow along closely you'll notice that the original question was pretty much answered and the information [i.e. pictures] located elsewhere and yet the only for-profit part of the equation, Google Answers, decided to delete the question (which I saw, but, sadly, did not locally cache) entirely from its knowledge base with no explanation or even a placeholder. I've always got a host of ready answers to the question "How is Google different from the library?" but now I have a new one "You can ask the librarians about the library itself and still get an answer."

[link to it] 6Nov04books are sexy? books are sexy!

Two ad campaigns try to link books and reading to sexiness, one fairly overtly, and one using a wry bit of double entendre. [thanks cheryl & robert]

[link to it] 4Nov04hi - 04nov

Hi. Michael McGrorty and I and Eli sat around talking politics in Los Angeles this past weekend. While I think the current administration will be marginally worse for libraries [and much worse for people] than the alternative, let's just rememebr that all John Kerry said about libraries in his big suck-up-to-everyone speech at the DNC was about putting one on a chip. Don't get me wrong, I feel bad for everyone who feels bad this week, but let's not act like the Great White Hope just walked out the door on us. The decline of libraries and funding for libraries in the US didn't start with Bush and while I suspect it won't end with Bush, I'd argue that it wouldn't have ended with Kerry either. Americans are changing their mind about how they feel about the public good, about sharing, and about other people in general. This election didn't cement that, it reflects that. So does the decline of libraries. Let's get started now, shall we, fixing it?

[link to it] 3Nov04google + ALA web site = ?

One of the search engines that ALA is contemplating the replace the one on their site is the Google search appliance. I'm still mucking about with the various options, but it seems that there are definite benefits to having a search engine that many if not most ALA members (and the public) already know how to use.... or do they? Tara links to Google's cheet sheet and then adds a few additional syntaxes you might not know about.

Michael Stephens has an article in Library Journal Technoplans vs. Technolust about the difference between being a gear fetishinst and having a solid technology plan.

Our users, also technology consumers, have evolving expectations of what the library should provide. Yet new technologies can be disruptive to both staff and public. Added to all this, some of us remain technophobes while others are consumed by technolust—an irrational love for new technology combined with unrealistic expectations for the solutions it brings.

[link to it] 2Nov04hi - 02nov

Hi. Are any librarians who are responsible for staffing public access computing facilities feeling some sympathy today with poll workers stuck with malfunctioning voting machines, lack of backup procedures, insufficient provisional ballots and grumpy support staffers and voters? Remind me what problem were these machines supposed to fix again, and at what cost?

I'm just going to be hurling some links up here today. The talks from the Dartmouth conference I was at on Thursday are now all online linked at the end of each presentation. There were some really great ideas about library outreach and assessment put up, I recommed you take a look at a few things librarians are doing. They also did another cool thing [in addition to being fierce about the time limits for talks] which was to have a conference evaluation online. They sent an email reminder with a link to the evaluation form. Anyone who filled out the fairly detailed evaluation form -- which had an entry for rating each presentation -- would be eligible for a $75 gift certificate for something or other. It added $75 plus staff time to the conference budget but I bet they get nearly 100% return rate on their evaluations. Smart!

Don't like the ALA web site's search engine? Help them replace it with this survey page.

The Wikipedia media attention lately has really gotten people thinking about the idea of truth, and truth in news particularly. The NYT this weekend had an article entitled When No Good Fact Goes Unchecked discussing how collaborative systems of evaluation and assessment can actually result in more accurate facts. My argument, when I discussed this in relation to blogs at an ALA Preconference is that this can be helpful for effective reference work as well. I'm sure it's no suprise that The Fact Checker's Bible is creeping up there in Amazon sales rank. The more we get over the Tyranny of the Expert and accept that there's more than one way of looking at many issues -- even with the same set of "facts" -- the more easy it is to actually utilize collaborative information systems to help us with many library oriented jobs like selecting vendors, providing news and reference services, making good referrals and connecting with our patrons.

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